Looking Forward (Fall/Winter)

So, Tiffany, you might ask, why is there no book review today? The main reason is that I did not finish a new book in time to post a comprehensive review of it this week. <Gasp!> My daughter’s birthday celebration was on Saturday and my sister is moving and… well, let’s just say it has been a hectic week!

OK, so today’s blog is going to be a little different. It’s not a review – wait, is that allowed? Yes, it’s my blog, so it’s totally allowed. Today I take a look ahead at some of the titles releasing this fall and winter that will totally be worth the wait!

Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum, #25) Look Alive Twenty-Five

by Janet Evanovich

Putnam Pub Group

Fiction / Comic Mystery

Releases November 13, 2018

I had to put this one first because I LOVE THIS SERIES! Stephanie Plum is one of my favorite book characters, and these books always put me in a great mood. Yes, they’re not at all plausible, and yes, they’re a bit formulaic (ok, more than a bit), but that predictability only translates into familiarity with loveable characters and slapstick comedy that always manages to brighten my mood. Plus, I’ve read all 24 of the previous books, so it would be criminal to stop now!

“There’s nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers.  Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that’s been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it’s a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they’d better figure out what’s going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.”

DraculDracul

by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker

Putnam

Supernatural Historical Thriller / Horror

Releases October 2, 2018

This spooky prequel to Bram Stoker’s world-famous horror story, Dracula, was teased on J.D. Barker’s website back when I first read his stupendous thriller, The Fourth Monkey (if you haven’t read it yet, get it. It’s one of the best crime/thriller/suspense novels I’ve read).

So, J.D. announced that he’s working with the Bram Stoker Estate – namely great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker – to create the story of how Dracula actually became a thing. I was instantly intrigued. And when I say this release is going to be perfect, I mean just that. One: it releases in October, perfect for Halloween reading. And Two: it releases just a few days before my birthday! PERFECT TIMING! Can you tell I’m more than a little excited for this title? And if you’re just as anxious, J.D. has thoughtfully provided us with a countdown timer on his website. Just a little over 100 days…

“It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside a desolate tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast, armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun, kept company by a bottle of plum brandy, praying to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles out the events that led him here–a childhood illness, a haunting nanny, stories once thought to be fables now proven true.
A riveting novel of Gothic suspense, Dracul reveals not only Dracula’s true origin, but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.”

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the VanderbiltsA Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilits

by Therese Ann Fowler

St. Martin’s Press

Historical Fiction

Releases October 16, 2018

My mother’s side of the family is from Asheville, North Carolina, home of beautiful Biltmore Estate. The mansion, Biltmore House, is the largest private home in America. It was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s.

Not quite that long ago, I had an uncle who helped to select and gather plants for parts of the expansive Biltmore gardens, specifically in the 15-acre Azalea Garden. Some of the azaleas there today are descendants of the ones selected and planted by my great-uncle’s hands back in the 40s! Don’t believe me? Check out this short article.

And that’s just one of many links my family has to the Biltmore Estate and to the Vanderbilt family. So, naturally, I am obsessed with all things Vanderbilt – including the books that are currently popping up about them.

“Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York’s old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built 9 mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women’s suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, in A Well-Behaved Woman, Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules—and how to break them.”

***A Well- Behaved Woman is available as Read Now on NetGalley

The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient

by Alex Michaelides

Celadon Books

Thriller/ Mystery / Suspense

Releases February 5th, 2019

I enjoy a great thriller. That particular genre is one of the first (Sci-fi being the true first) that really drew me down the rabbit hole of reading.

And everything about this title says “perfect thriller” to me – especially the fact that film rights have already been sold on it and it’s screenwriter Michaelides’ DEBUT NOVEL! Now if that doesn’t get your bookish motor revving, nothing will!

“Alicia Berenson lives a life most dream of… Her life is seemingly perfect. That is until one evening when Gabriel, her husband, returns home late from a fashion shoot and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him.”

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth FrankensteinThe Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

by Kiersten White

Delacorte Press

YA / Historical Fiction

Releases September 25, 2018

Can I be honest about this book? I am not a fan of Frankenstein. No particular reason. He’s just not my particular monster of choice.

However, I do love a good origin story AND I love a good alternate perspective story. Think about it… What if the Princess Bride had been told from the POV of Fezzik the giant? Or Harry Potter solely from Hermione’s perspective? I’m sure the outcome would be very different. As successful? You’d never know unless you try. So, I’m eager to see what Victor Frankenstein’s sister thought about the monster he was building in his workshop.

“The Frankenstein legend as you’ve never seen it before, as told by New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White! You will not be able to put down this stunning and dark reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic told from the point of view of Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s adopted sister, timed for the 200th anniversary.”

***The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is available for request on NetGalley

A Willing MurderA Willing Murder

by Jude Deveraux

Mira Books

Mystery

Releases September  18, 2018

Romance novels. Most times they are either hit or miss. You never can fully get away from the standard characters or the all-too-common “instalove”, but some romance can be pretty compelling. And that’s what Jude Deveraux fans have been expecting (and getting) from her for years.

But Jude’s got a surprise for her fans. A Willing Murder is her very first mystery novel! It’s labeled as “A Medlar Mystery“, so not only is it a break from her standard genre, it is expected to be a series too, apparently. Ambitious, Mrs. Deveraux!

New York Times bestselling romance author Jude Deveraux makes her debut in the world of mystery with a story of old secrets, deadly grudges and an improbable group of friends who are determined to uncover the truth regardless of the consequences.

When two dead bodies are accidentally discovered in the quiet town of Lachlan, Florida, an unlikely trio comes together to solve a mystery everyone else seems eager to keep under wraps.”

***A Willing Murder is available for request on NetGalley

The Dinner ListThe Dinner List

by Rebecca Serle

Flatiron Books

Women’s Fiction

Releases September 11, 2018

I already know my dinner “bucket list”. I’ve had it together for several years now. And – surprisingly – it has only changed by one person since I created it. I actually did a “Last Supper” guest list, so I had 12 guests (and no, none of them was Oprah). My guests included Neil deGrasse Tyson, Criss Angel, my mom, Kelly Clarkson, and Steven Spielberg. Coincidentally, The Dinner List‘s main character and I have another one of my guests in common (Hint: she’s had a Roman Holiday and she had Breakfast at Tiffany’s)!

“At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen?

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.”

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, THE DINNER LIST is a romance for our times. Bon appetit.”

*** The Dinner List is available for request on NetGalley

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to SurviveMaid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

by Stephanie Land

Hachette Books

Nonfiction / Autobiography

Releases January 29, 2019

Newsflash: I’m not the biggest fan of the nonfiction genre. I’ll admit that. But sometimes a particular nonfiction title will come along that intrigues me. This is one of those books.

“In the tradition of bestsellers NICKEL AND DIMED and EVICTED, Stephanie Land—a writing fellow for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP) and Center for Community Change (CCC)—writes a compassionate, unflinching account of her years scraping by as a housekeeper to make ends meet. In MAID, we enter Stephanie Land’s world and that of domestic workers who are paid far less than their needs.

Written in raw, masterful, heart-rending prose, MAID is the story of one woman’s tenacity to survive and break free of the grips of the system to give her child a better life. Stephanie Land’s work gives voice to the working poor. Her compassionate, unflinching writing is fueled by her own struggle as a low-income single mother who aspired to use her stories to expose the reality of pursuing the American Dream while being held under the poverty line.”


 

So there you have it – 8 book titles that I am SO looking forward to in the fall & winter of 2018! Do you already have your fall/winter TBR list going? What titles are you looking forward to?


 

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The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

by Stuart Turton

SmellRating4
(4.16 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Republished September 4, 2018, by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Fiction / Mystery

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 432 pages

I’d like to believe I’m a good man who came to help, but if that’s the case, I’m making a damn mess of things.

Every night, Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. Every night. That is unless Aidan Bishop can solve the mystery of her murder and give her killer’s name to the one pulling all the strings – the Plague Doctor, therefore ending the loop.

I have to admit that this book didn’t grab me at first – there were so many characters, so many events to keep track of, and a lot of incongruous action that happens in and out of time. It was not easy to follow. However, as the truth of Aidan’s involvement becomes apparent, the intricacies of this clever mystery become fully appreciable.

I suddenly have the sense of taking part in a play in which everybody knows their lines but me.

Stuart Turton has written a suspenseful novel with charismatic characters that will at once charm you deeper into the story and baffle your tenuous understanding of it even more.

I recommend this book to lovers of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, as well as fans of suspenseful mysteries and whodunits. It’s Groundhog Day with a murder mystery twist.

