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Series Saturdays: Dead Djinn Universe

The world that P. Djeli Clark builds is very fantastical. The different steampunk elements with all the gears and whirring of the machines. How the angelsare built. The different illusions that the djinn are able to conjure. He includes African history, older religions, folktales from around the world. he blends aspects of history from different places and times which enables him to address many social issues. In this series Clark tackles slavery, colonialism, gender roles, and racism to name a few.

Book #1: The Dead Djinn of Cairo

A djinn is found exsanquinated. But there is not a drop of blood remaining toserve as evidence in this crime. Could it have been ghouls or some other supernatural being. The only clues that Fatma el-sha’arawi and her partner have are spells left near the body: curved horns, a sickle, an adze and a moon with twisting vines. What do these symbols mean. Can Fatma prevail over the monsters that threaten our world and the fabric of time itself?

Book #2: The Haunting of Tram Car 015

Agent Hamed al-Nasr has been tasked with finding out what type of being is haunting tram car 015 and exorcising it. Set against the backdrop of a woman’s suffrage movement our agents must consult with older religious tradtions in order to solve the case.

Book 3: Master of Djinn

This is the first full length book in the series. Al-Jahiz has been accused of opening up the door between worlds before he disappeared. A cult of his followers is being murdered one by one. When someone steps forward claiming to be al-Jahiz himself and assuming guilt for the deaths, The Ministry of Alchemy, Special Enchantments and Supernatural Entitues is called onto the case. Is it even possible that al-Jahiz is still alive? Why would someone go through the trouble of impersonating him and where are they getting their magic?

I was hoping that Fatma and Agent Hamed would be paired on this latest case. Although he does make an appearance, Fatma’s new partner is a bright young woman who is religiously observant. Where Fatma allows us to embrace that women can walk in whatever shoes they choose, Hadia allows us to see that there is strength in the feminine.

This is how I imagine Siti

P. Djeli Clark does a great job with giving dimension to his characters. They are flawed but grow throut the series. Dead Djinn Universe is genre defying. Part fantasy, the world building is exquisite. Very atmospheric to the point where it has a cinematic feel. Part mystery, he keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to work out the who and why. Part adventure, allo three books are action packed with killer fight scenes that have women at the forefront. And last but not least, all of P. Djeli Clark’s books contain an element of social commentary that have you looking at our world both past and present.

P. Djeli Clark

Phenderson Djéli Clark is the award winning and Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy nominated author of the novel A Master of Djinn, and the novellas Ring ShoutThe Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is a founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.

Born in New York and raised mostly in Houston, Texas, he spent the early formative years of his life in the homeland of his parents, Trinidad and Tobago. When not writing speculative fiction, P. Djèlí Clark works as an academic historian whose research spans comparative slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. He melds this interest in history and the social world with speculative fiction, and has written articles on issues ranging from racism and H.P. Lovecraft to critiques of George Schuyler’s Black Empire, and has been a panelist and lecturer at conventions, workshops and other genre events.

At current time, he resides in a small Edwardian castle in New England with his wife, daughters, and pet dragon (who suspiciously resembles a Boston Terrier). When so inclined he rambles on issues of speculative fiction, politics, and diversity at his aptly named blog The Disgruntled Haradrim.

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Blog Tour: Legends of the North Cascades

Synopsis

Dave Cartwright is already living on the edge, with a blue-collar job he hates that barely pays the bills, a house on the verge of foreclosure, a failing marriage, and the recurring memories of three tours in Iraq. His only bright spot is his sometimes too-wise daughter, Bella, who sees and understands much beyond her years. When the unthinkable occurs, Dave makes a seemingly over-the-top decision to move with Bella to a cave in the wilderness. As they embark on this compelling and challenging backcountry adventure, Bella’s reality takes an unforeseen turn, retreating into the ancient world of a mother and son who lived in the cave thousands of years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. What unfolds amidst the struggle to survive is a meditation on both the perils of isolation and the human need for connection. 


Review

The mountains were a place to admire and respect from afar, to pass through furtively and give thanks for safe passing. They were not to be trusted, these mountains. Especially not in winter, when they hid their treasures, and withheld their bounty. The North Cascades could bury you in a heartbeat, they could lose you, they could play tricks on your mind. The mountains were not a place to go for answers.

The Legends of the North Cascades is written from multiple perspectives across dual timelines. One being set during the Ice Age and the other in the present. The two storylines converge on each other not just in the setting, but also with the themes of isolation, enduring and the making of legends.

The pacing of the book was rather fast as it is written in short chapters, many of which read like interviews from the townsfolk that Dave and Bella have left behind. For some he is a madman. For others he will forever be a hero.

I found Dave to be a likeable character who loved his daughter wholeheartedly. He wanted the best for her but was too proud and stubborn to seek help even when he knew his demons were getting the best of him. Bella was perhaps my favorite character. She is full of heart and spirit. Curious and full of imagination, she is the brightest star in this book.

There were points in the dialogue where I felt the book would have benefitted from having a sensitivity reader. After authorities show interest in their living situation, Dave likens laws to slavery. As a descendant of slaves I know I am not the only one who would find fault with this sentiment. Following a law or a rule, no matter how heavy-handed or inane, is not the same as being enslaved. It just isn’t. And to try to diminish it like that or try to conflate your anger at the system or your unwillingness to follow the rules with being enslaved never works. At another time S’tka talks about outliving her purpose: “that’s all the Great Provider had in mind when he created a woman — to carry men. Carry them in their wombs, and on their backs, and in their hearts, to carry their burdens, and bear their disappointments until such time that a man no longer needs them.” In my opinion neither of these statements were necessary to move the narrative along.

Overall, the writing was beautiful. I could just about turn to any page and find sentences that I could read over and over again. I was captivated by Dave and Bella’s story and was invested in her outcome.

The whole rickety bulwark of Dave’s defenses were crushed to splinter beneath the realization that . . . he still could not guard Bella from grief or harm, any more than he could deprive her of love and meaningful connection. Bereaved, we are but orphans, dispossessed, impoverished in our solitude. Our only buffer against the cold, cruel world was one another.


Meet the Author

Jonathan Evison is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels All About Lulu, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, West of Here, Lawn Boy, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and Legends of the North Cascades.

In his teens, Evison was the founding member and frontman of the Seattle punk band March of Crimes, which included future members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Born in San Jose, California, he now lives on an island in Western Washington with his wife and family.

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Reading the Rainbow – June

I’m sure by now that you have heard the old adage “Never judge a book by its cover.” But if you’re like me some book covers simply make you swoon. Before I go too far this post is not about cover lust but a challenge to read books from your TBR that are of a particular color. Each month Life of a Book Addict group on GoodReads assigns two colors. The challenge is to read as many books within that month that prominently display that color. At the end there’s a beautiful collage of books generated by all the members of the group. This month Jackie has picked green and navy as “June is bright and colorful with flowers and blooming trees all around. We have green grass and lots of water sports again.”


My shelf

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

For fans of The Language of Flowers, a sparkling, big-hearted, page-turning debut set in the 1970s about a young black boy’s quest to reunite with his beloved white half-brother after they are separated in foster care.

Told through the perspective of nine-year-old Leon, too innocent to entirely understand what has happened to him and baby Jake, but determined to do what he can to make things right, he stubbornly, endearingly struggles his way through a system much larger than he can tackle on his own. My Name Is Leon is a vivid, gorgeous, and uplifting story about the power of love, the unbreakable bond between brothers, and the truth about what, in the end, ultimately makes a family.


Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson–winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Sunburst Award, and the World Fantasy award (among others), and lauded as one of our “most inventive and brilliant writers” (New York Post)–returns with a new work. With her singular voice and characteristic sharp insight, she explores the relationship between two sisters in this richly textured and deeply moving novel . . .


Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.


Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with this electrifying novel, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, that brings to life one powerful and enigmatic family in a tale rife with secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and magic.


The Passengers by John Marrs

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

The new gripping page-turning thriller from the bestselling author of THE ONE – soon to be a major Netflix series.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.


Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

A tragic comedy of epic sweep and dimension, Skippy Dies wrings every last drop of humour and hopelessness out of life, love, mermaids, M-theory, the poetry of Robert Graves, and all the mysteries of the human heart.


Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a pulse-pounding domestic thriller about a group of friends who have been bound for twenty years by a single secret—and will now be undone by it. Someone Knows is an emotional exploration of friendship and family, as well as a psychological exploration of guilt and memory.


How many of you are doing color challenges this year and how do you select your books?

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My Reading Journal Journey

In the beginning there was the Family Journal.

This was a fun way to commemorate our Summer Reading challenge. We simply used a looseleaf binder with alphabetical tabs. Back then I was big on finding pictures that tied into the book. Star ratings were included as part of the header along with the title.

Then I found Peter Pauper.

I realized that I was reviewing less and forgetting more as my schedule did not allow me to type of reviews right away. The kids fell off from reviewing books as school and sports picked back up. But it wasn’t enough for me to simply read the book. I wanted to be able to discuss it when I bumped into other bookish people as well as remember how it made me feel. I started just jotting down my initial imoressions. Now my reviews are more lengthy as I sometimes journal as I read. I also feel less inhibited as I am not required to share these with anybody. I can include all the spoilers I want and I don’t have to worry if I have an unpopular opinion.

2018: First impressions while reading a book
2021: New Journal Review format

Notice the post it tabs in the “first impressions” photo? That was how I marked off the pages of my reading challenges. While I liked the idea of having the freedom and the space to express my viewpoints, this setup did not motivate me to complete my challenges. My new system includes both a traditional journal and a bullet journal (BuJo). I keep my reviews in my Peter Pauper but have migrated all of my reading challenges to the front of my bullet journal.

In addition to writing reviews I try to prioritize my reading by writing out my obligations (NetGalley vs. Book club for example) and recording what I actually read. Below is the old and new set ups. Notice that the bullet journal spread also tracks dates read, ratings, reading challenges and monthly stats.

2018 – 2020: My TBR vs. What I actually read
2021: Bujo TBR spread

The Versatility of a Bullet Journal

In my bullet journal I also track my moods, ARC release dates, the source of my books and whether I am reading books I already own. I’m enjoying using my BuJo as a creative outlet and find that I am more organized. Lately I’ve been experimenting with adding more elements to my BuJo like health and spending trackers. I’m excited for my 2022 setup and have already started planning out my spreads.

2021 Yearly Reading Statistics – # Read, # Reviewed, # Pages and Source
Tracking how many books I own will hopefully curb my book spending.
Black-a-thon Reading Challenge

Sources of Inspiration

Amanda Rach Lee

Jashii Corrin

Shayda Campbell

Brittany the Bibliophile


Supplies

  • Peter Pauper acid free, archival lined journal; Retail $15.99 (purchased on sale at Barnes & Noble)
  • Carnet Artist’s dotted journal 120 gsm, 180 pages; Retail $8.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Tombow Dual Brush pens 12 pc Tropical palette set; Retail $26.99 (purchased 50% off at Michael’s)
  • Artist’s Loft glue tape, 4 pack; Retail $6.99
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Fine Line pen set Black 005, 02, 08; Retail $9.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser
  • Sharpie markers
  • Washi tape (can be found in Michael’s sales bins for as little as a dollar)
  • Stickers, craft paper, colored pencils (Dollar Tree)

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Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

“Some stories are just stories, and some stories are just facts, facts so important that story can’t mess with them.”

Noopiming (Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush”) is poetry converging on storytelling revealing itself as fact. It opens with a poem that introduces the seven characters. The number 7 is significant and is reiterated throughout the text. It represents the seven Ojibwe tribes and the seven Asishinaabe teachings of love, respect, honesty, bravery, humility, truth, and wisdom.

Every character was referred to as they/them. At first I struggled with this. There were times where I did not know where one individual ended or the other began. The characters take on properties of the life forms around them. They are infused with the earth and water and spirits. I wasn’t sure if Betasamosake Simpson was playing on gender roles. But then as I got further on in the book I noticed that outsiders were referred to he/him and she/her. Perhaps we place too much emphasis on gender? But this was not what Betasamosake Simpson was getting at. When I stopped trying to force the narrative to fit my experience it became obvious. They/them was used as our characters were part of a herd or flock. This is not just to say that they are one with nature, but that as a group they move as one. Indigenous culture places the needs of the whole over the wants of the individual. My biases and Western mentality were the root of my struggles.

Throughout the text there are Anishinaabemowin words. For the most part Betasamosake Simpson does not give you the exact definition. You have to use the sentence or phrase for context. She also does not italicize or otherwise dinstinguish these words from the English. And I love her for it. If you are reading more diversely to learn about different cultures, then dive into the culture. Embrace the language. Open your mind to perspectives that are different from your own.

Noopiming ends with seven lessons told as both lecture and story. The take away is Weweni – be mindful. Think before you speak and act. Direct your attention to the whole. Consider whether your impact be something positive, uplifting, sustaining. Think beyond yourself.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics,  story and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.

orking for two decades as an independent scholar using Nishnaabeg intellectual practices, Leanne has lectured and taught extensively at universities across Canada and the United States and has twenty years experience with Indigenous land based education. She holds a PhD from the University of Manitoba, and teaches at the Dechinta Centre for Research & Learning in Denendeh.

