Follow the Yellow Brick Road Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Follow the Yellow Brick Road Giveaway Hop, hosted by Mama the Fox!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see that phrase “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” without hearing the song in my head. So if I’ve given you an earworm, sorry not sorry.

But the movie The Wizard of Oz is one of those stories that has passed from being “just a story” to being a part of the commonly understood cultural zeitgeist. If you mention the ruby red slippers, EVERYBODY knows what you mean. Or the Wicked Witch of the West. Or Toto. Or flying monkeys. Or my personal favorite after a long trip, “There’s no place like home!”

I remember being scared of the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys the first time I saw the movie, on television in the early 1960s. But the moment when the film switches form black and white to color is one of those perfect “Aha!” moments that lives in childhood memories. There’s a cartoon I remember that does the reverse, I think it’s a Roadrunner cartoon, where he races past a sign that reads “Technicolor Ends Here” and then the cartoon switches to black and white. Equally indelible, but I had never seen it again until researching this post and “voila!” there it was on YouTube and it’s Lucky Ducky not Roadrunner. Memory is both fickle and tricksy.

So what do you remember about going “off to see the Wizard”? Answer in the rafflecopter for your choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book.

But speaking of cartoons, as Porky Pig (and occasionally Bugs Bunny used to say, “That’s All Folks!”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fabulous Fall prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-15-19

Sunday Post

It’s fair and festival season here in the Atlanta area, or at least it feels like it. The County Fair is this week, the Fall Festival in the next ‘burb over is next weekend, and the one in the ‘burb we used to live in is the one after that. And it’s supposed to be in the mid-90s this week. That is NOT fall weather, or at least not to me. I’ve lived a few places where that might qualify as “Indian Summer” but that term implies that there was a cool stretch after summer sorta/kinda ended. Which it just hasn’t here yet. I’m listening to a book about global warming – among other disasters – right now and I’m definitely feeling the heat around here!

Current Giveaways:

$20 Amazon Gift Card or $20 Book in the Hello Autumn Giveaway Hop (ENDS TUESDAY!!!)
$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the September to Remember Giveaway Hop
$10 Dreamspinner Gift Card from TA Moore

Blog Recap:

A+ Review: The Heart of the Circle of Keren Landsman
September to Remember Giveaway Hop
A- Review: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White
B Review: Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport
A- Review: Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore + Excerpt + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (357)

Coming This Week:

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Giveaway Hop
Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes (blog tour review)
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy (review)
Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane (blog tour review)
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (review)

Stacking the Shelves (357)

Stacking the Shelves

This was going to be a short stack, at least until Tor Books dumped their Winter ARCs into Edelweiss. So many completely irresistible books. One of the books in this week’s stack won’t be out until the end of May! If time flies when you’re having fun, then it goes at warp speed when you’re reading. Or at least, when I’m reading!

For Review:
Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by KJ Charles
The Bard’s Blade (Sorcerer’s Song #1) by Brian D. Anderson
A Bond Undone (Legends of the Condor Heroes #2) by Jin Yong
Burn the Dark (Malus Domestica #1) by S.A. Hunt
The Cerulean Queen (Nine Realms #4) by Sarah Kozloff
A Hawk in the Woods by Carrie Laben
The Impossible Contract (Chronicles of Ghadid #2) by K.A. Doore
Inside the Asylum (Kathy Ryan #2) by Mary SanGiovanni
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Knight of the Silver Circle (Dragonslayer #2) by Duncan M. Hamilton
The Lost Spear (Lost #0.5) by N.J. Croft
The Monstrous Citadel (Chronicles of Amicae #2) by Mirah Bolender
A Sanctuary of Spirits (Spectral City #2) by Leanna Renee Hieber
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Purchased from Amazon/Audible:
The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal (audio)
Quantum (Captain Chase #1) by Patricia Cornwell

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Review: Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore + Excerpt + Giveaway

Review: Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore + Excerpt + GiveawayDead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore
Format: ebook
Source: author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: M/M romance, paranormal, urban fantasy, vampires
Series: Blood and Bone #1
Pages: 266
Published by Dreamspinner Press LLC on September 10, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads


A Blood and Bone Novel
Agent Luke Bennett proved that humans could rise just as high in the ranks as their vampire colleagues—until a kidnapper held him captive for a year and turned him without his consent.

