Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England.
You can find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Edelweiss+.
School library volunteer at my son's K8 school. Member of ALA and YALSA.
Review requests ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
RELEASED March 17th, 2020
Links to buy the book on via the author’s site - dianaurban.com
Six teens are invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. They’ve been lured to a dining room and locked in with a bomb and a syringe of poison, along with a note instructing them to pick one of them to die….or they all will. The book retraces the events of the last year, flashing back to each character at times that reveal various connections between each of them and all kinds of twisted secrets. Who could have known how they were all connected and how will they choose who will die?
This is a smart contemporary, perfectly combined with mystery, a whodunit that keeps you guessing until the end. The cast of characters has been compared to that of ‘The Breakfast Club’ (only one of the best 80’s coming-of-age teen movies ever); the queen bee, the star athlete, the stoner, the loner, the valedictorian and the music geek cover just about all the usual cliques and stereotypes you’ll find in American high school. Over the decades of movies and books, they haven’t really changed that much but this story felt fresh.
As the teens’ stories are revealed through their past timelines, multiple themes are focused on such as bullying, mental health issues, drug abuse, and suicide. While this makes clear that these things could be triggering, I want to say how skilled author Diana Urban was in writing such complex issues into such a thrilling book. So much action happens over a relatively short period of time and in a small space with a lot of characters, and it takes some really crafty writing to pull that off. Having worked in film, and doing continuity on set, I pictured a lot of these scenes in my head while reading and marveled at how complex it is to write scenes like them to build action within such tight parameters.
If you like classic mysteries like those by Agatha Christie, this is a perfect read.
If you love the board game (or the super fun 80’s movie) CLUE, this book is for you. I really enjoyed the ensemble cast of characters.
If you need a book where the characters are feeling just as shut inside and claustrophobic as you during this virus quarantine, then this is definitely THE book for that. And you will pass the hours by way too quickly because this will just suck you in. The most fun to be had while ‘stuck’ in one (imaginary) room.
‘All Your Twisted Secrets’ is a brilliantly written, smart mystery that I couldn’t put down once I started it; I truly hope there’s so much more to come from Diana Urban! Easily a 5 star read.
ABOUT DIANA URBAN
Diana Urban is an author of dark, twisty thrillers. When she's not torturing fictional characters, she works in digital marketing for startups. She lives with her husband and cat in Boston and enjoys reading, video games, fawning over cute animals, and looking at the beach from a safe distance.
The first word I thought of to describe ‘Red Hood’ is outstanding. It holds a potent message of female empowerment and gives us a whole new image of ‘Little Red Hiding Rood,’ and it’s coated in so much blood it feels like a murder-mystery. If just that makes you uncomfortable or woozy, you probably won’t be able to handle all the intense themes and topics* that author Elana K. Arnold weaves into this hypnotic coming-of-age tale. But if you love a brave story where cruel realities meet bold fantasy and aren't afraid to enter the woods, you should definitely proceed.
There are countless stories where women and girls are at the mercy of men, of predators, where they are abused and assaulted, and it takes a lot for retribution to happen. Sometimes it never does. They are stories that mirror reality and they are hard to read and hear because they are too familiar to many of us.
'Red Hood' flips that story on its tail, with Bisou discovering her birthright when she gets her first period at the light of the full moon on Homecoming night; she suddenly has the otherworldly power to fight and kill the predators she can now sense in the dark Seattle woods. Bisou can sense when the wolves, these broken boys, are attacking their prey, and she is compelled by her own past, her bloodline, to protect and save these young women, these girls, and go on the hunt.
With a story loaded with an emotional hot-button issue like sexual assault (and revenge-killing) in a social climate where the #MeToo movement is on everyone's radar, this book is sure to catch the attention of a lot of readers. And it will be the reason some have to stay away; that's fine, we know our limits.
There will be discussion over whether 'killing the wolf' (and whether an 'eye for an eye') is justified. But I liken this kind of justice to that of other vigilantes out there in our fantasy worlds, our superheroes, Batman, Arrow, Hawkeye. I have to wonder if this kind of vengeance is called into question further because it's a woman carrying it out and because of the connection to sex. And no, I don't think we have to answer how the 'boy became the wolf' because that's a whole other story, and not for Bisou's tale. We don't always have to answer where the evil comes from to know that we have to get rid of it.
