Wow, no thank you. By Samantha Irby

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Author Samantha Irby started out as an accidental blogger who according to her accidentally transitioned into an author.  But her essays and storytelling in her new book Wow, no thank you. are insightful, hysterical, easily relatable and so honest it hurts, but still makes you laugh.

At 40 years of age she is finally coming into herself, which as she is a medical accident waiting to happen, and with her many illnesses and even though ailments are not funny, Irby somehow is able to not only make light of them, but makes the reader laugh out loud and then feel sort of guilty that they did. She immediately catches our attention on the dedication page as her book is dedicated to Wellbutrin!

Her essays explain her pretty sad childhood, being unable to pay her electric bills (and how to steal someone else’s) to becoming homeless and living out of her car.  She writes of her love of music and how she is constantly being confused with writer Roxane Gay, always gladly accepting the compliment.

She explains when she worked as a veterinarian assistant she  would jot down stories on napkins.  She would leave work and go to a club and share her stories, never believing they were anything special, just stories. Everyone else did, but not her.

She explains her life in movements…for example, when she gets up in the morning (afternoon) she retrieves everything she needs for the day then goes downstairs as she refuses to make the trek upstairs more than once! She has a bowel issue…that’s all I am going to write.

This past year she was asked to write for the Hulu comedy series Shrill.  She moved to LA for three months. She describes the differences in living in LA and living in Chicago…just imagination those essays! Yes, I am smiling as I am reliving what happens to her.

But throughout the book I learned many important lessons, laugh at yourself, laugh at other people, push yourself, go ahead, be paranoid in your head because everyone is to one extent on another, don’t take everything seriously, have fun…or try to, hone your craft when you can and finally, listen…to yourself, to others and to your surroundings because boy, there are certainly stories to tell! And quite honestly, Irby seems to have stayed the same throughout her rising fame, only now she and her wife live in a house.

A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones

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Sunshine Vicram has just been elected Sheriff of her hometown, Del Sol, New Mexico.  She never knew she was running!  Today is her first day on the job.  Although she and her daughter Auri have returned to the place Sunshine calls home, the place seems different, yet very much the same, as if time has stood still.

Her first day and the next few will find Sunshine questioning herself for saying yes to the position. Between a young girl being kidnapped, a prisoner on the run, being worried about her daughter, seeing her first love again, finding a dead body in the mountains and having to navigate a feud between two townspeople over a rooster…what else could life throw at her?  Believe it or not, even more!

The young girl, Sybil goes missing just before her 15th birthday.  A new friend of her daughter’s, Sybil has been haunted for years believing that she would die before her 15th birthday. Was she really kidnapped or is this just a ruse for attention?

While trying to find Sybil, they discover a dead body up in the mountains.  Does this have anything to do with the kidnapping? Or is this just added stress on Sunshine.

All this is happening as Sunshine begins to relive her own abduction from years ago.  Could any of this be connected to her own kidnapping, something she has little to no recollection of because she had a brain injury.

Her daughter Auri is not fairing any better!  On her first day, when her friend Sybil fails to show up at school, she must try and navigate her peers, who know she is the daughter of the Sheriff and want to have nothing to do with her. And when she discovers her friend is missing, decides to play sleuth against her mother’s wishes.

Now, throw the quirky townspeople into the mix, including her own sheriff’s department staff, add a missing deputy that no one seems to know where he is (although they seem to know where he is) and you have a story reminiscent an episode of The Gilmore Girls, sharp witted humor, funny and sarcastic, with a very strong female protagonist.

The creative book chapter headings only make you fall in love with the town and the people in it even more!  Hopefully there will be a second in the series and Sunshine can continue to keep us smiling!

Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Darynda Jones for the advanced copy.

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

OIP If you are looking for a book which is funny and sweet and a feel good read, look no further.  The Roxy Letters is all those things and more.  Roxy is somewhat like a Bridget Jones, comical, confused and looking for Mr. Right, but she is much more.  She’s a vegan who works at a deli department at a Whole Foods store  trying to get over a boyfriend she thought was the love of her life, who can’t seem to make a grown-up decision to save her life and she is always broke.

Roxy’s escapades are all told to us through letters which she writes to her housemate, Everett, a past boyfriend living with her now to help her not only split the rent, which according to some of the letters he seems to forget to do, as well as help take care of her pets Charlize Theron, a cat and Roscoe, a dog who needs a nightly insulin shot.

She comically tells tales of being Vegan and having to deal with patrons who order meat, from a deli, which sells meat! And don’t get her started on the run-ins with “Dirty Steve” her manager who seems to dislike everybody and keeps trying to get her fired, or give her food poisoning on any given day.

As she maneuvers through life, dating men who act like children… literally, pining over the one she lost, she befriends a woman name Armetis Starla who is so carefree and put together that Roxy envies her. Why can’t she be more like Armetis? But Roxy seems to become lost in her past unable to see any hope for a promising future.

Until a Lululemon store moves into their quaint block and Roxy, well just does not feel the store belongs. So she gathers her friends to make signs and picket the store. That’s when chaos really begins to ensue! As Roxy starts to stand up for what she believes, her confidence seems to grow and she becomes stronger.

Roxy learns she needs to let go of her past and forgive her ex to move on realizing that he may have actually loved her very much because he did let her go. And something unique begins to happen to her.  She begins to become an adult! And she learns a very valuable lesson…not everything is always what it seems!

The hijinks are never ending and pretty amusing and the dialogue is quick-witted as we follow Roxy and her merry band of misfits to a very satisfying ending.

Thank you NetGalley, Simon&Schuster, Elizabeth Breeden and Goodreads for the advanced copies.

This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

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For 25 years Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe has lived with a terrible secret.  When she was only 15 years old her best friend Eve was murdered.  Maggie and Eve’s sister Nola were unfortunately the ones who discovered her body in the caves below the houses which they lived. But Maggie has always known more than she has told.

In all those years, although there were suspects, no one was ever held accountable for the murder.  There was Eve’s abusive boyfriend who seemed to have an alibi, and even Eve’s sister Nola who was known to be a bit strange to the kids at school and even to Maggie.  Nola had a fascination with death and dissecting animals.

Now, married, pregnant and on the police force which her father had once been Chief, including OIPduring the time of the murder, a new piece of evidence has emerged which once again puts the case front and center.  The new Chief wants Maggie to take a look at the investigation, hoping she will see something which was missed all those years ago. Reluctantly Maggie has to reopen old wounds for herself as well as everyone else.

Haunting memories of what happened that day years ago begin to flood Maggie’s mind.  And now with the files and evidence she had never been privy to, it only creates more questions and anxiety for her.  Unable to discuss the case with her dad who has retired and has dementia, Maggie begins to re-interview everyone from back then, some like Eve’s sister Nola who seems to hate Maggie for some unknown reason.  Now a veterinarian, Nola has secrets of her own buried deep in the basement of her house. Maggie is also startled to see potential suspects she never new about.

What skeletons lay in the caves and who would want to kill Eve? What secrets are the suspects keeping?  And what is Maggie keeping hidden that no one should ever know…or do they already? She cannot afford to be exposed from all those years ago. Clearly someone knows something and they aren’t talking…but who?

This Is How I Lied is a psychologically fulfilling story with surprising twists and turns which only make you want to keep coming back for more.

 


 

Book Summary:

With the eccentricity of Fargo and the intensity of Sadie, THIS IS HOW I LIED by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books; May 12, 2020; $17.99) is a timely and gripping thriller about careless violence we can inflict on those we love, and the lengths we will go to make it right, even 25 years later.

Tough as nails and seven months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe of Grotto PD, is drTHIL Share MacMillaneading going on desk duty before having the baby her and her husband so badly want. But when new evidence is found in the 25-year-old cold case of her best friend’s murder that requires the work of a desk jockey, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to be the one who finally puts Eve Knox’s case to rest.