Now he’s Took: a reluctant monster afraid to bite anyone, broke, and about to be discharged from his elite BITERs unit.

When an old colleague suggests he consult on a BITERs case, Took has little to lose. The case is open and shut… but nothing is ever that easy. As he digs deeper, he discovers a lot more than one cold case is at stake, and if he wants to solve this one, he’ll need the help of the BITERs team. Even if that brings his old commander, Madoc, back into his life.

My Review:

Dead Man Stalking was a terrific reminder of what makes urban fantasy one of my go-to genres, especially when I’m in a reading slump and need to be knocked out of it! Because this one really knocked me out of my slump – and knocked one out of the park into the bargain.

As with the best of the genre, this is a story that turns some of the usually accepted paradigms around, as it makes heroes out of groups that are normally villains – and vice versa. It’s also, as so much of urban fantasy is, a detective story, where our “cops” have to investigate a series of crimes and figure out who, or what “dunnit.”

Of course, things are not as they seem, and not just because the cops in this case are vampires – not that they call themselves that.

Instead, we have a case that the investigators are positive is all sewn up, and a profiler who no longer trusts his own judgment poking his nose into that case and discovering that either the investigators missed something or that he’s further off the rails than he thought.

Took, formerly Luke, Bennett used to be the best profiler in the agency, until he was betrayed by someone he trusted, held captive for over a year, and changed from one of the few successful humans in the agency into shaky vampire who believes he’s lost his nerve.

Which doesn’t stop him from investigating that supposedly open-and-shut case, and doesn’t stop his former boss – and would-be lover – from racing across the country to get his ass out of the fire yet again.

And again.

Leading both of them deep into a case that gets darker and nastier the deeper they get into it. And exposes more of the fault lines in the trust between them as they dig under the surface of what they feel for each other.

Escape Rating A-: This was an absolute blast – a terrific way to spend a lazy afternoon, lost in a fascinating world, following a deadly investigation and a romance that shifts from cold to hot in the blink of an eye. And the whole world catches fire.

I didn’t even mind the cat on my chest holding me in place. He was doing me a favor, after all, providing an excuse for my reading binge.

One of the things I loved about this one was the way that history had worked in this alternative to our own. The way that the vampires (and werewolves) had always existed, and how that changed history, felt reminiscent of some of my favorites in the genre, like Sookie, and Pentonville, the Black Dagger Brotherhood and surprisingly, The Others.

Several of those series wrap around the idea that vamps have always not just walked among us, but run things either covertly or overtly. Also that vampire politics and vampire grudges are both epic and eternal.

And from The Others, that concept that “original recipe” humans are really hard-headed about their own superiority, in spite of repeated evidence to the contrary.

There’s a sense in Dead Man Stalking that we’ve been dropped into the middle of a case – only because we have – and into the midst of a fully realized world. I kept wanting a bit more background on who the players in the shadows are, and how things got to be the way they are. Although the introduction of the historical figure Elizabeth Bathory certainly added weight and depth and horror to that shadowy history. It’s something I’d love to see more of in future entries in the series.

I keep referring to Dead Man Stalking as urban fantasy, even though sometimes it gets referred to as paranormal romance. Yes, there is a romance, but it doesn’t feel like the center of the story. The case felt like the backbone of this one, at least to me. Your mileage may vary.

Whatever you think is the heart of this one, whether it’s an actual romantic heart or the kind that gets cut out by one’s enemies, Dead Man Stalking is compelling and absorbing and I can’t wait for the next book in the Blood and Bone series. This is a world I want to explore more deeply, and in the company of these characters.

A Few Words from our author, T.A. Moore!

First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new urban fantasy Dead Man Stalking. This is the first book in the Blood and Bone series and I am thrilled to put it out there into the world. I was meant to be writing an entirely different book, but then Took and Madoc took up residence in my head and I had to give in and let them have their say.

