The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 6-16-19

Sunday Post

If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done. Or at least it certainly seems that way. We’re off for the American Library Association Annual Conference at the end of the week and it feels like there are suddenly a million-and-one things to do before we go. Only because there probably are.

The cats are NOT going to be best pleased. They never are when their human servitors abscond from their duties for any length of time longer than a catnap. Come to think of it, not even then. We’re obviously supposed to be at their beck and call even when they’re sleeping!

Current Giveaways:

$10 Gift Card or $10 Book in the Hello Summer Giveaway Hop

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Summer on Mirror Lake is Rita W.
The winner of the Fantastic Father Giveaway Hop is Lisa W.

Blog Recap:

A- Review: Wrath of the Goddess by Lauren Dane
B Review: Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan
A- Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery
A- Review: Finder by Suzanne Palmer
Hello Summer Giveaway Hop
Stacking the Shelves (344)

Coming This Week:

The Women’s War by Jenna Glass (review)
Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter (blog tour review)
Hell Squad: Dom by Anna Hackett (review)
Ramen Assassin by Rhys Ford (blog tour review)
The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (review)

Stacking the Shelves (344)

Stacking the Shelves

This is the pre-ALA stack, which quite frankly means that I split what should be this stack into two so I can prep posts ahead. I will be tied up in meetings next weekend, possibly literally. Sometimes literarily, but definitely meetings.

So this week’s stack and next week’s stack are both a bit short, to be followed by the post-ALA stack which tends to be ginormous. We will see.

Lead me not into temptation; I can find it myself – at least when it comes to books!

For Review:
The Art of Theft (Lady Sherlock #4) by Sherry Thomas
Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron
Dom (Hell Squad #17) by Anna Hackett
Missing Person by Sarah Lotz
The Mythic Dream edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Purchased from Amazon/Audible:
For the Killing of Kings (Ring-Sworn #1) by Howard Andrew Jones (audio)
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (audio)
The Sentence is Death (Hawthorne #2) by Anthony Horowitz (audio)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Hello Summer Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Hello Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Review Wire and Chatty Patty’s Place!

Spring is Sprung
Fall is Fell
Here comes Summer
And it’s hotter than…
Last Year!

There are plenty of other poems about Summer, but that one is still my favorite.

There are also lots of songs about Summer, songs that when you hear them, you instantly think of hot days, warm nights, staying up late and school vacations, no matter how far in the past your schooldays might be.

I know that if I name a song, I’ll give you an earworm. Or I’ll date myself. Or both. What about you? What song or what activity makes you think SUMMER! Answer in the rafflecopter for your chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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


Review: Finder by Suzanne Palmer

Review: Finder by Suzanne PalmerFinder by Suzanne Palmer
Format: audiobook, eARC
Source: purchased from Amazon, purchased from Audible
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genres: science fiction, space opera
Pages: 391
Published by DAW Books on April 2, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

From Hugo Award-winning debut author Suzanne Palmer comes an action-packed sci-fi caper starring Fergus Ferguson, interstellar repo man and professional finder

Fergus Ferguson has been called a lot of names: thief, con artist, repo man. He prefers the term finder.

His latest job should be simple. Find the spacecraft Venetia's Sword and steal it back from Arum Gilger, ex-nobleman turned power-hungry trade boss. He'll slip in, decode the ship's compromised AI security, and get out of town, Sword in hand.

Fergus locates both Gilger and the ship in the farthest corner of human-inhabited space, a gas-giant-harvesting colony called Cernee. But Fergus' arrival at the colony is anything but simple. A cable car explosion launches Cernee into civil war, and Fergus must ally with Gilger's enemies to navigate a field of space mines and a small army of hostile mercenaries. What was supposed to be a routine job evolves into negotiating a power struggle between factions. Even worse, Fergus has become increasingly--and inconveniently--invested in the lives of the locals.

It doesn't help that a dangerous alien species thought mythical prove unsettlingly real, and their ominous triangle ships keep following Fergus around.

