Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Lona Chang by Ashleyrose Sullivan

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Ashelyrose Sullivan's Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story.

Lona Chang and Awesome Jones are good. They're to be married, Awesome has taken on the mantle of his father - even though the Guild says he's not allowed, and Lona herself has come into a power she's just beginning to learn about. But all that changes when a good friend and fellow superhero dies in Lona's arms. His death shakes Arc City to its core, but none are more affected than Lona herself. The hero's cryptic final words, the strange circumstances of his death, and an odd book with seemingly hidden clues are more than enough to force her to investigate. And what she finds could mean bad news for all of Arc City. 

Lona Chang is a cute idea - a story told in comic book style complete with bold faced lead ins like you'd see in a comic panel. There are even comic panels throughout the book. Of course, it's also a story about superheroes, which is always fun. And it's got within the story as Lona takes her investigation further and finds more clues in different books.

And the story is fun. A murder mystery, flashbacks to a story that began some years ago, and even Lona and Awesome's relationships with one another and their friends all make this an entertaining read. And yet, the execution wasn't as polished as I would have liked.

I found myself a bit confused by the progress of the book from the start, rereading sections in order to try and get a grasp on what was happening. I often felt, too, like more effort was put into the mystery than the characters themselves - I wanted to spend less time in the pages of the books Lona was reading, for example, and more time with Lona herself.

Lona Chang is the second book in the series, following Awesome Jones: A Superhero Fairy Tale. Character development aside, Lona Chang can be read as the starting point quite easily. I say character development aside because I assume there's maybe more emphasis on their development in that first outing. And yet, it doesn't mean it's not needed in the second.

Lona Chang is a great concept and a fun afternoon read, but I found wanted more depth overall.

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Ashleyrose Sullivan and her work you can visit her website here.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Sunday, October 15, 2017

New Releases 10/17/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Live Constantine

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornok

Forbidden Suns by D. Nolan Clark

Righteous by Joe Ide

Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks

Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt

Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst

It Devours! by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Strange Lies by Maggie Thrash

The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

New on DVD:
Spiderman: Homecoming
Girls Trip

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Browsing is, I think, the best part of being in a bookstore. And online avenues have created a new sort of browsing. I was scrolling through Edelweiss recently and came across Laura Purcell's upcoming title and now I can't wait to read it!

Edelweiss is kind of great for discovering upcoming titles, if you didn't know. You can browse publishers' catalogs, you can see comp titles, all kinds of fun stuff. And as a book junkie who not only loves to wander the spines of bookstores' collections, I very much like to stay in the know about what I need to buy down the line as well.

And this one, readers, is one I definitely need to buy!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves.

This is not Purcell's debut, but it is the first of her books to be released here in the States and it's said to be a great one for fans of Shirley Jackson!

The Silent Companions is due out in March from Penguin. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

Molly Southbourne has to be careful. Any drop of blood has to be quickly taken care of, or it'll turn into another Molly - intent on murder. Yes, since she was a little girl, Molly has been killing herself over and over and over. But with strict care and attention, and the help of her parents, Molly has made it to adulthood still living and breathing. 

But that doesn't mean she's safe. In fact, as she grows older things only become more dangerous. 

Sooo this one wasn't a big hit for me. It should have been. Everything about the premise promised it would be. But something about Thompson's style just didn't click for me. Instead of being strange and mysterious, it was just plain hard to follow.

Molly bleeds and her blood becomes another Molly. Not a baby Molly, but another Molly exactly the same age and appearance as the Molly that bleeds. And yes, the doppelgängers appear from any Molly's blood, hence the care and attention it takes not only in getting rid of Molly's blood but in getting rid of other Mollys.

The story begins with Molly chained up, visited by at least one other Molly who narrates the story. And of course, without context the reader is immediately asking, which Molly is which?

The bigger questions, for me, are why do the Mollys all want to kill and why does Molly have this strange ability in the first place? (Because I have control issues and apparently can't always follow a story where it leads my - just going with the flow!)

Molly's backstory is never quite revealed to my satisfaction. It's more a read between the lines story than anything. Yes, there's some detail given about her mother and about what led to Molly's problem, but I wanted more. (See, control issues.)

I've gotten better over the years with less explanation in stories. As a teen, I'd have had a much stronger reaction to the pieces of the story that are left out. As an adult, I accept it as an interesting read, but admit I still crave more answers in order to be thoroughly satisfied.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is being adapted as a movie and I'll be interested to see how it turns out. I'd also be interested in reading more should Thompson revisit this story in some way down the line, so clearly I didn't dislike it. I just want loose ends tied up. Control.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

It's Thursday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Gilly Macmillan's latest, Odd Child Out.

Two boys - best friends - but then one ends up hospitalized after an accident that may be more than that. 

DI Jim Clemo is just back on duty after mandatory leave and therapy thanks to a very public breakdown. His boss, and everyone besides, thinks this is a straightforward accident that'll be open and shut. Unfortunately, the case is much more complicated than it seems. An eyewitness claims to have seen the boys fighting, but by all accounts Noah and Abdi never fight. With Noah in a coma, though, and Abdi silent, the police don't have much to go on. And then the public gets wind of the case. 

I've not read Gilly Macmillan's What She Knew, so this is my first meeting with Jim Clemo. And yet, this second outing does stand well enough on its own that it made for a great introduction.

Jim is the kind of cop who gets over involved in his cases. Which is why he's good at his job, but also why he suffered a breakdown before the events of Odd Child Out take place. From the start, though, I could tell that it was beneficial, not just for him but for Abdi. There's a line in the book when Jim is interviewing Abdi for the first time, or trying to, and he says his own father would have taken the boy into the station.

