Tuesday, October 27, 2020

In A Holidaze - Christina Lauren

In less than two months, Christmas will have come and gone. What! Well, what that means is, it's time to get going on your Christmas listening and reading!Although, you would enjoy Christina Lauren's newest book - In A Holidaze -  at any time of the year.

Maelyn Jones arrives at the cabin for the yearly Christmas get-together of three families. They've been meeting up since the kids were babies. Maelyn is now in her twenties. And in a drunken moment she makes out with Theo, whom she's been friends with since they were toddlers at the cabin. It's a 'too much to drink mistake'... because it's his brother Andrew she's been in love with for - well - forever. Oh, how she wishes it never happened! "Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy."

Uh huh, enter Groundhog Day Christmas. Mae gets to relive the same time frame again. And again. Will she get it right? You'll have to have a listen to find out.

I loved the friendship and affection shown between all the members of these families. Their coming back to the cabin year after year for get togethers, especially at Christmas, was lovely. The traditions they have, the meals, games and more had me thinking of my own family traditions. And how important family and friends are to our lives.

Lauren writes romance really well. Yes, there's some steamy bits (also well done), but love is more than the physical side of things. Mae gets to explore what she wants from life and love more than once and her introspection will have you nodding along. 

The other thing Lauren does well is comedy. Some of the situations Mae gets herself into are laugh out loud funny. And the dialogue is fun as well. So, I guess that makes In A Holidaze a rom com listen. (And you know, it would make a great film as well) And a feel good listen. And a seasonal listen. And a magical listen. And one I really enjoyed!

The narrator was Patti Murin and she was just perfect for the character of Maelyn. Murin has a wonderfully expressive voice. She captures each and every emotion, situation and thought with her voice. She speaks clearly and her voice is pleasant to listen to. Her voice was perfect for the character of Mae as I had imagined her. She also provided other voices for the rest of the cast, including an Aussie player. She's interpreted Lauren's work really well and brings the book to life. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of In a Holidaze. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

When No One is Watching - Alyssa Cole

I love suspense reads, so the cover shot of Alyssa Cole's new novel, When No One is Watching and that tiny "A Thriller" non the front door definitely caught eye.

Gentrification has come to Sydney's Brooklyn neighbourhood. Neighbours that have been in their homes for forty years are selling up and disappearing. Sydney is also feeling the pressure from aggressive real estate agents. She is determined to hold out and hang on to the neighbourhood she knew. She finds an unlikely partner with Theo, a new resident.

Right off the bat, I have to say how disgusted I was with the new white people moving in this predominantly Black neighbourhood. Their comments and actions are so disgusting - and yet sadly are true. A timely take on race and privilege. So that's one bit of this book. But there's also some romance - also well done. Cole's previous books have been romance reads, so they come off well.  History plays a part also, with details of Brooklyn and New York past. And last but certainly not least - the thriller part. Completely unexpected! There was no way to predict this plotline at all. And I'm not going to spoil it for you at all. Things do end on a bit of a rushed note, but it was hard to stop flipping pages at the end. 

A great read on so many levels. Cole is a talented wordsmith, weaving together many threads. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of When No One is Watching.

Friday, October 23, 2020

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #335

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
I pretty much read anything Harlan Coben writes. His original series was the Myron Bolitar books. And Myron's sidekick is Windsor Horne Lockwood III, also known as Win. Coben has slowly added details about this character in each new book. And I was thrilled to see that he will be the star at last. Win releases in March on both sides of the pond. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Okay.....The colors on the US cover are certainly eye-catching. I like not having a face and just a back view - keeps the mystery of the character alive. The blood spatter is a nice touch. It does remind me a bit of Dexter. The orange of the font for the author's name is what the eye is drawn to first on the UK cover and then the book's name. I liked the tagline - "If you lose you die" So you better "Win". The ominous gates are a grabber, as is that dark sky. What's he going to find down the path.
I'm torn this week - I do like both, but in the end I'll go with the UK cover. What about you? Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Win?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Invisible Girl - Lisa Jewell

Invisible Girl is the latest novel from Lisa Jewell. Each of Jewell's book has been different - it's impossible to predict what you might find inside - other than a good read that is!

Owen is 30 and lives with his aunt. Owen is a bit, well, a bit different. The Fours family have just rented the house across the street from Owen. Dad Roan is a child psychologist, Mom Cate is a physiotherapist and their two kids are in school. Also on the street, but hidden is Saffyre. She's not sure why she does it, but Saffyre spends many, many hours following Roan and watching his family from the shadows. And then she disappears...and Owen Pick is the main suspect.