Foolhardy. Eccentric. Reckless. Whatever he's called, Fergus will need all the help he can get to take back the Sword and maybe save Cernee from destruction in the process.

My Review:

June is Audiobook Month, and Finder is one of those books that I picked up in audio and couldn’t wait to get into it. It’s one of those wild ride, thrill-a-minute stories that kept me sitting in my car in all sorts of places, just so I could hear just a bit more of whatever it was that Fergus managed to get himself into this time. Every time.

In the end I finished up with the book-book, or rather the ebook, because I just couldn’t start anything else until I discovered if/how Fergus finally managed to get himself out of both frying pan AND fire – and complete his self-imposed mission – without racking up too much more collateral damage along the way.

This is also a fantastic space opera, but not of the conquering star empires variety, which is cool and neat and different.

Fergus is the finder of the title. He’s kind of a repo man, but not exactly. He doesn’t repossess something because someone has missed a payment or ten. He finds things, big expensive things, that have been stolen and returns them to their rightful owners.

He’s at the ass-end of human-inhabited space, a collection of small-to-middling sized habitats strung out on power cables, named Cernee. The big thing he’s come to collect is a ship. Arum Gilger stole it from the shipbuilders, using an equally stolen ID, and the shipbuilders want it back. And it turns out that the locals are generally happy to help Fergus – up to a point – because they don’t like Gilger having that ship.

Fergus thinks the job is going to be easy. Get in, find the ship, steal the ship, fly it home to the Pluto shipyards, collect his pay. Get another job. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Instead, Fergus gets caught in the middle of a civil war. Arum Gilger wants to take over Cernee, and pretty much everyone and everything stands in his way. (Hence the reason that the locals are willing to help Fergus steal back the ship and get it the hell out of their space.) Especially the family Vahn, living on a remote habitat called “The Wheels”. It shouldn’t be Fergus’ business, but Gilger fires the opening salvo in his little war at the cable car that Fergus is sharing with “Mother” Vahn, and Fergus’ job has suddenly become personal.

Being nearly killed just for being in the same cable car as a seemingly inoffensive old lady is plenty of reason to get scared, to get angry, and to get to the bottom of everything that’s wrong in Cernee.

At least until everything that’s wrong in Cernee, including the mysterious alien ships that watch, and wait, and scare everyone three-quarters to death, decide that Fergus is their “true North” and all their ships start pointing towards him – wherever he goes, whatever he does – all the time.

Fergus may be the Finder, but something much bigger and much, much scarier has suddenly found him.

Escape Rating A-: First of all, this is one of those stories that naturally lends itself to audio. The story is told in Fergus’ first-person perspective, so hearing it in his voice from inside his head works well. The narrator does an excellent job of capturing Fergus’ world-weary (maybe that should be universe-weary), slightly deadpan voice. Fergus isn’t someone who gets really excited – because he’s been there and done that and is much too busy running away from the things that reach deeply into his emotions.

This doesn’t mean that the people around Fergus don’t get plenty excited, because the adventures that Fergus drags them into are generally frightening to the point of being downright life-threatening. Following Fergus is like being on one of those amusement park rides that barrels toward the edge of its track, to the point where you think the car is going to stop and you’re going to be thrown out of it, only to sharply turn – extremely sharply and very suddenly – and throw you against the sides as it madly careens towards the next near-disaster. (This ride in my childhood amusement park was the Wild Mouse, but yours undoubtedly had one too. They all did!)

Finder is very much one of those “out of the frying pan into the fire” stories. Fergus seems to be both a trouble and chaos magnet. They say that no plan survives contact with the enemy. It seems like no plan survives contact with Fergus, not even Fergus’ own plans. And yet, they generally manage to work in the end – for select definitons of “generally”, “work” and especially “end”. Either he has the devil’s own luck, as they say, or Cernee is connected to the Discworld, where “million-to-one” shots always come in.

