Tuesday, December 28, 2021

My Darling Husband - Kimberly Belle

My Darling Husband is bestselling author Kimberly Belle's newest domestic suspense novel. 

Jade and Cam have it all - five successful restaurants, two adorable children, a beautiful house and numerous luxuries. They're living large.

Someone else knows that as well. What could be more frightening than a home invasion? A home invasion when your children are home. That's what happens when Jade. What the invader is demanding is is a very specific amount of money - and Cam has a limited time to come up with it.

Great setup! My Darling Husband is actually told from three points of view - Jade, Cam and the invader. As readers, we're privy to the details that Jade doesn't have. Suffice it to say that Cam has been keeping secrets from Jade. Not unexpected in this genre.

Jade is feisty and resists the captor both physically and verbally, even as she tries to figure out why he has chosen their family and home to invade. As she gathers info from her interactions with him, she begins to have her own suspicions - about Cam.

The timeline has now and then movement. We're in the present with Cam as he scrambles to put together the cash. But we're also in the future as he gives an interview to a reporter about the events. The captor's point of view lets the listener know a bit more than Jade does. However, Belle caught my off guard with unexpected developments in the last bit of the plot that surprised me. (Surprises are good!) Without providing spoilers, there's definitely some social commentary woven into the invader's impetus and the book's epilogue. 

My Darling Husband was a fast paced, action based listen. There were a few situations where I had to suspend disbelief, but overall an entertaining entry in the domestic suspense genre.

I chose to listen to My Darling Husband. Natalie Duke, Seth Podowitz and Charlie Kevin were the performers. They all did an excellent job. Each played one of the three main players and employed voices that absolutely suited the characters. Within those characters there are interactions with other characters and each narrator conjured up yet another voice for those situations. Each reader was easy to understand, pleasant to listen to and spoke clearly. There's lots of emotion in the book and each narrator easily captured and portrayed the action, situations and more. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas!

I know Christmas is going to look much different this year. (again!)

I hope you're able to connect with family and friends while staying safe.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Silent Parade - Keigo Higashino

Silent Parade is the latest North American release for award winning Japanese author Keigo Higashino. This is the fourth entry in his Detective Galileo Series - but you'll have no problem jumping into the story. 

'Detective Galileo' is actually not a part of any police force. Instead, he is a physics professor with an incredibly quick mind. His deductive powers could be compared to Poirot's. His good friend, DCI Kusanagi with the Homicide Division of the Tokyo police has drawn on Professor Yukawa's skill set before. 

Two young girls have been murdered decades apart. What they have in common is the suspect - and the investigator. DCI Kusangi worked the historical case and is determined to solve this latest.

There are many players in Silent Parade and I was appreciative of the list of characters at the beginning of the book. I liked the enigmatic style of  Professor Yukawa and the dogged determination of DCI Kusanagi. The family of the missing girl were very well drawn. The supporting cast is detailed enough to make each of them a suspect.

Higashino's plotting is detailed, intricate and downright devious. Just when I thought  had things figured out, he upended all my suppositions and the investigation headed in a different direction. This happened more than once - and I loved it! Higasino is a clever, clever writer.

I enjoyed learning more about everyday life, social mores and celebrations in and of the Japanese culture, as well as the legal system. Giles Murray was the translator and did a fantastic job. The prose never felt wooden or awkward at all. I enjoyed the pacing of the book as well - a slow burner that lets you become immersed in the tale.

I would absolutely read the next book from Higashino. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Silent Parade. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Postmistress of Paris - Meg Waite Clayton

There are many, many WWII novels written from a woman's perspective and/or featuring a role in the war performed by women. Bombgirls, landgirls, codebreakers and more. 

Meg Waite Clayton's new novel, The Postmistress of Paris is part of that more, bringing in another perspective. Her main character is Naneé, a wealthy American living in Paris who decides to join the French resistance. Her wealth and American passport allow her to move about freely, delivering messages to those in hiding. She's a great lead character - brave, daring and charming with a strong sense of right and wrong and duty.

She meets photographer Edouard and his young daughter Luki at a gathering of artistes. Edouard has escaped from Germany, but still must try to hide from the Vichy government. It is after this meeting that Naneé decides she must help artistes to escape and to preserve their work.

Now, here's the really neat part - Naneé is based on the life of Mary Jayne Gold, a Chicago heiress, who helped American journalist Varian Fry smuggle well-known artists and intellectuals out of France.

The book's opening chapters introduce us to the two main players, the sparks that fly between them, as well as the artistic setting/element of the book. I must admit, I did find this went on a bit too long for me. I wanted to dive right into the 'action' of the book. The hiding, the subterfuge and the danger. That does come, but Waite Clayton also stops along the way to explore other themes such as the love between a parent and child, the loss of loved ones and the sacrifices made. Different views are provided with Luki having her own chapters, as does Edouard. There are many supporting players, all just as determined with the same goal. I did find one character to be quite detestable as he plays 'games' at the house that the group shares. I thought there would be a reason he was included, but never found a meaning for his inclusion and ugliness. But he is tempered with the addition of a dog to the tale - named Dagobert.

A good addition to the WWII fiction list. Waite Clayton is a talented wordsmith and I did enjoy this novel. However, I did find it to be a bit of a slow burn for me and it felt a repetitive at times.

I chose to listen to The Postmistress of Paris. The readers were Imani Jade Powers and Graham Halstead. Powers has such a rich, melodious, honeyed tone to her voice. It's very pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. The voice for Naneé, absolutely captured the character as I had imagined her. Her speaking speed was just right. There are many French language bits to the story and I found both her pronunciation and accent to be believable. Her performance did justice to Waite Clayton's book. I've also listened to Graham Halstead in the past. He has a very resonant tone to his voice that draws the listener to him. He too speaks clearly and is easy to understand. I like his voice very much, but it wasn't quite what I imagined for Edouard. I had a softer, more continental voice in mind.That being said, he does do a fine job with his narration. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Postmistress of Paris. Length is 13 hours, 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Midnight Hour - Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is hands down one of my favorite authors. Now, while her Ruth Galloway series is near and dear to me, The Brighton Mysteries run a very close second. The sixth entry - The Midnight Hour - has just released. 

What makes these series so delightful? For me, it's the characters. They're warm and funny, wry and witty and eminently likable. In this latest, former Brighton DS Emma Holmes has joined forces with reporter Sam Collins and opened a Private Eye business. They've been hired by a high profile widow to look into her husband's death. It's a big case for the two, but the Brighton police are also on the job. It's more than a bit awkward as Emma is also married to Police Superintendent Edgar Stephens. "She was honest enough to know she also wanted to get ahead of the police, to present them with the solution to the case with all the loose ends tied up in a bow."

There's continuity to this series as Griffiths moves the lives of her characters along. I'm always curious to see what's next for this cast of players. And it is indeed a large cast. Faithful readers will recognize and welcome back recurring characters. New readers, you can absolutely read this latest without having read previous titles, but it might take you a beat or two to sort out who's who. I have to say that Emma and young Constable Meg Connolly are my favorites. Emma's young son Jonathan also makes many appearances that are endearing.

So, great characters...and great plotting. There are many choices for the whodunit. Griffiths gives the reader a lovely winding road, littered with red herrings on the way to the final whodunit. I truly had no idea who the murderer was going to be in the end. 

I like the time frame being the 1960's. Cases are solved with lots of footwork, interviews, intuition and deductions rather than CSI-like methods. It's a more satisfying and intimate read somehow. Women's roles are changing and that too is woven into the story. 

Griffiths just has an easy way with words. I'm always drawn into the story. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Midnight Hour.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Autopsy - Patricia Cornwell

I read Patricia Cornwell's first Kay Scarpetta novel back in 1990 and was immediately hooked on the premise, characters and plotting. Fast forward to 2021. The 25th entry in this series, Autopsy, has just released.

Now, I must admit, somewhere around the 20th book, I threw the towel on this series. The books seemed mired in extraneous detail and became repetitive. But...this blurb from the publisher had me more than a little curious....

"In this relaunch of the electrifying, landmark #1 bestselling thriller series, chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta hunts those responsible for two wildly divergent and chilling murders. Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career." 

And you know what? I really enjoyed it and am back on board with this series.

The same cast of characters is present, Kay, her Secret Service forensic psychologist husband Benton, her niece Lucy and my personal favorite - Pete Marino. The relationship between Kay and Marino was contentious in the beginning of the series, but I'm happy with where Cornwell has taken Marino in this latest. He's a valuable resource instead of being portrayed as a thorn in her side. However there is a new thorn in the side character. Kay has inherited a secretary who is loyal to her old boss and quite resentful of Kay. Kay has the same analytical mind. Cornwell keeps the characters moving forward in real time, with the successes and sadness that living life brings.

The 'back to basics' has Kay investigating the death of a young woman found on the railroad tracks. This crime very much reminded me of the earlier books. Political machinations and corruption abounds at a number of levels in this latest, stretching as far as outer space! Kay is called in to examine a remote site. There's yet another thread that I'll let you discover. 

I chose to listen to this latest. The reader was award winning narrator Susan Ericksen. She has read previous Scarpetta books, so the continuity is nice. Her voice is perfect for the mental image I've created for Scarpetta. Her diction is clear, easy to understand, well enunciated and pleasant. The speed of speaking was a bit slow for me, so I sped things up two notches, using the speed adjuster on my device. She provides different voices for the characters, each easily identifiable. Ericksen conveys the emotions of the characters and the action and suspense of the plot with her voice. A great performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Autopsy.

I did find the ending a bit rushed and a slightly too pat, but I quite enjoyed this 'relaunch' of this series. The door has been left open for number 26 - and I for one will be picking it up.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Hello, Transcriber - Hannah Morrissey

The cover of Hannah Morrissey's debut novel caught my eye - and the description of Hello, Transcriber sealed the deal.

"Every night, while the street lamps shed the only light on Wisconsin's most crime-ridden city, police transcriber Hazel Greenlee listens as detectives divulge Black Harbor's gruesome secrets."

We meet lead character Hazel as she stands on a bridge in the city of Black Harbor...where the river is whispering to her to jump.

That dark, unsettling, foreboding tone and atmosphere continues on, living on every page. I was totally drawn into the story from those first pages. And the best bit of all was that I had no idea what was going to happen. The plot of Hello, Transcriber was different, unexpected and appreciated. I was caught off guard many times. Hazel was not what I expected at all. Her choices lead her into questionable relationships and dangerous situations. Definitely some 'don't go into the basement' moments.

The idea of a transcriber getting personally involved with a case was such a great premise. Fellow mystery lovers - can you imagine transcribing the details of a crime and following the investigation - let alone inserting yourself in it? 

The supporting players are also unpredictable and dangerous, each with their own secrets and agendas, keeping their own secrets. The city itself is a character as well, especially that bridge. Morrissey's description are visceral.

Hello, Transcriber was an atmospheric, gritty, addictive read for me. Kudos to Morrissey for a great debut - I'll be watching for her next book. See for yourself - read an excerpt. 

Friday, November 26, 2021

You'll Be the Death of Me - Karen M. McManus

Time for a YA fiction read! Karen M. McManus is one of my favourite teen fiction writers. Her newest is You'll Be The Death of Me.

Cal, Mateo and Ivy were the best of friends in Grade eight. They've since drifted apart and are now seniors. A chance meeting outside the school entrance has them all deciding to pull a Ferris Bueller day. They've each got their own reason for wanting to ditch school. It's a great idea - until it's not. They stumble across a crime scene....

McManus has created three very different protagonists. They're all likable and each brings a different dynamic. McManus always captures and portrays her teen characters in a believable manner. You'll Be the Death of Me is told in rotating chapters from each of the three. As readers, we're privy to their thoughts, angst - and secrets. McManus devotes time to the romantic entanglements as well as family issues of the the three, but this only adds to the overall feel of the book. 

That crime scene? Each of them has a connection to what has occurred.....

McManus gives us lots of choices for the whodunit. The final aha won't be overly hard to suss out, but it's the journey there that's the most fun. And I did have fun reading this one. Ferris Bueller with a side of Scooby Doo. McManus has a formula that works - and she had me happily ensconced on the couch for on rainy Saturday afternoon. See for yourself - read an excerpt of You'll Be the Death of Me. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Blizzard of Polar Bears - Alice Henderson

With winter temperatures here and snow on the ground in my part of the world, Alice Henderson's latest book, A Blizzard of Polar Bears, seemed to be a timely listen.

This latest is the second book in Henderson's Alex Carter series. Carter is a wildlife biologist. Her latest research posting takes her to Hudson Bay in the Canadian Artic to study polar bears. But someone seems bent on derailing her research - missing samples, break-ins, staff quitting and more. Why? 

I liked Alex as a lead character. She's dedicated, clever and a bit of a kick butt protagonist. She needs to be tough as she finds herself in more than one life or death situation. 

I was impressed by the detailed descriptions of Alex's research, methods, climate change and reasons why these studies are so important. It was only on looking at the author's bio that I discovered she is a wildlife researcher herself. The book benefits greatly from this insider knowledge. 

There are two threads to the plot with the first introduced in a prologue and the second in the Alex incidents. I wondered how the two would tie together? Well, they're tied together with lots of action! 

A Blizzard of Polar Bears is a different style of mystery and suspense, but one I quite enjoyed. If you've read Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series or Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford books, you would enjoy this title. I'm sure there's more in store for Alex.

I chose to listen to A Blizzard of Polar Bears. The narrator was Eva Kaminsky. She's a talented reader that I've enjoyed in the past. Kaminsky's voice has a low, slightly gravelly, yet smooth tone. It's very pleasant to listen to. She enunciates well and easy to understand. The speed of reading is just right. Kaminsky really captures the danger and suspense of the plot with her voice, employing a staccato, clipped, tight voice that easily communicates the tension. She uses different voices for the characters.  Her reading has lots of movement, easily holding the listener's attention. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of A Blizzard of Polar Bears 

(I'm always curious about the collective terms for animals. I had thought polar bears would be blizzard, but instead it is a 'celebration' of polar bears.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Christmas Promise - Richard Paul Evans

You know Christmas is on the way when Richard Paul Evans releases his yearly holiday read. The Christmas Promise is this year's tale.

As children, Richelle and Michelle couldn't be more different, even though they were twins. As adults, they each went their own way. And now, Richelle finds herself alone. Her work at the hospital keeps her busy and her writer's group lets her dream of being an author. Still, she is lonely. When Justin joins the writer's group, there is an immediate attraction....

You always know what to expect with Evans' annual Christmas missive. Relationships are always at the forefront, as is love, loss, redemption and a satisfying conclusion with fresh starts. 

I liked Richelle as the main character. Her dedication to her patients on the children's ward is admirable and she has aspirations, but she still resonates loneliness. I was happy for her when she met Justin. The connection is there, he says and does the 'right' things. But I'm quite a pragmatic person, so her jumping into the deep end right away seemed to be a bit reckless. And somewhat dangerous as one supporting character voices. 

Now, I had my suspicions as to what might found in the latter chapters. And yes, I was right. Normally Evans would have hit all the right notes for me, but this one just fell a bit short. Why? Justin isn't completely honest with Richelle and her decision making employs the partial truths he doles out. And honestly I found him to be more than a little sanctimonious. (I'm deliberately trying to be obtuse as I don't want to provide spoilers)

Helene Maksoud has narrated some of the previous Christmas novellas by Evans. It's nice to have that continuity. She is an excellent reader and again provided a wonderful performance. Her voice is clear spoken, easy to understand and quite pleasant to listen to. Her reading is well paced. The voice she uses for Richelle suited the character well. As the story unfolds, she uses her voice to capture the emotions, interactions and plot developments. She deepens her tone and provides a male voice that suited the mental image I had for Justin. The two characters are differentiated enough that you always know who is speaking. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Christmas Promise.

A good performance, but just an okay tale for me.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Judge's List - John Grisham

John Grisham brings back Investigator Lucy Stolz in his newest release, The Judge's List.

Lucy works for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct, investigating complaints involving judges. A woman who hides behind a number of aliases brings a case to Lucy's attention regarding a sitting judge and some heinous crimes. Jeri has been looking into this judge for over twenty years. She is terrified of the man and wants Lucy to take it from there. 

What a neat concept. I had no idea there was such an overseer of judicial conduct - but there is. Who better than John Grisham to write about a legal process?

You'll be astounded at the perpetrator's motives and methods and fascinated with how he has covered his track for so many years. Quite chilling. Jeri was difficult to like for me - she's pushy, single minded and at first I thought she was overreacting with her precautions. (She's not) I liked Lucy in The Whistler and was quite happy to see her in another book. Her team is an eclectic bunch and add to the story. 

Though mostly told through Lucy's viewpoint, Jeri and the judge also have chapters of their own.

We do know who the culprit is, but it's the race to capture him before he commits additional crimes that is the story. I'm not sure if I was 100% on board with the judge's actions at the end, but I quite enjoyed the journey. And I'd be very happy to see Lucy again.

I chose to listen to The Judge's List. Grisham has an author's note in the beginning and it's a nice opener to the book. The narrator was Mary-Louise Parker. She speaks clearly, is easy to understand. Her speaking speed is at measured pace. The voices for Lucy and Jeri are very similar and you'll have to keep track of who is speaking. A great tale and a good listen. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt The Judge's List.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Pledge - Kathleen Kent

The Pledge is newly released third entry in Kathleen Kent's "Detective Betty" trilogy.

Just when Dallas Detective Betty Rhyzyk thinks life has settled down, the past comes back to bite her - again. A cartel leader who goes by the name of The Knife gives her an ultimatum. Betty has two weeks to find their shared enemy, cult leader Evangeline Roy, or Betty and her family will pay the price. Betty and her wife Jackie have taken in Mary Grace, a young mother of a seven month old girl. But Mary Grace has gone on the run again, leaving the baby behind. So, suffice it to say, Betty's plate is pretty full.

The Pledge takes place over the course of those two weeks. The first chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book. The action is non-top and makes for page turning, late night reading.

I really like Betty as a lead character - she's tough, smart, fearless and her family is her first priority. I gotta say she really takes a licking and keeps on ticking. The amount of injuries and lack of sleep she amasses over the two weeks is pretty impressive. And yes, a wee bit unbelievable. But hey, just go with it - the plotting is pretty darn good with some truly nasty antagonists and a number of subplots that are slowly but surely woven together.The supporting cast is good as well. Betty's wife Jackie is the voice of reason. Betty's squad is back as well, with her partner Seth and a new transfer with an attitude. I really liked the two women private investigators Rocky and Peg.

I was quite saddened to hear that The Pledge is the end of the Betty books. Kent ties up all the loose ends in this last entry. If you've read Michael Connelly's Renée Ballard character, you'll enjoy Detective Betty. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Pledge.

And I wonder what Kent will write next? Her first two books were historical fiction and are well worth a read as well. Maybe some more crime with the two PI's? Whatever it is, I'll be picking it up!

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Christmas Bookshop - Jenny Colgan

A Christmas book! A new Christmas book by Jenny Colgan! A new Christmas book by Jenny Colgan that features a bookshop! I knew I would love The Christmas Bookshop before I even turned a page!

Carmen feels like she's always lived in the shadow of her brilliant sister's accomplishments. Sophia lives in a perfect house with her perfect children, perfect husband and a perfectly ordered yuppie life. But when Carmen loses her department store job and can't find another, she begrudgingly takes Sophia's offer to come to Edinburgh help one of her clients with a failing bookstore.....

Oh, I always love Colgan's settings. The bookstore is in the old historical shopping district in downtown Edinburgh. The nooks and crannies, the other eclectic shops and especially McCredie's bookshop sounded exactly like a place I'd love to visit and explore. Colgan weaves in actual attractions and history throughout her story. 

The lead character in Colgan's books is always one I'm firmly behind and Carmen was no exception. She's sassy on the outside, but kind and caring on the inside and also a bit unsure of herself. Where is her life headed? Where is her non existent love life? Well, you just know there's going to be a 'right' one and a 'wrong one'. Blair is a successful self-help author. And then we have Oke - a dendrologist (he studies trees) I love the yes, no, maybe so of the burgeoning (or not) relationships. And although we know how things are going to turn out, the journey there is so much fun.

The supporting cast is just as fun. Oh my gosh, the snarkiness of Skylar, Sophia's nanny is laugh out loud over the top. I loved Sophie's children - their personalities, dialogue and interactions mirror the young Carmen and Sophia. Can the sisters repair their relationship?

And that brings me to the Christmas element - loads of Christmas books mentioned, decorations, traditions, celebrations and more had me happily lost in the season.

Another feel good, heartwarming novel from Jenny Colgan. She's my hands down favourite for a 'take me away from it all' read. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Christmas Bookshop. Best read with a cup of cocoa with marshmallows.

PS - I love when characters from other 'series' make cameo appearances in a novel. Faithful readers will be happy to see Ramsey and Zoe from The Bookshop on the Shore.

Friday, November 12, 2021

The Month of Borrowed Dreams - Felicity Hayes-McCoy

The Month of Borrowed Dreams is the 5th entry in Felicity Hayes-McCoy's 'Finfarran Peninsula' series, set on Ireland's West Coast. I had read a previous entry - The Transatlantic Book Club - and quite enjoyed it. 

There is a large cast of characters in this series. It did take me a few chapters to get back up to speed on who was who. 

Hanna and the library are the starting point of the novel, this time running a book and cinema club. Familiar characters are again met and other previously minor players take a larger part this time around. There are many I'm fond of and enjoyed revisiting. I have to say that the enigmatic Fury O'Shea, who seems to turn up at the right time and knows what is, or isn't needed is a favorite of mine. He runs a close second to his dog - The Divil.

Love takes center stage this time round, with engagement, marriage and relationships explored in a number of characters' lives. You'll easily find players you enjoy - and there's always at least one (two for me in this latest) who seem to be a problem. 

I appreciated the descriptions of the Irish countryside and would be very happy living there! Hayes-McCoy has a cottage of her own in Ireland and the setting details benefitted from this first hand knowledge with lots of descriptions.

This is a lovely, paced, gentle series that will appeal to readers who have enjoyed Nancy Thayer or Maeve Binchy. 

I chose to listen to The Month of Borrowed Dreams. The reader was  Marcella Riordan. She has a lovely, lilting Irish accent that is just perfect for this book. She has an expressive manner of speaking. She changes up the tone and timbre of her speaking to portray the many different characters. The narrating speed is also sped up or slowed down. I did find the sped up voices to be a bit hard to understand as in addition to the speed, the tone ratchets up to a shrill level. There's one character (Eileen) who seems to laugh at the end of every sentence and I found her bits to be very annoying. That same laugh is used with a few other players as well. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Month of Borrowed Dreams.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

A Line to Kill - Anthony Horowitz

A Line to Kill is the latest entry (3#) in Anthony Horowitz's Hawthorne and Horowitz series. 

I can't recommend this series enough. It's clever in so many ways. The protagonist is the enigmatic Hawthorn, let go from the police force and now working as a P.I. Hawthorne is such a great character - a brilliant detective, but somewhat lacking in personal interactive skills. I quite like him. And playing Watson to his Holmes? Anthony Horowitz. Uh huh - Horowitz has written himself in as a character in the series! He plays himself, writing about Hawthorne's cases. The relationship between the two is...interesting...

Hawthorne and Horowitz are invited to a literary festival that's being held on the island of Alderney to promote their first two books. They attend and meet the other presenters - who are a peculiar bunch. When a murder occurs and the island is locked down, Hawthorne's expertise is called upon. And Horowitz is along to document what may become the basis for their third book.(He fervently hopes so, as then his contract would be fulfilled and he'd be done with Hawthorne.)

I adore 'locked room' mysteries. There's always a wealth of characters to sift through for the final whodunit. None of them will tell the truth and we're along for the ride as Hawthorne interviews, investigates and pulls on the threads that will unveil the culprit. My suspect list changed with every revelation. Horowitz adds in his two cents worth as well. There is a large cast of possible suspects and I did have to stop and make a mental list of who was who. The mystery is well written, intricately planned and the final ah hah wasn't easy to suss out. But what I enjoy the most are the characters. I want to know more about Hawthorne's past. There are some hints and clues leaked in this latest, with one final revelation opening the door for the next book. My curiosity is more than whetted. And again the clever way Horowitz has inserted himself in the story. I wonder how much of the book character is Horowitz himself? The verbal sparring and mental jousting between the two is so much fun.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I find that I become more immersed in a book when I listen. And this is definitely the case with A Line to Kill. The reader is Rory Kinnear and his reading is fantastic! Kinnear has narrated the first two books and has cemented the mental images I have created for this duo. Hawthorne's is low with a slightly gravelly tone and he speaks in measured tones. On the other hand Horowitz has more of a frantic tone, often incredulous, put out and frustrated. Supporting players have different tones, speeds, accents and more for both male and female characters. Again, all of them suit the characters. Kinnear easily captures the (real) author's work wonderfully. Kinnear's voice rises and falls, changes speed and timbre, capturing the emotions and actions as the plot dictates. His speaking is easy to understand. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of A Line to Kill.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

The Dark Hours - Michael Connelly

I have been eagerly awaiting the fourth book - The Dark Hours - in Michael Connelly's Ballard and Bosch novels. And IMO, this is the best one yet!

It's New Year's Eve and Renée is again working the night shift - by choice. By tradition, revelers shoot their guns into the air at midnight in Los Angeles. Sounds like a recipe for disaster doesn't it? Uh huh, it results in one of the first homicides of the new year. Here's the thing - the bullet may be tied to an unsolved case - one worked by Harry Bosch. Now retired, Bosch has become a mentor and a sometime off the books partner of Renée. 

I'm always so happy to see Harry again. He's like an old war horse that just keeps riding into battle. His experience, (usually) calm demeanor and drive for answers and justice keep him going. "Everybody counts or nobody counts" Renée is fearless and has that same drive for justice. Her determination has not endeared her to her fellow cops. Connelly has woven current events and happenings and the turbulent state of policing and politics into the narrative. While others do just the bare minimum, Renée never lets up. In addition to the New Year's Eve case, she's also trying to find a pair of serial rapists who've been labeled as The Midnight Men. A lot goes on on the late show....

Connelly's crime novels are second to none. The characters, the settings, the details, the plotting - all of it makes for fantastic reading. And yes, lots of action. 

The dynamic between these two really works. In the final pages, I thought I saw where the Ballard and Bosch books might be headed in the fifth book, but Connelly throws in an alternative. I can't wait to see which way things end up. 

Highly recommended! See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Dark Hours.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

All of Us Villains - Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman have joined forces and co written the upcoming YA fantasy novel, All of Us Villains.

I try always try to  post my reviews within a few days of the book's publication date. All of Us Villains was next up on my Netgalley shelf, so I got started reading a few days ago. I got to page 86 and the galley ended. It was only then that I remembered it was a sampler copy! 

So, from what I did read, it's pretty good. In some time and place, Common Magick is used by the masses. High Magick is thought to have disappeared to have disappeared.....but it hasn't. Seven families in the town of Ilvernath know, use and protect the High Magick. Control of it is determined by pitting a young 'champion' from each family against each other in a Magick tournament.

I know what you're thinking - because I thought that too - The Hunger Games right? Very similar, but with magick instead of food. Indeed, the publisher uses that comparison in their marketing. "You Fell in Love with the Victors of the Hunger Games. Now Prepare to Meet the Villains of the Blood Veil."

Foody and Herman have created a large cast of characters - the seven champions, their families and those who back the tournaments - the spellcasters and makers and someone from the government this time round. The masses are also aware now that High Magick is indeed still alive....

You'll easily find the champion you want to back, decide quickly which family are devious and manipulating, and wonder  - what Foody and Herman have in store for the tournament...

And that's where it ended! So, yes my curiosity is whetted! What I've read so far is well written - and you can see for yourself - the free extended preview is on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Donut Trap - Julie Tieu

Are you looking for your next listen? Julie Tieu's debut novel, The Donut Trap, is it's a sweet choice - in more ways  than one!

It was this descriptor from Harper Audio and Avon Books that caught my eye..."Julie Tieu sparkles in this debut romantic comedy, which is charmingly reminiscent of the TV show Kim’s Convenience..." I love that show and just knew I would enjoy The Donut Trap.

Tieu gives us an eminently likable protagonist in Jasmine Tran. She's finished college and just doesn't know what's next for herself. Until she's figured things out she works in the family business - Sunshine Donuts. And tries to fend off her mother's attempts to find her a husband. 

And then Jasmine meets Alex - or should I say re-meets? The burgeoning relationship between the two is well written although it did feel a bit accelerated to me. Now here's where that Kim's Convenience comparison comes in. Both Alex and Jasmine are first generation immigrant children. The respect given to their parents, their values and their culture is there, but so is the desire to step outside the expectations put on them. This is an important part of The Donut Trap and I think Tieu's exploration of this rings very true. It's also a coming of age for Jasmine as she finally sets her own goals, desires and path. This thread does seem to take precedence over the romantic plot line.

The other thing that needs to be addressed is - donuts! Oh my gosh, I had some serious donut craving while listening to the descriptions!

I chose to listen to The Donut Trap. The reader was Natalie Naudus. She was a great choice. Naudus's voice is pleasant, easy on the ears, well paced and she enunciates well. The voice for Jasmine matched the age of the character and the mental image I had created. There's lots of internal dialogue for Jasmine and the slightly sardonic tone used was just right as well. She does a great job with the male voices as well, deepening her tone to a believable level. Alex's voice has a nice gravely tenor to it that really works for the character. Naudus also reads the part of  all the parents with accurate and convincing accents. Jasmine's best friend is Linh and her voice is bouncy and upbeat. Naudus captures the dynamics, happenings, thoughts and emotions of the plot with her interpretation of Tieu's work. A great performance and a narrator I would definitely enjoy again. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Donut Trap.

I enjoyed all aspects of The Donut Trap. I'm looking forward to Tieu's next book, Circling Back to You, due out in summer 2022.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Game On - Janet Evanovich

It was 1994 when Janet Evanovich released the first Stephanie Plum novel. Her latest Stephanie Plum tale is Game On: Tempting Twenty Eight.

I've missed a few along the way, but the Plum books are my choice for some escapist, light hearted listening that doesn't take itself serious at all. Familiarity is another draw for me - I know who, and what I'm going to find. 

Stephanie Plum is a bail bondsman in 'the Burg' - her neighborhood in Trenton, New Jersey. Her partner is Lula - a big hearted former hooker.  Stephanie's love life is an ongoing storyline with many choices, but she seems to have finally decided on who she wants to be with in this latest. Stephanie's long suffering parents and her Grandma Mazur make appearances in every book as well. I must admit that Grandma is my favorite - I like her take on 'aging gracefully'. There's a plethora of supporting characters that have been fleshed out over the years. And the descriptor quirky could be applied to any and all.

Stephanie's latest fugitive is computer hacker, Oswald Wednesday. She's determined to bring him in and he's determined to shut her down - perhaps permanently. Oh, and there's another agent from Stephanie's past after Wednesday as well.

Fried chicken and doughnuts, car wrecks, murder (without the gore), silliness (The Mooner), temptation on the love life front, snappy dialogue and more populate the pages. As does friendship, family and community. Game On was exactly what I was looking for. And I can't pinpoint it, but Game On seemed 'fresher' to me than the last couple of book. It was exactly what I had hoped to hear!

I was happy to find that Lorelei King was again the reader. She's been the voice of this series for many years. The continuity is wonderful as it feels like jumping right back into life in the Burg. King has a very versatile and expressive voice. She has created different voices for the characters and it's quite easy to know who is speaking. The voice for Stephanie is pretty calm, no matter what's going on. Lula however is always big and loud. Grandma Mazur's has a perpetually happy voice, always seeing the bright side. Each of the love interest have distinct voices as well. Babe. There's many more and they all fit the mental images I've created for all the players. King speaks clearly, she is easy to understand and her pace of delivery is just right. She brings the action, emotions and calamities of the plot to life with her voice, changing up the tenor and tone to match what's going on. A great performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Game On

Thursday, October 28, 2021

No One Will Miss Her - Kat Rosenfield

No One Will Miss Her is Kat Rosenfields' new suspense novel.

Lizzie Oullette has lived her whole life in the town of Copper Falls, Maine. Or I should say that in another way - she lived in Copper Falls, but now she's dead and her husband Dwayne can't be found. Detective Ian Bird is called in to investigate. He soon finds a connection to  Adrienne Richards who had been renting Lizzie’s lake house as a country getaway.

The story unfolds from beyond the grave, with Lizzie recounting her life in Copper Falls from her childhood to the present. Lizzie is the town pariah and Rosenfield really emphasizes that with Lizzie's life basically being hell. (There are some trigger situations gentle readers.) I started to grow weary of the ugliness that Rosenfield foists on Lizzie's shoulders. And I really wanted to know why the heck she stayed in town at all, give the treatment she receives from the townsfolk. 

Well, then Part Two came along ... and my perceptions did a quick about face! And this is where I mentally started to clap for Rosenfield's plotting. You'll find an excellent twist in Part Two!  And there's no way I'm going to spoil that for you so I won't say anymore. (But I did wonder if I went back and re-listened to the first part if I would catch any clues....)

There is a part three as well, that tidies up loose ends. Again, I thought there was going to be one outcome to only be (happily) fooled again. Kudos to Rosenfield for keeping me guessing.

I chose to listen to No One Will Miss Her. Cassandra Campbell, Sophie Amoss and Chris Andrew Ciulla were the readers for this title. I always enjoy a cast of narrators as the conversations seem more 'real' and it's easy to know who is speaking at any given time. Amoss reads the part of Lizzie and her voice suited the role. She's got a gravelly undertone to her voice. She captures the mindset and personality of her character, injecting lots of emotions into her reading. She speaks clearly and is easy to understand.  Cassandra Campbell is a perennial favorite reader of mine - I always enjoy her narrations. She reads the role of Adrienne, the rich woman renting the lake house. Oh, Campbell captures the snark and entitlement of this character perfectly! The condescension drips from the words. She paces her speaking well and is also very easy to understand. Ciulla reads the role of Detective Ian Bird. Ciulla has a measured way of speaking that suited a Detective. Calm, efficient. Again, very easy to listen too and well enunciated. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of No One Will Miss Her.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

April in Spain - John Banville

I listened to award winning author John Banville's last novel, Snow, and really enjoyed it. Banville's newest novel is April in Spain. Banville writes a number of series. One is the Quirke books - he's a Dublin pathologist. Detective Inspector St. John Strafford was introduced in Snow and makes a return appearance here.

Quirke and his wife Evelyn are on vacation in Spain when a small accident sends him to hospital. It is there that he sees a young woman that has been declared dead for many years. It can't be her - could it? His daughter was friends with April Latimer as a teen. Quirke calls her and a chain reaction is set in motion. Strafford is sent to Spain and there's one more on the way as well - a hit man has been given a job in Spain...

Now, I chose to listen to April in Spain. Banville's characterizations are complex, detailed and nuanced. I found that listening to the book drew me deeper into the characters' mindsets, thoughts, deductions, plans, backgrounds and more. The level of introspection of each character makes for fascinating listening. 

Banville weaves Irish history, background and politics into his plotting. For me, the 'is it her' mystery took a backseat to the characters themselves. The answer to that question is up in the air until the final chapters. Some may find this unhurried mystery a bit of a slow burner, but I very much enjoyed it. Banville is a talented wordsmith.

I liked the reader of Snow and was quite happy to find that John Lee was also the narrator for April in Spain. He has a wonderful Irish accent that I loved - lilting, broad, rising and falling within a sentence. Lee's voice is so very expressive. He captures the characters perfectly and the voices used matched the personality and mannerisms of the players. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of April in Spain.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Christmas Dress - Courtney Cole

Yes, more Christmas reading! This latest - The Christmas Dress - is new from Courtney Cole.

I love watching Christmas movies in the run up to the actual day - it's my not so secret vice. I can absolutely see The Christmas Dress as a movie!

Meg Julliard had dreams of making it in the New York fashion world. But, she's lost her job.....and her beloved father. She returns to Chicago and the apartment building he owned. Maybe she can sell it and use the money to set up her own label? Box 1 ticked.

But the building is old (as are the residents) and desperately needs lots of repairs. The handyman isn't old though - he's her age - and very attractive. Box 2 ticked.

The residents are a delightfully quirky crew.  Box 3 ticked. Meg quickly makes friends with Ellie, who is clearing out her possessions for an impending move. One dress captures Meg's attention. Its beautifully cut and sewn. The dress will figure prominently in this tale. You could say its almost magical. Cue Box 4.

Meg and the residents are determined to save their home and come up with some novel ideas. But will they work? The countdown is on and fingers are crossed. Box 5.

I quite liked the setting - the apartment building has lots of history. And setting the book's pinnacle moments around Christmas is perfect. Box 6.

There's heartache, heartstrings tugged, hope, friendship, love, loss and more. And you just know everything's going to work out in the end. Perfect seasonal reading. I quite liked it. Tick, tick, tick. 

Best read underneath a cozy throw with a mug of cocoa. See for yourself - here's an excerpt of The Christmas Dress.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Hunting by Stars - Cherie Dimaline

I was so excited to read Cherie Dimaline's new book - Hunting by Stars. It continues the story that began in her 2017 multi award winning novel, The Marrow Thieves.

In the not so distant future, a plague and natural disasters have decimated the world - and erased the ability to dream. Without dreams people go mad. Until...the government discovers that Indigenous people are still dreaming. And now they are being hunted for their bone marrow, as the government believes that's where the dreams are stored.

Seventeen year old French and his family have been on the run for years, hiding in the forests, determined to build their community, keep their language - and stay out of the hands of the Recruiters. But a single slip finds French in a cement walled unlit room - and he knows where he is...

There is a large cast of characters, with some being lost and some being found along the way. I've become quite invested in everyone's story over the two books. We come to know the stories of many characters through their own words. I love  the sense of community, the continuity,  the loves, the losses, the hopes and yes, dreams. And what family is.

Dimaline's world building is believable, well described and easily imagined as I read.

I started Hunting by Stars on September 30th, which seemed very fitting as the day was the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. There are many levels to Hunting by Stars. It's a fabulous, suspense filled page turner that you won't be able to put down. But it's also a narrative on the horrific treatment of  Indigenous people - fact, not fiction. Residential schools, horrific living conditions with no clean water, missing women on the Highway of Tears, racism and so much, much more. 

Gut wrenchingly good - absolutely a five star read! Dimaline is a consummate storyteller. See for yourself- read an excerpt of Hunting by Stars.  You'll want to read The Marrow Thieves first. I don't think this story is done - I'll be watching for the third book!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Our Class - Chris Hedges

Fiction is my favorite genre - it's a great escape to get lost in a book. That being said, I do also like to read non-fiction titles that challenge my beliefs, expose me to lives outside of my own perspective and have an impact on society. It is books about people that draw me in the most. Chris Hedges' new book, Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison is my latest listen - and its powerful.

Hedges is a Presbyterian minister, a former war correspondent and a Pulitzer prize winning author. In  2013 he started teaching in the college degree program offered by Rutgers University at the East Jersey State Prison. In that first class at the prison, the students started reading Black American playwrights, poets and leaders, with the goal being to write and stage their own play.

The students share their own histories, hopes, dreams and disappointments and these experiences form the basis of the play. Their recounting of life in the prison system are hard to listen to. The treatment inside the prison walls is degrading, cruel, racist, appalling and dehumanizing. The writing of the play, the learning, the discussion, the interior soul searching and being part of a dynamic group with the same goal, and the continued success  of those who took part is a testament to the program and the ideology behind it. And cathartic for the participants.

I enjoyed hearing each man's story - they are raw and powerful. Hedges weaves other articles, history and other leader's lives into the book. "It exposes the terrible crucible and injustice of America’s penal system and the struggle by those trapped within its embrace to live lives of dignity, meaning, and purpose."

I've said it before and I'll say it again - there are times when listening draws me deeper into a book, rather than reading a physical copy. Our Class is one of those cases. Prentice Onayemi was the reader and his performance was excellent. Onayemi has a rich, full, resonant tone to his voice that is so pleasant to listen to. His speaking is modulated and his pacing is perfect. There are many emotional elements to this audiobook and Onayemi captures them without losing that resonance or becoming strident. Instead, that low tone seems to underline and emphasize the work with quiet power. He was the perfect choice for the narrator. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Our Class.

Friday, October 15, 2021

A Season for Second Chances - Jenny Bayliss

A Season for Second Chances is Jenny Bayliss' new novel. 

I quite enjoyed last year's The Twelve Dates of Christmas and was eager to get lost in another escapist read.

Annie is forty four years old and is a successful restaurateur with two wonderful sons ... and a husband who is a serial philanderer. When she catches him, um... red handed it's the final straw. When she spies an ad for a seasonal caretaker for a wee cottage in a seaside town, she knows that it's just what she needs - to get away and reassess her life.

Ahh, I loved the setting. Living by the water in a quirky historical building sounds perfect! The rest of the town is also well drawn and I would happily sit in the pub with a pint, catching up with the latest.

Annie is a great lead character. I liked her being older (not that forty four is old!) and could connect with her. She's kind and friendly, as are the rest of the residents of Willow Bay. The supporting cast is eclectic and quirky as well. Annie easily slips into village life. 

Except for John - the nephew of the elderly lady who owns the building Annie is living in. He has his own plans for for it. But...he is rather handsome...

All the bits are there for a fun rom-com, will they, won't they read. And yes, this is a seasonal read. Willow Bay hosts a large number of festivals and events, with Christmas being the biggest hurrah. I wanted to put up my decorations right away!

I quite enjoyed A Season for Second Chances but ... yes, I have a but. There's a sex toy introduced in the book club that whole element just felt awkward, forced and not realistic. Frankly, it wasn't a needed piece of the story and I found it took away from the feel of the book. Other than that, a fun read in the run up to Christmas.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Wish - Nicholas Sparks

Get out your tissue box - Nicholas Sparks' new book, The Wish, has just released!

Do you remember your first love? Was it just a high school fling or the real thing? In 1995 for sixteen year old Maggie Dawes, Bryce Trickett was the real deal. 

It's now December 2019 and Maggie finds herself grounded in the gallery she runs. A sobering medical diagnosis has her reliving and recounting her past to the young man who is her assistant.

The past takes us to the North Carolina island of Okracoke - a real place I would love to visit. It is here that Maggie goes to live with her aunt and finish up her school year. She's fallen behind, so Bryce is hired as her tutor... Uh huh, they become friends and more. Sparks does a great job building the relationship in a thoughtful, caring manner. And it was easy to see how the two fell in love. The setting is absolutely wonderfully drawn as well. The supporting cast on the island are people you'd want to have in your own life - Aunt Linda especially. 

Sparks flips the narrative from past to present, with Maggie's story slowly coming to light. And just when you're totally caught up in either past or present, the time frame changes. A guaranteed way to keep me up late turning pages. Now, the present is not a static time. Christmas is around the corner and Maggie and Mark decorate and take in events and experiences, many of them based on Maggie's memories of Okracoke. Which made me want to start decorating already!

Now, you just know that Sparks is going to play on your emotions - and yes, I bawled my eyes out in the last few chapters. And I was pretty sure I knew what the final pages (and I was right.) But, I really enjoyed the journey there. Heartwarming and heartbreaking. 

Sparks is a consummate story teller and this newest only confirms that. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Wish.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Christmas by the Book - Anne Marie Ryan

Yes, the Christmas reading continues! Don't you love the cover of Anne Marie Ryan's new novel, Christmas by the Book

Bookstores are always wonderful, but even more so at Christmas - finding just the right book for a family member or friend. What about for someone you don't know? 

Nora and her husband, Simon have run a bookshop in their small British town for over thirty years. But as Christmas approaches, the writing is on the wall - and the bailiff at the door. The shop will close after the Christmas season. The pair are determined to thank the village for all their support over the years. Simon comes up with the idea of anonymously giving a Christmas book to those who might need a pick-me-up. 

I loved all the titles referenced throughout the book, but especially those seasonal titles. Ryan's love of books and bookshops is evidenced on every page. Now, those books are wrapped, so Nora simply drops one in each of the mail slots, not knowing who is going to get what title.

Here's the Christmas magic bit that I loved - each of the books is perfect for the recipient in one way or another and...... well you're going to have to read Christmas by the Book to find out the rest.