I struggled to write this review, as I often have when a book really blows me away. I’d been lost for words since I read it, but thought about it a lot, and had somewhat pointlessly ‘written’ a review in my mind several times. I just want others to feel the way I did when I read it, clinging to every word.
Last year, it was ‘The Grace Year’ by Kim Liggett that did the same thing for me. Both books portray women finding their place, their truth, and their power, albeit through very different stories and means, but both left me feeling that women can change their circumstances, they can be emboldened and empowered, and that they are ENOUGH. 'Red Hood' is magical and profound. It's also an intimate tale of one girl's discovery of her tragic past and her personal power. And as I said, it's outstanding.
*Aside from sexual assault, murder, revenge-killing and rape, some themes and topics raised: sexual intercourse (including loss of virginity, and teen sex), drug and alcohol use, menstruation, abuse, bullying, suicide, self-harm, stalking, toxic masculinity, harassment.
Jaya Rao and her little sister Isha are Indian princesses, teenagers who end up at an elite boarding school called St. Rosetta's International Academy in Aspen, Colorado. Aside from Jaya's usual responsibilities that involve preparing her to one day take over the role of helming the 'Imperial House of Mysuru,' Jaya is fiercely protective of her younger sister Isha, who has recently fallen victim to a tabloid campaign released by someone in the Emerson family, British aristocracy and centuries-old rivals of the Raos. It's a rivalry based on a curse and superstition, centered around a stolen ruby, the perfect setup for a fairytale. In this modern reimagining of 'Beauty and the Beast' Jaya finds out that Grey Emerson, the young Lord Northcliffe, is also at Rosetta's and Jaya vows revenge for her sister, something that will require her to get this nobleman to fall in love with her just so she can break his heart.
'Of Curses & Kisses' was the perfect YA romance novel for me right now and since I'm not a huge reader of the genre, I'm pretty selective with these reads. This one piqued my interest early because of the boarding school setting (I just couldn’t resist) and the unique matchup of the main characters due to their backgrounds and ancestry.
Menon is a natural storyteller with a light and easy way of storytelling, and this novel is a perfect example of why she is one of the most popular names in young adult romance literature.
She creates many great setups for multifaceted vibrant characters and demonstrates the struggle to choose between family and ancestry, and the desire to grow up and become autonomous. As a lead character whose motives drive the storyline, Jaya’s connection to her sister is one of her most admirable traits, but because it fuels her revenge plot that revolves around her getting close to her male ‘rival’ Grey, she has so many conflicting emotions. She is confused by her real attraction to Grey, a brooding, sympathetic character (who calls himself a ‘Beast’) who she is supposed to ‘love and leave’ as it conflicts with her duty to marry an Indian boy back home.
I was frustrated that some of the friendships seemed a little shallow and although the strict conformity of Jaya was initially irritating, these elements made more sense as the story unfurled. I was aching for her to break out of the mold that she is trapped in, which her sister Isha has been able to do since they’ve been far from their home in India. I’m really hoping that in upcoming sequels about these two at Rosetta’s, Menon includes more of Isha and allows them both to blossom further.
While this might not be ground-breaking territory, I appreciate that author Menon has written a romance that teens on the younger end of the scale can read and appreciate, along with everyone else; the intimate encounters between characters don’t feel too over the top.
Whether you are a ‘Beauty & The Beast’ fan and are looking for new life to be breathed into the classic fairytale, or you know nothing of the original, this is a fun jaunt with a modern twist to boarding school in the Colorado Rockies. It offers international flair and light romance and is perfect reading for in between heavier books.
*Thank you to Goodreads giveaways for my early copy!
RELEASES TODAY JAN 7, 2020
Need an exciting, genre-bending book to kick-start your 2020 and pull you out of your winter doldrums?
'Oasis' by Katya de Becerra, is a speculative fiction novel, a YA adventure thriller, and the perfect antidote to any complaints about it being too cold in January (at least in some parts of the world right now).
This is the second novel by Katya and it's quite different from her debut 'What The Woods Keep'; WTWK was set in the woods of Colorado, where you could almost feel the cool, damp air coming off its spooky pages, but 'Oasis' will hit you with a blast of desert heat and entrap you in its 'Twilight Zone'-like warped reality.
The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave . . .
Blending science-fiction, adventure, and mystery, the book begins with Alif and a group of her four friends traveling to Dubai, to work on her father's archaeological dig. When a sudden sandstorm wipes away the desert camp, the group finds themselves stranded out in the dunes, with no sight of the dig or anything remotely near civilization on the horizon. When they find an unexpected oasis, which provides them with food, water, shade, and a sliver of hope for survival, the friends decide to wait things out, hoping to be rescued. The discovery of an ancient object changes their fates entirely, and reality becomes harder to hold on to as they feel sucked into what feels like the Twilight Zone crossed with a perilous episode of Lost.
Their friendships are tested as the tension and fear grow; trust between them dissolves and the oasis and all that it holds, is a threat to their perception and ultimately, their lives. Things aren't always as they seem in the oasis...
I became an instant fan of Katya's writing with her first book and this is because of her wildly intelligent storytelling, which has roots in science and her own experience, and her unique brand of 'paranormal thriller.'
The vibe of the book is one of unease from the very start; as much as an Indiana Jones-style archaeological dig seems like it could be exciting, I got the ominous feeling early on that it would eventually be terrifying. The oasis feels too good to be true when the group finds it at first, and when strange things start happening, there is a dread that kicks in.
Katya masterfully creates atmosphere (in both of her books) with her detailed descriptions of the setting, and the oasis becomes another character itself. I actually could feel my anxiety building the longer that Alif and her friends were stuck in the oasis, and as the book continues, a distorted sense of what's real and what's not. I likened the feeling to how I feel when dehydrated, tired and overheated, like the characters themselves (I have horrible heat intolerance these days, so I know I wouldn't have lasted long in this book). While the physical struggle for survival is dire in these conditions, a grip on reality is a greater challenge, something I find even more frightening. This is a theme that continues through to the end of the novel, where questions still will linger for the reader, about perceived realities and even whether it's worth wishing for what we don't have.
*When reading this, I also couldn't help but think of how I feel when I read a book by Blake Crouch, who is another favorite author of mine (Dark Matter, Recursion, Wayward Pines).
'Oasis' will probably leave you feeling unnerved (and maybe a bit sweaty) and while Katya creates a slow build rather than quick twists and turns, it will have carried you far and away from your own present reality. It's dark, even in the blazing sun, and delightfully mind-bending.
Katya de Becerra is the author of What The Woods Keep, a YA genre-bender combining mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Her next novel Oasis will be published in January 2020. She was born in Russia, studied in California and now lives in Melbourne. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Melbourne in 2014 and has since been working as a university lecturer and a researcher in higher education.
Congrats to you, Katya, on your second novel, the Booklist starred reviews, and for being a BOTM pick! I'm thrilled for you!
You can read my previous review for WHAT THE WOODS KEEP HERE!
**OASIS CONTENT WARNINGS (general): mention/descriptions of blood and injury, turbulence, mentions of bullying, mentions of violent behavior, smoking, swearing, physical & verbal fighting, mentions of divorce, mentions of racism and racist micro-aggressions, the experience of injury/strain, dehydration, drinking alcohol
Content warnings ('spoilery' ones): death by impalement, human bones, mentions of artifact theft and trafficking/smuggling, hospitalization, medical procedure (IV drip), seizures (observed, not experienced), fear of drinking poisoned water
*Warnings are per Katya herself
In 2018, I totally fell for a YA thriller called 'DIVE SMACK' by debut Greek-American author Demetra Brodsky, and eagerly wrote a blog tour post featuring a 5-star review for the book. The book has a male teen protagonist who shows emotional vulnerability, is on the school dive team, and is experiencing profound grief and loss, bold choices for a lead character, plus he's within a whole cast of unique characters. It's dark, twisty, and even funny, I can't recommend it enough.
SO, I'm very excited about Demetra's next upcoming book, 'LAST GIRLS' due to be released May 20th, 2020 by Tor Teen! It's a book about the end of the world, a YA dystopian novel, but the author describes it as a book about survival and sisterhood.
