From My Bookshelf – No Place to Hide by Opa Hysea Wise

When I saw that Kirkus Review called this book a “queer thriller”, I was intrigued. Now that I’ve read the book I would add that it also is a touch atmospheric. The author allows us to glimpse Smythe’s thoughts and allows us to experience her journey as it’s happening. Along with the “thrill of the chase”, Smythe’s growth throughout the course of the story adds an element of relatability to the story.

I love finding new authors at the beginning of their careers and I can’t wait to see how Wise follows up this captivating debut!

#Indiecember

In the most recent installment of “From My Bookshelf” I want to talk about one of my favorite months for books. The amazing Megan Tennant (click on her name to check out her Twitter feed) hosts an event that is called “Indiecember”. It’s different from every other reading challenge or readathon out there in that the goal is to REVIEW books, not just read them. Specifically we are challenged to review books by independent or self-published authors.

I first came across Megan’s name when my daughter recommended her book “Aletheia” to me. An indie author herself, Megan understands the importance of book reviews in helping to promote the work of authors that don’t have a big name publisher doing the publicity.

So get ready – I’ll be using this space to hype up the indie books I’m reading and reviewing this month. I just love finding new gems each December!

Quarantined Pages

I am typing this in June of 2020. Since March 13 of 2020 life has been . . . odd. The country has been dealing with the impact of a world wide pandemic. Schools and universities finished their year with students learning and working online from home. Business shifted to work-from-home set ups whenever and wherever possible . . . it’s been a shut-down/quarantine/isolation of sorts. Introverts loved it (until they realized that the rest of their family was going to constantly be underfoot!) and extroverts weren’t sure how we were going to survive!

Enter seven outstanding Booktube personalities! (If you don’t know what Booktube is you are missing out! It’s an entire community of book lovers and book reviewers who create content on Youtube!) They created a daily reading time that they called Quarantined Pages. Using Zoom meetings, readers from all over the world gathered together for an hour of silent reading after which we would discuss the books we were reading. As time went on, the group was acknowledged by Forbes and others which brought new members to our get-togethers! The organizers even found authors willing to come chat about their work! Some have been debut authors trying to get their first book out into the world at a time when book tours and book signings are not happening. Others have been established authors talking about their newest work. No matter the case, each of those “author chats” has been an absolute joy to be a part of!

A Twitter feed, a reading list on Goodreads, special registrations for the author chats . . . the numbers varied from one meeting to the next and we were checking in from LITERALLY all over the world. But one thing has been constant – At 51 years of age I might be the oldest face to show up and I feel completely embraced each and every time – they have become, for lack of a better term, my “bookish family”. Those who attend cover all ages, ethnic groups, gender identity groups . . . the only thing about us that is exactly the same is that we love to share books. And some of us get REALLY expressive when we experience “bookish joy” (I’m lookin’ at you Adri and Noria!).

I’ve had a few people chuckle when I’ve told them about this. But for this extroverted people person, this daily get-together of fellow book lovers became the one thing on my calendar that I could count on to occur exactly when it was scheduled to in a world when so many things were cancelled. Many of us have connected on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads . . . several of us have found new Booktube personalities to follow and we ALL have gotten a number of books to add to our personal wish lists!

To some it might seem like a simple thing. Maybe even a little silly. But when the world shut down from a pandemic, reading became a thing that connected a group of strangers and gave me something to look forward to every day. And I’m ever so grateful to have found such a unique, special online community.

From My Bookshelf – Kingdom of Liars (Nick Martell)

Michael Kingman has grown up under a dark cloud. When he was merely a child, his father was executed for killing the prince. Michael and his sister, Gwen, and brother, Lyon, were branded, forever marked as traitors. Raised by a foster father, the three siblings attempt to forge their way in a world that once revered their family name. “There must always be a Kingman in Hollow.” But what exactly were the Kingman children supposed to do when they were no longer tasked with protecting the members of the royal family to whom they had pledged? To make matters worse, their mother is in an asylum, her mind seemingly gone. But she does not possess the ability to wield any kind of Fabrication so her loss of memory makes absolutely no sense. Then Michael begins to hear rumors that maybe, just maybe, his father had been framed. But who can he trust? Not everyone in his life is who he or she appears to be. And he has never shown any ability with Fabrications so why are their holes in his own memory?

The world-building is outstanding, the character development captivating, and the story . . . well, the story will draw you in and refuse to let you go. Not everyone is who they claim to be and there are more secrets being kept than Michael can possibly imagine. This may be the first novel from author Nick Martell, but what a debut! This is to be the first in a series and there is PLENTY yet to be revealed in Michael’s story. Martell has definitely planted himself firmly on my “best of the year” list.