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Jul 24, 2018

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl (release day giveaway)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl
Berkley Publishing Group, July 24 2018
review copy via NetGalley

Set against a stunning Scandinavian backdrop, a gritty novel of psychological suspense that asks the question how far would you go to hold onto what you have?

Cecilia Wilborg has it all--a loving husband, two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous home in the affluent Norwegian town of Sandefjord. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard. Because one mistake from her past could bring it all crashing down around her.

Annika Lucasson lives a dark life with her abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend. She's lost everything one too many times and now she's got one last chance to save herself, thanks to Cecilia. Annika knows her secret--and just how much she's willing to do to make it all go away...

When someone forgets to pick up their little boy at the local pool, Cecilia agrees to take him home, only to find an abandoned, empty house. It's the first step in the unraveling of her meticulously crafted life, as her and Annika's worlds collide...

The Boy At The Door is such an intriguing read that makes it hard to categorize. Marketed as a thriller it's more of a psychological twisted read as we try and figure out if Cecelia is really bonkers or not. The theme is centered on the fact that absolutely nothing may be out of place in Cecelia's idyllic life in Norway as she lives a farce of happiness as a rich wife and mom in Norway. Her zeal for perfection is thwarted as she finds herself as a temporary guardian of a small boy who seemingly appears out of nowhere.

Upsetting Cecelia's natural order of things she copes through alcohol and medicinal concoctions and yet she is still losing control of the changes this boy brings to her family life. Small fractures in her perfection are actual beginnings of an earthquake and questions how far will one lady go to promote herself in the ideal image?

And then we sit back and wonder -who the heck is this boy? And why is Cecelia freaking out when she is questioned about her relationships to those she and the boy both know? And is society so fickle as to not allow a person's past be forgiven if it was hidden?

I really enjoyed the novel and the meandering way we eventually tie it all together. A story that will keep you guessing till the very end!

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Jul 9, 2018

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

Monday, July 09, 2018

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan
496 pages, Redhook/Hachette September 2017
Personal kindle copy bought for a secret read along

Discover a magical historical saga of mothers, daughters, and the power of witchcraft - perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman.
Brittany, 1821. After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew.
The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever - not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

This novel was an intriguing saga of generations of women all who passed down the gift of witchcraft. The gift comes in the form of being able to see into a crystal ball but is called a scrying stone in the novel. The settings change as each generation passes, which is a succession of strong willed women but all with changing characteristics. It was enjoyable to read of their traditions of invoking the goddess which was the tradition of their ancestresses but I most appreciated the historical aspect of how the craft evolved over time.

With so many generations, it is hard to pick out the favorite characters but ending with Veronica who is married to someone with so much possibility for a sequel though I can imagine it being difficult to recreate the same tone when there isn't many years left to cover, and the historical context would be lost. Something to ponder though for the author as I am sure she has been asked about the possibility.

This is a great novel for those who enjoy any type of mystical/magical paranormal type read that actually doesn't seem too far-fetched. It would be a good YA novel read as well as the romance was tame. Thanks to my reading buddy who read along with me, always makes it for a fun ride!

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.

Jul 8, 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Sunday, July 08, 2018

August 07 2018 USA edition 
Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley
August 07 2018 Sourcebook Landmark
448 pages HistFic/Sci fi/Fantasy
egalley provided via NetGalley from the publisher, thank you!

"The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."

It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story. Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.

I do like this cover as a departure from their previous covers but I think there are a few different covers depending on region. I have to sadly state that this was not my favorite Susanna Kearsley novel. No matter how much I tried to enjoy it there were times I just could not talk myself into picking it up again. I spent 20 plus years on Long Island and I thought I would feel a special connection to the setting but it was not very atmospheric for me. I love ghost stories and the novel was unsuccessful in trying to be a creepy ghostly goose bumps thing. Being told in the same style of dual time period that Susanna Kearsley is known for writing the ghosts were in the form of the occasional unplugged lamp in the house, or the spark of a lantern in the woods and the modern day characters would imagine that they were there in the house of the Wilde family.

The historical time period story was very interesting:  the Wilde family (all fictitious unfortunately) hosting prisoners of war while keeping a slave that they called a cook. The modern day story of Charley dealing with her restless/depressed niece as Charley discovers clues of the Wilde family is very slow but I did appreciate the slavery issue and how the descendants of the family were saddened that their family did indeed have slaves which was a no-no for the northern half of the country at the time. (The time being when there was a war going on so when the Canadian prisoner falls in love with the young daughter Lydia all drama is supposed to ensue.)

The house is a character in itself, since the spook factor is the fact that some things just don't work right when Charley is around but the best part of the story was the thread of romantic tension between Charley and the guy who was working on renovations. There were a lot of loose threads for Charley to tie together as she learned more about the Wilde house and the people who lived there. The ending did actually make up a bit for the slow start and I appreciated the happier than expected conclusion.

The one thing that set me off on the wrong foot altogether was the dividing line of Canada and USA. Canada readers were treated to an April publication date while Long Island and the rest of the USA had to wait until an August publication date. BOOOO

Maybe since it was my eighth Susanna Kearsley it was just destined to be boring all the way around, but this one just wasn't all there for me as much as some of her others were. 

I turned off commenting long ago on the blog but I welcome comments at the Facebook page here.