Here is the first look at the amazing cover!
Cover Artist Credit
No one knows how the world will end.
On a secret compound in the Washington wilderness, Honey Juniper and her sisters are training to hunt, homestead, and protect their own.
Train for every situation.
But when danger strikes from within, putting her sisters at risk, training becomes real life, and only one thing is certain:
Nowhere is safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, DEMETRA BRODSKY
DEMETRA BRODSKY loves to write twisty thrillers about dark family secrets. She is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned full-time. A first-generation Greek American and native of Massachusetts with a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Demetra now lives in Southern California where she's always exploring and researching, hunting for clues that might feed into her next book. Dive Smack, her debut YA Thriller, was a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection, and an (ALAN) Pick (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE).
LINKS TO PREORDER THE BOOK!
I expect I'll have a review up before the book release; lookout for this exciting apocalyptic thriller, and preorder! Preorders really help authors!!
So I took a break from my regularly scheduled October menu of horror reading and read LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS for this blog tour, and it was like stepping into an alternate reality. It's a YA fantasy, but it almost defies categorization because of how it brings the old world into the present and breathes new life into ancient myth.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Emily Roberson
Pub. Date: October 22, 2019
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
This is an astoundingly clever mash-up of Greek mythology, celebrity culture (think 'Keeping Up with The Kardashians'), and the Hunger Games; altogether the story of Ariadne and Theseus is told, where the gods are under the lens 24/7 just like Khloe and Kim, and ratings are always king. The monster is the Minotaur, Ariadne's brother, a tragic character, who is supposed to be killed by whoever solves the maze. Ariadne is caught between helping her new-found love or helping her family, with everything having been written by the gods.
Life's tricky when your dad is King of Crete.
It's kind of nauseating to read about Greek gods and goddesses caught up in the trappings of modern life, of cell phones, celebrity gossip, and social media, BUT its also really fun. Suspend your disbelief for a little while and imagine Ariadne with an iPhone. She is also a strong heroine in this novel who carries the whole storyline, making you root for her the whole way through.
Author Roberson is making Greek myth accessible for a newer generation at the same time questioning the way we value celebrity; she has written something decidedly clever and unique. Her writing is provocative without being too obvious, fand it's both funny and intelligent.
Purists may have a hard time with a book like this but it's hard not to get caught up in the idea of it. If you liked the Hunger Games, like Greek myths and can see the funny side of celebrity culture, give this is a go.
EMILY ROBERSON is the author of LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2019). She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Emily has been a bookseller in Little Rock, a newspaper reporter in Vicksburg, a marketing manager in Boston, and a writer in Chapel Hill and Dallas. She graduated from Brown University and has a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband, three sons and no pets.
You can find her on the web on instagram @robersonemilym and on twitter @RobersonEmily.
Sign up for Emily's newsletter here if you would like book news and other updates.
Image by: Laura Kellerman photography
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!
3 winners will receive finished copies of LIFESTYLES OF GODS & MONSTERS, US only.
*Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for this blog tour!
Scarlet. Mustard. Green. Peacock. Plum. Orchid.
One storm will change their lives forever…if they survive the night.
When a killer storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students are left stranded at the aristocratic mansion on campus. House later, his lifeless body is discovered in a pool of blood.
Based on the classic board game CLUE, IN THE HALL WITH THE KNIFE kicks off a trilogy of young adult mysteries in which nothing is what it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder.
The Game is On. No One is Safe.
I am going to hazard a guess and bet that a whole load of readers of this will pick it up out of nostalgia for either the cult classic 1985 film 'Clue' or because they enjoyed the Hasbro board game of the same name that the excellent movie was based on.
Or both, which is why I had to read it!
This is a modern reimagining of the board game 'Clue' (and when it's brought 'to life' in this way, it takes on the story form like the movie); set in an elite prep school in the woods of Maine called Blackbrook Academy. The characters are all there: Scarlet, Mustard, White, Green, Plum, Peacock, Orchid, and yes, Mr. Boddy. They all become stuck in this grand mansion of a school out on the tip of a rocky peninsula in the middle of what seems to be the storm of the decade, with no power, no way in or out, and then there's a murder.
