The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman #TuesdayBookBlog #suspense

This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead 30759310Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess’s writing career.

They take a caretaker’s job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It’s been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare’s hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn’t all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, see strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next… – Goodreads.com

Reading The Widow’s House was a strange experience for me because rarely have I come across a book in which I disliked so many characters.  That being said, this is a wonderful blend of gothic and twisty psychological suspense and once I reached around the halfway mark, I honestly wasn’t sure which direction this story would take.  And I still wasn’t certain until the last several pages.  So, yeah – it’s compelling.

The setting is modern day New York, but Riven House might as well be an old ancestral manor in the English countryside.  With a long tainted history, it holds many secrets that are gradually revealed as the pages are turned.  Toward the end of this book, like Clare, I wasn’t sure what was real anymore and questioned everyone’s motives and actions – which thrilled me as a reader.

Getting back to the characters – I’ll focus on Clare.  It’s difficult for me to connect to a story when I can’t get behind the MC.  Clare isn’t very likable for various reasons, but for me, it’s because she considers herself inferior to her husband and is constantly worried about upsetting him, and when there’s friction between them, she looks for another man to rescue her.  Slather some paranoia on top of that and you’ve got yourself a basket case; however, I’ll say that some of her behavior makes sense at the end.

Although I didn’t care for most of the characters, the plot was strong enough to hook me and I’d recommend this to fans of psychological suspense.  The Widow’s House is scheduled for publication March 21st, 2017.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC.

 

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange30142139 man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders. – Goodreads.com

Wow.  Describing this book is difficult, but I’ll try.  Take Red Dawn, The Matrix, Lost, and The Hunger Games, shake them up in a bag, and what comes out is the plot of Nemesis.  This book twisted, turned, and steered me in so many different directions I was never sure exactly what was going on – and it was wonderful.  After reading so many books, not many surprise me anymore.

The setting is present day Idaho – but after a few pages, it’s evident something’s not quite right.  And then the pace never lets up.  This book is well-written, with natural dialogue and contains both captivating and frustrating characters.  Although it’s not a problem for me, there are shifting POVs, so be forewarned if that’s a distraction.

I plowed through this book in a couple of days, but don’t let the 400+ pages scare you – it’s actually a quick read.  And I can’t wait for the next book!  Nemesis is scheduled for publication March 21st, 2017.

Thanks to Penguin First To Read for the digital ARC.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different cover90036-mediumfrom the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco! – Goodreads.com

I’m such a fan of The Girl From the Well series by this author – such vivid, chilling imagery and a couple of the best YA horror novels I’ve read.  When I saw this new fantasy series, I jumped at the chance to request it from NetGalley.

The author has created a colorful and captivating world with intricately designed huas worn by the ashas and varying shades of heartsglass that can reveal a person’s thoughts and health.  That being said, the narrative seems bogged down at times with the detailed descriptions of the huas and I skimmed several sections.

Tea, Fox, and the supporting characters are all well-drawn and engaging and I liked the alternating chapters of future Tea’s warnings of what’s to come.

This novel had the feel of laying the groundwork for the meat of the story and the pacing was somewhat slow for my taste – honestly, not a lot happens, but it allows the reader a good grasp of the world and characters and hints at substantial wars and conflicts to come.  I have high hopes for book 2 in this series.

The Bone Witch is scheduled for publication March 7th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Heartbreaker by Dan Cummings #RBRT #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

In the quiet Californian town of Wood Fall, an ancient evil has awoken, preying 33229570upon the dreaming minds of unfaithful men.

Taking the physical form of their most desirable women, she enraptures some of her chosen, reducing them into mindless, homicidal servants, ready to stalk and abduct other sacrificial love cheats.

However, during her latest spell of activity, she finds herself attracted to a young man called Antony Pickett, who, unlike her usual targets, is pure of heart and in great pain.

Unfortunately for Ant, he is blind to the root of his heartache, a blindness which she is happy to remedy for him at a deadly cost. – Goodreads

Well – who wouldn’t like this premise – unfaithful men being punished?  Except for the men maybe?  And they are truly punished in horrific ways in this novel.

I have to admit, I had some difficulty getting into this book.  The first half contains several scenes and pages of typical guy banter between Antony and his friends that might be amusing, but don’t do much to advance the plot, so I skimmed through those sections.  Descriptive writing is obviously important to any novel, something at which this author is very skilled, but some passages contain so much it detracts from the story.  A little can go a long way in putting images in the reader’s head.

The second half of the novel is when things begin to happen and the action escalates.  Pacing was more to my liking and the suspense is heightened when some of the characters catch the eye of the ‘ancient evil’ and are recruited as servants, with minor characters moving to the forefront and playing bigger roles.  Surprising betrayals among friends, in more ways than one, are also discovered.

Heartbreaker contains an unsettling, yet satisfying horror story with a creative story line, but the reader may have to be a little patient in getting to the heart of it – no pun intended.

I received a copy of this book through Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him29430798 is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.

That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine. – Goodreads.com

I’ve read Brother and Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn, so yes, I’m definitely a fan of her work.  The Devil Crept In didn’t engage me quite as much, but it was still a thrilling read.

This book is creepy, disturbing, dark, chilling – all good things when it comes to horror.  Stevie has a history of hallucinations, so when he realizes something isn’t quite right with Jude, the reader has to question if Stevie is a reliable or unreliable narrator.  Whatever the case, I could empathize with his frustration when the adults assured him he was only imagining things after asking for their help.  With his own difficult life circumstances, Stevie’s love for his cousin and determination to save him are admirable and the driving force behind this story, in my opinion.

As for the evil presence lurking in the forest, I appreciated the author offering a full backstory of this sinister creation – it added more depth to the novel and made it feel more complete.

The pacing was somewhat slow for my taste in the beginning and a good amount of time is spent in Stevie’s head and describing his living conditions, but the story jumps back on track soon after.

Fans of twisty dark horror won’t want to miss this one.  This book is scheduled for publication February 7th, 2017.

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.

Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake #bookreview

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame 27827203from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.

All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything. – Goodreads.com

Isn’t this a gorgeous cover?  I looked into this book because of it.

In reading other reviews of Frostblood, this book was compared to the movie, Frozen.  I may be one of the few remaining people on the planet who hasn’t seen the movie, so I can’t offer any comparisons.  The world-building is fantastic and fascinating and the author lays some groundwork in explaining the history between frostbloods and firebloods.  The characters are very relatable and the way Ruby is welcomed and offered help by some of the monks, in spite of the general feelings and attitudes toward firebloods, is highly admirable – and a timely message.

Did I like this book?  Yes – it held my interest and contained some unexpected twists near the end.  That being said, there seem to be several other books out there with similar story lines and many of the plot developments were expected.  But the twists made a difference for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

A Cold Tomorrow by Mae Clair #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog @MaeClair1

Where secrets make their home…

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West 30688152Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder….

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events. But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive….Goodreads.com

I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, with everyone knowing each other and their business, local eateries, and the occasional urban legend.  The town wasn’t Point Pleasant, but Mae Clair’s portrayal of small town WV is spot on.

I didn’t read the first book in this series, and having seen the movie, The Mothman, with Richard Gere and the X-files episode featuring the Mothman many years back, I was interested to see this author’s interpretation of the famous urban legend.  And I was very satisfied.  With an exciting mix of mystery, suspense, and paranormal elements, I barely took my eyes off the book to board a plane.  It’s a probably a miracle I got on the right one.  The characters are well-depicted and seem like friendly next door neighbors, making it even easier to become vested in the story.

Although I haven’t read the first book in this series, I didn’t feel like I’d missed anything and A Cold Tomorrow is easily a standalone.  Now I have to hurry and wait for the next one – but at least I have time to read the first book in this series!  Highly recommend this supernatural mystery.