Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Main Character - Jaclyn Goldis

The Main Character is Jaclyn Goldis' new book.

I was intrigued by the premise. A noted author hires everyday people and interviews them about their own lives and then fictionalizes them. There's so much that could happen from this opening. Her latest lead is Rory. When the author gives Rory a trip on the Orient Express, she is stunned, but thankful. Until she sees who else is on board.

The mention and use of the Orient Express had me thinking of Agatha Christie of course. There are more Christie references throughout the book. Perhaps that is why I had an expectation as to what kind of sleuth Rory would be.

As for settings - the book moves across many borders. Goldis loves to travel and her story benefits from that knowledge.

But, here's the thing - I just could not get into this story. Nothing happened at all for the longest time. My attention had flown out the window. So, I put it down for a break. I did go went back and started at the beginning again, thinking I had missed something. On this round I found many of the narrators hard to understand. Some of the accents were questionable. And I didn't like any of  the characters all. No one stood out - instead they just blended together. And it became hard to discern who was talking. 

I think I'm an outlier for this book. This is a rare DNF for me. It just didn't work for me, but did for many other readers. See what they had to say on Goodreads.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

One Perfect Couple - Ruth Ware

I'm a big fan of Ruth Ware's writing. I adore her suspense tales. Her latest is One Perfect Couple - and I think it's one of her best.

Lyla's boyfriend Nico convinces her to try out for a reality show with him. It's one that will have five couples hoping to be the 'perfect pair' and win the big prize at the end. 

There are reality shows of all type available on so many platforms these days. And the ante is being ramped up to attract viewers. (Admit it - you've watched at least one episode!)

Lyla has her doubts before they go and...I'm going to let you discover what happens next. Ware's plotting is devious - I honestly could not stop listening. There are many unexpected twists and turns woven into the narrative. The tension is palpable on every page.

Lyla is a great lead character - she's quick, clever, sees the big picture and isn't afraid to speak her mind. It's her viewpoint and action that we are listening to. And how about the flip side? You'll have no problem recognizing and despising the antagonist!

I knew this would be a fantastic listen for me. Ware's writing and Imogen Church's reading guaranteed it! Church has such a versatile voice - she's created a different, recognizable  voices for all the characters. She easily captures the emotions of the players with her voice. And the same with the danger and suspense of the plot. The listener is easy drawn into the story. She speaks clearly and enunciates well. I'm always impressed when a single reader can have me thinking there's more than one person!

An easy five stars for One Perfect Couple the book and the presentation. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of One Perfect Couple.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Think Twice - Harlan Coben

I have read each and every book Harlan Coben has written. His standalones are great - but I have a soft spot for Myron Bolitar and his friend Windsor Horne Lockwood III aka Win. Think Twice partners up the two again.

Things start off with a curious prologue. A man who died three years ago has just left his fingerprints at a crime scene. How can that be? The FBI comes knocking on Myron's door to ask the same question...

The plotting is impeccable and there's no way you're going to suss out the answer to the question of whodunit. There are twists and revelations along the way that change the direction of the investigation many times. The ending is edge of your seat, nail biting good. I loved being along for the ride as Win and Myron stay one step ahead of the FBI - and others. The two of them have each other's back. The dialogue between Win and Myron is short, snappy and a heck of lot of fun to read. 

There are a lot of supporting players - some good, some of them not so much. I'm happy to say though, that Esperanza and Big Cyndi are back as well. We also hear from a mystery person in chapters that are chilling.

A satisfying read that I finished far too soon. More please! An easy five stars from this  reader. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Think Twice.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Summers at the Saint - Mary Kay Andrews

You know that summer is just around the corner when Mary Kay Andrews releases a new novel! Summers at the Saint is that new book!

St. Cecelia is the name of the Georgia hotel and club frequented by the wealthy. Although everyone refers it as The Saint, the employees from the other side of the tracks refer to themselves as 'the ain'ts. Traci Eddings was an ain't - but she's now running the resort after the death of her beloved husband.

I always enjoy Andrews' protagonists. They're driven, smart, kind, intelligent and fair - someone you'd like to know in real life. Traci is very mindful of the staff are doing, providing some perks to keep them happy. It's been hard to find staffing this year.

Readers are going to know what Traci doesn't. We get to see what's going on under the surface. And it's not good at all. I have to say, I didn't expect some of what happens, but it was quite all believable. I was so mad with those characters! 

To temper that plotline, is a perfect yes, no, maybe so romance. There's also some twists that I didn't see coming - and they changed my prediction for the final pages. I was happily wrong!

Andrews has done it again. She's written another book that grabbed my attention and held it from first page to last. The page count is a delicious 448 pages!

A must for your beach bag! See for yourself - read an excerpt of Summers at the Saint.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Summers at the Saint - Mary Kay Andrews

You know that summer is just around the corner when Mary Kay Andrews releases a new novel! Summers at the Saint is that new book!

St. Cecelia is the name of the Georgia hotel and club frequented by the wealthy. Although everyone refers it as The Saint, the employees from the other side of the tracks refer to themselves as 'the ain'ts. Traci Eddings was an ain't - but she's now running the resort after the death of her beloved husband.

I always enjoy Andrews' protagonists. They're driven, smart, kind, intelligent and fair - someone you'd like to know in real life. Traci is very mindful of the staff are doing, providing some perks to keep them happy. It's been hard to find staffing this year.

Readers are going to know what Traci doesn't. We get to see what's going on under the surface. And it's not good at all. I have to say, I didn't expect some of what happens, but it was quite all believable. I was so mad with those characters! 

To temper that plotline, is a perfect yes, no, maybe so romance. There's also some twists that I didn't see coming - and they changed my prediction for the final pages. I was happily wrong!

The narrator was Kathleen McInerney - a favorite of mine. She's voiced quite a few of Andrews' other titles and they've also been wonderful to listen to. McInerney's voice matched the plot if that makes sense. She embodies the characters and brings them to life. Each character has been given an identifiable and believable voice - both male and female, young and old. Her voice is very pleasant to listen to, and she enunciates very well. Her voice easily portrays the emotions and actions of the plot. An excellent presentation of a wonderful book!

Andrews has done it again. She's written another book that grabbed my attention and held it from first chapter to last. A must for your earphones and beach bag. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Summers at the Saint.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Off Season - Amber Cowie

If you love suspense novels, you're going to want to pick Amber Cowie's new book - The Off Season

The set up for this tale was perfect! Jane has just married a man she's known for only six months, he's thirteen years older, has a teenage daughter and has been married already. Jane doesn't want children and is rebounding from something that went very bad in her work. A recipe for disaster? Maybe. How about adding in being caretakers for a remote lodge in the winter? Oh definitely yes...

The setting is wonderfully described. The lodge is large and luxurious. The forest surrounding the lodge beautiful - but also dangerous. And this crossed my thoughts...Redrum...

Cowie's character building is perfect. The dynamics between Jane and Dom are still in the honeymoon stage. But relations between Jane and Dom's daughter Sienna, are fractious, to say the least. The past is also a character in the plot. But is anyone telling the truth at all?

Oh my gosh - with every chapter Cowie builds and builds the tension in the lodge. There was no way I was going to stop reading! The plotting is great - I had no idea how things were to going to play out. Cowie kept me guessing right through to the last pages.

The Off Season is a fantastic entry for your summer reading list! 

Monday, May 13, 2024

The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club - Helen Simonson

The cover of Helen Simonson's new book, The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club, immediately caught my eye. The title and cover image promised a great read!

Simonson has set her book in 1919 postwar England. Men are coming back to their homes, their families - and their jobs. Women have filled those roles during the war and many of the women don't want to quit - and many of them can't afford to not work.

One of those willing to work at a much more challenging job  is Constance. But right now she is a companion to an older woman, living in a luxury hotel at Hazelbourne-on-Sea. 

"I was doing something important. Now we are all expected to go home to the kitchen or drawing room". 

Simonson's setting is wonderfully detailed and easy to imagine. She has also captured the mores of the time period - proper behaviour, doing as you're expected, listening to your elders and so much more. The expectations of the time are so constrictive. The dialogue was so well written and fun to read. Oral jousting while not stepping out of line!

But then Constance meets Poppy and her family and Poppy turns Constance's life upside down, introducing her to other forward thinking women. Simonson does a wonderful job depicting the women's' lives, hopes, dreams, wishes and the drive to keep trying to have more and do more. 

There's much more to the plot of The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club - and it's much more fun to discover it yourself. If you enjoy historical fiction, add this to the your list! See for yourself - read an excerpt of  The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

I Will Ruin You - Linwood Barclay

I am always excited when I see that Linwood Barclay is releasing a new title! It's here - I Will Ruin You. Turn the first few pages -  I guarantee you won't be able to stop  reading!

Richard Boyle is a teacher who finds himself front and center on the news, after a very serious incident on the school grounds. He's a hero to many, but there are others with a different opinion...

This is one of the reasons I love Barclay's suspense. An ordinary guy dropped into a crazy, unbelievable situation. He can handle what's going on - right? Well you know what's going to happen don't you? He can't control it - and things start to spin out of control. There's a wealth of twists and turns that I hadn't couldn't have expected or predicted. I love being surprised by an author. And Barclay does with every book.

Making things even better is the cast of supporting players - some good, some bad, but all with a hand in the action. Most of those players have a voice with their own take on things.

Another great suspense tale from Barclay - I can see this one as a show series! See for yourself - read an excerpt of I Will Ruin You.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Girl in the Cottage by the Sea - Rebecca Alexander - Blog Tour

A Bookworm's World is a stop on today's blog tour for Rebecca Alexander's new book - The Girl in the Cottage by the Sea. 

While I enjoy my suspense reads, I also enjoy turning to gentle tales to take me away from it all.

The Girl in the Cottage by the Sea is part of a series, but every book can be read as a stand alone. And it was exactly what I was looking for. 

The setting is perfect - a small village on a small island where everyone knows you, your history, your family - and your business. And on that island is a wee cottage that needs that needs a lot of love. 

The book is told in one of my favourite styles - now and then. The 'then' takes us back to WWII in 1943 and the story of Georgie, who lived in Beehive Cottage. And the 'now' brings Amber to the same place in time, running away from her life for many reasons. It was hard to to put the book down - I was invested in both stories.

Alexander has created two wonderful protagonists in Geordie and Amber. The supporting cast is just as well written. There might be a romantic plotline - or two - woven into the stories as well. And a change in both of their lives.

I quite like this quote from Rebecca Alexander: "This whole series has been about the ripples that are created by people rediscovering themselves in an isolated place where the people depend on each other, where the bonds of love and friendship form."

I think there's a few more stories to be a cottage by the sea. 

"Rebecca Alexander was born in Malta and grew up on the south coast of England, becoming a psychologist. She escaped parenting six children to study writing in 2011, and the Secrets series of novels was published in 2013. A Baby’s Bones and sequel followed. Rebecca lives in a haunted 300-year-old cottage in Devon where she grows fruit, paints, and bakes. She reads and writes all sorts of genres, from women’s fiction to fantasy to crime. She is married with four chickens, two grandchildren and a cat."      You can find Rebecca on X (Twitter). 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The Five Year Lie - Sarina Bowen

The Five Year Lie is Sarina Bowen's new novel. 

Bowen's previous books are romantic fiction. But, with this new book, suspense takes the driver's seat. The romance is still a big part of the plot, but in a supporting role - not overpowering the suspense. 

Ariel had a whirlwind affair with Drew - but he left her without a goodbye. That was five years ago, and she still doesn't know why. But a computer glitch sends her on a last chance hunt to find answers. And what she finds is frighteningly real. I'm not going to spoil what that is, but I'm sure it's already in place somewhere.

I liked Ariel as a lead character. She's the antithesis of her family, living life on her terms. Bowen gives us some chapters from the past - from those chapters we come to know Drew through Ariel's eyes. There one clear cut 'bad' player, and a few others that I couldn't quite decide on.

Bowen does a good job with the plotting of The Five Year Lie. Again, the catalyst for the plot is quite believable. (If you're like me, you might ask yourself...) The action ramps up as the final pages turn. And the ending? Just right!

The Five Year Lie would be perfect for a beach bag this summer. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Five Year Lie.

Monday, May 6, 2024

The Return of Ellie Black - Emiko Jean

The Return of Ellie Black is Emiko Jean's newest novel. 

The opening prologue is one that is sure to capture your attention. Ellie Black went missing two years ago. And in all of that time, the police haven't made any progress. Until...Ellie walks out of the forest. Detective Chelsey Calhoun is on the case. But...

Oh, I knew this was going to be a great listen! I needed to know where Ellie had been for two years. Was it voluntary? Was she taken? And so much more. 
Jean gives the listener partial answers to these and other questions by telling the story in a then and now format - one I always enjoy! Jean does a great job exploring the aftermath of such a event through friends, family and the police.

And - my favorite - twists and turns. Well done Emiko Jean - I was surprised! I'm not 100% on that last big twist, but I appreciate it. 

I chose to listen to The Return of Ellie Block. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I often feel more immersed in a story when I listen to a book. The decision to go with a cast (9) of narrators for this title was perfect. (A number of my favorites were on the list.) There's no guessing as to what characters are speaking. Each voice was perfect for the character they were portraying. I was able to match them with the mental images I had created. All spoke clearly and enunciated well. Each reader did a great job. The audio really brings the plot to life.  Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Return of Ellie Black..

(Gentle listeners, there are some triggers in the Return of Ellie Black.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Safe and Sound - Laura McHugh

Laura McHugh has just released her new book - Safe and Sound. I  really enjoyed her debut novel, The Weight of Water. (my review) And I really enjoyed Safe and Sound as well.

McHugh again does a brilliant job of building the setting. Beaumont Missouri is a small town that the younger residents can't wait to leave. There's a heaviness to the town, dusty, dirty and worn with nothing to redeem it. Some folks get out - with a sigh of relief. Some stay. And some go missing...

Sisters Amelia and Kylee's older cousin Grace, is one of the missing. The girls are determined once again to try and find out what happened to her. Someone has to know something. And yes,   omeone does indeed know something...

McHugh's prose are dark and gritty. There are moments where the sun shines through, letting hope in. And times where the 'wrong' comes to visit.  

The plotting was excellent - with a finale that I couldn't predict. The ending was apt and right - I wish I knew what happened after the last page. An excellent read for me. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Safe and Sound.

 (Gentle readers, there are some triggers.)

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Game of Lies - Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh brings her take on reality game shows in her latest book - A Game of Lies. This is the second book in a series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone.

Seven people are the chosen ones that will be vying for a prize of 100,000 pounds that will go to the last one standing. What they're expecting are physical challenges - but what they get is something completely different. The name of the game is 'Exposed' - and it's life changing...

Mackintosh takes us back to a small village in Wales - the setting of the first book. The village is on the dividing line between England and Wales and jurisdiction is sometimes murky. Two investigators are tasked with the case - local copper DC Ffion Morgan and English based DC Leo Brady. I was thrilled to see this pair of coppers again. There's a connection between the two, but neither feels like they can act on their personal feelings. I like the detailed lives Mackintosh has give the two lead characters. The supporting cast is just as interesting. And the contestants? An interesting bunch for sure. And who else is needed? Dave the dog of course. 
The setting is well described and I could easily imagine the hills, the water, the forest, the village and the game site.

Now - the crime. There are a lot of choices for the final whodunit. It wasn't easy to suss out the culprit or the method. Twists and turns in the narrative make it even more difficult. 

I quite this liked this latest! Hopefully Mackintosh has a third book in the works. See for yourself - read an excerpt of A Game of Lies. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Last Word - Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is one of my favorite authors. And though I'll never stop missing the Ruth Galloway books, I have found some new favorites. You can meet some of them in Elly Griffiths' new book - The Last Word.

DS Harbinder Kaur from The Postscript Murders is back - but in a supporting role this time around. Instead we're with the two owners of the K and F Detective Agency - eight four year old Edwin and Natalka, who also runs a carer business. Oh, and her boyfriend Benedict steps in when needed as well. Amateur sleuths? Yes - but they're very clever and dogged in their search for answers and results. Griffiths has created a set of new players that I really, really like. I must admit to having a favorite already with Edwin. As readers, we are privy to their inner dialogue and that really rounds out the characters. 

The case itself is a murder. Or a possible murder. It's hard to say. So that's where the sleuthing starts. But Benedict sees a possible connection to something he's found. And the answers may be found at a creative writing weekend. There are many, many choices for the whodunit. I must admit to losing track as to who was who at times. But, there are updated clue lists as the investigation progresses that help.

Everything is tied up nicely be the end of the book. But the door is open for more of this crew - and I'll be watching for the next book. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Last Word.

The publisher's blurb "Perfect for fans of Richard Osman and the Thursday Murder Club is spot on."  

Friday, April 19, 2024

Everyone Is Watching - Heather Gudenkauf

Game shows have evolved from the days of Bob Barker and guessing prices to 'games' that you couldn't imagine! Heather Gudenkauf has set her latest book - Everyone is Watching - in a 'game' that will keep you turning pages 'til the wee hours. 

The prize is ten million dollars. But - there are only five players. Does that make it easier to win? Or tougher? Oh, and the competition is being streamed in real time around the world.

I like the way Gudenkauf set the book up. We meet the players in their present with flashbacks to their pasts. As you read, you'll have your suspicions about every player - and the staff.

Each event is not at what was expected by the players - or this reader! But is it really so far from reality? What will someone do for a chance at ten million dollars? The tension, suspense and action doesn't let up until the threads are all tied up in the last pages.

I can see Everyone is Watching as a movie. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Everyone is Watching.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Night in Question - Susan Fletcher

I have no idea if anyone has coined a name for the genre of  'older amateur sleuths solving mysteries and pulling at your heartstrings at the same time. Not a cosy, but a heartfelt story running alongside of the body. Let me know if you have! Until then, I'll go with my long winded one. Oh - and I am really enjoying this style of storytelling.

The Night in Question by Susan Fletcher is a perfect five star example. 

Florrie Butterfield is eighty seven years old and now calls an assisted living facility home. When a serious event happens on the grounds of Babbington Hall, Florrie decides to investigate on her own - with the help of her friend Stanhope. Fletcher does a great job of eking out the clues of the mystery bits. I loved the both of them. There is a large cadre of supporting players - each with something to add to Florrie's investigation. She gives her older characters true voices - they're older, but shouldn't be dismissed.

Remember that other bit I mentioned? The heartstrings? Florrie has lived a wonderful life - loving, travelling, living instead watching and yes, not everything was perfect, but still, a rich life. I loved her outlook. Chapters about those past years are interspersed within the current day search for answers. I have to say - the past had me in tears more than once. 

The Night in Question is a thoughtful book, a slow burner that was such a joy to read. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Night in Question. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Home Front Girls - Susanna Bavin

A Bookworm's World is a stop on today's blog tour for The Home Front Girls - the first book in Susanna Bavin's planned trilogy.

If you enjoy WWII historical fiction, you're  going to want to add The Home Front Girls to your 'to read' list!

I was hooked in the first chapter. Sally and her bestie, Deborah, work for the Food Office making sure that shop keepers are following the rules for ration books. But the latest 'sting' has repercussions for both Sally and the store clerk, Betty.  

I thought Bavin's settings were wonderfully described. The book is set in 1940  Manchester, England. Bavin and her family  lived in Manchester for many years and that personal view really works in creating a setting.

Her characters are also wonderfully created. It's very easy to have a favorite, one you'd like to know in real life. And those you wouldn't! Keep your eyes open for Mrs. Lockwood! And who else you ask? Well, I think a budding romance adds a lot this book as well! 

I really enjoy this time frame. The 'Keep Calm and Carry On' attitude, the looking out for your neighbours, the social mores, and family. There are lots of hard choices to be made - and duty to follow.

And Bavin has included all of that and more. I'll be watching for the second book - Courage for the Home Front Girls coming out May 2004.

"Susanna lives in Llandudno in North Wales with her husband and their rescue cats, but her writing is inspired by her Mancunian roots. She has written stories ever since she was a child and always wanted to be a published author. Susanna enjoys reading, walking and gardening and she loves living by the sea. She also writes as Maisie Thomas, for The Railway Girls series, and as Polly Heron, for The Surplus Girls series." You can connect with Susanna on her webpage or on Facebook and sign up for her newsletter.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Close to Death - Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is one of my favorite authors. I've been eagerly waiting for the fifth entry his Hawthorne and Horowitz series. It's here - Close to Death

I can't recommend this series enough. It's clever in so many ways. The protagonist is the enigmatic Hawthorne, 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 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 quite interesting...

In this latest, the publisher is after a new book in a short time. Hawthorne currently has no case on the go. Well, not anything he's going to share with Horowitz. So....a past case is going to be used. But its already been solved, so Horowitz have to use the case notes that Hawthorn provides. But (yes there is another But) - Horowitz can't help himself. He decides to track down and interview anyone that was involved - after Hawthorne warns him not to.

What's so great about this series you ask? An actual author playing a character in his series. I just think what the writing process would entail. The enigmatic Hawthorne. With each entry, we learn more about him. I hope we've not heard the last of this pair. The clues and the case. Horowitz is so very, very clever. As I read, I try to keep a lookout for anomalies, lies, seemingly innocuous comments and actions and more. And I'm quite happy to say that I've not solved one yet! I really appreciate Horowitz's intricate and devious plotting. 

I highly recommend this series!  Fingers crossed for number six! See for yourself - read an excerpt of Close to Death

Monday, April 15, 2024

Daughter of Mine - Megan Miranda

Daughter of Mine is Megan Miranda's new novel.

Hazel Sharp hasn't been back to Mirror Lake for almost a decade. There are just too many memories there - especially the disappearance of her mother. Why didn't she take Hazel with her? It's the death of her father that brings her back to the family home in Mirror Lake. Old disagreements and resentments rear there ugly heads as Hazel and her two brothers argue over the will. And other secrets are exposed as the water level in the lake drops...My answer for whodunit changed frequently.

Daughter of Mine is a bit of a slow burn in the beginning as the scene is set, the characters introduced and the crux of the matter is exposed. Family matters, old hurts, actions, secrets, and more keep the narrative moving forward. I thought Miranda did a great job of drawing the relationships between all the players. The headers of each chapter lists the days without rain - and the level of the lake keeps dropping.

I chose to listen to Daughter of Mine. The narrator was Inés del Castillo. I've enjoyed other books she's read. Her voice matched the mental image I had created for Hazel. She provides many other voices, including men's, that are believable. The speed is good. She enunciates well and her voice is pleasant to listen to. She interprets Miranda's work and uses her voice to capture the emotions and action of the book.  A good performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt for Daughter of Mine.  Runtime is 10 hours and 20 minutes.

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians - James Patterson and Matt Eversmann

The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians is the newest compilation between James Patterson and Matt Eversmann.

The sub title is True Stories of the Magic of Reading. I actually liked this better than the 'secret lives'.

Having worked in a library and a bookstore, I eagerly picked up the book and dove in. I was hooked by the first story, so I read another and another and...

I found so many relatable outlooks, memories, experiences and more from many view points. Shop owners, book buyers, school librarians, public libraries, booksellers and more. All with a love of books and reading. Finding the book for someone is a wonderful feeling. I've found bookstores and libraries to be my happy places.

I enjoyed the stories that were included. I wonder if some additional tales could have been also included. Such as visiting libraries for those who can't get to the bricks and mortar building. Prison libraries. Little Free Libraries, etc.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. Short entries let you have a beginning and ending when you're busy. And I really connected with many others. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Gathering - C.J. Tudor

You just never know what you're going to find in a book from C.J. Tudor - other than a great read! I never read the flyleaf of her books - I just know that I'll like it! But have a second look at that cover of the newly released The Gathering to get an idea.  

The book is set in the town of Deadhart Alaska. There's also a Colony of vampyrs further out.  When a teen boy is found with his throat ripped out, it seem pretty easy to know who is responsible - right? But the law needs to be followed as vampyrs are a protected species. 

Detective Barbara Atkins is called in as she is also a specialist in vampyr killings. She is a the perfect protagonist - she's older, heavier and is often discounted by someone's initial assessment of her - which actually works for her. She's intelligent, reads people well and doesn't give up easily. 

There's a large cast of supporting characters. The one thing that all have in common is that they all lie
 - about the past and the present. Barbara has to deduce who the killer is, and do it before anyone else dies - including the vampyrs. Tudor has created her own set of traits, abilities and more for the vampyrs. (Hint - don't bother buying any garlic.)

The melding of a murder case alongside with the race issues kept me interested from first page to last. There's also a number of pages that are the inner dialogue of an unnamed captive. We have no idea who she is and when this is happening. I really like it when I don't know what's going to happen on the next page and the next chapter etc. I like being kept on the edge of my seat. Kudos to C.J. Tudor - that last page is perfect!

See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Gathering. Gentle readers, there are some triggers in this book.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Kill for Me Kill for You - Steve Cavanagh

Kill for Me Kill for You is Steve Cavanagh's latest book - and it's a doozy!

Have you ever watched Alfred Hitchcock's 1951 movie called Strangers on a Train? The premise is that two strangers will execute a murder for the other, thereby creating an unbreakable alibi for each another.

But Cavanagh puts his own spin on things, with more characters, more killing, and my favorite - more twists and turns! Just when I thought I had nailed down my choice for the whodunit, I was proven wrong. I love it when I can't guess how a plot is going to unfold. There's no down time in Cavanagh's writing!

I chose to listen to Kill for Me Kill for You. The narrator was Stephanie Cannon and she was fantastic! There are many characters in the book, but Cannon has created a voice for every last one - male and female - that are believable. You'd swear that there are two people having a conversation. I don't know who she can flip back and forth. Cannon speaks clearly and enunciates well. The speed was just right. She captured the tone of Cavanagh's work. A wonderful performance! Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Kill for Me Kill for You. And I'll be watching for Cavanagh's next book. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

A Body at the Dance Hall - Marty Wingate - Book on Tour!

A Bookworm's World is happy to be one of today's stops for Marty Wingate's new book - A Body at the Dance Hall

This is the third book in The London Ladies' Murder Club series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone. 

The book is set in 1922 London England. Wingate does a wonderful job of bringing the setting to life  with her detailed descriptions of shops, clothing, food, societal mores and so much more. I have a fondness for this time frame and place and the 'keep calm and soldier  on' attitude. 

What else? Oh, the characters for sure! I loved Mable, the lead character. Her job is with the Useful Women Agency. (Don't you love the name?) Assignments can be just about any thing. In this tale, Mable is to be a companion for a young woman from the US. They go out one evening - and that's where the body comes in.  And where the private investigating also comes in. Mable is smart, tenacious and determined. She's backed up with a wonderful cast of supporting characters. They're just as likable as Mable. And what does a cosy need? Yes, you got it - a dog. You'll love Gladys.

The plotting of the whodunit was good as well. The final reveal was not who and what I expected. A Body at the Dance Hall was a fun read. I'll definitely pick up another book from Marty Wingate!

"Marty Wingate is a USA Today best-selling author of both mysteries and historical fiction. Marty enjoys weaving humor into her books and creating characters—from quirky and loveable to sinister and duplicitous—that leap off the page. Before embarking on her series about the London Ladies Murder Club with Bookouture, Marty published three contemporary cozy mystery series (the Potting Shed, Birds of a Feather, and First Edition Library books). She has also published two standalone books of historical fiction and found stories of the past to be compelling. She’s delighted to combine her penchant for both mysteries and histories to bring her readers more satisfying stories. Marty currently resides near Seattle, Washington.'

You can find Marty on her website, find her on Facebook and follow her on X as well. 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Kate's War - Linda Stewart Henley

If you like historical fiction, you're going to want to pick up Linda Stewart Henley's new book - Kate's War.

What's it about? 

"Set in a London suburb during the first year of WWII, KATE’S WAR by Linda Stewart Henley gives us the moving story of Kate Murphy and her family as they grapple with possible bombings and invasion. This novel is inspired by a little-known event from 1940 in which Henley’s father participated.

At twenty, after much preparation and while still mourning the end of her first romance, Kate is ready to leave home to pursue a singing career, long her dream. Her biggest hurdle is overcoming severe breathing problems that plague her when nervous.

But just when she is ready to tell her family of her imminent departure, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declares that Britain is at war with Germany. 

As Kate re-orients to staying home and once again teaching choir at the local school, she’s approached by the mother of one of her pupils, a Jewish German refugee. The mother asks that Kate take care of her daughter if anything happens. When the little girl’s parents are deported in the dead of night and the child comes to her for help, Kate taps into a core of courage she never knew she had.

In her finest book yet, Linda Stewart Henley explores the challenges of new adulthood in the midst of war, the protection of children during violent conflicts, keeping dreams alive, and young love. Kate’s War is beautifully written, poignant, and a gripping tale of bravery and hope."

You can connect with Linda on her website. As well as on Facebook

Friday, April 5, 2024

Studies at the School by the Sea - Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is one of my favorite rom com authors. I love her style and her stories. They're feel-good, heart-warming escapist reads and they never disappoint. Studies at the School by the Sea is the fourth (and last) of the School by the Sea books.

I loved reconnecting with Maggie, her students, coworkers - and love interest. There's been a yes, no, maybe so, plotline running through the entire series that is finally settled in the final pages. 

The setting of the book is on and around the Downey House Boarding School (for girls). The girls are getting older and their lives are changing. It's been nice to watch them grow up with every new year. Their outlooks, experiences, doubts and all round teen angst has been depicted really well. The focus in this entry is on Fliss and Simone. 

Settling in with a Jenny Colgan book is like visiting an old friend and catching up on what's been going on. Colgan writes an number of series and sometimes there are cameo and crossover appearances from other books. I wonder if we'll see any of this lot in the future? 

This was another great read for me. See what you think - read an excerpt of Studies at the School by the Sea. 

There's a new Colgan book called Close Knit that releases on August 6/24. It's on my must read list!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Sleeping Giants - Rene Denfeld

Sleeping Giants is Rene Denfeld's new novel. 

And like her previous books, its gut wrenchingly good. Denfeld writes what she knows - injustice, trauma, abuse, and so much more. So, yes, there are triggers in this latest novel, as there were in her previous books. But it's certainly not there for shock value. It's simply the ugly truth of our world. 

The story is based on those truths. Dennis has been in a residential home for 'troubled' boys. When he was moved into it, he was six years old. When he is swept away by the ocean he is nine. 

Amanda never knew she had an older brother. She is looking for answers as to what happened to him. I really liked Amanda. Her job at the zoo was a brilliant addition to the plot. She meets Larry, a retired cop, who wants to help her. He too is carrying his own grief around. The biggest character of all, is the ocean. Denfeld's description of the water, the power and the danger of the ever moving water, is so very good. I easily pictured my self backing away from it's dangerous waves. There are also a number of supporting characters - both good and bad. Really bad. 

I had to put the book down numerous times as my eyes were filled with tears. Denfeld's writing is so moving. There are good moments as well. Small things can be the biggest joy. I loved the ending - mostly. An easy five stars. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Sleeping Giants.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Tell Me What Really Happened - Chelsea Sedoti

A recent rainy Sunday activated my 'sloth mode'. Which is comprised of  lazy day, a comfy couch, sweat pants and a YA novel. 

I've been looking forward to Chelsea Sedoti's book - Tell Me What Really Happened. One of my favorite styles of storytelling is epistolary. In this case it's a series of police interviews with each member of a group of teens. 

Five teens who went camping:

---- on a rainy night

----in an area where young women have died or gone missing

----one of the group does go missing

---- and every police interview with the remaining four points the finger of blame on someone else

Who is telling the truth? Can you ferret out the whodunit before the last chapters? I have to say that I  didn't see Sedoti's ending coming -  it's nice to be surprised.

The cast of campers are well defined, giving us six very different personalities. Sedoti captures the joys of high school angst. She also throw in a number of horror movie tropes that add to the overall feel of the book. Seriously- what's the first rule? Uh huh, don't go into the woods.  

Tell Me What Really Happened is just plain fun to read! See for yourself - read an excerpt of Tell Me What Really Happened.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Nosy Neighbors - Freya Sampson

I was so excited when I saw that Freya Sampson had a new book out - Nosy Neighbors! (Don't you love that cover!)

I love my mystery and thriller reads, but the books that stick with me a bit longer are those that tug at my heart strings. And Freya Sampson's books are at the top of the list.

What will you find inside? A crochety, seventy seven year old woman named Dorothy Darling. She's lived in apartment two in Shelley House for over thirty years. She keeps herself busy by watching out her front window and inside the building, noting things down in her logbook - the repairs needed, when someone comes or goes from the building and much more. The latest tenant is tattooed, pink haired Kat. And the two of them clash immediately.

But, the lives of all the tenants of Shelley House are all going to change when...  Yes, I'm stopping there, leaving you to find out what happens next. 

Sampson keeps us guessing (and turning pages) as to what the secrets are that Kat and Dorothy have each been hiding for many years. 

The characters are all wonderfully drawn and it was easy to create detailed mental images of them all. All good tales have a dog, and in this case it's Reggie - who steals the show more than once. 

Uh huh, all the right elements are in place for a 'tug at your heartstrings' read. Love lost, love found, loneliness, friendship, purpose, meaning and connections. What we all need - people, not things.

Nosy Neighbors is another great read from Freya Samson and I will be eagerly awaiting her next book. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Nosy Neighbors.

Be sure to add Freya Sampson's previous books - The Last Chance Library and The Lost Ticket- to your reading list!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Step Past Darkness - Vera Kurian

I liked the title and cover of Vera Kuria's new novel - A Step Past Darkness. I had also enjoyed her debut novel - Never Saw Me Coming. And at last but not least - I liked the premise!

1995. Six high school students who live in the perfect little town of Wesley Falls head down to an abandoned mine for a big party. Uh huh, you're getting the idea right? The six see something unbelievable down in the mine. They swear to each that they'll never speak about it again, to be careful, and to get out of the town as soon as they graduate. Gotcha yet? I was - I needed to know more about the mine and what they saw.

2025. Five of the six return to Wesley Falls - and I'll leave it there for you to discover what happens next...

A Step Past Darkness is told in a now and then style. I always like this style of storytelling. Just when we're on the cusp of something, we're taken back to the teen years. It makes for addictive reading.

All six characters are given a voice, so we see what's going on from very different views and timelines. Each one has a unique personality. I quite liked them all, but especially Jia. Her view is not quite like the others. Kurian has fleshed out each protagonist with a rich personal story that enhances the story being told. 

The suspense action and danger and action is palpable. (There's a bit of a Stranger Things feel to this tale.) And the final aha is was spot on for this reader. See for yourself. Read an excerpt of A Step Past Darkness. I'll be watching for Kurian's third book!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Off the Air - Christine Estes

Off the Air is Christine Estes's debut novel from St. Martin's Press.

The cover images seem to promise a light-hearted murder mystery.The body belongs to a controversial shock jock named Larry Lemmon at Station KFRK in Phoenix, Arizona. And although the police are involved in the case, it is the view from the newshounds we are following. One in particular - Jolene Garcia.

Estes herself is a reporter in Phoenix. She brings a behind the scenes perspective to Off the Air. There's lots of detail about the battle for a story within one office, as well as between stations/outlets. It's frenetic and more than a little dodgy. The reporters and photographers walk a thin line using questionable tactics and judgement. It certainly made me think about the news I watch and read every day. How was it obtained? Is it the truth? And yes, news reporting has certainly changed over the years.

Jolene is intent to be the one to crack the murder. I applauded her determination, but I have to say I didn't like her.

To me the murder itself is not really the focus of Off the Air. Instead it's the hunt for the next sound bite. Somewhere around page 100, I started to skim some of the details of diving into a van and racing to a site or knocking on a door repeatedly after someone saying no to her. There is, of course, a final whodunit, but it felt like an add on, too little, too late.

There's also some warning re: triggers. I feel this should have been in the first few pages and not at the end. 

Just okay for this reader. Estes does indeed knows what she writes. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Off the Air.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Still See You Everywhere - Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner has a new book out - Still See You Everywhere. Suspense readers - you'll want to this add this title to your TBR list!

This is the third entry in the Frankie Elkin series, but a first read of this character for me. I thought this latest was a great read!

Frankie is the lead character - and I was very intrigued by her. She calls nowhere home, she's an alcoholic, and she finds people. She herself is one of the walking wounded. "Searching for the missing everyone else has forgotten." She takes no money for her searching and uses nothing but asking questions and reading people. And wonders how much longer she can to this.

The case? Frankie meets with with a woman who is scheduled for the electric chair in three weeks. The one thing she wants is to see her little sister before that day arrives. Frankie agrees and ...

I loved the setting - a private island accessed only by plane. Gardner's descriptions are detailed and I could easily imagine the jungle, the creatures that were there first and the current residents. And this is the part where I tell you that you need to read the author's notes! I'll let you discover why.

There are quite a few characters, but it's easy to remember who's who. You'll have your favorites - but can you put your finger on one who's not so nice....

The plotting? Absolutely fabulous. Gardner kept me on the edge of my chair for the whole 416 pages. Suspense, action, a touch of romance and twists. I love twists! Wonderful read!

Friday, March 22, 2024

Death and Fromage - Ian Moore

Death and Fromage by Ian Moore is the second book of four, set in the imaginary Follet Valley in France.

I hadn't read the first book, but easily caught up as to who was who. Brit Richard Ainsworth runs a B and B in Follet Valley and likes his routines. He also likes his customers - especially Valérie. They have 'worked' together on a previous 'case'. And it looks like they've got another whodunit to look into.
It starts with a food critic and 'a bland imposter' - vegan goat cheese! The nerve. Then comes the death by suicide of the goat cheese supplier.  And that sets the tone for the rest of the book. Moore skewers Michelin ratings, foodies, chefs and more in Death and Fromage - especially cheese. 

Moore's dialogue is full of gems. Mostly from Richard. Veronica as well, but her's is a little sharper. The two of them make for wonderful amateur detectives. Veronica has an edge as she is also bounty hunter. Of course! The town is full with wonderfully quirky supporting characters. Again - lots of comedic situations and dialogue. 

I adore cosy mysteries and this is a perfect choice. I'd be happy to read the other books in this series.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Good Half Gone - Tarryn Fisher

Good Half Gone is Tarryn Fisher's latest release.

Iris was sixteen years old when her twin sister Piper was kidnapped. Iris witnessed the crime, but the police say Piper is a runaway. That was years ago, but Iris has never stopped looking for her. But, there's one name that keeps showing up in her searches ...

I liked the premise of the book and was looking forward to her investigation. The tale is told and a then and now style.

Once Iris got to the location, (I don't want to give that away), my spidey senses perked up. Things at this locale are just not quite right. Iris gets offtrack and I wanted to shout at her! Remember why you're here! The romantic line just didn't work for me. I had started out liking Iris and her determination. But it was like a different character as the book progressed. 

The pace picks up and there are some great action and suspense bits in this part of the plot. Fisher introduces more than a few twists and turns on the way to the final pages. Some of these twists ask the reader to suspend belief. And I just couldn't -  there was too much that was too far fetched. And just in case, the ending of the book is explained by Iris. And finally - the kidnapping was also detailed.

Sadly this was not a great book for me. There were many readers who quite enjoyed Good Half Gone. I encourage you to read other reviews on Goodreads.

Good Half Gone - Tarryn Fisher

Good Half Gone is Tarryn Fisher's latest release.

Iris was sixteen years old when her twin sister Piper was kidnapped. Iris witnessed the crime, but the police say Piper is a runaway. That was years ago, but Iris has never stopped looking for her. But, there's one name that keeps showing up in her searches ...

I liked the premise of the book and was looking forward to her investigation. The tale is told and a then and now style.

Once Iris got to the location, (I don't want to give that away), my spidey senses perked up. Things at this locale are just not quite right. Iris gets offtrack and I wanted to shout at her! Remember why you're here! The romantic line just didn't work for me. I had started out liking Iris and her determination. But it was like a different character as the book progressed. 

The pace picks up and there are some great action and suspense bits in this part of the plot. Fisher introduces more than a few twists and turns on the way to the final pages. Some of these twists ask the reader to suspend belief. And I just couldn't -  there was too much that was too far fetched. And just in case, the ending of the book is explained by Iris. And finally - the kidnapping was also detailed.

The audio edition was read by Tara Sands. Her voice is clear and easy understand. She has a voice that has lots of motion in it. She uses that vibrato to great effect. (Although I admit that it started to annoy me a little bit as the book continues.) She creates voices that suit the characters. She interprets Fisher's work very well.

Sadly this was not a great book for me. There were many readers who quite enjoyed Good Half Gone. I encourage you to read other reviews on Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

A Midnight Puzzle - Gigi Pandian

The cover of Gigi Pandian's new book - A Midnight Puzzle - was what first caught my eye. And the description sounded good. 

"Multiple award-winning author Gigi Pandian and her sleuth Tempest Raj return in A Midnight Puzzle, where an old theater reveals a deadly booby trap, secrets, and one puzzle of a mystery."

Midnight Puzzle is the third book in the Secret Staircase series. I really liked the descriptions of the "illusion architecture" that the Secret Staircase Construction Company builds. 

Illusion is a large part of the series. Many members of the Raj family and their circle are professional illusionists and magicians. I thought this was a novel idea. Between that and the building company there are many opportunities for trouble.

Tempest Raj is the main character. She drives the storyline forward and has her hand in everything that's going on. There is a really large group of supporting players. A lot. I admit to having a hard time to keep track of who was who and how they fit in to the list of players.

The plot is a busy one as well. Pandian includes many twists and turns on the way to the final 'ta da". I initially appreciated the ups, downs and turnarounds of the narrative, but I started to tire as the book progressed. For this listener, it was overkill in the end.

The narrator for A Midnight Puzzle was award winner Soneela Nankani. She did a really great job of bringing Pandian's work to the audio format. She enunciates well. She has come up with a voice for every single cast member. Quite commendable - accents, age and more. Nankani also captures the action and emotion of the book with her voice. Again, really well done - I could hear every exclamation mark. 

A Midnight Puzzle was an good listen for me, but not a stand out. Listen to an excerpt. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Cape Rage - Ron Corbett

Cape Rage is Ron Corbett's just released, second book that features Danny Barrett.

Barrett is an undercover FBI agent that's been called on to infiltrate a crime family. They make their home on a treacherous island with only one way off... 
Danny is a great lead character. I expected he would prove to be canny and whip smart - and he was. As readers we are privy to his inner dialogue. I can't even imagine the inner tension of pretending to being someone else. Especially when the head of the crime family is trigger happy. The chapters where I thought he was going to be outed as a cop had me sitting on the edge of my chair. The crime family is a ruthless bunch. I'll let you meet them for yourself. There's another man on his way back to Cape Rage - along with a girl with no name.

Now, there's danger and lot of suspense in this tale. But...there are also some great descriptions of the land and the setting. The relationship between the man and the girl was unusual and I read over their bits more than once. 

The plot is inventive and ended with some unexpected twists that I didn't see coming. I have to admit to feeling a bit of rage myself with one of those twists. But it fits.

This is my first read of Corbett's - and it won't be the last. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Cape Rage.