Review: The Widow’s House, by Carol Goodman

About the book, The Widow’s House The Widow's House

• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 7, 2017)

This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.

They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

Buy, read, and discuss The Widow’s House:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Carol Goodman

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Connect with Carol:

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My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good thriller, but The Widow’s House is much more than merely a thriller. Yes, it’s the story of the secrets that main characters Clare and Jess Martin uncover as creepy – and downright scary – things happen to them in their new roles as caretakers of of Riven House, but it’s also the story of the tension that can happen in a marriage when one partner succeeds and the other is still struggling.

Author Goodman weaves a compelling story, balancing dramatic tension both in the obvious story of the house and its history, but also in the interpersonal dynamic between Jess and Clare.

As a struggling writer myself, I really empathized with Clare, but I also disagreed with some of her choices. Still, I felt she, Jess, and the other characters we meet in this novel were all very realistically drawn, with hopes and dreams, quirks, and flaws.

If you love a thriller, this book has it all – vivid descriptions, a spooky location, jeopardy that feels very real, and characters that are easy to care about.

Goes well with homemade baguette, Stilton cheese, and a glass of red wine. Anything except Merlot.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours - The Widow's House

Tuesday, March 21st: Caryn, The Book Whisperer

Wednesday, March 22nd: Staircase Wit

Thursday, March 23rd: Tina Says…

Monday, March 27th: Booksie’s Blog

Tuesday, March 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, April 5th: Why Girls Are Weird

Tuesday, April 11th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, April 12th: Bibliotica

Thursday, April 13th: Book by Book

Wednesday, April 19th: Unabridged Chick

Thursday, April 20th: Jathan & Heather

Review: Touch Justice: Countdown (part 1 of 8) by Carla Cassidy

TOUGH JUSTICE COUNTDOWN Tough Justice: Countdown

This action-packed thriller unfolds in eight gripping installments, each written by top authors including Carla Cassidy, Tyler Anne Snell, Emmy Curtis and Janie Crouch.

This review covers only Part I.


About the book, Tough Justice Countdown (Part 1 of 8) Tough Justice Countdown Part I

  • Print Length: 85 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases (February 1, 2017)

Tick. Tock. BOOM.

FBI Special Agent Lara Grant had thought that she’d put her past behind her—finally—with her last case. But now a serial bomber is targeting Manhattan’s elite power players, offering them a choice between saving hundreds of lives or seeing their darkest secrets exposed. Lara is working with the Crisis Management Unit to stop the bomber, but how will she react when she’s the one who has to choose between truth…or death?

Part 1 of 8: an explosive new installment in the thrilling FBI serial from New York Times bestselling author Carla Cassidy and Tyler Anne Snell, Emmy Curtis and Janie Crouch.

Buy, read, and discuss Tough Justice Countdown (Part 1 of 8)

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

For more information on the Tough Justice series, visit toughjusticeseries.com.


My Thoughts: Melissa A. Bartell

At 85 pages, Tough Justice Countdown (Part I) is a quick read, more a novella than a short story. It opens, almost literally with a *boom*  – a bomb threat that is actually (apparently) followed through on within the first couple of pages. It’s an amazing way to start off a series, and from that moment, I felt like we were racing through an adventure reminiscent of the best episodes of shows like 24 and Person of Interest.

FBI agents Nick and Lara – especially Lara, as this is really her story more than anyone else’s quickly became very real to me, as much so as if they were crime-solving partners in a movie or television series (Netflix needs to buy this series. Seriously.), and I liked the way they were effective partners while actively working, but also supported each other emotionally. This is a Harlequin series so I’m assuming there will be overt romance in later installments (I have them all, but am reviewing this one without having read the rest, because I didn’t want to color my perceptions with too much foreknowledge), so I’m going on record: I ship Lara/Nick.

Obviously there were many other characters. Victoria was a standout for me, as were Xander and James.

I liked the way the procedural parts of this story were full of brisk professionalism, and included some of that hurry-up-and-wait sense that is so prevalent when you’re waiting for information, or trying to connect dots.

Overall, I thought this was a gripping story with likeable characters, and I recommend it, and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Goes well with pastrami and swiss on rye with good mustard and a bottle of vanilla seltzer or cherry coke.