I had a blast creating this world and these characters, and I hope you enjoy them too. I’ve included a chapter of a prequel short story that you can follow through the blog tour. 

Chapter Eight

“Henry stayed out of the field,” Kit said harshly to Madoc. “And he, at least, had magic to fall back on.”

The door to Nina’s house opened and the coroner’s assistants carried her out, wrapped in black plastic and padlocked down with silver to the stretcher. Just in case. Silver would kill a vampire, but something would occasionally move into what was left. It might mimic who they’d been before–whatever it could piece together from the brain tissue left–but it was generally agreed the revenants were other.

Luke rinsed his mouth and spat green and pink froth into a bowl. The wintergreen didn’t mask the taste of blood so much as mix with it, sharp and potent like salt on minted lamb. He rubbed his jaw and pressed on the tender points around his jaw. It was jarred, but not dislocated.

“If he had a year to prepare, he could bring a dragon to tinkle on them,” Luke said. “Maybe.”

 It was unfair. Slightly. By repute Henry had been a dangerous man, but sorcery was high investment for small returns. It was why the scholomance existed despite sorcerers being as community minded as a spoiled house cat. Five sorcerers could bundle their spells and flood a city to execute a man they’d arranged to be stranded there with a woman he couldn’t resist. It would still take a year.

“You could have been killed,” Kit said. He grabbed the back of Luke’s head and shoved him around to look at his reflection in the mirror. The shadows of fresh bruises bloomed grey and red over Luke’s jaw and cheek. “Are you really so arrogant you can’t see that.”

Enough,” Madoc said icily. “Go and make sure Nina’s consort doesn’t do anything foolish.”

“I need to speak to him,” Luke said as he scrambled up off the tailgate of the ambulance. “Before he goes to the hospital.”

Madoc put a hand on his shoulder and pinned him in place. “He doesn’t want to see you right now.”

Probably not, Luke supposed, but… “It’s important.”

“Give him time to grieve,” Madoc said. “Kit? Go.”

He waited until Kit grumbled and stalked off. Then he put his thumb under Madoc’s jaw and turned his head around to study the bruise. “You’ll ache tomorrow.”

“I ache now,” Luke said. He swallowed and moved away from the too-careful touch. “I know how the killer is.”

“Dead, surely,” Madoc said as he glanced after Nina. “She choose her own punishment.”

“It wasn’t her,” Luke said. Habit made him check his holster and he hissed in annoyance as his fingers found empty leather and nylon. The local cops had taken his gun when they got there. It wasn’t how they did it, but it generally wasn’t a good idea to argue with anxious, trigger happy police officers alarmed that you’d blown off someone’s entire head. Madoc reached around and pulled a gun out of the back of his jeans. He offered it up on the palm of his hand. “She was just…”

Scared. Angry. Threatened.

Luke took the gun. He checked it over briskly, made sure it was loaded and the safety was on, before it holstered it. 

“I made a mistake,” he said stiffly. The words felt like gravel in his throat. “I pushed when I should have pulled, and she caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have been necessary to kill her.”

“But you did,” Madoc said.

Luke gave him a puzzled look. “At that point it was necessary.”

“Why not here?” Madoc asked. “Jamie got over-possessive, thought a midnight snack meant a commitment and pressured her. She’d lived here for a long time. Anakim that entrenched can react extremely to any threat to their nest.”

“I got that,” Luke said. He rubbed his jaw. “But what about the others?”

“Senescence,” Madoc said. Vampire senility. “Maybe she didn’t have a reason.”

Luke shook his head. “No one kills without a reason,” he said. “We might not think it is a good reason, but it’s still a reason to them.”

Madoc looked exasperated. “So you came out, executed the daughter of the Tsar’s favourite, and it was all for nothing?”

“No,” Luke said. “Nina was involved, she just didn’t know how. When can I talk to Darren?”

“Tomorrow.”

Luke made a sound of protest in his throat.

“Fine, when he’s ready,” Madoc conceded. “Let him grieve first.”

Luke shrugged an apology. “That might be too late,” he said. “I need to talk to him now.”

Not that he’d be able to if Madoc decided to stop him. He waited and, after a second, Madoc shook his head and stepped aside. Luke jogged over to where Darren, coffee all over his trousers, sat under Kit’s awkward sympathy. When Darren saw Luke he snarled and tried to lurch to his feet. Kit pushed him back down and gave Luke an exasperated look.

“Jamie,” Luke said. “Tomas, Bray, Loretta”

“What about them?” Darren asked bitterly. “Are you going to shoot them too?”

Luke bit the ‘someone beat us to it’ off the tip of his tongue. “They were all mules, right?”

Colour pinched Darren’s cheeks. “UnKissable,” he said bitterly. “Resistant. Mules are animals.”

“You all met at a support group right?” Luke said. He barely waited for Darren’s resentful noise before he pressed on. “And someone there introduced you to Nina right,, you and Jamie both?”

It took a moment for Darren to answer. When he did, he sounded wary. “We don’t talk about who we meet there.”

Of course not. Being a mule was somewhere between being a saint and being a leper. The Pentecostals saw them as souls too pure to be condemned in life, the rogues saw them as nothing but cattle, and the Anakim pitied them. Any of the above was an awkward place to live. So first names only, and if you had the means you’d attend a support group away from where you lived.

“So yes.”

Darren glared at him but, after a quick wary glance at Kit, reluctantly nodded.

“Who introduced you?” 

“Why do you care?”

Luke changed direction. “You were her favourite, the consort. She gave you somewhere to live, she let you drink her blood, she let you love her.” 

Most mules found out what they were when they tried to court the Kiss, and it didn’t take. It usually ended badly. The Anakim didn’t care to love anything that would die centuries before they did. Darren took a shaky breath as the grief pinched him again.

“But she liked variety, so then Jamie came along. Nina gave him money to keep himself nice, to come and see her. More money. More visits. Until you and Jamie fought over her. He wanted to take your place?”

“I didn’t kill him,” Darren protested. He stiffened under Kit’s hand as his voice pitched up an octave from nerves. “Jamie was…After he left Nina told me she loved me, that she’d not replace me!”

Except she would have. Eventually. She’d been willing to kill for Darren today, but one day he’d have been too old to be beautiful, then too old to be fun. She might keep him, a fond friend and ex-loved, but someone new would be in her bed. Even if she’d stayed with him when he was old, he’d die and she’d need to find a new mule to love.

“What if she had?” Luke pressed. “What if Nina had gotten tired of you, replaced you with someone younger and prettier. Would you still have loved her?”

“Of course!”

“Would you be willing to do anything to get her back?”

They both knew the answer. Darren stared at Luke for a second as the idea dawned on him. Then he shut down as he clenched his jaw and looked away.

“Fuck you.”

“Who introduced you?” Luke pushed.

“You killed her!” Darren spat furiously. He lurched up out and tried to grab Luke’s shirt, but Kit dragged him back. “I hope you’re next to get strung up.”

“More likely to be you,” Luke said. “The old wether. Like Jamie was the rutting stag and Loretta was the fish.”

Grief crumpled Darren’s face like a tissue. “I don’t care,” he said. “I can’t do this again.”

Shit. Luke grimaced as he tried to think how to drag the truth out of Darren. Before he could change tactics, Madoc put a hand on his shoulder.

“Wait,” he said. He moved Luke out of the way and crouched down in front of Darren. He smiled at him, a disarmingly pleasant expression. “Darren, right. Darren Voight-Kares.”

Darren fired a bleak look of triumph at Luke, as if that changed anything.

“Yes.”

Madoc put a hand on Darren’s voice and dropped his voice slightly, a hint of his old accent furred over the words. 

“You’ll be the executor of her estate, there’ll be a lot of things to sort out. We’ll help you with that, if you want,” Madoc said. He nodded and Darren nodded with him. Then Madoc grimaced. “If we can. Until we find this killer, there’s not a lot of time we can give up.”

Luke shifted his weight uncomfortably. He wasn’t sure he didn’t agree with Madoc’s plan, or was just uncomfortable at seeing that charm turned elsewhere. Kit gestured him to silence.

“I..need help,” Darren admitted. “Her family. The Russians.”

His hands knotted anxiously in his lap, twisted painfully together.

“What was his name?” Madoc asked, his voice suddenly hard and thick with something that caught in the back of Luke’s throat. “The man that introduced you. Tell us.”

“Mark,” Darren said obediently. Then he stalled. “I don’t know anymore than that. Just Mark.”

Luke shifted again and glanced askance at Madoc. After a glance at Darren’s face, Madoc gave Luke a nod of approval to rejoin the conversation.

“He’d been a soldier, right?” Luke said. That fit his profile. Someone who was willing to kill, but who balked at the hot gore of butchery. “That’s where he found out what he was?”

There was a pause and then Darren nodded. “He was wounded, lost half his stomach. One of the medic Anakim tried to turn him, save his life, but it didn’t work. They thought he’d die, but he survived. Discharged. Came home. Nina helped him put his life back together, set him up in a job.”

“What job?”

Darren shrugged. “I don’t know. A security company or something? It doesn’t matter because he messed it up anyhow, lost everything. Nina had to step in again, get him a job as a security guard somewhere.”

The pieces slotted together. “Mark,” Luke said. He remembered the ginger security guard, wiry muscle under a fresh layer of indulgent flab. But still there. “Mark Clade?”

Darren made a helpless gesture. “I don’t know. I guess,” he said. “Nina called him last night about Jamie, told him that she didn’t need the support group anymore. She had me.”

And that meant Mark only had one thing left. So he wasn’t going to give that up.

__________

Last chapter of the story on my blog tomorrow! Www.tamoorewrites.com. All the blog tour posts will also be linked here: http://tamoorewrites.com/deadmanstalking/

Author Bio:TA Moore – 

TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

 

| Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads |

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport

Review: Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily DevenportMedusa in the Graveyard (The Medusa Cycle, #2) by Emily Devenport
Format: audiobook, eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss, purchased from Audible
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: science fiction
Series: Medusa Cycle #2
Pages: 301
Published by Tor Books on July 23, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Medusa in the Graveyard is the action-packed, science fiction sequel to Emily Devenport's Medusa Uploaded.

Oichi Angelis, former Worm, along with her fellow insurgents on the generation starship Olympia, head deeper into the Charon System for the planet called Graveyard.

Ancient, sentient, alien starships wait for them--three colossi so powerful they remain aware even in self-imposed sleep. The race that made the Three are dead, but Oichi's people were engineered with this ancient DNA.

A delegation from Olympia must journey to the heart of Graveyard and be judged by the Three. Before they're done, they will discover that weapons are the least of what the ships have to offer.

My Review:

I picked up Medusa in the Graveyard because I absolutely adored the first book in the Medusa Cycle, Medusa Uploaded.

As I said, I loved Medusa Uploaded, but I’m still not sure how I feel about Medusa in the Graveyard.

Which may be because the books are very, very different. Medusa Uploaded is the story of a revolution on a generation ship, and we spend the book seeing the action through the eyes of one of the formerly downtrodden “Worms”, Oichi Angelis, who leads a rebellion that upends the order of her little corner of the universe, the generation ship Olympia.

Medusa in the Graveyard is the story of what happens after. So it can’t be that political story of the rise to rebellion that the first book was and that made that story so damn good. Actually it’s not a political story at all. Or at least not very much.

Instead, this is a story about who the Olympians are going to be when they “grow up” – meaning what happens when they take their place in the wider universe. A universe that holds more wonders, more dangers, and more enemies than their regimented life as “Worms” had ever prepared them for.

And not that their former hidden puppet masters, the Weapons Clan, aren’t eager to get the Olympians back under their control – or perhaps under their bootheel would be a better way of describing exactly what the Weapons Clan intends.

So this is just the beginning of what happens after the rebellion is successful, as old friendships and alliances fracture and new ones spring up to take their place – or try to manipulate events back onto the same old paths.

Oichi and her friends have returned to the point of, if not the ship Olympia’s origins, then at least the place where the “Worms’” DNA was first extracted. More than one history is about to come full circle on the planet Graveyard, with Oichi and her friends battling time fractures and old enemies to determine a future that may be better for the universe – but worse for them.

In Oichi’s past, her Medusa unit once acted as a deus ex machina to save her life. But on a planet that seems to be chock full of dei, with or without machina, Oichi isn’t sure whether her old partner is planning to save her life – or end it.

Or whether the gods and monsters of Graveyard will just stomp on them all.

Escape Rating B: Part of what made Medusa Uploaded so terrific, but that works a bit against Medusa in the Graveyard, is that both books hold tightly to Oichi’s first person perspective. During the revolution, it increased the tension dramatically, as we only knew as much as Oichi knew, and she was often in the dark about events occurring in other parts of the ship or to other people.

But those events happened so quickly that she didn’t have time to be consumed by her own doubts. That’s not the case in Graveyard, as Oichi’s internal dialog in this one is filled with plenty of doubts. Oichi seems to doubt herself at every turn.

At the same time, we’re aware that she is narrating this story from a point in the future, so it’s obvious that she survived, no matter how many regrets she stacks up along the way. To the point where Oichi’s tone throughout this story can be summed up by three words: woulda, coulda, shoulda. She spends much of the story telling herself – and the reader – that things would have worked out better if she’d just made a whole bunch of different choices. She ends this story with a ton of regrets – and an entire shipload of emotional baggage.

That she spends much of the story navigating her way through various sloughs of despond fits right in with the idea that this is the middle book of a trilogy. Middle books aren’t known for being light and fluffy. (This does lead me to point out that Graveyard makes no sense without having read Medusa Uploaded first – and possibly recently. There’s a lot to unpack in this story.)

Graveyard also deals with a lot of “timey-wimey” bits, as this is a place where time fractures are a feature of the landscape. At the end, Oichi’s journey, which took 300 pages or 12 hours of audio (I listened to the audio), and goes both backwards and forwards in time as well as light years in space, takes so little time for the characters who were not part of the trip that it could almost have been a dream. Unlike the Wizard of Oz or season 8 of the original version of the TV show Dallas, it was not – but it still feels that way.

I think we’ll see the results of Oichi’s sojourn on Graveyard in the final book of the Medusa Cycle, whenever it appears. I hope we get back to the political potboiling of Medusa Uploaded. In the end, I liked listening to Medusa in the Graveyard, but it just wasn’t as compelling for me as the first book.

Your mileage, whether at faster than light speeds or the blink of an eye, may vary.

Review: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White

Review: The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen WhiteThe Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 408
Published by William Morrow on September 4, 2018
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.

My Review:

The Glass Ocean is the braided story of three women, separated by time, place, class or all of the above, whose lives are roiled by the wake of the RMS Lusitania, struck by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915.

As with the previous book by the Team W, The Forgotten Room, the story of The Glass Ocean slips from character to character – from woman to woman – as the reader experiences each perspective and follows the treasure hunt as all three of the stories finally come together.

And the truth sets them all free. Freedom from obscurity in the past, and freedom from heartbreak and loss in the present.

In exploring the truth about her great-grandfather, a steward on the RMS Lusitania, Sarah thinks that she’s going to be writing a spy thriller – if not the biography of a man who wrote spy thrillers. But as we follow her on her treasure hunt through the life and archives of Robert Langford, a passenger on the Lusitania and the author of spy thrillers that Sarah thinks were even better than Ian Fleming’s, we also see those pivotal events on board the Lusitania through the eyes of two women who both loved him.

The story that Sarah thinks she’s looking for is not the one she finds. But that’s the one that she writes. And in the writing of it, she brings the lives and accomplishments of two fascinating women back into the light of day.

And rescues herself along the way.

Escape Rating A-: Today, as this review is posted, is the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This book is an oddly appropriate read for today, as the sinking of the Lusitania and 9/11 were both human-created disasters that were intended to start a war. And both did, after their different fashions.