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Blog Tour: Local Woman Missing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

People don’t just disappear without a trace…
Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.
Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…
In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


Review

This book gets all the stars! Kubica kept ratcheting up the tension. So much so that I was getting paranoid for the characters. I was that crazy ole book lady screaming at the book “Get out! Get away! No, don’t do it! Don’t trust her.” It was like running through a maze and hitting wall after wall. Kubica would leads you down one avenue having you think you know what’s going on and then Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Wrong again. Then she gives you a perfectly rational reason for what happened and sends you in an entirely different direction. I was twisting and turning throughout and I loved it.


Meet the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).  LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel. 

Where You Can Find Her

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Blog Tour: Little Boy Lost

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

The clear sky burst into flames of peach and gold, illuminating the small body leaning against the rocks. He looked even smaller than he had in the photos, purple marks blemishing his neck. His eyes were open, staring ahead at the vastness of the still water.

When three nine-year-old boys go missing on a field trip to Lakemore’s annual spring festival, panic tears through the small town. Detective Mackenzie Price and her partner Nick Blackwood lead the search, but no trace of the boys is found—until one of them is found murdered, a note stuffed down his throat.

“Find Johnny’s killer, or they all die.”

Johnny was supposedly a victim of Jeremiah, a serial killer Nick helped put behind bars nearly a decade ago for the murder of ten young boys. But when Mack and Nick pay him a visit, he claims that he knows nothing—and that he remains innocent of Johnny’s murder.

Then a second boy is found, another clue left on his body, leaving just one left alive. Desperate to save the last boy’s life, Mackenzie and Nick comb over Jeremiah’s case, only to discover proof of a shocking cover-up—and a killer who will stop at nothing to right the wrongs of the past.

Packed full of shocking twists and nail-biting suspense, Little Boy Lost is a truly unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter, Lisa Regan and Angela Marsons.


Review

Little Boy Lost was a captivating thriller full of delicious little twists. In this third installment to the Mackenzie Price series we are brought back to the majestic scenery of Washington state. But evil abounds here as the disappearance of three 9 year old boys forces Nick to confront one of the most diabolical killers from his past. Did Nick make a mistake charging Jeremiah Wozniak with little Johnny’s murder? Has a killer been walking amongst them all these years? He is certain beyond belief that Wozniak is a psychopath who will kill again if given the chance. But his soul wrestles with the fact that he might have let another killer go free. Meanwhile Mackenzie is dealing with skeletons from her own past. Her father’s murder investigation has been reopened and a zealous cop is on the case. Will he uncover Mack’s secret? Is Charles’s killer after her too? Mackenzie does not know whether her need for self preservation will land her harm’s way. Does she reveal her truth and risk her reputation? Or does she guard her secret and risk her life?


Meet the Author

Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thriller.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you.

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

Where You Can Find Ruhi


Stop by and visit these awesome blogs on the Little Boy Lost Tour!

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Blog Tour: Hot Stew

Synopsis

Brilliant young British writer Fiona Mozley turns her keen eye from the gothic woods of Yorkshire to the streets and pubs and cafés of contemporary London in this much-anticipated follow-up to her debut novel, Elmet.

In the middle of the bustle of Soho sits a building. It isn’t particularly assuming. But it’s a prime piece of real estate, and a young millionaire, Agatha Howard, wants to convert it into luxury condos as soon as she can kick out all the tenants.

The problem is, the building in question houses a brothel, and Precious and Tabitha, two of the women who live and work there, are not going to go quietly. And another problem is, just where did Agatha’s fortune come from? The fight over this piece of property also draws in the men who visit, including Robert, a one-time member of a far-right group and enforcer for Agatha’s father; Jackie, a policewoman intent on making London a safer place for all women; Bastian, a rich and dissatisfied party boy who pines for an ex-girlfriend; and a collection of vagabonds and strays who occupy the basement. As these characters—with surprising hidden connections and shadowy pasts—converge, the fight over the property boils over into a hot stew.

Entertaining, sharply funny, and dazzlingly accomplished, Hot Stew confronts questions about wealth and inheritance, gender and power, and the things women must do to survive in an unjust world.


Review

Hot Stew is Mozley’s sophomore effort. Her debut Elmet reached critical acclaim earning nominations for both the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Award. Agatha Howard is the sole beneficiary of her father’s wealth. She has decided to renovate his properties so that she can turn over the properties for a hefty profit. But first she must clean up the area by evicting the “undesirable” tenants who have long standing leases. At the same time she must contend with her half sisters as they fight for what they believe is their rightful portion of their father’s inheritance.

The Aphra Behn is a pub in the soho section of London that houses a brothel upstairs and a homeless camp in its basement. Among the colorful people that live there is a couple of drug addicts nicknamed Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee named so because of the magic tricks they play with customers’ money and Tabitha and Precious who are sex workers.

“All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn . . . for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Indeed a hot stew is brewing as these women join forces to protect their home. Protests break out and draw the attention of feminists, religious zealots, politicians and the press. Mozley is pretty clear cut on who the good guys are in all this as she examines power and gentrification.

Perhaps the best part of the book for me was when Precious discusses the agency of women and ownership of our bodies. It was a different take on sex work. None of these women were being “pimped out”. They have come to this life through different avenues, but work as a collective to protect and take care of one another. There is one scene where Precious and Tabitha are asked whether they are a couple. Tabitha responds that not only do they share a bed but they share finances. They go on vacations together. When one is sick the other nurses her back to health. If they have a rough day the other is there to listen to them vent and run them a bath. The depth of their relationship is beautiful. But Mozley tells us early on that their relationship is not sexual. The problem comes in how we view and define “couple”. If you define couplehood by sex then you are reducing it to something so very basic, as sex is a fundamental need. What really makes a couple? Our ideas about sexare constantly being tested in this book. I was with Mozley when she was talking about how women can choose to have sex, that we can desire and enjoy sex, that we can define what it means to use. But when I got to that one sex scene – EWW! All I can say is that it was really awkward and even if I ascribe the concepts of choice and control to it , I did not see how it added anything of subatnce to Mozley’s message.

For the most part the other women were rather ancillary and do not get much treatment in the book. In fact there are so many characters that I had to draw myself a map. At first I was getting frustrated, but then I thought about how fantasy novels are constructed and the time authors take for world building. The way I’m seeing it now is that Fiona Mozley is building up this world so that while the action is brewing and old secrets are bubbling up to the surface we can see more clearly the extensive impact that these power struggles have on this community.


Meet the Author

Fiona Mozley was born in East London and raised in York, in the North of England. She studied history at Cambridge and then lived in Buenos Aires and London, working at a literary agency and at a travel center. Her first novel, Elmet, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2017. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner and their dog.

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Blog Tour: Hush Little Girl

Synopsis

Dressed in pajamas covered with stars, the little girl’s body is perfectly still, her arms folded neatly over her chest. The wildflowers decorating her hair scatter across the grass in the sharp breeze. Her lips are parted slightly, as if to whisper goodnight for the very last time…

When twelve-year-old Holly Mitchell’s fragile little body is found on the steps of a mountainside church in the small town of Denton, a doll made from pine cones clasped tightly to her chest, Detective Josie Quinn rushes to attend the scene. She knows this little girl’s angelic face, her mother had offered Josie help when she’d needed it most.

Searching the girl’s house, Josie is devastated to find that Holly’s mother is dead too, and her little sister is missing. But why has this family home been stripped of all sharp objects? Re-tracing her steps, Josie finally finds a secret hiding place with Holly’s sister inside, terrified, but alive. Moments later, another doll made of twigs turns up.

Certain the killer is close by, Josie holds the little girl tight and tries to coax answers from her, but it’s clear the pile of burnt photographs and letters found in the greenhouse is her only lead. No one is safe until Josie can figure out the dangerous secret that has escaped this remote family home.

Just when Josie is finally closing in on the killer, the unthinkable happens, a tragedy that shakes her to her very core. And on the windshield of her car: a third wooden doll. Could stopping this twisted monster from taking more innocent lives come at the ultimate price for Josie?

An absolutely gripping rollercoaster ride of a crime thriller from an Amazon, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Caine.


My Review

The big day has finally arrived! Everyone who is near and dear to Josie and Noah are there. But just when you think Josie will finally ride off into the sunset with her beau, a young girl’s body is found on the steps of the church. Of course, Josie and Noah are on the case.

When Josie and another detective arrive at the girl’s home they discover a gruesome scene. Her mother has been slaughtered and her younger sister is missing. What secrets did this family have that were worth dying for? Can Josie get the answers from little Emily before tragedy strikes again? Josie is able to bond with the young girl. Her scar bears witness to her tragedies in life. But she struggles with how far can she push her for details without damages her already fragile psyche. Scared and alone, little Emily feels that revealing any secret will lead to death.

Hush, Little Girl is a fast-paced if emotional ride that pulls on your heart strings. (Trigger warning for mental illness and domestic violence.)

I am really loving this series. Lisa Regan keeps you on your toes and begging for more. Here’s a secret I can share: Josie Quinn #12 is already in the works! Join Lisa Regan’s mailing list here so you won’t miss out.


Meet the Author

Lisa Regan is a USA TodayWall Street Journal bestselling author and Amazon bestselling crime novelist.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. 

Where You Can Find Lisa

Stop by and Visit These Other Wonderful Creators on the Hush, Little Girl Blog Tour!

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Throwback Thursday 4/15

Black Out Poetry by Moi – This is how I do my BuJo thang!

In tribute to poetry month, I decided to highlight an anthology that is near and dear to my heart. Edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds and Jamila Woods, the second volume of The BreakBeat Poets introduced me to several talented Black Women Poets that I continue to follow today. The review below was originally posted on GoodReads on February 7, 2018.


The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic

I remember when I first heard Sonia Sanchez speak – the cadence of her voice, the punctuated rhythms of her staccato verse. Like a full bodied wine, the flavor of her words lingered. My body hummed. Somehow she knew my story. She was a griot dispensing a herstory of resilience, defiance and strength. The black woman instead of being confined to one singular definition was appreciated as a diaspora of resplendent colors each owning her individual experience. I walked away that day feeling as if the mantle of power had been passed.

Nikki Giovanni, Audrey Lorde, Rita Dove, June Jordan, Ntozake Shange, bell hooks, Sapphire, Maya Angelou. Reading their words is like a baptism of water and fire. I am cleansed. I am renewed. I am filled.

Black Girl Magic is written in this rich tradition. Edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmond and Jamila Woods, this anthology continues where Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop left off. This second volume addresses the oversight of African-American women’s contributions to the art that is Hip Hop and fills this void with resounding pieces that rejoice in the splendor and beauty that is the Black woman. These new voices declare that our story is not history but a glorious future filled with hope and promise.


Brief But Spectacular by Mahogany L. Browne

Instead of my usual photograph, please enjoy this living testament of Black Girl Magic:

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Blog Tour: Just My Luck

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Synopsis

Adele Parks has brought her #1 Sunday Times sensation, JUST MY LUCK (MIRA Trade Paperback; April 6, 2021; $17.99) to the US! 

Be careful what you wish for… 

After spending happy hours, parenting classes and barbeques together for the last 15 years, Lexi and Jake Greenwood have celebrated and shared almost everything with the Pearsons and the Heathcotes, including their lottery numbers. Then one night, the unthinkable happens. Someone has been telling lies – lies dark enough to burn bridges and tear the tight group of friends apart. When the Greenwoods win a stunning $23 million in the lottery with their group’s numbers shortly after their dramatic falling out, the Heathcotes and Pearsons believe they’re entitled to part of the prize… and the three couples will do anything to claim what is theirs. 

Reader beware: the last chapter will change everything. 

A compulsively readable portrait of the fragility of friendship, the corrosiveness of sudden wealth, and the dark side of good luck, Adele Parks’ latest domestic thriller will make you think twice about trying your hand at the lottery. 


Review

When I first started reading this book I thought it was just going to be a Contemporary fiction about winning the lottery and how it impacts people. How do you change when you have money; a lens on greed, selfishness and the chaos that would ensue around a lottery win.

In Just My Luck you have these three couples who have been friends for 15 years. They met in Lamaze class and stuck together through Mommy and Me. Now their kids are also best friends. But then there is a fallout at one of their weekly parties which causes a rift between the parents. A week later Lexie playing their usual numbers strikes it big with a winning lottery ticket.

Lexi and her husband Jake’s responses are like fire and ice. Lexi tries to be calm, modest and responsible. Jake hits the ground running. Bubbling over with excitement and lofty ideas he comes up with extravagant ways to splurge. His indiscretions quickly lead the family down the path to ruin but read like delicious bits of drama as all kinds of hell breaks loose.

This book has also been billed as a mystery/thriller. However, the “mystery” here does not start until about 70% through. For me the mystery portion was just tacked on and not thoroughly fleshed out. Kind of quick, fast and loose. I also found that the mystery was easily solved. So if you are looking for a case to solve this may not be for you. But as a contemporary novel Just My Luck shines and is engrossing and compelling. Would recommend to readers of domestic suspense and drama.


Meet the Author

Adele Parks is the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty novels, including Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck, as well as I Invited Her InJust My Luck is currently in development to be made into a movie. Her novels have sold 4 million copies in the UK alone, and her work has also been translated into thirty-one languages.

Where You Can Find Her

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Blog Tour: A Beautiful Breed of Evil

Available for Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Thank you Emma Welton @damppebbles for organizing this tour and finding a space for me!

Synopsis

He’ll never speak of the evil they did…

A former Swedish ambassador lies dead in his swanky Mayfair flat. With his tongue torn out and placed on a Bible. Competing theories swirl. A religious maniac? A psychopath? The truth is far darker than either. DCI Stella Cole’s search for the killer takes her to Sweden. There, she discovers a horrific chapter in the country’s history that throws the case into turmoil. And then more people start dying.


Teaming up with Swedish cops Oskar Norgrim and Johanna Carlsson, Stella pieces together Ambassador Brömly’s shocking past. And discovers the killer’s motive.

Meanwhile, Stella’s personal life is about to take a significant turn as her boyfriend, Jamie, suggests a change in their relationship. But as Stella tries to process what it means, she makes a fateful decision.


Why won’t the dead stay buried?

On the other side of the Atlantic, a kid practising BMX stunts over water finds a skeleton on a lake bed. When the victim is revealed to be a British cop, the FBI ask for assistance. Stella’s arch-enemy from her own department gets the case. She flies to Chicago and soon discovers the murderer’s identity.

The scene is set for a showdown in Sweden as DI Roisin Griffin pursues her vendetta against Stella all the way to the north of Sweden during the annual festival of Midsommar.


A fast-paced, twisty crime thriller …

A Beautiful Breed of Evil is the fifth book in this series of hard-hitting crime thrillers. Much of the action takes place in Sweden, home to fictional detectives Martin Beck, Kurt Wallander, Harry Hole and Saga Norén.

Even as Stella is fighting to bring the killer to justice, shadowy figures from her past are planning to silence her before she can expose their brutal methods.


Review

A Beautiful Breed of Evil is the 5th in the DI Stella Cole series but my first. It takes off pretty quickly with the discovery of three bodies in the first two chapters. The action takes place in the UK, Sweden and the United States so readers are jet-setting around the world in this transcontinental chase.*

DI Stella Cole is looking into the murder of a man who everyone claims is a saint. But what gets her is the mutilation of the body. Why rip out his tongue? And why place it on a Bible? What is the killer trying to tell her? What sins or secrets does the good Ambassador have in his closet? Is it a warning for others to be quiet? Or a sensual thing? Could the killer be a jilted lover or a victim of past sexual assault?

The first thing that struck me as odd was that in the UK the police do not have guns. As the manner of death was by gunshot wound it makes Stella’s job easier. As less people carry guns it will be easier to track down the murder weapon. Another factor that made this book all the more interesting is that Stella herself is not innocent. Her hands have blood on them and her past is bearing down on her. As a newcomer to the series I do not know how much of this was revealed in earlier books but I found that I enjoyed trying to unlock the mystery of Stella. Maslen does not spoon feed the reader either. Bit by bit over a few chapters he peels back the layers revealing one truth at a time. I think this made the book more intriguing as it gave me the opportunity to put the puzzle pieces together.

Although Stella is flawed she does have her own moral code that she follows. So yeah there is right and wrong but can you justify her actions? I think you can and this is what becomes the hardest for people in her life to reconcile themselves with. Especially when they can see themselves doing the same thing if they were put in her shoes. Stella is strong and smart but she still shows vulnerability. She’s still dealing with trauma and psychoses. Perhaps PTSD and dissociative disorder? Maslen does not make this the focus but his descriptions make her character more human and relatable.

Overall I really enjoyed reading the book. The twist in the middle really got me. I thought I had it all figured out. But Maslen saves the best for last, especially with that little teaser at the end. Looking forward to completing the rest of the series and getting to know Stella better. Highly recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Meet Andy Maslen

Andy Maslen was born in Nottingham, in the UK, home of legendary bowman Robin Hood. Andy once won a medal for archery, although he has never been locked up by the sheriff.

He has worked in a record shop, as a barman, as a door-to-door DIY products salesman and a cook in an Italian restaurant.

He lives in Wiltshire with his wife, two sons and a whippet named Merlin.

Where You Can Find Andy


Stop by and visit these other blogs on the tour!

*For those of you doing the 2021 PopSugar Challenge this qualifies for Prompt 29.

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Blog Tour: Libertie

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Synopsis

The critically acclaimed and Whiting Award–winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman returns with an unforgettable story about the meaning of freedom.

Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark.

When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come.

Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new novel resonates in our times and is perfect for readers of Brit Bennett, Min Jin Lee, and Yaa Gyasi.


Review

Libertie is an historical fiction set in the late 1800s. Our titular character is named for her dying father’s wish for her to know true freedom. But Libertie, although intelligent, well spoken, and beautiful will struggle to be released from society’s strongholds. In the book her mother’s character is loosely based on Susan McKinney Steward, the first black doctor in New York state. Although this bit of history is interesting, Libertie is not focused so much on the mother’s accomplishments but on the relationship between mother and daughter. Throughout the book we are asked to consider what freedom is in all its nuances and to examine the chains that hold us captive.

Susan McKinney-Steward

The book opens with Dr. Sampson raising a man from the dead. Libertie stands in awe of her mother and begs her to teach her how to heal. But she soon realizes that this man — although he escaped the shackles of slavery and the grip of death — he is not free. His undying devotion to a dead woman leaves him haunted by her memory and Libertie skeptical about love.

Libertie’s mother is able to get her medical degree as she passes for white. But she knows this option is not open to her dark skinned daughter. She goes about trying to find a way to ensure her daughter’s agency in a new unsure landscape where freedom has just been won for the slave. But in her doing so, she ends up thrusting her aspirations upon Libertie.

Despite her status and fair skin our doctor is still bound by other women’s perception of her, their judgment and their fickle natures. She is confined by grief over the loss of her husband and family and fear for the safety of her daughter. Her tongue is tied every time a white patient shuns Libertie or remarks on her color.

When Libertie travels to Haiti we are able to see the contrast between the two countries. Haiti gains its independence early on and is under the rule of black people. But there still exists a separation between those that serve and those that are in authority.

Through these experiences Libertie comes to know that freedom is not just escaping that which binds you, but knowing who you are, what you want and finding the voice to proclaim it boldly.


Kaitlyn Greenidge

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel is We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books), one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016. Her writing has appeared in the Vogue, Glamour, the Wall Street Journal, Elle.com, Buzzfeed, Transition Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, American Short Fiction and other places. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study other places. She was a contributing editor for LENNY Letter and is currently a contributing writer for The New York Times. Her second novel, Libertie, will be published by Algonquin Books on March 30, 2021. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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Blog Tour: Tell No Lies

On Sale tomorrow 3/30/21!

Praise for Allison Brennan’s Quinn & Costa Series

“Leave all the lights on… you’ll be turning the pages fast as you can. The Third to Die is the first in Brennan’s amazing new thriller series. Dive in and enjoy this nail-biter.”—Catherine Coulter, New York Times bestselling author of Labyrinth

“Bestseller Brennan’s intriguing sequel to 2020s The Third to Die…Fast-paced action….[with a] well-constructed mystery plot.”
Publishers Weekly

“An edge of the seat, can’t-put-it-down thrill ride.”Marcia Clark, author of Snap Judgment

“Riveting, terrifying, and simply fantastic. Brennan ratchets up the tension to the breaking point with her new FBI MRT team chasing a devious killer. This is classic crime fiction at its best. With deep characterizations and a truly scary villain driving the twisted plot, this is the start of a brilliant new series from the queen of the thriller.” —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Tear Me Apart


Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan’s newest thriller again features an edgy young female LAPD detective and an ambitious special agent, both part of a mobile FBI unit that is brought in to investigate the unsolved murder of a college activist and its alleged ties to high stakes crime in the desert Southwest.

Something mysterious is killing the wildlife in the desert hills just south of Tucson, Arizona. When Emma Perez, a college-intern-turned activist, sets out to collect her own evidence, she too ends up dead. Local law enforcement seems slow to get involved. That’s when the mobile FBI unit goes undercover to infiltrate the town and the copper refinery located there in search of possible leads. Costa and Quinn find themselves scouring the desolate landscape that keeps on giving up clues to something much darker—greed, child trafficking, other killings. As the body count continues to add up, it’s clear they have stumbled on more than they bargained for. Now they must figure out who is at the heart of this mayhem and stop them before more innocent lives are lost.

Brennan’s latest novel brims with complex characters and an ever-twisting plotline, a compelling thriller that delivers.


Meet Allison Brennan

ALLISON BRENNAN is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over thirty novels. She has been nominated for Best Paperback Original Thriller by International Thriller Writers and the Daphne du Maurier Award. A former consultant in the California State Legislature, Allison lives in Arizona with her husband, five kids and assorted pets.

Interview With Allison Brennan

Q: How much research do you do before beginning to write a book? Do you go to locations, ride with police, go to see an autopsy, etc.

A: Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. Because I’ve been writing for more than a decade, I’ve been doing research for just as long. I’ve been to most locations I’ve written about, though sometimes long ago (and I rely on Google Earth, books, and friends to keep me up to date about changes.) I’ve gone on ride-alongs with law enforcement, I’ve been to the morgue twice and observed not only an autopsy, but have talked to technicians and toured the crypt.

I also went through the FBI Citizens Academy in 2008, when I was in the middle of writing my 8th book. After that, I had multiple agents to call upon for help with details; I toured Quantico twice, the national FBI Headquarters, interviewed both senior and brand new agents about their different experiences in the academy and on the job, and participated in numerous SWAT training drills as a “role player.” What does that mean? I’ve played the part of the bad guy, a hostage, and a victim based on the scenario they were training for. I’ve observed dozens of different scenarios as they drill them, including high-risk traffic stops. I once observed a live ammunition drill from the catwalk, which was both scary and exhilarating. 

I recognize that I can’t put everything I learn into my books, and that because I write fiction sometimes reality is too slow and I need to speed things up (trust me, you don’t want to watch my characters doing paperwork!) But I try to write my books to be as realistic as possible.

Q: What’s your favorite part of writing suspense?

A: Everything! I love suspense. I read it as a child (Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, Stephen King) and I read it now. I love romantic suspense (I’m a sucker for happy endings); police procedurals; and race-against-time thrillers. When I’m writing, my absolute favorite part is when everything comes together near the end and I have that “AHA!” moment. It’s exhilarating and worth every struggle along the way. 

I’d also have to say that suspense is part of every story. If there’s no suspense, it’s a boring character study. I want to have that physical reaction in my story — the sense of impending doom and “OMG, how are they going to get out of this?” — and if I get it while writing, my readers will feel it when reading.

Q: From the books you’ve written or read, who has been your favorite villain and why?

A: The Man in Black, Randall Flagg, is one of the most compelling and scary villains I’ve read, created by the master Stephen King in THE STAND (though Flagg has also shown up in other books.) Favorite? Maybe not. But definitely the villain that stuck with me for the rest of my life. In my books, I’ve created a couple of villains who I’ve actually sympathized with (while condemning their crimes) because their backstories are so tragic — such as in TEMPTING EVIL. My favorite villain to write was Elise Hansen Hunt who popped up in several books, including the recent COLD AS ICE. She is young, reckless, violent, and I never knew what she might do. I’ve written several serial killers, who are always scary because you never quite know what’s going to happen with them. For example, in the first Quinn & Costa book, the killer was so focused and determined I worried he would outwit my good guys. 

Villains should be both believable and realistic, so sometimes the most compelling are those who you can almost sympathize with, or at least understand, even when you are horrified by their crimes.

Q: What hobbies do you enjoy?

A: Reading (duh!), baseball (go Giants!), television (too many shows to list), hiking (except during the Arizona summer), shooting at the gun range (my daughter is a cop and great instructor), video games (with my boys — at least that’s my excuse.) A little known fact about me … for years I used to make my own soap. It was fun, relaxing, and always made the house smell amazing. 

Q: Do you write under one name for all books across genres or do you have other AKA’s?

A: Just me! Allison Brennan is my legal name. In fact, I once told my husband if he ever left, I was keeping the name. Ha. 

Funny story — I bought my website domain allisonbrennan.com right after I sold my first book. This was 2004. I wanted to make sure I had it when I had books to put up there. A year later I got an email from someone named Allison Brennan. She tried to buy the site but couldn’t — she was also a writer (a journalist) and wanted to know how I picked the name and if she could buy it from me. Small world! (There’s also an Allison Brennan who is a Olympic diver, an Allison Brennan who is a gymnast, and an Allison Brennan who lived in my town — we used the same pharmacy, the same vet, went to the same church, and both had sons named Luke. Yet we never met!)

Where You Can Find Allison Brennan

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Blog Tour: Danger in Numbers

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Synopsis

On the edge of the Everglades, an eerie crime scene sets off an investigation that sends two agents deep into a world of corrupted faith, greed and deadly secrets.

A ritualistic murder on the side of a remote road brings in the Florida state police. Special Agent Amy Larson has never seen worse, and there are indications that this killing could be just the beginning. The crime draws the attention of the FBI in the form of Special Agent Hunter Forrest, a man with insider knowledge of how violent cults operate, and a man who might never be able to escape his own past.

The rural community is devastated by the death in their midst, but people know more than they are saying. As Amy and Hunter join forces, every lead takes them further into the twisted beliefs of a dangerous group that will stop at nothing to see their will done.

Doomsday preppers and small-town secrets collide in this sultry, twisty page-turning thriller.


Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Fall 1993

Sam

Sam Gallagher stood in the forest, deep within the trees, holding his wife and son to him as closely as he could, barely daring to breathe.

They would know by now. He and Jessie would be missed. He could imagine the scene: Jessie wouldn’t have appeared bright and early to help prepare the day’s meal with the other women. He wouldn’t be there to consume the porridge and water that was considered the ultimate meal for the workday—the porridge because it was a hearty meal, the water because it was ordained as the gift of life.

Their absence would be reported to Brother William, sitting his office—his throne room, Sam thought—where he would be guarded by his closest associates, the deacons of his church.

The family had only been in woods for a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Jessie was so still Sam couldn’t hear her breathing, just feel the tremor of her heart.

Cameron was just six. And yet he knew the severity and danger of his situation. He stood as still and silent as any man could hope a child might be.

Panic seized Sam briefly.

What if Special Agent Dawson didn’t come? What if there had been a mix-up and he hadn’t been able to arrange for the Marshals Service to help?

What if they were found?

Stupid question. He knew the what if.

He gritted his teeth and fought against the fear that had washed over him like a tidal wave. Dawson was a good man; Sam knew he would keep his word. He’d arrived at the commune undercover, having the intuition to realize Sam’s feelings, his doubt, and his fear for his wife and his son. Together, Dawson had told him, they would bring down the Keepers of the Earth. His actions would free others. No, their actions would free others.

Today was the day. Just in time. Sam had known the danger of remaining, felt the way he was being watched by the Divine Leader’s henchmen.

They had to leave. Leave? No, there was no leaving the compound. There was only escaping.

Alana Fisk had wanted to leave, and they knew what had happened to her.

It had been Cameron who had found his beloved “aunt” Alana’s body at the bottom of the gorge, broken, lying beneath just inches of dry dust and rock, decomposing in her shallow grave. It had been Cameron, so young, who had become wary and suspicious first. He’d seen a few of the older boys in the area when he’d last seen Alana there, and he didn’t trust them. They were scary, Cameron said.

Sam tightened his hold on Cameron. Seconds ticked by like an eternity.

Sam closed his eyes and wondered how they had come to this, but he knew.

He and his wife had wanted something different. A life where riches didn’t make a man cruel.

Jessie hadn’t hated her father; she had hated what he stood for. And Sam knew the day when her mind had been made up. Downtown Los Angeles. They had seen a veteran of the Vietnam War, homeless, slunk against a wall. Only one of his legs remained; he had been struggling with his prosthetic, his cup for donations at his side. The homeless veteran had looked at Jessie’s father and said, “Please, sir, help if you can.”

Peter Wilson had walked right by. When Jessie had caught her father’s arm, he had turned on her angrily. “I didn’t get where I am by giving away my hard-earned money. He’s probably lying about being a vet. He can get himself a damned job doing something!”

Sam had been walking behind them. Embarrassed, he tried to offer Jessie a weak smile. He hadn’t come from money, and he had lost his folks right after his twentieth birthday, but he was working in a coffee shop, dreaming he’d get to where he could work, go to college and have time left over to be with the woman he loved.

He had given the man a dollar and wished him well. Jessie had turned away from her father.

It was the last time Jessie saw her father. Despite the man’s efforts to break her and Sam up—or because of them—Jessie and Sam had eloped. The plan was to both get jobs and finish college through night school. Her father had suspected her pregnancy; he’d wanted her to get over Sam and terminate the baby.

Jessie quickly made friends at a park near their cheap apartment. They were old flower children, she had told Sam. Old hippies, he’d liked to tease in return. But those friends had been happy, and they’d talked to Jessie about the beauty of their commune, far from the crazy greed and speed of the city.

In the beginning, Brother William’s commune did seem to offer it all: happiness, unity, love and light.

But now they knew the truth.

Brother William—with his “deacons,” his demands on his “flock” and the cache of arms he kept stowed away as he created his empire, demanding absolute power for himself, complete obedience among his followers. And it became clear Brother William’s will was enforced; he had those deacons—Brothers Colin, Anthony and Darryl, and the squad beneath them. They received special treatment.

Sam clutched his family as he strained to hear any unfamiliar sound in the woods. Was that footsteps? Was the rustling of branches just the breeze?

He had to stop dwelling on fear.

He had to stay strong. Maybe not ruminate on what they’d been through.

But there was nothing else to do while they waited, barely breathing.

Think back, remember it all.

Excerpted from Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham, Copyright © 2021 by Heather Graham Pozzessere Published by MIRA Books

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

My Thoughts

As I was reading this book I was trying to figure out the significance of the title. As the book is based on a killer whose modus operandi is inspired by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse I wondered if its meaning was biblical. Numbers is the fourth book of the Old Testament. Written by Moses it not only takes census, but follows the Israelites in their time wandering the desert in search of The Promised Land. Because of their doubt they spend 38 years being lost and tested as God reminds them that there is a cost to rebellion.

Here we have a family in exodus. Later there will be a woman missing in the wilds of the Florida Everglades. And throughout there is a cult whose members know a high price will be levied should they disobey their “Divine leader”. Probably a stretch with the connection there, but the premise behind this book and the ritualistic murder were certainly intriguing. It seems that Danger in Numbers is a start of a new series featuring partners in love and crime – Amy Larson and Hunter Forrest. Would recommend to those who are thrilled by fanatical cults and not feint of heart.


Meet the Author

Heather Graham is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author has written over two hundred novels and novellas, has been published in approximately twenty-five languages and with about 60 million books sold in print in the categories of romantic suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel, occult, and Christmas holiday fare.

Where You Can Find Her

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#5 On My TBR – Green Covers

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday.

This week’s theme celebrates the beginning of Spring and St. Patrick’s Day– the color GREEN.

For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Love is a Revolution

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Rene Watson comes a new YA–a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is.

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself. 


#2 – Wow, No Thank You

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.

Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.


#3 – Black Women in the Ivory Tower 1850 -1954: An Intellectual History

Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women’s educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators–despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies–contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.


Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women’s philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women’s collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America’s institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.


#4 – No Heaven For Good Boys

Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love, and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.

Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Etienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talibe, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets.

To make it back home, Etienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talibe, and mounting student protest on the streets.

Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.


#5 – The Hole

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, The Hole is by turns reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, David Lynch, and My Neighbor Totoro, but is singularly unsettling.

Asa’s husband is transferring jobs, and his new office is located near his family’s home in the countryside. During an exceptionally hot summer, the young married couple move in, and Asa does her best to quickly adjust to their new rural lives, to their remoteness, to the constant presence of her in-laws and the incessant buzz of cicadas. While her husband is consumed with his job, Asa is left to explore her surroundings on her own: she makes trips to the supermarket, halfheartedly looks for work, and tries to find interesting ways of killing time.

One day, while running an errand for her mother-in-law, she comes across a strange creature, follows it to the embankment of a river, and ends up falling into a hole—a hole that seems to have been made specifically for her. This is the first in a series of bizarre experiences that drive Asa deeper into the mysteries of this rural landscape filled with eccentric characters and unidentifiable creatures, leading her to question her role in this world, and eventually, her sanity.

*All synopses were taken from Goodreads.*

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Blog Tour: The Jigsaw Man

Synopsis

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

When body parts are found on the banks of the River Thames in Deptford, DI Angelica Henley is tasked with finding the killer. Eerie echoes of previous crimes lead Henley to question Peter Olivier, aka The Jigsaw Killer, who is currently serving a life sentence for a series of horrific murders.

When a severed head is delivered to Henley’s home, she realizes that the copycat is taking a personal interest in her and that the victims have not been chosen at random.

To catch the killer, Henley must confront her own demons – – and when Olivier escapes from prison, she finds herself up against not one serial killer, but two. 


Review

See no evil. Speak no evil. Hear no evil.

Wiser words have never been spoken. But our hero DI Anjelica Henley has seen it all. She’s a young up and coming detective in the Serial Cases Unit who is responsible for taking down one of London’s most sadistic killers. Dubbed “The Jigsaw Man” for dismembering the bodies of his seven victims, Peter Olivier sits in jail serving consecutive life sentences. He is the epitome of an evil psychopathic genius. Think Anthony Hopkins’s betrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. So when body parts start popping up along the Southern banks with signs of his M.O. everyone is praying that he didn’t have a partner, someone he groomed and trained. Despite the fact that Henley is still suffering from PTSD as a result of her previous encounters with Olivier she is best person for the job. No one knows him like she does.

The Jigsaw Man keeps you on the seat of your pants with all its twists and turns. But what I really appreciated was the character development. I liked that Anjelica is strong yet vulnerable. That her character handles micro-aggressions and outright prejudice with aplomb. That she has loyal people in her corner. Both Stanford and Ramouter were likeable characters that I would have enjoyed seeing more of. Olivier was so bad he was good. The Yin to her Yang; the dynamic between two really kept things interesting. And that ending begs for more. I can see a series with DI Henley and Olivier in the future and I’m all here for it.


Meet Nadine Matheson

Nadine Matheson is a writer of crime fiction, contemporary fiction and occasionally dips into the world of speculative fiction.  In 2016, she won the City University Crime Writing Competition with the short story that later became The Jigsaw Man.

When Nadine is not writing, she works as a criminal lawyer and lecturer. She lives in London and in her fantasy life would write comic books for a living.

Where You Can Find Nadine

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Blog Tour: Home is Not a Country


Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 2rd, 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House

Buy Links

Special thanks to Siham at Qamar Blog Tours for arranging this tour.

Synopsis

Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn’t.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry. And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s . . . she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.


My Thoughts

What does it mean to be home?

Is home your country? Your neighborhood? Your house?

For Nima, a young girl born in America to immigrant parents neither country feels like home. She has a feel for the old country through the stories and songs and pictures that she lovingly hoards as the “Nostalgia Monster” but she is not the traditional girl. She doesn’t dress herself up all fancy to appease the aunties. Despite the fact that it hurts sometimes when she overhears them gossiping about how she doesn’t fit the mold. Though immersed in American culture at school, she still stands out and must face discrimination. This is why for Nima home is not some randomly constructed border called country, but the community that she lives in. It’s the people around her. The people who love her and care for her like Haitham.

Elhillo explores borders further through the character Yasmeen. Fans of the poet were first introduced to Yasmeen in a poem about identity:

Yasmeen’s character allows us to venture into the possibilities of life. A lot of times, especially as a teenager, you are trying to figure out who you are and what your place is in this world. Time is spent imagining a different reality. What if I were skinny, rich, . . . whatever, what would my life be like then? What if? Even as adults we wonder how our world would be different if certain events had not happened to us. Yasmeen allows Nima to see what those possibilities could be. Nima learns that she is not beholden to borders whether they be political lines or societal stereotypes. Most importantly, — those little boxes that we draw ourselves into, those self-imposed barriers — can be breeched and hurdled.

Home is Not a Country is a beautiful book both inside and out. I don’t feel as if there are any words that I can say that could capture the wonder and the richness of this work. I first “met” Safia Elhillo in BreakBeat Poets, Vol.2: Black Girl Magic. So when I heard that this book was coming out I immediately requested the audiobook through my library. This gave me the opportunity to read the book in print while listening to Elhillo tell Nima’s story. Besides her cadence, I really appreciated listening to her speak and sing Arabic. This was truly a multi-dimensional experience for me that was heightened by the music in Elhillo’s Spotify playlist.


Safia Elhillo

Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and an Arab American Book Award, Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House, forthcoming), and the novel in verse Home Is Not A Country (Make Me A World/Random House, 2021). 

Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she holds an MFA from The New School, a Cave Canem Fellowship, and a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee (receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize), co-winner of the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30.”

Safia’s work appears in POETRY Magazine, Callaloo, and The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-day series, among others, and in anthologies including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and The Penguin Book of Migration Literature. Her work has been translated into several languages, and commissioned by Under ArmourCuyana, and the Bavarian State Ballet. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019). She is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and lives in Oakland. 


Here’s Where You Can Find Safia

Blog Tour Schedule

Show some love to these other creators on the Home is Not a Country tour:

Disclaimer: An ARC of the book was provided to me by Qamar Blog Tours and Penguin Random House as part of a promotional tour.

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Blog Tour: One Perfect Grave

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Synopsis

She didn’t see the patch of black ice until it was too late. The car started to spin, and as it veered off into the deep ditch and the mounds of snow beside the road, she saw him. The little boy frozen in the ice.

When the remains of two bodies are found in an open grave along a desolate highway in Stillwater, Minnesota, Special Agent Nikki Hunt knows exactly who they are. The bright blue jacket lying on the frozen earth belongs to Kellan Rhodes, the missing boy she’s desperately been trying to find for the last two days. The other body is his mother Dana, who had been Nikki’s lead suspect.

Although the wounds on Dana’s body suggest she murdered her son and took her own life, Nikki finds evidence that suggests she was a victim too. Dana was desperately trying to regain custody of Kellan, and Nikki finds boot prints at the scene that belong to someone else.

When another child is reported missing, local journalist Caitlin Newport claims the cases are linked: Zach Reeves was taken away from his own mother in a custody battle, just like Kellan was.

Caitlin once helped Nikki find out the truth about her own parents’ murders, but her desire for a story nearly cost Nikki her life. Now, Nikki must decide if she can trust Caitlin again, before time runs out to find the killer and bring Zach home alive…

An unputdownable thriller that will make your heart pound until its final, shocking conclusion. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner and readers who want to binge read into the night.


My Review

Dana Rhodes is a woman who has gone through the fire. As a recovering methamphetamine addict, she has faced an uphill custody battle with her older sister Maggie. Understandably, because of her past it is hard for the family to trust her. When she and her son Kellan go missing everyone assumes the worst. Has Dana relapsed? Did she kidnap her son? Would she harm him?

When their bodies are found in a frozen grave what first appears to be an isolated murder-suicide starts to read like a totally different crime. FBI agent Nikki Hunt has an eye for detail and she quickly discovers that there is more to this crime than first meets the eye. Then, another boy around Kellan’s age goes missing. He too was the subject of a custody battle. Two boys missing within the same timeframe. Could there be a connection? Nikki Hunt is not so sure but reporter Caitlin Newport is adamant that the cases are linked. Despite their past differences, Nikki keeps an open ear and goes where the evidence leads her.

As a character Nikki is smart and sensitive. She is a devoted mom who will drop everything at the drop of a hat to comfort her daughter. She shows compassion and empathy for the victims while doggedly pursuing her cases. Although I did not have the chance to read The Girls in the Snow before One Perfect Grave I felt that I knew Nikki. One Perfect Grave was a fast paced thriller that kept me hooked. I actually read this one in a day. I most certainly will be continuing with this series and recommend that you do too. Special thanks to Noelle Holten and Bookouture for granting me access to this book.


Meet the Author

Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies.

Where You Can Find Her

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#5 On My TBR – Retellings

Hello Everyone! I know I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m back to join in on the fun. This week’s theme is retellings. Ever since watching The Wiz as a kid I have had a soft spot in my heart for books that capture the essence of beloved classics.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1: These Violent Delights

From GoodReads: “The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.


#2: Sansei & Sensibility

From GoodReads: “In these buoyant and inventive stories, Yamashita transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance―familial, cultural, emotional, artistic―really means. In a California of the ’60s and ’70s, characters examine the contents of deceased relatives’ freezers, tape-record high-school locker-room chatter, or collect a community’s gossip while cleaning the teeth of its inhabitants. Mr. Darcy is the captain of the football team, Mansfield Park materializes in a suburb of L.A., bake sales replace balls, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the preferred mode of transit. The stories of traversing class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with wit and humor.”


#3: Legendborn

From GoodReads: “After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.”


#4: The Wife Upstairs

From GoodReads: “Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?”

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?


#5: The Bird and the Blade

This one is a retelling of an Italian Opera – Turandot by Giacomo Puccini.

From GoodReads: “As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks’ exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love.

Jinghua’s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die.

Jinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf’s kingdom—and his very life—on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she’s capable of … even if it means losing him to the girl who’d sooner take his life than his heart.”

Featured

Blog Tour: The Lost Apothecary

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Synopsis

In this addictive and spectacularly imagined debut, a female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Pitched as Kate Morton meets The Miniaturist, The Lost Apothecary is a bold work of historical fiction with a rebellious twist that heralds the coming of an explosive new talent.

A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.


Review

The Lost Apothecary is an historical fiction with a dual timeline set in 1791 London and the present day. Both of these timelines deal with secrets and the agency of women. Both story arcs are born out of betrayal. The pain from one betrayal leads one woman to turn her apothecary into a means for other women to free themselves of the men in their lives. Whether it be their husband or employer Nella serves up doses of poison to kill them but make it look like they died of natural causes. Caroline’s betrayal brings her to England alone seeking clarity about her marriage.

The two timelines cross paths when Caroline goes mudlarking and finds a vial with the apothecary’s logo etched on it. This peaks her interest enough that she begins researching the lost apothecary and the series of murders that were linked to it. I loved how Penner brought the two storylines together and especially how she managed to have these dual timelines reach a crescendo at the same time.

The Lost Apothecary emphasizes how women are erased from history. Both main characters strive to defy this convention. Nella ensures that the names of every woman who visits her shop are recorded while Caroline works diligently to uncover their voices.

Words of Wisdom from The Lost Apothecary

  1. We can use our relationships with others to hide things from ourselves. In Caroline’s case once she got married she put her aspirations aside and followed her husband.
  2. We can be happy but not necessarily fulfilled. In loving someone else do not lose who are or forget your dreams.

Meet the Author

Sarah Penner is the debut author of The Lost Apothecary, to be translated in eleven languages worldwide. She works full-time in finance and is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She and her husband live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with their miniature dachshund, Zoe.

Where You Can Find Her

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Throwback Thursdays 2/25

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

My Thoughts

This was a group read for the Mystery/ Thriller Team for Blackathon 2021. It also satisfies the prompt for set in a country outside Europe and the U.S.

In this first installation to the Darko Dawson series a nurse who has been educating people about AIDS has been found dead in the bush. He’s called in from the city to give an outside perspective. We realize quickly how necessary Darko is when the rural police prove themselves to be incompetent and brutal. An innocent man is held for the crime based off of the word of one witness. He is interrogated for hours and beaten as the authorities call for him to assume responsibility for the crime. Even his parents plead with him to confess. They feel this is the only way the abuse will stop. In their minds a jail sentence is better than a death sentence. It doesn’t help that he has a reputation and the witness is of standing in the community.

This case proves very personal for Dawson as it takes place in the town where his mother disappeared many years ago. He also has his own way of handling things. I kept catching myself calling him Detective Desmon by accident. Gave myself quite a laugh as that is my cousin’s name. But I have to believe my cousin would not be upset. Darko is the kind of man who beats men he catches beating on women. When someone abuses his child in the name of faith healing he takes matters into his own hands (quite literally). He makes sure they know NEVER even dare think of touching his son again.

In the end, Darko is tested as the case hits fairly close to home. Wife of the Gods was fast-paced and engaging. I wish I could delve right into the rest of the series now. But alas, work and ARCs are calling my name.


Throwback Pic

Artist Cbabi Bayoc, 2012

This week I decided to highlight a painter. Cbabi Bayoc’s 365 Days with Dad is a beautiful tribute to fatherly love. You can purchase his work through his Society 6 page.

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Teaser Tuesdays 2/23

The Teaser

Giles leaned back in his chair. Relief washed over him. Oliver had come through after all. And his timing couldn’t have been better. Old university chums always came in handy. Even old university enemies.

p. 186

Without Prejudice

by Nicola Williams

Synopsis

A gripping, propulsive courtroom thriller following barrister Lee Mitchell as she uncovers the dark secrets of London’s obscenely rich

Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian – arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud – the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred. Spiraling further into Clive’s trail of debauchery and corruption, she finds herself in alarmingly deep waters.

Can she survive her case, let alone win it?

‘A highly-charged and fast-paced page turner’ Irish Times


Without Prejudice is part of Bernardine Evaristo’s Black Britain Writing Back series. This collection highlights previously published books that exemplify the diversity of the black experience in Britain. In the author’s words – “these books will take the reader from 18th-century London to 1920s Trinidad; from inside the heads of women in the mental health system to inside the life of a working-class Black woman barrister making her way in a white, middle-class, male profession; from the ethics of stolen African artefacts in British museums and into a family home haunted by past that lingers in the present.”

Featured

Blog Tour: Honey Girl

Buy Links

Synopsis

HONEY GIRL (Park Row Books; February 23, 2021; $17.99) by Morgan Rogers is a stunning #ownvoices debut, a charming, lyrical, and introspective romantic coming-of-age story about Grace Porter – millennial, Black woman, astronomy Ph.D. – who wakes up after a wild night in Vegas married to a woman she doesn’t know. 

Strait-laced and structured all her life, Porter now faces life without a plan for the first time ever. Between her disappointed military father, the competitive job market, and a consuming sense of aimlessness, finding and falling in love with her wife across the country seems to be the only right answer. But Porter’s problems are just as big in Brooklyn as they are anywhere else, and she realizes she’s going to have to face adulthood whether she’s ready or not. 


My Thoughts

Have you ever read a book where you thought it was just what you needed when you needed it? Honey Girl has been that book for me. Those of you who know me know that I don’t do romance novels. I simply don’t do them. So why did I say yes to this blog tour invitation? (Thank you Lia Ferrone by the way. :D) Being a Black woman who has gone through a PhD program I was curious how Rogers was going to write and represent those of us who have ventured this road alone. It can be a very isolating and lonely existence. And then I was trying to wrap my head around how someone like Grace, supposedly so put together (believe me I know how “F.I.N.E.” – ie f’d up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional – we overachievers can be.) would allow her walls to come down long enough to get married to a perfect stranger. But Rogers pulls it off. You understand what brings Grace here AND you acknowledge what Yuki brings to her world. Honey Girl, at its heart, is more of a character study about a woman coming to find her own path in life. I think this is why it resonated with me. Both women were relatable. Both women had found families that I adored. Grace’s angst was palpable. Yuki’s stories were heartfelt and earnest. This was one of the places where Rogers’s poetic voice truly shines.

My question to all the lonely creatures out there is who is your siren? Who is your fellow lonely creature who sees into the very core of you and knows which song to sing? What song do they sing for you, and do you follow? What would happen if you did?

The synopsis sounds catchy but Honey Girl is so much more deep and honest than that. Rogers addresses racism, mental health and family dynamics and yet she leaves the reader with hope.

Honey Girl is a wonderfully rich debut that showcases Morgan Rogers’ amazing talent.


Meet the Author

Morgan Rogers is a queer black millennial. She writes books for queer girls that are looking for their place in the world. She lives in Maryland and has a Shih Tzu named Nico and a cat named Grace that she would love to write into a story one day. HONEY GIRL is her debut novel. 


Excerpt

One

Grace wakes up slow like molasses. The only difference is molasses is sweet, and this—the dry mouth and the pounding headache—is sour. She wakes up to the blinding desert sun, to heat that infiltrates the windows and warms her brown skin, even in late March.

  Her alarm buzzes as the champagne-bubble dream pops.

  Grace wakes in Las Vegas instead of her apartment in Portland, and she groans.

  She’s still in last night’s clothes, ripped high-waisted jeans and a cropped, white BRIDE t-shirt she didn’t pack. The bed is warm, which isn’t surprising. But as Grace moves, shifts and tries to remember how to work her limbs, she notices it’s a different kind of warm. The bed, the covers, the smooth cotton pillowcase beside her, is body-warm. Sleep-warm.

The hotel bed smells like sea-salt and spell herbs. The kind people cut up and put in tea, in bottles, soaking into oil and sealed with a little chant. It smells like kitchen magic.

She finds the will to roll over into the warm patch. Her memories begin to trickle in from the night before like a movie in rewind. There were bright lights and too-sweet drinks and one club after another. There was a girl with rose-pink cheeks and pitch-black hair and, yes, sea-salt and sage behind her ears and over the soft, veiny parts of her wrists. Her name clings to the tip of Grace’s tongue but does not pull free.

The movie in Grace’s head fast-forwards. The girl’s hand stayed clutched in hers for the rest of the night. Her mouth was pretty pink. She clung to Grace’s elbow and whispered, “Stay with me,” when Agnes and Ximena decided to go back to the hotel.

Stay with me, she said, and Grace did. Follow me, she said, like Grace was used to doing. Follow your alarm. Follow your schedule. Follow your rubric. Follow your graduation plan. Follow a salt and sage girl through a city of lights and find yourself at the steps of a church.

Maybe it wasn’t a church. It didn’t seem like one. A place with fake flowers and red carpet and a man in a white suit. A fake priest. Two girls giggled through champagne bubbles and said yes. Grace covers her eyes and sees it play out.

“Jesus,” she mutters, sitting up suddenly and clutching the sheets to keep herself steady.

She gets up, knees wobbling. “Get it together, Grace Porter.” Her throat is dry and her tongue sticks to the roof of her mouth. “You are hungover. Whatever you think happened, didn’t happen.” She looks down at her t-shirt and lets out a shaky screech into her palms. “It couldn’t have happened, because you are smart, and organized, and careful. None of those things would lead to a wedding. A wedding!”

“Didn’t happen,” she murmurs, trying to make up the bed. It’s a fruitless task, but making up the bed makes sense, and everything else doesn’t. She pulls at the sheets, and three things float to the floor like feathers.

  A piece of hotel-branded memo paper. A business card. A photograph.

Grace picks up the glossy photograph first. It is perfectly rectangular, like someone took the time to cut it carefully with scissors.

In it, the plastic church from her blurry memories. The church with its wine-colored carpet and fake flowers. There is no Elvis at this wedding, but there is a man, a fake priest, with slicked back hair and rhinestones around his eyes.

In it, Grace is tall and brown and narrow, and her gold, spiraling curls hang past her shoulders. She is smiling bright. It makes her face hurt now, to know she can smile like that, can be that happy surrounded by things she cannot remember.

Across from her, their hands intertwined, is the girl. In the picture, her cheeks are just as rose-pink. Her hair is just as pitch-black as an empty night sky. She is smiling, much like Grace is smiling. On her left hand, a black ring encircles her finger, the one meant for ceremonies like this.

Grace, hungover and wary of this new reality, lifts her own left hand. There, on the same finger, a gold ring. This part evaded her memories, forever lost in sticky-sweet alcohol. But there is it, a ring. A permanent and binding and claiming ring. 

  “What the hell did you do, Porter?” she says, tracing it around her finger.

She picks up the business card, smaller and somehow more intimate, next. It smells like the right side of the bed. Sea salt. Sage. Crushed herbs. Star anise. It is a good smell.

On the front, a simple title:

ARE YOU THERE?

   brooklyn’s late night show for lonely creatures

  & the supernatural. Sometimes both.

   99.7 FM

  She picks up the hotel stationery. The cramped writing is barely legible, like it was written in a hurry.

I know who I am, but who are you? I woke up during the sunrise, and your hair and your skin and the freckles on your nose glowed like gold. Honey-gold. I think you are my wife, and I will call you Honey Girl. Consider this a calling card, if you ever need a—I don’t know how these things work. A friend? A—

 Wife, it says, but crossed out.

 A partner. Or. I don’t know. I have to go. But I think I had fun, and I think I was happy. I don’t think I would get married if I wasn’t. I hope you were, too.

What is it they say? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Well, I can’t stay.

Maybe one day you’ll come find me, Honey Girl. Until then, you can follow the sound of my voice. Are you listening?

Excerpted from Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers, Copyright © 2021 by Morgan Rogers

Published by Park Row Books

Featured

Teaser Tuesdays 2/16

The Teaser

Beating the others doesn’t mean anything because they’re not really trying. This leaves Zinhle with no choice but to compete against herself. Each paper must be more brilliant than the last. She tries to finish every test faster than she did the last one. It isn’t the victory she craves, not exactly; the satisfaction she gains from success is minimal. Barely worth it. But it’s all she has.

Valediction, p. 151

How Long ’til Black Future Month?

by N. K. Jemison

Synopsis

In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.


I was originally drawn to this book because of its cover. Name a book that you have read because of cover lust.

Featured

Blog Tour & Giveaway – The Gilded Ones

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! Special thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for including me on this blog tour! The Gilded Ones is a very special book and to share my love for Deka I will be doing a giveaway of the book. To enter comment below why you are excited to read The Gilded Ones. You must be following my blog and BOTH Namina’s and my Instagram pages. The drawing will be done Tuesday at 7PM (EST) and the lucky winner will be announced on Wednesday. (Sorry – Limited to the United States unless Book Depository ships to you.)


Buy Links


Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.


Review

First of all let me tell you how much I enjoyed this book! The world building was incredible. At first I started highlighting all of the new vocabulary for this world but quickly realized that this was not necessary as Forna lays out descriptions within a few sentences. Unlike other fantasy novels the different people, places and items were clearly defined right off. The world building is matched with action and scenes that grab and pull you in. There is violence but none of it felt over the top to me. I felt that it served a purpose and held meaning in allowing us to know what Deka and her blood sisters had endured.

One scene in particular really struck me. Belcalis discusses how people took advantage of her and persecuted her. They saw no wrong in their actions as she was one of the cursed – the gilded ones. But she reminds Deka that even though she may not bear physical scars, that the memories still weigh heavily on her heart. This sentiment reminds me of the myth of the strong Black woman. People think that because we have been persecuted over and over again and keep standing up that we feel no pain. Even if we have a tough exterior and manage to come through our ordeals smiling, the pain is still there. The scars have been forged inside.

The Gilded Ones talks about racism, xenophobia and fighting against the patriarchy. Although this was a coming of age novel, Deka and her blood sisters were strong female characters and their allegiance to one another was a beautiful thing to see. Overall, this book was empowering and it showed that not everything or everyone is as they appear.

The Gilded Ones is the first book in the Deathless series.


Meet the Author

Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

Where You Can Find Her

Stop By The Gilded Ones Virtual Book Tour

Featured

Teaser Tuesday 2/9

The Teaser

There was no two ways about it. But the truth was a sticky thing. A thing that could stretch and shift and blow up and pop at the prick of a pin. Like gum. Who was she to force it down other people’s throats?


The Synopsis

In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak—reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic—a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.

During these strange days, Faith works as a fulltime corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together disparate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she begins to wonder whether the boy is even real. Meanwhile, a young man named Sans who trades in illicit goods is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he lets a bag of money he owes his gang partners go missing-leaving him desperately searching for both and soon questioning his own sanity.

Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers—including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.


This book found its way on my TBR through the Tournament of Books. Otherwise I would have overlooked it as it centers on a pandemic. How comfortable are you reading books about quarantines, viruses and epidemics now that this is our reality? Do you avoid them or seek them out?

Featured

Teaser Tuesday – 2/9

The Teaser

Even if she wanted to move, she cannot, so firmly do these memories hold her still, so that when a stinging lash falls across her back and her eyes fly open with her mouth in the surprise of pain without origin, Lala considers that the true source of her pain is not the current cruelty, but the fact that she cannot do anything to avoid it, even if she wanted to.


How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

by Cherie Jones

Synopsis

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.


How many books by debut Black authors have you read or plan to read this Black History Month?

Featured

Blog Tour – How to Build a Heart

“A potent coming-of-age story about the courage often required for pulling together multiple threads of a life to create an authentic self.”

BookBrowse

Synopsis

Family isn’t something you’re born into  it’s something you build.

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle. 

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.


My Review

How do you find your way in the world if you don’t know who you are?

Izzy Crawford and her family have been constantly on the move since her father died in combat. Her mother is a hard working single mother but does not have family around to help her. Her side of the family is still and Puerto Rico and Izzy’s father’s family is not present. Izzy has one friend that lives in their mobile home park but her mom does not approve of her. She thinks Roz is a bad influence. When she starts making friends in her new school she is nervous about them learning that she is poor. She feels uncomfortable in her own skin. As she tries to figure out where she fits in she tries to be what she thinks each person wants her to be. When her family is awarded a house through Habitat for Humanity she feels that the publicity will cause all of her lies to blow up in her face. She has to find a way to tell the truth. To her friends. To her Mom. And to herself.

How to Build a Heart is a YA that deals with the definition of family and identity. It is a beautiful story about community. My favorite character was Mami. She was so strong, loving and passionate. Her pearls of wisdom set the tone for novel. She talks to Izzy about friendships and family and racism. When Izzy comes to her hurt she shows patience and insight. Her compassion for others is evident when she discusses prejudice. She explains that most racists have an issue not with color, but with difference period. Whether it be the color of your skin, what church you go to or what state you live in, if you are different they fear you. Despite the fact that she personally had been targeted, she showed grace in rising above the circumstances and looking at that person who hurt her objectively.

I found that there were a lot of positive messages here for teenagers and would definitely recommend this book.


Meet the Author

Maria Padian has a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia. She is a freelance writer, essayist, and author of young adult novels, including Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress, Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best, and Out of Nowhere. Maria lives with her family in Brunswick, Maine. Visit her online at mariapadian.com and find her on Twitter: @mpadian.

Featured

Blog Tour: Girlhood – Teenagers From Around the World in Their Own Voices

Synopsis

What do the lives of teenage girls look like in Cambodia and Kenya, in Mongolia and the Midwest? What do they worry about and dream of? What happens on an ordinary day?
 
All around the world, girls are going to school, working, creating, living as sisters, daughters, friends. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We hear about a few exceptional girls who make headlines, and we hear about headline-making struggles and catastrophes. But since the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, why don’t we know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines? From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty-one teens from twenty-nine countries in Girlhood Around the World share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs. They invite us into their day-to-day lives, through their eyes and in their voices, in a full-color, exuberantly designed scrapbook-like volume. 


My Review

This is a colorful anthology that gives you a glimpse into the lives of teenage girls from all over the world. From as far away as Kazakhstan to as close to home as Bayonne, New Jersey, we get to see these girls’ hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. Ahuja includes maps and statistics for each country showing the challenges faced by women in those societies. The personal journal entries allows you to hear each girl’s perspective and what she values most in life. Teenage girls will see that despite the differences there are many shared experiences. It is a wonderful to show young girls that they are not alone and that they have it in them to persist and rise above the challenges they face.

I started reading Girlhood with my 9 year old daughter. I wanted her to see how other girls from around the world lived. Although she enjoyed the first few stories, I soon realized that some of these girls’ experiences were beyond her scope and maturity level. These were conversations that I was not ready to have with my daughter just yet. As a woman though, I am grateful that this anthology exists and wish that it was available when I was a teenager.

That being said, I think this book would serve well as either a social studies or writing text. Middle school girls would benefit from having this as part of their curriculum.

Special thanks to Amanda Dissinger for access to this title.


Meet the Author

Masuma Ahuja is a freelance journalist reporting on gender, migration and human rights. She was previously a producer at CNN and national digital editor at the Washington Post. She uses words, photos and emerging media to report and tell stories about gender, migration and the impact of politics of people. Her projects have ranged from long-form stories to sending disposable cameras to women around the world to document their days to crowdsourcing voice mails from Americans about the impact of the 2016 election on their lives. She was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

Featured

WWW Wednesdays 2/3

This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I Read

The Down Days

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Review

The Dreamers

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Girlhood: Teens from Around the World in Their Own Voices

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blog Tour February 5th

The Project

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Summer Frost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surge

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review


What I’m Reading

Wife of the Gods

I am reading Wife of the Gods as part of Blackathon, an annual read-a-thon that highlights black authors.

Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student’s haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

I am reading The Secret Lives of Church Ladies as it was a finalist for the National Book Awards and also on the Tournament of Books longlist.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.


Just My Luck

My Blog Tour stop for Just My Luck is April 9th.

It was supposed to be the lottery win they’d always dreamed of…

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends. Over drinks, dinner parties and summer barbecues, the three couples have discussed the important stuff—kids, marriages, careers—and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything.

But then the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone is caught in a lie. And soon after, six numbers come up that change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth millions. And their friends are determined to claim a share.

#1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks returns with a riveting look at the dark side of wealth in this gripping tale of friendship, money, betrayal and good luck gone bad…


What’s Next

How to Build a Heart

  • Young Adult/ Romance
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Published January 28th 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers

Blood Grove

  • Mystery/Thriller; Easy Rawlins series
  • Hardcover, 320 pages
  • Published February 2nd 2021 by Mulholland Books
Featured

Teaser Tuesday 2/2

The Teaser

She was watching him still, that prideful shimmer in her eyes, and he felt a sudden horrible weight descend on him. He’d never had the experience of having someone else’s hopes wrapped up in him. Of knowing that he’d come up short of the imagined mark.


Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Review

Evan Smoak, “The Nowhere Man“, is supposed to be retired. He’s received his pardon and his walking papers with a warning to never pick up his hat again. If he goes back into the business the United States will send the weight of all its power after him and will not relent until he has been neutralized. At the conclusion of Into the Fire we thought he had retired; that he was trying to live a normal life. So what brings him back? Mysterious calls from someone claiming to be his mother. But who is this person really and can he trust them? Will Evan be able to think clearly and make the right decisions or will his emotions get him killed?

Prodigal Son is a fast paced, action thriller with lots of cool weaponry and high tech gadgets. Beyond the suspense though, it humanizes Orphan X and gives you more of his backstory. Newcomers to the series – don’t worry. You will feel as if you were with Evan from Day One. Hurwitz writes a spectacular novel that keeps us on the edge of our seat, then leaves us hanging begging for more.


Do you have Prodigal Son on your TBR? Have you read any of the books from the Orphan X series?

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#5 On My TBR – Recced by Friends

Hello All and welcome to my blog! This week our theme for #5 On My TBR is books recommended by our friends. As I have a whopping TBR – 1861 books! – with over 400 on my shelves I chose my selection from the last 5 books that were gifted to me. I have arranged them in alphabetical order by title.

So what is #5 on My TBR you ask?

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1: A Fall off Marigolds

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?


#2: Fledgling

Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted – and still wants – to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human. 


#3: The Kindest Lie

A promise could betray you.

It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.


#4: Song of the Crimson Flower

From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.


#5: The Sum of Us

One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone–not just for people of color.

“This is the book I’ve been waiting for.”–Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy–and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?

McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Mississippi to California to Maine, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm–the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country–from parks and pools to functioning schools–have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.

But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.

The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism’s costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than zero-sum.

Featured

WWW Wednesdays 1/27

This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws Are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzz Books: Great Reads Spring/Summer 2021 by Publisher’s Lunch

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dispossession by Tayari Jones, narrated by Gabrielle Union

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What I’m Reading

Daughters of Africa, Edited by Margaret Busby

I have fallen behind schedule on my reading of Daughters of Africa. But if I double up over the course of the next few days I should be back on track.

Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja

At first I started reading this one with my daughter thinking about how awesome it was to see other girls, their dreams and their aspirations. But I do not think she is ready yet to process everything within this book. This book is tailored to a slightly older audience as the statistics sections talk about prevailing attitudes towards women, including abuse and femicide. So I have started to read ahead and preview the stories before hand which I should have been doing in the first place.

Right now I am about halfway through and feel that this is a wonderful anthology. Not only do you get to see the commonalities, but you also get to see the struggles that women in other countries experience. It allows you to see that however hard our road may be we are still fortunate.

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo

I am reading this title for the 2021 Tournament of Books. I had quite a few starts and stops. Not that there was anything wrong with the book but because in my anxiety I was avoiding anything concerning epidemics and quarantines. But now that I have given this book the chance that it deserves I am enjoying it immensely. For those of you participating in a reading around the world challenge, The Down Days is set in South Africa.


What’s Next

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge

The Project by Courtney Summers

  • Young Adult/Mystery/ Thriller
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by Wednesday Books
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge

Surge by Jay Bernard

  • Poetry
  • Paperback, 58 pages
  • Published June 20th 2019 by Chatto & Windus
  • Life of a Book Addict Color Challenge
Featured

Teaser Tuesday – 1/26

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


The Teaser

Now I realize being a girl is heavy business. It’s like a basketball game with no referee. Just two teams and everybody play by their own rules.

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

  • Young Adult/Poetry
  • Hardcover, 192 pages
  • Published January 12th 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.


Chlorine Sky was one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. I’m glad I was able to get my hands on it so soon. Is it on your TBR? What are some of your most anticipated reads?

Featured

#5 On My TBR – Challenging Reads

Hello Everyone! When I saw this week’s topic – Challenging Reads – I had to stop and pause. What makes a read challenging? I’m going to assume that challenging means different things to each and every one of us. For me, challenging could be something that is very emotional; that will rip my heart raw. It may also be a book with an unusual story ARC or one with a lot of wordplay. Certainly a book that has met with controversy would fit the bill as I would be challenged to keep an open mind.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

Unusual Story Arcs

#1 – Same Same

In the shifting sands of the desert, near an unnamed metropolis, there is an institute where various fellows come to undertake projects of great significance. But when our sort-of hero, Percy Frobisher, arrives, surrounded by the simulated environment of the glass-enclosed dome of the Institute, his mind goes completely blank. When he spills something on his uniform—a major faux pas—he learns about a mysterious shop where you can take something, utter the command “same same,” and receive a replica even better than the original. Imagining a world in which simulacra have as much value as the real—so much so that any distinction between the two vanishes, and even language seeks to reproduce meaning through ever more degraded copies of itself—Peter Mendelsund has crafted a deeply unsettling novel about what it means to exist and to create . . . and a future that may not be far off.


#2 – Killing Commendatore

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great GatsbyKilling Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers. 


Wordplay

#3 – The Liar’s Dictionary

An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel from a prize-winning new talent which chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world.

Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.

Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom.

In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitized. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of marriage really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby’s staff to ‘burn in hell’?

As these two narratives combine, both Winceworth and Mallory discover how they might negotiate the complexities of the often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, and undefinable path we call life. An exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer, The Liar’s Dictionary celebrates the rigidity, fragility, absurdity, and joy of language.


Emotional

#4 – Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror

Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented 4075 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 800 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.

In 2017, EJI supplemented this research by documenting racial terror lynchings in other states, and found these acts of violence were most common in eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

Lynching in America makes the case that lynching of African Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce racial subordination and segregation. Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. This was not “frontier justice” carried out by a few marginalized vigilantes or extremists. Instead, many African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person. People who participated in lynchings were celebrated and acted with impunity.

The report explores the ways in which lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans. Most importantly, lynching reinforced a narrative of racial difference and a legacy of racial inequality that is readily apparent in our criminal justice system today. Mass incarceration, racially biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color reveal problems in American society that were shaped by the terror era.

No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America. Lynching in America argues that is a powerful statement about our failure to value the black lives lost in this brutal campaign of racial violence. Research on mass violence, trauma, and transitional justice underscores the urgent need to engage in public conversations about racial history that begin a process of truth and reconciliation in this country.

“We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “The geographic, political, economic, and social consequences of decades of terror lynchings can still be seen in many communities today and the damage created by lynching needs to be confronted and discussed. Only then can we meaningfully address the contemporary problems that are lynching’s legacy.”


Controversial

#5 – Blood Heir

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are deemed unnatural–even dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, is one of the most terrifying Affinites.

Ana’s ability to control blood has long been kept secret, but when her father, the emperor, is murdered, she is the only suspect. Now, to save her own life, Ana must find her father’s killer. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is one where corruption rules and a greater conspiracy is at work–one that threatens the very balance of Ana’s world.

There is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to the conspiracy’s core: Ramson Quicktongue. Ramson is a cunning crime lord with sinister plans–though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

Featured

Cover Reveal: The Blame by Kerry Wilkinson

Three of us share a dark secret. But who will take the blame?

Paige, Richard and me. We thought we’d be friends forever. But everything changed the day we took the short cut home from school along the old railway line. I wish we’d gone the long way. I wish we hadn’t seen our classmate, pale and still in the undergrowth. And I wish we hadn’t promised to keep one, awful detail a secret just between us…

Twenty years later, I have a brand-new life, and try never to think about my old one. But I’m dragged back when Paige calls out of the blue. Richard has been accused of something terrible. Everyone back home is whispering about the body we found years ago, and saying Richard deserves to be locked up…

Before I know it, I’ve returned to the small town I thought I’d never see again. Paige is almost the same as I remember – jet-black hair, slender frame – but why does she seem so nervous?

Revealing the truth about what we saw that day twenty years ago could clear Richard’s name… but will the blame fall on me? And can I really trust that Paige is on my side – or is she hiding her own dark secret?

When we find a strange note in Richard’s flat, only one thing is for certain: someone else knows the truth too. All three of us are in danger…

A totally addictive read by bestselling author Kerry Wilkinson about how the secrets from our past will always come back to haunt us. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, I Am Watching You and The Girl on the Train.


Meet Kerry Wilkinson

Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

Author Website

Facebook

Twitter

Coming February 19th!

Featured

WWW Wednesdays 1/20

Happy Humpday Everyone! It’s that time of week again. Time to take an inventory of our reading.

This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws Are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

I have not read one of these in a while. I stopped because my NetGalley shelf was getting out of control with all of my requests. But now that I have gotten past the 80% feedback ratio I figured that I would try to get the jump on some of the hot releases this season.

My Review

I cannot believe that my request for this book came in so early from my library. But I was so excited to read/listen to it that I literally stayed up all night until I finished it. Both Angie Thomas and Dion Graham get all the stars!

This is a coming of age novel written in verse. Our protagonist faces many odds but she learns how to deal with the loss of friendship and how to stick up for herself in a male dominated arena.

This is the prequel to Ladee Hubbard’s The Talented Ribkins. Here me meet the family’s patriarch and learn what made him The Rib King. Full of historical references and social commentary this one sometimes rings quite close to our present.

This book is best approached without any spoilers. It is a mystery, fantasy perhaps even mythology that has us examine science, religion, and isolation.

This is Roxane Gay’s first graphic novel. That’s right. That Roxane Gay. Illustrations are done by artist Ming Doyle.


What I’m Reading

I am continuing with my yearlong challenge for both 52 Weeks of Women of Color and 2021 Pop Sugar Challenge.

I still have not finished this one. Not anything wrong with the book but my anxiety is getting the best of me these days so I have been trying to find something lighthearted and humorous to read.

I’m not far into this but so far I like Frankie’s voice.

I am listening to a full cast production of this title while cleaning and setting up for my daughter’s birthday.


What’s Up Next

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge
Featured

52 Weeks of Women of Color 2021 #1

Last year I participated in a year long challenge to read more diversely. Specifically to read books from women of color. Check out the original challenge in Daily Kos here. There were plenty of awesome titles highlighted by Barbee that I think you will love.

At first I was not sure how I was going to put this challenge into practice. Did I have to always have a book by a woman of color in my hands? For 365 days of the year? Did I have to finish one title each week? Or was it enough to just complete 52 books by the end of the year? In the end I decided that each week I would complete a book by a woman of color.

So how did I do?

2020 Statistics

  • 49 weeks
  • 93 books
  • 26 countries
  • 68 “New to Me” Authors

Even though there were 3 weeks that I did not finish a title, I would say that overall it was a success. By the time that I started blogging about my challenge I just had too many titles to cover in the last weeks of the year and was overwhelmed at the prospect of doing so during finals. Here it is a fresh start, a new year, my favorite challenge.


My Goals For 2021

  • Complete Margaret Busby’s Daughters of Africa Volumes 1 and 2.
  • Read books from women of color across all 7 continents. (For Antarctica use Decolonized map that indicates closest indigenous populations.)
  • Read more books in translation.
  • Read more books from small presses.
Antarctica Decolonized

January 2021

Daughters of Africa

This is an anthology that not only includes excerpts of writing, but also gives historical background on each author. In part I will be using these volumes to discover more incredible authors of color and read more books from the classic Afro/Caribbean/American canon.

Read 93 out of 1089 pages

I am definitely learning a lot from this book. There were some familiar names but many fascinating women that I had never heard of. Here is a partial list of the biographies and extracts that I have read so far.

  • Queen Hatshepsut
  • Makeda, Queen of Sheba
  • Lucy Terry
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Old Elizabeth
  • Mary Prince
  • Zilpha Elaw
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Nancy Prince
  • Maria Stewart
  • Mary Seacole
  • Harriet Adams Wilson
  • Harriet Jacobs
  • Ann Plato
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Henrietta Fullor
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Week One (1/2)

Week Two (1/9)

Week Three (1/16)

Progress Report

So far I am on target to complete Daughters of Africa by year’s end. I have read 3 new authors: Ruhi Choudhary, Glynis Guevara and Danielle Geller. Of the 9 authors, four are African-American, one is Indigenous United States, two live in Canada and three hail from the Caribbean (The Moulite family is from Haiti and Glynis Guevarra is from Trinidad & Tobago)


Meet the Queens that Have Brought All of this Awesomeness

Queen Mahogany L. Browne

Queen Ruhi Choudhary

Queen Danielle Geller

Queen Glynis Guevara

Queen Ladee Hubbard

Queen Bernice L. McFadden

Queens Maika & Maritza Moulite

Queen Angie Thomas

Featured

Blog Tour: The Woman Inside

Buy Links:

Synopsis

Daisey Garrett wakes up in a hospital bed. She remembers her boyfriend has left her for another woman but she doesn’t remember what happened to her. The night she was attacked in her own home.

Daisey shouldn’t be alive but against all odds, she’s survived an ordeal most would never recover from. And her new friend and roommate Iris will help her get back on her feet.

But Daisey’s mind is broken. She’s on edge, drinking too much and as she sits across from her cheating ex, Luke, in the beautiful home they once shared together, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched.

Yet tiny fragments of Daisey’s memory are starting to come back to her.

The missing pieces of that fateful summer night are beginning to surface…

The lies she told the police.

The lies Luke told her.

Iris will help her find the truth, won’t she?

A tense, twisty, addictive page-turner, The Woman Inside takes you within the tangled mess of people’s lives and the dark secrets they hold close. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and The Wife Between Us.


Review

The Woman Inside is the fourth book in the DI Dan Riley series. I instantly took to Detective Inspector Riley. I did not feel as if I lost anything coming into the series midway. The book definitely stands alone and is well written so that you have enough context to get the backstory on Dan, our victim Daisey and the killer. The book does goes through flashbacks showing critical scenes in the past that affected our killer better known to the press as “The Rose Petal Ripper”. This name is earned by the serial killer’s MO of leaving fresh roses on the bodies of the victims.

Daisey Garrett is our killer’s third victim but she is the first to survive leaving DI Dan Riley with his only witness. The problem: she suffers from traumatic amnesia and cannot remember most of the events of that night. And what she can remember she does not want to tell out of embarrassment and misplaced loyalty. These lies and half truths color the evidence. Will DI Riley be able to discern the facts in the case before the killer comes back to finish what they started?

One way that I rate my mysteries is to see if I can solve the case before the big reveal. In this case I was partially right though Weatherly did throw in a few curveballs.

One thing that I noticed was that Daisey’s memory loss was attributed to trauma to the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is primarily involved with rational thought, decision making and impulse control*. It’s the justification for setting the drinking age at 21 because this part of the brain is still developing through your teenage years. Basically, it’s that part of the brain that keeps us from doing stupid stuff. Lawyers have used damage to the prefrontal cortex to explain away the depraved behavior of their clients as it plays a critical role in governing personality and emotions.

Why do I say all of this? Because this type of injury is more in tune with the killer than the victim. We also don’t see too many unexplained behaviors with Daisey after the attack. Her personality seems to stay pretty much the same. Understandably, she has a greater sense of fear but at her core she is a good person. To her detriment, she still wants to believe in the goodness of the next person.

Despite my little quibble, (I’m a Biology teacher. No one else is going to care.) I enjoyed the book and read it over 2 days. For the most part the medical aspects made the mystery more interesting. Great police procedural! And DI Riley is as good as they come.


Meet the Author

Anna-Lou began her career as a dancer but a moped accident in Ibiza put paid to those aspirations and so she went back to her first and one true love – writing! She re-trained as a journalist, specialising mainly in women’s interest and celebrity, becoming the Editor of J-17 and Smash Hits as well as writing for a host of women’s magazines.

Anna-Lou has written three Adult Fiction titles – Vengeful Wives and Wicked Wives, both published by Avon in the UK and Bookouture in the US and Canada and Pleasure Island published by Bookouture.

