DEAD GIRLS by Alice Bolin & Giveaway


Bestselling author, Megan Abbott calls Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession  (WilliamMorrow) “Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely. A critical contribution to the cultural discussion of gender and genre, Los Angeles and noir, the unbearable persistence of the male gaze and the furtive potency of female rage.”

Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by author, Alice Bolin, is a collection of essays interrogating the outsize place of murdered women in American stories. So many TV dramas begin with the body of a dead girl, and eager fans devour piles of true crime books, podcasts, and TV shows.

This collection is also about how this obsession is related to other constants of American culture, especially the women who escape the Dead Girl’s fate, surviving long enough to become icons. Essays contemplate Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, the cemeteries of Los Angeles, teenage werewolves, Toni Morrison, and Joan Didion, all set against a back drop of the wilderness and cities of the American West.

Part cultural criticism and part memoir, Alice Bolin attempts to understand how she’s been both the target and the accomplice of a culture that prefers dead women to living ones.

(Summary: Courtesy William Morrow)

Alice Bolin does a phenomenal job grabbing readers by the throats and explaining how women play in the media and in their own lives. I really didn’t know what to expect going into DEAD GIRLS, but I came out the other side shocked by how society is obsessed with violence against women in a variety of perspectives. It’s actually kind of sickening. DEAD GIRLS is a poignant look at true crime and crime fiction against women. You won’t finish this book without being changed in some way.



  1. Alice’s words ….

Hi! I’m Alice Bolin, and I’m a writer who lives in Memphis, Tennessee. I currently teach creative nonfiction in the MFA program at the University of Memphis.

I mostly write longish-form critical essays about literature, music, and pop culture. Some special areas of interest are murder, country music, makeup, social media, poetry, and twentieth century women writers. You can read my essays here.

I received my MFA in poetry from the University of Montana, and I have also published a lot of poems and stories. I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Is that interesting? (VERY. Cindy’s words…)

Follow me on Twitter; I am always online.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow, we’re lucky to have one copy of DEAD GIRLS to giveaway. Just tell us your thoughts on the synopsis of this book. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck!

GIVEAWAY USA only, please.


TRIAL on MOUNT KOYA by Susan Spann – INTERVIEW & Giveaway

TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA (SeventhStreetBooks) by Susan Spann is described as “East meets West, spies dine with monks, and mind grapples with heart in a sixteenth-century locked-room mystery on a snowy mountain.”

November, 1565: Master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo travel to a Buddhist temple at the summit of Mount Koya, carrying a secret message for an Iga spy posing as a priest on the sacred mountain. When a snowstorm strikes the peak, a killer begins murdering the temple’s priests and posing them as Buddhist judges of the afterlife–the Kings of Hell. Hiro and Father Mateo must unravel the mystery before the remaining priests–including Father Mateo–become unwilling members of the killer’s grisly council of the dead.

TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA has the feel of an old-school Agatha Christie novel set in medieval Japan. Readers looking for a mystery set in an exotic location with historical references will find it here.

We asked Susan a few questions and she was gracious to take some time and answer them.

I understand this is book 6 of 6 in the “Shinobi Mystery Series.” How and why do you think this series has sustained?

I think the success of a mystery series almost always goes to the credit of the characters—generally (though not always) the protagonists—and the complexity of the puzzles those characters solve. As a reader, I love to “ride along” with detectives I find interesting, funny, and engaging, and I try to write my detectives, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo, in a way that makes them fun to be around.

I also like complex mysteries that keep me guessing all the way to the end, and I try to make my own books, and the puzzles within them, better and more interesting with each new installment. I hope readers will agree!

A Ninja and a Jesuit is an interesting combination. Explain the intersection of religion and mysticism in your novels. In your life.

In many ways, Hiro and Father Mateo represent two different sides of my own personality—sides that don’t always see eye to eye, any more than Hiro and Father Mateo do. On the one hand, I’m a pragmatic problem-solver who’s willing to do what it takes (short of murder!) to get a job done and to protect the people I care about. On the other, I consider faith an important part of my life, and I try to treat others not only the way I would like to be treated but to lift others up and help them whenever I can.

In some ways, I think that’s part of the reason I love writing novels. When I was a child, and bullied by my peers, I retreated into the world of books. There, I could be anyone I wanted to be, save the day with the hero, and forget that the world outside the story wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. While I wish for a world in which no one had to retreat into books to forget their problems, I hope that my books can help people forget their troubles from time to time, if only for a little while.

What is your interest in the East? Japan? Ninjas?

I’ve loved Japan, and Japanese history, ever since seeing the SHOGUN miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain (back in 1980). The next day, I went to the library, checked out the book (by James Clavell) that inspired the miniseries, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I adore spending time in Japan, especially hiking in the mountains and exploring the many historical sites. The culture, the food, and the people are fantastic too. Best of all, I get to include many pieces of the history and culture (and descriptions of that fantastic food) in my novels, and share it with readers, too.

You practice martial arts. Tell us about it.

While I haven’t been able to practice as regularly as I’d like for a couple of years, I have a deep respect for, and interest in, many different forms of martial arts, from archery to horsemanship, swordsmanship, and hand-to-hand combat arts like Judo and Tae Kwon Do. Although I don’t practice any form of ninjutsu (the arts of the ninja) I have spent a lot of time studying the different weapons and spy techniques the shinobi (ninjas) and their female counterparts, the kunoichi, used during the 16th century in Japan, and I like including some of the more unusual ones in my novels.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

One reason I decided to write a mystery series featuring a ninja (and a Jesuit priest) was to silently dispel the myth of the campy “men in black pajamas” and portray a shinobi who was closer to the way a real ninja would have been—a trained assassin, but also a master of disguise, espionage, and sharp-witted commentary on the society to which he belonged, but which kept him on its fringe.

Father Mateo breaks through some of the stereotypical barriers, too—although his faith is central to his life and his worldview, he strives (as I do, and as I think many people do) to listen to other points of view and to respect all people, even those with whom he disagrees.

That, and I’ve discovered that a mix of one part ninja, one part priest, and one part murder, shaken well, creates a fantastic story.

Thank you, Susan Swann.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Susan Spann

Susan Spann is the 2015 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year and the author of five previous novels in the Hiro Hattori / Shinobi Mystery series: Claws of the Cat, Blade of the Samurai, Flask of the Drunken Master, The Ninja’s Daughter, and Betrayal at Iga. She has a degree in Asian Studies from Tufts University and a lifelong love of Japanese history and culture. When not writing, she enjoys hiking, photography, and traveling in Japan.

Connect with Susan

Website | Facebook | Twitter


We are lucky to have one copy of the book to giveaway. Just tell us what you know about Japanese culture. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAYS: USA only please

THE SUMMER WIVES by Beatriz Williams & SIGNED Giveaway


Just in time for summer reading the new Beatriz Williams’ novel, THE SUMMER WIVES (WilliamMorrow) arrives. Complete with all the drama, prejudice, mistrust, secrets and love you’ve come to expect, THE SUMMER WIVES will be one of your favorite books to take to the beach or pool. May I suggest a nice Cosmopolitan to accompany your cozying up with THE SUMMER WIVES.

It’s the summer of 1951 in Beatriz Williams’ new  novel, THE SUMMER WIVES (WilliamMorrow). Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose estate on Winthrop overlooks its famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the Island’s patrician façade, there are really two castes: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic laborers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the grand houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in September he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph has enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, he and Miranda are caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the Island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same–determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the once-powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for murder eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naive teenager, and she begins an impassioned quest for justice to the man she once loved . . . even if that means laying bare every last one of the secrets that bind the families of Winthrop Island.

THE SUMMER WIVES alternates between two time periods – the 1950s and 1960s – and takes readers inside a tight community among those who belong and who don’t. It’s a scrumptious dessert we know we’ll always find in a Beatriz Williams’ novel.



Beatriz Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred SummersThe Secret Life of Violet GrantAlong the Infinite SeaA Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Thanks to Beatriz and William Morrow, we have one signed copy of THE SUMMER WIVES to giveaway. Just tell us what you’re looking forward to doing this summer. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.



















