Teaser Tuesdays – 1/5

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

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

One of the Good Ones

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

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

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

Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur

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

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

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

#5 On My TBR – 2021 Releases

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

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

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

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

#1 – Chlorine Sky

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

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

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


#2 – Concrete Rose

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


#3 – Blood Grove

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


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

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


#5 – Harlem Shuffle

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

Blog Tour: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

Buy Links

Synopsis

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

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

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

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


Review

“A snitch, stabbed with a snitch.”

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

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

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

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

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


Meet the Author

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

Where You Can Find Her

Blog Tour : Breathe Your Last

Buy Links

Synopsis

Josie presses her hands into the center of the drowned girl’s chest and pumps, counting off compressions. She takes in the girl’s beautiful face, her brown eyes glassy. The memory of a champion swimmer on the podium with her teammates—a red swim cap on, her head thrown back in laughter—a stark contrast to the cold, still body before her. Breathe. Just breathe…

The body of a young girl lying face down in a swimming pool—white tennis shoes still on her feet, chestnut hair fanned out like a halo—is the last thing Detective Josie Quinn expects to find on an early morning visit to see her brother before class at Denton University. But when she recognizes the girl’s face as she drags her limp body from the water, there’s only one question racing through Josie’s mind: how does a champion swimmer accidentally drown?

Nysa Somers’ family are distraught. She was a model student, beloved daughter and everybody’s friend. There’s no way she would do anything reckless enough to put her scholarship at risk, let alone her life. It’s up to Josie and her team to piece together what happened in the hours leading up to Nysa’s death, and that begins with finding her missing backpack.

But the bag, discarded in the woods on the nearby campus, contains nothing more than empty food wrappers, Nysa’s phone and a cryptic calendar entry telling her to be a mermaid.

The next day, a terrible housefire envelops the nearby home of a retired fireman, nearly killing his two granddaughters. The last words the little girls heard him mutter before he set the blaze were, be a match.

As the body count rises, it’s only Josie who can see the deadly pattern forming. Can she convince her team that the wrapper found in Nysa’s bag that everyone overlooked is the crucial link they’re missing? Not while her partner, Noah, is avoiding her calls and acting so coldly towards her. Josie knows she must go it alone if she’s going to stop this silent and calculated serial killer before any more precious lives are taken.

But with the killer finally in her sights, Josie takes a deadly risk and finds herself hanging onto life by her fingernails. Can she trust her team to save her, and before it’s too late?

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


Review

What does a star swimmer a decorated hero and a police officer have in common? That is what Detective Josie Quinn must figure out. And fast before this elusive killer strikes again. In this case the serial killer has a unique modus operandi which gives them the wherewithal to kill from afar and watch the chaos ensue from a safe distance.

Breathe Your Last is the 10th installment in the Josie Quinn mystery series. Being a first time reader of Lisa Regan I did not find that to be a problem. I think the novel stood well enough on its own and I was able to get right into the story. Josie Quinn’s character is smart and clever. She is strong and loving and willing to put her own life at risk to save others, even the bad guys. As a new reader to the series I found that the glimpses into her back story made her all the more more relatable. I also enjoyed having time Josie Quinn’s family even though it took me a minute to figure out who was who.

The plot was fast moving. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Here we have a mystery where at first it is not clear how the killer picks their targets. We as readers get to hear the killer’s thoughts in short chapters interspersed between the investigation. These chapters add an eerie tone to the undercurrent of the novel and make the mystery even more intriguing. Regan keeps you waiting until the last minute to figure out how and why the killer strikes. I though it was a clever how she developed this story and the reasoning behind the killings. I’ve already looked into where I could get my hands on the earlier books in the series. Although they are not available through my library to borrow or to order, I found a discounted bundle on the first three books in the series on Amazon here.


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 Her

Throwback Thursday 12/10

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

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

All the Bad Apples is one of those titles that fell off of my radar as my TBR bloomed. I rediscovered it when prompted to read a book with apple in the title for a December reading challenge on GoodReads.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

My Thoughts

At first I thought this book was a YA fantasy about a family of women that were under a curse. That if it was deemed by the rest of the family that they were bad apples that they would suffer this doomed fate. I didn’t quite get what the specific details of that fate would be beyond visitation by banshees, broken bone combs, bodily scratches and the ghost of a bull. Was she going to die? Be tortured mercilessly? Be trapped in purgatory? I just wasn’t sure. But as the book opens up with a teenaged girl Deena on the verge of her 17th birthday coming out to her sister we get a sense that whatever this fate is, it will befall her. Especially after her father walks in on her revelation. And certainly after both of her sisters reactions. They implore her to remain quiet about her sexuality and emphasize how important it is for her to appear to be a “good girl”, a normal nice good girl.

I was kind of surprised that with this storyline that this book is set in 2012. But as the story goes on you learn more about Deena’s family history and how the curse came about, you come to realize that bad apples include women who were deemed to be too pretty, women who spoke their mind, women who had boyfriends, women who were raped.

The afterword by Moira Fowley-Doyle gave me more insight into the crux of the book and why she why she chose to use these women to represent this time frame. In it she talks about the Magdalene houses in Ireland and how up until 1996 they operated without much oversight. Because there was no separation of church and state thousands of women were sent to these homes for anything construed as being deviant behavior. She explains how abortion was illegal until 2019 and punishable by 14 years in jail. How she was compelled by the death of Savita Halappanavar to tell this story. Halappanavar had suffered an incomplete miscarriage and was denied surgery to remove what remained in her womb. As the physician explained, her request went against Irish Catholic law. On October 28, 2012 Savita died from sepsis,one week after being admitted to the hospital.

Fowley – Doyle also talks about how two school boys discovered bodies that were buried in a mass grave near Tuam, County Galway. It was excused away at first as being from the famine. It turns out that more than likely these bones were the bones of children who were born at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home.

Research was conducted by Catherine Corless who pulled up the records of all of the children born into this home and found there were 796 children, babies whose bodies were unaccounted for. They were not buried in any of the local cemeteries. The Bon Secours Mother and Baby home was open from 1925 – 1961. Using this figure Corless estimated that one child died within those walls every two weeks. One baby every two weeks. 796 children unaccounted for.

Throwback Pic

Eartha Kitt – Gordon Parks 1952

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Teaser Tuesday 12/8

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

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

“Bad apples don’t have history,” she went on, handing me a towel. “They don’t have roots. They just sit in the grass where they fell, rotting alone.”

A curse hangs over the heads of the Rys girls. Once they hit the age of seventeen it takes affect. Their only chance of avoiding it is to be deemed a good girl, one who is nice and honorable, respectable in every way. Deena is just about to turn seventeen and is in the closet, but if anyone finds out her secret . . .

#5 On My TBR – Small Town

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 Small Town. So I set about looking for books that took place in small towns. But I am guessing that anything with small town charm or with a twee vibe will count for this challenge. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Valentine

From Goodreads: An astonishing debut novel that explores the lingering effects of a brutal crime on the women of one small Texas oil town in the 1970s.

Mercy is hard in a place like this . . .
It’s February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.

In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field—an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.

Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader’s heart, this fierce, unflinching, and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women’s strength and vulnerability, and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive. 


#2 – The Wicked Deep

From Goodreads: Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


#3 – Welcome to Braggsville

From Goodreads: Welcome to Braggsville. The City that Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712

Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a “kung-fu comedian” from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the “4 Little Indians.”

But everything changes in the group’s alternative history class, when D’aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded “Patriot Days.” His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a “performative intervention” to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.

With the keen wit of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.

A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.


#4 – Ordinary Grace

From Goodreads: “That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.


#5 – Jack

From Goodreads: Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the latest in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.

Jack  tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the beloved, erratic, and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African American high school teacher who is also the daughter of a preacher―discerning, generous, and independent. Their fraught, beautiful romance is one of Robinson’s greatest achievements.

The Gilead novels are about the dilemmas and promise of American history―about the ongoing legacy of the Civil War and the enduring impact of both racial inequality and deep-rooted religious belief. They touch the deepest chords in our national character and resonate with our deepest feelings.

Blog Tour: The Forgotten Sister

Synopsis

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.


Review

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick is an historical fiction novel about the life and death of Amy Robsart. Lady Robsart was the wife to Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite guy, Robert Dudley. From historical accounts we know that Robsart died under mysterious circumstances and although quite a salacious tale at the time it seems as if history has erased her. When Cornick visited Cumnor Place she realized that Amy’s tomb was not to be found. This made her story the more intriguing and Cornick decided to bring her back to life.

In The Forgotten Sister Cornick utilizes a dual time frame between present day and Tudor England. Throughout time, parallel characters are cursed as history repeats itself.

When you first meet Amy and Lizzie you see how these women defined by the society’s expectations of women. Amy is bound to a loveless marriage and must suffer the public shame of being cuckolded. Lizzie is defined by how society thinks she should be responding to men. The platonic nature of her lifelong friendship with Dudley is questioned and at the same time, she is criticized for being virginal and sexless. Both of these women manage to find ways to rebel against the system and find their own path.

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.


Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

Where You Can Find Her

Teaser Tuesdays 11/10

“She was dazzling, radiant, not simply to my eyes but somehow to my soul as well. I saw her and recognised her worth.”

63%

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.

Stop by my stop on The Forgotten Sister blog tour for the rest of my review! 😀

If you are a woman, what does it mean for YOU to be SEEN? Men, what are ways in which you can see the true essence of the women in your lives?