The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is a novel about the beautiful, imperfect ties that bind families together.
Delia is struggling. She’s trying to maintain it all with a rebellious teenage daughter and a demanding infant. If that weren’t enough to deal with, she is feeling increasingly isolated from her husband, dealing with the stress of her family’s charter business, and her elderly mother is ailing and in need of more care.
Delia’s sister Lindy, on the other hand, left town seventeen years ago to live her life in the city and has never looked back…until now. When she gets a call about their mother, Lindy returns for her first look at the people her mother and sister have become.
The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets opens with a heavy sense of the isolation Delia has lived with. A traumatic event seventeen years ago—that drove Lindy away and strained the family relationships—is slowly revealed throughout the book. Molly Fader has done an amazing job with capturing the dynamics of siblings who love each other, but are still dealing with the hurt of the past.
This is a deep and heart wrenching book, but also a lovely tale of sisters and the strength and love that bind a family together.
*I received a copy of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets from NetGalley and Graydon House in exchange for an honest review
Name: Emily Shore Author of: The Uncaged Series (The Aviary, The Garden, The Temple, The Temple Twins, The Aquarium) and The Ruby Trilogy (Ruby in the Rough, Ruby in the Ruins).
Excerpt from the Uncaged series:
My cage used to be the hotels where I grew up. There, I knew what to do and how to act. Now, I would choose to spend an eternity inside those walls, just being Serenity instead of a caged bird. At least in the hotel, I always had one constant. Sky. Who will I become here? Girls have adopted their feathers, seemingly as easy as zipping up a jacket. But I wear my lightning on my sleeve, and I always will. After Dove departs, I thumb my silver tattoo. Like flames and frost, it taunts my skin. Somehow, I must keep the Aviary from conquering me.
From: Rochester, NY
Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? Honestly, I can’t. I was an extremely early budding author and began writing stories from the time I knew how to string sentences together. But my earliest memories were writing fairy tales from classic books I was raised on like Chronicles of Narnia, Arabian Nights, Hans Christian Anderson and of course…Disney.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? From a young age, it was always acting or writing. Dolphin therapy, for a time but I couldn’t hack the science. And since I never got into any high school or community college plays but still loved to write with straight A-s…
Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? You mean other than fictional characters who doubled as my friends in a lonely childhood? No. I faced a lot of challenges and pressure to NOT write. As I was pursuing my creative writing degree, my fiancé now husband, was my only encourager.
Do you exclusively write young adult? Which genres do you prefer to write? I have exclusively written YA but in the fall, I would love to tackle my first NA novel and turn one of my old YA longer works into a NA short series. Someday, I will write a children’s book but not quite there.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Let’s see…mommy of two little girls + international adoption + home buying/selling + anti trafficking presentations + babysitting a single moms kids during the week + promoting my recently published Uncaged Series = I cant wait till the fall (school for both my girls!)
How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? Pre-children=1-4 months. Post-children=3-6 months with three self line edits.
Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Depends on the book. With my Uncaged Series, I spent upwards of ten years researching as I wrote and I still learn more about trafficking every day. I love my paranormal books because I don’t research too much. But when I do…vampire species and wolf behavior and everything undead oh my!
Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Not really. I’m pretty much one of those stereotypical authors with her cats and her headphones clicking away on my laptop while wearing pajamas and drinking tea…and occasionally some vodka!
Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I’ve loved traveling in the past pre-children and it was a thrill to take in as much as I could so I could use it for world building and location fodder. Germany is in my paranormal series releasing this fall! #1 on my bucket list is Paris.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? Every book is different! For one, it was a dream. For another, it was literally one photo. For The Uncaged Series, it happened when I went to Germany and overheard a conversation in an underground pub about the Red Light District. More inspiration came from Taken starting Liam Nelson – not the norm for sex trafficking – but I’ve written about that whole journey in a couple blog posts on my site.
Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? YA any genre, but I am selective regarding the books in whichever particular genre. What are your favorites? A Clean Teen Publishing Classic: Lauren Nicolle Taylor. I love every single book she’s written and it’s very difficult for me to choose a favorite. Laini Taylor is the Queen of Paranormal fantasy and I could read all of her books on repeat. Yes, I’m aware they share similar names. Coincidence? You decide.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Little hints in my books parallel to modern day issues that someone with more awareness might recognize. But that’s why I also have discussion questions. More humor hints and a prominent theme will be in my paranormal series this fall.
Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Absolutely! Yes, I’ve also tried very hard to model some of my characters opposite of people in my life and real life, too.
Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. My over-appreciated list is longer. Ballad by Maggie Stievfater. Dark urban fantasy. The MC makes me laugh every time. A Northern Light, ya historical, is another
Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. The Thousandth Floor. It’s cheesy, its soap opera-y, it’s easy reading, colorful cast of characters, and high tech I drool over.
Be honest: Do you Google yourself? Once or twice. My husband googles me more.
As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? You think me a damsel in distress? No, I am the DRAGON and I will swallow you whole!
Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Characterization. Perhaps this is me speaking from a place of having written 25 books in ten years. Hopefully, in another ten years, I’ll have more to offer with growth.
What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? For potential self publishing or small press authors: #1. You might not like to hear this, but work full time at a good paying job for awhile, accumulate a Publishing fund, and hire a professional, accredited editor. They are worth their weight in gold. Listen to them. Don’t listen to your professor. They know craft. Not necessarily publishing. #2 I don’t have to tell you not to give up. If you’re a real writer, you won’t.
What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Depends. Are they Big Five or small press or self published? If they’re Big Five: fangirling followed by begging them to read my book, small press: twinsies!, self published: successful? Loudly congratulating you outside and silently jealous inside, especially if you are a mom but self published when your kids were in grade school or older.
In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I’m a social media and word of mouth praiser and excellent reviewer. For the authors I love, I can’t sing their praises enough!
“Gentlemen, we have a special treat for you today. Feast your eyes on this pure-blooded beauty!”
Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding to protect her from this exact moment. In a world where beauty is bought and sold on the streets like a corporate commodity, Serenity’s natural assets are more like liabilities. Despite her parents’ best efforts, she’s been taken―ripped from her home and the only life she’s ever known―to find herself on sale to the highest bidder. And that bidder? Enigmatic and dangerous, Luc is the director of The Aviary―an elite museum where girls are displayed as living art by day…and cater to the lascivious whims of the highest bidder by night. In this elaborate and competitive world, girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale, and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.
Luc comes to idolize Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time―The Swan. In no time, she becomes one of the most coveted exhibits in Aviary history. When she discovers Luc holds the key to finding her parents, she must learn to play The Swan to perfection…to win his heart and earn his trust. But she doesn’t anticipate falling for him in the process. Now she faces an impossible choice: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents―or become Luc’s Swan for good and lose her identity forever.
Serenity is willing to do anything to find her sister, the twin Force has raised in the Temple since birth. But when Sky refuses to help, Serenity has no choice but to go to Luc—whose plan is to use Serenity as bait. Together, they embark to Force’s island vacation spot—the Garden, an exotic Museum that displays girls as Flowers. When their plan takes a turn for the worse, Jade, the Garden Director, captures Luc and Serenity. With both their lives in the balance, Serenity has no choice but to bow to Jade, who may be even more ruthless and determined than Luc. Serenity will become the Skeleton Flower.
The Ruby Series:
Ruby in the Rough
For four years, Ruby has escaped the gangs and sweepers hunting her. Until now… For the past four years, Ruby has lived in what was once a sprawling city of business and commerce. Now, it is the Ghetto; its main commerce exists in the form of females. Whether breeders, laborers, gang girls, or sex slaves, the Ghetto features any and every service with the Hotel as its central area of business. Thanks to her roof-topping skills and street smarts, which have made her impossible to catch, Ruby has made the Ghetto’s most-wanted list. Fortunately, she has one ally: a young man named Ink, the one man determined not to sell her. Unlike Ruby, Ink has no desire to leave the Ghetto, but she owes him a life debt and is trapped as much by her honor as by the soldiers patrolling the only exits out of the city. Whether scavenging for food or holing up in an abandoned clock tower, Ruby and Ink remain unlikely partners until their home in an abandoned train yard is discovered. While Ink escapes, Ruby is captured by the roughest gang in the Ghetto. All too soon, Ruby learns she is bound for the Hotel where she will be used up piece by piece until there is nothing left. Unless she can escape and get the target off her back once and for all.