 

 

 


 

Author Bio:

Heather Gudenkauf is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of many books, including The Weight of Silence and These Things Hidden. Heather graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages. She lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running.

Heather Gudenkauf

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Author Website

Twitter: @hgudenkauf

Instagram: @heathergudenkauf

Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor

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  1. What is your writing process like? 

I approach each of my novels with the goal of being a plotter – someone who explicitly organizes and outlines her books – but it never quite works out that way for me. I make notes and outline the plot but ultimately the characters take over and do what they want to anyway. My process is messy and meandering. Thankfully, I have a brilliant editor who is able to see through the weeds and pull out the best parts of my plots and keep me on the right path. This is How I Lied completely evolved from my initial intentions. The characters changed, the plot shifted and the final ending poked its head up near the end of revisions and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

 

  1. Which came first: the characters or plot line?

For me, the two go hand in hand. The basic plot line comes first, and close behind comes the characters. It doesn’t matter how suspenseful of a plot I develop, if the right characters aren’t there to mold the story and carry it forward, it won’t work. Before I begin writing, I attempt to give my characters rich backstories. Often many of these details don’t make into the novel, but by fully developing their personalities and biographies, it helps keep me in tune with them as I write. Knowing the characters’ likes and dislikes, their foibles and strengths helps me to honestly and accurately determine their motivations and the decisions they make as they move through the novel.

 

  1. How do you come up with your plots?

I’m a news junkie! I’ll scan newspapers and websites and a story will catch my eye. It can be the smallest detail or a broader theme but if the idea sticks with me and keeps harassing me to write about it, I know I’m on the right track. For my novel Little Mercies, it was an article about a social worker who ended up on the other side of the justice system because of alleged negligence with her caseload. From this I created an entirely new story about a social worker who was fighting for her own child. In This is How I Lied, I was intrigued by news stories that dealt with the use of familial DNA to solve cold cases and it became a key detail in the novel’s resolution.

 

  1. Do you use music to help set a mood/tone for your books? 

I do listen to music as I write. It varies based on the story and what I think the characters might listen to. By curating these playsets, it helps me get into their mindset. As I worked on Maggie’s sections in This is How I Lied I listened to a lot of Avett Brothers and Lumineers. For Nola, I listened to classical music and hard rock – she’s an interesting mix. As for Eve, since she was sixteen years old and living in the 90s, I listened to plenty of Nirvana and Beck.

 

  1. Where did the idea for this story come from? 

 

Before I started writing This is How I Lied, I read I’ll be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, about the author’s investigation of The Golden State Killer who, for decades, terrorized northern California. This book both terrified and fascinated me and I became intrigued by how modern technology was being used to close old cold cases. For my project, I thought it would be interesting to explore how this might play out in a small THIL Share McDonaldtown where the perpetrator thought the truth behind the crime would never be discovered.

 

As I was writing the novel, I learned about the developments in a 40-year-old cold case not far from where I live where familial DNA was used to ultimately convict the killer. Amazing!

 

  1. Do you find inspiration for your novels in your personal life? 

I often get asked what my childhood must have been like because of the twisty thrillers I write. Thankfully, I can say that I had a blissfully uneventful childhood with parents and siblings that loved and supported me. For me, the inspiration from my own life comes in the settings of my novels – the Mississippi River, farmland, the woods and bluffs – all found in Iowa. In This is How I Lied, the town of Grotto is loosely based on a nearby town until I moved to this part of Iowa, I never realized that we had cave systems.  Visitors to the state park, can literally step back thousands of years. The limestone caves and bluffs are beautiful, haunting and have something for everyone. You can take a casual stroll through some of the caves and have to army crawl through some of the others. Old clothes and a flashlight are a must! The caves made the perfect backdrop for a thriller and I was excited to include them in This is How I Lied.

 

  1. What is the one personality trait that you like your main characters to have and why? 

In looking back at all my main characters, though they are all different ages and come from different walks of life, I think the trait that they all seem to have in common is perseverance. I’ve had characters battle human evil and demons of their own creation but it doesn’t matter what traumatic events they have been through or the challenges they will face, they manage to make it through. Changed for sure, but intact and hopeful for the future.

 

  1. Why do you love Maggie and why should readers root for her?

I do love Maggie! As a police detective, Maggie has dedicated her adult life to helping others and is a loving daughter, sister and wife and is expecting her first child. This doesn’t mean that Maggie is perfect. Like all of my protagonists, Maggie is complicated and flawed and has made some big mistakes, but ultimately she is doing the best that she can.THIL share McKinnon

 

  1. What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

As a former elementary school teacher, I had absolutely no insights into the publishing world beyond what I saw on television and in movies – which portrayed it as a dog-eat-dog world. I have to admit, as a new author, I was very intimidated. But to my delight –  and relief – the people I’ve encountered along the way– my agent, editors, publishing teams, fellow authors, booksellers and readers – all have been nothing but supportive, encouraging and kind.

 

  1. What is coming up next for you? 

I just finished the first draft of my next novel, a locked-room mystery about a reclusive writer working on a true crime book when a snow storm leaves her trapped inside her remote home, setting off a series of events that lead to a stunning revelation. It was so much fun to write!

 

  1. Has quarantine been better or worse for your writing? 

It’s been such a scary, unsettling time but I’ve found writing a nice distraction and a great comfort during this extended time at home. I’ve been able to turn off the news and get lost in my manuscript or other writing projects. It’s a lot like reading – a much needed escape from the real world.

 

  1. What was your last 5 star read? 

Julia Heaberlin has a new book coming out this August called We Are All the Same in the Dark and it has surged to the top as one of my favorite reads of the year. It has everything I love in a great thriller: a beautifully written small town mystery, with multilayered, unforgettable characters and a twisty plot. It was absolutely mesmerizing.


Thank you #NetGalley #ParkRowBooks #ThisIsHowILied #HeatherGudenkauf. You can preorder the book now with the following links:

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The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

 

594-02-HTP-Spring-Reads-Blog-Tour-2020-----900x337Viola Shipman has once again shown us all how to overcome diversity, to accept and to understand that kindness and love can heal all types of wounds.

Iris Maynard lost her husband during WWII and her only child, a young daughter a little while later.  Unable to bear the heartbreak she felt, she poured herself into her gardens, as an homage to both her husband and daughter, and years later to all those who were dear to her and had died.

As the years progressed, Iris, who became a botanist later in life due to her love of flowers, began to recede from life.  Her gardens were her only friends and families.  She decided to shut herself off from people by building an enormous fence around her property which consisted of her house, as well as her mother’s house which also had a fence so her renters would be unable to see her.  She was slowly able, due to teOIPchnology, basically become a hermit, happily tending her gardens and buying all she needed from her computer and having it delivered.  She would never have to let another person into her life again.

Enter Abby, her husband Cory and their daughter Lily who rent Iris’ mother’s old house on the other side of the fence.  Cory, who has just returned from the Iraq War has had an extremely difficult time adjusting to life again after seeing so much death.  Refusing to seek help or medication his days revolve around drinking, sleeping and trying to remember to tend to his young daughter Lily.  Abby, feeling the walls close in around her family and trying extremely hard to keep them together moved her family so they could hopefully have a fresh start. And Lily, just about the same age as Iris’ daughter Mary, is a bundle of curious love.

What they all soon discover is sometimes everyone needs a bit of a push and encouragement, remembering that everybody grieves in different ways.  That sometimes a little help can go a very long way. And we all have something to teach each other. As Iris teaches about flowers and love and coping with loss, Cory teaches Iris to take baby steps into entering a world she abandoned many years ago.

The story, with glorious floral prose describing the different flowers from each season tells not only their own story, but the stories of each character. And as the healing begins and continues, fences start to come down and are replaced by friendship and love.

What a heartwarming story on the lessons of the sadness of death, the struggle to become whole again and the illumination of a new life if you’ll only take the chance.


Viola Shipman Flower-Themed photo

Viola Shipman is the pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his writing. Rouse is the author of The Summer Cottage, as well as The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest which have been translated into more than a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and Palm Springs, California, and has written for People, Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping, and Taste of Home, along with other publications, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.

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Author Website: https://www.violashipman.com/

TWITTER: @viola_shipman

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Thank you so much to #NetGalley #Harlequin(JustineSha) #The HeirloomGarden #ViolaShipman for the advanced copy. You can buy the book now with the following links:

Harlequin

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The Herd by Andrea Bartz

OIP The Herd is about a group of women who have been best friends since college.  These women are strong and feminists and willing to go above and beyond not only for themselves, but for their cause.  They believe they know everything about each other.  But do they?

THE HERD, HER D is a women’s only working space in New York.  The wait list to become a member, very long.  It’s conception the idea of one of the friends, Eleanor who is now The HERD’s CEO.

As THE HERD took off, she and the group of friends were able to make it what it has become, popular to women, empowering to women, but distasteful to some men.  So much so that the three offices had recently been vandalized with graffiti in the bathroom.

The women: Eleanor who has always been in charge and always been the go to person for the other friends.  Hanna is a PR person for THE HERD as well as a few other companies.  Katie is Hanna’s kid sister who is a writer who has recently moved to New York after a book deal went very bad.  Mikki rounds out the group as one of Eleanor’s right hands.

Everything is coming together for a merger with another company when Eleanor suddenly disappears on the night of the big announcement.  Everybody begins to scramble to find her.  But no one knows where she could be.

And with Eleanor’s disappearance the flood gates open as to who Eleanor really was and what was she hiding.  What lies had been told not only by Eleanor, but by each of the other women through the years. Could they even trust one another?

As they delve deeper into Eleanor’s life, they soon realize she may not really have been who they thought she was…but neither have they, because they all have a secret they have been hiding for many years. Something which could destroy them all.

Can the women stay strong in the hopes of finding out what happened to Eleanor, or are they on the road to destroying THE HERD and each other.

Bartz, whose first book The Lost Night, which is another fantastic read, has once again succeeded in keeping the suspense flowing and the reader guessing until literally the last page.

Thank you to #NetGalley #Ballentine/RandomHouse #TheHerd #AndreaBartz for the advanced copy.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

OIP Jules Larsen has just lost her job, her boyfriend and her apartment.  With no family and no money she finds herself sleeping on her best friend’s couch.  While searching the want ads she stumbles upon a job opportunity as an apartment sitter at THE most exclusive apartment building in New York City, the Bartholomew.

The job would consist of staying at one of the gorgeous, luxury apartments directly across the street from Central Park, for three months with a stipend of four thousand dollars per month.  Who could possibly pass up this offer?

But Jules soon learns there are some very strange rules attached to the commitment.  No visitors, no nights spent away from the apartment and never bother the other residents. Odd she thinks, but the money would be able to put her back on her feet.

After moving in she discovers a resident is Greta Manville, who wrote a book years ago called Heart of a Dreamer which Jules and her now missing sister would read together. There first introduction does not go as well as she would have imagined. She also discovers she is not the only apartment sitter.

Although being warned the Bartholomew had an eerie, sad history with possible hauntings, Jules spends her first few days becoming acquainted with the complex. She befriends another sitter named Ingrid whose personal problems mimic her own.  When Ingrid does not show up at a planned meeting and Jules finds out she left the Bartholomew without notice during the middle of the night, she becomes alarmed.

While searching for Ingrid, Jules is then plunged into the frightening reality of living in the Bartholomew.  It certainly is not what it seems to be.  She is determined to find out what has happened to her friend and in doing so opens up a Pandora’s Box of greed, privilege and murder, proving the saying, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Now Jules must find her way out of the Bartholomew before she too becomes a part of the mysterious Bartholomew’s legacy.

With each turn of the page the anxiety builds and the story begins to unfold into a very sordid and quite unexpected ending.  Very much worth the read!