Friday, June 28, 2019

Bookish suspense...

"You kill one guy, one time, and suddenly everyone thinks you need therapy, Ellery Hathaway thought as she stood in the biting wind of the subway T platform overlooking the icy Charles River. Doesn't matter if everyone is glad he's dead. She debated again whether to follow through on her shrink's orders to show up at the group meeting for survivors of violent crime. ... But Ellery knew all crimes were not created equal. There was getting mugged on the street, and then there was surviving an abduction by one of the world's most infamous serial killers."

Despite being on mandated leave from the police force, Ellery begins investigating two crimes involving two of the other violent crime victims in her group:  an arson that took place two decades ago, and a more recent rape. She calls on FBI agent, Reed Markham, for help, needing his profiling skills. And though it puts his promotion on the line, he flies to Boston when she calls because it's Ellery. Their complicated relationship began sixteen years ago, when Markham rescued a 14-year-old Ellery from a notorious serial killer. Her scars still run deep. And as much as Reed would like to keep her safe, her own impulsiveness keeps putting her in danger. Especially when she gets a little too close to the truth on one of her new 'cases'.

No Mercy is Joanna Schaffhausen's second book about Ellery Hathaway and Reed Markham. And it's just as good as The Vanishing Season (which you really need to read first). Besides Schaffhausen's compelling writing, I really like her characters. They're complex and flawed, with personality quirks and vulnerabilities that make them irresistible. I love Ellery's and Reed's tangled past and their uneasy yet growing friendship. I also love the moments Reed spends with his daughter, Tula; Ellery's basset hound, Speed Bump, is a favorite, too. And the mystery itself? It's suspenseful and clever and skillfully drawn out. And that ending! Whew. It's a good one. It makes me even more excited for Schaffhausen's next book.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Haiku Reviews...

Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Hal Westaway can
con her way to an inheritance--
if she dares!

Mystery .... 368 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I thought this one was better than The Woman in Cabin 10.)

Teeth of the Sea by Tim Waggoner

Ancient cryptids have
 risen from the depths, driven 
to mate, spawn .... and feed!

"Deep sea thriller" .... 173 pages .... 2.5/5 stars.
(This one's a real chomp fest!)

Secrets of a Spinster by Rebecca Connolly

Spinster? Ha! Mary is
determined to enjoy her London 
Season like never before.

Regency romance .... 281 pages .... 3.5/5 stars.
(Humorous and fun.)

Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea

This abandoned mine
holds more than gold or ghosts. Its
terror runs much deeper!

Horror/Western .... 290 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Thanks for the book, Barb! It was one wild ride. Check out Barb's review if you want to know more.)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

What makes a book a good beach read?

If it has an island setting? Or the word summer in its title? Maybe. A white sand beach on the cover never hurts either. But for me, a really good beach read needs at least five things:

  • a bit of humor ('cause who doesn't like to laugh?)
  • a little romance ('cause summer is a good time to fall in love)
  • a fun and fast-paced adventure ('cause a good beach read should never be boring or slow)
  • a happy ending ('cause there's no crying at the beach!)
  • and last of all, it can't be too deep or serious ('cause when I'm at the beach, the last thing I want to have to do is think)

But that's just me. 😎

Here's my next fun summer beach read (even though I'm sadly not headed to a real beach any time soon):

What about you... what do you look for in a good beach read?
Whatever it is ... Happy Summer Beach Reading!

And welcome to summer!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Stone Cold Heart

The first skeletal remains are found at White Falls Park, just outside San Marcos, Texas. Detective Nolan Hess calls in top forensic anthropologist, Sara Lockhart, for help. They find more remains farther upstream:  another young woman. Sara quickly notices similarities between these two cases and a case from Tennessee that she worked on years ago that was never solved. It looks like they have a serial killer in their midst. And they're afraid he's taken a new victim because another young college student just went missing.

Stone Cold Heart is the first Laura Griffin novel I've read, but it won't be my last. It's well-written and it reads fast; once I started, I didn't want to put it down. The forensic aspect of the investigation was interesting. The mystery is engrossing and suspenseful. And that spark of attraction between Sara and Nolan? It sizzles. I liked the two of them together, but I also liked that their romance didn't overshadow the mystery. For me, Stone Cold Heart is that perfect combination of suspense and romance.

What Laura Griffin novel do you think I should read next?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Want ghosts?

Eighteen months ago, Ellie Jordan and her boss came up against a ghost they couldn't trap. Now it's back, a creepy boogeyman that crawls out of the darkness to feed on people's fears, and it's terrorizing a new family. It especially likes children. Ellie, along with her ghost-trapping partner, Stacey, is determined to stop it before it hurts anyone else. There are just a few problems:  they don't know who it was, where it came from, or how to trap it. Luckily, they have the help of Jacob, a CPA who's also a psychic medium, and Michael, the cute firefighter who lives upstairs from where the main hauntings are taking place. And they're going to need all the help they can get because what they're fighting is very scary...and very dangerous.
"It can kind of take over certain doors, and certain small spaces, and use them as a crossing point. It's powerful. And it likes to terrorize living people. It ... drinks fear like a bat sucking blood. The fear makes it stronger, but also corrupts it. The stronger it grows, the more evil it becomes. If it ever was human, I'm not sure it even remembers that."
The Crawling Darkness by J.L. Bryan is another book from off my TBR shelf. I bought it because I love Bryan's Ellie Jordan series. These books are humorous, suspenseful, full of ghosts and always a lot of fun. And they take place in Savannah, Georgia, which makes for some great atmosphere. I really like all the characters, too; Ellie, especially, is tough, funny, and always up for the next ghostly challenge. The other thing I love about these books is that the endings never leave you hanging; they pack a wallop and always satisfy. So, if you love a good ghost story, I highly recommend The Crawling Darkness... and all the other books in this series.