There’s something about the way this story works, or perhaps in Fergus’ universe-weary voice, that reminds me of John Scalzi’s space operas. Especially The Android’s Dream, but generally the Old Man’s War universe. Fergus and John Perry would have plenty to talk about. That there’s a brief part of Finder that echoes Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is totally fitting, considering the number of reviews that label Old Man’s War as Heinleinesque.

I digress just a bit, but not completely, as I think that Scalzi’s readers will also like Finder – very much. This one certainly did!

Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan MalleryThe Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss, publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, women's fiction
Pages: 368
Published by Hqn on June 11, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny...As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she's never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame--and notoriety--through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat's wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress's intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec's stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be "that girl" again. This time, she'll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

My Review:

As part of the tour for this book, last week I posted an excerpt from The Summer of Sunshine and Margot. Now we’re back for the rest of the story!

Like so many of this author’s standalone titles, The Summer of Sunshine and Margot revolves around two sisters, Sunshine and Margot. While they are fraternal twins, they don’t seem to be much alike. Margot is tall, willowy and just a bit of an ice queen. Sunshine is short, curvy and more than a bit of a good time girl.

This is all about the summer where both of them plan to make changes in their lives. Those changes have a lot to do with their family’s legendary bad luck with men. Sunshine has picked the wrong men, pretty much over and over, instead of making something of her own life. Now she’s 31 and starting over again.

Margot keeps getting back together with the same wrong man over and over, and it’s past time for her to be done. It would help a lot if her friends would support that decision instead of sabotaging her by giving the jackass her address and phone number each time she cuts him off and changes her contact info.

Summer works as a nanny, but she never sticks – because some guy comes along, sweeps her off her feet, and she leaves. This time she’s fallen in love with her charge, little Connor, and wants to be around for him and his ant farm. She’s started college and make something of herself and stay away from men. Except for little Connor of course. And his lonely and extremely yummy dad.

On the surface – actually on several surfaces – Margot’s job is the more interesting of the two. Her job is to help people fit into new and unfamiliar surroundings. Usually those surroundings involve changes in status or business in foreign countries. Her current client is a free-spirited actress who plans to marry the love of her life, a foreign diplomat. In order to tone down some of Bianca’s wilder tendencies, Margot will live with her and her adult son, a man who makes both Margot’s intellectual side as well as her hidden passionate side sit up and take notice.

Nothing about either of their situations runs smoothly. The only thing that does is the rock solid love and support the sisters give to each other. And that’s enough to see them through.

Escape Rating A-: This was just a sweet and delightful read. From a certain perspective, not a lot happens – or at least not in a big way. At the same time, it just reads so well. I started it at dinner and finished later that evening because I couldn’t put it down.

Not so much because I needed to see what happened next as because I just enjoyed spending time with Sunshine and Margot. Their lives were very, very different, but they managed to maintain a close and loving relationship – something that isn’t always easy between sisters.

Often when I read family relationship stories, I find myself grateful to be an only child. But not with this author. Many of her stories wrap around sisterhood, and her portraits of sisters who manage to pull together or stay together and be there for each other makes me a bit envious.

The romantic relationships that Sunshine and Margot find in this story, and unsuccessfully resist, are as different as they are. But are both equally romantic and equally interesting to follow. And they both earn their happily ever afters, but in completely different ways.

The wild card character in this one is the wild child actress Bianca. It’s so obvious from early in the story that Bianca has both a story of her own, and an agenda that she keeps carefully under wraps. The revelation of what made her the person that she is is heartbreaking, and the reason she finally lets the secret go is reaffirming, both of love and of the ability to set yourself free of the past – at any age.

And it ties in to both Sunshine’s and Margot’s journeys, as they all are in the process of becoming their best selves. Journeys that are marvelous to follow every halting step of the way.

For a good reading time, pick up anything by Susan Mallery. You’ll be glad you did!

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

Review: Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan

Review: Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillanMurder in the City of Liberty (A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery #2) by Rachel McMillan
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction, historical mystery
Series: Van Buren and DeLuca #2
Pages: 336
Published by Thomas Nelson on May 28, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Hamish DeLuca and Regina "Reggie" Van Buren have a new case--and this one brings the war in Europe dangerously close to home.