MELISSA A. wins LEFT: A Love Story


WENDI B. & MICHELE L. each win a fun pink “Gone Reading” t-shirt

gone reading




Molly dusts off her pride and heads out to a CRAZY LITTLE TOWN CALLED LOVE (PandaMoonPublishing) in the second book in Jill Hannah Anderson’s series, THE TO HELL AND BACK CLUB. Nick single-handedly implodes their six-year relationship, forcing Molly to make some huge lifestyle changes. With no real career or boyfriend and a big fat mortgage to pay, Molly decides to downsize. She changes everything and buys a General Store willed to her mother. At thirty-two, Molly leaves behind the Twin Cities and her one BFF to start a new life out in the sticks. No sweat, huh?

Well it takes no time for the locals to realize they’ve got a city-slicker in town, but she does have a local connection so that makes it somewhat easier. First step is to bring “Love’s General Store,” affectionately known as “Rosie’s,” after her dead mom’s “mom,” up to working order. She needs to do some fixing up and painting as well as getting eatable food on the shelves. Of course, we have a male, that turns her life into a living hell, while looking absolutely delicious.

Much like her first novel, THE TO HELL AND BACK CLUB, Jill has a special gift for creating characters readers like, and story lines we can relate to. CRAZY LITTLE TOWN CALLED LOVE is like midwest comfort food, perhaps a nice hot plate with a nice bottle of merlot. There’s nothing too heavy or controversial, just people not getting along due to a bunch of misunderstandings and eventually the girl gets the guy, or is it, the guy gets the girl?

I can’t help but get the feeling after reading Jill’s novels, that she’s read a lot of fellow-Minnesotan, Lorna Landvik. And that’s a very good thing!



Born in California, Jill Hannah Anderson lived everywhere from the Azore Islands to Florida. After her dad left the Air Force, the family settled in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she lived until she graduated from high school. Voted “Most Imaginative” in high school, Jill assumed everyone else looked at life with “What If ” questions too. She’s often told that she asks too many questions, but finds it a great way to learn about people.

Jill lives on a lake in a small town in Central Minnesota with her husband in their empty nest where they welcome their six adult children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren when they come to visit.

Her first women’s fiction novel, The To-Hell-And-Back Club, was published last year.

She is a proud member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). When she isn’t writing or reading, you’ll find her running, curling, biking, and enjoying time with family and friends.

Thanks to Jill, we have one signed copy to giveaway. Just tell us about if you’ve ever had to “start all over again?”

We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

I also want to thank Jill for giving a shout out, to BluePointPress reviews. It’s fun to blog, but it’s really awesome when an author goes out of her their way to show appreciation for what reviewers do for them.

Giveaway: USA only please.

** 4th of JULY HOLIDAY Giveaway ** 4th of JULY HOLIDAY Giveaway ** 4th of JULY HOLIDAY Giveaway **




Happy 4th of July week to all of our Thoughts on This ‘n That blog followers!

We have some books to tell you about & to giveaway!

(Book synopses courtesy of publishers)


In THE ELIZAS (Atria), New York Times bestselling author, Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.



For as long as she can remember, Sara Shepard has been writing. However, when she was young she also wanted to be a soap opera star, a designer for LEGO, a filmmaker, a claymation artist, a geneticist, and a fashion magazine editor when she grew up. She and her sister have been creating joint artistic and written projects for years, except they’re pretty sure they’re the only ones who find them funny.

She got her MFA at Brooklyn College and now lives outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and dogs. Her first adult novel is called The Visibles/ All The Things We Didn’t Say.

Sara’s bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line…although luckily she never had any serious stalkers. The series has also inspired the ABC Family television series of the same name.



THE MAP OF SALT AND STARS (Touchstone) is the story of Nour, a Syrian American girl reeling from the recent loss of her beloved Baba (father) to cancer. After returning to Syria before the war breaks out, Nour and her family then must flee across the Middle East and North Africa in a desperate and dangerous search for safety. Her journey intertwines with the story of Rawiya and the legendary mapmaker al-Idrisi who made the same journey nine hundred years before in their quest to map the world. This rich, moving, compelling, and lyrical debut novel is the first to bring the headlines about the Syrian crisis to life, placing our current moment in the sweep of history.