I can see the breadcrumbs laid out ahead of me, but for all I know, they’re leading me toward a cliff edge.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.


 

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The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

by Douglas Preston
Rating: Gold-star-star-no-background-clipartGold-star-star-no-background-clipartGold-star-star-no-background-clipartGold-star-star-no-background-clipart

(3.91 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published January 3, 2017, by Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Nonfiction

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 336

30636125No civilization has survived forever. All move toward dissolution, one after the other, like waves of the sea falling upon the shore. None, including ours, is exempt from the universal fate.

In 1995, Douglas Preston and co-author BFF Lincoln Child took us on a journey to the jungles of Brazil where artifacts were found and returned to the US along with a deadly beast called Mbwun. Mbwun then began hunting and killing humans for their hypothalamus. It was all frightfully creepy and thrilling. Fictional, but still thrilling.

Over two decades later, Preston takes us back to the dark, dangerous jungle but this time, in real life. Armed with a Nikon camera, plenty of Deet, and some snake gaiters, Preston takes off in a rickety plane following a dream and some pictures of impressions in the earth taken by NASA’s LIDAR machine. This is the true story of his harrowing trip to Mosquitia, deep inside the Honduran interior with a group of archeologists, scientists, photographers, and “money men” to rediscover La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), previously known as the Lost City of the Monkey God. Mbwun, thankfully, wasn’t a threat to this expedition; however, there were many other all-too-real hazards the group faced in the sweltering wilderness of Central America.

It was truly a lost world, a place that did not want us and where we did not belong.

Preston was on site as a correspondent for National Geographic magazine. The expedition’s efforts to prove the city existed, find the city and then get permission from the unstable Honduran government to actually go there turned out to be only a small portion of the challenges they faced. The “lost” city was reputed to have been immensely wealthy and well-stocked with treasure and priceless artifacts. Those claims were nearly impossible to verify, however, due to its remote location and the various bands of murderous drug cartels and criminal gangs that surrounded the area. Not to mention that invasion of the city was rumored to result in a lethal curse.

Preston also tells of the deadly snakes, the inhospitable spider monkeys, campsites blanketed with cockroaches, sucking mud holes, relentless mosquitos and sand flies, and roaming jaguars that stalked the camp every night. And just like in Relic, after the expedition was over, the team managed to bring a little something back with them.

OK, no, it wasn’t Mbwun, but it wasn’t just lovely pictures either.

‘And then,’ said Nash, ‘you intruded. You were a mistake.’ By invading the valley, we were like clueless civilians wandering onto a battlefield and getting shot to pieces in the crossfire.

This was a great book even for devout lovers of fiction like myself. There was mystery, danger, political corruption, drug smuggling, an intriguing archeological find, and then to top it all off, a pesky infectious disease. A little something for everyone.

Once upon a time, Preston managed to make history museums even creepier for those who get skittish in half-lit rooms surrounded by dusty, dated artifacts. This time, he manages to scare the heck out of all of us – not by fear of a deadly, hypothalamus-eating sci-fi beast, but by fear of the effects of uncontrollable, unrelenting deforestation and the inevitability of the next inescapable, deadly global pandemic.

Happy reading!

Get it here: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Half Price Books


About the Author

856_large_1pOWfr_Ul2zJNWebsite

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After unaccountably being rejected by Stanford University (a pox on it), Preston attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he studied mathematics, biology, physics, anthropology, and geology, before settling down to English literature. After graduating, Preston began his career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York as an editor, writer, and manager of publications. Preston also taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. His eight-year stint at the Museum resulted in the non-fiction book, Dinosaurs in the Attic, edited by a rising young star at St. Martin’s Press, Lincoln Child. During this period, Preston gave Child a midnight tour of the museum, and in the darkened Hall of Late Dinosaurs, under a looming T. Rex, Child turned to Preston and said: “This would make the perfect setting for a thriller!” That thriller would, of course, be Relic.

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The Child Finder

by Rene Denfeld
Rating: 
(4.04 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published September 5th, 2017 by Harper

Genre: Fiction – Mystery/Thriller

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 274


TCF
Have you ever been lost? ❞ ❝Oh yes, she answered… Once upon a time, before I can remember.

Naomi is an investigator who has found over 30 missing and/or abducted children and she is working on locating two more. At the same time, she is also piecing together the missing parts of her own mysterious discovery in the frozen woods of Oregon.

What I Liked: 
– The underlying mystery. This was a deceptively simple story, but the “creep” factor was boosted up to triple digits. The atmosphere of the book is about as potentially terrifying as the antagonist ultimately turns out to be.
– Naomi. The main character wasn’t anything cookie-cutter, run-of-the-mill, or typical. At times, you wonder if you can even trust her. But you want to stick in there with her. You want to see her succeed – not just in her job – but in her life. Plus, you get the sense that the answers to her personal mystery are locked up inside her and you want to stay around to witness when it all unfolds.
– The supporting characters. Denfeld does a great job of placing a full cast of eccentric people around our main character, and she makes us care about all of them. Q: How is that possible in a book that is less than 300 pages? A: Skilled writing.

This is something I know: no matter how far you have run, no matter how long you have been lost, it is never too late to be found.

What I Didn’t Like 
– I didn’t like the uncomfortable feeling that I felt as “Snow Girl” told her story. No spoilers, it’s just that portions were very hard to read even though much of it was left to the imagination. And, apparently, my imagination went to some very dark places. I was sickened, angry, and distraught. BUT that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel. So, yeah, I didn’t like that feeling; however, it was necessary and Denfeld did an amazing job at conveying the disturbing mood present during those parts of the book.

What I Wanted More Of: 
– I wasn’t ready for the story to end. I, like one of the characters in the book, wanted to know what happens to everyone after the mystery is solved. I want that story too. Could this possibly become the first book in a series for Denfeld? Well… she’s very enigmatic about her writing plans so we may not know that until a release date is announced. Denfeld does have a new book scheduled for release on or around October 15, 2018 called The Strawberry Palace, but that one is categorized as a romance, so it’s probably not the sequel I’m hoping for. However, I sure would love to spend more time with Naomi and her friends.

**Triggers for sensitive readers include allusions to sexual abuse and violence against children. However, Denfeld is very sensitive to these subjects and doesn’t exploit them just for the sake of a good story.

In the years since, she had discovered the sacrament of life did not demand memory. Like a leaf that drank from the morning dew, you didn’t question the morning sunrise or the sweet taste on your mouth. You just drank.


Get it here: Amazon ; Kindle ; Barnes and Noble

Featured

New or Old – That Smell is Incredible

Welcome to my book review blog. Thanks for dropping in!

The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.

–W. Somerset Maugham

Whenever I get a new book, or mooch an old book, or borrow a book from the library, for that matter, I bring it close to my nose… and inhale.

Sometimes the smell is crisp and warm, almost woodsy. Other times it’s ancient and musky, like well-worn furniture. Either way, it’s a great smell. Remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory is showing Anna (future Yale student) around the library and she picks up a book and smells it? Yes, just like that: #bibliosmia.

So now you know I read old books and new – and I love them both equally. So if you’re here to just see reviews on all the hot new releases that everyone else is reading and blogging about, then you’re not in the right place. Sorry.

I do read selective New Releases, but I also have a lot of “Dusty Bookshelf” reads that I am committed to getting through in this upcoming year (I said that last year too), and a lot of books that people have recommended to me that I will finally get around to. The books I read/review won’t always be current, but they’ll always be interesting.

I prefer reading hardcovers or trade-sized paperbacks (there’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hands), but I also read several e-books and listen to a few audiobooks each month, so you’ll likely see reviews for publications in those formats as well.

Occasionally, when she lets me, my daughter and I will read her books together. She’s in 5th grade and has a bookcase full of chapter books that we work our way through whenever she’s not bogged down with school-assigned stories. When our read-along books are especially good, I’ll review those too.

I’ll also occasionally be featuring my favorite authors, book events in Georgia, upcoming new releases, links to free e-book deals, and throwback looks at my favorite childhood reads.

I’m a Goodreads member and belong to several groups there. The book cover pics I post will most often come from Goodreads along with mentions of their overall rating of each book. However, I do not – I repeat, NOT – allow the rating from “the masses” influence my personal opinion of any book I read. Reviews are my own individual thoughts and I am absolutely not receiving any compensation for anything I post here.

As you may have guessed, this is my first foray into blogging so I’m sure I have some kinks to work out. If something isn’t working or posting correctly, just bear with me and I’ll get it worked out. Eventually. ♥

Enjoy!

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