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Blog Tour: Honey Girl

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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Blog Tour: The Woman Inside

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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

Blog Tour: Their Frozen Graves

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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

Blog Tour – Find Me In Havana

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Synopsis

A novel based on the dazzling story of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Hispanic actresses and her daughter’s search for closure.

Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is nine years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration–from Havana to New York’s Copacabana and then Hollywood–becomes the one true accomplishment no one can take from her. Not the 1933 Cuban Revolution that drove her family into poverty. Not the revolving door of husbands or the fickle world of film.

Thirty years later, her young adult daughter, Nina, is blindsided by her mother’s mysterious death. Seeking answers, the grieving Nina navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms.

Based on true events and exclusive interviews with Nina Lopez, Estelita’s daughter, Find Me in Havana weaves two unforgettable voices into one extraordinary story that explores the unbreakable bond between mother and child, and the ever-changing landscape of self-discovery. 


My Review

Find Me In Havana is a historical fiction based on the life of actress Estelita Rodriguez. Despite her career its focus is not on her life in film. We are given insight into the Cuban revolution when Castro came to power. But this book is not really about that either. This book is about a mother and a daughter.

It is written in an epistolary style with chapters alternating between letters from Estelita and her daughter Nina. It is interesting to see their feelings and mindsets. How each of them experiences these different life events. You get to see how their perception differs. For example when Nina is kidnapped by her father she feels as if her mother has sent her away. That she has once again chosen her career or someone else over her. But Estelita feels rejected as well, not sure if Nina chose to leave.

Here you have a woman who performed with the likes of Desi Arnaz, starred in films opposite John Wayne and hung out with Sammy Davis Jr. But Estelita and Nina did not have a glamorous life. Besides the kidnapping, there’s molestation, rape, domestic violence and substance abuse. The two were not close to their extended family. Their support system consisted of Estelita’s mother. Despite her devotion, all Nina wanted was to be alone with her mother. Just the two of them for once. No grandma. No husbands. No admirers. Just her and her mom.

As much as Find Me In Havana is about that mother-daughter bond, it does capture the time period vividly. In some cases with shocking revelation which prompted me to do my own web sleuthing. Whenever I read an historical fiction I want to know where the line between fact and fiction lies. And I want to know how much creative license was used. But in all my searching I couldn’t find too many facts about Estelita’s life. Even on websites dedicated to her, there were scarce details about her personal life outside her four marriages. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her death. Some sources said it was influenza. Others said that the cause of death was undetermined.

I was happy when I stumbled upon an interview with Estelita’s daughter Nina Lopez where she is talking with author Serena Burdick. She was pleased with the end result of the book. Not only did Burdick present a true picture of her mother and their life together, but she was able to capture the essence of Nina’s feelings and her inner thoughts. She confirms that there is truth in these words. But for some reason Nina seemed sad to me. When I finished the book I was hopeful for her. Part of my combing the internet was to find her. To find what had become of her. Had she found her place in the world? Was she getting the attention she so desperately craved as a child? Does she feel full, sated with all that life has to offer? I guess this is a testament to Burdick’s writing, as I feel as if I know Nina personally and why I am invested in her actual life story.

Find Me In Havana is my second novel by Serena Burdick. The common thread that I see with Burdick is looking at women in history and telling those stories that have been lost or forgotten. Here she is to say that these women lived. That these are there stories. That there truths will not be buried, nor their memories forsaken.


Meet The Author

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

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

Blog Tour: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

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Synopsis

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see―her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective.


Review

“A snitch, stabbed with a snitch.”

Michelle White knew just about everybody’s secrets. And she knew how to use them to her advantage. So it is no surprise when she turns up dead killed by the instrument of her snooping. But who killed her? Just about everybody had equal motive. In a room full of spies there are many secrets worth killing for.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder reminded me a lot of Harry Potter. With its underground labyrinth hidden behind the facade of an innocuous bookstore and all of the gadgetry it was a fun book to read.

From Times of Malta article “History at end of the tunnel – detailed map of Valletta tunnels being compiled”

The maze of tunnels was inspired by the cities of London and Valleta, Malta which both used underground passageways for defense during the second World War. What T. A. Willberg does to bring them alive is make them ever-changing with doors sealing off passageways and tunnels shifting direction.

Marion Lane is a new Inquirer and is trying to establish herself amongst this elite and almost mythical organization. As a woman in 1950s London, it is hard to break the mold and get out from under her grandmother’s thumb to live the life she wants for herself. Willberg does a great job of incorporating this into a story and I wonder what plans she has for Marion Lane.


Meet the Author

T.A. Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and holds a chiropractic masters degree from Durban University of Technology. MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is her debut novel and launch of her detective series. She currently lives in Malta with her partner.

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Blog Tour: Wrong Alibi

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Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam


My Review

Wrong Alibi is my first Christina Dodd novel and found myself on the edge of my seat. Once I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down.

The book starts out with our main character in a juvenile detention center. She is eager to get a fresh start in life and make amends for the mistakes in her past. She takes a job in the wilds of Alaska with a charming man who seems to say all the right things. Even though Evie gets the sense that something is amiss, she ignores her better senses and finds herself framed for a double murder.

Wrong Alibi is about Evie/Petie’s hunt for retribution. She bides her time, hones her craft and allies herself with one of the world’s most feared women. I have to say that the women in this novel – the good, the bad and the ugly – were all strong characters. To me, Wrong Alibi reads like a superhero origin story. Our protagonist is wronged horribly. Forever scarred, her life is turned upside down, irreparable. Somehow, she finds the strength within and persists. Even though there were moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, I really enjoyed this novel. The descriptive scene setting. The Alaskan backdrop. Quirky characters like Hawley and Jeen Lee. Intriguing backstories. The pacing of the novel. I definitely will be keeping up with this series.


Meet The Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

Where You Can Find Her