If you are interested in reading more about the Lusitania, I highly recommend – as does Team W in the afterword of The Glass Ocean, Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Dead Wake is the best kind of narrative nonfiction, in other words, a true story that reads as compellingly as if it were a novel.

But The Glass Ocean, like Dead Wake, confines itself to events that take place aboard the ocean liner, or that occurred to its survivors in the aftermath. The reader can and does speculate about the surrounding politics, but the story is the story of the doomed ship and what happened after.

While Caroline’s and Tess’ stories are part of that fateful voyage, Sarah’s is the story of the aftermath – nearly 100 years in the aftermath. I found Sarah’s story to be the most compelling – but then she’s the one doing the historical research. I always love the treasure hunt aspect of this kind of story, where the clues are revealed, sometimes slowly and carefully, and sometimes by “Eureka!” – and there are plenty of moments of both kinds in Sarah’s search.

Sarah’s story feels “present”, while Caroline’s and Tess’ stories feel almost as though they are leading the reader to the story behind those clues. And I was guessing right along with Sarah, sometimes, but not always correctly.

Part of what makes this so much fun is the way that in both time periods both end up as just the kind of spy thriller that Robert Langford used to write. Someone betrayed the Lusitania to the Germans. Someone smuggled a critical munitions formula on board the ship. Someone wanted to sell it to the Germans. Someone wanted to secure it for the British.

And over 1,000 people died for it.

But when Sarah unearths those secrets, she finds much more than she ever bargained for. Whether or not she’ll be able to keep what she’s found is a journey that is well-worth taking with her.

TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

September to Remember Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the September to Remember Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Kids Did It and The Mommy Island.

September begins the unofficial start of the Halloween season, which, bless its little orange and black heart, keeps most people and places from starting to put up Xmas decorations.  (It’s too early, people, the trees still have all their leaves!!!!!)

I’m looking forward to Fall, when it finally reaches us. The high temperature in Atlanta today is predicted to reach the mid 90s, so it definitely isn’t Fall here yet. I took a look at the other cities we’ve lived in, just to see. Gainesville and Tallahassee will both have similar temps to Atlanta, Cincinnati will be in the low 90s this week, Chicago in the mid 80s to mid-70s, Seattle in the high 60s to mid 70s (and rainy). Anchorage is already down to the low 60s and dropping like a rock for the rest of the month. It’s not something I miss.

There are plenty of Fall Festivals around here for the next few weeks – we’ll probably go to one or two.

To help with your Fall Festivities, whatever they might be, I’m giving away the winner’s choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

So welcome to Fall. May all your apples be crisp, and all your leaves be crunchy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more fabulous Fall prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on this hop!

Review: The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman

Review: The Heart of the Circle by Keren LandsmanThe Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: fantasy, urban fantasy
Pages: 400
Published by Angry Robot on August 13, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads


Sorcerers fight for the right to exist and fall in love, in this extraordinary alternate world fantasy thriller by award-winning Israeli author Keren Landsman.

Throughout human history there have always been sorcerers, once idolised and now exploited for their powers. In Israel, the Sons of Simeon, a group of religious extremists, persecute sorcerers while the government turns a blind eye. After a march for equal rights ends in brutal murder, empath, moodifier and reluctant waiter Reed becomes the next target. While his sorcerous and normie friends seek out his future killers, Reed complicates everything by falling hopelessly in love. As the battle for survival grows ever more personal, can Reed protect himself and his friends as the Sons of Simeon close in around them?

File Under: Fantasy [ Love Squared - Stuck in the Margins - Emotional Injection - Fight the Power ]

My Review:

In a kind of twisted way, The Heart of the Circle reminded me of American Magic in that they both feel like responses to the Statute of Secrecy in Harry Potter. In American Magic, the reveal of the secret of magic is treated like a weaponized virus or other standard spy-thriller macguffin.

But The Heart of the Circle, while also having aspects of a thriller, feels like it comes out of the urban fantasy tradition, and not just because it takes place in a major city, in this case, Tel Aviv.

I say the urban fantasy tradition because this is a minor variation on our current world, but one in which magic not only works, but always has worked, a la Harry Potter. However, in The Heart of the Circle, magic has not only always worked, but it has always been known. There is no Statute of Secrecy here.