Giveaway (ends 2/14 at 11:59 PM Central) Tough Justice Countdown Part I

One lucky reader in the US will win a digital copy of Part I of this series. Since it’s a digital copy, this giveaway is limited to Twitter. Find MY post with this review (I’m @melysse), retweet it, and also reply to it telling me you’ve done so.


TLC TOUR STOPS for TOUGH JUSTICE COUNTDOWN: TLC Book Tours - Tough Justice Countdown

Wednesday, February 1st: Books and Spoons

Friday, February 3rd: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, February 6th: Staircase Wit

Tuesday, February 7th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, February 8th: Bibliotica

Thursday, February 9th: Back Porchervations

Friday, February 10th: Dog-Eared Daydreams

Monday, February 13th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, February 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, February 16th: From the TBR Pile

Friday, February 17th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, February 21st: Becky on Books

Review: A Minor Deception by Nupur Tustin – with Giveaway

A Minor DeceptionAbout the book, A Minor Deception

  • Publication Date: November 15, 2016, Foiled Plots Press
  • Format: eBook & Trade Paperback; 254 Pages
  • Series: Joseph Haydn Mysteries
  • Genre: Historical Mystery

When his newly hired violinist disappears just weeks before the Empress’s visit, Haydn is forced to confront a disturbing truth. . .

Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn would like nothing better than to show his principal violinist, Bartó Daboczi, the door. But with the Empress Maria Theresa’s visit scheduled in three weeks, Haydn can ill-afford to lose his surly virtuoso.

But when Bartó disappears—along with all the music composed for the imperial visit—the Kapellmeister is forced to don the role of Kapell-detective, or risk losing his job.

Before long Haydn’s search uncovers pieces of a disturbing puzzle. Bartó, it appears, is more than just a petty thief—and more dangerous. And what seemed like a minor musical mishap could modulate into a major political catastrophe unless Haydn can find his missing virtuoso.

Buy, read, and discuss A Minor Deception

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads


About the author, Nupur Tustin Nupur Tustin

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

For details on the Haydn series and monthly blog posts on the great composer, visit the official Haydn Mystery website.

Connect with Nupur

Facebook | Goodreads


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

As a classically trained cellist (though strictly an amateur), this book really resonated with me.

First, I really loved the use of Joseph Haydn as the main character. I don’t know a lot about him, though I know his music, but he felt real and vivid, and based on my own experience with temperamental conductors, I believed in the author’s version of him.

Then there was the dual dynamic of orchestra/chamber ensemble vs. court. In many ways, the two are similar – both are based on heirarchies that aren’t always obvious to the outsider, and both involve directors/leaders who wield great power, not always judiciously. In particular, I loved the character of Bartó, who reminded me of so many arrogant musicians I’ve worked with – and, though I’m reluctant to admit this, a little of myself.

Finally, there was the mystery. Nupur Tustin combined her love of music and history with research and a genius for plot, and this story kept me guessing to the very enjoyable end.

Basically, if Mozart in the Jungle were set in the court of the Holy Roman Empire, you would get something akin to this novel, except this story, for all it’s drama and theatrics, feels more plausible than the popular Amazon television show.

If you want a compelling mystery that is blended into a gripping story populated by vivid, dimensional characters, and with a soundtrack you can almost hear in your mind’s ear while you’re reading, you need to read A Minor Deception.

Goes well with goulash, not because it’s period-accurate or story specific, but because it’s chilly and rainy and goulash is on my brain.


Giveaway A Minor Deception

To win a paperback copy of A Minor Deception, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on January 23rd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to residents in Europe & North America only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Minor Deception

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/yfHxC/a-minor-deception


Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 17
Interview at The Book Connection
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, January 18
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Thursday, January 19
Guest Post at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 20
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Review at Bibliotica

Sunday, January 22
Review at Laura’s Interests

Monday, January 23
Review at Luxury Reading

A Minor Deception at HFVBT

Review: In the Blue Hour, by Elizabeth Hall – with Giveaway

About the book, In the Blue Hour In the Blue Hour

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 1, 2016)

Elise Brooks dreams of a car accident on an icy road. Weeks later, her beloved husband, Michael, is killed in just such a crash. Now, overcome with grief and uncertainty, Elise believes his spirit may be following her in the form of a raven, trying to tell her something from beyond the grave.

Desperate to understand the signs, Elise embraces both the Native American wisdom she grew up with and the world of psychics and seers. So when a tarot-card reader suggests she take a journey to the mysterious address found in Michael’s old jacket, she embarks on a cross-country trek to follow the clues.

Accompanied by Tom Dugan, an engineer and scientist who does not believe in psychics, mediums, or the hoodoo “conjure woman” they encounter on the road, Elise navigates the rituals and omens of the spirit world in an attempt to unravel the mystery of her husband’s message.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books a Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Elizabeth Hall Elizabeth Hall

Elizabeth Hall, author of Miramont’s Ghost, has worked as a teacher, communications consultant, and radio host. She spent many years in the mountains of Colorado and now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts of knitting, beading, and weaving.


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I read Elizabeth Hall’s previous novel, Miramont’s Ghost, about a year and a half ago, and really enjoyed it, so I was eager to see what she’d do with a more contemporary story. With In the Blue Hour, I feel like she’s really come into her own, solidifying herself as a writer who does amazing things with supernatural thrillers.

One of the things I loved about Hall’s previous book, and which she continues to excel at in this novel, is in vivid descriptions of place. I know Taos, NM, mainly from the writings of Natalie Goldberg and one too-brief overnight there twelve years ago, when my husband and I were driving from California to Texas, but after reading this book, I feel like I’ve spent a month in Taos and its surrounding areas.

Hall’s characters are all very vivid. While I enjoyed reading about protagonist Elise’s relationship with her deceased husband Michael (told in flashbacks), it was Elise’s friendship with Monica that I found to be exceptionally strong. This is a life-long friendship in which both women met as girls, grew up together, and stayed friends into adulthood. I really loved the changing dynamic of the two, as well as the way each woman remained completely herself.

I found the actual story of In the Blue Hour to be quite lovely. A bit on the cozy side of thrillers, with a strong spiritual element, I found the author worked Native American traditions into her story very plausibly. It never seemed like there was any tokenism or appropriation, but rather a deep reverence for and appreciation of all the traditions depicted  – even the tarot reader.

In many ways, In the Blue Hour takes its cues from true gothic romance, resetting that trope in a contemporary setting, but however you classify it, it’s an interesting, compelling story with a rich tapestry of people and places.

Goes well with cheese and onion enchiladas and a margarita.


Giveaway In the Blue Hour

One person in the U.S. or Canada will win a copy of Love Literary Style. How? There are three ways to enter:

  1. Find my tweet about this book, and retweet it (make sure my tag is intact @melysse)
  2. Find my post about this book on Facebook, like it, share it, and comment that you have done so.
  3. Leave a relevant comment about this book, here on this post. (Comments from first-timers must be approved and may not go live for 24 hours).

Deadline: 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on Thursday, November 17th.


Elizabeth Hall’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, November 1st: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Wednesday, November 2nd: Thoughts on This ‘n That

Thursday, November 3rd: Books A La Mode (Guest Post/Giveaway)

Friday, November 4th: Bibliotica

Monday, November 7th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, November 8th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 9th: Write Read Life

Thursday, November 10th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 11th: Brooke Blogs

Monday, November 14th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, November 15th: Wall to Wall Books

Wednesday, November 16th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, November 17th: Broken Teepee

Monday, November 21st: Chick Lit Central

Tuesday, November 22nd: Mama Vicky Says

Wednesday, November 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

About the book, The Perfect Girl The Perfect Girl

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 6, 2016)

From Gilly Macmillan, the international bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author of What She Knew, comes this whip-smart, addictive, and harrowing novel of psychological suspense—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Kimberly McCreight.

“With tightly drawn characters, a fascinating storyline and absolutely exquisite narration, The Perfect Girl is sure to keep readers up all night. Gilly Macmillan proves once again to be a master of the written word and is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. Literary suspense at its finest.”—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Baby

Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead.

In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe’s former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.

Buy, read, and discuss The Perfect Girl

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Gilly Macmillan Gilly Macmillan

Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England.

Connect with Gilly

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I wasn’t certain, at first, if I would enjoy this book. For some reason, the rapidly changing points of view were jarring at first, even though I often read novels with similar styles. I put the novel away for a few days, then picked it up again, and found myself absorbed in it from the (re)start. Sometimes you have to meet a book at the right time.

Author Gilly Macmillan has given us, in The Perfect Girl a practically perfect story. The characters – Zoe, Tessa, Sam, Richard – everyone – are interesting and dimensional, and the choice to alternate first-person points of view is both bold and deftly handled. Each character has a distinct personality, a specific voice, and they are never muddled or muddied (though only three actually have their POVs presented).

