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Thursday, February 21, 2019

REVIEW: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows 
by Wilson Rawls

💖GAH! This book.  EVERY. SINGLE.TIME.💖  

Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publish Date: September 1, 1986, first published 1961
212 Pages
Genres: Classics, YA

Billy, Old Dan and Little Ann -- a Boy and His Two Dogs...
A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn, Little Ann had the brains -- and Billy had the will to train them to be the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. And close by was the strange and wonderful power that's only found...
An exciting tale of love and adventure you'll never forget.

My Review:

I had read this book for the first time as a child and have been mesmerized with it ever since. My Dad gave me the 25th anniversary edition on Christmas of 1986 and I have tried to read it every year since.  It had been a couple of years since I had reread so I was over due.  When I found out a friend was reading it for the VERY FIRST TIME, I had to buddy read it with her.  Opening up that first page was like greeting an old friend again.  And that was it - I was back in the mountains with my favorite doggies and Billy.

I thought after SO many reads that eventually it wouldn't get to me as much as it used to but no... even though I know every scene, I found myself laughing at certain parts, getting angry in others and then flat out ugly crying at the very end. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Billy is probably my favorite character of all time.  This kid has got gumption! His bond with these dogs, all the hard work, the sweat and blood he gave - I wish I had half the focus that he did.  When there's a will, there's a way! The family dynamics, struggle and a boy's view of the world are astounding.  Rawls has me feeling like I'm barefoot, running through the Ozarks, whooping at my dogs on the hunt.  

Y'all, this isn't even in my normal wheelhouse of books I read and yet I remember distinctly the very first time I picked this book up.  It has been my absolutely favorite book of all time and no other book has changed my mind since.

I could go on and on and on about this book, my love for it, the deep connection I have with this story on a level that can't even be explained.  If you haven't read this book yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up RIGHT NOW.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks @adeleparks @harlequinbooks

I Invited Her In 
by Adele Parks

Thank you to MIRA for these advanced copies.

Publisher: MIRA
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
432 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Imagine the worst thing a friend could ever do.

This is worse. 

When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy, and revenge from Sunday Times best-seller Adele Parks. 

My Review:

With friends like these, who needs enemies!! I think we've all had that person at some point in our lives that we looked up to or who awed us and wish we could be like.  Whether younger, older, a peer... that person just has this extra special shine.  As you get older, you realize that what seems to perfect rarely is.

Mel and Abi have such a relationship and it's funny how the tables can turn, what manipulations will manifest and how twisted the mind can be to make you only see what you want and to justify the actions that are taken.

I honestly found this book to be highly predictable - absolutely nothing shocked me and yet I could NOT put this down either.  The writing is easy, it flows and even when I knew what was coming, I was still anticipating HOW it would all play out.  Mothers are FIERCE!  Friendships are glass that can easily crack. Bitches be CRAZY.

Honestly, this domestic drama - I didn't find this to be quite "thrillery" enough for the genre - is a bit insane and I absolutely adored all of it.  Need a quick page turner on how opposites attract in a friendship where obsession is not always one sided? Then absolutely pick this one up and get involved.


Jessica's Review:

More domestic thrillers for 2019! I'm a big fan of the domestic thriller genre because there are many directions the authors can go with them. I INVITED HER IN by Adele Parks examines the complicated past of the friendship between Abi and Mel. A college friendship that needed to stay buried along with the memories between them.

One day Mel receives an email from a college friend, Abi. Someone she hasn't heard from in years, and would have liked to have kept it that way. Abi is desperate for a place to stay as she gets some personal things figured out. Wouldn't you let an old friend stay for a couple of days? Mel quickly comes to regret this decision.

I think this is a great thriller for those that are new to the thriller genre. While I did figure this one out about midway through the book, that didn't take away from the book for me. I know that this is one that has a lot of readers divided (which always makes for great discussions), and I can understand why. This was a relatively quick read and I enjoyed it! I loved the writing and how Parks illustrated their complicated friendship for us - nothing felt too fake or over the top. I will definitely be going back to find more from Parks!

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Disconjugate Gaze by Daniel Rufer @disconjugate

Disconjugate Gaze 
by Daniel Rufer

A special thank you to the author, and my friend, Dan for this copy. ❤

Publish Date: January 13, 2019
Kindle Edition
203 Pages
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction

About four years ago, I woke up with numbness in my left foot which, over a period of just six weeks, spread to the entire left side of my body. The numbness was caused by a vascular anomaly called a cavernous malformation. Long-story short, the “cav mal” required a ten-hour brain surgery to halt its expansion into my brainstem. While the surgery most certainly saved my life, it further debilitated the left side of my body, paralyzed the right side of my face, caused permanent double-vision, and required a three-week stay in the hospital. After all that and countless hours of physical and occupational therapy, I’ve been able to resume a full life, though my motor-skill deficiencies, numbness, and double-vision persist. 

Disconjugate Gaze is the story of my health struggle from the date of diagnosis through one year of recovery.


My friend, Dan, wrote this memoir about his experience with cavernous malformation.  Imagine having your world blown up by one phone call from a doctor, thinking there was something wrong with your back and it turns out, it's inside your own head - literally!  Bags packed, phone calls made, newlywed plans broken and days that turn into weeks that turn into months with what feels like almost NO progress.  Just how strong do you have to be to go through something like this? Or do you find the strength in getting through it?

I'm not too big of a memoir fan and while I may be a bit biased since I have sat down and spoke with the author about this journey a couple of times, I am never dishonest in my reviews.  I am thoroughly impressed with Dan's writing.  There is a lot of humor that I know now is just his personality, that shines through and adds some levity to what is a very serious situation.  Each chapter headlines another occurrence - checking in, dealing with dickhead doctors, nurses, aides, dealing with amazing doctors who kept some of the anxiousness at bay.  Going through the surgery and then the recovery - this is where Mr. Rufer really pulls you in as we travel through his journey with each new and frustrating experience.  The eventual low point that these situations somehow always puts humans in and then the uplift, acknowledgment and eventual acceptance.  

I cannot, for a minute, imagine what he went through but this book certainly gives me a better understanding.  The medical explanations weren't overly done so you don't get bogged down by a bunch of medical speak.  Instead, you learn with him.  I appreciate the journey he took me on.  I applaud Rufer's courage, adaptability, humor and overall HUMANITY with the initial shock of all of this - to the continued improvement of living his best life. 

Thank you for your story and for the acknowledgment and seeing a therapist with my name was an added surprise!


Monday, February 18, 2019

The Break Line by James Brabazon @berkleypub @james_brabazon

The Break Line
by James Brabazon

Thank you Berkley Pub for this free book!

Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: January 29, 2019
368 Pages
Series: Max McLean #1
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

British intelligence operative and hardened assassin, Max McLean, battles a nightmarish enemy in this stunning debut thriller from an award winning war correspondent. 

When it comes to killing terrorists British intelligence has always had one man they could rely on, Max McLean. As an assassin, he's never missed, but Max has made one miscalculation and now he has to pay the price.

His handlers send him to Sierra Leone on a seemingly one-way mission. What he finds is a horror from beyond his nightmares. Rebel forces are loose in the jungle and someone or something is slaughtering innocent villagers. It's his job to root out the monster behind these abominations, but he soon discovers that London may consider him the most disposable piece in this operation.

My Review:

The first in a series, Brabazon brings a LOT to the table.  Action packed from beginning to end, each new decisions McLean makes throws him into a different trajectory.  The first decision he made, when he went against orders, was not like him but even as a hardened assassin, he finds it difficult to kill those that are innocent. This may not end well for him. 😉

A lot of characters are introduced and he finds betrayals amongst them and within himself.  We also get a tangle of a medical thriller with speak of cholera, etc.  What else can Brabazon include?!  It's not overly done, which is nice.  He does a fine job in building McLean's character and as with all first in a series, lays the groundwork for the next.  McLean is reminiscent of other characters like him - highly intelligent, master of his trade, and whether you like his actions or not, you get a soft spot for him.

While this type of thriller is not my favorite kind in the subgenres of thrillers, I did find the story interesting while with so much going on, there were some lulls within the pages... but very little - small set ups for the next bullet to dodge. (see what I did there?)

A great start to the beginning of a series I can only see getting crazier. 


