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 InĂ©s 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!