A Conversation with Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

How do you think The Map of Salt and Stars can help readers to understand the Syrian refugee crisis? I hope that this novel will serve as a starting point for readers to seek out accounts of the Syrian refugee crisis written by Syrians. It’s important to me that readers understand that this novel was written by an author with a mostly Western perspective, an author born in the United States and not in Syria, an author who has not lived through the war in Syria or been a refugee. While I have more nuanced insight into the situation as a Syrian American than someone without a link to Syria, my insight is still incomplete; and because it is impossible for a writer to ever entirely discard their lens of nationality, race, gender, and other factors, it is impossible for my American upbringing not to leave traces on this novel. That said, I wrote this book primarily for people like me: people living in the Syrian diaspora, unable to return to their ancestral homeland, who are in deep pain and grieving the beloved people, places, and heritage that have been lost and that continue to be lost every day. What can we take with us? What can be salvaged? Where can we call home? These are the questions I primarily concerned myself with in writing this book. I do hope, however, that non-Syrian readers will also, by reading the fictional story of a single family, have increased empathy for refugees and feel more personally connected to and invested in the situation in Syria after reading this novel, and that this emotional, empathic connection will help spur readers to combat the antirefugee, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic rhetoric that is deeply wounding the communities of which I am a part.

What does the title The Map of Salt and Stars mean to you? Salt symbolizes several related themes in the book, including grief and healing from it, not only in terms of the sea’s salt but also the way that salt occurs as an imperfection in precious stones. For me, this symbolizes life’s traumas that, on the one hand, can be “polished” from us (healed) by the love of family, community, belonging—but also, on the other hand, the losses and pains of life that we have no choice but to endure. In its own way, grief and healing make us the precious stones that we are. We can’t always see this, just as we can’t always see the value of a raw gemstone when it comes out of the earth. This does not mean that suffering is inherently good or even necessary, but because we cannot avoid suffering and trauma, it’s important to remember that our traumas do not make us unlovable. They do not make us irreparably damaged. They do not make us worthless. There is life after trauma, and it can absolutely be filled with love and wonder. This lesson, dear reader, is for you.

What’s next for you? Without saying too much, I’m working on a second standalone novel that discusses Syrian immigration to the United States over the last century, Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment in post-9/11 America, and the particular mythology of New York City. Served up, of course, with a healthy dose of magical realism.



Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is a Syrian American writer, a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and of Mensa.

Originally from New York City, Joukhadar was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. She earned a PhD in the Pathobiology Graduate Program at Brown University and worked as a biomedical research scientist before switching careers to pursue writing full time.

Joukhadar’s work has appeared in Salon, The Paris Review Daily, The Kenyon Review, The Saturday Evening Post, PANK Magazine, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. She is a 2017-2020 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program Literary Arts Fellow in fiction and is an alum of both the Tin House Summer Workshop and the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA).



From National Book Award nominee, Rachel Kushner comes THE MARS ROOM (Scribner). It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.”

Personally, it creeped me out. I felt like I was in prison and there was no way out. Life in prison is not “orange is the new black.”



Kushner is also the author of The Flamethrowers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Five Novel of 2013. Her debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. A collection of her early work, The Strange Case of Rachel K, was published by New Directions in 2015. Her fiction has appeared in the New YorkerHarper’s, and the Paris Review. She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.



David Bell, author of more than half a dozen novels, makes his hardcover debut with SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER (Berkley). When Michael Frazier’s ex-wife, Erica, unexpectedly shows up on his doorstep, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: Her ten-year-old daughter is missing–and Michael is the father. Unsure whether this is the truth but unwilling to leave the girl’s fate to chance, Michael has no choice but to follow the elusive trail of the child he has always wanted but never knew he had.



David Bell is the USA Today-bestselling author of eight novels from Berkley/Penguin, including SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER, BRING HER HOME, SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. His work has been translated into numerous foreign languages, and in 2013, he won the prestigious Prix Polar International de Cognac for best crime novel by an international author. He is an associate professor of English at Western Kentucky University where he directs the MFA program in creative writing. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he spends his free time rooting for the Reds and Bengals, watching movies, and walking in the cemetery near his house. He lives in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with his wife, writer Molly McCaffrey.


We have copies of all four novels. Just tell us what the 4th of July means to you. We’ll announce winners soon. Good luck!

GIVEWAYS USA only please