Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

Title: A Winter in New York 
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 3, 2023

A young chef stumbles on a secret family recipe that might lead her to the love—and life—she’s been looking for in this stunning novel.

When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice.

But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to a famous autumn street fair in Little Italy, and as they walk through the food stalls, a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s?

Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?

Iris offers her services as a chef to help them re-create the flavor and finds herself falling for Gio and his family. But when Gio’s uncle finally wakes up, all of the secrets Iris has been keeping threaten to ruin the new life—and new love—she’s been building all winter long.

Sweat in a gelato kind of way!

Iris was devastated after losing her mother to cancer. Then she moved to New York City after leaving London or escaping London should be a better way to describe it. She was in an abusive relationship and she finally was able to leave him behind.

Iris is a chef but in NYC, she is working in a noodle restaurant. Here is where she met Bobby, her friend who offered her a job and a place to stay. Iris doesn't go out much but when Bobby insists that she must go with him to the Little Italy's autumn fair, she can't say no. Her future changes when she stumbles into a family-owned gelateria with a door that seems familiar to her. She remembers the door from a picture her mother had. Her curiosity makes her return to it and walking inside she meets Gio, one of the family owners.

Gio is in dire straights. His gelateria might close soon. Santo his uncle and father figure had a stroke. Santo is the one who has the secret recipe for the famous vanilla gelato they have been serving for years. Unbeknownst to Gio, Iris knows the recipe and she has been making it for years. Her mother had been given the recipe years earlier by someone in Gio's family!

How can Iris help Gio without revealing secrets that could hurt him?

I liked the story. Gio was sweet and caring. His family was amazing. They all treated Iris so well. I also loved Bobby. He was there for Iris when she needed a helping hand.

I had some issues with Iris. I didn't like how many secrets she had and the lies she was keeping.

Overall, it was an enjoyable story.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Delacorte Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher


Title: Thornhedge
Author: T. Kingfisher
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 15, 2023

Thornhedge is the tale of a kind-hearted, toad-shaped heroine, a gentle knight, and a mission gone completely sideways.

There's a princess trapped in a tower. This isn't her story.

Meet Toadling. On the day of her birth, she was stolen from her family by the fairies, but she grew up safe and loved in the warm waters of faerieland. Once an adult though, the fae ask a favor of Toadling: return to the human world and offer a blessing of protection to a newborn child. Simple, right?

But nothing with fairies is ever simple.

Centuries later, a knight approaches a towering wall of brambles, where the thorns are as thick as your arm and as sharp as swords. He's heard there's a curse here that needs breaking, but it's a curse Toadling will do anything to uphold…

A nice way to retale Sleeping Beauty with a twist.

Toadling was taken by faeries when she was born. She was raised in the water in fairyland. She loved the monsters that lived there as her own family. Then, she is retaken from the water that she loves and told that she must be educated. Furthermore, she is told that she must go back to the human world and give a blessing to a child.

Due to her inexperience, the blessing she performs turns into a curse. As the years pass and the danger grows, Toadling decides to do what must be done to stop worse things from happening.

Centuries later, Toadling's isolation is interrupted when a knight stops by trying to break the curse. Toadling thinks he would be better off staying away but she can't seem to make him leave and starts looking forward to spending time with him. But can she let him break the curse?

I like the writing, the descriptions, and the main character, Toadling. Yet, I did feel like the end was underwhelming.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Tor Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Christmas Guest by Peter Swanson

Title: The Christmas Guest
Author: Peter Swanson
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: October 17, 2023

An American art student in London is invited to join a classmate for the holidays at Starvewood Hall, her family's Cotswold manor house. But behind the holly and pine boughs, secrets are about to unravel, revealing this seemingly charming English village's grim history.

Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma's aloof and handsome brother.

But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she'd ever imagined?

Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.

This was a very creepy and successful novella!

Ashley Smith is an American girl studying art in London for her junior year. She has no family after the death of her mother. Not having many choices, Ashley is prepared to spend the holidays alone when a classmate, Emma Chapman invites her to stay at her family home, Starwood Hall.  

Ashley is more excited about the trip after meeting Ashley's twin brother, Adam. The days spent in Starwood Hall are full of family, games, food, and the local bars.  Ashley finds herself falling for Adam. He is charismatic and spending time in his company is exciting to Ashley until she discovers that Adam is the prime suspect in the murder of a local woman who looks like her. 

In the blink of an eye, this goes from being a romance to becoming a horror novel.

The Christmas Guest is an atmospheric novella with engaging characters and I couldn't wait to see how it all ended.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by William Morrow via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rough Country by John Sandford
Virgil Flowers #3


Title: Rough Country
Series: Virgil Flowers #3
Author: John Sandford
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: September 29, 2009

Virgil Flowers has always been known for having a somewhat active, er, social life, but he's probably not going to be getting too many opportunities during his new case. While competing in a fishing tournament in northern Minnesota, he gets a call from Lucas Davenport to investigate a murder at a nearby resort where a woman has been shot while kayaking.

The resort is for women only, a place to relax, get fit, recover from plastic surgery, commune with nature, and while it didn't start out to be a place mostly for those with Sapphic inclinations, that's pretty much what it is today.

Which makes things more complicated for Virgil because, as he begins investigating, he finds connections between people at the resort and some local women, notably a talented country singer. The more he digs, the more he discovers arrows of suspicion that point in many directions, with many motives: jealousy, blackmail, greed, anger, and fear. Then he discovers that this is not the first murder, that there was a second, seemingly unrelated, the year before. And that there's about to be a third, definitely related. As to a fourth... well, Virgil better hope he can catch the killer before that happens. Because it could be his own.

Librarian's note: as of 2021, there are 13 volumes in the author's Virgil Flowers series. The last was published in April 2021. It is part of the "Prey" series but Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers share the billing - "Ocean Prey."

Ok, now I'm starting to really like this series.

As a fan of the Lucas Davenport series, it was hard not to compare the two series. The end result was Virgil's falling short every time.

It pays to trust the author. In the first two books, I was missing the funny one-liners and the banter Lucas has with everyone. In Rough Country, we finally get Virgil showing some of the same.

Now to the story:

The novel begins with Virgil on vacation. He is participating in a fishing tournament when Lucas calls and assigns him a new job. A woman has been killed while canoeing. As soon as he gets there, many become suspects. It's up to Virgil to figure out who is behind the murder.

I can't wait to start the next one.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Good Girls Don’t Die by Christina Henry


Title: Good Girls Don’t Die
Author: Christina Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 14, 2023

A sharp-edged, supremely twisty thriller about three women who find themselves trapped inside stories they know aren’t their own, from the author of Alice and Near the Bone.

Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…

Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…

Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive…

Three women. Three stories. Only one way out. This captivating novel will keep readers guessing until the very end.

I got to say it, this was fantastic!

I know some readers didn't like the ending and I kind of agree with it but I loved the book so much and would love to see it as a movie.

Three women's destinies can be cut short unless they can survive what is coming for them.

The first woman we are introduced to is Celia. She wakes up one morning in a house she doesn't recognize, with a daughter she doesn't remember giving birth to and a husband with whom she doesn't feel any connection at all. The only thing that seems to bring a spark of recognition, is the restaurant she is working at. Cooking relaxes her and she knows how to do it. Her life makes no sense to her and she is pretty sure that this is NOT her life. Why can't she remember her past?

The second woman is Allie. She is in her twenties. She is supposed to spend her birthday at the beach with her two best friends. However, the two friends's boyfriends have decided to show up too. Worse while the girls were sleeping instead of going to the beach, they woke up in a remote cabin. Why are they there? And who is out there stalking them?

Third but not least is Maggie. She is abducted from her home. She finds herself in a container with other women who have been abducted as well. Men come in and the women are told that they need to enter a maze and survive it if they want to live and see their loved ones again. Maggie can only think about her child. She must survive at all costs.

You can feel the tension while reading Good Girls Don't Die. The sense that time was running out and their lives were at stake. I liked all three women. They were survivors and despite their horrible circumstances, they were going to fight until the end for their freedom.

Cliffhanger: No

4.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Innocent Sleep by Seanan McGuire
October Daye #18


Title: The Innocent Sleep
Series: October Daye #18
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: DAW Books
Release Date: October 24, 2023

For one bright, shining moment, Tybalt, King of Cats, had everything he had ever wanted. He was soon to set his crown aside; he had married the woman he loved; he was going to be a father. After centuries of searching for a family of his own, he had finally found a way to construct the life of his dreams, and was looking forward to a period of peace—or at least as much peace as is ever in the offing for the husband of a hero.

Alas for Tybalt and his domestic aspirations, fate—and Titania—had other ideas. His perfect world had been complete for only a moment when it was ripped away, to be replaced by hers. Titania, Faerie’s Summer Queen, Mother of Illusions and enemy of so many he holds dear, has seized control of the Kingdom, remaking it in her own image. An image which does not include meddlesome shapeshifters getting in her way. Tybalt quickly finds himself banished from her reality, along with the Undersea and the rest of the Court of Cats.

To protect his people and his future, Tybalt must find the woman he loves in a world designed to keep her from him, convince her that he’s not a stranger trying to ruin her life for no apparent reason, and get her to unmake the illusion she’s been firmly enmeshed in. And he’ll have to do it all while she doesn’t know him, and every unrecognizing look is a knife to his heart.

For Tybalt, King of Cats, the happily ever after was just the beginning.

This was like a Christmas gift! Being in Tybalt's head was great!

Despite knowing what was going to happen after reading Sleep No More and following Toby's journey of self-discovery,  The Innocent Sleep shouldn't have surprised me, right? Yet, Seanan McGuire was able to pull it off.

McGuire gave us enough changes to make it worth it. I'm not going to lie, it was painful seeing Tybalt suffering not knowing what had happened to Toby, and then when he found out where she was and what happened to her,  he realized that nothing could be done for several months.

Tybalt embarks on a journey of his own. He needs to find enough allies who will be ready to help and fight for what is right and real.

I can't wait for what is next. but at the same time, I know this series is ending and I will be so sad when it is all done. Toby is an amazing heroine.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

What Remains by Wendy Walker


Title: What Remains
Author: Wendy Walker
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: June 13, 2023

She saved his life. Now he‘ll never let her go.

Detective Elise Sutton is drawn to cold cases. Each crime is a puzzle to solve, pulled from the past. Elise looks for cracks in the surface and has become an expert on how murderers slip up and give themselves away. She has dedicated her life to creating a sense of order, at work with her ex-marine partner; at home with her husband and two young daughters; and within, battling her own demons. Elise has everything under control, until one afternoon, when she walks into a department store and is forced to make a terrible choice: to save one life, she will have to take another.

Elise is hailed as a hero, but she doesn’t feel like one. Steeped in guilt, and on a leave of absence from work, she’s numb, even to her husband and daughters, until she connects with Wade Austin, the tall man whose life she saved. But Elise soon realizes that he isn’t who he says he is. In fact, Wade Austin isn’t even his real name. The tall man is a ghost, one who will set off a terrifying game of cat and mouse, threatening Elise and the people she loves most.

This was a great thriller!

Detective Elise Sutton is stopping to buy pink towels for her girls while her partner, Rowan, circles the car around the block. The last thing Elise expected was to find herself in front of an active shooting scene.

Elise is usually surrounded by cold cases. She is able to solve them due to her great attention to detail. She also still contributes to a class she used to teach and the way she taught it was from the killers' point of view and how to get away with murder.

On the day of the shooting, she has to make a hard choice. She uses her weapon to save the life of a tall man, Wade Austin, who is about to get killed.

The aftermath has her completely numb. She feels nothing until she is about to return to work from her leave. She unexpectedly meets with Wade. During those few hours,  she opens up about her feelings and releases all her fears, but soon their reunion takes a dark turn.

Elise discovers that Wade Austin doesn't exist. No one knows who he is or how to find him. Wade is obsessed with Elise and becomes her stalker. He is one step ahead of her and her partner. 

How is Elise going to keep her family safe?

Wendy Walker knows how to write them. I was submerged in this fast-paced thriller. I was rooting for Elise to teach Wade who was the Prey and who was the Hunter.

I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Double Booked by Cassidy Berg


Title: Double Booked 
Author: Cassidy Berg
Publisher: Entrada Publishing
Release Date: October 30, 2023

From the bestselling author of Christmas in Snow Falls comes a heartwarming holiday read that’s perfect for fans of Jenny Hale, Sheila Roberts, Debbie Macomber, and Jill Shalvis.