Determined to make a life for herself, Regina "Reggie" Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he's afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes that seem to link Boston to Hamish's hometown of Toronto.

When an act of violence hits too close to home, Hamish is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

My Review:

Luca Valari is still the man of mystery behind the shady goings on in this second book in the Van Buren and DeLuca series. But Reggie Van Buren and Hamish DeLuca are definitely front and center in this atmospheric story of pre-WW2 Boston.

Although, just as in Murder at the Flamingo, it’s almost halfway through the book before the dead body turns up, there’s already plenty of shady goings on.

Nate Reis, Hamish’ roommate and the unofficial Jewish prince of the city’s immigrant North End, is hiding something – not that the increasing amount of Antisemitism and anti-immigrant fury is hiding anything from him.

Hamish and Reggie find themselves in multiple kinds of trouble when they investigate what looks like a potential housing development that plans to create substandard housing on land that is certain to be not merely unsuitable but actually unstable – and not with the consent of the current owner.

The situation gets even dicier when a figure from their past with Luca Valari and his Flamingo Club appears in the shadows – and someone pushes Reggie into the freezing waters of Boston Harbor.

The client they do manage to retain is the Black minor league baseball player Errol Parker, better known as Robin Hood for his base-stealing prowess. Parker has been the victim of an escalating series of so-called pranks, and he wants Van Buren and DeLuca to get to the bottom of it before someone roughs up his 16-year-old nephew. Again.

When the boy turns up dead in the locker room wearing his uncle’s jersey, they are left to investigate whether his murder was due to the color of their client’s skin, the shady people the boy was doing errands for, the rise of racial tension in general – or something else all together.

Something that might lead back to Luca Valari.

Escape Rating B: There’s something about this entry in the series that feels much darker than the previous book. Not that there isn’t plenty of mystery in both, but it feels like there were more lighthearted moments in Murder at the Flamingo – at least before said murder – than there are in Murder in the City of Liberty. Or it may be that Reggie Van Buren and Hamish DeLuca were just a lot more naive in the first book than they are, three long years later, in the second.

Some of that is the time period. While Flamingo takes place during the Depression, which was no picnic, this book is set in 1940. By this point in history, World War II had already begun in Europe, Hamish’ home country of Canada was already involved, and people in the U.S. were dealing with the sense that they would be caught up in the war, whether they wanted to be or not, sooner or later. Most likely sooner.

Which doesn’t mean that there weren’t plenty of isolationists doing their level best – or should that be absolute worst – to keep the U.S. out of the war as long as possible. And a lot of their reasoning revolved around their disgusting propaganda campaigns to keep America white and Christian and to denigrate, persecute and even murder anyone who was not. A propaganda campaign – with its associated violence – that has both Hamish and Reggie’s client Errol Parker and their friend Nate Reis squarely in its sights.

The threats hanging over Parker and Nate are part of the darkness that permeates the story, as is shadowy presence of Hamish’ cousin Luca – who is up to his neck in something shady yet again. Someone is following Hamish, but whether it’s Luca’s agents attempting to keep Hamish safe, or Luca’s enemies trying to get at Luca through Hamish is all part of the puzzle. A puzzle that keeps Hamish – and the reader – guessing until the very end.

Speaking of that end, at the end of Murder in the City of Liberty Hamish is brought face to face with his parents’ past – a past that has been hidden from him all of his life. However, that past is not hidden from the reader – or at least not the readers of the author’s Herringford and Watts historical mystery series, which features Hamish’s mother and her bestie – and eventually leads to the events which led to the “falling out” between Hamish’ parents and Luca Valari’s.

It seems like everything in Hamish’ life comes back to Luca, one way or another. But the Herringford and Watts series looks scrumptious! So it looks like the first book, The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder, will be going on my TBR pile as something to tide me over until the next installment in the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries!