The idea of someone watching is not new, but it still gives me the creeps. And as the reader is privy to what Saffyre sees and does, we can see the danger coming before she disappears. You just want to tell her to stop and go home. The book also evolves through Cate and Owen's points of view. Jewell does a great job with her characters. They're all unlikeable and many made my skin crawl. Saffyre was the exception. Owen is socially awkward, but is that a crime? His looks also contribute to what people think of him. Whereas the Roan family present 'better' and are treated differently. Preconception and actions taken contribute to the shape the story takes. A nice bit of social commentary is woven into the book. Bullying also rears its ugly head in Jewell's plot. 

Secrets and lies drive this book forward. Every character is hiding something. And with each new revelation, the direction I thought things were going to go changes. There are some nice twists in Invisible Girl. And I have to say, I love twists! Another addicting read from Jewell. Here's an excerpt of Invisible Girl

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Over the Counter #473

What book caught my eye this week? Is there any better place to be....

At Home With Dogs: Rescue Love Stories by Natalia King- Sun and Patricia Hart McMillan.

"People who rescue dogs have a great deal of compassion and enough love to last through what is often a trying adjustment period. But adoptive owners say the bond they feel with their grateful pets makes it all worthwhile. Heart-warming color photos of 15 adopted dogs interacting with their humans celebrate the joy that comes from a fortuitous match. The photos are accompanied by the stories of the owners, many of whom selected their pets long-distance and met them at the airport. For adoptive families or those considering adoption, the book includes insights on how to make a good match and tips for a smooth adjustment after bringing a dog home. This soulful tribute to abandoned dogs of all ages, breeds, and temperaments, and the people who gave them a second chance, will appeal to animal lovers everywhere."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over the counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Christmas at the Island Hotel - Jenny Colgan

Is it too early to read Christmas fiction? Absolutely not! And especially when it's the latest novel from Jenny Colgan! Christmas at the Island Hotel releases today.

Colgan takes us back to the remote, wee, Scottish island of Mure - and it's residents. I'd be quite happy living there myself. I always feel like I'm catching up with old friends when I turn the first page of the latest Mure tale. And making some new ones as well - new characters are introduced with each new book. Some who may have been in a supporting role in previous tales now take a bigger part. But, each and every one of them has a part to play in the tapestry that is the life of Mure.

Christmas at the Island Hotel picks up where the previous book left off. Flora and her large, noisy, eccentric family are still working to get the Island Hotel up and running by Christmas. They'll need staff - and here's where the new characters and storylines are introduced. But Colgan also continues on with the lives of many other recurring players. I've become quite invested in their lives. Colgan does a bang up job with the interactions, complications, emotions and feelings of her characters. They ring true. Everyday life, love lost, love found, friendship, family rifts, family uniting and community are the driving forces behind Colgan's works.

This is the time of the year when I enjoy seasonal reading, cosying up with a feel-good read, along with a cup of tea and a warm blanket. Christmas at the Island Hotel is the perfect choice - heartwarming, engaging, joyful, romantic, humourous and a great escape. I was sad to turn the last page, but I just know there's more in store for the folks in Mure And this reader can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Invitation - Rachel Abbott

The Invitation was my first read of Rachel Abbott - but it won't be my last!

Jemma and Matt head to Lucas's sprawling mansion for the weekend to celebrate his wedding to Nina. Matt, Andrew, Nick, Isobel, Alex and Lucas have been friends since they were teens. And...."That's the thing about old friends. They never let you forget..."

There are uncomfortable undercurrents and relationships amongst the five that Jemma doesn't understand. And her husband won't discuss it. Even when one of the group dies. Fast forward a year and the group is back together at Lucas's estate - minus one. He's got a game for them all to play - a murder mystery in fact - re-enacting everything is as it was a year ago.....

Oh, I loved this premise! It's not a locked room mystery, but we do have a small circle of suspects. All of them have secrets and most of them are liars. The whodunit changed many times for me. It's fun trying to solve the case along with the players as they recreate that fateful night. The reader follows along mostly through Jemma's point of view. But the narrative does flip back and forth from present to past. At a certain point I did guess half of the final answer, but I was (happily) caught offside by the other half. And it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I liked Jemma very much as well as Detective Inspector Stephanie King. It turns out this is second book King features in. The group of friends is very easy to dislike - and easy to suspect. 

The Invitation made for great escapist reading on a dreary, rainy day. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Invitation.