What Blooms from Dust: A Novel by James Markert


What Blooms from Dust

A Novel

by James Markert

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

Expected publication: June 26th 2018

4/5 Stars: Highly recommended for book clubs

I received a complimentary review copy from NetGalley.com.

#NetGalley #JamesMarkert # ThomasNelson #HistoricalFiction #Oklahoma #DustBowl


Jeremiah Goodbye has been tried and set to meet “Old Sparky” after being convicted of the murder of four men. But in the first of mystical events peppering the novel, a tornado hits the Oklahoma prison as the warden flips the switch on the electric chair, freeing Goodbye and setting him on the road to an uncertain future.

In the Dust Bowl of the 1935 Oklahoma plains, that road is made even more hazardous by thieves, suffocating windstorms, and the law chasing Goodbye, determined to return him to prison. Yet Goodbye makes each decision as he always has, based on the flip of a coin. This trait is so familiar he’s called “Coin Flip Killer.”

His habit of coin flipping stems from his early childhood though, and folks from his hometown of Nowhere no not to tempt fate on the toss of his coin. When Goodbye’s luck returns him to Nowhere, he will find out if it is good or bad, and if his future holds a chance for reconciliation with his past, his family, and his town. And what will the future for all entail.


Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, and he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere. 

After one jolt in Old Sparky, Jeremiah sees things more clearly and begins to question the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murders he was accused of. On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy who follows him the rest of the way, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by fearful townspeople. When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere finally begin to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust.

Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the townspeople from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of flipping the coin on those men who died.

Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.

I received a complimentary review copy from NetGalley.com.

#NetGalley #JamesMarkert # ThomasNelson #HistoricalFiction #Oklahoma #DustBowl



The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager


The Last Time I Lied

Riley Sager

Publication date: 03 Jul 2018


3/5 Stars: I liked it  


In his 2017 International Blockbuster Thriller “Final Girls,” Riley Sager established himself as a deft writer who could keep readers breathlessly turning page after page as they followed his twisting tale of murder and suspense. His latest novel, “The Last Time I Lied,” proves that Sager has what it takes to deliver satisfying mysteries with a touch of the macabre.

NYC artist Emma Davis finally gains recognition for her dramatic wall-sized paintings, which hide secrets from her childhood. Emma’s paintings are inspired by ghosts from her past; three girls who disappeared from their shared cabin at summer camp.

Heeding the call of the former camp owner, and hoping to find the resolution to her own unanswered questions, Emma returns to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. But cryptic messages, overt surveillance, and ambiguous threats cause Emma to question her hold on reality.

Fast-paced, edgy, and with plot-twists around every corner, “The Last Time I lied” is a must read for mystery/ suspense fans.



I received a complimentary copy of The Last Time I lied from NetGalley.com

#TheLastTimeILied #Riley Sager  #NetGalley #DuttonBooks



The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge


Unfortunately, the title of this novel will most likely keep it out of the hands of many readers. “The Hawkman” is far more likely to be associated with the DC Action Hero than with the protagonist of a literary novel, even if they have a shared background in fairytales and myths.

Title aside, The Hawkman is a memorable tale of love, loss; heartbreak, and tragedy, set against the turbulent backdrop of the early 20th century. World War 1, the “Great War,” decimated a generation of young men and left survivors maimed in body, spirit, and mind, struggling to find their place in a vastly changed world.

This is not a novel you can race though. Rosenberg frequently shifts character perspectives and timelines as she deftly weaves her plot. Additionally, there are long narrative passages which create the dreamy feeling of a lost fairytale.

Many of the chapters delve into the suffering of soldiers during WW1; trench warfare, German POW camps for British soldiers, discrimination against the Irish, and the anguish of the unknown, untreatable “shell shock.”


Photo source: cityssm.on.ca/library/WW1_POW.html

Fans of WW1 historical will want to watch for the release of The Hawkman.

Three out of five stars: I liked it.



The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Paperback, 318 pages

Expected publication: June 5th 2018 by Amberjack Publishing

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from NetGalley for review. 

#TheHawkman #NetGalley #AmberjackPublishing

Description from NetGalley.com

A great war, a great love, and the mythology that unites them; The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War is a lyrical adaptation of a beloved classic.

Set against the shattering events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at the tale’s heart are an American schoolteacher—dynamic and imaginative—and an Irish musician, homeless and hated—who have survived bloodshed, poverty, and sickness to be thrown together in an English village. Together they quietly hide from the world in a small cottage.

Too soon, reality shatters their serenity, and they must face the parochial community. Unbeknownst to all, a legend is in the making—one that will speak of courage and resilience amidst the forces that brought the couple together even as outside forces threaten to tear them apart.