Which doesn’t mean that there aren’t witch hunts.

In the past, magic and magic users have been respected and feared. But mostly respected. Or so it seems. We are dropped into this story sometime in their 21st century, and pretty much in the midst of the action. Ancient history isn’t talked about a whole lot, because the present is going off the rails.

A group of religious fundamentalists has done an all too effective job of weaponizing the human hate and fear of “the other” and turned it against the sorcerers. There’s a constant drumbeat in the press to turn sorcerers into “the other” so that their humanity can be legislated away. So that they can be harassed and discriminated against and killed without consequences.

The language and methods that they use will sound all too familiar to anyone who has read about the Holocaust – or read the news or followed twitter regarding the way that immigrants in the U.S. are being demonized this day.

Although, in fine fantasy fashion, the reasons behind this particular weaponization of hate and fear turn out to be nothing like they seem to be. The most interesting agendas are extremely heinous and deeply hidden.

Following our protagonist, Reed Katz, we become involved in the sorcerers’ community as everyone fears for their livelihood and their lives, and we watch them fight back. We become involved in their world and we feel for their plight. They have not, in fact, done anything wrong. They are being hated, and killed, for what they are – while the people who murder them are not even condemned for the crimes they have actually committed.

In Reed’s story, and the story of his community, I saw reflections of our present. The story’s setting in Israel may allow Americans to pretend that this can’t happen here, but it is. The fantasy setting allows readers to see the situation from a distance, but it is all too easy to recognize that it is here and now.

This begins as a story of a beleaguered community dealing with unrelenting hate. It becomes a story about rising up and not just protecting that community, but about proactively discovering the heart of the hate – and exposing it for what it really is.

The Heart of the Circle turns out to be love. Not only romantic love, although that is certainly there, but love of all kinds and all stripes. The love of friends, the love of family, and especially the love of community.

Escape Rating A+: This is a book that sucks the reader into its heart, and doesn’t spit you out until the final page is turned. And I loved every minute of it.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-8-19

Sunday Post

It feels like the year is starting to wind down. As soon as Labor Day weekend ended, all the stuff that nobody wants to deal with over the summer popped back up. Like organizing the Black Friday Giveaway Hop, starting to think about the Library Journal Best SF/F Books list, writing a couple of articles that were post-Worldcon, thinking about what we’ll do for the holidays and seeing just how fascinated the cats are with the leaves falling in the backyard.

Hecate, who is under my desk as I type this, is not quite a year old. We got her last October, so this is actually the first time she’s seen the falling leaves. She’s absolutely absorbed by them, at least until she has to run off to do other catly things. Like run up the stairs on the outside of the banister and scare her people half to death. The life of a cat!

Current Giveaways:

$20 Amazon Gift Card or $20 Book in the Hello Autumn Giveaway Hop

Blog Recap:

Labor Day 2019
Hello Autumn Giveaway Hop
B Review: The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
A- Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
B Review: Vendetta in Death by J.D. Robb
Stacking the Shelves (356)

Coming This Week:

The Heart of the Circle by Keren Landsman (review)
September to Remember Giveaway Hop
The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White (blog tour review)
Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport (review)
Dead Man Stalking by TA Moore (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (356)

Stacking the Shelves

A short stack this week (mm-mm, pancakes, yum) but plenty of good stuff in it. And a reminder to anyone who is an Amazon Prime member, if you’re in Prime you can get two free ebooks every month from a selected list. While there are some months that I look and pass, this month one of the books is The Vine Witch, which looks fascinating. So it’s always worth at least a look if not a download or two.

For Review:
Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen
The Bodies in the Library (First Edition Library #1) by Marty Wingate
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Life and Limb (Blood & Bone #1) by Jennifer Roberson
The Prince of Broadway (Uptown Girls #2) by Joanna Shupe

Purchased from Amazon:
Blood of an Exile (Dragons of Terra #1) by Brian Naslund (ebook and audio)
Castle on the Rise (Lost Castle #2) by Kristy Cambron
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter