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#5 On My TBR – Healers

Healers come in many forms. They treat the mind, body and spirit and selflessly give of themselves while building up others.

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 – Ghana Must Go

Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.  

Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.

Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.


#2 – The Book of Longings

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.


#3 – The Bone Witch

A story of scorned witches, sinister curses, and resurrection, The Bone Witch is the start of a dark fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Serpent & Dove and The Cruel Prince.

Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.


#4 – The Samurai’s Garden

A 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu’s secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu’s generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu’s soul-mate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.


#5 – Ill Will

Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

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Blog Tour – Up All Night: 13 Stories Between Sunrise and Sunset

Synopsis

UP ALL NIGHT epitomizes teenage reckless abandon in 13 stories, unmasking that awe-inspiring moment of hope and fear when transformation feels inevitable, while unflinchingly facing the issues teens think about every day. In “Old Rifts and Snowdrifts” by Kayla Whaley, a blizzard leaves Eleanor, a wheelchair user, stranded in the flower shop where she works overnight. It’s dark and cold and Eleanor is all alone—except for her ex-best friend and current crush who she hasn’t spoken to in nearly a year. In Tiffany D. Jackson’s “Shark Bait,” a young girl falls in love on Martha’s Vineyard, where she and her mother settled to escape her father’s adultery. Only, her perfect summer romance is turned on its head by the casual racism and microaggressions perpetrated by her new boyfriend’s friends. In “Like Before” by Maureen Goo, Pepper misses the closeness she shared with her two best friends before they drifted apart during their last year of high school. In a Hail Mary effort to restore their relationship before graduation, she invites her besties to “The Baddest Mother-Effing Sleepover to End All Sleepovers.” In “Missing” by Kathleen Glasgow, four friends visit an abandoned women’s hospital in search of a ghost. The night takes an unexpected turn when Lissy, the strange little sister who had to tag along, gets a little too friendly with the paranormal.

Full list of Contributors: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia.


Review

When I cracked the spine of my ARC I was delighted to be greeted by an author whose work I had enjoyed. The first story Never Have I Ever by Karen McManus rocked me with its ending. I thought to myself if the rest of the stories are this good, then this is going to be a delicious treat. But there was a part of me that was nervous. I put the book down and paused, What if the other stories aren’t this good? I needn’t have worried. There was not one story in this collection I did not like.

When I got to Silverman’s Creature Capture the Pokenerd in me leaped for joy. But the game was just the setting. The real spark comes from this story’s message:

“Look.” Emily leans toward me, eyes conspiratorial, voice lowered. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. No one really cares about you–”

My stomach drops. Wait? What–

“–and no one really cares about me, and no one really cares about anyone all that much except for themselves. We’re all too focused being worried about what people think of us to spend time judging others, you know? So, like screw it. Be who you are.”

No one really cares.

. . .

I’ve spent so much of high school worried what other people will think of me, that I’m not like them, but maybe Emily is right. Maybe no one cares that I play Creature Capture or like knitting glow-in-the-dark scarves or think a wild Saturday night involves a Scrabble tournament with my parents. Maybe I should say screw it and just be me. And maybe, maybe then if someone does care, it’ll be in a good way.

There was a moment after reading Shark Bait where I turned the page to the next chapter, excited to see what would happen next. I got so lost in the story I forgot that was it. That was the end. Those characters were gone from me. I had to remind myself that this was a short story collection.

Up All Night was not only representative of many genres, but also had characters of different abilities, cultures and sexualities. There was a range of themes covering friendship, blended families, first love, new horizons, letting down your mask and being genuine to yourself and your feelings. There is something for everyone here young and old. I am glad that I got the chance to check out 11 new-to-me authors. My TBR just got larger and richer for it.


Laura Silverman, Editor

Laura Silverman is an author and freelance editor in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, It’s a Whole Spiel, and Recommended for You.

Where You Can Find Her

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#5 On My TBR – Yellow Covers

Yellow is the color of sunshine, sweet summer corn and buttercups. It is also this week’s theme for 5 On My TBR.

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 – Loving Day

From the author of the critically beloved Pym comes a ruthlessly comic and moving tale of a man discovering a lost daughter, confronting an elusive ghost, and stumbling onto the possibility of utopia.

“In the ghetto there is a mansion, and it is my father’s house.”

Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s been raised to think she’s white.

Spinning from these revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.

A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.


#2 – Black Nerd Problems

The creators of the popular website Black Nerd Problems bring their witty and unflinching insight to this engaging collection of pop culture essays on everything from Mario Kart and The Wire to issues of representation and police brutality across media.

When William Evans and Omar Holmon founded Black Nerd Problems, they had no idea whether anyone beyond their small circle of friends would be interested in their little corner of the internet. But soon after launching, they were surprised to find out that there was a wide community of people who hungered for fresh perspectives on all things nerdy, from the perspective of #OwnedVoices.

In the years since, Evans and Holmon have built a large, dedicated fanbase eager for their brand of cultural critique, whether in the form of a laugh-out-loud, raucous Game of Thrones episode recap or an eloquent essay on dealing with grief through stand-up comedy. Now, they are ready to take the next step with this vibrant and hilarious essay collection, which covers everything from X-Men to Breonna Taylor with insight and intelligence.

A much needed and fresh pop culture critique from the perspective of people of color, Black Nerd Problems is the ultimate celebration for anyone who loves a blend of social commentary and all things nerdy.


#3 – The House of Spirits

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.


#4 – An Untamed State

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a wilful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.


#5 – Our Short History

How can a woman learn to let go of the people she loves the most? 

Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant and single mother, has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. She’s had to be: when Jacob’s father, Dave, found out Karen was pregnant and made it clear that fatherhood wasn’t in his plans, Karen walked out of the relationship, never telling Dave her intention was to raise their child alone.

But now Jake is asking to meet his dad, and with good reason: Karen is dying. When she finally calls her ex, she’s shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the son he never knew he had. First, he can’t meet Jake fast enough, and then he can’t seem to leave him alone. Karen quickly grows anxious as she watches Dave insinuate himself into Jake’s life just as her own strength and hold on Jake grow more tenuous.

As she struggles to play out her last days in the “right” way for Jake, Karen wrestles with the knowledge that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son—let his father become a permanent part of his life—is the thing he needs from her the most. With heart-wrenching poignancy, unexpected wit, and mordant humor, Lauren Grodstein has created an unforgettable story about parenthood, sacrifice, and life itself.

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Maya and the Rising Dark

“Tell me everything.” Papa sucked in a deep breath. “From the beginning.”

“Which beginning? The beginning when I stood at the chalkboard while black lightning cut across the sky? The beginning in which a man made of ribbons drained the color from our neighborhood in a dream? The beginning when shadows reached out of the darkness and grabbed my arms? The beginning where werehyenas threatened to eat me and my friend?”


Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade book full of action, adventure and magic.

Twelve year old Maya seems like your average girl. All she wants to do is to go to Comic Con and spend time enjoying the summer with her two besties Eli and Frankie. That is until she starts seeing things. Things she cannot explain but scare her very much. Then her father goes missing. While trying to find him she learns that he is the Orisha Elegua who holds the keys between worlds. Apparently the veil that separates our world from the dark has been torn and the Lord of Shadows has come seeking his revenge. But he is not alone. He has an army of darkbringers who are hell bent on destroying our world and everything in it.

This book is reminiscent of mythology based adventure tales like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. My entire family enjoyed that series. While I remember getting excited every time Riordan dropped the name of a god I had learned about in grade school, I was exhilarated to discover the Yoruba Orishas who served as Maya’s neighbors and protectors.

The characters were vividly drawn. Maya and her friends were like the three strands of a braid united in their power, equal in their importance.

Young readers will be so enchanted by the story they won’t even realize they are learning something new. Would recommend to readers seeking fast paced adventure with a strong sense of community.


Coming September 21st!

In this highly anticipated sequel, Maya and the godlings must return to the sinister world of The Dark to retrieve the one thing keeping the veil between the worlds from crumbling: her father’s soul. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky and Willa of the Wood. 

The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

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July Book of the Month Challenge

What is the BOTM challenge?

The Book of the Month (BOTM) Challenge is part of my yearly “Show Your Shelf Some Love” challenge where I read from the huge stack of books gathering dust on my shelves. Back in December when I was setting up my bullet journal I took an inventory of the books I bought but had not read. I was surpised to see that I had accumulated over 400 books. Now admittedely some of these were on my Kindle so I can see how I overlooked them. But as one of my resolutions was to curb my spending I figured that focusing my reading on the books I already owned was a good place to start.

When I set up this challenge I had 31 unread titles from my Book of the Month subscription. My goal for July was to read 9 of those and give them away. As usual though, I have no patience and impulse control so I jumped the gun and read two of these titles at the end of June:

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Book 3: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What should have been the wedding of the century turns into an evening for revenge. Will Slater, TV personality and and his bride-to-be Jules are both very ambitious and relentless in going after their goals. So they seem like a perfect match. But someone does not want them to be married. Jules has received an anonymous letter at her private home and ominous “trinkets” have been left behind.

You would expect a destination wedding to be grand and indulgent. But Cormorant Island is not just remote it is completely isolated. The skies are gray and the seas are choppy. The setting becomes its own character and adds to the sense of foreboding.

The Guest List opens up with the lights going out on the wedding and although the actual murder does not take place until you are about 80% through with the book the reader is kept entranced as the different characters spill their past secrets and present insecurities. Everyone is jealous and bitter. Each chapter evidence of their long memories and short tempers. So by the end when our victim is cut down, there are a myriad number of motives and suspects. Yet I was still surprised by the ending. I totally did not see that one coming.

This is my first Lucy Foley book. I’ve now added The Hunting Party to my TBR.


Next Up: The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

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.

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#5 On My TBR: Sea & Seaside

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 sea and seaside.

The beach holds a special place in my heart as I grew up in an oceanfront town. I miss the cool summer breeze, the smell of salt in the air and most of all fresh seafood. Shrimp are my chocalate!

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

I know that this meme is featured on Mondays but I have some pretty awesome books with this theme and figured what the hey, it’s not like I’m going to get in trouble for turning in a late assignment.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Migrations

Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?

Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.


#2 – Creatures

On the eve of Evangeline’s wedding, a dead whale is trapped in the harbor of Winter Island, the groom may be lost at sea, and Evie’s mostly absent mother has shown up out of the blue. From there, in this mesmerizing, provocative debut, Evie remembers and reckons with her complicated upbringing in this lush, wild land off the coast of Southern California. 

Evie grew up with her well-meaning but negligent father, surviving on the money he made dealing the island’s world-famous strain of marijuana, Winter Wonderland. Although he raised her with a deep respect for the elements, the sea, and the creatures living within it, he also left her to parent herself. With wit, love, and bracing  ashes of anger, Creatures probes the complexities of love and abandonment, guilt and forgiveness, betrayal and grief—and the ways in which our ability to love can be threatened if we are not brave enough to conquer the past. 

Lyrical, darkly funny, and ultimately cathartic, Creatures exerts a pull as strong as the tides.


#3 – The Light Keepers

In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.

Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection (and her suspicions) to her companions, while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed “the Islands of the Dead.” And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.

The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel —an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action —while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.


#4 – Untamed Shore

Renowned author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, UNTAMED SHORE, is a coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting voices in fiction, and with her first crime novel, UNTAMED SHORE, she crafts a blazing novel of suspense with an eerie seaside setting and a literary edge that proves her a master of the genre.


#5 – Malibu Rising

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

How many of these do you already have on your TBR? Which new book has caught your eye?

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Blog Tour: The Temple House Vanishing

Synopsis

The year is 1990, and Louisa is the brilliant new scholarship student at the all-girls Catholic boarding school Temple House. Immediately shunned by the rich and popular students, Louisa forms a fierce bond with the compelling Victoria, an outlier and student provocateur. But the girls’ friendship is soon unsettled by the young, charming art teacher Mr. Lavelle, whose lingering presence around his students ignites rumors and tension within the school’s sheltered campus. Then, suddenly, Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear. Many years later, the case remains open, and it has become the unsolved mystery that fascinates the media. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Louisa and Mr. Lavelle’s disappearance, a journalist tries to finally uncover the truth, and she is quickly drawn into a web of lies and long-buried secrets. What really happened at Temple House all those years ago?


Review

There are two types of girls who go to Temple House. The legacies who come from prominent families and the scholarship students whose talents shine bright enough to get them noticed. Victoria is part of a long line of women who have attended the school. When Louisa arrives she is drawn not just to this charismatic teacher that a lot of the girls have a crush on but also to Victoria. She revels in being noticed by her, being chosen to take part in Victoria and Mr. Lavelle’s excursions.

When both Louisa and Mr. Lavelle disappear at the same time rumour has it that they have run off together. But Temple House is closed mouthed and its familes and have circled their wagons. It is now 25 years later and a journalist who grew up in the shadow of Louisa’s disappearance has decided to dig for clues into this life-long mystery. She visits the school, talks to former students and staff as well as the police who investigated the case. She scours the internet for clues and direction. A new picture starts taking shape. The vision of Mr. Lavelle as a charming fellow who could break anyone out of their shell starts to fade as people who knew him describe a man with a darker side with many secrets to hide. Was he capable of harming Louisa? Is it possible that both he and Louisa are dead? Did Victoria or oneof the other girls act out in a fit of jealousy? To what extent is Temple House complicit?

The Temple House Vanishing is written in dual timelines. The present is narrated by the journalist and the past by Louisa. I found the journalist chapters more intriguing as they dealt directly with unravelling the mystery. Overall the book is well written, but the pacing was very slow. I can see the parallels between this book and Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa. Atmospheric and brooding, I would recommend this book to people who like gothic novels.


Meet the Author

Hailed as “a rising star” (RTE Guide), an “enchanting writer” (The Sunday Business Post), and “a writer to watch” (The Canberra Times), Rachel Donohue was born and raised in Dublin, where she won the 2017 Hennessey New Irish Writer of the Year Award for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 Irish Book Awards’ Newcomer of the Year.

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Blog Tour: The House Guests

Synopsis

Two women. Two families. Two lifetimes’ worth of secrets.

In the wake of her husband’s sudden death, Cassie Costas finds her relationship with her teenage stepdaughter unraveling. After their move to historic Tarpon Springs, Florida, Savannah hates her new town, her school and most of all her stepmom, whom she blames for her father’s death. Cassie has enough to contend with as she searches for answers about the man she shared a life with, including why all their savings have disappeared.

When Savannah’s rebellion culminates in an act that leaves single mother Amber Blair and her sixteen-year-old son homeless, Cassie empathizes with the woman’s predicament and invites the strangers to move in. As their lives intertwine, Cassie realizes that Amber is hiding something. She’s evasive about her past, but the fear in her eyes tells a darker story. Cassie wonders what the woman living under her roof is running from…and what will happen if it finally catches up to her. 


My Review

Typically when you read a thriller you are expecting someone to die at the outset and to spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out whodunit. Here we have a domestic thriller where most of the characters are very likeable. Down home goodness. Family-oriented. But that is what captivates you. Cassie’s devotion to Savannah in the midst of her teenage angst. Amber’s and Will’s protective natures. The joy and comfort and aggravation that a big family like the Costas can bring. Family traditions and loyalty. You feel for the characters and they resonate with you. Emilie Richards wraps her story around you and pulls you in emotionally with just the right dose of mystery.

Would recommend for readers who like contemporary fiction with a mix of intrigue.


Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Emilie Richards has written more than seventy novels. She has appeared on national television and been quoted in Reader’s Digest, right between Oprah and Thomas Jefferson.

Born in Bethesda, Maryland, and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Richards has been married for more than forty years to her college sweetheart. She splits her time between Florida and Western New York, where she is currently plotting her next novel.

Where You Can Find Her

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#5 On My TBR – Road Trip

The summer is the time for barbeques, lazy days at the beach and family road trips. Especially after this year of being in lockdown, we can all appreciate the gift of friends, the miracle of the outdoors and the excitement of adventure.

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. As you probably have guessed, this week’s theme is road trips.

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 – The Adventures of China Iron

This is a riotous romp taking the reader from the turbulent frontier culture of the pampas deep into indigenous territories. It charts the adventures of Mrs China Iron, Martín Fierro’s abandoned wife, in her travels across the pampas in a covered wagon with her new-found friend, soon to become lover, a Scottish woman named Liz. While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina’s richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to its national struggles. After a clash with Colonel Hernández (the author who ‘stole’ Martín Fierro’s poems) and a drunken orgy with gauchos, they eventually find refuge and a peaceful future in a utopian indigenous community, the river- dwelling Iñchiñ people.

Seen from an ox-drawn wagon, the narrative moves through the Argentinian landscape, charting the flora and fauna of the Pampas, Gaucho culture, Argentinian nation-building and British colonial projects.

In a unique reformulation of history and literary tradition, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, with humour and sophistication, re-writes Martín Fierro from a feminist, LGBT, postcolonial point of view. She creates a hilarious novel that is nevertheless incisive in its criticism of the way societies come into being, and the way they venerate mythical heroes.


#2 – American Gods

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…


#3 – November Road

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.

It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.

And it might get them both killed.


#4 – Summer of 69

With his girlfriend, Robin, away in Canada, eighteen-year-old Lucas Baker’s only plans for the summer are to mellow out with his friends, smoke weed, drop a tab or two, and head out in his microbus for a three-day happening called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. But life veers dramatically off track when he suddenly finds himself in danger of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. If that isn’t heavy enough, there’s also the free-loving (and undeniably alluring) Tinsley, who seems determined to test Lucas’s resolve to stay faithful to Robin; a frighteningly bad trip at a Led Zeppelin concert; a run-in with an angry motorcycle gang; parents who appear headed for a divorce; and a friend on the front lines in ‘Nam who’s in mortal danger of not making it back. As the pressures grow, it’s not long before Lucas finds himself knocked so far down, it’s starting to look like up to him. When tuning in, turning on, and dropping out is no longer enough, what else is there?


#5 – West

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive, and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River.

West is the story of Bellman’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer. It is a radiant and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie, electric monument to possibility. 

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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 angels are 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.