The Witch of Willow Hall @HesterBFox

I am mortified that my post containing my original review for this terrific gothic tale somehow went into the etherlands!  As it draws closer to Halloween and since it TBR Thursdays, I’m actually re-posting the post that never was. Yeah, it’s already one of those types of days. <sigh>

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The Witch of Willow Hall is a perfectly written gothic tale of witches, dark secrets and history.

This is the debut novel written by Hester Fox and all I can is, “Wow!” Every first book should be this amazing! I was completely blown away by the history, the suspense and the storyline itself. It was, without a doubt, a great book!

Lydia Montrose is the middle child and a loving sister. Her family was run out of town after horrible rumors began to swirl around the family. It’s 1821, and these types of “rumors” can be a death warrant even 200 years after the Salem Witch Trials. Her family moves to Old Newbury where her father sets up a mill. But things at the house itself are more than a strange. Lydia hears noises and sees ghostly type apparitions. What exactly is going on in their house and with Lydia’s family? This slow simmering tale will answer those questions – and more.

One of the first “big girl” books I ever read was “The Witch of Blackbird Pond.” It set the stage for my intense love affair with gothic tales, horror and spooky reads. Although, when I re-read Blackbird Pond I chuckle at how tame it is in comparison. The Witch of Willow Hall is not so tame – it has everything a reader could ask for in a great witch story. The characters are very well drawn; the love that Lydia and her sisters have for one another shines throughout the book. There is a touch of romance and a plot full of  well placed twists to keep you on your proverbial toes. The Witch of Willow Hall is the perfect Halloween read – but be sure to leave your light on when you do!

Thank you #Netgalley, @HesterBFox, and #Harlequin-GraydonHouse for my copy of this perfect gothic tale!

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Walk A Crooked Line by Susan McBride

It has been a long while since a police procedural has rocked my boat, kept me on the edge of my seat and made me say, “Wow.” Walk A Crooked Line did all of those things a more!

TBR Thursdays

#TBRThursdays is the day that I reach back to my To-Be-Read list, read a book and review it. Then, hurrah, it’s not on my ever growing list any longer!

Why I waited so long to read Walk a Crooked Line is a puzzle to me. If I had known how great it was going to be, I wouldn’t have waited! This is the second installment in the Jo Larsen series. Normally second books are not as good as the first and I’ve come to expect that. This one, however, is even better than the first!

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Jo Larsen is an amazing detective who once had a very bright future ahead of her. She made some critical errors in judgement and had to pay the price for them. Now, she trying to rectify her mistakes and continue with a job she loves and is good at but in a much smaller town. Much. Smaller. When she is called out to the scene of what appears to be the suicide of a 15 year old girl, she cannot let things go until she knows “why” the girl would take her own life. Was it willingly, did someone push her or did someone bully her into doing so. These are the questions that Jo wants answers to and she will investigate until she finds that answer – unless someone stops her first.

McBride has created a very sympathetic protagonist in Jo Larsen. She is smart, capable but flawed with a gambling addiction and a sister who always has been a thorn in her side. As we explore the reasons why this girl might have killed herself, we also unravel more of Jo’s back story and the more we learn, the more wonderful and brave she becomes.

There are multiple story arcs throughout the book: the suicide, Jo’s sister who has returned to town, dog-nappings and subsequent abuse but never does the book get muddled or confusing. Each story line is handled deftly and thoroughly as the book roars toward its climactic conclusion. In the genre of police procedurals/suspense, Walk A Crooked Line stands out as a winner.

Thank you to #Netgalley, @SuzMcBrideBooks and #Thomas&Mercer for my copy of this well written tale.

The Weight of Silence @Gregg_Olsen

Gregg Olsen has delivered once again – a taut, well-written police procedural that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

TBR Thursdays

Each Thursday I try like hell to cross another book off of my TBR list. I have no idea why I waited so long to read The Weight of Silence by Gregg_Olsen when I know that his books always are going to be amazing. Of course this one is no exception!

The Weight of Silence is the follow-up to Olsen’s bestseller, The Sound of Rain, where we first met Detective Nicole Foster. Foster is back after her catastrophic downward spiral in The Sound of Rain and ready for a second chance. She’s moved back to her childhood home on the Washington coast to care for her niece Emma and begin “fresh” in a new department. Of course, the past never really is buried and her sociopathic sister, Stacey, is not going to let Nicole’s past stay in the past for long.

The story is two-fold: the majority of the theme is an extremely well written police procedural where Nicole and her partner, Carter, are investigating the worst kind of case – the death of a child. The parents insist at every opportunity available that the child’s death was an accident. But was it really? Methodical policing may prove otherwise. As the case progresses, Olsen gives us an in-depth examination of Nicole’s current life – her intense love for her niece, her “family” which includes an aging pooch and her Alzheimer ridden father. We learn more about Nicole’s gambling addiction and the strength she uses to overcome it every single day. To say that Olsen is a master of character development is understatement. He is brilliant. Ultimately Nicole’s past and present converge at a climactic conclusion that is extremely satisfying on both fronts.

There are times when I think that suspense/mystery/thrillers all are blending together and merely re-telling the same plot over and over again. With The Weight of Silence I am reminded how wonderful it is when the genre is done right.

Five highly recommended Stars to The Weight of Silence!

Thanks to #Netgalley, #Thomas&Mercer and @Gregg_Olsen for this very enjoyable book.

 

Let me Lie by #ClareMackintosh

 

The police ruled her parents death a suicide but on the anniversary of their death Anna receives an ominous, anonymous note suggesting otherwise. Is it just a hoax, or is it a clue to what really happened to Anna’s parents?

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Clare Mackintosh is so well known in the Crime/Suspense genre that you know you’re going to get a terrific read. Let Me Lie is no exception, perhaps even better than her previous publications which I loved. Her writing strength is that she creates every day people that we can relate to but who find themselves in situations that are mind-blowing even to the characters themselves. In this case, we have Anna who, still grieving from the loss of both parents the year before, has fallin in love with her therapist and has a new child. She already is stretched to a breaking point dealing with these issues when a note arrives on her doorstep:

SUICIDE – Think Again

Anna knows she should leave the past alone but how can she after this note. She elicits the help of a retired cop who, by the way, is far more interesting than most secondary characters, and together they begin to unravel what really happened. Or do they? The story is murky, the characters extremely well drawn and the suspense is palpable. Mackintosh is well known for her twisty plots and surprise endings but this story exceeds all others. I don’t enjoy a surprise ending that is written just to surprise you but when the surprise is something that you should have anticipated, an eneding that shocks you but you should have seen coming, then I get really excited – and this ending really was quite shocking. It is worth reading the entire book just to get to the final pages. And, I have to say, that once I began reading Let Me Lie, I did not stop once. It was an all night read for me… and a very blurry following day! The suspense will pull you in and keep you hooked long after you have finished reading.

Five suspenseful and satisfying stars for Let Me Lie!

 

 

The Trailing Spouse

Ooops, surely no one who blogs is as scatterbrained as I, but as a reminder it is always a good thing to hit “publish” before leaving the blog. Yep. I really am that stupid forgetful.

I wanted so badly to read Jo Furniss’ first book but never could get my library to get it for me so I was really thrilled to receive a copy of The Trailing Spouse, her second book which you can now find at “most” libraries and at Amazon

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The Trailing Spouse follows the story of three characters, each of whom have a relationship with a man, Edward Bonham. Amanda, his wife, who traveled around the world to Singapore to be with Edward. She is “the trailing” spouse, a phrase used to describe the spouse who follows the person with a job wherever that job takes them. Here, Amanda has left Great Britain to move to Singapore, a city built on illusion, beautiful yet filled with horrors. This imagery is present throughout the marvelously crafted story.  Camille Kimball has returned to Singapore to find answers from her childhood, her missing parents, and closure to her past. And, there is Josie, Edward’s daughter who still is recovering from her mother’s apparent suicide. Her relationship with Edward is a strange one, to say the least. As the story progresses, the web around these characters grows and becomes more intricately tangled until the climactic conclusion.

Furniss has woven a story that is both beautiful and frightenly realistic. Amanda is, at first, described as the very typical “trailing spouse” who is interested only in being in a glamorous place and with the money that most often goes with the move. These spouses have no rights, very little ability to work independently, in many countries – such as Singapore – they cannot have a bank account in their name or conduct financial transactions on their own. They are, therefore, totally reliant upon their spouses for all of their needs. After her maid, the helper, is found dead, Amanda’s precarious life begins to unravel. As we watch her life come undone, we are left to ask ourselves “who is sane, who is not and how can we know who is telling the truth.” The answers will shock you!

I will admit that I was fascinated with the story and its setting. I had heard from those who had traveled to Singapore about its beauty but, more often, about the illusion upon which this city is built. It has more millionaires and billionaires than any other country; it is, quite literally, one of the richest places on earth. And yet, its people have limited freedom and its immigrants, often used for servitude and menial jobs, are often abused and exploited. Furniss does an excellent job recreating this side of Singapore’s tale. Her writing is skilled, filled with picturesque imagery and it was this  craftsmanship that elevated the book for me. However, there are parts that drag as a result of too much detail. There were times that I really did not want to read another word about Amanda’s embryos calling out to her or dancing in the freezer.  While this storyline added depth to Amanda’s character, it wasn’t entirely necessary to the actual plot so, for me, it dragged on too long and too often. It does not take away from the overall suspense of the book, but it does keep it from being a non-stop, page turning thriller. Despite this, I loved the book and absolutely recommend it for all who enjoy suspenseful tales. You won’t be disappointed.

I owe much appreciation to #JoFurniss, #Netgalley, and #LakeUnionPublishing for my copy of this terrific book!

 

 

Then She Was Gone – TBR Thursdays

TBR Thursdays

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a taut, well written domestic noir tale.

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It’s Thursday and time to clear off another book from my “To Be Read” list. I’ve been anticipating this one, literally, since I finished her last book. Lisa Jewell is quickly becoming one of my favorite “go-to” authors for domestic noir.

In typical Jewell fashion, the author grabbed my attention from the first page and did not let go until I was finished. That is not to say that this a “thriller” or filled with plot twisting “gotcha” moments; that simply isn’t Jewell’s style. Rather, this is a perfectly told story of domestic noir.

A family is torn apart by the disappearance of their daughter. No one in the family is unscathed by the loss and subsequent agony that the mother has faced. We are introduced to each member of the family, some more briefly than others, and their characters are well developed throughout the saga. However, the attention primarily is on the mother who never gives up searching for her daughter. And then…… she meets a man whose own daughter is the very image of the one who was taken. How can this be and how is it possible to for them to share so many coincidental acquaintances?

Without adding any spoilers, the plot is well thought out and expertly told. There are times while reading that I laughed out loud at some of their conversations. The characters are witting, biting and very true to life. I adore Lisa Jewell for her ability to make even the worst antagonists life-like and who never fit into the typical “bad guy” mold.

The She Was Gone is a very quick, enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to those who like noir fiction and, especially, to all Jewell fans. If you’ve read this, I would love to read your thoughts about it.

Now, what’s on your TBR list?

How To Stop Time

TBR Thursdays

I don’t know about you, but my To-Be-Read list is getting out of control! I am setting aside one day a week to read and review a book that has been sitting on that shelf. Recently I cleared out half of the list by removing books that I knew I never would read. If I had downloaded it but didn’t start it, started it but never finished, or simply had changed my tastes – it got removed. This helped me a lot in my desire to actually read what was left on the list. It no longer seemed like such a daunting chore and reading never should be a chore.

“Whenever I see someone reading a book, especially if it is someone I don’t expect, I feel civilisation has become a little safer.”   ― Matt Haig, How to Stop Time

First up:

iuI absolutely adore Matt Haig and his quirky view of the world. His writing is eclectic, to say the least, but also fun and, in a intriguing way, very philosophical.

How To Stop Time is the rather peculiar story of Tom Hazard who, through a genetic anomaly, ages at a snail’s pace. He now is 400 years old but appears to be a rather youngish man in his 40s. He is immune to disease and so has avoided all of the nasty issues like the bubonic plague, rather lucky for him. Tom now finds himself in the present, teaching history (of course) in London. One would assume that since most people never have enough to time to do things we want to do once we find them, (sorry – I had a Jim Croce/Time in a Bottle Moment that clearly shows my age) that having all of this time would be marvelous! Not so! All of the people Tom has come to know and love have died. He has had to stay on the run, one step ahead of witch hunters, the church, scientists, who do not understand him or want to understand him more – and not in a good way. For Tom, the saddest part of all is losing the one you love – which is why there is a rule: Never Fall In Love. Hello Tom!? Yeah…. you know where that goes, right?

The book is written in past and present time, back and forth from Tom’s present to memories of his past. I found the past chapters my favorite. It was like a time-travel book but without the magic of time-travel! Most importantly this is a book on reflection, civilization and a philosophical look at where we are today.

“A problem with living in the twenty-first century….. we are made to feel poor on thirty thousand pounds a year. To feel poorly travelled if we have only been to ten other countries. To feel old if we have a wrinkle. To feel ugly if we aren’t photo shopped and filtered.”

Yes, Tom, I agree. First world problems are utterly ridiculous and overblown. I agreed with a lot in this book and I loved Haig’s out-of-the-box method of causing us to think about these issues. How to Stop Time is not without its problems, but overall, it is a book that I highly recommend.

My thanks to Matt Haig, Viking Books and #Edelweiss for this copy to review. Obviously, I am FAR behind with my review, sadly, but catching up once more!