Where You Can Find Her


*The prefrontal cortex controls what is known as semantic memory; things like colors, shapes and other basic facts not tied to personal events or emotions. The limbic system of the brain connects emotions to memory. It’s not so much a physical part of the brain as it is a functional part. If one had to pinpoint Daisey’s memory loss from that night most likely the amygdala would have been damaged as it controls memories based in fear.

Featured

WWW Wednesdays 1/12

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week of reading! Personally, I got side-tracked by my allergies. But I am trying to get back on track. I am hoping that with the children returning back to school this week that I will be able to steal more time to read.

For those of you new to WWW Wednesdays: This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review

Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Choudhary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blog Tour

Black Beach by Glynis Guevara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review

Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This year I have committed myself to reading the works of three authors: James Baldwin, Bernardine Evaristo and Bernice L. McFadden. Loving Donovan is the first novel that I have read for this challenge this year. It is the third book that I have read from Ms. McFadden and one commonality that I have found in her books is that they get to the heart of human emotion. Her characters and their backstories have so much depth and are complex. You can’t help but identify with their pain and their joy. Even if you don’t see yourself in her pages you feel as if you know someone just like that. Her writing is just brilliant.


The Incredible Nellie Bly by Luciano Cimino

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review


What I’m Reading

Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby

This anthology includes biographies and writings from women all across the African diaspora. It is arranged chronologically starting with Traditional African poems. This is part of a yearlong project for me. So far I have 1500 BC – 1820’s. (So about 90 pages. Ha! Ha!) I enjoy learning about these incredible women in history. Oftentimes I find myself stepping away from the book to research them further.


The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

This is a short story collection by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez. All of these stories have a bit of the macabre. I am not sure whether I would classify them as magical realism or horror. But will say is that I have been absolutely captivated by this collection. Each story touches upon some human element that is typically ignored. Her writing is utterly original and I find that I cannot help myself but to read the stories over back-to- back so that I can glean more from them. I actually started journaling about each story. Who knows by the time I finish my notes may be longer than the book. LOL


The Woman Inside by Anna-Lou Weatherley

The Woman Inside is an intense emotional thriller about a woman left for dead. When questioned she cannot remember anything from the day of the attack. DI Dan Riley needs her to gain her memory back in order to catch the serial killer. I’m super excited to read this one. My Blog Tour review will be live tomorrow morning. So check back here for all the juicy details!


What’s Next?

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

  • Contemporary/ Young Adult
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Expected publication: January 19th 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • NetGalley

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge
Featured

#5 On My TBR – Graphic Novels

Good Morning Everyone! Hope all is well. I know I am late with my post but with good reason. Over the last couple of days I was besieged by the worst case of hives. I have absolutely no idea what I ate that gave me such a reaction. All I know is that Benadryl is now my new best friend.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here. This week’s theme is Graphic Novels – just perfect for a girl who needs rescuing.

So let’s get into this week’s 5 on my TBR before I start scratching again.

#1 – March

“March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.”


#2 – Persepolis

“Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq.”

#3 – The Banks

“The women of the Banks family are the most successful thieves in Chicago, but during the heist of a lifetime, they must band together to avenge a loved one taken too soon.”


#4 Black Panther

“A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winning writer T-Nehisi Coates (BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME) takes the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt–but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!”


#5 – The Incredible Nellie Bly

“A visual biography of the groundbreaking investigative journalist.”

Featured

Blog Tour: Their Frozen Graves

Buy Links

Synopsis

Two women are dead. They both look like you.

The giant stretch of frozen river was melting and the light made the lake glitter like crystals. The women lay side by side on the shore, eyes open and glassy. Their long, dark hair was like tangled rope, their faces a reflection of each other…

When two bodies are found dumped in one of the vast lakes in Lakemore, Washington, Detective Mackenzie Price is first on the scene. She identifies one of the victims as Katy Becker, a local known for her work helping the community. The other victim looks strikingly similar.

Still grappling with a shocking revelation from her past, Mack is only too happy to throw herself into the case. But when she goes to break the news to Katy’s husband, the investigation takes an unexpected turn: Katy is very much alive, and has never met the women who resemble her so closely.

Now the race is on to find the killer before Katy becomes the next victim. But when Mack unearths a disturbing connection to a sixteen-year-old suicide, she realizes they could be hunting someone whose crimes span decades – and there are more lives than just Katy’s at stake.

Addictive, pulse-pounding and packed full of jaw-dropping twists, fans of Lisa Regan, Angela Marsons and Karin Slaughter will love Their Frozen Graves.


Review

Their Frozen Graves opens up with three murders. That’s right – you saw that correctly. Three murders within the first three chapters. The first of which is Detective Mackenzie’s father 20 years ago. Was it a dream or a mirage? Because somehow he is standing before her in the flesh right now. This one storyline would have been enough to keep me hooked but Choudhary turns up the heat by dropping two more bodies on the shore. The two women are almost identical in appearance. Mackenzie is sure that one is local activist Katy Becker until she and her partner Nick go to Becker’s home to give the notification of death. In front of them is Katy Becker alive and well. How could this be? Who are these other women and why do all three look so much alike? One thing is clear. Katy Becker is not safe.

This second book in the Mackenzie Price series was fast paced and gripping. There were a few twists that caught me off guard, but they were realistic and believable. Even though this is my first time reading this series I instantly took to Mackenzie Price’s character. She’s been through some things but she’s come through the fire burnished with determination. I was as fascinated by her backstory as I was with the case. I certainly am curious to see her life unfold in future installments of this series.


Meet the Author

Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thriller.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you.

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

Throwback Thursday 1/7

Happy New Year!

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

Synopsis

Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

My Thoughts

This book was read as part of my 2020 Pop Sugar Challenge. It qualified for the prompt of “A book with the same name as a movie that it’s not related to.” It was also one of the books I acquired during BookCon 2019 so I also had the pleasure of meeting Jason Reynolds which made me more excited to read this book. I have to say that I enjoyed it enough that I went on to listen to the rest of the series narrated by Guy Lockard and Heather Alicia Simms.

Each of the books in the Track series is named after one of the track members and is told from their perspective. Reynolds uses their life experiences to show how they have overcome. We get to see what the sport means to them and how people like Coach and have positively impacted their lives and helped these kids grow and flourish. The whole concept of “community” is exemplified here and it’s wonderful to see the kids lean on each other as members of their village.

I would whole heartedly recommend this series to middle grade children but found myself entertained as an adult. Other books by Jason Reynolds that are worth reading are Long Way Down*, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You and For Every One.

*1/4/21 – Long Way Down is currently free through Kindle Unlimited.


Throwback Pic

Young boy attending Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, 28th Aug 1963. I have not been able to find the name of the photographer to credit.

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WWW Wednesday 1/6

It’s been some time since I have done a WWW post. But I realized that not only was it fun to see what you all were reading, but it also gave me a moment to pause and consider what I had read over the week. So WWW Wednesday will be one of the memes I continue throughout 2021.

So what is WWW Wednesday?

This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a poignant and emotional memoir. I recommend listening to the audio which George Johnson narrates himself.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This epic retelling of the Trojan War is told from the women’s points of view. Haynes begs the question what makes someone a hero during war. How many lives you vanquish? Or how many lives you touch and nurture?


What I’m Reading

This book will be part of an ongoing process and will be included in my 52 Weeks of Women of Color challenge for 2021. As the second volume came out, together these two (at 1841 pages) will count towards my 2021 Pop Sugar Challenge for “The longest book on your TBR.” So far I have been enjoying reading a few pages each morning while I sip on my coffee. There is something about starting your day off with a good book that warms my soul. I also have been journaling my thoughts and writing up additional info that I come across while researching these women.


So far I like the character’s voice and am expecting this to be a 5 star book. Somehow though I got sidetracked watching the election yesterday (and today) so I might not finish this one until tomorrow. Not a good way to start off the year — reviewing days after publication but all I can do now is get it in as soon as possible.


What’s Next?

I have three blog tours coming over the next week:

1/8 – Find Me in Havana

I have already and reviewed this title. The link will be open at midnight Pacific time January 8th. Link to Blog Tour


1/10 – Their Frozen Graves

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • Kindle Edition, 381 pages
  • Expected publication: January 7th 2021 by Bookouture
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • NetGalley

1/14 – The Woman Inside

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • ebook, 331 pages
  • Expected publication: January 13th 2021 by Bookouture
  • Bookopoly Challenge
  • NetGalley
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Teaser Tuesdays – 1/5

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

One of the Good Ones

You’re the kind of girl you fight wars for. You’re the kind of girl you fight wars with.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Young Adult/ Realistic Fiction/ Mystery
  • Own Voices
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Release Date: January 5th 2021 by Inkyard Press

The premise behind the book is about how we judge people and their worth. Are they good students? Star athletes? Involved in community service? Are they beautiful? Talented? Are they considered “special” enough for their lives to matter and for us to fight for them when they encounter injustice? In their sophomore novel, the Moulite sisters show how dangerous the well intentioned term “one of the good ones” can be.

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Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur

A body washes up in a remote area of Pennsylvania. The man has been murdered. Shot. That’s alarming but what is most chilling is the discovery of the rest of his body. Dressed as it were a deer kill. This is the second body to be found along the river. The first was many years ago when Becca was a teenage girl.

When Becca returns home it rekindles both memories and feelings. Can she reconcile with her father? Will the secrets of the past hinder her romance with her old flame? More importantly and of more pressing concern, will her memories and her father’s secrets put her very life in danger?

One of my resolutions for 2021 is to read more of my own books and reevaluating my book subscriptions. I acquired this title from Kindle Unlimited and it has been sitting on my phone for over a year. This was the first book that I completed this year and it was a good ride. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lauren Ezzo.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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#5 On My TBR – 2021 Releases

Happy Happy New Year! How many of you are as excited to greet this new year as I am?

With a new year comes new resolutions, new plans and this week’s focus — new releases!

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So here are 5 of my most anticipated releases of 2021.

#1 – Chlorine Sky

I have read Mahogany’s Browne’s Black Girl Magic and the anthology The BreakBeat Poets and was moved. So when I saw that she had a novel-in-verse coming out this year I got goosebumps.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.


#2 – Concrete Rose

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.


#3 – Blood Grove

Walter Mosley is my favorite author and this is his 15th installment in the Easy Rawlins series.


#4 – 400 Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

An epoch-defining history of African America, the first to appear in a generation, Four Hundred Souls is a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America’s leading Black writers.


#5 – Harlem Shuffle

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

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#5 On My TBR – Planned to Read in 2020

This is the last #5OnMyTBR post of the year. While I’ve been enjoying my family (maybe a little too much – I’m going to go through separation anxiety when everyone has to go back to school –Wait, wait this is still 2020, everyone will be at home . . . maybe I’ve found the silver lining . . .) I wanted to finish off this last week strong on my blog.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Animals. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

This week’s topic is very fitting for wrapping up these final days of 2020 — What I planned to read in 2020 but didn’t get around to over the course of this crazy year. All of these are sitting on my mantel place starring at me right now. So no excuses for 2021.

The kindle editions for both Red at the Bone and The Mirror and the Light are on sale today.

#1 – Red At The Bone

From Goodreads: Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.


#2 – The Mirror and the Light

From Goodreads: ‘If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?’

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.


#3 – Dominicana

From Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family. 


#4 – The Burning God

From Goodreads: After saving her nation of Nikan from foreign invaders and battling the evil Empress Su Daji in a brutal civil war, Fang Runin was betrayed by allies and left for dead. 

Despite her losses, Rin hasn’t given up on those for whom she has sacrificed so much—the people of the southern provinces and especially Tikany, the village that is her home. Returning to her roots, Rin meets difficult challenges—and unexpected opportunities. While her new allies in the Southern Coalition leadership are sly and untrustworthy, Rin quickly realizes that the real power in Nikan lies with the millions of common people who thirst for vengeance and revere her as a goddess of salvation. 

Backed by the masses and her Southern Army, Rin will use every weapon to defeat the Dragon Republic, the colonizing Hesperians, and all who threaten the shamanic arts and their practitioners. As her power and influence grows, though, will she be strong enough to resist the Phoenix’s intoxicating voice urging her to burn the world and everything in it? 

The exciting end to The Poppy War trilogy, R. F. Kuang’s acclaimed, award-winning epic fantasy that combines the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters, to devastating, enthralling effect.


#5 – The Most Fun We Ever Had

From Goodreads: A multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

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Throwback Thursday 12/24

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday I decided to highlight one of my all time favorite authors – Maya Angelou. I remember when my teacher placed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. That book came to me at a point in my life when I needed it most. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Maya Angelou when she came to speak at my local library. Here I was this young girl and I was in awe of her. She seemed larger then life. Her presence filled the whole room. She exuded much grace as her bright smile radiated across her face and alighted upon each and every person in the room. Even in that sea of faces you felt seen, special. There will never be another like her.


Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas

Synopsis

This third book in Maya Angelou’s captivating autobiographical series continues the fascinating saga that has touched and inspired so many readers. In it she recounts her first years as an entertainer that led to a role as Ruby in Porgy and Bess, her failed marriage to a white man, her early motherhood, and her sensitive relationship with her young son.

I picked this one because it had “Christmas” in the title. But you want to start with the first book – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.


Throwback Pic

Maya Angelou in Porgy & Bess, 1950s

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was nominated for a National Book Award and called her magnum opus. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.