20 April 2019

3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night with author Andrew Nance

I'm back with another guest host on my "3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night." This time it's with author Andrew Nance, who wrote an excellent thriller called "All the Lovely Children." Check it out on Goodreads and you can also enter to win a copy of the book over at my review from Monday.

With that, take it away Andrew!

My choice for Saturday night reading is a beast of a book. Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney is over 800 pages of small type. I chose it because I started reading it one Saturday night in the late 70s. I’d been alone in my dorm room and there was a knock on my door. I opened it to a new student who’d recently transferred into our coed dormitory. An incredibly intelligent young woman, she had made money for tuition by working as a server at one of the Playboy Clubs for a couple of years. She was beautiful and all the guys had a crush on her. I’d talked to her a few times and our conversations kept veering into weird wonderful books. She handed me Dhalgren, said that few people can get through the book but she thought I would, and then she left. I started reading and was hooked from the first page. I read straight through the weekend, skipped classes on Monday, and finished it that night. I break it out to read every several years. I still have Dhalgren inspired dreams.

I go back to my childhood for a Saturday night movie choice. I spent most Saturday nights watching classic black and white monster movies on Shock Theater with host Dr. Paul Bearer. So I think any of the black and white classics would be a good choice, or maybe something more contemporary and fun like Shaun of the Dead.

I’ll fill in the blank for a third Saturday night choice with a fine whiskey like Knob Creek, or Bulleit, or my standby, Jamesons. We’ll sip it on my back deck that overlooks a Florida marsh, and while listening to the nocturnal marsh animals, we’ll talk about books that changed our lives.

About the Book, All the Lovely Children

In 1959 Charly Bloom was a thirteen-year-old Tomboy full of piss and vinegar. As her father often said, “Calling Charly hardheaded is like calling the sun hot.” Young girls began to disappear in the small mountain town of Temperance, North Carolina. Charly’s natural curiosity, fueled by her love of the Hardy Boys mystery series, inspired her to conduct an investigation of her own. What she learned led to a confrontation with the deranged child snatcher and Charly almost died. Twenty-three years later Charly is a private investigator who recently left the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. When crimes identical to those from 1959 take place again in Temperance, Charly returns to her hometown to help the sheriff stop the abductions and find the lost girls.

Nance has done a marvelous job in creating a well-written, suspenseful novel. His language is crisp and fresh; his world-building, authentic; and his pacing, just fast enough to keep readers at the edge of their seats but slow enough to let them enjoy the ride. He has crafted a compelling, engrossing novel with more than one scene of gritty-realism that will prickle the back of your neck. --Southern Literary Review

Where to Find the Author:

https://www.andrewnance.net/

https://www.facebook.com/AndrewNance.author/



15 April 2019

All the Lovely Children by Andrew Nance [Book Review]

As the winter turns into spring, I've been reading a fantastic thriller that I think you should check out. It's called All the Lovely Children by Andrew Nance. Before I get into how I felt, here's a bit about the book -

About the Book (Courtesy of the Author)


In 1982, Charly Bloom, one of the first female field officers in the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, has left the bureau and turned to private investigation. When she gets a call from an old flame, she returns to her hometown of Temperance, North Carolina to look into the disappearances of four children. The abductions are eerily similar to a set of previous crimes. Two decades earlier, Charly and her two best friends played amateur detectives and tried to find a girl who’d been kidnapped from her home. More girls went missing. Clues overlooked by an inept sheriff led Charly to a confrontation with the man known as the Snatcher. She managed to fight back and kill him. Or so everyone thought. Is the Snatcher back, or is there a copycat? Charly must face her past and her own personal demons in a race against time to save the latest victim.

What I Thought

I thought this book was excellently written, first of all. I really felt transported into this small town when I was reading it. I liked the female character Charly, she was definitely my kind of character! I enjoyed seeing what she was like as a kid and then who she became as an adult. The timeline bounced between 1982 and then 1959, which made for interesting contrasts. A lot of different people were coming in and out of the life of the Charly - both young and as an adult - which sometimes I had a hard time keeping track (could just be where I'm at with things lately). A definite surprise ending though and made it worth reading!

Purchase your copy now at Amazon.com. And best of all, I get to giveaway an ebook copy of the book to one lucky reader! Enter below. Open internationally. Ends 4/30.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review. This post contains an affiliate link for which I will receive small compensation if you purchase through my link.

11 April 2019

Looking West by Albert Nasib Badre [A Review]


I'm always excited to read a book a bit outside my usual reading tastes. I think that's the challenge and the excitement of being open to reviewing books. So, thanks to WOW! Women on Writing and the amazing blog tour set up by Crystal, I had the chance to read the book Looking West by Albert Nasib Badre.

Here's a bit about the book:

In 1960, the Badre family emigrates from Beirut, Lebanon to the United States, a dream come true for fourteen-year-old Nasib.

Nasib struggles to assimilate as a teen in Albany, New York. With limited English skills, he attempts to learn new customs, make friends, and adapt to a different culture. In Beirut, the Badre family was well-known and socially privileged. In America, they are unknown nobodies. Nasib adopts his father’s name “Albert,” and to further Americanize his name, young Albert becomes “Al.”

Despite the many frustrations and difficulties, Al’s ultimate goal is to become a successful American. The new anonymity actually inspires the young man. Excited by the opportunities available to him in his new country, he determines to make a potent contribution to society.

As he strives to adapt, Al reads voraciously, becoming increasingly interested in religion and philosophy. Books become his “American friends,” and reading soon prompts him to ask deep theological questions about his family’s Lebanese Protestant roots, his mother’s conversion to Catholicism, and the contrast between the Protestant and Catholic faiths. This ultimately leads to his Catholic conversion.

Al’s search for meaning in life leads him to social activism among New York City’s poorest. And, in time, to graduate studies, where his desire is to improve the human condition through information technology.

Al Badre-- like many other American immigrants--works his way through hardship to achieve a meaningful place in his adopted nation.

What I Thought

Reading this book, gave me such an incredible insight into what it's like for a family to be new to America. I felt like I was right there beside AI Badre and his family as he navigated the world of America. I think this was a well-done vividly told book and it's a must-read for anyone who wants to see what it's like, first-hand, for someone new to the country. I think considering everything going on in the world right now - this is a must-read. 

Purchase your copy on Amazon or add it to your GoodReads

About the Author

Albert Nasib Badre is an American author born in Beirut Lebanon. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1960 at the age of fourteen. His family made Albany, N.Y. their first home in America where he attended a private Catholic high school through his Junior year. After three years in Albany, the family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, when his father accepted a professor position at the University of Iowa. He finished his senior year at Iowa City High School, then went on to the University of Iowa where he got a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. After college, he spent a year as a social worker in New York City. Deciding social work was not for him, he went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he got his Ph.D. in 1973.

He spent the next thirty years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and today he’s Professor Emeritus of Computing. During his tenure at Georgia Tech, he was an international consultant specializing in designing technology to enhance the human experience. Dr. Badre was an early pioneer in the field of human-centric design, with some thirty years of experience in human-computer interaction, learning technologies, and human-centric e-learning. His background combines expertise in the empirical methodologies of the behavioral sciences and the design approaches of the computing sciences.

Dr. Badre authored numerous technical papers, is co-editor of the book Directions in Human Computer Interaction, and the author of the book, Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context, which was adopted in several dozen courses worldwide. His memoirs, Looking West, is the story of his coming of age immigration to America and subsequent conversion to the Catholic Church.
Today, Dr. Badre and his wife live in Providence, R.I., near his son and family, where he leads a very active volunteer life, in service to the community.

Find Albert Online:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/197752.Albert_N_Badre

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anbadre

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anbadre/

Website: https://www.badremusings.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=12819942

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

02 April 2019

April's A to Z Challenge: B is for Blogging

Okay, so I'm attempting to do the A to Z Challenge hosted every April. And we'll see how I do this year! B is for blogging!

Did you know I've been blogging since 2011? (My first post!) I have learned a lot with blogging, both professionally speaking and also as a casual blogger. I think the main reason I've stuck with blogging personally is that it provides an outlet for my thoughts and it's a part of a larger community. I like that feeling.

I think the reason I have kept this blog up for so long is that I've allowed it to change and evolve and I've never been strict about the direction it takes. I guess for that reason maybe it's not a huge hit, but I realize now, I never meant for it to be that kind of blog.

So, if you are visiting my post today, I'd love to know a few things about you -

1) Do you blog? Why?

2) What is your blog (so I can say "HI")?

3) And when you don't know what to write about for your blog, what do you write about?

Happy April everyone!

01 April 2019

April's A to Z Challenge: A is for April Showers


Welcome to April, everyone! It's been 5 years since the last time I did the A to Z Challenge and I thought I'd try again. Why? Well, I've been wanting to find more blogs to interact with and comment on that will comment back and I think this is a great way to do it. Also, this may inspire a more personal element to my blog then I've been having lately. And if you want to join in, check out the post here.

I feel like I am cheating a bit with the letter A a bit, but given that it's the first day of April, I thought I'd focus on one of my favorite aspects of April - April showers! I love the rain and with that, I have a rainy day playlist that you'll want to listen to if it's raining. You can list below or click here to listen on YouTube.




There are 31 songs, so hopefully, you like this list!

What is your favorite rainy day song?

Nobody Talks About This! So Why Would I? by Amanda Russell


I am so excited for today's guest post. You can find out more about Amanda Russell in our interview by reading it here. Then come on back!

It is commonly said that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. If miscarriage is that common, why had I never heard anyone talk about it? I was newly married and in my early twenties when it happened to me.

I was at home alone and unable to reach anyone on the phone. When I finally reached my midwife’s office, the nurse told me approximately, “If you were having a miscarriage, you would be in more pain. Lay down and drink some water... We will see you at your next appointment in two weeks.” So, that’s what I did.

I knew something was not right. I went in for my 16-week appointment only to find out that I had, in fact, miscarried not just one baby, but twins. My husband and I were shocked. Devastated.

The next day we went into the hospital to be induced, give birth, and then have a d&c.

The recovery, for me, was long and recursive. A huge part of it was the patient support of my family and friends. But another side of it came to fruition through my efforts to express my experiences through writing poetry.

Why did I write this book?

I did not start out thinking I would ever share these poems with anyone. I wrote for my own processing of grief. For several months, I endured a lot of silence because I could not yet give words to my feelings. They were inexpressible and scary to me. After eight months of trying repeatedly to write, I finally penned the poem “Sonogram (16 weeks)”. Then once the words came, I continued writing more and more. I was beginning to make sense of what happened and not only express it, but honor my grief by naming it and holding space for myself in my notebooks.

Why did I decide to publish this book?

Fast forward 5 years. My husband and I were on the verge of a big move away from our home state of Texas and all of our family. This was a bit of a turning point for me because I had just decided to compile my best poems into a collection, even though I did not know yet what I was going to do with it. I had about 90 pages of poetry in the original version of BARREN YEARS, which at the time was titled GROUNDED.

As I began working on the poems, I, of course, asked my friends to read it and share their thoughts. I wanted to know if my writing was clear and understood. I wanted to know if they thought it kept pace or fizzled out at page 50. I wanted to know if any of my writing resonated with other people. As I shared my work, I learned that many of my friends had also experienced miscarriage. Over the course of a few more years, I whittled the collection down to the 25 poems it contains today.

Because the poems span about a 7 year period, they represent the whole process of my grieving and moving forward. For me, the best feeling is when I hear from a reader that my poems helped her process her own experience with miscarriage. Ultimately that is why I decided to publish. I realized that miscarriage is often a topic that gets hidden in a family and not discussed. I think that it should be discussed.

The truth is that miscarriage affects many people. And if we do not talk about it, we end up isolating ourselves at a time when we really need the support and companionship of others. I hope that my little book of poems can help others not feel alone in their experience and realize that all their feelings are valid. I also hope they will feel encouraged and inspired to turn to creativity as a means of expressing and working through their grief in their own timing.

----

Be sure to pre-order your copy of BARREN YEARS today! If you do, it counts towards the author's advance sales goals (you will receive the book in June 2019). You can find Amanda on her blog at https://poetrussell.wordpress.com/ or follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

30 March 2019

3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night Featuring author Kathleen Valenti

We made it to another Saturday night everyone! I'm excited today to feature author Kathleen Valenti, who has an awesome book coming out As Directed. I'll be reviewing it soon, but wanted to kick things off by featuring this author on my Saturday night post. First, here's a bit about her book As Directed. (Pick up your copy here!)

As Directed follows the series’ eponymous heroine, Maggie O’Malley, in the aftermath of the events of Protocol and 39 Winks. The former pharmaceutical researcher works to rebuild her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career in a small town drugstore. But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store, followed by another, and then more. The specter of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets, and new suspicions from which no one is immune.

Now here is Kathleen with her suggestions for Saturday night - take it away Kathleen! 

Saturday Night Reading Suggestion

As an author and rabid—er, avid—reader, I find myself lost between the pages of a book more often than not. In fact, I read so many wonderful books that it’s hard to tease out a single recommendation. So in the spirit of immediacy, I’ll offer my Saturday night pick based on my most recent read: The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

I’m a big fan of Ruth Ware, so perhaps it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this book. What was a surprise—at least to me—was the way my love for this book deepened with each turn of the page.

It’s a traditional mystery with all the elements I crave: an interesting and relatable protagonist, an engaging story question, compelling writing, and a mystery that intensifies as the story progresses. It begins with an unexpected inheritance to which the main character, Harriet Westaway, doesn’t have a valid claim. Out of desperation, she endeavors to “fake it till she makes it” and embarks on a journey of deception that sets forth a deadly chain of events.

I enjoyed the first half of the book. I was OBSESSED with the second half, ignoring my husband and children as I plowed through the pages to reach its powerful and twisted conclusion. When I finished the last page, I felt as if it were the finest mystery I had ever read. Pretty sure I still feel that way. It’s a fantastic book and I recommend it any day of the week.

Saturday Night Movie Suggestion

I read for escape and generally watch movies seeking the same reprieve from reality. (This explains my love for old Chevy Chase and Leslie Nielsen movies.)

Recently, however, I ditched my escapist tendencies and watched the Oscar-scooping biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

I was—well, am—a huge Queen fan and thought I knew a thing or two about Freddie Mercury and the band’s genesis. Nope. Turns out my nascent knowledge barely scratched the surface of the front man’s life and the band’s incredible legacy.

With all the award show buzz, you probably know why this movie is so celebrated. The story. The writing. The acting. Rami Malek’s incredible transformation into Freddie Mercury. And, really, I can’t add anything to the praise that’s already been heaped on this film. I’ll just say that the heady combination of all of the above, plus a deep sense of love and nostalgia for the band and Mercury, made for a very enjoyable Saturday night showing. I hope you love it as much as I did.

Saturday Night Wild Card Suggestion

We have a teenager and a pre-teen. I’ll wait for a moment while you pray for us. Let’s just say that finding family activities that don’t result in eye rolls, dismissive shrugs, or me wanting to stick a fork in my eye has become, um, challenging.

Enter Monopoly Cheater’s Edition.

I’m a board game nut, so I’ve been on the hunt for a game that threads the needle between fun and difficult, entertaining and novel. This game hits all the check boxes.

It takes the Monopoly game we know and adore (and have played to death) and turns it on its ear with prescribed “cheats” that up the ante. And the angst. The kids think it’s fun and find it hilarious to be told to cheat. My husband and I enjoy the game’s fast pace and new twists.

Fair warning, though: younger players may find it frustrating when an opponent steals all their cash. Older players (like parents) may feel the same way.

These suggestions sound so fun and amazing! Readers, writers, or authors, be sure to send me an email if you want to guest host my Saturday night suggestions. Email me at npyles86[at]gmail[dot]com.

About Kathleen Valenti

KATHLEEN VALENTI is a nationally award-winning copywriter who pens for agencies in Oregon and North Carolina. Known as an adept storyteller who flexes her writing muscles with evocative description, compelling concepts, and emotional connections, Valenti has written for her supper for more than twenty years. She lives in Oregon where she says she pretends to enjoy running. For more information, visit Kathleen at www.kathleenvalenti.com



29 March 2019

Interview with Poet Amanda Russell, Author of "Barren Years"

I am so excited to share the interview I had with author Amanda Russell. BARREN YEARS covers her experience with miscarriage, the resulting process of grief,  and the return of hope. It's a must-read and a conversation starter you might just need if you are in the healing process. Read more about the book here and pre-order your copy.


Nicole: First of all - congratulations on your book! Your book of poems touches upon a subject that many women go through. How did it feel to transform your feelings and what you were going through into poetry?

Amanda: Thank you Nicole! Good question. Writing is my natural way of processing both the “good” and the “bad” experiences of life. Putting my thoughts on paper helps give me clarity and allows me a chance to sort through thoughts and feelings. Poetry is my most natural form of writing. So, it was very typical of me to turn to writing poems even while processing the grief, guilt and disappointment I felt after my miscarriage.

Nicole: I think that's incredible how you turned to poetry during such a difficult time. How did your poetry transform the experience of loss and grief into hope?

Amanda
: Time. And allowing myself to acknowledge all feelings even if they seemed illogical to me. It takes time and patience to honor grief. But as I went through the stages, I used my writing to help me express what I was going through. When I got it right, I began to notice that my writing practice was bringing me healing.

Nicole: You mentioned that miscarriage is often an experience women suffer with in silence, but that it's something we need to talk about. Why do you think it's something women often deal with in silence and don't talk about?

Amanda: I shared the information about my book with my OB doctor. The first words out of her mouth were, “No one talks about this.” This struck me. In her line of work, she certainly comes across this unfortunate subject. It can be hard for people to talk about things that cause them pain. It was hard for me. In many cases it was easier to engage in talk on the weather, for example, or just keep my thoughts to myself. The experience is also very personal. Also, since miscarriage often happens early on in pregnancy, many women may not have shared the news of their pregnancy with others. So then it becomes even harder to talk about.

Nicole: I hope with your poetry, it can start a conversation amongst women who have suffered this same loss! What do you hope readers - especially women who have experienced a miscarriage - take away after reading your book?

Amanda: I hope they will feel that parts of it ring true for them. I watched an interview that Michelle Obama did with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts where she talks about how she felt after her miscarriage. I was listening along saying, “Yes. Yes. Yes! YES!” I hope they feel that. And I hope that they will notice the little victories in poems like “Garden Talk” and “The Most Splendid Music.” In the end, I hope they will be inspired by the hope that comes from intentionally moving forward even in a recursive process, like grief.

Nicole: I hope so too! So, tell me about your writing process. What was your process like? How long did this book take?

Amanda: I got the idea for my writing practice from a book called WRITING DOWN THE BONES: FREEING THE WRITER WITHIN by Natalie Goldberg. I loved her concept of writing “first thoughts” and turning off the inner editor, so I started doing it. This practice allowed me to go into territory in my writing that made me a little uncomfortable. When I am really all in, I am shocked by the things that surface. It is cleansing for me. I began numbering my notebooks and titling them “Writing Experiment #1” and so on. I would stop on the way to or from work and do this practice of keeping my hand moving and sticking with it until my time was up and the pages were filled. I love the ideas she introduced me to in that book. The poems in BARREN YEARS span a 7 year period of my life.

Nicole: I love that you read that book - it's one of my favorites! Sof you could give any advice to someone who is interested in transforming pain from the past and into poetry, what would you suggest? Where could they begin?
Amanda: Maybe begin with freewriting, like I described from Goldberg’s book? I have heard of people making scrapbooks, jewelry, writing memoirs and blogs. There is no one creative endeavor that is right for everyone, but for me, poetry was so natural.

Nicole; I was reading an interview you did with Thea from the blog The Space Between and you talked about how these poems are very personal, but people said they realized they were not alone when they read your poems. Why do you think your poetry resonated with people so much?

Amanda: I hope it is because I work hard to make my writing relate-able. I do not want my poems to be cryptic. To serve as good communication, writing must be readily understood. When I asked my friends to do read-throughs for me over the years, I always asked them to circle or highlight any part of the poems that did not make sense to them. I do not want to have fuzzy images in my poems. I strive for clarity.

Nicole: I completely agree - clarity matters so much! What are you working on now?

Amanda: One of my goals for this year is to send out at least one submission a month. I am trying to get into the habit of sending things out regularly and hopefully, build my publications list. I have an idea for a new chapbook dealing with memory. Mostly, though, I want to keep writing and reading.

Nicole: Best of luck to you! What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

Amanda: Oh dear! There are so many on my list! Right now I am working my way through Michelle Obama’s BECOMING and Ralph Wahlstrom’s THE TAO OF WRITING. I also want to read MAN ON WIRE by Philippe Petit. A friend just told me she is loving Ursla LeGuin’s STEERING THE CRAFT, so that has been added to my list now.

Nicole: Is there anything else you'd like to share with readers of your book?

I invite readers to take courage and share their stories. When we reach out, we can find common ground and healing in ways that we cannot find alone. 

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! Be sure to pre-order your copy of BARREN YEARS today! If you do, it counts towards the author's advance sales goals (you will receive the book in June 2019). You can find Amanda on her blog at https://poetrussell.wordpress.com/ or follow her on Instagram and Twitter

24 March 2019

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves [A Review]


How is your spring going? I'm still on the job hunt but I have hope after I sent out a lot of good ones last week. So, I recently had the chance to read a book that is a bit outside of what I usually I read.

First, here's a bit about the book:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people's behavior confusing, she'd rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone. 

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She's living the life she wanted as a librarian. He's a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

Now for my opinion about the book...

This one was a mixed bag for me actually! I think partly due to the way it was written. It was written in the first person, but also the timelines bounced from 2001 to 1991 and also switched around who was telling the story. So, I don't feel like I was able to get too close to the characters because of that. I'm not a huge fan of bouncing timelines or switching POVs so to have both happening threw me a bit. Other than that, I thought this represented how rocky love can be, and the complications when you try to go back to an old love. The ending took me by total surprise too (won't reveal that part!). I thought the author did great to portray Annika as a bit different from the rest of her peers and there were so many ways I could relate to how she felt. If you are into romance novels that include the tender and raw and emotional and broken qualities of life, you'll want to read this book.

Be sure to pre-order to order your copy of the book on the retailer of your choice. Purchase now.

23 March 2019

3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night Featuring author Caroline Taylor

We made it to Saturday night everyone! So I have for you an exciting list of Saturday night suggestions with author Caroline Taylor. I had the opportunity to review her previous book Loose Ends, and I'm also in progress of reading her latest one Death in Delmarva (my review will come later!). Here's a bit about the book:

Daphne Dunn works as a lowly stockroom clerk in her cousin’s Foggy Bottom grocery store. She’s also required to play bill collector to customers who aren’t paying for their food, including pregnant Beatriz Cabeza de Vaca, who used to keep house for Daphne’s family in better times.

When Beatriz is stabbed to death outside her apartment, Daphne learns the baby has survived and sets out to find the baby’s missing father. She gets sidetracked when a friend facing life-threatening surgery asks Daphne to locate his sister, Charlie. Except for the lip ring and a nasty drug habit, Charlie could be Daphne’s twin.

The search for both people leads Daphne to the Delmarva Peninsula and a woman so desperate to cover her crimes against undocumented workers that she will kill anyone in her way, including Charlie and quite possibly the girl’s mirror image, Daphne Dunn. Be sure to pre-order your copy of this amazing book today!

-- Now, take it away Caroline!

Saturday Night Reading Suggestion:

Milkman, by Anna Burns. This winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize poses numerous challenges for readers, but it’s worth making the effort. The lead character, a young girl during Ireland’s Troubles, is not named. We only know her as Middle Sister or Middle Daughter. All the other characters are treated in similar fashion with “maybe-boyfriend” being her love interest and Somebody McSomebody being a man she doesn’t care for. Only the mysterious Milkman is named, but even then readers get confused because there is also the actual milkman who delivers milk. I found this story to be a truly authentic account of the terrifying times when gossip was the only way that ordinary people could make sense of the madness around them, where local vigilantes both protected and punished, and where not even the well-connected and deeply feared Milkman could escape the terror.

Saturday Night Movie Suggestion:

The Big Lebowski. This movie, now considered a cult film, is the most realistic depiction of Angelinos who are not involved in the movie business but whose values are definitely influenced by it. I was born in Los Angeles and left at the age of six months. But I’ve visited the city often and stayed long enough to get a sense of the place and its values. Jeff Bridges as Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski is so laid back, he’s the embodiment of couch potato slacker, of which there are many in La La Land. The scene where he winds up at the home of The Big Lebowski always makes me laugh. Those sofas with their angled backs just scream “cocaine den.” Unlike the carton of milk that the Dude guzzles right from the store’s refrigerator in the opening scene, The Big Lebowski continues to entertain long past its sell-by date.

Saturday Night Device Detox:

The weekend has always been a great time to enjoy the company of other people. It doesn’t have to be a date, either. We all spend way too much time staring at our various devices, for work and also for socializing. But they’re a poor substitute for the real thing. There is nothing quite so satisfying as being in the presence of an actual person or group of friends, doing whatever you want to do—dancing, talking, drinking, eating, playing cards or board games, whatever does not involve staring at an illuminated screen. We’re social beings, after all, and studies show that socializing is good for our physical and mental health. Our world today may be dominated by the need to connect on social media, but, as Bruce Springsteen so eloquently put it, “I just want someone to talk to / And a little of that human touch.”

CAROLINE TAYLOR is the author of four mystery novels—What Are Friends For?, Jewelry from a Grave, Loose Ends, and The Typist—and a collection of short stories, Enough: Thirty Stories of Fielding Life’s Little Curve Balls. A longtime resident of Washington, D.C., Caroline now lives in North Carolina. Read more of her numerous short stories and essays featured on her website at www.carolinestories.com.
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