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

Review: Wrath of the Goddess by Lauren Dane

Review: Wrath of the Goddess by Lauren DaneWrath of the Goddess by Lauren Dane
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: paranormal, urban fantasy
Series: Goddess with a Blade #5
Pages: 336
Published by Carina Press on June 10th 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Rowan Summerwaite is back—and more than a little pissed off—in
Wrath of the Goddess
, the fifth installment in
New York Times
bestselling author Lauren Dane’s Goddess with a Blade series.

You can’t keep a vengeful woman down for long.

Rowan Summerwaite, elite hunter and human vessel to the goddess Brigid, has returned home to Las Vegas—and she’s mad as hell. It seems someone thought they could eliminate Rowan and everyone she holds dear.

That someone was dead wrong.

With tensions between paranormal factions at an all-time high, Rowan and her crew, along with her sexy Vampire Scion husband, Clive Stewart, have their work cut out for them. The Vampire Nation has at least one traitor in their midst, leaving them extremely vulnerable…but if it’s a war they want, Rowan’s prepared to bring the pain like never before.

Rowan knows her duty is to those she’s sworn to protect, but it seems the harder she fights, the more barriers she hits…and the more friends she loses.

With even her closest alliances in question, Rowan will have to accept that sometimes the path toward the greater good means making heartrending sacrifices along the way…

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the
Carina Press Romance Promise
: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

And see how Rowan’s fight began in Goddess with a Blade, Blade to the Keep, Blade on the Hunt and At Blade’s Edge, available now!

This book is approximately 82,000 words

My Review:

I feel as if I’m in a pre-existing relationship with this book that I need to disclose – even though I only just finished it. I know that sounds a bit (possibly more than a bit) odd.

You see, the first book in this series, Goddess With a Blade, was one of the first books I ever got from NetGalley, eight long years ago. I still remember sitting down at my kitchen table to read it, and finished it in one sitting. (To be fair, it’s only 200 pages, for me that’s not a long book.) Goddess With a Blade was also one of my picks for “Best Ebook Romance” of 2011 in Library Journal.

A couple of years later, after we’d moved to Seattle – and after Blade to the Keep was published – I was riding the bus home from work and saw an ad for Goddess and Keep on the side of a city bus, and as it flashed by I realized that I was being quoted on the side of the bus! It was one of those total “squee” moments.

I mean, I was a fan of the series before – but WOW!

I do love this series. Very Much. And I would even without the side-of-the-bus squeeing.

But it’s been FOUR very long YEARS since the previous book in this series, At Blade’s Edge. A book that left series readers hanging over the edge of a nasty and brutally epic cliffhanger. A cliffy that feels like it has only just begun to be resolved by the end of Wrath of the Goddess.

That Goddess is plenty wrathful – and she has every right to be.

Wrath of the Goddess begins where At Blade’s Edge left us hanging – with Rowan Summerwaite, vessel of the Goddess Brigid, in Europe for her wedding to the Vampire Scion of North America, Clive Stewart. One of her friends back home in Las Vegas is sending her congratulations, live over the Internet, when seriously evil dudes break into her headquarters and kill the man – on camera – then taunt her with the information that they are coming for everyone she loves.

From that gruesome point, the story is off to the races. Rowan, with a little help from her friends and a lot of help from Clive, rushes home to Vegas to investigate the death of one of her family-of-choice – as well as the disappearance of another.

Only to discover that both her own organization, Hunter Corp., and Clive’s, the Vampire Nation, still have traitors at the very top who have betrayed them both to some nefarious someone who is out for his – or her – own evil ends.

It’s up to Rowan – and her Goddess – to stop them. Again. Because the evil that Rowan has battled before is a multi-headed beast and it’s her duty to lop off all the heads. In order to save her friends, her family, and perhaps humanity itself.

Escape Rating A-: I loved this, and found it a great read from beginning to end. But, and at this point it gets to be a bigger “but” all the time, this is no place to start this series. (Also not the end of this series, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

The world created in this series has become intensely convoluted. There’s Rowan, and her Goddess. There’s the Vampire Nation, to which Rowan has multiple ties, and not just her new husband. Rowan’s foster-father Theo is “The First” of the Vampire Nation, the oldest, the most dangerous, and the most ruthless of them all. And he’s the one in charge.

Rowan works for Hunter Corp., an organization that defends humans without magic or paranormal abilities. That defense is wrapped around a Treaty between the Hunters and the Vampires. Preservation of that treaty is a big part of Rowan’s job. In spite of the number of times that Hunter Corp has misused and betrayed her. Repeatedly and often.

There are also witches – one of whom plays a big part in Wrath of the Goddess, and other paranormal beings. It’s a big world, as big as our own non-magical world, and it has layers within layers – layers that a newbie coming into the series at this point will probably drown in.

If this all sounds fascinating, start back at the beginning with Goddess With a Blade, because this is a series that is building on each book – they don’t stand alone.

If this is your jam, and you get to this point, this particular entry in the series adds more of those layers, both in the form of the witch who joins with Rowan and in the sense of Rowan’s character development.

Readers who are also fans of J.D. Robb’s In Death series will find a lot of similarities between Rowan Summerwaite and Eve Dallas. Both are blunt to the point of rudeness, have little patience with fools or bureaucrats, and hide their soft gooey centers under layers and layers (and layers) of epic snarkitude.

Back to Wrath of the Goddess – before she gets more wrathful. In spite of Rowan’s extreme distaste for bureaucracy, there’s a lot of, not exactly bureaucracy, but certainly a lot of “hurry up and wait” in this one. It makes sense for the story, as a huge piece of it necessarily follows the investigation into the murder that Rowan and Clive witnessed online.

That investigation turns out to be much bigger than merely “whodunnit” as Rowan discovers that someone staked out her headquarters for weeks before the hit, and timed it “just so”, to make it perfectly devastating for Rowan.

So there’s lots of magical forensics in this one, and lots of unraveling layers and unspooling of possibilities of suspects and traitors on all three sides – Hunter Corp, the Vampire Nation and the witches’ Senate, because there are traitors in the (high) ranks of all three.

In the end, there’s plenty of kickass action for everyone – along with the heartbreaking realization that the rot that Rowan thought she weeded out in At Blade’s Edge has already spread farther than she wanted to believe.

Her job is not over, and neither is this series. Book 6, Blood and Blade is scheduled for release in December. I have ALL my fingers crossed that we really won’t have to wait longer than that to see what happens next!

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 6-9-19

Sunday Post

This has been the drippiest, rainiest, gloomiest weekend ever. You’d think it wasn’t summer around here, but it is. At least it’s cool. But wet. Very, very wet.

It’s terrific reading weather. Every cloud has a silver lining! (p.s. I’m expecting the little old guy with the animals trailing behind him in pairs to march by any minute now!)

Current Giveaways:

$10 Amazon Gift Card or $10 Book in the Fantastic Father Giveaway Hop (ENDS TUESDAY!)
Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross
The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the Life’s A Beach Giveaway Hop is Danielle

Blog Recap:

B+ Review: The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence + Giveaway
A Review: The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Spotlight + Excerpt: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery
B+ Review: Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross + Giveaway
A- Review: The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Stacking the Shelves (343)

Coming This Week:

Wrath of the Goddess by Lauren Dane (review)
Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan (blog tour review)
The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery (blog tour review)
The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (review)
Hello Summer Giveaway Hop

Stacking the Shelves (343)

Stacking the Shelves

I am incredibly pleased to have A Conspiracy of Wolves in this week’s stacks. When I finished the previous book in this series, A Vigil of Spies, it very much felt like the end of the series. And I was sad to see the end of Owen Archer’s story. But now he’s back, and I’m really looking forward to picking this one up!

