Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Suspect - Book Review

Thanks to Berkley book who provided a complimentary copy of The Suspect by Fiona Barton. The following review reflects my honest opinions.

The Mother. Lesley and her husband haven't heard from their daughter in a week. Alex is traveling in Thailand with a friend. She was supposed to call to get the results of her A level tests and she missed it. They're worried but as soon as they call the police, it will become real--something has happened to their daughter.

The Reporter. Kate is always after the next lead for a story. The news cycle is dull when she hears about two missing girls in Thailand. Kate's own son has been in Thailand for the last few years and maintains minimal contact. Kate is determined to find out what happened to the girls and maybe even reestablish a relationship with her son.

The Detective. Bob has so much on his hands. His wife is dying of cancer and now there are reports of two British girls who have gone missing on their holiday in Thailand. He's sure they will turn up like most reported missing vacationers. But as time goes by, this case is going to demand more of his time.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton is the third novel featuring journalist Kate Waters. I haven't read The Child or The Widow. The Suspect certainly stands on its own. Barton weaves a smart mystery about these young adults, freshly exploring the world on their own for the first time. The world ends up being a lot more dangerous than they ever imagined.

The Suspect is intriguing. I found it a little slow in the middle. I just didn't care about the detective or his dying wife. Perhaps it's because I hadn't read the earlier books and wasn't invested in them personally. However, as the investigation picks up speed so did the pace of the book. I promised Rand that I would only read a few more chapters and then turn out the light but I couldn't stop turning the pages.

The Suspect is intense without being gratuitous or too scary. I enjoyed the surprising plot twists and found it to be a solid and satisfying mystery. I'll definitely pick up Barton's future novels.

The Suspect by Fiona Barton is published by Berkley and released on January 22, 2019.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Last Romantics - Book Review

I loved Tara Conklin's novel The House Girl (read my review *here*) so her newest novel The Last Romantics was definitely on my radar. I was excited when the audio book was available on my library app. (We can talk about my surprising and new-to-me use of the library app later.) I listened to it quickly and finished it earlier this week.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin is the story of four siblings dealing with the untimely death of their father and their mother's subsequent descent into depression. Unlike The House Girl, this novel is set in the recent past and contemporary time period as the siblings navigate their lives together and separately. I love novels that are heavy on characterization and the study of people and their relationships so The Last Romantics was really intriguing for me. The few sections set in the future didn't resonate with me and didn't seem to fit with the story. There were a few angles that I wish had been given a little more attention. But the problems were few and I very much liked the novel overall.

I enjoyed the audio version. The narrator was good and I found her easy to listen to. The Last Romantics is getting a lot of buzz right now and I feel it is deserved. Whether you listen or read, give The Last Romantics a chance.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin is published by William Morrow and released on February 5, 2019.

Friday, February 15, 2019

I've Been Reading, A Little

I have relied heavily on audio books for the past seven months--I will write more about some of those  amazing books later. During that time I have read exactly three books in paper form. All three are latest releases from some of my very favorite contemporary authors. I was super lucky and blessed to get ARC copies from the publishers. Thanks so much Atria Books and Putnam for the opportunity to read these lovely novels.

I adore Kate Morton novels. I love the detailed story telling that takes the reader through generations of character development and the atmosphere of the old romantic settings. I read her newest novel The Clockmaker's Daughter back in October when it released and loved that it was just the right amount of spooky for me during that fall season.

Elodie is an archivist and finds some interesting items in the collection. Not only does the picture of the manor spark her own memories but they don't seem to fit with the other items in the collection. She's intrigued and anxious to find out who they might really belong to. She soon discovers that a mystery surrounds the pictured woman--a muse to a successful artist, the young woman disappeared from his rural England home the night the artist's fiancé was murdered. Now, Elodie wants to discover the truth.

I enjoyed the novel. It was the first book that I picked up in several months that I was able to read and stay engaged with for long periods of time. Morton's characters were dynamic and exciting and the twists in the plot kept me guessing. Her novels take the time to build the worlds and fully flesh out her characters and the plot. I was not disappointed in her most recent offering.

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton is published by Atria Books and released in October 2018.

Lyndsay Faye is an expert at writing in the vernacular of the time period and her unique style is on full display in The Paragon Hotel. Set right in the middle of Prohibition and the 1920's, Alice James's adventures take the readers from the streets of New York where Alice has been mixed up with the mob to an all-black hotel in Portland, Oregon. Alice hopes to recover from a gunshot wound in the seemingly quiet hideaway but racial unrest and a missing mulatto boy sparks her need to help her new friends.

Drawing on historical events, Faye shows an unsafe world for Portland's black citizens. Terrorized by the Ku Klux Klan, the amazing characters that inhabit the world inside the doors of the Paragon Hotel   must simply survive while trying to carve out an existence for themselves in a city that doesn't want them.

The Paragon Hotel is an entertaining novel. Faye is brilliant at having poignant, powerful moments mixed with humor and laughs and plenty of action. She doesn't shy from the violent details of the mobs or the Klan. Her clever use of language keeps the reader engaged and on their toes. I am still a huge fan of her novels and The Paragon Hotel earned its place on my front room shelf.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye is published by Putnam and released on January 8, 2019.

I loved The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield so much that after lackluster reviews I didn't even dare read her second novel and it has long sat on my shelves unread. However, a copy of her recently published new novel Once Upon a River landed in my lap thanks to SheReads and Atria Books and I just couldn't resist. 

The novel immediately captured my attention and imagination. A soaking wet and injured man stumbles into a crowded tavern late one night. His nose is broken and he is barely breathing. Everyone rushes to his aid. In his arms he carries the body of a small, dead girl. They've surely come from the river. The local midwife is called and after she attends to the severe injuries of the man she checks on the dead child. The tiny perfect child shows no signs of what may have killed her and as the midwife stands pondering, the child begins to breathe again. The once dead and now living girl sparks the imagination and story-telling skills of the community. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Once Upon a River and about half way through the novel even found myself staying up way way past my bedtime to binge read until the ending and I haven't done that in many, many months. I loved the mystical and other worldly elements of Setterfield's story. She weaves a story by focusing on the characters and setting and I love feeling immersed in her worlds. Setterfield has won be back with her newest novel and I highly recommend it.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield is published by Atria Books and released on December 4, 2018.

Well Hello There

Hi. Hello. Is anyone still there?

I've been absent from the blog for awhile. Obviously. 

A quick summary of what we've been up to :

1. In August 2018, my husband accepted a position at a university in New Hampshire. So we gave away and threw away a lot of stuff and loaded what was left in a Penske truck and drove across the country.

2. We fell in love with New Hampshire again. Rand and I lived near the seacoast region for three years right after college. We're in the Monadnock region now. It's so beautiful and charming and really really expensive.

3. The kids are adjusting.

4. In the middle of December I got sick. I thought it was the flu. Rand finally made me go to the hospital. I had kidney stones that had gotten lodged. I had a kidney infection and then sepsis. It was a pretty miserable Christmas season. 

5. Our seventeen year old son went back to Utah in January to start school at the University of Utah. It's a weird adjustment having him off on his new adventure.

6. I went to Utah with him and when I came home, I was sick again. I spent most of January battling sepsis and then finally having surgery to get the stones removed and the stent out.

7. February has been cold and lovely and I'm feeling so so much better and ready to jump back into the book blogging world (does it still exist? I guess I will find out.)

8. Watch for lots of changes on the blog. It needs a lot of updating. Hopefully I can convince you all to come visit me in my lovely New Hampshire.