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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: 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: 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: 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

Featured

#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.*