More Dual-Timeline Suspense Than Hotel California. For whatever reason, I went into this book thinking it would be some level of Hotel California type story. Maybe the whole “bed and breakfast where people seem to wind up dead” thing? Just to clarify for anyone who may be getting that vibe as well… this is not that, not really. Instead it is more of a dual timeline suspense with secrets and connections both obvious and not. A lot of people are tossing around the word “gothic”, but I’m not quite sure I personally picked up on that. But maybe I’m just not as certain of what a “gothic” story is supposed to be? Regardless, this was truly a well written and well told story, one that is both compelling and creepy enough to keep the reader engaged without being so over the top as to compel the reader to throw the book out the nearest window (which is even rougher on Kindles than it is on paper books, just sayin’). As I’ve noted with at least a couple of other authors who normally do romance books (as Marsh is more known for) but who open themselves up to more suspense/ thriller/ etc… Marsh does a truly excellent job in both spaces, and seeing her expand her stories into these new (to her) spaces is quite interesting and a mark of a strong storyteller regardless of chosen genre. Very much recommended.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
What Would You Do? Wiesner does a tremendous job here of making a realistic, grounded mystery from a tragic yet all too real setup. Everything else flows fairly naturally here, and all of the character motivations are again all too real. (Particularly as someone who has experienced some version of some of the things that would be a spoiler to reveal, even these sections are, sadly, all too common.) And yes, the ending, while not something everyone will *want* to happen… is again, very, very realistic given the story to that point. Ultimately this really is one of the most realistic domestic mystery/ suspense books I’ve ever encountered – and I don’t know if that is an indictment on the genre or a praise of Wiesner. 😀 Truly a great read, and very much recommended.
After the jump, the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and sales links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: His Secret Daughter by Melissa Wiesner”
Small Town Shenanigans. This is a great example of one of those small town tales where everyone has secrets, and, to quote Tony Stark in The Avengers: their “secrets have secrets”. So when a murder happens as our hero here is trying to rebuild her life and save her career… of *course* she has to investigate it herself. Because, you know, secrets. But along the way we really do see the inner workings of very small towns quite well, and Banks also manages to keep enough of the romance there to balance out just how dark and creepy this town can feel at times. A definite break from this author’s norm (she is working under a new pseudonym here), but a solid effort in this particular type of space and one that manages to up the creepy factor while adding in quite a bit of tension and apprehension not generally found in her other works. Very much recommended.
Solid Expose Of Media Bias From An ‘Inside Man’. This is one of those looks from the inside of a controversial institution – the so-called “main stream media” – where the insider points out that almost no matter what your reasoning is on claiming “media bias”, you’re most likely at least partially wrong. Not that there isn’t bias – Krakauer pretty clearly shows that there is quite a bit of it. But more in how a math student can arrive at the correct answer despite somehow getting crucial or even every step of the way completely incorrect when showing their work. Indeed, as an expose of media bias, this is both one of the more balanced and more incisive books I’ve read on the topic – and I’ve read at least a few, as well as having my own thoughts and experiences on the margins of at least local news reporting. The reasons for the three stars ultimately come down to two single star deductions which are both fairly common in my reviews: One star was lost for dearth of bibliography. Here, we clock in at around 14% bibliography, which is short of the more standard 20-30% in my experience with similar advance reader copies. (Indeed, even texts I get much earlier than the two months or so I got this one routinely have at least that, and sometimes as much as nearly 50%.) The other deduction is also common in my reviews, and is because of the frequent discussion of COVID. While I completely understand that topic’s relevance to some of the trends and timeframes Krakauer discusses here, I also have a longstanding rule automatically deducting a star for any discussion of it, as I still would rather avoid the topic altogether in my reading. Still, for what it is, this book is quite good, and many similarly objective-ish readers will likely rate it more along the lines of 4-5 stars. Very much recommended.
Pulse Pounding Conclusion Evokes ALLEGIANT To A Degree. This is a solid continuation and conclusion of the EXILES story, and both combined are short enough that one almost wonders why the two books (each sub-300 pages) were not simply written as one complete story rather than one story in two halves? It seemed to make sense at the end of EXILES, when at least my own expectation was that this would be a second trilogy from the twin sisters that write twin characters. With this clearly being a short duology now… one begins to question a bit more. Ultimately, I’ll leave the 5* and not deduct one for blatant cash grab, but I’ll also be interested to see what other readers think on that point, and perhaps hear in some interview or social media post or some such why the decision was made to split the story as it was. That noted, particularly with its emphasis on fear and our heroes having vials that can evoke or conquer fear… yes, this book absolutely has a degree of a feel of ALLEGIANT to it. Which was an interesting connection, given just how reviled the ending to that particular tale was (though to be crystal clear and yet without actually giving anything away, this tale does *not* use the specific type of ending that got ALLEGIANT most of the scorn it has ultimately gotten – scorn that I have disagreed with since the moment I finished that book myself).
And yet, even with these issues this tale really was another pulse-pounding thrill ride, perhaps with fewer questions for the reader to ponder and more fights to marvel at. The sisters continue to show their evolving skills and natural-seeming storytelling talent, and it will be very interesting to see what they come up with next. Very much recommended.
Satisfying Conclusion. Let’s be clear up front: This is absolutely one of those trilogies where you need to read the books in order to both avoid spoilers and to understand all that is going on. So go read No More Words and No More Lies before you read this book – and then be glad you bought all three of them at once, because unlike certain apparently masochistic advance reader copy readers, you had the wisdom to wait until the entire trilogy was available to read this book. Because this entire trilogy is one where you’re going to want the next book *now*, and at least with this concluding chapter, all is revealed – finally – and everything comes to a satisfying conclusion for all characters. Not that I’m going to reveal what those conclusions were for anyone in this review, but Lonsdale does do a solid job of wrapping up the trilogy.
In this particular tale, we finally find out what has been motivating Lucas all along, where he ran off to and why, and yet again we also get a satisfying “solo adventure” before the siblings from the first two books intersect with the tale once again. Truly a compelling series, and truly a compelling “solo” tale here. Very well executed, with near perfect pacing throughout. With this latest trilogy complete, and with it a bit of a break from the types of tales Lonsdale was telling quite a bit before this, it will be interesting to see where Lonsdale goes from here – she has proven quite conclusively that she doesn’t need the “crutch” her previous stories were almost beginning to seem like they were leaning on, and now that she has the sky is truly the limit. This book, this trilogy, and this author are all very much recommended.
A Marvel Of A Novel Novel. This tale reads a bit like The Decameron in that it is a collection of shorter stories all linked by some basic structure – in this case, *extremely* basic in that they all wind up interacting with a fictional book at some level. Be it the author, who opens and closes Baurmeister’s tale, or the publishing assistant who first “finds” the book or a random sculptor who reads it after it was recommended or or or or or. The tales themselves show the breadth of how different types of readers interact with a book, though it is far from truly conclusive and I don’t suspect that Bauermeister ever expected it to be “conclusive” or “definitive”. Instead, this is simply a sampling of different ways different readers intersect with a given tale at the differing moments of both their lives and its life, and in showing these glimpses Bauermeister executes a particular narrative structure that I had never seen done before, certainly not in this exact context. And executes it quite well indeed. So read this book, because it truly is a marvel of a novel novel. 😉 Very much recommended.
Alaskan Gold. This is a tale of a teacher dealing with the first few months of retirement after a 30+ yr career who goes on the cruise she was gifted by her former colleagues and who meets a man dealing with his own issues as well. Other than the age issue specifically, I’ve actually witnessed similar “relation-*ships*” develop over my 15 years of cruising. Even in this novella, Grace manages to pack in a great deal of both drama and Alaskan Cruise details – even including the seemingly ubiquitous photographers. And yes, because this *is* a tale from Grace… there are dogs. 🙂
On a series structure side, know that each of these Sail Away novellas are a “series” only in that they all share a general common theme – in this case, that they mostly take place on cruises. Thus, any book in this “series” can be read in any order, and in fact I’ve now already read a couple of them “out of order” with no harm.
Ultimately yet again a tale with more drama than I’ve ever personally experienced on a cruise, but which has elements that I *have* observed with friends on cruises. Very much recommended.
Interesting, Well Written, Readable- But Needs Well-Sourced Bibliography. This book was an utterly fascinating mid-range dive into each of the human senses (even including at least one chapter on senses *other* than the “Big 5”), their biology, evolution, and overall impact on the human body and mind. It was truly well written for most anyone who can read at all to be able to understand, without too many technical or highly precise and specific terms that would require specialized knowledge. It was humorous enough to increase its readability, while still being serious about its subjects and discussions. Really the only flaw, at least in this Advance Reader Copy form, was the lack of a bibliography at all (where 20-30% is more common in my experience), and I also want to call out the inclusion of a page listing a “selected further readings to come” or some such, indicating that the final version of the book would only have a limited bibliography. To my mind, this would be a mistake, and I hope the publisher sees this with enough lead time to hopefully correct that direction before publication. This dearth of a bibliography was the sole reason for the star deduction here. Still, if nothing else changes about this book at all from the time I read it nearly three months before publication and for decades following publication, this is truly a strong book giving the reader a complete overview of the human senses as we currently understand them. Very much recommended.
Another Strong Family Tale From Bratt. This is yet another tale where Bratt uses elements of her own life and where she is in life to craft a fiction tale that explores deep issues in a serious yet also light-ish manner. Here yet again she shows great love for her youngest daughter’s adopted home of Hawaii and shows that having family thousands of miles away can still result in close bonds – if efforts are made. But the main story is of a woman facing the all-too-real scenario faced by so many women nearing or above Senior Citizen Discount age: what happens when you lose your partner of decades? This is the main thrust of the story, and Bratt does a tremendous job of exploring this scenario, particularly as it also relates to having adult children with their own lives, through the course of this sub-150 page novella. Packing quite a bit here, it is often forgettable just how short this story is – while it reads quick due to its actual length, Bratt manages to have *so much happen* that it “feels” like it could have had an extra 50-100 pages. In other words, don’t let the short actual page count fool you – this is a complete tale, just one without the filler and perhaps extra drama of an actually longer tale. And for those familiar with Bratt’s real-life work rescuing dogs and particularly Yorkies… yes, a Yorkie also appears here. 😀 Ultimately a strong tale filled with great topical exploration… and more drama than ever happens on any of *my* cruises. 😀 Very much recommended.