The Final Girls by Riley Sager


Three out of Five Stars
Thriller for fans of slasher films; girls-in-peril genre.

Since I’m not of fan of slasher films, I completely missed the significance of Riley Sager’s book title, The Final Girls. Aficionados of horror films know that the “final girl” is the one woman who manages to survive a bloody rampage by a serial killer.

While the novel is more of a thriller than a horror story, it still has its moments of gore, murder and madness. Final Girls follows the story of three beautiful, young women who are survivors. Lisa survives an attack by a knife wielding assailant who kills nine of her sorority sisters. Sam overwhelmed and killed “the Sack Man,” after he killed guests at the Nightlight Hotel, and Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape the nightmare of Pine Cottage and into the arms of her savior, Coop.

Years later, Lisa dies under mysterious circumstances, which catapults Quincy back into the public eye as she struggles to recover repressed memories of the killings at Pine Cottage. Sam, the second final girl, shows up unannounced on Quincy’s doorstep, totally disrupting her life. Is Sam there to offer help, or does she have her own agenda as she presses Quincy to recover her past?

The Final Girls is a pulse-pounding thriller, with many twists and turns. Although I guessed the solutions to the mysteries about one-third of the way through the book, the action and moody atmosphere kept me going to the end. I was willing to go along for the ride, and see how Sager told the tale. I was less in love with the idea that only lovely women are noteworthy, but that is something too often found in the press, suspense novels and movies.

This review was cross posted to:

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones


Four out of five stars.
Fully realized, non-cliché characters interact in a dangerous dystopic world. Fast-paced, exciting read.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a fan of dystopia novels. I especially like them during autumn, when the weather gets brisk, the leaves turn, and the nights become longer. Some people like to read horror or ghost stories during the season. I prefer tales about disasters that could occur, especially ones we create.

The Salt Line, by Holly Goddard Jones is an ideal novel for those looking for a fast paced thriller in a dystopian setting. It even has tiny monsters to haunt your dreams this Halloween. In a futuristic U.S., the cities and states have shrunk to fiercely protected zones; with carefully selected, limited citizenry. Rings around each zone have been “salted,” or cleared, burned and chemically treated to kill and prevent the growth of any plants or animals. Why? Deadly disease carrying ticks inhabit the land between zones, and they cause an agonizing death.

Society remains starkly stratified in this futuristic world, and rich thrill seekers pay a fortune to leave the zone and experience wild nature in mountain settings. Specialized companies take carefully trained tour groups into the world outside the zones.

While nature provides significant threats, so do small enclave of outer-zoners; people not allowed into the safe zones. Equally dangerous are other groups of tourists looking for deadly thrills.
The novel blurb says The Salt Line is “in the spirit of Station Eleven…” but I think that it is much closer  to The Last One by Alexandra Oliva. Both novels provide a suspenseful game of attrition in a unique dystopian world.

This review was cross posted to:

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller



In many respects, the novel description of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller seems to be like many other fantasy novels. Protagonist Sallot Leon is an orphan-thief who wants to escape a life of successful highway robbery and find a way to avenge the dead of his/her family and countryman.

What makes Mask of Shadows a standout is that Sal is gender fluid, and insists that s/he be addressed in the appropriate manner based on his/her mode of attire on any given day. This is not just literary window dressing, Sal’s gender identity is central to the plot development and adds depth to his/her character.

Smart, witty, introspective and deadly, Sal tries out for an opening in the cadre of the Queen’s personal assassins, and a position in court close to treacherous nobles. The audition for assassin is a fight-to-the-death amongst all applicants. If Sal wants revenge, s/he will have to be ruthless.

Fast-paced, brutal, with a unique protagonist, Mask of Shadow is an exciting new fantasy read.

Three out of five stars.

I received a complimentary copy  courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire


Description from Goodreads:

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

Source of featured image: Link chen.concept.Illustrator   




The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak


The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak is as timely as it is remarkable. Book Groups members looking for a book that will touch the heart, provide food for thought and deliver an abundance of points for discussion should consider this novel, which publishes on December 26, 2017.

Although The Suppers is a historical novel set in 1950s Louisiana, many of its themes are extremely relevant. Basic principles of justice including impartial trials, fair treatment of prisoners, and the death penalty are emotionally depicted. Issues of racial and sexual equality; the safety of women and children are as important now as they were then.

In The Last Suppers, protagonist Ginny Polk chooses to return to Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary and work in the prison as the head cook. While there, she volunteers to research, prepare, cook, and deliver a last meal to prisoners prior to their execution. She discovers the harsh brutality of prison life, yet also finds hidden depth of humanity in some of the convicted as they share the simple grace of a meal.

These discoveries cause Ginny to question her memories of her own turbulent and violent past, which lead to heartbreaking revelations.

A memorable read.
Four out of five stars.

I received a complimentary copy of The Last Suppers courtesy of the Kensington Books through Goodreads.

Two Stars for The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross


I have mixed feelings about the latest book by award-winning author Lisa Tuttle; The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross. Since it is the second book in the Jesperson and Lane series, following The Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief, I understandably had a little trouble getting into the book. This lack of access was compounded by the fact that as the reader, I was immediately thrown into the action. I found it difficult to determine what I didn’t know, but would eventually discover as the mystery unfolded, and what I what I didn’t know because I hadn’t read the first book. This can be a problem when entering any series midway, but I had more trouble during the first and second chapters of this novel than I have had with other series.

Once I got past the first couple of chapters, I felt that the story moved along at a good clip, the mystery was distinctive and not easy to solve, and the secondary characters were well developed and interesting.

Character definition lead to the second problem I had with the novel, though. I felt like I knew the background characters much better than the primary characters, and the things I knew about the lead characters didn’t ring true. Jesperson, the lead male character, should have had no particular problems working with a woman, since his partner Lane is female. Yet he seemed to hold information back, even purposely keeping her in the dark, which at times hindered their murder investigation. Similarly, why would Lane, a woman who supposedly wanted to make her own way in the world, put up with Jesperson’s behavior? Overall, I found their behavior and working relationship unlikely.

In the end, I thought the book was okay.

Two out of five stars.

I received a complimentary copy a courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.

 Description from Amazon.com

“Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.

But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.


The Curious Affair of the Witch at Wayside Cross

Publisher: Hydra (November 28, 2017)

Publication Date: November 28, 2017

Sold by: Random House LLC

Language: English





Depth of Lies by E.C. Diskin; Book Review


There are 100 copies of the Kindle version up for grabs on Goodreads right now!      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34879620-depth-of-lies


We need a new term for books which portray the life changes women experience when they become femmes d’un certain âge, women of a certain age, and their children have left home, their careers have soared or crashed, and their love-lives have succeeded or failed. If novels about young women are called “coming of age” novels, perhaps we can refer to later transitions in women’s lives as the “coming of wisdom.”

Depth of Lies, by E.C. Diskin, features one group of longtime suburban neighbors and friends who have shared a variety of experiences; childbirth and child raising; work, financial difficulties, unfaithful husbands and divorce. These events have allowed them to acquire of depth of knowledge which will be tested as they face one of the greatest challenges of their lives.

Shea Walker, one of their friends and the titular leader of the group, is found dead with a stomach full of pain-killers and alcohol.

This discovery shatters the close suburban circle, and begs the question, how well did they really know one another?

Determined to answer the questions surrounding her death, long-time friend Kate Burns follows the path Shea walked the last few months she was alive. That secret path leads Kate to discover unsavory secrets about all of the friends, and one secret that might have been better left alone.

Fast paced, relatable, contemporary mystery with satisfying conclusion.
Three out of five stars.

I received a complimentary copy of The Day the Angels Fell from netgalley.com

Pub Date 26 Sep 2017.

Bookshelf Faves August 27, 2017–September 1, 2017

I post a lot of bookshelf porn over on my Facebook page.  Here are the reader favorites of the week.


When you run out of space, you can always put a bookshelf over the window.  Source: lonny.com 



Interesting shelves on bookstore gallery.
Source: http://tangyanzxb.blog.sohu.com/321349948.html



Bookcases don’t have to match!
IMO, these vaiously styled bookcases make the room look homey.
Source: picnicinthegarden.blogspot.com 
christoph-boninger-book-cart_so8Source: Christoph Böninger Book Cart for auerberg



Desk and bookshelves in tiny Parisian apartment.
Source: apartmenttherapy.com  



Great bookshelves along staircase!
Source: http://www.serett.com



Narrow bookcase in small apartment makes good use of space.
Apartment in Kiev by Sergey Makhno Architects



Crowded bookcases in Dev’s apartment on Netflix’s hit show, “Master of None.”



No sleeping on the bookshelves!
Source: http://tangyanzxb.blog.sohu.com/321349948.



Free Library founded by 68 years old Pietro Tramonte.



Interesting library study and bookshelves from domaine.



Out of date books replace spindles on staircase. I notice some of them are old Readers Digest condensed books, and some look like old text books. Don’t use good books!
Source: designsponge.com 



I want a reading nook filled with globes, so I always know where my books are taking me.  Source: digsdigs.com



How many books can you stack on your sofa before your partner gets annoyed?
Saved from thevintiqueobject.blogspot.com