Happy Reading!

Other Ellie Jordan novels:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

June's Bookish Art...

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema -- The Favorite Poet, 1888

"Sleep is good; books are better."
--George R.R. Martin

Monday, June 10, 2019

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland

"He felt hot with the pressure to get started, and to make it the greatest figure painting of the whole Impressionist movement. ... Figures, landscape, genre subject--all in one. Throw in a still life too. Not just a few figures. A dozen or more, at closer range this time. ... He would use a combination of styles. It would be an experiment. The faces modeled with more classical techniques, one hue blending seamlessly into another, but the landscape and still life in looser, distinct strokes. Every figure, every feature a small painting in and of itself."

This book has so many things in it that I love: Paris, sailing on the Seine, Sunday afternoons on the Ile de Chatou, great art, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and the Impressionists. With her skillful storytelling, Susan Vreeland transports the reader to Paris in the 1880s, capturing the brilliance and struggle of Renoir (one of my favorite Impressionist painters) and depicting the conception and creation of his most famous painting. She really brings Renoir and his friends (who posed for him in this painting) to life. And the way she recreates that time felt like I was there. This is a great read--well-written and interesting. And I loved everything about it! I can't wait to read Vreeland's other books.

Happy Reading!

Luncheon of the Boating Party -- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1881

Friday, June 7, 2019

More bookish suspense...

Mila Vasquez works in Limbo--the missing persons bureau at Federal Police Headquarters--where the walls are covered with photographs of the missing. So she's surprised when she gets summoned to the scene of a mass homicide. The apparent shooter? A man who went missing seventeen years earlier. Then another murder is committed; this time by a woman who went missing three years ago. It's a disturbing pattern. Why did these people decide to disappear all those years ago? Where have they been all this time? And why are they coming back to commit these murders now? As Nina puzzles over these questions, she comes across an even more disturbing clue. One that links these cases with another that took place twenty years earlier. A case that was never solved.
"The long night has begun. The army of shadows is already in the city. They are preparing for his coming, because he will soon be here. The Wizard, the Enchanter of Souls, the Goodnight Man: Kairus has more than a thousand names."
The Vanished Ones by Donato Carrisi is an intense and compelling psychological thriller that delves into the darkness that dwells in the souls of men, and how easily some people can by manipulated by evil. Carrisi's plots are impossible to predict; I love his many turns and twists, and how I never know what's coming next. And Mila is such a great character:  complicated, unconventional, impulsive, perceptive, and utterly devoid of empathy. She's also a fear junkie who's drawn to the darkness within her own soul. She's in Carrisi's previous novel, The Whisperer, (which I also loved and which you should really read first).  Carrisi is the master of psychological suspense and his books are unforgettable 5-star reads.

Happy Reading!

P.S.  Carrisi's The Lost Girls of Rome is also an amazing read.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme:  Books From My Favorite Genre. Which was a little tricky because I have more than one. But after debating between disaster/survival reads, urban fantasy, ghost stories, romantic suspense and psychological thrillers, I decided to go with.... (drumroll, please) .... My 10 Favorite Psychological Thrillers! Here they are:

(I also love her other Lacey Flint books Dead Scared and Lost)

5. This one's a tie between two books by Donato Carrisi:  

And because ten wasn't enough to list all my favorites, here are five of my runners up:

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Happy 179th Birthday, Thomas Hardy!

Under the Greenwood Tree is one of Hardy's earliest 'pastoral' novels. It was first published in 1872 and it centers around the inhabitants of Mellstock village, especially Dick Dewy, a member of the parish choir, Fancy Day, the pretty new schoolmistress, and Mr. Maybold, the young vicar. It's a study of village life ... and a romance, too. But while Hardy's writing and use of dialect are as good as ever, what this novel lacks is well-developed and likable characters to root for; even Dick and Fancy, the two main characters, lacked something. The other members of the parish choir had more personality than they did, but they were only peripheral players. And in the end, I didn't really care what happened to any of them. So while this particular Hardy novel lacks a tragic ending, it also lacks the depth and quality of his later, more well-known novels. But it does have a few good moments. Here are four of my favorites:

"I'm afraid Dick's a lost man," said the tranter. "There's too many o' them looks out of the winder without noticing anything: too much shining of boots -- too much looking at the clock: telling about clever things She did till you be sick of it, and then upon a hint to that effect a horrible silence about her. I've walked the path once in my life and know the country, neighbors; and Dick's a lost man!"

"If we be doomed to marry, we marry; if we be doomed to remain single we do," replied Dick.  

Three months had elapsed since Dick and Fancy had journeyed together from Budmouth, and the course of their love had run on vigorously during the whole time. There had been just enough difficulty attending its development, and just enough finesse required in keeping it private, to lend the passion an ever-increasing freshness on Fancy's part, whilst whether from these accessories or not, Dick's heart had been at all times as fond as could be desired. But there was a cloud on Fancy's horizon.

"How much you are to me depends upon how much I am to you," she said in low tones.

 Happy Reading!

P.S. This book counts as my 19th Century Classic for Karen's 2019 Back to the Classics Challenge.  But I'm kind of wishing I'd stuck to my original plan and read Return of the Native instead. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Two other Hardy reviews: