Winter at Death’s Hotel by Kenneth M. Cameron
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5
The year is 1896. Arthur Conan Doyle has just arrived in New York City for the American leg of his tour with his wife, Louisa. While Conan Doyle is busy getting ready for lectures and appearances, Louisa is left to her own devices in a new and exciting city. When a mutilated corpse is found on the streets, Louisa sees an artist’s sketch in the paper of what the woman would have looked like in life; and she swears that she had seen this woman at the hotel. As “luck” would have it, Louisa sprains her ankle and must remain at the hotel while her husband completes his tour across the States. Louisa delves deeper into the mystery as more bodies start turning up. Yet, all of her inquiries lead back to the hotel, and eventually to her.
You all know that I absolutely love anything and everything related to Arthur Conan Doyle and his stories. When I got the chance to review this book, I quite literally jumped at the opportunity. The atmosphere from the very beginning was eerie and cold, which sets up a great beginning to a murder mystery. I love Louisa so much. She is strong, curious, and doesn’t back down even when her husband thinks she is just being a “silly woman”. Most of the time she lets her curiosity lead her through the book, even when it gets her into trouble. I love that she gets the help of those around her to solve the murders. She doesn’t think she has to be completely independent when sense tells her otherwise. She draws in a firecracker female reporter, Buffalo Bill and Henry Irving, almost forming a Scooby-gang of crime fighters.
It was so refreshing to read a male author writing from a woman’s perspective and having him get it right! Cameron doesn’t fall into the classic female stereotypes that many male authors do. Louisa is a free spirit who doesn’t have time for fainting or taking orders. She really reminds me a lot of Amelia Peabody from the Elizabeth Peters mysteries – Louisa creates her own destiny. I highly recommend this book!
The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ruby has gone mad. Like many other female writers, she is pushed to close to insanity from the edge of tragedy. Ruby left college after a love affair and is now an obituary writer. In her road to mental recovery, she is interrupted by the sudden arrival of a suitcase at her front door. A former classmate, Beth, has disappeared and her suitcase is the only clue to finding her. Within the suitcase is a copy of A Room of One’s Own, which Ruby is forbidden to read since her therapist says Ruby needs to stop reading books by or about suicidal women. Is the book really a message? Or is it something to put Ruby over the edge into true madness?
I read this book in only two sittings. As the blurb says on the cover, it is the perfect beach read (or even just sitting on your back porch with a glass of wine read). As someone who has dealt with depression over the years, I could identify with Ruby and her worry that she will lose her mind while she is trying to figure her life out. Yet, not only does she have to figure out herself, she has to figure out what has happened to Beth and why her suitcase has ending up at her door. This book has a wonderful mystery, a beautiful heart, and brilliant writing. I had such fun reading Ruby’s references to great female authors. Within the first few pages, both A Room of One’s Own and Jane Eyre are mentioned. And don’t just take my word for it! The Butterfly Sister is an Indie Next Pick for the month of August – a list hand picked by indie booksellers from around the country. This is definitely a book you want to pick up soon.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a stop on this tour! For more info, click here.
The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
If you have never before read Kearsley, this is the perfect book to start with. Nicola isn’t your average person. When she touches an object she can see glimpses of the previous owner’s life. As an art dealer, she runs into many older paintings, but when a wood carving is brought to her, she experiences a vision like never before. The carving is of The Firebird, a Slavic mythical creature whose feathers glow even when they are no longer on the bird. Much like the Phoenix, the Firebird usually plays a large role in a quest. Not only is the Firebird an important cultural object, it was owned by Empress Catherine of Russia. Nicola starts her own quest as she investigates the history of the carving.
I love all of Kearsley’s books, but this one just has everything. History, personal growth, mythology, magical realism, and just plain good storytelling. Nicola’s romance in the present isn’t her only romance. Wen she meets a psychic with stronger abilities she realizes that hey have known each other before. Just not in this era. The narrative goes between past and present while still remaining a fluid and engaging novel. I never once got lost or confused with the threads of the plot. It is one of those novels where you wish you had a chance to go back in time and explore another history. Is my current timeline really my only one? Would I be the same person if I knew all of these things about myself? Nicola explores her current life through her past and comes out the better for knowing it. I highly recommend all of Kearsley’s novels, but The Firebird just struck such a powerful chord with me that I most highly recommend it out of all of her books!
The Chalice by Nancy Bilyeau
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
If you loved The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau, you will not be disappointed by its sequel. Joanna Stafford is back in King Henry VIII’s England as a novice with the Dominican nuns. The novel goes back and forth through Joanna’s present and ten years before as she makes her journey to the present. Henry has just banned the practice of Catholicism and Joanna must see if she can fulfill the prophecy of saving all of Christendom. While she is trying to save the world, Joanna also has her heart torn between two men as well as her vow to become a nun.
The character of Joanna (or Juana as her mother would call her) is so strong and intelligent. I find that most female characters from this time period are either portrayed as silly or as conniving conspirators. Joanna is trying to follow her faith while keeping what is left of her family safe from the King and his supporters. Add a touch of mysticism and you have one really fun read. I loved Joanna’s adventures through court and her battle with those who would destroy the Catholic Church in England. Can she be truly selfless for her faith, or should she protect her own life and try to remain safe?
I do have to say that the back-and-forth between time periods can be disjointed. There is no real flow between the changes, so the plot points all feel rather abrupt. If you do not enjoy reading about religion and faith, this might not be the book for you, as Joanna goes on about her faith and duty at length, especially at the beginning of the book. I definitely recommend this book to lovers of the Tudor era. It is one of the few novels out there which is not told from the perspective of one of Henry’s wives. It is a stand-alone, so you do not have to read The Crown before picking up The Chalice, but I do recommend reading it first as there is so much character development in the first book that really helps with the second.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be part of the tour!
The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
“Dr. Kate Philo and her scientific exploration team make a breathtaking discovery in the Arctic: the body of a man buried deep in the ice. As a scientist in a groundbreaking project run by the egocentric and paranoid Erastus Carthage, Kate has brought small creatures-plankton, krill, shrimp-”back to life.” Never have the team’s methods been attempted on a large life form.
Heedless of the consequences, Carthage orders that the frozen man be brought back to the lab in Boston, and reanimated. As the man begins to regain his memories, the team learns that he was-is-a judge, Jeremiah Rice, and the last thing he remembers is falling overboard into the Arctic Ocean in 1906. When news of the Lazarus Project and Jeremiah Rice breaks, it ignites a media firestorm and massive protests by religious fundamentalists.
Thrown together by circumstances beyond their control, Kate and Jeremiah grow closer. But the clock is ticking and Jeremiah’s new life is slipping away. With Carthage planning to exploit Jeremiah while he can, Kate must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the man she has come to love.” – from the publisher
As someone who loves science and speculative fiction, I really enjoyed this book. There is so much going on in this book that I didn’t want to miss anything in my own description, so I’ve provided one from the publisher! The Curiosity really reminded me of when I first started reading Michael Crichton. The science is just believable enough that you start wondering if a man could really be brought back to life from the ice. There’s adventure, but there’s also heart. I loved the character of Kate. She is a strong woman who has reached the top of her field in an industry that is completely male-dominated. She deals with the sexism from other scientists and reporters extremely well, all while maintaining her femininity. The character of Carthage is so despicable, but he also accurately represents so many of the heads of large companies we see in today’s media.
I definitely recommend this book as a summer beach read. The cold setting will keep you cool while you are sitting in the sun After the first few chapters, it really starts to move quickly, and I know many of you will enjoy the adventure along with the more human side of the story.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a stop on this tour! For more information go to www.tlcbooktours.com
Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5
Former best friends Charlotte and Nicole used to spend very Summer on a private island in Maine. Over the years, they grew apart as many friends do. Charlotte became a travel writer and Nicole started a food blog. When Nicole decides to write a book about food in Maine, she invites Charlotte to stay in her family’s old house with her for old time’s sake. Can the two women move past their secrets and lies? Can Nicole save her marriage?
This book is wonderfully rich with food and friendship. Delinsky paints a beautiful Maine sky full of colorful locals and food to die for. I have never been to Maine, but I absolutely adore books about New England and the coast. What could be better than a Summer in a small town with crazy people and delicious food? I loved that Charlotte and Nicole really had to put effort into getting to know one another again. I get so frustrated with books that feature past friendships that were abandoned but can be picked up again in a flat second. Relationships are hard work, and Delinsky has no problem showing that her characters are going to put in that effort. After reading many of Delinksy’s other works, I did find this book to be a bit predictable, but I definitely kept reading for her writing and character-building. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun and quick read about women and friendships put to the test.
Thanks to the publisher, here is a clip from the audiobook!
The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5
What do you get when you mix an English country estate, World War II, espionage, and a camellia? A beautifully written novel, that’s what! Flora works in her family’s bakery in New York City. They are having a fought time financially, Flora jumps at the chance to help make some money. Somehow her new employer knows that she holds an interest in botany. Her assignment is to search an English manor for a rare breed of camellia. Fast forward to the present day. Addison is being blackmailed because of her shady past. What better way to escape her blackmailer than to take a trip with her husband to his family’s new estate in England? The couple is amazed by the camellia orchard and an old notebook which once belonged to a gardener. What mysteries will the property unveil?
I honestly could not get enough of this book. It was sad and satisfying at the same time when it ended. Jio’s writing gets better with each book she pens. I could feel the breeze and sunlight in that English garden (rare as it is). I think that the most compelling story was that of Flora. She has so much to lose and she is willing to sacrifice everything for her family’s well being rather than think of her own happiness. Each step into the garden pulls you deeper into this mystery involving Nazis and the Queen of England. I truly could not put the book down. It combines so many of my favorite things: England, gardens, mystery, and the history of World War II. The modern day story is quite gripping, but I felt as if I didn’t have the same connection with Addison as I did with Flora. The book almost reminded me of a British television show called Rosemary & Thyme in which two women start their own gardening business only to end up solving murders and saving the day. This book is great for the beach or just sitting out in the back yard with a glass of wine. You will definitely want to read this one this Summer!
Dudes! I have FIVE copies of the book to give away! Just post your favorite flower in the comments section by July 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm. US only. Make sure to put bookaddictkatie AT gmail DOT com in your OK email addresses so an email won’t go to spam if you win.
Thanks to TLC Books for letting me host a stop on this tour. For more information, go to www.tlcbooks.com
League of Somebodies by Samuel Sattin
Publisher: Dark Coast Press
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5
My freaking GAWD. I am in love with this book. A Scottish/Jewish/Polish boy who is fed plutonium by his crazy Scottish/Jewish/Polish father in order to train and test to become a real superhero? Yes, please! Lenard is just your average boy getting ready for his bar mitzvah, except he is also studying an ancient text very different from the Torah. Lenard must read and study The Manaton. A secret guidebook for men to face tests to prove their true manhood. A true man will not be distracted by comic books… or women. Lenard soon becomes the exact or of justice his father wishes for and has his own son. Lenard raises Nemo to join in the fight against THEY.
If it weren’t for TLC Book Tours, I don’t know if I would have ever run into this book, but I am so glad I found it! Not only is it completely original; it is also freaking hilarious, campy, and at times quite witty. It’s hard to explain how genius this book is because it basically crosses very single genre while making you rethink the meaning of the word “genre”. Can a book really fit into just one category that describes it well enough? What is a superhero? How are superheroes defined by their masculinity? How do fathers raise their sons to end up having hero complexes? I feel that many people would say this is a guy’s book, but I really didn’t see myself as missing or losing anything by reading it as a woman. I loved the “excerpts” and woodcuts from The Manaton. They added to the mythology of the world that Sattin has so wonderfully created. I highly recommend this book to everyone looking for a hilarious, geeky, and insightful read!
Doctor Who: Festival of Death by Jonathan Morris
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 Daleks
“A Fourth Doctor adventure, featuring the Doctor as played by Tom Baker and his companions Romana and K-9.
The Beautiful Death is the ultimate theme-park ride: a sightseeing tour of the afterlife. But something has gone wrong, and when the Fourth Doctor arrives in the aftermath of the disaster, he is congratulated for saving the population from destruction – something he hasn’t actually done yet. He has no choice but to travel back in time and discover how he became a hero. And then he finds out. He did it by sacrificing his life.” – Publisher’s description
JELLY BABIES! OK, sorry, fan-girl moment over… not really. On this adventure we are joined by the Fourth Doctor with fellow timelord, Romana, and his trusty companion, K-9. The Fourth Doctor is my second favorite after Tennant, and Morris has captured him so faithfully. As always, the Doctor must confront the perils of traveling in time – he arrives in his own future only to have to travel back and see how he gets there. He confronts and questions authority no matter what the situation, but it usually gets into trouble.
I can’t tell you how much I am loving reading this series of one book for each doctor. Somehow each author has captured the individual voices of every doctor without succumbing to writing mere caricatures. For those of you who have not watched the classic series, this book is a great introduction into the lore that many have missed by only watching the newer series. You get to see the Fourth Doctor in action while getting a complete story that you can read as a stand-alone. I highly recommend this book and all of the books in this series!