For Review:
Big Sky (Jackson Brodie #5) by Kate Atkinson
The Bird Boys (Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan #2) by Lisa Sandlin
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
A Conspiracy of Wolves (Owen Archer #11) by Candace Robb
Costalegre by Courtney Maum
The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham
The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe
Heaven, My Home (Highway 59 #2) by Attica Locke
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse (Thorne Chronicles #1) by K. Eason
Merlin Redux (Enchanter General #3) by Dave Duncan
Soul of the Sword (Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
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Review: The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

Review: The Summer Country by Lauren WilligThe Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: hardcover, large print, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 480
Published by William Morrow on June 4, 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

The New York Times bestselling historical novelist delivers her biggest, boldest, and most ambitious novel yet—a sweeping, dramatic Victorian epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

1854. From Bristol to Barbados. . . .

Emily Dawson has always been the poor cousin in a prosperous merchant clan—merely a vicar’s daughter, and a reform-minded vicar’s daughter, at that. Everyone knows that the family’s lucrative shipping business will go to her cousin, Adam, one day. But when her grandfather dies, Emily receives an unexpected inheiritance: Peverills, a sugar plantation in Barbados—a plantation her grandfather never told anyone he owned.

When Emily accompanies her cousin and his new wife to Barbados, she finds Peverills a burnt-out shell, reduced to ruins in 1816, when a rising of enslaved people sent the island up in flames. Rumors swirl around the derelict plantation; people whisper of ghosts.

Why would her practical-minded grandfather leave her a property in ruins? Why are the neighboring plantation owners, the Davenants, so eager to acquire Peverills—so eager that they invite Emily and her cousins to stay with them indefinitely? Emily finds herself bewitched by the beauty of the island even as she’s drawn into the personalities and politics of forty years before: a tangled history of clandestine love, heartbreaking betrayal, and a bold bid for freedom.

When family secrets begin to unravel and the harsh truth of history becomes more and more plain, Emily must challenge everything she thought she knew about her family, their legacy . . . and herself.

My Review:

The first book by Lauren Willig that I read was The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, probably 15 years ago. It got me hooked on her lush historical books, and I dip into one whenever I have a bit of time.

And so we come to The Summer Country, another lush and sumptuous historical by Lauren Willig. Unlike her well-known Pink Carnation series, this story takes place not in late 18th century France, but in mid-19th century Barbados.

However, they are both time slip stories. But the time that is slipped in The Summer Country encompasses considerably fewer centuries. The Pink Carnation series tells its historical story through a 21st century frame. But The Summer Country interweaves the past of Barbados at two periods only a couple of generations apart. Its “past” is in the early 1810s, and its “present” in the mid 1850s.

In other words, more than close enough together that the events of the past directly shape events in the story’s present – whether the protagonists are aware of that shaping or not. Mostly not. The time periods are also more than close enough together that it is within living memory for many people who still have secrets they desperately feel the need to keep.

At any cost. At all the times.

Escape Rating A-: The Summer Country is an example of the kind of epic family saga that they don’t publish much anymore. Because it’s a marvelous example of that kind of sweeping story, it does make the reader wonder why not. It’s lovely and captivating and pulls the reader into its world, much as its Barbados setting pulls in the characters who find themselves navigating the exotic and unfamiliar colony in the wake of their grandfather’s death.

A death that sets the whole story in motion.

This is a story about secrets, the cost of keeping them, and the fear of letting them go. It’s also a story that unspools as lazily as a day in the colonial heat – complete with an overarching sense of menace that coats the skin like sweat – and bites like the local mosquitoes.

It’s not a book to rush through. It begins with Emily Dawson, doing her level best to make her own way in this new world, trying to unravel the mystery that her grandfather has left her with his bequest of the ruined Peverill plantation. We see Emily buck the tide of ALL the men in her life and her orbit who are just certain that a woman couldn’t possibly know her own mind.

And we see the past, when her grandfather was a young man at Peverills, not as the owner, but as the poor bookkeeper. And we see all the people who stood in both their ways – some of whom still do.

It’s enthralling, it’s delicious, it’s decadent and at times it’s downright chilling. This is a book to wallow in – and you’ll be glad you did.

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