Ruby in the Ruins
“Ruby!” I hear my father calling out to me, and I try to contain my giggles, keep them hiding behind the thick bush that is my hiding spot. My giggles poke through the leaves but not enough for him to hear.
Or so I thought.
“Aww, you found me!” I protest, puckering my lower lip into a pout when my father sweeps away some of the branches. “I was really trying to be quiet.”
“You did very well,” my father assures me and scoops me into his arms.
“I’m nine years old now. I’m getting better at hiding,” I tell him proudly while winding my arms around his neck.
“That you are.” He beams and swings me around before setting me on the ground.
“So how did you find me?” I follow him back to the barn, eager to see the new goat kid that was born yesterday. Playing hide-and-seek was the only thing that could keep me distracted until Daddy was ready to let me in.
Daddy rubs my head, playing with some of my hair. “This right here.” He tugs on a cluster. “Could see your red hair through the brush. If you ever need to really hide, you’ll have to make sure you cover it up.”
“Or I could just cut it like Mal’s.”
Sighing, my father squats down next to me, his big palm cupping the side of my face, strong blue eyes insistent as an oncoming wave. “Never cut your hair, Ruby. Don’t ever change anything. Don’t let this world dictate how you look or even how you survive. Just survive. On your terms.”
And it has been on my terms all these years. Until now.
The worst of it isn’t the jump from the train.
The worst is the landing.
It’s the second time I’ve been tossed from a moving vehicle in less than twenty-four hours. Except this time, it was voluntary. As soon as I heard the gunshots and saw Ruby fall off the back of the train through the window, it didn’t take me long to follow.
Only now I’m regretting it because I won’t be any help to Ruby if I’m dead.
the story of a strong family and two very different women from two distinctly
different times who’ve now come together under one roof: 1960’s housewife
Joanna and her 1920’s-era mother-in-law.
This is a
slow-growing, character-driven story about the invisible ties that develop between
people through our lives. The characters (there are a lot to keep track of and
it felt overwhelming early on) are richly developed and intriguing, each with a
unique history, motivation and voice.
Karen Kelly writes of each era and character in a way that brings them to life without slowing the pace or feeling too showy. The stories of both women are beautifully woven together until the finale beautiful end, which left me a little misty eyed.
*I received a copy of Bethlehem from St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
My April reading & audiobook listening habits were a bit varied–and kind of busy! I had a number of ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to read for books that are/were about to be released. I also went back and revisited some old favorites on audio. I have to say, I love listening to audiobooks and I knock out a number of my monthly “reading” items while getting ready for work, driving, walking, cleaning the house and doing yard work.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t initially excited about one of the books I read this month, but once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down. Five hours later, my mind was blown and I was in love with this book! I’ll lead with it!
Also, as I’m leaving for London and Scotland soon, I’ve started to binge on all the Philippa Gregory novels to get me in the right mind for my travels.
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister
(Available May 21, 2019)
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.
Montauk by Nicola Harrison
Montauk, Long Island, 1938.
For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor―a two-hundred room seaside hotel―while Harry pursues other interests in the city.
College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was.
As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future.
Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has, when fates conspire to tear her world apart…
Lucid by Kristy Fairlamb
A Terrifying Power. A Horrifying Curse.
Lucy Piper lives a lonely existence on the precipice between life and death. She possesses the horrifying ability to resurrect real-life tragic events in her nightmares, reliving over and over, as if she were there, the last few moments before the victim takes their final breath. Car accidents, drownings, plane crashes – Lucy has seen it all. No one understands what it’s like living death by night and fearing sleep by day.
When Tyler Sims and his family move to town to escape past traumas, Lucy is drawn to him. The two of them are linked through their dreams, and with Tyler’s trust and friendship, hope for a brighter future returns to Lucy’s world. But Tyler’s presence awakens something else in Lucy, and with this new knowledge she will be forced to make impossible decisions. Decisions that will change history, and the future.
Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Available June 11, 2019
Enter a world of gargoyle protectors, rising demons and one girl with an explosive secret.
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…
A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson
Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes—and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration, A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.
Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts . . . he’s at Hogwarts.”
Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.
The Wicked King by Holly Black
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Brother turns on brother. The throne of England is at stake. The deadly Wars of the Roses have begun. . . .”They ruled England before the Tudors, and now internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings the Plantagenets to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women.”Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition, secretly marries the newly crowned boy king. While she rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become the central figures in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London. Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series.
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
Caught between loyalties, the mother of the Tudors must choose between the red rose and the white.
When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.
But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.
Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.
Storm and Fury is a spinoff of the Lux series. As a disclaimer, I have not (yet!) read the Lux series, so my review is based entirely on this book.
The world: It’s like ours, but gargoyles (you know, the stone statues!) came off their ledges several years ago and are now protecting humanity from demons (oh, yeah, they also walk the earth). The shape-shifting gargoyles—called Wardens—live in protected communities.
The characters: Trinity is half-human and half something-else who has grown up behind the protected walls of a Warden community. Though she’s slowly going blind, Trinity has the strength and fighting ability far beyond what most of the Wardens think her capable of—and that is part of Trinity’s secret. Misha is a Warden who is bonded to Trinity and serves as her protector. Peanut is a ghost that serves as a side-kick of sorts to Trinity (oh, yeah, she can see ghosts as well!). Zayne is a Warden from the DC area, who has arrived with news about an increasing danger to humans and Wardens.
The storyline: Trinity is an eighteen-year old living in a protected West Virginia community in which very few people actually know why they’re protecting her—or what she really is. She is fierce and a true badass, but she is also slowly going blind. Also, she’s a teenaged girl who dreams of leaving her protected life and experiencing the world. Two Wardens arrive from the DC area, one of which is Zayne, and Trinity eavesdrops on a conversation they have with the lead Warden in Trinity’s community. Something has been killing demons and Wardens. Trinity and Zayne have an immediate connection, as if pulled together by fate. After an attack, when a Warden is taken, Trinity joins Zayne when he returns to DC, where she actually meets demons, as well as witches, and develops a new, and surprising view of the world while trying to discover who—or what—is threatening the world.
I found the opening of Storm and Fury to be a bit slow. The build up is slow, but once the action begins, it really does move along quite quickly and I was truly caught up in the action. Trinity is smart, sassy/snarky and a real badass. I wasn’t sure about Zayne at first, he seemed like he might be a creep trying to be charming, but I warmed to him pretty quickly. Storm and Fury ends with a hell of a cliffhanger, which leaves me anxious for book 2.
*I received a copy of Storm and Fury from NetGalley and Inkyard Press/Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review
Lucy has a gift, which is also a curse. At night, in her dreams, she visits and relives tragedies, watching as strangers across the world take their final breaths. And then a familiar boy moves in near Lucy, she knows she’s never met him, but why does she remember his face so clearly? Soon Lucy is confronting the realities of her abilities, are there limitations to what she can do in her dreams or has she underestimated herself all this time? Lucid is an exciting, mind-bending thriller that throws open the “What-If” door and demands to explore every possibility. I can’t wait for book 2!!
*I received a copy of Lucid from Netgalley and Lakewater Press in exchange for an honest review
I’ve been reading a
lot of historical novels set in seaside locations lately and Cape May seemed as though it would slide
nicely into place with the others. As it turns out, Cape May is also about characters—and a country—on the verge of
change, played out in a sleepy seaside town, but this book has a darker edge
It’s 1957 and newlyweds
Henry and Effie have traveled to Cape May on their honeymoon. Having arrived from
Georgia during the off season, they find that most of the town is closed down
and weather is miserable. Before they can pack up and leave, they come across a
trio of wealthy socialites, one of whom Effie knew during her childhood trips
to Cape May. What follows is a gin-fueled,
hedonistic loss of naivety and an introduction to evolving sexual dynamics and the
consequences of those relationships.
I’m torn about my
feelings toward Cape May, on one hand the setting was spectacularly portrayed
and the evolution of Effie and Henry’s relationship intriguing (like any
catastrophe would be to watch). On the other, I just didn’t feel any strong
ties to any of the characters, so I never felt invested in the story to the
point that I would rave about it.
*I received a copy
of Cape May from NetGalley and Celadon Books in exchange for an honest review
It’s 1938 and for Beatrice Bordeaux the opportunity to spend
the summer in Montauk seems like just what she needs to reignite the passion
that’s missing in her marriage. The Manor—an up-and-coming vacation getaway for the wealthy—promises
leisure, sport, and the opportunity for networking.
husband is becoming more distant and spends more time in the city than working
on their marriage. After five years, Beatrice is still longing for a child, but
pregnancy seems far less likely as her husband’s affections are directed elsewhere.
With her modest
upbringing, Bea finds herself growing less comfortable with the society ladies and
spends time with the locals, including the handsome man who runs the
Now Bea finds herself
on the precipice of two worlds, tottering between the world she committed to,
and the one she longs for. Will Bea get to make a choice between them before
Montauk is a descriptive historical novel that explores a woman—as well as a country—on the verge of great change. Author Nicola Harrison has effectively shown the struggle with women’s roles, family life, and class inequality. The setting is vividly depicted and you can imagine yourself sitting on the beach or at the yacht club listening as conversations take place. While the opening may have felt a bit slow to me, I was effectively caught up in the story as it progressed to a somewhat surprising conclusion.
Montauk is a satisfying read that’ll transport you to this sleepy summer town on the cusp of notoriety.
*I received a copy of
Montauk from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
of: The Next Girl to Die
(coming May 1, 2019)
you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?
It was a piece for a creative writing class in
9th grade, about a man who was turned into a potted plant
(mistakenly) by a witch.
did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?
I wouldn’t say I’m pursing it as a profession,
I have a day job that I love immensely and need a challenge both in writing and
in my non-writing career. I try to look at them as different beasts that don’t
overlap. One is never going to replace the other. That being said, I started
writing my first “novel” in my early twenties. I wrote the beginning of that
novel around 437,000 times. Then, probably around 2006, I told myself it was
either time to do it or stop thinking about it. I sat down, spent around a year
writing the first (AWFUL) draft. The second book I wrote was much easier,
and faster (though if you ask me, not much better). Though I did sort-of query
the first two books, I wasn’t serious about it. My third project, a YA
Paranormal Romance, was the first book I realized I wanted to seriously pursue.
It wasn’t until I finished my fifth MS, and queried that, that I ended up
signing with an agent.
there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your
journey to become a published author?
There have been so many amazing people in my
life that have helped me on this journey, and of course I can’t name them all
here. My critique partner (and one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met),
Elesha Teskey, for one – I don’t know where I’d be without her. A writing group
I had while I lived in Connecticut helped me immensely understanding the
market, shaping my query, and realizing how much work marketing a book really
is. And then my agent, Laura Bradford, has been fabulous and helped me in so
many ways on this journey, giving me the advice I need to improve my work, and
of course finding a place for it in the world.
you exclusively write thrillers or have you written in other genres?
I write thrillers, fantasy, and romantic
suspense for the adult market. I also write paranormal romance, historical
fantasy, and thrillers for the young adult market.
is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a
work, life, write balance?
When I’m writing a draft, I write during my
lunch break at work (if I can), and then I write once my son goes to sleep for
the night. Typically my writing time is 8pm to 11pm (or midnight, depending on
how long the coffee keeps me up). It can be very difficult to maintain
work/life balance with writing, especially in the draft stage, because I tend
to become completely immersed in the story.
long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend
It really varies by project. But my fastest
draft (40k words) was two weeks. My most recent draft (60k words) was 17 days,
I think. Something like that. On average though, I’d say a first draft takes me
4-6 weeks. Edits are a completely different beast. I usually set something
aside to think about it after the draft. So, it can take me anywhere from six
months to a year to get through revisions, readers, etc.
you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?
It depends on which market I’m writing. Most
projects, at the very least, I start out with a very detailed outline, and a
character spreadsheet. For my historical projects, I look at the general time
period/location I want to write about – then I fill in more of the historical
details during the revision period. I have one exception to this, which is a
novel that I spent over a month researching because it was very important to me
to capture the location/history of the setting – as I saw the setting as its
own character in a way.
you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to
That I’d never want anyone to know? Nah, not
really. I’m a pretty open book about being peak-weird. I do find that I do my
best writing during thunderstorms. I write all of my drafts/edits on paper.
Though I can write on the computer,
and I have challenged myself to do one entire MS on the computer instead of
long hand, I find it doesn’t flow as well or as easily for me that way. I also
have to write with the window open. And when I’m writing/editing a project, I
fully immerse myself in similar genres/time periods for all the books, TV
shows, and movies I’m watching/reading at the time. The one exception to this
is SVU, because SVU transcends all.
you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your
novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?
I haven’t done a literary pilgrimage, though I
would LOVE TO. I’m currently editing a project about a sanatorium, and I cannot
tell you how badly I want to go traipse around some abandoned sanatoriums. I
have gone to walk through an orange grove for inspiration for one particular
character. There is also a creepy mansion I’ve visited a few times that appears
in one of my novels.
comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of
For some, yes. For others, it was more than
likely a spark of inspiration while driving. My current project actually came
upon in a stranger way than usual. This character was meant to be connected to
another book, and while writing some of her origin story, I ended up falling
down a plotting rabbit hole and writing an entirely different book.
Do you have a specific genre you prefer to
read? What are your favorites?
I love thrillers,
historical, romantic suspense, anything with kilts, fantasy – and anything
creepy or weird.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that
only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?
I haven’t yet – but
now I might 😉
Are your characters inspired—in part or
whole—by people in your real life?
I don’t base any
characters on people I know. I have some characters that have historical
influences, but I think that’s the closest I’ll ever get to having a character
based on a real person. Usually I start with a base idea for what I think a
character is going to be, and halfway through the draft I really know them.
Name one book you think is entirely
Diary by Chuck
Palahniuk – Fight Club gets so much attention, but Diary is my favorite book.
Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.
I don’t feel guilty
about reading books, so I can’t think of one that I would consider to be a
Be honest: Do you Google yourself?
Nope, I let Google do
that for me. Google Alerts 😉
As a writer, which animal would you choose as your
there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly
Spelling. I am AWFUL at spelling. It was
something I always had trouble with in school.
is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?
Be patient, keep going no matter what. And
don’t edit as you write, edit AFTER your first draft is complete.
is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?
Try to find a balance between promo for your
book, and the other things you love. It’s important to remember that the whole
world isn’t the book release. And – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for
help. Don’t feel like you’re alone with your release. Ask other authors,
friends, betas, family members, there are so many people that would love to
what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?
Every month on my blog I do critique
giveaways, some are for queries, some for queries and pages. I will also do
flash query giveaways on twitter sometimes. The writing community was so
integral to keeping me writing and helping me find an agent, it’s super
important to me to give back.
Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.
It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.
Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.
When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
My plan this morning was to skim the first chapter of The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister, just to get a feel for it. Five hours later, I’ve finished the book and I’m still spell-bound.
Emmaline and her
father live alone on island, surrounded by all the wonders of nature. In their
cabin, her father stores small vials, the smells of a thousand memories bottled
and sealed in an effort to preserve them forever. But as the scents begin to
fade, and Emmaline’s curiosity pushes her farther from her father’s rules,
everything she’s known is at risk.
Through a series of
tragic events Emmaline finds herself in the harsh, noisy “real world” where her
understanding of smells is the only thing she has to help navigate the new
town, school, and relationships she lacked on the island. And beyond it all is
the lingering mystery of who Emmaline really is and where she came from.
The Scent Keeper is
a beautifully written, lyrical story that pulls at your heart and engages your
senses. The emotions and descriptions are so vivid that you will feel the heartache
and smell the scents. It’s a mesmerizing and enchanting journey of self-discovery
and self-awareness. All I can say is, just wow. Great writing and a great book.
*I received a copy of The Scent Keeper from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.