Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cover Crush: The War Outside by Monica Hesse

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at Historical Fiction Reader
, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.
 
So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
First off, I love the soft focus of this cover, with the dark border along the top drawing your eyes down. Given the barbed wire (perfectly framing the title, I might add) and airplanes in the top right hand corner you get the sense that this is a novel of war, with the clothes of the two women making me think it is probably set during WWII. I love when a cover can express for the potential reader what sort of story they might find within! This is definitely a cover I'd snatch up in a minute!
 
Let's see how close my assessment of the cover is to what the story is really about....
 
 
A stunning novel of conviction, friendship, and betrayal from Monica Hesse, the Edgar Award-winning and bestselling author of Girl in the Blue Coat

It's 1944, and World War II is raging across Europe and the Pacific. The war seemed far away from Margot in Iowa and Haruko in Colorado--until they were uprooted to dusty Texas, all because of the places their parents once called home: Germany and Japan.

Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a "family internment camp" for those accused of colluding with the enemy. The teens discover that they are polar opposites in so many ways, except for one that seems to override all the others: the camp is changing them, day by day and piece by piece. Haruko finds herself consumed by fear for her soldier brother and distrust of her father, who she knows is keeping something from her. And Margot is doing everything she can to keep her family whole as her mother's health deteriorates and her rational, patriotic father becomes a man who distrusts America and fraternizes with Nazis.

With everything around them falling apart, Margot and Haruko find solace in their growing, secret friendship. But in a prison the government has deemed full of spies, can they trust anyone--even each other?
 
 Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Historical Fiction Reader
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: January 3rd, 2017
Pages: 768

Genres: Science Fiction / Horror / Thriller / Dystopian


Synopsis



From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.


The fireman is coming. Stay cool.


No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.


What Did I Think About the Story?



At this point, if you follow my blog at all, you are probably aware that I've become somewhat of a fangirl of Joe Hill. Over the last year or so I've been trying to read my way through his novels, short stories, and his comic book series (seriously, I'll say it again, listen to the audiobook of Locke and Key for the best audiobook I've still ever listened to), and if I haven't yet experienced them all I've at least purchased copies to read when I can. With all this being said I've now got pretty high hopes for any of his work I pick up, which can sometimes be a good thing and can sometimes lead to disappointment. Well, I'm happy to say that, with The Fireman, he exceeded everything I was expecting and gave me my favorite of his novels yet.

The synopsis above gives a pretty good overview of what the novel is about. What it doesn't describe is how well thought out and drawn this apocalyptic world Harper finds herself in is, with people reacting and acting just as you'd probably imagine. The world becomes a burning nightmare, full of scared people made vicious and often heartless by this fear, or simply by the fact that they are now able to let their inner monsters out without fear of reprisals. Balanced against this are a few people who stay true to at least part of their goodness, trying to survive without succumbing to the evilness around them. It's all just a completely immersive experience that is simply terrifying for how real it feels and how easily you could see something like this happening (at least the people's reactions).

All of the characters, whether you like them or not, are phenomenal as well. Harper, in particular, was a favorite. She's somehow gritty and mild-mannered at the same time...think of a Disney character as written by a horror novelist. She loves to sing and keep positive and find the light at the end of each tunnel, even when it's obscured by fire and smoke. She is determined to find a safe place for her baby at any cost, all while also retaining her humanity as much as possible. Even the spore itself becomes its own character, controlling it's hosts and making many of them display a mob-like behavior as a sort of mechanism for survival. We get to learn so much about this spore, along with all of the characters, that I couldn't help but be completely invested in how this madness could possibly end (which I found pretty realistic and somewhat sad).

The Fireman is a hefty tome of realistic terror and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. At it's core it is an epic journey of one woman's search for a safe place for her child and the remarkable people (good and bad) that she encounters along the way. It's full of hope, humor, horror, and sadness. It's a look at humanity, as well as the loss of it, and the idea that, no matter how hard life gets, it can continue with a lot of determination and a little bit of singing. Highly recommend!


What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's absolutely perfect for this story. Clearly the fire shown is prevalent and important to the overall story (I especially love the charred outlines) and I love how it is incorporated throughout the cover, including in the title and the author's name.


My Rating: 5.0/5.0



I purchased a copy of The Fireman for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 

Reviews of Other Books by Joe Hill

 
 
Horns
 


Monday, August 13, 2018

Audiobook Review: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

Pub. Date: October 20th, 2016

Publisher: Bookouture

Length: 8 hours, 55 minutes

Genres: Contemporary Fiction / Crime Drama / Thriller / Mystery

Book Series: Erika Foster #3




Synopsis



Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.


When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.


From the million-copy bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker, comes the third heart-stopping book in the Detective Erika Foster series.


What Did I Think About the Story? 



The Detective Erika Foster series has made it's way to the top of my "I really need an exciting audiobook listen" list and, with Dark Water, the third story in the series, the mystery and drama jumps up a notch. As the synopsis says, Erika is again presented with a historic case that will test every fiber of her resolve and abilities, a case that could bring her and those she cares about closer and closer to danger. At the same time the reader/listener has a front row seat to Erika's continuing process of mourning her husband (who died in the field as part of an investigation that Erika led) while also craving companionship and contact. She's tough as nails, always ready to act first and ask for forgiveness later, but also funny and vulnerable and caring. She's the full package and the exact sort of character I can't help but go back to over and over again.

I think what I love most about this series is that the same characters you begin enjoying in book one come back in subsequent installments, with a few added here and there to expand your appreciation of this world that author Robert Bryndza has built. The team that Erika has built around herself is excellent, each adding their own personality to the mix and giving you a little bit of everything - drama, humor, aggravation - all within the scope of a strict and ordered law enforcement system. There are rules to be followed, but that doesn't mean Erika doesn't create a little wiggle room when needed for her team to solve the case.

I also really enjoy learning more about British crime procedures. For this particular case, Erika and her team are forced to cypher through boxes upon boxes of evidence from the original Jessica Collins disappearance case, something that, while absolutely necessary in case there are clues hidden within that information, takes an incredible amount of time, time which wears on Jessica's family and the media at large as everyone is desperate to know how Jessica ended up in that quarry. It's fascinating and the author does a great job of showing you the police work that is actually behind these sensational sorts of cases.

I can't forget to mention how wonderful the narrator of the Detective Foster series is. Jan Cramer gives personality and differentiation to each of the characters, making it so I'm not sure I would want to experience an Erika Foster novel without her. Her skills at narration combined with Robert Bryndza's excellent writing just make this such an enjoyable experience.

Dark Water is a wonderful edition to Erika Foster's story. It advanced her personal story - and those of her team - while also presenting a new case for the reader/listener to puzzle over. I will fully admit that I did not guess at what happened to Jessica Collins or who was involved in her disappearance and death. I am itching to listen to the next installment and see what kind of excitement Erika (and Bryndza) will bring to us next.

 

What Did I Think About the Cover?



It's perfect, as are the other covers in this series! I seem to be drawn to covers with people under water, so this one in particular is eye-catching for me. Whoever is in charge of coming up with these covers is excellent.


My Rating: 4.5/5.0



I purchased a copy of Dark Water for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 

Reviews of Other Books in the Erika Foster Series

 
 
 
 
 
 



Thursday, August 9, 2018

Cover Crush: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at Historical Fiction Reader
, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.
 
 So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
This is another case of a cover that is so intricately woven with imagery and beauty that I can't stop looking around for new things to see! The golden color against the black backdrop makes everything stand out and gives it a sense of richness and glamour. The design  makes such a lovely frame for the title and I just think who ever came up with this cover is an artist.
 
Let's read on to see what the story is about... 
 
 
Captivating and boldly imaginative, with a tale of sisterhood at its heart, Rena Rossner's debut fantasy invites you to enter a world filled with magic, folklore, and the dangers of the woods.

Raised in a small village surrounded by vast forests, Liba and Laya have lived a peaceful sheltered life - even if they've heard of troubling times for Jews elsewhere. When their parents travel to visit their dying grandfather, the sisters are left behind in their home in the woods.

But before they leave, Liba discovers the secret that their Tati can transform into a bear, and their Mami into a swan. Perhaps, Liba realizes, the old fairy tales are true. She must guard this secret carefully, even from her beloved sister.

Soon a troupe of mysterious men appear in town and Laya falls under their spell-despite their mother's warning to be wary of strangers. And these are not the only dangers lurking in the woods...

The sisters will need each other if they are to become the women they need to be - and save their people from the dark forces that draw closer.  
 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Historical Fiction Reader
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede
 
 


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Release Day Review: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pub. Date: August 7th, 2018
Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction / Biographical Fiction / Historical Fiction


Synopsis



Camden, NJ, 1948. When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita, this heart-pounding story by award-winning author T. Greenwood at last gives a voice to Sally herself.


What Did I Think About the Story?



I have to admit that I have not read Nabokov's Lolita and was not aware of Sally Horner and what she went through before reading Rust & Stardust. Now that I've read this story I know I will never forget Sally or her tragic experience. This novel is told with such tenderness and heartache, as well as a rawness that feels so real and all the more devastating because of it. It gives voice to a little girl who's life was unthinkably painful and yet hopeful.

The synopsis above gives you the basic outline of the story. What the synopsis doesn't tell you is just how sweet, open, and innocent Sally's voice is in the beginning. She's a lonely, poor girl who is desperate for friends as her home life is wanting after her sister has gotten married and moved out, leaving Sally alone with a mother crippled by her own arthritis and lacking of choices or resources. Sally tries to take a notebook as a sort of initiation into a group of rich girls who could never have known the devastation their joke on Sally would bring about. When she's taken by Frank LaSalle, a master at manipulation, she doesn't know how to get herself out of the situation that he's pushed her into. So goes the story and, as it unfolds, with so many people coming into contact with Sally and endless chances for someone, anyone, to do something to rescue her, her voice changes and she continues to lose her inward innocence and hope. I won't say too much more in case anyone doesn't know how Sally's story ends up, but I found it to be beyond sad and tragic, even when it seems hope might be about to surface for her at last. I so wanted everything to be different for Sally, but real life isn't built on only happy endings and the author kept to the facts as much as possible. 

The story is told through a multitude of perspectives, from Sally herself, her mother, her sister, a little girl she wanted desperately to be friends with, and a myriad of people who Sally met and touched as she and LaSalle moved across the country. If you are anything like me you will scream at some of these people who are so close to helping rescue Sally and will want to rescue her yourself, if only able to. I felt physically sick reading about LaSalle and thinking about the irrevocable harm he did to this poor girl!

I should warn readers that this can be graphic and hard to read at times. This story is, after all, about the kidnapping and abuse of a minor and those that are triggered by these sorts of situations should be forewarned. For those that are able to, I think it's important for readers to learn about Sally and what she experienced, not only so her voice is not forgotten but in the hopes that maybe her story can help others see warning signs and act to prevent other young girls from going through the same thing.

While I can't say I "enjoyed" reading Rust & Stardust I so appreciated getting to learn Sally's story. The author includes an excellent author's note at the end of the story that details the fact from the fiction, which I always appreciate. T. Greenwood should be commended for bringing Sally's voice to life as she did such an amazing job of giving a wide-ranging and all-encompassing view of what this sweet little girl went through. I know I'll never be quite the same. 


What Did I Think About the Cover?



This cover perfectly represents some important aspects of the story which  you won't discover until you read it. But, after finishing the book, I find this cover to be touching and poignant and bittersweet. I love it!


My Rating: 4.0/5.0


I received an advanced ebook copy of Rust & Stardust in order to participate in the Book of the Month Reader's Committee selection process. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and where you can purchase a copy for yourself, see Goodreads HERE.
 
 



Thursday, August 2, 2018

Cover Crush: The Captives by Debra Jo Immergut

Hello, my name is Colleen and I am a cover slut. I know, I know....you aren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover. I just can't help myself! A beautiful cover draws my eye every single time and I can't help but pick up the book it's dressing and see if the inside seems as intriguing as the outside. Sometimes it does, and sometimes a pretty cover is just a pretty cover. Either way, I love getting an eyeful!

One of my favorite bloggers, Erin at Historical Fiction Reader
, created a weekly blog post called Cover Crush and she and some other blogger friends are sharing their favorite covers each Thursday. You'll find my Cover Crush selection below and I'll link to everyone else's at the end of the post.
 
So, without further ado, my Cover Crush this week is.....
 
 
 
 
I find this cover to be both captivating and disturbing. The vividness of the red cloth around this young woman's eyes against the paleness of her skin immediately draws my eye to the fabric and, on top of it, the title. I also love the scratched up layer over the image...it makes me think of a long forgotten, or much handled, photo. It's simply striking!
 
Continue on to learn more about the story behind this cover...
 

The riveting story of a woman convicted of a brutal crime, the prison psychologist who recognizes her as his high-school crush—and the charged reunion that sets off an astonishing chain of events with dangerous consequences for both

As an inmate psychologist at a state prison, Frank Lundquist has had his fair share of surprises. But nothing could possibly prepare him for the day in which his high school object of desire, Miranda Greene, walks into his office for an appointment. Still reeling from the scandal that cost him his Manhattan private practice and landed him in his unglamorous job at Milford Basin Correctional Facility in the first place, Frank knows he has an ethical duty to reassign Miranda’s case. But Miranda is just as beguiling as ever, and he’s insatiably curious: how did a beautiful high school sprinter and the promising daughter of a congressman end up incarcerated for a shocking crime? Even more compelling: though Frank remembers every word Miranda ever spoke to him, she gives no indication of having any idea who he is.

Inside the prison walls, Miranda is desperate and despairing, haunted by memories of a childhood tragedy, grappling with a family legacy of dodgy moral and political choices, and still trying to unwind the disastrous love that led to her downfall. And yet she is also grittily determined to retain some control over her fate. Frank quickly becomes a potent hope for her absolution—and maybe even her escape.

Propulsive and psychologically astute, The Captives is an intimate and gripping meditation on freedom and risk, male and female power, and the urges toward both corruption and redemption that dwell in us all.

 
 
Don't forget to check out what covers my blogger buddies are drooling over this week (updated as they become available):


Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Stephanie at Layered Pages
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired



Created by Magdalena of A Bookaholic Swede