Book Review

The Mysteries of 2021

Winter is finally over! 2021 has been a weird year so far – too much snow, an ongoing pandemic, and a lot of time to pause and reflect on what is important and what is not. I haven’t been blogging/writing/publishing as much during the winter season, which seems apt. It’s an icy time of hibernation for a lot of creatures. But now spring is here and with it comes renewal and the light of hope for better times to come.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

So, while I don’t have a lot to share regarding new projects, I thought I’d share some books I’ve read this winter that were the most enjoyable. They’re all mysteries since that’s definitely what I’ve been gravitating towards. All of the descriptions have been taken from Goodreads:

  • The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen: A killer who targets lone women, who breaks into their apartments and performs terrifying ritualistic acts of torture on them before finishing them off. His surgical skills lead police to suspect he is a physician – a physician who, instead of saving lives, takes them. But as homicide detective Thomas Moore and his partner Jane Rizzoli begin their investigation, they make a startling discovery. Closely linked to these killings is Catherine Cordell, a beautiful doctor with a mysterious past. Two years ago she was subjected to a horrifying rape and shot her attacker dead. Now the man she believes she killed seems to be stalking her once again, and this time he knows exactly where to find her…
  • A Hex for Danger by Esme Addison: The annual Mermaid Festival is the setting for Esme Addison’s sunny-yet-sinister second Enchanted Bay mystery, perfect for fans of Heather Blake and Bailey Cates. The small town of Bellamy Bay has its share of skeletons in its closet, but it isn’t used to bodies turning up in the local history museum. After all, this coastal North Carolina town is much like any other…except, of course, for the mermaids. Helping to run the family business, an herbal apothecary while keeping her supernatural secret hidden is no easy feat for water witch Aleksandra Daniels. But somehow she’s still found time to help her friend Celeste, who has her own Caribbean mermaid heritage plan the annual Mermaid Festival. As fun-seekers throng the beaches, Alex gets to know and is intrigued by renowned artist Neve Ryland, who’s in town to decorate the local park with a mermaid-themed mural. Celeste, however, is less enamored with the artist, as Neve has been spending entirely too much one-on-one time with her boyfriend Jasper, director of Bellamy Bay’s history museum. Then, a reception for Neve ends abruptly when the artist is found dead in his office.The police investigation nets Celeste who asks Alex to find the true culprit. With the help of her magically-inclined aunt and cousins, Alex dives in to clear her friends name. But there was more to Neve Ryland than met the eye…and Alex fears she may be in way too deep. Will she catch the crook or be next on the hook?
  • The Black Echo by Michael Connelly: For maverick LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, the body in the drainpipe at Mulholland Dam is more than another anonymous statistic. This one is personal…because the murdered man was a fellow Vietnam “tunnel rat” who had fought side by side with him in a hellish underground war. Now Bosch is about to relive the horror of Nam. From a dangerous maze of blind alleys to a daring criminal heist beneath the city, his survival instincts will once again be tested to their limit. Pitted against enemies inside his own department and forced to make the agonizing choice between justice and vengeance, Bosch goes on the hunt for a killer whose true face will shock him.
  • Classified as Murder by Miranda James: Aging eccentric James Delacorte asks Charlie the librarian to do an inventory of his rare book collection—but the job goes from tedious to terrifying when James turns up dead. Relying on his cat Diesel to paw around for clues, Charlie has to catch the killer before another victim checks out.
  • Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell: Four women with nothing in common, united only in death. Four brutalized victims of a brilliant monster – a “Mr. Nobody”, moving undetected through a paralyzed city, leaving behind a gruesome trail of carnage . . . but few clues. With skilled hands, an unerring eye, and the latest advances in forensic research, an unrelenting female medical examiner – Kay Scarpetta – is determined to unmask a maniac. But someone is trying to sabotage Kay’s investigation from the inside. And worse yet, someone wants her dead . . .

What have you been reading this winter? Has it been a time of slow growth and reflection for you too? Feel free to let me know in the comment section.

Thanks for reading and happy spring,

Tiffany

Personal

2020 – A Year in Review

Good Riddance, 2020! This has been the weirdest year, and I’m sure we’re all happy to put it behind us. Still, while it’s easy to sort of marinate in the awfulness of 2020, I wanted to reflect on some of the better moments too. Here are some good/productive things I can still be proud of from this year:

Suburban Secrets

At least the pandemic gave me enough free time to finish up my debut novel: Suburban Secrets. This mystery has been a project I’ve worked on since grad school, so it was nice to finally see it through.

Other Published Works:

I didn’t submit quite as much as I’d have liked to this year, but I did have a few smaller things published as well:

“The Monster Within” (Dreaming in Fiction – October 2020) [As Aurora Bishop]

“Horoscopes for the Unbalanced Libra” (Ephemeral Elegies – September 2020) [As Aurora Bishop]

“Spare Parts” (Ephemeral Elegies – August 2020) [As Aurora Bishop]

“New Life” (Inwood Indiana – Fallow Ground)

“American Exodus” (SOS Art Cincinnati – For a Better World 2020)

“The World Ablaze” (SOS Art Cincinnati – For a Better World 2020)

“Welcome to 2020” (SOS Art Cincinnati – For a Better World 2020)

“Dancing in the Dark” (Writing in a Woman’s Voice – February 2020)

“The Vanishing Act” (Down in the Dirt Magazine – February 2020)

Artwork:

I wanted to make it a priority to focus on my artwork this year, and while I didn’t do nearly as much as I expected, there were still a few nice moments. I was able to complete Inktober on Instagram. I had a painting purchased as artwork for a mental health journal, and I had two paintings featured in a local art show.

Transitioning to Publisher:

This year also marked the debut of my two literary journals: Ephemeral Elegies and Dreaming in Fiction. It’s been such a great experience meeting and supporting other authors from around the globe. I can’t wait to feature more writing in 2021.

Well, I guess 2020 wasn’t so bad after all. Still, I’m looking forward to a 2021 filled with health, happiness, and (hopefully) new adventures!

What are you most proud of this year? Please, let me know in the comment section so I can celebrate with you!

-Tiffany

Book Review

Best Books of 2020

What a weird year this has been! I’m sure I’m not the only one who would prefer to never repeat a year such as this one. Thankfully, though, I did have a lot of time to read this year (both new books and some re-reads of favorites!) Here are the best books I read (or re-read) this year:

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

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Goodreads Description: Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it? After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him, in today’s America.

My Thoughts: This book was the well-deserved winner of the National Book Award this year. It is one of the most unique books I’ve read. Partially in second person and partially written with script-esque dialogue, this is a strange but engrossing reading experience all about the harmful impact of internalizing and externalizing stereotypes.

When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy

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Goodreads Description: Seduced by politics and poetry, the unnamed narrator falls in love with a university professor and agrees to be his wife, but what for her is a contract of love is for him a contract of ownership. As he sets about reducing her to his idealised version of a kept woman, bullying her out of her life as an academic and writer in the process, she attempts to push back – a resistance he resolves to break with violence and rape. Smart, fierce and courageous When I Hit You is a dissection of what love meant, means and will come to mean when trust is undermined by violence; a brilliant, throat-tightening feminist discourse on battered faces and bruised male egos; and a scathing portrait of traditional wedlock in modern India

My Thoughts: This one was very difficult to read but I couldn’t put it down. The raw, vulnerable honesty was such a necessary addition to the wider societal conversations about domestic violence.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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Goodreads Description: Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

My Thoughts: This was a really fun book! It is an exciting mystery combined with a lot of interesting character development. I loved the exploration of the female friendships.

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

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Goodreads Description: Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dune fields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.

My Thoughts: This was the best poetry collection I read this year. The poems were exquisite and showed a lot of range when it comes to both theme and emotion. I can’t wait to read more from this poet!

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

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Goodreads Description: Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams’s new friend Anna Delvey, a self-proclaimed German heiress, was worldly and ambitious. She was also generous. When Anna proposed an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech, Rachel jumped at the chance. But when Anna’s credit cards mysteriously stopped working, the dream vacation quickly took a dark turn. Anna asked Rachel to begin fronting costs—first for flights, then meals and shopping, and, finally, for their $7,500-per-night private villa. Before Rachel knew it, more than $62,000 had been charged to her credit cards. Anna swore she would reimburse Rachel the moment they returned to New York. Back in Manhattan, the repayment never materialized, and a shocking pattern of deception emerged. Rachel learned that Anna had left a trail of deceit—and unpaid bills—wherever she’d been. Mortified, Rachel contacted the district attorney, and in a stunning turn of events, found herself helping to bring down one of the city’s most notorious con artists.

My Thoughts: This was a fascinating memoir about a woman who was conned by someone who she thought was one of her best friends. I remembered hearing about Anna Delvey’s trial a while back, and I really enjoyed learning more about this case. I think two tv shows about this are currently in-development, and I’ll absolutely be watching those too!

Did you have more time to read in 2020? What are your top picks for this year? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

-Tiffany

Personal, Update

Suburban Secrets Publication Day!

Surprise! The publication day of Suburban Secrets has been moved up to today!

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Suburban Secrets is available on Amazon for $2.99 (or FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber!)

Here’s the description from Amazon: “Angela Carmichael feels like an imposter in her idyllic neighborhood. Surrounded by seemingly perfect families, Angela is just doing her best to stay afloat as a single mother and freelance writer. But when a neighborhood boy goes missing, and danger seems to lurk behind every white picket fence, Angela becomes determined to uncover the secrets and lies of her community in order to keep her daughter safe.”

If that sounds like it might be something that would interest you, I hope you’ll consider getting a copy!

Thanks for reading.

Tiffany

Personal, Update

Suburban Secrets – Now Available to Pre-Order!

It’s official – Suburban Secrets, my debut mystery novel, will be available on August 16th! You can pre-order it on Amazon if you’d like a copy!

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I’d love to share a bit about this experience. This project began in grad school and was born out of my love of mystery and my fear of motherhood. I think that being a parent is probably the hardest job in the world, so I really wanted to explore that throughout this mystery. Full disclosure: I am not a parent, so this is very much my way of experiencing something I’ve really only observed.

Here’s the Amazon description of the book: “Angela Carmichael feels like an imposter in her idyllic neighborhood. Surrounded by seemingly perfect families, Angela is just doing her best to stay afloat as a single mother and freelance writer. But when a neighborhood boy goes missing, and danger seems to lurk behind every white picket fence, Angela becomes determined to uncover the secrets and lies of her community in order to keep her daughter safe.”

I hope you’ll consider getting a copy if this sounds intriguing to you!

Thanks for reading.

Tiffany

 

Update

New Project – Dreaming in Fiction

I have some more exciting news for 2020! Earlier this year, I launched Ephemeral Elegies to support new and emerging poets, and now I’ll be doing the same for authors of fiction with: Dreaming in Fiction. While the stories won’t be published until this autumn, we are already open to submissions, and you can learn more about our submissions guidelines by clicking here.

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Dreaming in Fiction will be the home for short stories and flash fiction across the genre spectrum. From supernatural stories to compact capers to heartfelt romance and even some terrifying tales, we’ll be exploring every facet of fiction. One new story will be published each Saturday, so your next adventure is never too far away!

I hope you’ll consider submitting to Dreaming in Fiction or exploring it post-launch to support and discover some new authors!

Wishing you all heath and happiness during this pandemic!

Tiffany

Personal, Update

Upcoming Published Poems

Welcome to day 137(?) of quarantine! While the need to social distance has made it seem like time is now irrelevant (seriously, I’m thinking about buying day-of-the-week underwear to help me keep track), I’m excited to announce that I’ve found homes for two poems:

I’ll be featured in the next issue of Poetry Quarterly as well as the “For a Better World 2020” anthology by SOS Art Cincinnati.

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Photo by Nóra Zahradník on Pexels.com

This has been a strange year for us all! But I’ve honestly been enjoying the extra quiet time at home to explore different creative avenues. Becoming a publisher this year with Ephemeral Elegies has been an exciting new challenge, and I’ve been continuing my charity knitting projects with Warm Up Ohio. I’ve also been doing a lot of editing for Suburban Secrets, my debut novel coming out this summer.

The world may seem kind of stuck right now – but that doesn’t have to mean we remain creatively immobile. What are some passion projects you’re excited to be working on? Please, feel free to share in the comment section. I think that we should all be celebrating any sort of victory or milestone these days, and I’d love to know how to cheer for you!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Industry News, Poetry Review, Update

National Poetry Month – Call for Submissions!

April is National Poetry Month! This time of year, I love hearing about new and emerging poets who are using this month to hone their craft and take new chances with their work. So, as we go throughout the month, I just wanted to send a quick reminder that Ephemeral Elegies is open to submissions! In this time of uncertainty, I’m sure lots of people are processing what’s going on with the world by exploring the creative process of writing confessional poetry. We still have a few openings for our May issue, and we’re already looking forward to the summer!

Ephemeral Elegies

Personal, Update

Quarantine Projects – and a Special Announcement!!!

I hope everyone reading this is doing well! Here in Ohio, everyone is pretty much quarantined until further notice (well, at least the next two weeks). Anyway, it’s been a while since I blogged and I wanted to share a few updates of what I’ve been doing:

 

Ephemeral Elegies

Ephemeral Elegies

Ephemeral Elegies, an online poetry journal I run, is still doing well. We’re currently accepting submissions for our May and June issues. I’ve been really enjoying interacting with and supporting some great emerging poets. Check it out if you have some extra time (and/or submit some of your own work!)

 

Warm Up Ohio

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I also run the local branch of Warm Up America: Warm Up Ohio. Although Spring is bringing warmer weather, I knit and crochet all year long so that I have enough to donate each winter. Since we’re a really small chapter, the focus has been less on squares and more on clothing. Hats and Scarves are simple and fun projects – and they are great donations for the many amazing Homeless Shelters in Greater Cincinnati and beyond.

 

Suburban Secrets

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Surprise! Here is the cover reveal for my first novel Suburban Secrets – coming out later this year! It’s a work of romantic suspense that I began in grad school and finished last year. I’m still in editing mode, but I’m getting really excited about this project and can’t wait to share more with all of you when the details are all finalized.

 

So, those are my big projects for this Quarantine time. Please, let’s all do our part to stay in and help Flatten the Curve!

What are you doing with your extra quarantine time? Let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany