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Monday, December 4, 2017

What I'm Reading: The Paris Secret by Karen Swan + a Giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Karen Swan's The Paris Secret.

Apologies, readers, my work load has been such that I haven't been able to finish reading this one, much as I've been dying to! So rather than my usual homemade synopsis, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.

High-flying Fine Art Agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to asses these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and just who has concealed them for so long.

Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren't all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family's affairs - but just what is he hiding?


A few years ago, a story broke about an abandoned apartment in Paris packed full of art and other sundries. The apartment had been locked up since WWII and untouched until three years after the owner's death. And of course upon hearing the story I was immediately intrigued. (You can read bit about it here.) And I wasn't the only one, Karen Swan was inspired by that very same story in writing The Paris Secret

With the exception of a few details, Swan's imaginings of the story behind the apartment are much different than the reality. The story is set around Flora Sykes, who has been brought in to research and determine the value of items discovered within the apartment. The daughter of a former chief auctioneer at Christie's, Flora has art in her blood. But Flora doesn't really expect to find any real treasures. And yet, that's pretty much exactly what she finds! And the stories behind those treasures...

At one point, Flora muses over the fact that no one ever discovered the apartment was abandoned in all the time before it was opened. It's a thought I had as well - the building (real and fictional) must have had excellent security! In fact, the boon begins with the apartment being broken into (again different from the real story, which I understand was that the owner's death prompted opening of the apartment). 

I love Swan's version. I love the rich and vibrant details of the story and the art. And I love the mystery she's built around an already fascinating tale, making it completely her own!

And now for the giveaway! I've got one copy to give away to one lucky reader here. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, December 18. 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 Karen Swan you can like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Sunday, December 3, 2017

New Releases 12/5/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Year One by Nora Roberts

Alive in Shape and Color ed by Lawrence Block

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

Not Safe After Dark by Peter Robinson

Plague Land by Alex Scarrow

New on DVD:
Despicable Me 3
Better Watch Out
American Assassin

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

Oh, what!? There's a new Josh Malerman coming out! Well, it's a few months down the line, but I can't possibly contain my excitement any longer.

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

The haunting story of a woman literally bringing herself back from the dead, Unbury Carol is a twisted take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.


Unbury Carol is due out from Del Rey in April. 


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Garden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie

Good morning, everyone! Are you ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow? I know I am.

Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Deborah Crombie's Garden of Lamentations, the 17th installment in her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series.

When a young girl is found dead in one of Notting Hill's private gardens, Gemma James isn't initially part of the investigation. She soon learns, though, that the girl was both a full time nanny and a part time babysitter and model for a good friend. At first, as a favor for her friend, she only accompanies her to offer condolences to the family. But soon, Gemma finds herself drawn into the case.

Meanwhile, Duncan has learned that his former boss is back in the office and is on the hunt for answers. Still reeling from the loss of a fellow officer, Duncan has never had an explanation about why he was transferred so suddenly out of his former position. It appears his suspicion of corruption at the Yard might be on point, cryptically confirmed by the very same old boss. But when that man is attacked just moments after meeting with Duncan, he realizes the issue is much deeper than he'd initially thought. And now he wonders if his family is at risk. 

I love this series! If you're looking for a fantastic set of mysteries with characters you can root for and a deep backlist to keep you busy, Deborah Crombie's series is it!

I've mentioned in past reviews of series installments that you can read these out of order, but (fair warning) each one does link directly to the one before. In this one, there are a lot of threads that tie back to To Dwell in Darkness. A lot! And of course by diving straight in here you do miss a lot of the backstory of these characters and their relationships.

And yet, I feel comfortable saying that the worst would be potential spoilers for the previous novel. The plotting and pacing of each new book is always stellar and Crombie pays ample attention in each new book to further developing her characters and their stories, so there is plenty to fall in love with even if you are new to the series. Enough to hook you and make you want to go back and read those earlier books!

If you want to start the series from the beginning, the series list is:

A Share in Death
All Shall Be Well
Leave the Grave Green
Mourn Not Your Dead
Dreaming of the Bones
Kissed a Sad Goodbye
A Finer End
And Justice There is None
Now You May Weep
In a Dark House
Water Like a Stone
Where Memories Lie
Necessary as Blood
No Mark Upon Her
The Sound of Broken Glass
To Dwell in Darkness
Garden of Lamentations

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

For more on Deborah Crombie 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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Guest Post by Christy Carlyle

Hi, readers! Today I have a special treat, I'm hosting author Christy Carlyle, author of How to Woo a Wallflower! Before I hand things over to Christy, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

An Unconventional Wallflower…

Clarissa Ruthven was born to be a proper lady, but she’s never wanted to live up to the expectations her late father set. Determined to use her inheritance to help the less fortunate women of London, she’s devastated to learn that she won’t be inheriting anything until she marries, a fate she has no interest in. Unwilling to let go of her plans, Clary works at Ruthven Publishing for Gabriel Adamson, a man who’s always hated her. She’s always returned the feeling, but as she begins to turn her family’s publishing company upside down, she finds herself unable to forget her handsome boss.

Never Follows the Rules…

Gabriel Adamson believes in order. He certainly doesn’t believe Clary should be sticking her nose in the publishing company, and she definitely has no business invading his every thought. But Gabe soon finds he can’t resist Clary’s sense of freedom or her passionate kisses and he starts to crave everything she’s willing to give him.

Especially When It Comes to Love…

When Gabe’s dark past comes back to haunt him, he’ll do anything to make sure that Clary isn’t hurt…even if it means giving up the only woman he’s ever loved.

The fact that this one involves a woman working in publishing, makes it all that much more appealing to me!

And now, over to Christy!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Historical Romance 
by Christy Carlyle 

I relate to wallflowers in fiction. Could be because, way back in the Stranger Things era, I kind of was one.

If you time traveled back to the 1980’s, you’d find me somewhere in the cluttered rush of a high school hallway. I wasn’t the cool girl or the super fashionable one. I was bookish and bespectacled, though I did have an elaborately decorated locker.

There weren’t any fancy balls in my life, no Empire gowns or chairs at the back of a room full of elegant dancers. I was just quirky. I didn’t fit in any of the cliques that existed at my high school. Maybe I was a bit of a loner. I certainly never got an invite to the prom.

Maybe that’s why I’ve never defined wallflowers as the shy unassuming girl, but the unique one. Sure, she might prefer books to most people, or be awkward when she means to be eloquent, but there’s more to every wallflower, and she’ll surprise you every time.

I think of wallflowers on a continuum that includes Molly Ringwald’s Andie in Pretty in Pink every bit as much as Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Take the time to notice an unappreciated young woman, and you might just find someone who’s fierce and clever and as interesting as any heroine ever written.

History—where the marriage plot rules and women who didn’t conform to society’s expectations were likely to be scorned or overlooked— isn’t the same as historical romance. Romance is the ideal place to celebrate the wallflower who no one expects to be fabulous. In historical romance being unusual isn’t a curse. It’s an opportunity to shine.

So, who are a couple of my favorite recent quirky, unconventional wallflowers in historical romance?

Lisa Kleypas gave us a perfect example in one of my favorite books this year, Devil in Spring. The story opens with Lady Pandora Ravenel sitting in a chair at a ball, bored out of her mind. Oh, so relatable. And we soon find that Pandora isn’t shy or meek. She’s loyal, stubborn, and bold. And once the hero actually takes the time to notice her—let’s just say, in an odd situation—he can’t stop noticing how unique and appealing she is. Pandora is the quintessential unconventional wallflower.

Lily Maxton’s recent The Rogue’s Conquest gave me a wallflower to love too. Eleanor Thompson is more interested in entomology than etiquette, and she’s bold enough to go and present her paper at a men’s scientific society—in disguise, of course. And, of course, former prize fighter James MacGregor notices her, including her faulty disguise, and does what a rogue should never do. He becomes bewitched by a wallflower.

In my latest book, How to Woo a Wallflower, I loved allowing my quirky heroine to revel in all of her uniqueness. Clary Ruthven was the girl in the back of the ballroom who nobody asked to dance, partly because she has no intention of conforming to society’s expectations. Despite being the daughter of an etiquette book writer, she’s a natural born rebel and never follows the rules, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. She’s not your typical Victorian lady, but she’s one of my favorite wallflowers.

Who are your favorite literary wallflowers? 

About the author: Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Huge, huge thanks to Christy for being here today. And huge thanks to her fabulous publicist for setting this up!   

My own favorite literary wallflowers, the wife in Rebecca and Jane of Jane Eyre!

How to Woo a Wallflower is the third in the Romancing the Rules series and is out on shelves now.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

New Releases 11/21/17

It's slim pickings this week because of the holiday, but here goes. Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

Winter of Ice and Iron by Rachel Neumeier

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

New on DVD:
The Hitman's Bodyguard
Birth of the Dragon
Valerian
Leap

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Say it with me now, Murderbot! Murderbot! Murderbot!

When I started Martha Wells's All Systems Red earlier this year, I really didn't know what I was in for. Yes, the description sounded fun but I was new to Martha Wells. Aside from the fact that I've loved just about every Tor.com novella thus far, I didn't really know what to expect.

Readers, it was oh, so freaking fabulous! And now, the second installment in Martha Wells's Murderbot Diaries is probably the sci fi title I'm most looking forward to at this very moment! Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”.

But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

This one doesn't come out until May, but you can tide yourself over until then by reading the first one if you haven't yet. Trust me, you want to - you're in for a huge treat!