Abdi and his family are refugees from Somalia. It's an area Noah's father actually knows well as he's spent time there photographing the very camp Abdi's family once lived in. And this detail - Abdi's background, that is - is part of what makes the book such an emotional read. From page one it's obvious this is not going to help Abdi. Comments that seem to be in passing - a tut tut from a fellow bus passenger that Abdi's sister overhears, yelled slurs at the hospital when Abdi's parents arrive to pick him up - make it clear (even if you've been living under a rock) what kind of backlash there will inevitably be. And it doesn't make Jim's job any easier.

As I mentioned, Odd Child Out is an emotional read. Chapters alternate between multiple characters, including Noah himself while he's in his coma. Normally a mystery will draw anger and sympathy from me as a reader, but this one got to me much deeper than that. I don't want to give anything away, but Macmillan does a fantastic job at tugging at your heartstrings while also giving the reader a great mystery. Be prepared!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Gilly Macmillan you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hide and Seek by MJ Arlidge

Happy Book Birthday to MJ Arlidge whose latest Helen Grace mystery hits shelves today!

After being framed for a series of murders, Helen Grace has been sent to Halloway to await trial. The prison is on its last legs, set to be closed by the end of the year and understaffed as a result. Helen, a cop responsible for a fair number of the women housed there, certainly hasn't made any friends. It's just a matter of keeping her head down and waiting for trial - or to be proven innocent. As far as the latter, she has help on the outside, but most of her former colleagues have turned against her in the wake of her arrest. 

Then an inmate in the cell next to Helen's is brutally murdered. While locked up for the night. Helen heard nothing, but can't help investigate. And as more bodies pile up, it becomes clear time is running out: not only must she find a way to clear her name, she now has to survive Halloway, too!

If dark and twisty is to your taste (as it definitely is mine), this is a series you really don't want to miss. And I can personally attest to the fact that you can dive into this one without having read the five predecessors - I missed book five, Little Boy Blue. Much to my shame! Though there are spoilers for Blue in Hide and Seek, I plan to go back and read that one very shortly. I love this series!

Helen is hard as nails, but she has a hidden side. This is something we know from previous outings and is reiterated here in Hide and Seek. That facade and the fact that she lets very few people in is exactly what's left her now at the mercy of the prison system and the courts. She's been framed for murder. By her own nephew. And only one cop on the outside is pursuing the case from that angle. Everyone else has apparently washed their hands of Helen in spite of the years she's spent on the police force and the accomplishments she's made there.

Which sucks.

As a reader who's taken the time to get to know Helen through much of the series, it really sucks to see her in this situation. And yet, she's Helen Grace! And of course when inmates start getting murdered in their own locked cells she's going to investigate!

Arlidge's plots are complex and, as mentioned, quite twisted. But they're also oh so fabulously put together. And again, you can dive into this one straight away, but if you want to start from the beginning, you'll see that Helen's (and the department's) growth from each installment to the next is fabulously thought out. I can't wait for the next installment!

Here's the series list in order, if you're interested:
Eeeny Meeny
Pop Goes the Weasel
The Doll's House
Liar Liar
Little Boy Blue
Hide and Seek
Love Me Not (2018)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb + a Giveaway

Good morning, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.

When Thomas and her brother, Will, went off to war, Evie Elliott promised to write. And write she did. Taking up residence at Will's writing desk, she kept them abreast of everything going down on the home front while they, sometimes in the case of Will, wrote to her of their experiences on the actual front. 

It was a war everyone expected to be over by Christmas, and yet it dragged mercilessly on and on. And throughout, Thomas and Evie kept up their correspondence. Decades later, Thomas is ready to rerun to Paris. Along the way, he reminisces over his letters, saving one final one for Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Paris is a (mostly) epistolary novel set within he framework of Thomas's trip in 1968. And while it might sound as though the letters that make up the tale are only between Evie and Thomas, that's not the case at all. There are letters between Evie and her friend Alice, letters between Thomas and his father, letters between Evie and Will, and telegrams and letters from and to others besides.

Through them, we see the evolution of each character through the most horrible of circumstances: war. They begin bright eyed and excited, ready to take on the world and defeat the enemy. But it doesn't take long for reality to set in. Evie, who can't go to the front, fights the only way she can: with her pen and her words. Thomas fights to gain his father's approval and to defend his country and others, but never expected it to be as brutal as it inevitably is revealed to be. Fortunately, through it all, they have one another to turn to.

Apparently the idea for this book came out of the anthology Fall of Poppies, edited by Heather Webb.  According to the authors' note, they wanted to tell more stories set in WWI. You can read the note yourself, but I find it fascinating to see how the idea for this came together. Two writer friends with a passion for history, emailed discussions back and forth, and an idea is born and brought to fruition!

And WWI is a fascinating time. The kind of battles fought were indeed different from those before with effects no one dreamed about. A virtual generation of men was lost. And the massive nature of the war caused huge social change as well. Women back home had to take on the roles left behind by men, roles that were then taken from them when the men returned. Both Evie and Thomas illustrate these issues and changes throughout the book.

Last Christmas in Paris works seamlessly and the fact that the authors were able to create such a great story while also giving ample life and breath to their characters through letters is fantastic! Definitely recommended for any fan of historical fiction!

Oh, and if you're like me and feel like reading Christmas books when it's not Christmas is just weird, this isn't really a Christmas book. Fair warning, though, it is a bit of a tearjerker!

And now for the giveaway! I've got one copy to give away to one of you lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 23. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Hazel Gaynor and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

For more on Heather Webb and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble