Author: tamaramorning

Blog Tour: The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Hester Fox’s The Widow of Pale Harbor.

 

widow of pale harbor
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author:    Hester Fox
Genre:  Gothic, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Gabriel Stone is still mourning the loss of his wife, so he takes a job as minister in the small Maine village of Pale Harbor. Never mind that he’s not a minister, or that he doesn’t even know what his own beliefs are; he’s just glad to move out of Boston, haunted by memories of his wife.

Pale Harbor is not the sleepy village he expects. His very first day, he finds what appears to be an animal sacrifice, and hears tale of the widow who keeps to herself and  the castle on the edge of town, the widow who almost certainly killed her husband years ago. As the violence escalates, Gabriel gets to know Sophronia Carver, and soon realizes she’s the target of a deranged madman who’s obsessed with the works of the wildly popular new author, Edgar Allen Poe.

Can Gabriel figure out who’s behind the chilling and macabre acts before it’s too late?

I enjoyed Fox’s first novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, immensely, so I looked forward to reading this. This tale is dark and atmospheric—a fitting tribute to Poe’s works. Sophy is haunted by her regrets, but her loyalty tethers her even when it shouldn’t. Gabriel is loyal to his dead wife, but fascinated by Sophy, and soon realizes he’s the only one in the village who believes in her innocence.

Hester Fox has a background in museum work and historical archaeology. She is the author of The Witch of Willow Hall. Her newest novel is The Widow of Pale Harbor.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Advertisements

Excerpt from “The Widow of Pale Harbor” by Hester Fox

As part of the blog tour for Hester Fox’s The Widow of Pale Harbor, I’m pleased to present an excerpt for you to read today. This atmospheric read releases tomorrow, and I’ll have a review up then. For now, here’s an excerpt.

Widow of Pale Harbor Excerpt

Excerpt, THE WIDOW OF PALE HARBOR  by Hester Fox

Fanny put a plate piled high with buttered bread, sausage, and potatoes in front of Gabriel. “There we are, a proper meal. You haven’t been eating enough, Mr. Stone,” she said with a censorious frown. He gave her the most of a smile he could muster. “I’m lucky to have you to take care of me.”

This made her blush and duck her head. “It’s only sausage and potatoes, the easiest thing in the world to make.” That might have been the case, but good, homecooked food that was made with love, that was made for him, never ceased being something of a novelty.

She made up a plate for herself and joined him. Reaching for one of the magazines that Fanny kept in a stack on the rough wood table, Gabriel began to flick through it as he ate.

It was a copy of a Carver’s Monthly. Fanny had told him that Mrs. Carver always gave her the old issues to take home and read. She caught him looking at it and nodded toward the table of contents. “Mrs. Carver gave me this one because it’s got a Poe story in it. Have you ever read anything by him? He writes so beautifully, so full of pain and heartbreak. His stories are romantic beyond anything.”

“One or two, I think,” he said. They were a little overly sensational for Gabriel’s taste—he preferred adventure stories about men conquering mountains, or sketches of life in tiny tribal villages on the other side of the world—but they were entertaining and had a particular kind of dark appeal.

“Oh, well, you would like this one,” she said excitedly. “Mrs. Carver told me that Mr. Carver was proud beyond anything to get it in his magazine. It’s about a man who has a black cat and he kills it. First he gauges out the cat’s eye because it won’t stop staring at him. But then he can’t stand the guilt he feels and he kills it. Takes a rope and strangles it, he does. He—”

“Wait, what did you say?”

Frowning, Fanny pushed the paper closer toward him, tapping her finger at the illustration of a bedraggled, one-eyed cat. “The cat. The man hangs it from a tree.”

Gabriel stopped chewing, sausage curdling in his mouth. Reaching for the magazine, he hurriedly scanned the lines of the story. There it was, the scene he’d witnessed not an hour before, sketched out neatly in black and white.

When he looked up, he found Fanny studying him, her brow furrowed in puzzlement. “What is it?”

He hesitated. Should he tell her about what he’d seen that morning? It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing one shared with young ladies, even if the young lady in question seemed to be morbidly fascinated by ghoulish stories. But she would hear about it eventually, whether he told her or not. Pale Harbor was small and word traveled fast.

“There was a dummy of a cat found near the center of town today. Just like this one, with one eye and a rope around its neck.”

Her green eyes widened as she absorbed the significance of this. “What, just like in the story?”

“Just like in the story.”

She considered this. Then her face suddenly brightened. “Do you think any newspaper men will come to write about it? Just think of it, a Poe story come to life!”

Gabriel frowned. He hadn’t thought of that. “I’m not sure. I suppose if word gets around they might.”

“Wouldn’t that be something? It could put Pale Harbor on the map. Why, they might even print our names! Maybe Mrs. Carver can ask someone from the magazine to come up from Portland and write a piece on it.”

Gabriel wasn’t sure what was more disturbing: the crudely constructed cat, its eerie similarity to the story, or Fanny’s excitement at the press it might generate.

If you’d like to read the Edgar Allen Poe story mentioned in the excerpt, here’s a link.

Sundays are for Writing #37

I got in all my writing sessions this week, for a total of six pages, plus three book reviews and scheduling an excerpt for The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox, which will be live tomorrow, followed by the review on Tuesday.

It’s been an eventful week:  I had my interview for a new position at work on Friday. Which was odd, to say the least, because I knew way before that that I already had the position. I’ve been pretty frustrated at work the last few months, but all of that hard work felt validated.

I start the new position the first of October, although I may still be training my replacements the next week or two after that.

Book Review: Echoes of War, by Cheryl Campbell

echoes of war
Image belongs to SparkPress.

Title:  Echoes of War
Author:    Cheryl Campbell
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Rating:  3.0 out of 5

Dani is a Brigand:  living on the fringes of society and scavenging to survive. The Wardens, an alien race, came to Earth centuries ago and lived disguised as humans until they were discovered. Now they’ve destroyed much of humanity—and are trying to destroy the rest. Then Dani’s brother reveals she’s an Echo—one of the near-immortal alien race who reset back to a younger age when they die, but not militant like the Wardens.

Soon Dani is trying to convince the other Brigands they need to work with the military so they can defeat the Wardens. But Dani will have to learn from her mistakes if she’s to help them succeed.

Okay…it was really hard for me to write this summary, which tells me a bit about this book’s issues:  it’s a little too undefined to be completely coherent. Frankly, Dani was kind of childish, and while this is partially explained due to her nature, she never seems to learn from her mistakes and is just hell-bent on doing things her way—no matter the repercussions to other people. I did not find her very likable. And this book felt more like an unpolished manuscript to me:  sometimes there are no explanations/motivations for characters’ actions—I can’t relate to people if I don’t have the slightest idea why they’re doing things. And there are several places lacking transitions, where time passes—four months, in one case—with zero transition at all, which felt very abrupt and threw me out of the story.

Cheryl Campbell lives in Maine when she’s not being a nomad. Echoes of war is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of SparkPress via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Trapeze, by Leigh Ansell

 

trapeze
Image belongs to Wattpad Books.

Title:  Trapeze
Author:  Leigh Ansell
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4 out of 5

Seventeen-year-old Corey Ryder grew up in the circus. She’s a trapeze artist, and lives for the moments she’s flying through the air. To everyone else, life in Circus Mystique looks chaotic and strange, but for Corey, it’s home. When they stop in small Sherwood, California, it’s business as usual for the circus, although Corey does meet a cute local boy, Luke Everett, at a diner.

But that night, tragedy strikes and the circus burns. Corey escapes, but finds her entire life in ruins. Instead of her high-flying life in the circus, she finds herself living with a mother she never knew while struggling to keep her circus roots a secret from a town who thinks circuses—and their people—are bad news.

Talk about issues:  Corey and Luke both have them in spades. I cannot imagine being in either one of their situations, or the strength it would take to walk in their shoes. Corey’s circus-training workout made me exhausted just reading about it, but the strength in her personality was what carried this book. It takes a strong person to stand up for someone who doesn’t want you to.

Leigh Ansell can be found on Wattpad. Trapeze is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Wattpad Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: 29 Seconds, by TM Logan

 

29seconds
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  29 Seconds
Author:  TM Logan
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Sarah is a mother trying to adapt to being a single parent. She’s also a young professor fighting to earn a permanent place at the university she works at. A university controlled by Alan Hawthorne—charming, famous, and powerful, and therefore untouchable. Sarah has heard the rumors about his treatment of women behind closed doors, but now she’s become his next target.

Hawthorne pulls in million-dollar grants for the university, so no one will listen to a word Sarah says. She has nowhere to turn and no way to keep away from Hawthorne. Until one night she rescues a young girl from would-be kidnappers and the girl’s father turns out to be a businessman with powerful connections. He offers Sarah a burner phone and a choice.

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

This book centers around moral grey areas, and that’s a hard subject for me, as I’m a black-and-white kind of person. It’s either wrong or right, there are no grey areas to me. But Sarah is stuck between a rock and a hard place and she makes the best choice she can. What comes next is more than she ever expected.

TM Logan is an award-winning, bestselling author. 29 Seconds is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sundays are for Writing #36

Because of my work schedule this week, I only got in two writing days, but I still did the number of pages I’d do for three writing days (six pages). I also wrote four book reviews, so it’s been a good writing week.

I’m still going with the idea of doing NaNo, and I intend to start planning today. Along with some more planning for the current WIP.

In other news:  it’s official. I completed all the degree requirements for my master’s in journalism!

Book Review: Rebel Girls, by Elizabeth Keenan

rebel girls

Title:  Rebel Girls
Author:  Elizabeth Keenan
Genre:    YA
Rating:    4 out of 5

In Athena Graves’ Baton Rouge Catholic high school, rocking the boat or rebelling can get you expelled. Her riot grrrl leanings are more theoretical than anything, until her younger sister, Helen, leader of the Pro-Life Alliance, is accused of having an abortion.

Helen is popular and pretty, but the rumor leads to bullying from her peers and punishment from the school—while the mean girls who started the rumor get off scot free. And Athena won’t have that. So she and her friends come together to prevent Helen from being expelled because of the lies—and to make their voices heard.

It was a little weird reading a book set when I was in high school. Granted, the Riot Grrrl movement didn’t touch my small country high school back then, but still, I recognize some of the attitudes in the book. I loved seeing how Athena grew from being the shy girl with big ideas to being someone who takes action.

Elizabeth Keenan is a writer, a punk rock expert, and a real estate agent in New York City. Rebel Girls is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Jewel Bright Sea, by Claire O’Dell

 

a jewel bright sea
Image belongs to Kensington Books/Rebel Base Books.

Title:   A Jewel Bright Sea
Author:   Claire O’Dell
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:   4.0 out of 5

Anna Zhdanov is the daughter of a scholar. She’s also a bond servant. So when someone steals a jewel from the Emperor, her master tasks her with recovering it—and earning her freedom. But the wilds of Eddalyon are an island paradise, filled with enemies, pirates, and magic.

Soon Anna’s status as indolent noblewoman is called into question, and she finds herself held captive by the notorious pirate caption Andreas Koszenmarc, who’s also searching for the missing jewel. With the Emperor’s guard and another brigand at their heels, Anna must decide if she can trust Andreas—before both of them lose the jewel and their promised rewards.

I enjoyed A Jewel Bright Sea. Pirates and magic? I am definitely there for that. There was so much going on behind the scenes in this novel, and that sense of a bigger picture gave a lot of depth to the story. The reader just knew that there was an explanation for everything—even if they couldn’t figure out what that was just yet. Anna has lived a tough life, and she trusts no one, so deciding whether to trust Andreas is a big deal for her. I loved the worldbuilding here as well, as that made the story truly shine.

Claire O’Dell is an award-winning author. A Jewel Bright Sea is her newest novel, the first in the Mage and Empire series.

(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books/Rebel Base Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Spin, by Colleen Nelson

spin

Title:  Spin
Author:   Colleen Nelson
Genre:    YA
Rating:    4 out of 5

Dizzy Doucette lives with her brother and dad above their vintage record store. She’s learning how to spin records, and realizes she has talent. But the one thing that haunts her every day is thoughts of her mega-famous singer mother who abandoned them when she was a baby. And no one knows her mother’s identity, as keeping that secret has always been a part of Dizzy’s life.

Struggling to deal with thoughts of her mother, Dizzy incorporates some of her music into one of her own pieces, and the next thing she knows, it’s everywhere and her secret is out. Dizzy never expected people to react to the news of who her mom is like this. She just wanted her mom to acknowledge her.

I know nothing about DJing and spinning records, so this was a completely new world for me. Spin was a quick read, and, surprisingly for a YA, this isn’t a romance-influenced story (except a bit for Dizzy’s brother). The story is about Dizzy and her struggles to accept her mom and her actions as Dizzy reaches for her future and her identity.

Colleen Nelson is a writer, a runner, a mother, a librarian, and a teacher. Spin is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Dundurn via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)