Bakery owner Kate, eager for a peaceful escape from her busy life, books a trip for Christmas to the idyllic small town of Snow Falls. The cottage comes with lots of charm and an unexpected complication. Alex has also booked the cabin and is looking for his own solo getaway. After arguing with the owner, they reluctantly agree to share to avoid having to cancel their vacations. But Christmas magic is in the air. As they explore the Christmas festivities in the small town and cozy up in the cottage, they each find what they didn't know they were looking for.

A heartwarming holiday escape for readers looking for that small-town, sweet romance this Christmas.

Kate is ready for a Christmas getaway. She is the owner of a bakery but she wants a vacation. She books a place in the small town of Snow Falls. To her shock, when she gets there, she is not alone. A man by the name of Alex is also staying there. He has proof that he booked the cabin for the same amount of time as Kate did.

What starts as an uncomfortable situation, changes as their attitude for each other morphs too. Spending the holidays together and discovering the beautiful town brings them closer together.

This was a sweet short story. Enjoyable during Christmas!

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Snowed In by Catherine Walsh
Fitzpatrick Christmas


Title: Snowed In
Author: Catherine Walsh
Series: Fitzpatrick Christmas #2
Publisher: Bookouture
Release Date: November 1, 2023

Megan is dreading going home for the holidays. She’s the village pariah, the she-devil who left local golden boy Isaac at the altar four years ago and ran away to the big city. She could really do without the drama. Particularly as he’s engaged again, and she’s just been dumped for the fourth time this year.

Christian’s fed up of being on his own every Christmas. He doesn’t mind being alone, but he hates his family’s sad eyes and soft tones as they sit around coupled up. Because he’s actually, totally, fine.

So when Megan literally bumps into Christian in a Dublin pub, they come up with a pact to see them through the holiday season. They’re going to be the very best fake dates for each other, ever.

Rules are drawn up, a contract is signed on a wine-stained napkin. They will sit through each other’s family gatherings and be outrageously in love until freed from their annual obligations. After all, it’s only for a few weeks.

But with everyone home for the holidays, two big families to deal with alongside old friends, old flames and old feelings, things are bound to get messy. And when a snowed-in cabin and a little Christmas magic are added to the mix, anything could happen…

A swoonworthy and utterly gorgeous romantic comedy that will make you laugh out loud and fall completely in love. Fans of Emily Henry, Sophie Kinsella and Abby Jimenez won’t be able to put this down!

Snowed In is the next book in the Fitzpatrick Christmas series.

I loved The Holiday Romance and I couldn't wait to see how the next couple got together.

Catherine Walsh uses the fake dating trope masterfully.

Megan has not gone back home for the last five years. The last time she was there, was when she ran away from her wedding. She was going to marry her high school sweetheart, Isaac. Yet, Isaac was not really sweet but she never told anyone.

Christian knows his family expects him to return home for the holidays but he is not looking forward to it. His family is all coupled up except for him. So when he bumps into Megan at a Dublin bar, he realizes they have something in common, neither can return home without a significant other. The best plan would be to make their family believe that they are a couple and that way they can enjoy the holidays without the pressure.

It was so nice going back to the town and these characters. Megan and Christian were easy to like and root for.

I can't wait for the next one in this series.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Becoming the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar

Title: Becoming the Boogeyman
Series: The Boogeyman #2
Author: Richard Chizmar
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: October 10, 2023

A riveting, haunting sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller Chasing the Boogeyman—a tale of obsession and the adulation of evil, exploring modern society’s true-crime obsession with unflinching honesty, sparing no one from the glare of the spotlight. Will those involved walk away from the story of a lifetime in order to keep their loved ones safe? Or will they once again be drawn into a killer’s web? As the story draws to its shattering conclusion, only one person holds all the answers—and he just may be the most terrifying monster of them all.

I enjoyed Chasing the Boogeyman and I couldn't wait to see what was new in the world of Richard Chizmar!

Chizmar delivers a story with enough suspense and mystery to entertain. However, in difference to Chasing the Boogeyman, this story dragged in some areas.  

I do like his winning formula of inserting himself and his life into the world where a serial killer is out to get him. Chizmar gave us enough questions, including if there was a new killer and if he was someone he already knew. Was he just following orders from someone from prison? or if a copycat was lurking on his property just to create non-stop fear.

The ending gives a perfect place for book 3 which I would read without hesitation.

Cliffhanger: Yes

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.