REVIEW: The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor @tlcbooktours @cjtudor @crownpublishing #ATBR2019 #allthebookreviews

The Hiding Place
by C.J. Tudor

Thank you to Crown Publishing and TLC Book Tours for this copy and stop on the tour.
As a fan of The Chalk Man, Tudor's debut, I was very much looking forward to this one.
Jessica and I had similar thoughts but different feels and I love it when we don't always quite match - see our full thoughts below and decide if this one may or may not be for you.

Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
288 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Horror

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang--the betrayal, the suicide, the murder--and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn't have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe's sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town--while avoiding the enemies he's made in the years since--is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn't the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

My Review:

OK. So this one is going to garner some VERY interesting reviews.  Here's the thing - while I was very meh about The Chalk Man up until the final scene - which changed the whole thing for me, I felt The Hiding Place read smoother and kept my interest from the first page.

Tudor, based on these two books, seems to like the bully/loner kid theme.  This main character was a little of both and struggling with not only his own very deep issues of addiction and long term grief but with returning to his home town where he is very clearly not wanted. (Yet another book that gives me great happiness to not have grown up in a small town.)

When things become all too similar to what happened to his sister to yet another family, he needs some answers and quite frankly, so did I.  The opening scene really snagged me, not gonna lie.  Based on that alone, I started to get maybe some changeling vibes and I don't know why but that continued to stick in my head even though it wasn't quite what it was.  Am I making sense?  Do you ever get an idea in your head about a read and then can't quite get yourself stuck off that idea even though it absolutely is not going in that direction? I almost thought it was until it went in a different direction and yet I couldn't stop holding on to this idea!

The thing with this book is that I had already heard a lot of King similarities and grumbles about The Chalk Man from some reviewers and this one is going to do the same.  Avid King readers are not going to be happy about the similarities that are all too familiar in this book to a certain very well loved book.  Those who aren't familiar with King will absolutely adore and love this book and like the thriller/horror mix.  Me?  Well I'm both an avid King reader and lover and while for some reason the light bulb didn't go off until a friend pointed it out, it was definitely an Ohhhhhhhhh moment and yet I STILL LOVE THIS BOOK.  Does this make me a horrible King fan? NOPE.  Sometimes you just get enraptured in a book and get blinders to what else is happening. Quite frankly, I absolutely see it now but I'm going off the exact feeling when I turned that last page and well I really was highly entertained and that last chapter made my little black heart go ok... ok now... ❤

To each their own my friends and this is one of the best things I love about reading and how subjective everything is. I felt Tudor gave a great story with some very flawed characters and creepy scenes.  You pick up this book and decide on your own which way you'll sway.  


Jessica's Review:

So like a lot of other thriller fans THE CHALK MAN was an extremely popular and well-liked debut last year. I was anxiously awaiting the release of CJ Tudor’s newest release because I loved the blend of thriller and some added horror to the mix. THE HIDING PLACE was a little harder to place for me – I love her writing and the way she weaves a thrilling story, but something just didn’t work for me.

Joe Thorne is doing something he never thought he would do – returning to his hometown. With a dark past he tried to escape, he must now face his old friends that have since turned against him, as well as his enemies in town. What happened all those years ago? Who was at fault? What really happened with his sister? All questions that Tudor has you wondering as she pulls you through the story with a good pace and enough building suspense.

This one was hard for me – this was very different from THE CHALK MAN for me. I think I’m more middle ground on this but I can see why this worked incredibly for other readers. I got major Stephen King vibes in this one, but things felt a little too similar to PET SEMATARY (a book that I love). I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. I’m all for paying homage to an author you admire and love, but there were too many similarities to the story for me.

If you’re a fan of some supernatural elements thrown in with your thrillers, then this will be perfect for you! If you enjoyed Tudor’s previous book, then I highly recommend picking this up. There is no denying that she can weave a suspenseful and intricate story and I will continue to look for her future books.

3/5 stars

Sunday, February 17, 2019

REVIEW: In the River by Jeremy Robert Johnson @JRJ_Is_Probable @night_worms @

In the River 
by Jeremy Robert Johnson 

One of the novellas in Night Worms February package - absolutely recommend.

