MONSTRE by Duncan Swan – Introducing a New Master of Horror and a MUST READ – Release Is Only 5 Days Away…

Title: MONSTRE

Series: MONSTRE: VOLUME ONE

Author: DUNCAN SWAN

Genre: FICTION, HORROR

Length: 388 PAGES

Publisher: SUPER HOOT PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7345740-0-5 (Paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-7345740-1-2 (eBook)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

There is no stopping it.

The Cloud is armageddon, steamrolling the world at a walking pace.

In his thrilling debut novel Monstre, author Duncan Swan crafts a relentless, terrifying, genre-bending tale of courage, desperation, and redemption that shows just how fragile our civilization is… and how far we will go to survive.

Day 0. From the wreckage of a research facility in Switzerland, a plume of toxic smoke and ash pours into the sky, forming an impenetrable cloud that is slowly smothering the world in darkness. As Europe disappears beneath the Cloud, a squad of United States Marines are sent on a desperate mission to find out what went wrong, and how to undo it before it’s too late. Venturing into a cold, dark world, the Marines must travel deep under the Cloud, with no comms, no backup, and no idea of what they will face.

Day 89. Half a world away, the Cloud has reached the East Coast of the U.S. With nowhere to run and no hope of survival, the American people have descended into madness, turning on themselves and each other. From the sidelines, an old Tennessee sheriff watches as his country unravels. But he can’t bring himself to take the easy way out. Quitting isn’t in his DNA. So when one of his deputies asks him to help protect her family, he leads them west, chasing a miracle-a rumor of an old nuclear bunker that just may be their only hope for survival.

Because if the Cloud doesn’t kill them, what’s hiding in the dark will.

“Nothing got through it from above, not even radio waves, and anything that tried to fly through it suffered so many lightning strikes that it came out the other end looking like charcoal with all the aerodynamics of a brick.⁠”
Monstre, Vol I, Exc. III⁠
(Art: Chris Cold)

MY REVIEW:

Move over Stephen King, there is a new Master of Horror!!!

If Michael Crichton was still around, even he would feel threatened by Duncan Swan’s writing and imagination.

There are a zillion books out there that talk about the end of civilization as we know it, but none like MONSTRE by Duncan Swan. In the apocalyptic genre there are few storylines that can be considered original, yet Duncan Swan has achieved that goal.

I do not want to give away any of the plot, nor do I want to lessen the enjoyment of potential readers. I do however want to ensure that anyone who reads this review understands that I am giving MONSTRE the highest possible rating allowable.

In scope, this book takes on a mammoth task. After all, it is about the end of all human life on the planet that is being threatened.

The story begins in Europe and at the end of Book One, readers realize that what began half a world away has now come to North America and threatens to wipe out everything and everyone we hold dear.

If you are a fan of horror, this is a MUST READ.

If you are a fan of science fiction, this is a MUST READ.

If you are a fan of apocalyptic fiction, you do not want to miss this book.

If you are a fan of great dramatic fiction, you just can’t afford to miss this novel.

If you love character driven, multifaceted, fast paced stories that grab your attention and are so engrossing that you can immerse yourself for hours at a time, and yet still not want to stop reading, MONSTRE is the book for you.

At 388 pages, this first book in what promises to be an amazing series, is long enough to ensure that readers get their money’s worth and then some.

Duncan Swan has crafted a winner of a book. If he does not win multiple awards for MONSTRE I would be very surprised. 

I rate MONSTRE as 5++ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. The only good thing about having to wait is that it will give me a chance to read MONSTRE again.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

Footprint
Artist: Laurie GREASLEY



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

South African born and raised, Kiwi immigrant, Australian citizen, and now a U.S. Permanent Resident, Duncan Swan holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Commerce. He originally wanted to be an astronaut, but somehow wound up working in finance as a portfolio analyst and making fancy spreadsheets.

Now, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter and tells stories, working with amazing artists, editors, publishers, and marketing geniuses to create something new.

Duncan’s debut novel, MONSTRE – a story about survival and mad desperation, described as “sci-fi with teeth” – will be released in two parts, with Volume 1 due in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats on September 15, 2020, and Volume 2 to follow in Summer 2021.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE by Investigative Reporter JUSTIN LING is available for pre-order NOW. This 5 STAR Read is destined for the National Bestseller list.

Title: MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE

Subtitle: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community

Author: JUSTIN LING

Genre: NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA2+, LGBTQQ, QUEER NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SERIAL KILLERS, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA,  CANADIAN AUTHOR

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: MCCLELLAND AND STEWART – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

ISBN: 9780771048647

Price: $32.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to killing these eight men.
Top row, from left to right: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen and Abdulbasir Faizi.
Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan.
(John Fraser/CBC)

DESCRIPTION:

The tragic and resonant story of the disappearance of eight men — the victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur — from Toronto’s queer community.

In 2013, the Toronto Police Service announced that the disappearances of three men–Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Majeed Kayhan — from Toronto’s gay village were, perhaps, linked. When the leads ran dry, the investigation was shut down, on paper classified as “open but suspended.”

By 2015, investigative journalist Justin Ling had begun to retrace investigators’ steps, convinced there was evidence of a serial killer.

Meanwhile, more men would go missing, and police would continue to deny that there was a threat to the community. On January 18, 2018, Bruce McArthur, a landscaper, would be arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of eight men.

Canadian Serial Killer
Bruce McArthur
Ho / THE CANADIAN PRESS

This extraordinary book tells the complete story of the McArthur murders. Based on more than five years of in-depth reporting, this is also a story of police failure, of how the queer community responded, and the story of the eight men who went missing and the lives they left behind. In telling that story, Justin Ling uncovers the latent homophobia and racism that kept this case unsolved and unseen. This gripping book reveals how police agencies across the country fail to treat missing persons cases seriously, and how policies and laws, written at every level of government, pushed McArthur’s victims out of the light and into the shadows.

MY REVIEW:

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is destined to become a National Bestseller.

Investigative Reporter Justin Ling, himself a member of Toronto’s LGBTQ community – the very same community from which McArthur chose his victims – is uniquely qualified to author this book.

I say this, NOT based on his sexuality, I say this because he seems to have been the only person, and definitely the only reporter, who was interested in finding out what was happening in Toronto’s Gay Village YEARS before the police even considered the men’s disappearances to be connected. Not only that, but because Justin knows the area, and is a reporter with a heart who cares (sometimes too much) about each victim as a person, not as just another face in the lineup of victims. Justin is the only person who could tell this story without sensationalism getting in the way.

I have read numerous true crime books over the span of many years, but MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is unique. It is superbly told so that the focus is not on the gruesome crimes themselves, but is on the story as a whole. I love that the author was so wrapped up in the story that, at times, he had to fight back tears.

Canada has its fair share of crimes, including murder, but Canadian serial killers are rare. These killers seem to focus on marginalized populations, seeing those victims as disposable. The problem is that they seem to be right. It took way too long for the police to catch this POS.

Sex, murder and secrets are the basis for this horrific true crime story that, if I didn’t know better, I would never have believed to be true, especially not here in Ontario, Canada.

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is a MUST READ if you want to know the entire story, not just of Bruce McArthur and his victims, but also the history of Toronto’s gay village and the fight for LGBTQIA2S rights, and why Bruce McArthur was able to go on killing over the span of several years and remain undetected.

McArthur’s victims were real people who had loved ones and friends who still miss them.

In this era of the #metoo movement and the calls to #defundthepolice and, of course, #blacklivesmatter we all need to remember that many people are still seen as unimportant. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

For decades people who are queer, who are sex workers, who are black, who are brown, who are Indigenous, who are homeless, and many more, have been treated as if their lives do not matter. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we see, REALLY SEE, every life as equal and as precious. This book will open people’s eyes, it is up to us to ensure our eyes stay open.

If we can do this, maybe, just maybe, we can stop the next Bruce McArthur from being able to choose victims at will.

I rate MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be watching for Justin Ling’s byline, and hopefully another book.

I just discovered that you can Pre-order the hardcover version of this book on the Chapters/Indigo website for a reduced price. It is currently 25% off, but I am not privy to when this offer ends, so I suggest you pre-order your copy ASAP.

Pre-Order NOW and Save 25%

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

QUOTES:

“The bar changed colour like a drag queen trying on new shades of lipstick.”

“The contrast between the bright paint and the rest of the dour building gave Zipperz the particular quality of being a portal into another world, a secret passageway.”

“The campaign to find a missing loved one sits exactly between hope and dread.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JUSTIN LING is an investigative journalist whose reporting has focused on stories and issues undercovered and misunderstood.

His writing has appeared in Vice News, BuzzFeed, Foreign Policy, Motherboard, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Guardian.

In 2019 he hosted “The Village,” the third season of the CBC podcast Uncover, which examined cold cases from the 1970s that were reopened as a result of the McArthur investigation.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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CBC

UNCOVER – THE PODCAST

MUCKRACK

TWITTER

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GOOGLE BOOKS

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ICE WALKER by Bestselling Author and Award Winning Photographer

Title: ICE WALKER

Subtitle: A POLAR BEAR’S JOURNEY THROUGH THE FRAGILE ARCTIC

Author: JAMES RAFFAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, CANADIANA, POLAR BEARS, CLIMATE CHANGE, GLOBAL WARNING, HUDSON BAY

Length: 163 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5538-3 (ebook)

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5536-9 (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the top of the world, Hudson Bay looks like an enormous paw print on the torso of the continent, and through a vast network of lakes and rivers, this bay connects to oceans across the globe. Here, at the heart of everything, walks Nanurjuk, or Nanu, one polar bear among the six thousand that traverse the 1.23 million square kilometers of ice and snow covering the bay.

For millennia, Nanu’s ancestors have roamed this great expanse, living, evolving, and surviving alongside human beings in one of the most challenging and unforgiving habitats on earth. But that world is changing. In the Arctic’s lands and waters, oil has been extracted—and spilled. As global temperatures have risen, the sea ice that Nanu and her young need to hunt seal and fish has melted, forcing them to wait on land where the delicate balance between them and their two-legged neighbors has now shifted.

This is the icescape that author and geographer James Raffan invites us to inhabit in Ice Walker. In precise and provocative prose, he brings readers inside Nanu’s world as she treks uncertainly around the heart of Hudson Bay, searching for nourishment for the children that grow inside her. She stops at nothing to protect her cubs from the dangers she can see—other bears, wolves, whales, human beings—and those she cannot.

By focusing his lens on this bear family, Raffan closes the gap between humans and bears, showing us how, like the water of the Hudson Bay, our existence—and our future—is tied to Nanu’s. He asks us to consider what might be done about this fragile world before it is gone for good. Masterful, vivid, and haunting, Ice Walker is an utterly unique piece of creative nonfiction and a deeply affecting call to action.