The characters all have secrets, and a lot of them neatly fit stereotypes (rather like the original movie, I suppose, which may grate on some nerves and irritate some readers, but is actually wonderfully campy in the film). If you don't have the movie to constantly compare to (even with the board game as background), the book actually simply works well as a YA fun murder-mystery read: everyone is a suspect, they all seem to have a motive, but it doesn't get too heavy or scary. This is actually much like the vibe of the film; mystery LITE.
I would be interested in hearing what people think who have only played the board game, and from those who have not played the game but seen the film; I may have seen the film so many times that I constantly had images of Tim Curry scurrying around a mansion in a butler outfit (he was just SO PERFECT). I do think that Diana Peterfreund has paid great homage to the general 'Clue' board game franchise, and it will bring back some warm fuzzy feelings for fans (unless you expect the characters to be carbon copies of the movie versions, as well as the storyline).
It took a little while for me to get fully invested in the story, and much like the film, the 'big event' happens quite the way into the book. The chapters are named after the different characters as they reveal more about each one and follow them through the story. That took a while to get used to (it is used SO much) but I found it useful in separating their story arcs.
It's always a huge gamble to write a movie based on a book, so is it just as much of a gamble to write a book based on a movie? I'm not sure. This may be removed enough from the original film (or game) that it will find a different audience anyway. And maybe people will go out and play the board game again??! Who knows.
This will be released 10.8.19 on Amulet Books (Abrams) and there are plans for a series of Clue mysteries (at least 2 more books).
You can find all the links to GET A COPY HERE!
*I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program. Thank you!
Ultimately this was a pretty confusing read, and that’s not good when it comes to middle-grade reading, as the basic storyline should be easy to follow. The story even started as though a chapter was missing.
Given that the famed author R.L. Stine is adept at stringing a yarn or two together, I kept thinking it was going to become crystal clear. I enjoyed the illustrations and some of the concepts involved but if the Scare School is going work in graphic novel form, the storylines have got to be WAY clearer than this.
This meticulously drawn graphic novel about Jeffrey Dahmer as a high schooler is a haunting portrait of a disturbed individual in his formative years and it depicts how the environment that he grew up in helped create one of the most notorious serial killers in recent memory.
The author-artist is fellow Dahmer classmate Derf Backderf, who proves how hindsight can be 20/20, recognizing all the disturbing behaviors and situations upon reflection, and after Dahmer's ghastly murders were committed. Derf has pieced together the timeline for the graphic novel with help from Dahmer's father's novel and other records, used recollections from other classmates, and paints a picture of Dahmer that is both shocking and in many ways sympathetic.
If there was ever a playbook for creating or spotting a serial killer Derf shows how Dahmer 'checks all the boxes': a disturbed mind and untreated mental illness, teenage alcoholism, isolated in a small town in an era when school had few rules, dysfunction at home where parents go through a nasty divorce, mother has her own mental health problems, dad is oblivious to his son's issues, Dahmer doesn't fit in at school and is bullied by some of his peers, repressed sexual urges and closeted homosexuality, interest in dead animals and roadkill, collection of animal carcasses, his apathy and lack of emotion. So many warning signs. So little done to step in.
Derf asks at one point 'Where were all the adults?' but he also recognizes that this was a different decade, a different era, and remarks that even his teachers would comment on rolling their own joints, and obviously turned a blind eye to a drunk Dahmer every day. There's also a point where, after Dahmer's first murder, thanks to shoddy police work, he SHOULD have been caught. Today, we have our eyes open to all sorts of new concerns, and schools have zero tolerance for any substance use and keep an eye out for mental health problems and bullying.
This is a tragic tale, but I appreciate that Derf told it the way he did (even with the adolescent ignorance involved) and that the movie adaptation happened. May another horrific set of crimes, or such a troubled individual, never come out of a similar circumstance again.
As with everything that Blake Crouch writes, ‘Summer Frost’ is absolutely mind-blowing and is based on a terrifying concept. Set in a future where artificial intelligence becomes so powerful that it threatens humanity, this novella secures my opinion that Crouch is THE master of science fiction. He has a way of reminding the reader that existence is finite and he always poses huge life questions.
I usually complain that I race through his books after waiting for them for so long; this time my complaint is that this is way too short! That said, I WILL be reading the rest of the Amazon Forward Collection on Prime.
I think this may be your best yet, Ruth Ware!
‘The Turn of The Key’ ticks off all the boxes necessary to make this the perfect mystery: a protagonist who may well be going to prison for murder, an old house in Scotland that seems to be haunted but is also a marvel to be in, one that has a history of deaths and local stories swirling around it, plus a family with a strange set of circumstances. The characters and the setting are all pieces of this fantastic puzzle and they are craftily put together seamlessly.
Ruth is such a skilled writer of suspense and mystery, that I feel as though I am just moved along with the story in such a vivid way, but it’s also so very natural, and I never feel like I have to jump one step further to try and guess ‘whodunnit.’ I always feel like I’m right there with the main character (Rowan) because the pacing is so brilliant. And yet again, the final twists completely managed to blow my mind.
Every single page had me fully imagining myself in Carn Bridge, Scotland, where the story takes place, and I absolutely didn’t want it to end. Waiting for each new Ruth Ware novel just gets harder and harder, I swear.
This is an extraordinary book.
It’s a sobering, sometimes difficult read, eye-opening, and enlightening. I had to put it down on many occasions, being constantly reminded of how Obama’s presidency has been followed by Trump’s is depressing enough, but the central focus is on challenging the American racism (and how the current toxic presidency has exposed this malignant state). Coates openly wrestles with his own changing views on the first Black Presidency, and demonstrates how deeply engrained systemic and societal racism infects everything in this country, Obama or no Obama.
‘We Had Eight Years in Power’ is practically required reading.
‘I’m Not Dying With You Tonight’ is a powerful, quick read destined for lots of conversation and many classrooms and library bookshelves.
Following two young girls, thrown together by a high school football game that deteriorates into chaos and a night of city rioting, this YA novel addresses issues of race and class and reflects the fragile state of the domestic climate right now.
Lena, a popular black student, and Campbell, a white teen new to town, who knows no one and is unsure of herself, live in the same world, but seemingly come from different worlds. The book is set over one single night, really over several hours, and that’s what it took me to read this captivating book.
Over those few hours, they rely on each other to survive unimaginable circumstances, facing down riot police, looters, vagrants, and gunfire. The perspective shifts back and forth between the two characters throughout and the chapters are short, keeping the action moving quickly and the pace fast.
While it may seem as though there's no time to dig deeper into the enormous issues that come up in this book, all revolving around the race relations canon, debut authors Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal have written a relatable novel that can serve as a great jumping-off point for conversation.
When Lena and Campbell have awkward moments that remind them of their (often ill-conceived) preconceptions and assumptions of each other, the subtext taps into the dialogue we are having as a country and also serves to point out how easy and necessary it is for all the walls to come down. The two girls end up being emblematic of how we work through things better when we work together.
I expect that others reading this will recognize how it reflects the racial divide in this country (and some shocking recent current events), yet feel the hope that I felt when I read it. I honestly raced through this, it placed me right in the action myself; it's a poignant read for teens or anyone who needs to have a quick reexamination of their thinking about how we are all judging each other.
Sometimes I'll go out on a limb and read a book that wasn't necessarily on my radar, by an author who's new to me, and even within a genre (or crosses several genres) that I don't read often. I like reading outside of my comfort zone because this is often where I'll find the shiniest gems of books that may otherwise pass me by. 'The Lost Power' is one of those books; touted as 'Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider' (both of which I know of, but haven't read or seen, and probably just as well), I knew that others had found popular works to compare it to, but I'm glad I went in blind.
A family get-together in Napa, ruined by sniper's gunshots, is the opening setting for this exciting novel; app designer and Aikido instructor Maddy Marshall meets up with her estranged twin brother Will, go there to meet their elderly father, who reveals a dark, family secret, as he takes his last breaths. They then meet up with an old classmate, Bear, who accompanies them on their adventure across the globe, perhaps not so coincidentally.
The trio set out on a quest to discover a secret ‘Lost Power’ (with some dangerous people trying to beat them to it), before it can possibly endanger millions. It’s something of a quest to find the Holy Grail, filled with encounters in Spain, Jerusalem, and flying in a hot-air balloon.
What is so captivating about this novel, and what I didn’t expect, is the way that author Avanti Centrae has created a story about a brother and sister, with a rich family history, and made their relationship relatable, endearing, and it drives a lot of the action through. By having their friend Bear along for the adventure, he acts as the perfect buffer for the twins’ rough spots and develops into a fuller character than I expected. Rather than Will and Bear taking the lead with all the action in this book, it was completely refreshing to have Maddy be the person who ends up kicking butt, and it makes a change to have both the male and female characters airing their fears and showing their weaknesses.
Like any action adventure, there are many sequences that seem implausible (Spielberg and authors like Dan Brown say it can be done though), but it felt really good to read a book that was just one crazy ride.
This is a heart-pounding action thriller that makes you feel like you have stepped into an adventure movie, where your every move will have you moving from one exotic locale to another, looking over your shoulder for who is chasing you, and tapping into the author’s vast knowledge of history and world religions and cultures, to solve an international mystery with unbelievably high stakes.
Thank you so much to Booktasters for the chance to read this; I powered through it during a recent readathon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
RELEASES TUESDAY AUGUST 6, 2019!
This is the sophomore novel from the immensely talented and wildly unique Derek Milman, who previously gave us the quirky and brilliant YA novel, ‘Scream All Night.’
Milman steps it up a notch in this one, bringing readers something close to the anxiety-fueled capers of Hitchcock, but with an emotionally-fueled story at its core, something he seriously does best.
‘Swipe Right’ is a high-stakes genre-bending murder mystery, with classic elements like a case of mistaken identity, running from the good guys (the FBI) and being targeted by the bad guys (a crazy, murderous cult). There are dead bodies, accusations of cyber-terrorism, and it all starts with a deadly DirtyPaws hookup in a hotel room.
What makes this incredibly fresh and compelling for readers of YA, is the fantastically honest character portrayal of a young gay man, the main character Aidan Jamison. He is flawed, and arrogant, funny, charming, and he is struggling with his independence from his family, while receiving warnings from friends who seriously are worried about his recklessness. Amid all the action, and dark comedy that’s packed into this book (one of my favorite things about Derek’s writing), Aidan is forced to face his disturbing past and relationships.
‘Swipe Right’ moves at a break-neck speed as Aidan races to solve the crime that he’s implicated in, without getting killed or arrested, and finds out a lot about himself while he’s ‘on the lam.’ His character arc is natural and necessary and kept you rooting for him. Derek just knows how to write compelling, flawed characters and knows how to really get you to feel.
It’s exciting, funny, relatable, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in Aidan’s story of emotional highs and lows as well as Milman’s writing really quickly. I swooped in quickly on Derek’s first book and became a fast fan of his, and now I’m already wondering what he will be doing next. This must be your summer thriller read for 2019!
IT IS FINALLY HERE.
When it comes to 'must-read' authors for me, Riley Sager is one of them. I was fortunate enough to be one of the early readers for his first thriller FINAL GIRLS, and I suddenly had found a new favorite author.
I was then lucky enough to be an early reader and be the blog tour for his second book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, and I was a certified obsessed fan of Sager's writing.
My biggest problem is that I read his books too quickly.
His books, which are fast-paced thrillers with gutsy young women as protagonists, have quickly made him a best-selling novelist and a three-time Book Of The Month (BOTM) author.
His new book, 'LOCK EVERY DOOR’ is said to be inspired by his love of the old Gothic apartment buildings in Manhattan, and from the opening dedication to the great Ira Levin, who wrote the brilliant 'Rosemary's Baby' (a favorite of mine, which was adapted into the one of the most iconic horror films of all time), the scene is set and you WILL be sucked in.
Read ahead to find out more about Riley’s newest exciting thriller, reminiscent of the classic horror movie, but with a decidedly modern twist.
ABOUT THE BOOK: LOCK EVERY DOOR
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Dutton Books, Hardcover, 371 pages
Find it on Goodreads
No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.
As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.
Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.
LOCK EVERY DOOR REVIEW
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m going to say that this is a must-read. It’s a little hard to talk about it without giving too much away but I’ll do my best.
‘LOCK EVERY DOOR’ starts with twenty five-year old Jules experiencing some kind of emergency and frantic that she not return to the Bartholomew.
We then transition to six days earlier to when she first is shown the huge, exclusive, and very private apartment inside that very building that she will end up living in, as an apartment-sitter, and being PAID to do so. For someone who was basically homeless, jobless, and penniless when you compare her to the residents of the opulent Bartholomew, this seems too good to be true. Usually when you suspect that’s the case, you’re probably right.
Jules Larsen is relatable to anyone who has been in a position where they would consider taking on the responsibility of apartment-sitting in exchange for having contact with the outside world; just having a decent place to live can be a great motivator in these times so I found myself completely understanding why Jules would do this. Shedding her old life and being willing to try something new feels hopeful but a bit naive, but blameless. It would probably be pretty bloody hard to resist living in a huge apartment in one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan overlooking Central Park, no matter the circumstances (or gargoyles outside your window). Cutting yourself from the real world, except for access to the internet, when things go badly feels so 2019.
Sager moves on from setting the stage for Jules’ exciting new chapter to presenting the reader with a cast of characters, all with unforgettable personalities and quirks. The Bartholomew itself is an undeniable presence as well, with its dumbwaiters, patterned wallpaper, old-fashioned elevators, iron floor vents, spiral staircases, and complete with front doorman, and it’s hard not to picture the infamous Dakota building in New York City (which inspired Sager, and is where ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was filmed). Such a building seems like it would be a marvel, as well as terrifying.
The building changes from being a refuge and a place that fascinates, to somewhere that Jules feels trapped, and the other occupants either end up missing or are acting strangely. Her isolation suddenly becomes suffocating, she realizes she must discover the truth, uncover the secrets of the Bartholomew, and fight like a ‘final girl’ to get herself out. Like Rosemary, she experiences moments of clarity interspersed with those abject fear, and sometimes has to question her own sanity because of the environment she is in.
There is real genius to creating a quiet atmosphere of dread that can felt on every page, one of panic, suffocation and confusion, and it’s why this psychological thriller is perfect horror. When the real world takes away your safety nets, it can be terrifying, and this book made me think about that, maybe because I’m going through similar things right now; as humans, we need basics like a home, food, as well as connection to others. When the rug is pulled out from underneath you, it really can be terrifying. You don’t have to have someone chasing you with a knife for you to want to scream and cry and run.
‘LOCK EVERY DOOR’ is quite unlike his other two books, this time paying distinct homage to an iconic horror story, but needless to say, this is trademark Sager. He has a distinct voice that makes you want to devour his books in one sitting, and unlike when I read his first book and was encouraging fellow readers to pick it up, having not heard of him yet, I’m sure this one will fly off the shelves. Plus it’s pink and black, so it’s utterly perfect, you can’t miss it.
YOUR CHANCE TO WIN: BOOK GIVEAWAY
There is an amazing giveaway to go along with this blog tour; there are SEVEN COPIES of LOCK EVERY DOOR by RILEY SAGER up for grabs, so make sure to enter. US ONLY.
Click on THIS LINK TO ENTER!
ABOUT AUTHOR RILEY SAGER
Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.
Now a full-time author, Riley's first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called "the first great thriller of 2017" by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries and a film version is being developed by Universal Pictures.
Riley's second book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, was published in 2018 and became an instant New York Times bestseller. It was inspired by the classic novel and film "Picnic at Hanging Rock" and one horrible week Riley spent at summer camp when he was ten. A television adaptation is being developed by Amazon Studios.
His next book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, inspired by a lifelong fascination with the grand apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, will be published in July.
A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is "Rear Window." Or maybe "Jaws." But probably, if he's being honest, "Mary Poppins."
If you are lucky enough to be near any of these bookstores next week (7/8- - 7/11/19), Riley Sager is ON TOUR. I'm sad he won't be anywhere near me, so don't you dare pass this up if you are close! You can still call the stores and order the books for signing.
Thanks for having me on the blog tour again, Fantastic Flying Book Club!
*Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of the book for review.