The plot of this novel is also near-perfect. As we learn about Zoe’s mother’s death, we also learn about Zoe’s past (an incident that occurred when she was fourteen) and the relationships between the people without her. It’s as much human drama as it is mystery or thriller, and I found myself equally interested in every aspect of the story.

What I really liked was that the entire story took place over one 24-hour period, and while there was a lot going on, it never felt implausible or too compressed.

Bottom line: If you want a really great story that’s a little bit thriller and a little bit drama, this is the novel for you.

Goes well with a curry and the lager of your choice.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, September 6th: Mama Reads Hazel Sleeps

Wednesday, September 7th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, September 8th: bookchickdi

Friday, September 9th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Monday, September 12th: Tina Says…

Tuesday, September 13th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, September 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, September 15th: West Metro Mommy

Monday, September 19th: she treads softly

Tuesday, September 20th: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, September 21st: Comfy Reading

Monday, September 26th: I Brought a Book

Tuesday, September 27th: Bibliotica

Wednesday, September 28th: Vox Libris

Thursday, September 29th: What Will She Read Next

TBD: Book Hooked Blog

Agatha Christie: Closed Casket, by Sophie Hannah

About the book Closed Casket Closed Casket

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (September 6, 2016)

“What I intend to say to you will come as a shock…”

With these words, Lady Athelinda Playford — one of the world’s most beloved children’s authors — springs a surprise on the lawyer entrusted with her will. As guests arrive for a party at her Irish mansion, Lady Playford has decided to cut off her two children without a penny . . . and leave her vast fortune to someone else: an invalid who has only weeks to live.

Among Lady Playford’s visitors are two strangers: the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited — until Poirot begins to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murder. But why does she seem so determined to provoke a killer? And why — when the crime is committed despite Poirot’s best efforts to stop it — does the identity of the victim make no sense at all?

Buy, read, and discuss Closed Casket

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About series creator, Agatha Christie Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the most widely published author of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Her books have sold more than a billion copies in English and another billion in a hundred foreign languages. She died in 1976.

Learn more about Agatha Christie through her official website.


About the author, Sophie Hannah Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous psychological thrillers, which have been published in 27 countries and adapted for television, as well as The Monogram Murders, the first Hercule Poirot novel authorized by the estate of Agatha Christie.

Connect with Sophie

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

It’s never easy when a new author tries to take over from a legend. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books have been written by multitudes of authors hiding behind the existing pen names since forever. Robert Goldsborough successfully stepped into Rex Stout’s shoes and gave us the continuing stories of on Nero Wolfe a couple of decades ago.  With this novel, Closed Casket, Sophie Hannah has stepped up to write about one of Ms. Christie’s beloved creations, Hercule Poirot, and I have to confess, I asked to review it as much because as I love the dapper Belgian as because I was curious to see if he was safe in Hannah’s hands.

I needn’t have worried. Closed Casket is everything a Poirot novel should be… interwoven plot lines, layers of social behavior, clues upon clues, and through it all, his keen intellect leading us down the path to the solution.

From the moment we are first introduced to Lady Playford this novel is compelling. Why leave all your money to someone who may well die before you? Why invite a private detective and a Scotland Yard inspector to a weekend in the country? Why indeed… if it isn’t to force deep truths from your friends and family?

It’s hard to review a mystery without spoiling it… suffice to say that all of Hannah’s characters are well drawn. I heard echoes of David Suchet’s performances in Poirot’s speech, and would happily watch a weekly police drama featuring Catchpool. It felt a little like Playford was meant to represent Christie herself, in a way, but I think every reader will come away with that sense, even if it isn’t accurate.

As with all Christie mysteries, this isn’t a novel that involves car chases or gun fights. There is little ‘action,’ there is no gore. This is not a spy thriller.

What Closed Casket is, is a perfectly plotted, well drawn continuation of a beloved character’s adventures. Hannah’s writing was endorsed by Christie’s estate. I hope she continues to write in this world, but I’m also intrigued to check out her other works.