Publisher: Lazy Fascist Press
Publish Date: August 2, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Horror

An intensely moving tale of survival and madness along the river's edge. A father and son fishing lesson become a nightmarish voyage to the sea in this visionary testament to the lengths we will go for those we love. 

My Review:

WARNING: Horror with FEELINGS.  HORROR with feelings.

What a powerful novella about loss.... done in such a unique way that for me borderlined on mythology.  I weirdly got a very tiny ping of Pinocchio mixed in for some reason … don't even know why I'm admitting that - haha but it's funny where your mind goes sometimes when you're reading.
Honestly, I've been eyeing Mr. Johnson's Entropy in Bloom for a while now so when In the River showed up in Night Worm's February package I was so excited.  

This book.  You guys.  It drives you down DEEP into grief, madness, what's real or not real but who cares because you're on this roller coaster of feelings right along with the father.  And when a book can keep you so enraptured from the get go, well, there's something special about a novella that does that.


#ATBR2019: Never Tell by Lisa Gardner @duttonbooks @lisagardnerbks #allthebookreviews

Never Tell
by Lisa Gardner

Thank you Dutton Books and NetGalley for these early copies.
Jessica and I are big fans of Gardner's work and this one is no exception.

Publisher: Dutton
Publish Date: February 29, 2019
Kindle Edition
416 Pages
Series: Detective D.D. Warren #10
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman--Evie Carter--from a case many years back. Evie's father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim--a hostage--and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad's murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

My Review:

As a person who typically likes to read series books in order, I somehow ended up starting this series in book 8.  I have loved each book since and this is no exception.  While I think these books could potentially be read as standalones, I think the way Gardner builds each character book by book is in indicator that starting at the beginning to get the full feel of them may be the way to go.  However, I find myself FULLY invested in D.D. and now Flora just after three books.  

I am guessing from beginning to end.  And while I may not have been in jaw dropping shock when all was revealed, I was like I KNEW IT... but I actually didn't... but I did kinda shake my head like maybe I should've known?! Ha! I don't know what it is about Gardner, but her writing is so easy to read.  I love the banter and push back between the characters, the fleshing out of their characters some more and the revisit to a person from an old case for D.D. 

A series I highly recommend and will definitely be continuing to read.  I don't know what else Gardner has in store for Flora and D.D. (and Phil) but I am here for all of it.


Jessica's Review:

Every time I pick up a Lisa Gardner book I know I'm in for one hell of a thriller, and her newest release was no different! NEVER TELL is the next installment in the D.D. Warren series and the next book as she teams up with Flora. If you want strong female leads, then look no further. This could be read as a standalone but FIND HER and LOOK FOR ME I would highly recommend because you can get to know Flora better and their dynamic.

Not wanting to spoil anything about this book, I'll keep this short and sweet. When you start this one you'll want to make sure you have some time open because Gardner keeps you glued to the pages. She keeps you on your toes throughout and I'm always doubting myself as I try to figure it out. I enjoyed the ending and the build up and there's something she is fantastic at: building the characters. 

I highly recommend picking up any of Gardner's books. You'll get some kick ass female leads, suspense packed plot, and plenty of twists to keep you guessing. 

5/5 stars 

SPOTLIGHT and EXTRACT: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman @aria_fiction @lucycolemanauth

Summer on the Italian Lakes 
by Lucy Coleman

Thank you to Aria Fiction for this spotlight - continue to read an extract and head to my Instagram Page and look for the photo to enter and win 1 of 2 e-copies!

Publisher: Aria
Publish Date: February 5, 2019
Kindle Edition
404 Pages
Genre: Romance

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping - and steamy - love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling... Not only does she have writer's block, but she's a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.
So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer's retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda - owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson - could this be just the thing to fire up Brie's writing - and romantic - mojo?
Brie's sun-drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer's very own happy-ever-after...

‘Paul Turner looked the part and he seemed genuine enough, but he’s a marketable commodity and he knows that. Falling in love is a luxury he can’t afford, even if he wanted to. He has to make money while he can and that means as much red carpet, tabloid and TV exposure as he can get. Everyone he dates is scrutinised and I should have warned you what you were getting yourself into. He’s so charming, though, and I don’t for one minute think his attraction to you was fake. But his business head dictates his decisions, because no one knows how long fame and public favour lasts. You mustn’t confuse that type of existence with real life. It’s about putting on a show.’

I look at her, shame-faced; she’s trying so hard to make me feel better.

‘He thought I was… boring, Mel. That bit was real. And I am. Look at me – I’m thirty-one years old and I live in my PJs most of the time. I seldom go out these days and I’ve lost touch with the world out there. All the posh frocks, facials and professionally applied make-up couldn’t disguise the me underneath it all.’

‘Look, Paul was one smooth guy in public, but in private even he was using drink and a few choice recreational drugs to cope with the pressure. That alone would have been tough to handle in a relationship, but the personal attacks you suffered were beyond belief. Now, well, you’re just going through a bit of a rough patch in the aftermath of it all.’

‘And some. Every time I look at myself, I fear the trolls have won. I don’t go out any more because none of my clothes fit me and I don’t feel like me. I’ve let myself down by allowing the trolls to erode my confidence and that’s a horrible feeling. They’ve stolen my sense of… worth. The truth is that I’ve done this to myself and now I feel like I’m a prisoner in someone else’s body.’ Mel sidles up to give me a hug as the tears begin to roll down my cheeks.

‘Hey, it’s not that bad. We can fix this. You’re one strong lady, Brie, and now you’ve come to your senses you will turn this around. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t occasionally get a bit lost. Personally, I think we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes, but it’s a painful process. First of all, we have to sort out that hair. I mean, it looks like you’re wearing a stuffed cat.’

I look at her and laugh. ‘It’s a bit matted, I’m afraid.’

She looks around the room.

‘How about we do a makeover of the house and you at the same time? I’ll get on the phone and call in the cleaners to spruce this beautiful cottage up a bit. You and I can then head off to a spa at the weekend to kick start your programme. What do you think?’

That gives me two days to get my act together, ready to face the world outside my door. My brain might have stopped functioning but at least I still have a sense of pride.

‘I think you’re a life saver, Mel. You’re the one person who really understands me. So yes, let’s do it.’

‘Your problem is, Brie, that you spend too much time talking to your characters rather than talking to the people who love you. And that includes Carrie. She isn’t just your agent, she’s a good friend and she’s concerned about you. This was her idea, actually.’

I smile. ‘That doesn’t mean she still doesn’t scare me at times. She’s ballsy and I wish I had a fraction of her energy and bubbly personality. When she enters a room, everyone is well aware of her presence whereas I slink in and hide in the corner.’

Mel stands back, giving me a stern look.

‘Don’t you ever apologise for being you! We wouldn’t be friends if you were some over the top, conceited author who was constantly seeking the spotlight. That’s why I should have realised Paul was wrong for you, from the start. You aren’t an attention seeker, Brie. But you wear your heart on your sleeve and maybe you need to toughen up a little. Let’s get the old, confident Brie back. The one who was content and optimistic about finding her Mr Right one day soon.’

Saturday, February 16, 2019

REVIEW: The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets

The Last Woman in the Forest 
by Diane Les Becquets

Thank you Berkley Pub and NetGalley for this early copy.

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 5, 2019
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Marian Engström has found her true calling: working with rescue dogs to help protect endangered wildlife. Her first assignment takes her to northern Alberta, where she falls in love with her mentor, the daring and brilliant Tate. When they’re separated on another assignment, she’s shattered to learn of his tragic death. Before long, Marian discovers disturbing inconsistencies about Tate’s life, and begins to wonder if the man she loved could have been responsible for the unsolved murders of at least four women.

Hoping to clear Tate’s name, Marian reaches out to a retired forensic profiler who’s haunted by the open cases. But as Marian relives her relationship with Tate and circles ever closer to the truth, evil stalks her every move.…

My Review:

This book starts off strong - the opening scene really gets you quite interested... and then it just kind of goes downhill from there.  Marian works in the wild, tracking and monitoring various animals - it's a lonely life without much romance or time for anything else.  Although it's frowned upon to date someone within your group, when she meets Tate, she just can't help herself.  However, what's too good to be true usually is and she starts suspecting him of being the killer of at least four woman.

The writing is fantastic but for me, I could have done without the overly description scenes with regards to the job at hand.  Don't get me wrong, I do find it fascinating but there was a lot of it and I could feel my eyes getting blurry in certain parts and had to put this down several times.  

