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Blog Tour: What She Did

  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Kindle Edition, 236 pages
  • Published September 20th 2021 by Bookouture
  • Retail $9.99
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Kobo
  • Google

Synopsis

Marissa lives alone in her tiny one-bed apartment. It’s quiet and safe; all she’s ever wanted. But when the police knock on her door with the news that her last remaining family member has died, she comes face to face with the family secret she has spent a lifetime running from.

A witness saw her car outside his house that day, but Marissa knows she’s innocent. She hasn’t seen her uncle in years and remembers going to bed in her own home that night. But she’s had blackouts before and can’t always trust her memory.

Days later, Marissa’s neighbour is found dead in his home, exactly like her uncle. It was no secret that Marissa didn’t get on with her neighbour, but she’d never want to see him hurt.

As you read, you’ll think you know where to draw the line between innocence and guilt. But blame is a dangerous thing, and nothing is ever what it seems…

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Teresa Driscoll and Lisa Jewell, What She Did is a dark and twisty crime thriller that will keep you up all night!


Review

Marissa has had a hard life filled with trauma. First, she witnesses her mother’s murder. Then she is subjected to abuse at the hands of her family who take her in. She is a fragile adult. Scarred from the memories, she thinks she has found a safe place in a quiet little cottage tucked away from the world. But that hope is soon destroyed by an obnoxiously aggressive neighbor. When both he and her abusive uncle are found dead – stabbed in the same manner – Marissa is an obvious suspect. The problem is she does not remember the nights of the murders. Did she do it? Marissa herself doesn’t even know. She could have just as easily committed these crimes while sleepwalking as having been blacked out from her excessive drinking. Certainly no one will believe her account.

What She Did is the perfect whodunit for people who like unreliable narrators. Every word and everyone is suspect.


Meet the Author

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre.

Where You Can Find Her


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Book Review: Revelator by Daryl Gregory

Synopsis

From the acclaimed author of Spoonbenders comes the gripping tale of a family’s mysterious religion, and the daughter who turns her back on their god.

In 1933, nine-year-old Stella is left in the care of her grandmother, Motty, in the backwoods of Tennessee. These remote hills of the Smoky Mountains are home to dangerous secrets, and soon after she arrives, Stella wanders into a dark cavern where she encounters the family’s personal god, an entity known as the Ghostdaddy.

Years later, after a tragic incident that caused her to flee, Stella–now a professional bootlegger–returns for Motty’s funeral, and to check on the mysterious ten-year-old girl named Sunny that Motty adopted. Sunny appears innocent enough, but she is more powerful than Stella could imagine–and she’s a direct link to Stella’s buried past and her family’s destructive faith.

Haunting and wholly engrossing, summoning mesmerizing voices and giving shape to the dark, Revelator is a southern gothic tale for the ages.


Review

I read this book with the Mystery Book Club on Instagram. Many were commenting “What have I just read?” Now that I have finished I know exactly what they mean. Trust me when I tell you they mean this in a good way, the very best of ways. Revelator is a genre bending mix of Appalachian noir and fantasy. Set in the 1930s and 40s, the wonder and beauty of Cades Cove and its early settlers come alive. In this isolated environment faith mixes with fear as we wade through family secrets and religious fanaticism.

Stella is our revelator and it is her job to commune with the Ghostdaddy and carry its message. But even she is not sure of what Ghostdaddy is our what Ghostdaddy truly wants. She fears that her family in their blind zeal to please their god may be putting themselves in danger. As she gets older she realizes the power of the Word lies not just in what is written but in who gets to hear the full story.

Revelator was not as scary as I thought it would be. Thank God for small wonders. I am not sure if I would classify it as horror but Ghostdaddy certainly was a weird creature that I wouldn’t want to walk across even in the light of day. I appreciated the historical aspects of Cades Cove and that Gregory looked at gender politics and power dynamics in the church.

All in all, Revelator was a fully absorbing tale. Besides Stella, I absolutely loved Alfonse and Abby’s characters.

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Blog Tour: Lost Angels

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Synopsis

On her hands and knees, Nikki moved to the other side of the body. She couldn’t stop her fingers from trembling as she brushed the dark hair off the victim’s face. She couldn’t look away. “I know her…”

When Special Agent Nikki Hunt is called to the Boundary Waters near Stillwater, Minnesota, it’s not just the cold that shocks her to her core: the body of a young woman has been found frozen beside a remote lake. Nikki is devastated to see the victim is her childhood friend Annmarie, and she recognizes the velvet ribbon tied in her hair as the hallmark of a serial killer who she has been hunting for years.

Desperate for justice, Nikki throws herself into the case. But she is shaken by what she finds at Annmarie’s home: a dead-bolt on her front door and a map in the spare room, with the locations of murdered women circled in thick, red marker. Did Annmarie know she was next? Then Nikki finds out that the killer has left a clue in Annmarie’s bedroom: a photo of Nikki’s mother that no one has ever seen. Has the murderer at large been in Nikki’s life since she was a child?

Nikki soon realizes that the key to unlocking this case is in her own family, but digging up the past could put her own daughter in danger. She has spent her whole life protecting the ones she loves, but to find this killer Nikki might have to risk everything…

Fans of Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner and Robert Dugoni will be completely addicted to this heart-pounding thriller. Once you start reading, the twists and turns will have you racing towards the end.


Review

Lost Angels is an action-packed, adrenaline-fueled, roller coaster ride that will have you holding fast to your seat until the very last page. Once again our heroine Special Agent Nikki Hunt comes up against the diabolical serial killer nicknamed Frost. Except now he seems to be moving in closer to her home and family. His latest victim is her childhood best friend Ann Marie. And while she is investigating, the clues suggest that Frost knows something about her family’s secret past. Is Nikki his ultimate target or does he simply like playing cat and mouse with her? What is his connection to Nikki and Stillwater? Will Nikki find Frost before he adds to his body count? Who is next on his list?

Although Lost Angels is the third book in the Nikki Hunt series I feel that new readers will get sucked right into the plot. There is an advantage to reading the other books though in that you have a better understanding of the dynamics between the characters that will allow you to see why Nikki was hesitant to react under different circumstances. Yes, her pride did get in the way but so did her regret over past errors. Don’t get me wrong – Nikki Hunt is tough as steel. But Stacy Green reminds us that she is human too. Love her character and her team. I’ve gotten to the point where I jump as soon as I see books in this series. Looking forward to the next installment.


Meet the Author

Stacy Green is the bestselling author of more than 10 award-winning novels and nonfiction short stories. The ERIN PRINCE SERIES has been optioned for television by a major production team. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. TIN GOD (Delta Crossroads #1) was runner-up for best mystery/thriller at the 2013 Kindle Book Awards. Stacy started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing.

Where You Can Find Her

Check out these other stops on the Lost Angels Blog Tour!

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Blog Tour: Such a Good Wife

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Synopsis

Betrayal was just the beginning…

Melanie Hale is a devoted mother to her two children, a diligent caregiver to her ailing mother-in-law and a trusted neighbor in their wealthy Louisiana community. Above all, she’s a loving partner to her wonderful husband, Collin.

Then there are the parts of herself that Mel keeps hidden. She’s exhausted, worried and unfulfilled. So much so that one night, after a writers’ group meeting, Mel begins an affair with a successful local author named Luke. Suddenly she’s transformed into a role she doesn’t recognize—a woman who deceives with unseemly ease. A woman who might be capable of just about anything.

When Mel finds Luke’s dead body in his lavish rented house, she realizes just how high the stakes have become. Not only does she have to keep her affair a secret in order to preserve her marriage, but she desperately needs to avoid being implicated in Luke’s death. But who would want to kill him? Who else in her life is keeping secrets? And most terrifying of all, how far will they—and she—go to keep those secrets hidden?


Review

Mel appears to be the best wife. She has a son who is autistic and a mother-in-law who is close to dying. She shows compassion and patience in her care and comes up with solutions to soothe them while protecting her husband and daughter from seeing the worst of their conditions. Collin is a loving and kind husband. Mel honestly cannot complain. But she is unfulfilled. She steps out on her marriage and embarks on an affair with a local writing celebrity.

I do not believe that she really fell for Luke so much as she fell for his life. Being this carfree spirit that could travel the world. That was unihibited in expressing his creativity. It certainly does not help that he is a good looking succesful man. That his books are salacious and erotic further piques Mel’s interest. She is flattered by the attention. It has been a long time since she has seen herself as an attractive woman. But now having someone else looking at her that way it means something to her. So she quickly gives in to passion.

She knows all along that she is making a big mistake. She’s conscious of what’s at stake here, what she is risking as far as her family is concerned. She knows that when other parents’ affairs were exposed that it has come back to hurt their children. They have become targets of bullying in the school and on social media. Mel does not want that for her kids. They are already vulnerable. Ben for the obvious reasons and poor Rachel has been walking around on eggshells. Then Mel inserts herself into other people’s problems being fully aware of the danger it might pose. It’s almost as if she cannot help herself. Perhaps she is drawn to excitement after having led what she feels is a humdrum life where her needs are always on the backburner.

The book opens up with Mel discovering Luke’s body. We know SHE did not kill him. But then who did? And who knows her secret? Can it be used against her? Will she take the fall for a murder she did not commit? Will she be able to keep her family out of the fray of the murder investigation while keeping her crimes of passion a secret?

The first half of Such a Good Wife builds around the sexual tension between Luke and Mel while the second half was more fast paced and centered on the mystery. This is where the twists and turns that mystery lovers crave are found. There were plenty of suspects and juicy motives.

Recommendedfor readers who like steamy romance mixed in with their murder.


Meet the Author

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

Where You Can Find Her

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August Color Challenge

Well Hello August! With August comes the dog days of Summer. county fairs and music festivals. Life of a Book Addict is choosing to honor this “venerable” month with rust and gray covers. Slate, like the plummage of the Great Grey Owl and the sleek coat of the Timberwolf. Rust – the transformative reddening that occurs with exposure to the elements.

As I am behind on my reading I decided to combine this challenge with ARC Apocalypse. Below are my NetGalley and giveaway ARCS that satisfy this color scheme. Let’s see how many I can knock out this month.

The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata by Gina Apostol

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 360 pages
  • Published January 12th 2021 by Soho Press

Raymundo Mata is a nightblind bookworm and a revolutionary in the Philippine war against Spain in 1896. Told in the form of a memoir, the novel traces Mata’s childhood, his education in Manila, his love affairs, and his discovery of the books of the man who becomes the nation’s great hero José Rizal (Rizal, in real life, is executed by the Spaniards for writing two great novels that spark revolution—the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. At the time Rizal died, he was working on a third novel, Makamisa).

Raymundo Mata’s autobiography, however, is de-centered by another story: that of the development of the book. In the foreword(s), afterword(s), and footnotes, we see the translator Mimi C. Magsalin (a pseudonym), the rabid nationalist editor Estrella Espejo, and the neo-Freudian psychoanalyst critic Dr. Diwata Drake make multiple readings of the Mata manuscript. Inevitably, clashes between these readings occur throughout the novel, and in the end the reader is on a wild chase to answer enduring questions: Does the manuscript contain Makamisa or is it Makamisa? Are the journals an elaborate hoax? And who is the perpetrator of the textual crime?

In this story about the love of books, the story of a nation emerges. But what is a nation? What The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata imagines is that through acts of reading, a nation is born.


Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Published July 6th 2021 by Flatiron Books

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption.


The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte A. Davis

  • Young Adult/ Western
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: August 10th 2021 by Tor Teen

The Good Luck Girls are free. Aster’s sister and friends have new lives across the border in Ferron, while Aster remains in Arketta, helping more girls escape. But news of a new welcome house opening fills Aster with a need to do more than just help individual girls. And an unexpected reunion gives her an idea of how to do it. From there, grows a wildly ambitious plan to free all dustbloods, who live as prisoners to Arketta’s landmasters and debt slavery.

When Clementine and the others return from Ferron, they become the heart of a vibrant group of fearless fighters, working to unite the various underclasses and convince them to join in the fight. Along the way, friendships will be forged, lives will be lost, and love will take root even in the harshest of circumstances, between the most unexpected of lovers.

But will Arketta’s dustbloods finally come into power and freedom, or will the resistance just open them up to a new sort of danger?


The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

  • Young Adult/Fantasy
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Published June 1st 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.


A Pair of Wings: A Novel Inspired by Pioneer Aviatrix Bessie Coleman by Carole Hopson

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 332 pages
  • Published June 15th 2021 by Jet Black Press

A Pair of Wings is an epic novel about the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman. Arriving in Chicago in 1915, Coleman is in the first wave of African Americans to be part of the Great Migration, the largest movement of Black people fleeing the agricultural South towards the promise of opportunity in the North.

By 1921, America was a nation of change, steeped in both turmoil and progress. Jim Crow laws forced segregation in the South, lynchings terrorized, prohibition loomed, and Tulsa, Oklahoma smoldered after being bombed from the air. While American women had just earned the right to vote, Coleman can find no one willing to teach a Black woman to fly. Undaunted, she learns French and travels by ship to France in order to fulfill her dream of earning a brevet.

As the 1920s progress, Coleman comes of age, and both aviation and the Great Migration continue in parallel. Hardscrabble and burnished, Coleman becomes the only woman in the world to compel these lines of latitude to bend and intersect. Just as she translates deftly from English to French, she also converts wargame maneuvers into daring, graceful, and swashbuckling performances which she brings back to the United States. This fearless woman inspires a nation, earning the nicknames Daredevil, Queen Bess, and Brave Bessie for her breathtaking airshows.

A full century after her accomplishments, Coleman’s story is brought to life by author Carole Hopson. A United Airlines pilot who flies the Boeing 737, Hopson, considers Bessie Coleman the pioneer who cut the path for her and believes that it is her job to continue Coleman’s work to make that path wider for those who follow. It’s Coleman’s bold determination and courage that lifted Hopson, as well as an entire people upon A Pair of Wings.


The Spanish Daughter by Lorena Hughes

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: December 28th 2021 by Kensington Books

Set against the lush backdrop of early twentieth century Ecuador and inspired by the real-life history of the coastal town known as the birthplace of cacao, this captivating #OwnVoices novel from the award-winning author of The Sisters of Alameda Street tells the story of a resourceful young chocolatier who must impersonate a man in order to survive…

Puri inherited two things from her father: a passion for chocolate, and a cacao plantation located in Ecuador. After learning the art of chocolate-making from her grandmother, Puri opened a chocolate shop in her native Spain. But the Great War that devastated Europe has also ruined her business. Eager to learn more about the source of her beloved chocolate, Puri sets out across the ocean with her husband, Cristóbal. But someone is angered by Puri’s claim to the plantation…

When a mercenary sent to murder her aboard the ship accidentally kills Cristóbal instead, Puri dons her husband’s clothes and assumes his identity, hoping to stay safe while she learns the truth. Though freed from the rules that women are expected to follow, Puri confronts other challenges at the plantation—newfound siblings, hidden affairs, and her father’s dark secrets. Then there are the dangers awakened by her attraction to an enigmatic man as she tries to learn the identity of an enemy who is still at large, threatening the future she is determined to claim.


Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Contemporary, Translation
  • Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Published April 27th 2021 by Knopf

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father’s untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will change.

This is the first novel she has written in Italian and translated into English. It brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.


Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

  • Historical Fiction/Mystery
  • Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Expected publication: September 14th 2021 by Doubleday

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…”

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa — the “Waldorf of Harlem” — and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately
a love letter to Harlem.

But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

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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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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: Legends of the North Cascades

Synopsis

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meet the Author

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

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

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

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Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies

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

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

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

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

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

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

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

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

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Blog Tour: Local Woman Missing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

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


Review

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


Meet the Author

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

Where You Can Find Her