Goes well with a pot of tea, a plate of scones, and whatever you do, don’t look behind that billowing curtain.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, September 6th: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 7th: I Wish I Lived in a Library

Thursday, September 8th: A Bookworm’s World

Monday, September 12th: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, September 13th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, September 14th: Dwell in Possibility

Monday, September 19th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, September 21st: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, September 22nd: In Bed with Books

Friday, September 23rd: Bibliotica

TBD: A Wondrous Bookshelf

Review: The American Girl, by Kate Horsley

About the book,  The American Girl The American Girl

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 2, 2016)

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding.

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.

Buy, read, and discuss this book

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Kate Horsley Kate Horsley

Kate Horsley’s first novel, The Monster’s Wife, was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Best British Crime Stories. She co-edits Crimeculture, a site dedicated to crime fiction and film offering articles, reviews, and interviews with writers.

Connect with Kate

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram | Google+


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good thriller and The American Girl offers up thrill after thrill from the moment Quinn Perkins  stumbles out of a French forest and gets hit by a car, through every plot twist and mysterious turn as American journalist Molly Swift goes head-to-head with local authorities to determine the real story behind the foreign exchange student’s surprising appearance, and, indeed the rest of her time in St. Roch.

I liked the convention of alternating chapters between amnesiac Quinn’s flashbacks, her present-day video blog (an activity her therapist assigned) and Molly’s observations, especially since the former is confined to a hospital bed in a coma for the first quarter of the novel, and remains in the hospital (but awake) for much of the rest of the story.

I have to admit, I did find myself a bit distracted by Quinn’s name. Is she meant to be an homage to the character from the television show Scandal, who also has an amnesiac Quinn Perkins at the enter of the story, or did the author merely draw the name from mid-air? I wish I’d thought to relay a question through the blog tour host and publicist to find out.

I also have to confess that while I enjoyed the mystery/thriller aspect of this book a lot, I found that some of the individual story elements were a bit predictable. Molly’s flirtation with the local law enforcement is one; whether or not we should trust Quin is another.

Still, even with some minor flaws, the overall tenor of this novel is exactly what it should be for a story this dark and this intimate. The characters at the center of it – Molly and Quinn – are painted with deft strokes, the supporting cast with slightly less definition, but enough to be believable. Similarly the tone  – moody and murky – kept me involved in the mystery rather than working it out long before I was finished.

If you want a novel that sustains a nice creepy mood, tells a gripping story, and is otherwise well-crafted, you should read The American Girl.

Goes well with a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke.


Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, August 2nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, August 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Thursday, August 4th: Literary Feline

Monday, August 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, August 9th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, August 10th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, August 11th: Bibliotica

Thursday, August 11th: FictionZeal

Monday, August 15th: Buried Under Books

Monday, August 15th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, August 17th: Comfy Reading

Thursday, August 18th: StephTheBookworm

TBD: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

TBD: Book Hooked Blog

 

Review: Keep You Close, by Lucie Whitehouse – with Giveaway

About  the book,  Keep You Close Keep You Close

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 3, 2016)

When the artist Marianne Glass falls to her death, everyone insists it was a tragic accident. Yet Rowan Winter, once her closest friend, suspects there is more to the story. Ever since she was young, Marianne had paralyzing vertigo. She would never have gone so close to the roof’s edge.

Marianne–and the whole Glass family–once meant everything to Rowan. For a teenage girl, motherless with a much-absent father, this lively, intellectual household represented a world of glamour and opportunity.

But since their estrangement, Rowan knows only what the papers reported about Marianne’s life: her swift ascent in the London art world, her much-scrutinized romance with her gallerist. If she wants to discover the truth about her death, Rowan needs to know more. Was Marianne in distress? In danger? And so she begins to seek clues–in Marianne’s latest work, her closest relationships, and her new friendship with an iconoclastic fellow artist.

But the deeper Rowan goes, the more sinister everything seems. And a secret in the past only she knows makes her worry about her own fate . . .

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


About the author, Lucie Whitehouse Lucie Whitehouse

Lucie Whitehouse grew up in Warwickshire, England, studied classics at the University of Oxford, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter. She is author of The House at MidnightThe Bed I Made, and Before We Met.

Connect with Lucie

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good thriller. I love the mystery, and the sense of jeopardy that comes with the not knowing, and I love the way a well-written thriller hits you right i the sweet spot of the amygdalae, and makes your skin shiver.

From the very first page of Keep You Close, author Lucie Whitehouse has set  the absolutely perfect tone. It starts with a snowy night, a rooftop quarrel, and a deathly fall. It broadens into the friends and family, specifically Rowan, who were close to Marianne, the victim, and running through it are the dual threads of the artists’  personality – how being creative often skews you perceptions and the way you engage in relationships, and art – from the very first scene where Marianne comes in to find papers and sketches arrayed like fallen snowflakes around her house.

While it’s Marianne’s death that we are meant to be comprehending, this novel is very much Rowan’s story. In memories, it has elements of a chummy college years story, but those memories serve the twin purposes of grounding us in the heightened reality in which Keep You Close takes place, and in showing us how a rift between best friends can echo through the years.

As we discover Rowan and Marianne’s secrets, as the jeopardy to  Rowan increases, Whitehouse’s storytelling just gets better and better. This novel isn’t quite a roller coaster, but only because it’s more atmospheric than that. Rather, it’s a gracefully unwinding spiral, and a compelling read.

Goes well with fresh from the vendor fish n’ chips, steaming hot  & wrapped in newspaper, served with a craft ale or lager.


Giveaway Keep You Close

This one’s a quickie for the weekend. ONE reader from the US/Canada will get a copy of this book.

Three ways to enter (one entry per person for each choice, so if you do all three, you’re entered three times).

  1. Find my tweet about this book and retweet it (I’m @Melysse).
  2. Find  my  Facebook post about this book  and like/share it (I’m MissMelysse).
  3. Leave a comment here on this post telling me about a phobia you have. (I’m terrified of spiders.)

Contest is open until 11:59 PM CDT on Monday, July 4th.

Winner will be contacted by me, but fulfillment will be from the publicist for this book, and may take up to six weeks.


Lucie Whitehouse’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS TLC Book Tours

Monday, June 6th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, June 9th: Dreams, Etc.

Friday, June 10th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Monday, June 13th: Back Porchervations

Tuesday, June 14th: Write Read Life

Wednesday, June 15th: Just Commonly

Thursday, June 16th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Monday, June 20th: Puddletown Reviews

Wednesday, June 22nd: Stranded in Chaos

Thursday, June 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, June 27th: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Monday, June 27th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday June 29th: Books and Spoons

Thursday, June 30th: Bibliotica

Review: Tidewater Rip, by M.Z. Thwaite

About the book, Tidewater Rip Tidewater Rip

 

  • Series: Tidewater Novels
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 21, 2015)

In the dead of night, a blacked out plane flies over a river in coastal Georgia where moments later, a man is shot and left for dead. On a secluded two-lane road nearby, a woman is killed in a one-car accident. Atlanta Realtor Abbey Taylor Bunn plunges into action to find out what’s going on because the events seem to have one thing in common: the hunting and fishing club co-founded by her grandfather. Abbey isn’t the only one on the move and looking for answers. The car accident victim’s husband, an Atlanta attorney, believes his wife was murdered. When Abbey finds herself up against drug trafficking land grabbers, she is prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the place and people she loves.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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About the author, M.Z. Thwaite MZ Thwaite

M. Z. Thwaite is the author of the literary suspense novel Tidewater Rip in which she shares her life-long love affair with Georgia’s golden coast. A licensed Realtor since 1983, she continues to enjoy the simple pleasures of the hunting and fishing club on the coast of Georgia co-founded by her maternal grandfather. She grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and lives in Beaufort, South Carolina with her artist husband Steve Weeks of Riverton, New Jersey.

Connect with M.Z.

Website


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

Every once in a while, a book falls into your lap, and you become instantly engaged. I have a pretty packed spring and summer review schedule, and I didn’t really want to add more to it, but M.Z. Thwaite’s email to me was so sincere, and the plot and location (coastal Carolina) intrigued me so much, that I had to say yes. Besides, it’s important for women to support other women.

I’m so glad I took a chance on Tidewater Rip. Protagonist Abbey is smart, brave, and generous with her heart, even though men have burned her before. Her mother, nicknamed Boonks (gotta love that) is equally smart, brave, and generous, and also a bit meddlesome. Together, they run a real estate agency, but Abbey also has a penchant for falling upon crime scenes, and indepentently investigating them.

In fact, that’s how we first meet her, and it’s a great way to meet a character for the first time. Author Thwaite has a knack for writing vivid descriptions and it’s that knack, as much as the plot and characters that really hooked me on this story. The sense of place was so strong, I felt like I was breathing the same salt air, or squelching through the same mud, as the characters.

I also loved the supporting characters, Snag especially, and Roosevelt, who both helped the plot and added to the sense of place. This book could not take place in any other part of the country. It’s location specific, and it transports you.

There is, of course, a dash of romance in the novel. Boonks has declared that since Abbey sucks at choosing partners, she will pick her daughter’s next man (only a Southern mother would do that), and one contender is Tom, widowed husband of a murder victim we meet in the early chapters.

The entire novel is a compelling combination of great characters, intricate plotting, and wonderful writing that builds suspense at exactly the right pace. I would happily spend a lot more time with Abbey and Boonks, and I really hope I’ll get the chance.

Goes well with fresh-caught fish, hush puppies, and sweet tea.

 

 

 

 

Review: Incarnation, by Laura Davis Hays

About the book, Incarnation Incarnation

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Terra Nova Books (March 1, 2016)

When Kelsey Dupuis takes a job working in a genetic engineering lab in the high desert of New Mexico, she begins to suffer from oceanic nightmares that soon escalate into waking visions, warnings, pleas for help, and finally visitations from a dark-braided, green-eyed girl named Iriel. Kelsey wrestles with the notion that Iriel could be a past life self who once lived in an ancient watery place no longer on this earth. At the same time, she confronts ethical issues at work, and a lover who becomes more and more abusive. As Kelsey seeks the truth, she learns that Iriel escaped an arranged marriage in her own time, and lived to witness the destruction of her ancient homeland, helpless, despite her formidable powers, to stop it.

Incarnation is the story of one woman’s confrontation with history as she learns the meaning of a soul-twin’s life and its karmic implications. Forced to relive her deepest fears, Kelsey is able to face her entwined past and present with courage, innovation, and forgiveness in order to break the chain, free her soul-twin, and become more truly herself.

Buy, read, and discuss this book.

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About the author, Laura Davis Hays Laura Davis Hays

Laura Davis Hays is the award winning author of Incarnation, a metaphysical thriller set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a remote Island off the coast of Belize, and the lost continent of Atlantis. She is also the author of the forthcoming fantasy series, The Atlantis Material, and a collection of linked stories set in Denmark, her ancestral homeland, in the early part of the 20th century.

Laura writes with a mind balanced between right and left-brain capabilities that leads to a combination of flights of fancy and complexity of structure in her work.

A graduate of Rice University, Laura lives in Santa Fe with her husband, Jim, and two cats, Rufus and Dexter.

Connect with Laura.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts Melissa A. Bartell

I love a good Atlantis story, and I love a good contemporary thriller, and I love female characters that are flawed, interesting, and real. This book has all of the above, in spades, and is also really well written.

Kelsey, the protagonist, reminded me of so many women I know, women who work in sciences but also have a strong spiritual side, even if they aren’t actually religious. I liked that her life wasn’t perfect, that she had conflict. Too often, fictional characters have such idealized lives that it can be difficult to relate. She had a journey from skeptic, to believer, to active participant in a metaphysical and I thought the way that journey corresponded to the different locations where events took place was excellent crafting on the part of Laura Davis Hays.

It’s difficult to really talk about any part of this novel without risk of spoiling it but I do want to point out that Hays made each location – Santa Fe, the island off the coast of Belize, and Atlantis itself – into characters as much as places, and each of them helps to inform the story, just as the characters of Kelsey and Iriel affect each others lives, across centuries.

If you want a book that doesn’t really fit into any box  – it’s a metaphysical mystery, but it’s not supernatural, and it’s kind of a thriller but it’s also an action/adventure story – then give Incarnation a try. You won’t regret it.

Goes well with dorado tacos and spicy black bean chili.


Laura Davis Hays’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Monday, May 16th: Worth Getting in Bed For

Wednesday, May 18th: The Magic All Around Us

Friday, May 20th: Bibliotica

Monday, May 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom

Wednesday, May 25th: Kahakai Kitchen

Tuesday, May 31st: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 1st: From the TBR Pile – excerpt

Monday, June 6th: The Warlock’s Gray Book

Thursday, June 9th: The Sassy Bookster – excerpt

Friday, June 10th: Write Read Life

Monday, June 13th: A Bookaholic Swede – excerpt

Wednesday, June 15th: Palmer’s Page Turners