We go back and forth from past to present and even with her suspicions, she loves him and wants to try and clear Tate's name.  She couldn't have possibly fallen in love with a psychopath... right?  This psychological suspense novel borders on genius but doesn't quite reach the mark.  It's rather slow paced and doesn't pick up anywhere after the prologue.  I with the characters had been a bit more fleshed out and had a fast pacing but the overal feel of the book was definitely consistent and I was intrigued enough to find out if Tate was really the killer or not.  By the time I got to the ending, I wasn't surprised, relieved or cared and I really wish I had.

I appreciate what the author was trying to do in terms of making women aware of their instincts to get themselves out of potential harmful situations... but I think this gets lost.  If you like reading stories about conservation projects with an overlaying of psychological suspense then this will definitely be a good read for you.  It's very atmospheric in putting you in the feel of the places they go to for their work.  While I felt the main storyline dragged on a bit and was a bit slow, I think readers who enjoy that psychological pull of did he/did he not will thoroughly enjoy this one.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

SPOTLIGHT: How to Experience Death for Beginners by Jessica Branton

How to Experience Death for Beginners
by Jessica Branton


Publisher: Charlie's Port-FRINGE
Publish Date: February 14, 2019
330 Pages
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

A clairvoyant introvert can enter the minds of people at their moment of death. When a serial killer emerges in her small town, she receives audacious advances from an enigmatic newcomer. While dodging detectives and falling in love, she joins forces with the FBI to take down the killer.

Never-been-kissed Casey Darling possesses the peculiar ability to enter the minds of people as they die. After receiving romantic advances from the enigmatic new guy at school, a serial killer invades her small town. Local police grow suspicious when Casey starts showing up at crime scenes, but an FBI agent believes in her psychic powers.
Will Casey fall in love or help take down a psychopath? Maybe both.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

SPOTLIGHT: They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes @natashatynes

They Called Me Wyatt 
by Natasha Tynes

Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Publish Date: June 11, 2019
280 Pages

When Jordanian student Siwar Salaiha is murdered on her birthday in College Park, Maryland, her consciousness survives, finding refuge in the body of a Seattle baby boy. Stuck in this speech delayed three-year old body, Siwar tries but fails to communicate with Wyatt's parents, instead she focuses on solving the mystery behind her murder. Eventually, her consciousness goes into a dormant state after Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Wyatt is a well-adjusted young man with an affinity towards the Middle East and a fear of heights. While working on his graduate degree in Middle Eastern studies, Wyatt learns about Siwar's death, which occurred twenty-five years ago. For reasons he can't explain, he grows obsessed with Siwar and spends months investigating her death, which police at the time erroneously ruled as suicide. His investigation forces him to open a door he has kept shut all his life, a spiritual connection to an unknown entity that he frequently refused to acknowledge. His leads take him to Amman, Jordan where after talking to her friends and family members and through his special connection with the deceased, he discovers a clue that unravels the mystery of her death. Will Siwar get justice after all?

Natasha Tynes is an award-winning Jordanian-American author and communications professional based in Washington, DC. An expert on the Middle East, she’s appeared on a number of national and international TV programs, including Larry King Live, PBS’s Foreign Exchange with Daljit DhaliwalPaula Zahn show, CBS’s This MorningScarborough Country, and BBC’s Up all Night. Her byline has appeared in the Washington PostAl JazeeraHuffington Post, and the Jordan Times, among many other outlets.  Her short stories have been published in Geometry,The Timerbline Review and Fjords.

SPOLIGHT and Q&A: Two Girl Down by Louisa Luna @vintageanchor #LouisaLuna

Two Girls Down by
Louisa Luna

Excited to be spotlighting Two Girls Down today AND bring you a Q&A with the author herself!
The paperback has been out and available for purchase - so get on it! 😃

Publisher: Anchor Books
Paperback Publish Date: January 9, 2018
384 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

As addictive, cinematic, and binge-worthy a narrative as The Wire and The KillingTwo Girls Down introduces Louisa Luna as a thriller writer of immense talent and verve. 
When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. 
With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

Louisa Luna is the author of the novels Brave New GirlCrooked, and Serious As A Heart Attack. She was born and raised in the city of San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

What does your writing process look like?  

It’s a weird one.  I have a day job (I’m an admin assistant at a financial company), so I write during the down time there.  Also on the subway if I get a seat.  Also at home on the weekends, and sometimes late at night. 

I like to think about a story quite a bit before diving in, and I truly believe my subconscious is always working even when I’m not.  When I start a book, I usually have a midpoint in mind, and maybe some stepping stones along the way, but I never know the ending.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?

Circling back to the first question, it’s probably finding time and space to write.  I’ve read books about writing that say things like you should always write at the same time every day for at least an hour or something, and that’s just not realistic for my lifestyle.  I’ve made my schedule work for me, but ultimately, being able to just get up in the morning and sit down in a quiet room with a nice strong cup of coffee and write would be really nice.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I talk to myself quite a bit.  Usually I do that while I’m writing dialogue for a scene, or I’m trying to work through the emotions of a character, so I will just walk the streets shaking my head and muttering.  Fortunately I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, so no one notices.  You would really have to try to stand out to get people’s attention in NYC.  Not because people here are so crazy, just because everyone’s busy doing her own thing; they don’t have time to worry about a basic weirdo like me.

Is there a type of scene that's harder for you to write than others?

You know, there’s no one type of scene that’s harder for me, but there are some scenes that I hit, and for whatever reason, they take forever.  Usually these are taking place toward the beginning of the story, and I’m still feeling my way around in the dark trying to find the drive and the intricacies of the plot so those scenes can feel painful but the only way is to push through and write it out.  I usually end up changing these scenes quite a bit – during the draft process, I’m not quite sure why they’re there, but I know they need to be there, and their purposes become clear as I continue.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Both.  When you’re working, you have to be confident and believe it’s good enough to finish.  When you’re looking for an agent, you have to believe you’ll find one (I sent Two Girls Down to 57 agents before I found my current agent, who is my dream agent, by the way).

But when you’re revising, you need to listen and trust your readers and your editors.  There are, of course, exceptions, and you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen that is your revision/editing process, but it never hurts to be humble.  I wish I had been more so in my early career.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I’ve finished the sequel to Two Girls Down.  It’s called The Janes, and it should be out in about a year.

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Sometimes I read them.  The bad ones don’t bother me anymore; I think they did at one point.  I guess now I’m just thankful to be in the game at all, so as long as I can make some money by writing books, I feel like it’s a win.

I would never respond to a reviewer directly.  I’d funnel that energy, good or bad, into writing new work.

Have you ever gotten reader's block?  How did you get out of it? (and yes, I meant reader's) :D

Well, this is an intriguing question.  Sometimes I will read a book that everyone says is just great, and I start it and think, what am I missing here.  And I will try and try to get through it and read like a paragraph a day and slug my way to the end.  So when I was younger I would make myself finish every book I started, but as I got older I got to the point where I was like, who has the time?  I think there are some tough reads that end up being quite rewarding, so it can be difficult to discern.

But I think my solution would be if you can’t get through a book, put that shit down and re-read one of your favorites, one that you’ve read ten times with the spine peeling off and the gum or coffee stain or mold on the cover.  Read that one again, and then go back to the toughie and give it one more try, and if you still can’t get through it and if you don’t have to read it for a review or an assignment, then don’t.  File it away in the “Life’s too short” stack.

What's one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?

The best writing advice I ever heard was in a lecture from the writer, Andre Dubus III, at a conference in 2012.  What resonated the most with me was a story he told about writing House of Sand and Fog, when the character, Kathy, runs across the street and steps on a nail.  He said while writing it he had a little argument with himself:  “Come on, if she steps on the nail, then I have to make her foot hurt in every subsequent scene; I have to have it bleeding and smelling; it will be a pain in the ass to write.”  But he knew that was the story; that was the truth of the story, and it had to happen.  He had to let her step on the nail.  So I have been trying to let my characters step on the nails ever since. 

What's the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

My daughter, who’s 8, and I were playing a game where we were making faces like different emojis and trying to guess what the other person was doing, and I did what I thought was a perfect laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying face, and she was like, “What is that?  You look like a sad coyote.”
She just cracks me up.