I loved Nora as a lead character. She's someone you'd love to have for a friend. Nora and Simon's relationship is lovingly drawn and is believable. The villagers are a lovely mixed bunch and are again, folks you'd love to have as neighbours and friends.

I know where I would be spending much of my time if I lived in this village - at the bookstore. I created vivid mental pictures of the shop with Ryan's descriptions. Cosy, creaky floors, a working fireplace, large easy chairs by that fire, a children's area, book clubs, events and so much more. Nora and Simon live above the shop - don't you think that would be a fabulous flat to live in! Oh, and there's a shop dog too. :0) 

Christmas by the Book was wonderful seasonal reading for me. Best read with a cup of tea and a quilt.Booklovers, I think this one might just fit in your stocking!

Fans of Jenny Colgan would enjoy this one. Jenny says "A heartfelt and lovely Christmas tale for book lovers everywhere!" I agree! Read an excerpt of Christmas by the Book.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Death at Greenway - Lori Rader-Day

Death at Greenway is Lori Rader-Day's latest book. 

WWII books are all the rage right now. Rader-Day has come up with a unique and different take on this genre. 

I was immediately intrigued when I read this descriptor from Harper Audio: "...a captivating suspense novel about nurses during World War II who come to Agatha Christie’s holiday estate to care for evacuated children, but when a body is discovered nearby, the idyllic setting becomes host to a deadly mystery."

I know what you're thinking - and of course I had to know. Christie did own a home called Greenway. And yes, children from London were evacuated to Greenway. There were two nurses to look after the children - and here's where Rader-Day makes the story her own. (Note that Christie's involvement in this book is very minor)

Bridey made a horrible mistake in her former hospital setting and has been terminated from her nurse trainee program. She is determined to make this posting a success, so she may reapply. But she hasn't shared that information with her employers. The other nurse is Gigi and she seems as lackadaisical as Bridey is devoted. She too seems to be harboring secrets. 

They're an odd pairing and Bridey is fascinated by Gigi. As a listener, I had my suspicions about her. Rader-Day slowly ekes out details about each woman's life, weaving a wide net that slowly grows smaller. When a body washes up on the shore near the house, it's deemed a murder, not a war casualty. And suspicions grow...

Rader-Day tells the story from not just Bridey and Gigi, but also from others living in the house - the nurses' employers, the Arbothnots, the butler and his wife and even one of the children. There are other village residents that make appearances and there was more than one I was suspicious of as well. The atmosphere is worthy of a Christie book, even more as we hear from those different points of view.

The mystery of the dead body is only one facet of a multi-layered story. Rader-Day provides lots of twists and turns on the way to the final chapters. And while I had guessed correctly at some of the outcomes, I was happily surprised by the others. Subplots include searching for a sense of self, relationships and friendships.

I chose to listen to Death at Greenway. The reader was Moira Quirk and she was an excellent choice. She created the perfect voices for each character and it was very easy to identify who was speaking. Bridey's starts off somewhat hesitant and unsure, but grows as the book progresses and she becomes more confident. Gigi's voice had a rich accent, dripping with ennui. When Gigi wants or needs something or someone, she uses her voice and her words to manipulate situations and people - and Quirk does a great job of bringing that to life. Quirk infuses each voice with lots of inflection. The voice for Mr. Arbuthnot, a self centered blowhard, is spot on. Mrs. Arbuthnot's supercilious tones aptly capture her high self regard. Quirk's speed of speaking is just right, she's easy to understand, has a lovely accent and enunciates clearly. I'm always amazed who a conversation is carried out between two or more characters by one reader. Quirk never misses and I would swear I was listening to more than one person. Quirk interpreted Rader-Day's work very well and turned in an excellent performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Death at Greenway.

Monday, October 11, 2021

The Party Crasher - Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella's newest  book is The Party Crasher. 

This latest is a stand alone. And it's also the perfect read for a dreary, rainy day. 

Kinsella always creates a lovable lead character. In this case, its Effie. Now, she is an adult, but when you find out your parents are divorcing and everything you remember about your childhood may not be true, and your cherished family home is up for sale, well, it's devastating. How can her brother and sister be so accepting of their father's new girlfriend Krista? When Krista decides to throw one last party at Greenoaks, Effie doesn't receive an invitation. But, that's not going to stop her from attending....

And this is how it begins - Effie sneaks onto the grounds, into the house, hides in cupboards, attics and most spectacularly - underneath the dining room table. I totally remember hiding under a table as a youngster, hidden by a long tablecloth! I laughed out loud so many times while  reading The Party Crasher. 

So, with all the creeping about, Effie hears her own name being mentioned - more than once. Her clandestine skulking offers up a different picture than she had painted for herself. Or does it?

At it's heart, The Party Crasher is all about families and friends - the good, the bad and the ugly. Kinsella explores those relationships with humor, candor and wit. Indeed, I'm sure each reader will find something or someone that they can identify with. And it wouldn't be a Kinsella novel without some romance! There's a lovely will they, won't they storyline that is written just right.

The Party Crasher was perfect escapist, laugh out loud, heartwarming read sprinkled with some truths we can all identify with. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Party Crasher. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Sleepless - Romy Hausmann

I enjoyed Romy Hausmann's first English novel, Dear Child (my review) and happily picked up her newly released novel Sleepless

The premise? From Flatiron Books:

"It's been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she's wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven--free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja's boss--kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can't seem to refuse.

The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer..."

Sleepless opens with a letter - the sender or recipient are not named. The letters continue throughout the book offering up a look at the past of the writer. I always enjoy epistolary entries in a book.

The time frames of Sleepless goes back and forth from chapter to chapter. Nadja's entries always have her name, but the other timeframes are identified only by date. A myriad of players populate these chapters. 

I found it impossible to connect with the lead character Nadja. I felt like I should because of her past, but she makes impossibly foolish decisions over and over again. There's another character called Nelly who appears at the beginning of the book in a past timeframe. Her I liked. As the book progressed I wondered how her story and Nadja would connect by the end of the book. But that connection ended up being only marginal and I questioned her even being in the book. Same goes for her counterpart Paul. He too only has a tangential connection with the main plot. Without saying too much, the epilogue was an odd add-on.

I liked Hausmann's premise, but felt the execution was lacking for me. The jumping timelines, the twists that defied belief and the disjointed feeling overall. I really had higher hopes for Sleepless based on Dear Child. I'm sorry to say this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. See what others thought on Goodreads.