MY REVIEW:

“In Canada, the Cree, to the south, call her Wabusk. The Inuit, to the north, call her Nanuq or Pihoqahiak, the Ever Wandering One… The Sami in Scandinavia and western Russia call her God’s Dog, never mentioning her name. In Greenland, she is Tornassuk, the master of helping spirits… Science calls her “Ursus maritimus,” meaning ‘sea bear’ in Latin.

Known to most of us as simply the “polar bear,” this majestic creature is losing her home. In “ICE WALKER,” we are taken on a journey in the Arctic told from the perspective of a fully grown female polar bear.

We journey alongside her as she hunts for the fat-rich seals which make up the majority of her diet. We feel her fear when she isn’t able to put on enough weight to sustain her while she is pregnant and then nursing. We feel her triumph when she sees her cubs for the first time.

Author JAMES RAFFAN has created Nanu based on years of study and research. You will NOT find any talking bears in this tale of subsistence survival in a land that is slowly disappearing.

ICE WALKER is destined to become the go-to book for those who want to understand the threat of global warming on these majestic creatures.

Without any lectures, or even not-so-subtle hints, readers will become invested in the plight of Nanu, the polar bear.

ICE WALKER is the “Gorillas In the Mist” for a new generation. What Jane Goodall did for the Gorilla, James Raffan has now done for the Polar Bear.

Sprinkled throughout the book are stunningly beautiful photographs of polar bears in their natural habitat. The author is also the photographer of these incredible images.

ICE WALKER contains the following extras:

* AFTERWORD: An Arctic World in Peril
* AUTHOR’S NOTE
* A NOTE ON THE TEXT
* FURTHER READING
* GLOSSARY and a
* READING GROUP GUIDE

I will be recommending this fabulously written tale to everyone I meet. Not only is ICE WALKER an entertaining story, it is also an important one. The plight of the polar bears and the warming of their habitat have worldwide implications.

Fabulous, Exceptional, with writing of the highest caliber.

I rate ICE WALKER as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Raffan is a prolific writer, speaker, and geographer, and the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Circling the Midnight Sun; Emperor of the North; Bark, Skin and Cedar; and Fire in the Bones. He has written for a variety of media outlets, including National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Up Here, Explore and The Globe and Mail, and produced radio and television documentaries for CBC Radio and the Discovery Channel. His work has taken him all over the world. He is an international fellow of the Explorers Club, a past chair of the Arctic Institute of North America, and a fellow and past governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, service for which he was awarded many medals, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. From 2010 to 2013, he traveled through the Arctic Circle, spending time in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, as he researched and wrote on culture and climate change in the North. He lives in Seeley’s Bay, Ontario.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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TWITTER

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
…………………

WHEN THESE MOUNTAINS BURN by David Joy IS NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Title: WHEN THESE MOUNTAINS BURN

Author: DAVID JOY  

Genre: FICTION, SOCIAL THEMES,  ADDICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS – An Imprint of PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Release Date: AUGUST 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53688-8

Price: $27.00 USD / $36.00 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Acclaimed author and “remarkably gifted storyteller” (The Charlotte Observer) David Joy returns with a fierce and tender tale of a father, an addict, a lawman, and the explosive events that come to unite them.

When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.

After a workplace accident left him out of a job and in pain, Denny Rattler has spent years chasing his next high. He supports his habit through careful theft, following strict rules that keep him under the radar and out of jail. But when faced with opportunities too easy to resist, Denny makes two choices that change everything.

For months, the DEA has been chasing the drug supply in the mountains to no avail, when a lead–just one word–sets one agent on a path to crack the case wide open . . . but he’ll need help from the most unexpected quarter.

As chance brings together these men from different sides of a relentless epidemic, each may come to find that his opportunity for redemption lies with the others.

MY REVIEW:

I had only read a single paragraph and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that I was going to love this book.

Judge for yourself. Here is Paragraph One of “When These Mountains Burn.”

“Rain bled over the dusty windshield. Raymond Mathis wrung the steering wheel in his fists trying to remember if there was anything left worth taking. The front door of his house stood open and from the driveway he knew who’d broken in. Fact was, if it wasn’t nailed down, it was already gone. What pawned easily went first and now the boy stole anything that looked like it might hold any value at all.”

The boy referenced above is Ray’s son. And, just like thousands, nay, tens of thousands, of young men and women in America today, Ricky is an addict. His father, Ray has spent every dime he has, and then some, paying for rehabs that do nothing, once even paying off a drug dealer so that his son would not have to pay the debt with his life.

But, this is NOT just another book about addiction and the opiate epidemic. It is so much more than that.

The first experience I had with author David Joy was his debut book “Where All Light Tends To Go” which was published in 2015 and I absolutely loved.

David Joy is not only an author, he is an artist, painting with words rather than pastels and oils, but the result is just as vivid. 

WHEN THESE MOUNTAINS BURN takes on several social issues including the Opiate Crisis, forest wildfires, and the residual and ongoing effects of colonization on Indigenous Peoples and Communities.

David Joy is somehow able to call into existence characters that feel so real that readers will wonder if they are based on actual people.

David Joy’s gift for conceiving of plausable scenarios makes reading his books a true experience. In particular, David’s books are set in areas that he knows well. This lends a further air of authenticity to When These Mountains Burn.

I can easily imagine the film rights for this book being snatched up rather quickly and I will be first in line to see the movie if this happens.

David’s books are perfect for book clubs and he even offers Discussion Guides on his website.

I rate this book as 5+ out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you have not yet read any of David Joy’s books, you are missing out on a true literary experience.

WHEN THESE MOUNTAINS BURN was released TODAY!!!

**Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Photograph by Alan Rhew

David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novels The Weight Of This World (Putnam, 2017) and The Line That Held Us (Putnam, 2018).

He is also the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award.

Joy is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His latest short stories and essays have appeared in TimeThe New York Times MagazineGarden & Gun, and The Bitter Southerner.

David Joy lives in the North Carolina mountains.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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Available for purchase in both Hardcover and Ebook Format:

To Order Hardcovers Click on the links below:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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Hudson Booksellers

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Powell’s

Target

Walmart

To Order the E-Book:

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François Busnel Visits The North Carolina Mountains
For La Grande Librairie.

François Busnel recently visited David Joy at his home to film an upcoming episode of La Grande Librairie, a primetime television program covering literature and culture in France. Followed by an average of five to seven hundred thousand viewers weekly, it is considered to be the most influential program on book sales in the country.

Busnel called David Joy, “one of the most promising writers of his generation.”
The episode is scheduled to air in the coming months.

MORE BOOKS

BY DAVID JOY:

THE MULBERRY TREE by Allison Rushby is being released TODAY!!!

Title: THE MULBERRY TREE

Author: ALLISON RUSHBY

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: CANDLEWICK PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JULY 14, 2020

Pre-Order: AVAILABLE NOW

ISBN: 9781536207613

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Is the eerie tree beside their bucolic cottage really a threat to ten-year-old Immy? Legend and hearsay give way to a creepy series of events in a captivating mystery.

Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters . . . one, two, three.

Ten-year-old Immy and her family have run away from their storm cloud of problems to a tiny village in Cambridgeshire, England, where her depressed physician father can take a sabbatical and get back on his feet. Luckily, they find an adorable thatched cottage to begin a new life in. But their new home comes with one downside: in the backyard, there is an ancient, dark, and fierce-looking mulberry tree that has ceased bearing any fruit. There’s a legend that the towering tree steals away girls who live in the cottage on the eve of their eleventh birthday, and villagers even cross the street when they pass by the house. Of course, Immy thinks this is all ridiculous. But then she starts to hear a strange song in her head. . . . In a page-turner perfect for middle-graders, Allison Rushby folds themes of new-school travails, finding friends, being embarrassed by parents, and learning empathy into a deliciously goose-bumpy supernatural mystery.

MY REVIEW:

“Do naught wrong by the mulberry tree, or she’ll take your daughters … one, two, three.

In the dead of night, spirited away, never to see an eleventh birthday.”

How can any potential reader not want to keep reading with an intro like that?

I know that it instantly piqued my interest, and at 304 pages, THE MULBERRY TREE is a substantial length which means that readers will be able to lose themselves in the story the same way I did. 

Imogen (Immy) and her parents have moved to England from Australia. They are moving in order to seek a fresh start after her father experienced a trauma. In fact, since that fateful day, her father’s personality has completely changed and not in a good way. Immy doesn’t understand what has happened to her father and finds it extremely frustrating to feel so powerless. She wants her Dad to go back to the way he was, but she is starting to believe that this is his new normal.

As with all children, Immy had no say in the plans to relocate, and she is  unhappy about leaving behind all her friends and everything else familiar. 

Immy’s mother is a heart surgeon, her father was a Family Doctor, well, I guess he technically still is, but he isn’t currently practicing. He is depressed and blames himself for the actions of one of his patients.

The family decides to rent a cottage style house known to locals as “Lavender Cottage.” In the backyard of their new home is a huge mulberry tree. Little do they know this tree is at the center of a local superstition and the rhyme at the beginning of the book is about this same tree.

The locals all believe that the tree is evil, which is patently ridiculous … Or is it?

THE MULBERRY TREE has everything a middle grade reader could possibly want. The characters are believable, and most readers will find parts of  themselves in Immy’s personality. I can still vividly remember my father doing embarassing things when I was Immy’s age, just like her father does to her. (As an adult, now I am the one embarassing my own kids.)

The story is fast paced and readers may just find themselves unable to put this book down. At night, I kept saying to myself that I would just read one more chapter before going to bed, but ended up staying awake until I finished the entire book.

So, since the plot is terrific, the story  engaging, the characters relatable and believable, and the writing is nothing less than fantastic, I have no choice but to rate this book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram and keep an eye out for several upcoming book giveaways on both here my blog and on my Instagram account at: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews

Thanks to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Allison Rushby, an Australian author of a whole lot of books. I’m crazy about cities with long, winding histories, wild, overgrown cemeteries, red brick Victorian museums, foxes and ivy. When I’m not writing about these things, you can often find me falling down the rabbit hole of Social Media. of . Most days I’m helped (read: distracted) by my small, warm, wrinkly assistant, Claudia the Devon Rex cat who kindly allows me to live in her home.

If you’d like to try one of Allison’s books for free, Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend is FREE on Kindle or Smashwords.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Candlewick Press, based in Somerville, Massachusetts, publishes outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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.

MORE BOOKS BY ALLISON RUSHBY:

END OF THE ROPE: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood by Acclaimed Canadian Mountain Climber and Author JAN REDFORD is available now. This memoir will make you laugh out loud, as well as cry your heart out. This is one Canadian book that shouldn’t be missed. 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ END OF THE ROPE is the story of her struggle to make her own way in the mountains and in life; to lead, not follow.

The blue book cover is the Canadian cover. The other cover is the United States book cover.

Title: END OF THE ROPE

Subtitle: MOUNTAINS, MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD

Author:  JAN REDFORD

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, CANADA, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, FAMILY DYSFUNCTION 

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-345-8231-5

Price: $32.00 CDN (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD“, the gritty, funny, achingly honest story of a young climber’s struggle to become whole by testing herself on mountains and life.

As a young teenager, Jan Redford runs away from a cottage where her father has just put her down for the zillionth time and throws herself against a 100-foot cliff face.  Somewhere in that shaky, outraged kid is a bedrock belief in her right to exist, which carries her to the top. In that brief flash of victory, she sets her sights on becoming a climber.

Falling in love with climbing eventually leads to falling in love with the climbers in her tight-knit western Canadian climbing community. It also means that the people she loves regularly vanish in an instant, caught in an avalanche or by a split second of inattention. It almost crushes Jan when her boyfriend, the gifted climber Dan Guthrie, is killed. Instead of marrying Dan, she marries one of his best friends, a driven climber who was there for her when she was grieving and becomes the father of her two children. Not what either of them planned.

End of the Rope is raw and real. Mountains challenge Jan, marriage almost annihilates her, and motherhood could have been the last straw…but it isn’t.

How she climbs out of the hole she digs for herself is as thrilling and inspiring as any of her climbs–and just as much an act of bravery.

MY REVIEW:

Upon initial perusal of END OF THE ROPE, potential readers may think the same as I originally thought: with a subtitle like Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood, I expected this to be one of those annoying books about a woman whose life is perfect; one who has it all, and who is now going to “teach” readers how they too can have it all and become the perfect “Super-Mom.” YUCK!!! (Plus, I call Bullshit on those people – I think they are full of crap.)

On the surface, potential readers might think that if END OF THE ROPE  isn’t about being a “Super Mom” then it must be about mountain climbing, and only mountain climbing. Wrong again, this is definitely not the case.

Yes. It does contain quite a few mountain and mountain climbing stories, as well as some of the multitude of accomplishments of the author – female Canadian climber, Jan Redford.

This surprising and engaging memoir is so much more than just a story of mountain climbing, and so much more interesting.

Jan Redford tells the story of her life so far; a life that has been anything but normal, and anything but easy. 

Jan Redford learned to climb after high school, in Wyoming at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She writes about her time at NOLS at the age of eighteen that: “I felt like I’d been sleepwalking through my life, and climbing propped open my eyes. Made me fully alive.” She knew from then on that Climbing would be a large part of her existence for the rest of her life.

While Jan Redford’s life did revolve for many years around her climbing and the climbing “lifestyle,” Jan is much more than just a climber.

In reality, this is a memoir about growing up in a highly dysfunctional family – one that presented the image of perfection to those around them. That outer, superficial image of the perfect family was a sham. Jan’s father was an alcoholic and her mother, although physically present, was emotionally absent. The entire family lived in an atmosphere which required everyone to ‘walk on eggshells’ lest they pull the pin on the ticking time bomb that was the family patriarch. Who could blame Jan for wanting to run away as far, and as fast as possible?

Climbing was the escape that offered Jan not only a way out, but also a way forward. The West Coast of Canada offers amazingly scenic mountain ranges and a large, insular community of like-minded individuals. It was in this climbing community Jan found her home and her people.

Tales of the antics of her youthful indescretions will have the reader fondly remembering their own youth capers. 

END OF THE ROPE is a story of running away and finding yourself. Falling in lust. Challenging yourself. Finding your soulmate and losing him to the mountains you both lived.

It is a tale of being hurt down to the core of your soul, digging deep and doing what is right for you; no matter what other people think or say.

As it states in the subtitle, this book is about Mountains, Motherhood and Marriage. Each of these three M’s will bring Jan joy and happiness as well as unspeakable pain and sorrow.

END OF THE ROPE is a memoir not to be missed.

Any book that can cause me to laugh out loud, snort in disbelief and/or  exasperation, as well as have me in tears is a book that I will not soon forget. END OF THE ROPE did all of these things to me, and more. Because of this, I would be doing a disservice to potential readers to rate this book as anything lower than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan Redford may be an awesome mountain climber, but she is an even better writer.

In August 2020, the Paperback version of this book is being released. It can be pre-ordered now at your favorite bookstore.

I would love to hear back from any of you that go on to read END OF THE ROPE. After you finish reading it, come back here to let me know what you thought.

To read an excerpt from this book click HERE.

Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.

And be sure to also follow me on Social media where I sometimes offer chances to win books. ** I might just be offering a chance to win books sometime over the next few weeks.** 

MY INSTAGRAM

MY TWITTER

🧗🧗🧗🚵🚵🚵⛷️⛷️⛷️🧗🧗


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Jannicke Kitchen

JAN REDFORD is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and holds a master’s in creative writing from UBC.

Her stories, articles, and personal essays have been published in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Mountain Life, Explore, Catapult, LitHub, and anthologies and have won or been shortlisted in several writing contests.

She lives with her family in Squamish, BC, where she mountain bikes, trail runs, climbs, and skis.

Her memoir, End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood is her first book.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.janredford.com

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FIVE LITTLE INDIANS by Debut Novelist Michelle Good is a FANTASTIC Book, and One that will resonate deeply with all Canadians who believe in justice. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. Bravo! The birch trees are significant as are the silhouettes.

Title: FIVE LITTLE INDIANS

Author: MICHELLE GOOD

Genre: FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, CANADIAN FICTION, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION, BASED ON TRUE STORIES

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS

Release Date: APRIL 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4434-5918-1 (Softcover)

Price: $22.99 CDN (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.

Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement.

Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations.

Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can’t stop running and moves restlessly from job to job—through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps—trying to outrun his memories and his addiction.

Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together.

After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew.

With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.

MY REVIEW:

FIVE LITTLE INDIANS is a book that everyone in North America needs to read. This may be Fiction, but it is based in reality and the five main characters are a great representation of what happened to the Indigenous children who were forced to attend Residential Schools.

These Residential Schools are a shameful part of Canada’s past and the harm they caused has resonated through multiple generations. That pain is still being felt by Indigenous People to this day. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is attempting to compensate the victims, and to tell their stories, but the hurt and victimization runs deep.

This novel concentrates on a handful of children, all of whom attended the same residential school. It follows them throughout their lives and readers are taken along for the ride.

The difference between this book and the various others that have been published is that FIVE LITTLE INDIANS focuses mainly on what happens to the children once they leave the Residential School system.

As each child reaches the age of release, they are given nothing but a bus ticket to Vancouver. Arriving in the city is sensory overload for these teenagers who have only ever lived either on remote reserves or at the school. I can only imagine how confused and scared they must have been.

It is amazing to me that any of them survived, but, as is demonstrated in the book, there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving.

With succinct yet heartfelt prose, readers will feel a fraction of the pain of the characters in the book, and even though it is only a fraction, it is enough to bring the reader to tears. (I am not ashamed to say that it made me cry.)

Although there are moments of unbelievable sadness and flashes of rage and violence, the story also contains momentous instances of love and inspiring occassions of spirituality. It is during these amazing and wonderous moments that the reader’s heart will soar alongside that of the characters.

I hope to read more books by Michelle Good in the near future. I would like it if she wrote about the generation of children who came from the Residential School Survivors and how their parents and grandparents traumatic experiences affects generation after generation.

I would be doing the world a great disservice if I was to rate FIVE LITTLE INDIANS as anything less than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I urge every Canadian to purchase a copy of FIVE LITTLE INDIANS asap.

It is imperative that we educate ourselves and our children about our country’s pastincluding the shameful parts.

It is by acknowledging the harm done that we can learn from it so that these mistakes are never repeated.

In addition to avoiding past mistakes, it is my hope that books such as this one will help to foster a better, less adversarial relationship between Indigenous Peoples and other ethnicities.

WE MUST ELIMINATE RACISM NOW!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

She obtained her law degree after three decades of working with indigenous communities and organizations.

She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, while still practising law, and won the HarperCollins/UBC Prize in 2018.

Her poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada.

Michelle Good lives and writes in south central British Columbia.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.michellegood.ca

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A BIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE RED PHEASANT CREE NATION:

**Information Copied From: https://www.batc.ca/member_first_nations/red_pheasant.html

History

Prior to signing treaty, Chief Wuttunee (Porcupine) and his CREE band hunted and fished along the Battle River, and as settlers moved into the Battleford region where they conducted trade.

Though Wuttunee was chief at the signing of TREATY 6 on September 9, 1876, he was not in favour of the treaty and appointed his brother Red Pheasant to sign for him.

The department recognized Red Pheasant as the band’s chief from that point. In 1878 the band settled on their reserve in the Eagle Hills, where the land was good and there was enough forest to enable them to hunt.

Red Pheasant day school opened in 1880, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built in 1885 on land set aside for that purpose when the reserve was surveyed.

The reserve is located 33 km south of NORTH BATTLEFORD, with an infrastructure that includes a band office, band hall, school and teacherage, public works building, fire hall, and a treatment centre.

The main economic base is agriculture, but the reserve hosts a band-owned grocery store, and in 1997 the band signed an oil and gas agreement with Wascana Energy Inc.

The band’s successful completion of a Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement has enabled them to increase their reserve’s size to 29,345.7 ha, and invest in furthering economic development.

The band has 1,893 registered members, 608 of whom live on the reserve.

THE ALGONQUIN READER – Spring/Summer 2020 Edition is AVAILABLE NOW. Want to know what books you simply need to read this season? This magazine tells you all about them and even offers Sneak Peeks, Book Club Discussion Guides, and much more.

Title: THE ALGONQUIN READER 

Issue: SPRING 2020

Cover Illustrator: CURTIS PARKER

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION

Received: NETGALLEY 

ISBN: 9781643751290

RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE SPRING 2020 ISSUE:

The Spring/Summer 2020 Algonquin Reader.

Discover the inspiration behind each book listed in this season’s issue through an original essay by the author.

Then enjoy an excerpt from each novel or short story collection.

The books featured in this issue are:

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
On Sale April 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
On Sale March 2020

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle Dr
On Sale June 2020

The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell
On Sale June 2020

The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson
On Sale July 2020

A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
On Sale August 2020

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt
On Sale August 2020

MY REVIEW:

THE ALGONQUIN READER is a literary fiction magazine. I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the SPRING/SUMMER 2020 issue.

In this issue, a selection of authors who have books being published between March and August of 2020, each wrote an essay and include an excerpt from their upcoming book.

The first author to be included was Julia Alvarez whose book AFTERLIFE was published in April of 2020. Her essay speaks of the evolution of her writing style as well as her writing routine. The excerpt from AFTERLIFE had the intended effect on me, as I have now added it to the list of books I want to read this year.
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Next up was the incredibly talented author of THE MOUNTAINS SING –  Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. In her essay titled “Climbing Many Mountains,” she writes about her life in Vietnam and how winning a writing competition at the age of ten, which she had secretly entered, led her to spend her teen years talking to relatives and elders about their lives. This inquisitiveness (unknownst to her at the time) was the beginning of her research for THE MOUNTAINS SING. Also included is an excerpt from her amazing book which I have already read and will be reviewing soon. She ends her essay with the following quote:

“I hope the story of Huóng and Diêu Lan helps international readers discover our common humanity, as in the words of Huóng: ‘Somehow I was sure that if people were willing to read each other, and see the light of other cultures, there would be no war on earth.'”

The third included author is JILL McCORKLE whose book: HIEROGLYPHICS is due for release in June. Her book is based around two historic tragedies, a train derailment in 1941 and a nightclub fire in 1942. At the conclusion of her essay, author Jill McCorkle states:

“My hope is that the readers of Hieroglyphics will be entertained by these characters and their lives, but I also hope it will lead them to think of various fragments and images from their own lives and to experience the oldest and purest form of time travel – memory.”

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this book. The essay, as well as the excerpt included in the Spring issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER has succeeded in piqueing my interest.

THE FALLING WOMAN by Richard Farrell is a tale of suspense. A plane crashes and the sole survivor is a woman, and the story is about her, as well as the young agent whose job it is to find her. THE FALLING WOMAN is being released in June. In his essay, author Richard Farrell says:

We all are haunted by something – something we did or didn’t do – and the passing years either add to the weight or diminish it.”

I agree and identify wholeheartedly with this quote.

The final three books highlighted in the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER are:

1. The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson which hits bookstore shelves in July of 2020.

2. A House Is a Body by Shruti Swamy
is set for release in August of 2020

and

3. With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt which goes on sale August 2020.

Out of all the books highlighted, I most want to get my hands on a copy of AFTERLIFE by Julia Alvarez.

Courtesy of ALGONQUIN BOOKS, you can read an excerpt from AFTERLIFE by clicking HERE

You can also read an essay by the author HERE

And, last but not least, you can download a FREE BOOK CLUB KIT for Afterlife HERE

I rate the Spring 2020 Issue of THE ALGONQUIN READER as a hearty 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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*Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Founded in 1983, Algonquin Books started as a small Southern house but quickly garnered national attention for publishing authors such as Julia Alvarez, Kaye Gibbons, Robert Morgan, and Lee Smith. In 1989, Algonquin was acquired by Workman Publishing. Algonquin is recognized internationally as a literary publishing house with numerous fiction and nonfiction bestsellers and award winners. Algonquin Young Readers is a new imprint that features books for readers seven to seventeen.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

#TheAlgonquinReaderSpring2020  #NetGalley

IT’S HERE… TODAY IS THE DAY … A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY RELEASES TODAY

Title: A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY

Author: A. ANDREWS

Genre: NON-FICTION, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS, DISABILITIES, SEX, YOUNG ADULT, LGBTQ , QUEER AUTHOR, DISABLED AUTHOR, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL

Length: 72 PAGES

Publisher: ONI PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 5, 2020

ISBN: 9781620106945

Price: $9.99 USD Paperback

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A quick, easy, and educational comic book guide that will help change the way we talk about sex and sexuality for all bodies.

“This guide can help disabled people (and their partners) on their journey toward self-love, better communication, and confidence.” –– Alice Wong, Founder and Director, Disability Visibility Project

All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to

S-E-X.

As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex.

Part of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Quick & Easy Guide series from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press.

MY REVIEW:

So, why read a book about sex, and specifically disabled sex, by someone who is not an “Expert?”

The answer to that is: To avoid the typically clinical and frustratingly BORING books on this topic written by supposed “experts.” I have read many books and magazine articles written by non-disabled “experts” and those were all so ‘dry’ they even managed to make sex seem boring and much of the information is, at best irrelevant, at worst dangerously flawed. To take the advice of someone who has never had to live with a disability, is unwise in my opinion. Realistically, how could they know anything about it?

As a queer person living with a disability, A. Andrews is much more qualified to discuss issues surrounding sex & disability than any able-bodied ‘expert.’ 

I love that the author acknowledges that many people do not think of disabled people as sexual beings, and that they acknowledge the squeamishness with which some  people react to this topic. It is a ridiculous notion and I am happy that the author confronts it head-on.

According to the author, “All disability presents differently. They are all valid, real, and have unique needs and considerations.”

That said, this book focuses on sex for people with physical disabilities. After all, that is what the author deals with personally, which is why they are qualified to discuss it. It would have been a ridiculously long book if sex for every type of disability were to be discussed.

The emphasis placed on communication is great advice which applies to everyone, disabled or not. Included are some suggestions as to how not to offend a disabled partner. The illustrations depict a person asking or saying something offensive and offers a way to ask/say it in a nonoffensive way. I have never seen such awesome advice so succinctly shown before. I have to say that I am extremely impressed. Kudos to Author/Illustrator A. Andrews for including such valuable advice.

Let’s face it. There are many different types of people and therefore there are many types of sexual partners. This book is designed as a resource for all genders, races, and for any and all sexual persuasions. The illustrations reflect that reality. They depict many different body types, genders, races, as well as different types of physical disabilities.

The illustrations are not sexually explicit, but sex positions are depicted. When positions are shown, there are no views of genetalia. In most illustrations, the people depicted are wearing underwear or are fully clothed. There is a single page containing illustrations of sexual aids, some of which are shaped like male genetalia (but in a tasteful way.)

In my humble opinion, I believe every physically disabled person who is thinking about and/or planning to become (or continue to be) sexually active needs to purchase one or more copies of this graphic novel. It could be casually placed on the coffee table where the potential partner(s) is sure to see it, thus creating the perfect opportunity to begin the dialogue necessary. It would also be an amazing resource to share with anyone who participates in your care. This graphic novel should be available in every local library and every physical rehabilitation center in North America and beyond. In fact, I am planning to speak to my local library as well as at the few physiotherapy clinics near my home.

I rate A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO SEX & DISABILITY as

5+ Out Of 5 STARS (The highest rating I Can Give.) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A. Andrews is a queer and disabled cartoonist living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a near decade stay in New York City.

They grew up in the Pacific Northwest sketching in hospitals, and are the creator of the Autostraddle webcomic Oh, Hey! It’s Alyssa!

When they’re not drawing their guts out, they are hanging out with their dog, George, and drinking too many coffees.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Oni Press is a premier comic book and graphic novel publisher located in Portland, Oregon.

Established in 1997, Oni Press’s curated line includes a variety of award-winning original and licensed comic books and graphic novels, including: Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty™, Nickelodeon’s Invader ZIM, Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country, Courtney Crumrin, Wasteland, The Sixth Gun, Stumptown, Wet Moon, Letter 44, The Bunker, The Life After, The Coldest City, and Kaijumax.

To learn more about Oni Press, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TUMBLR

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

TWITTER – LIMERENCE PRESS

YOUTUBE

PINTEREST

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“Pretty Things by Janelle Brown – BOOK RELEASES TODAY – Nicole Kidman has already signed on for the movie version.

Title: PRETTY THINGS

Author: JANELLE BROWN

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 496 PAGES

Publisher: RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525479123

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.

MY REVIEW:

When a body goes down in Lake Tahoe, they say, it does not rise again. The frigid temperature of the lake, it’s vast depths, conspire to keep bacteria at bay. What once was human fails to decompose. Instead, the body is doomed to drift along the lake bed, in perpetual limbo; just more organic matter joining the mysterious menagerie that lives in Tahoe’s uncharted depths.”

What an incredible way to begin this suspenseful novel.

Readers of PRETTY THINGS are in for a treat. This book has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster.

Oh the naivety of youth. As author JANELLE BROWN details the life of high schoolers Nina and Benny, it is easy to picture the two misfits finding each other and only after having built a foundation of friendship do they take the leap of faith into a relationship. I am positive that everyone can remember their first real relationship. It is easy to visualize the intensity of their feelings. Nina and Benny never forget each other and their puppy-love has ramifications that span decades.

Vanessa is Benny’s sister. She is the golden child to Benny’s black sheep. As a twenty-something, she becomes what all Millenials seem to aspire to, that is an Instagram Influencer. She flits through the world wearing designer clothing and is constantly posting photographs of herself on her Instagram feed.

There are so many people who post every moment of their lives online, hoping to be followed by hundreds of thousands of people. What Vanessa, as well as other Instagramers don’t seem to think about, is just who is following their feed and why.

In addition to the role the internet plays in the plot of Pretty Things, also included are characters who have grown up in extreme wealth, never having to actually work for their money. Of course there are also their polar opposites, people who have lived hand-to-mouth and the things they are willing to do to make their lives easier. Dysfunctional family dynamics, mental illness, anger, fear and greed also have their places in this twisted tale.

In PRETTY THINGS someone or maybe several someones are following people’s Instagram posts for nefarious purposes and the dangers of the internet loom large. This tale is a warning to all those who post online to be wary of what they put out on the world wide web.

The author writes with such precision and suspense that it is little wonder the film rights of this book have already been scooped up. Mega-Star Nicole Kidman has already been cast in one of the lead rolls.

With themes that everyone living in this age of Social Media can relate to, PRETTY THINGS is going to be the Number One book on Bestseller Lists for many, many weeks to come.

This book fully deserves every single one of 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Michael Smiy

Janelle Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING, THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE and the upcoming novel PRETTY THINGS.

An essayist and journalist, her writing appears regularly in Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Previously, she spent five years as a senior writer at Salon, covering a diverse range of subjects — from Internet culture to the war on drugs, pop culture to style, public policy issues and the digital music movement– and began her career as a staff writer at Wired, working on seminal Web sites like HotWired and Wired News during the heydey of the dotcom boom.

Photo by Michael Smiy

In the 1990’s, she was also the editor and co-founder of Maxi, an irreverent (and now, long-gone) women’s pop culture magazine.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, filmmaker Greg Harrison, and two children.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK – AUTHOR  

FACEBOOK – RANDOM HOUSE

TWITTER – AUTHOR
http://twitter.com/janelleb

TWITTER – RANDOM HOUSE

AMAZON

GOOGLE BOOKS

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – RANDOM HOUSE

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE