Super excited to have JP Barnaby and Roman Speedwell here with an exclusive guest post, centered around books, which is perfect for her new book A Pocketful of Stardust. Check out the list below and see if some of it matches your own! And while you are at it, grab up their new book!
Noah Hitchens loves the New York City life he worked hard to build. But when his father dies and leaves him a bankrupt bookstore in their sleepy Georgia hometown, Noah knows he has to save it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about business. He finds unlikely help in Henry, the man who owned Stardust Books before his 1966 murder, and Kyle St. James, a shy but kind-hearted out-of-towner with a past almost as mysterious as Henry’s.
Kyle came to Aster, Georgia, looking for redemption. On the run and out of hope, he’s just trying to get on with his life. Then he meets Noah, a ghost, and a big sloppy lab named Jake who redefine his idea of living. But his past is closing in, and when it finds him, they could lose everything.
11 Books on my Shelf – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
So, I’ll start off by saying I’m a big DNF girl. If I can’t get into a book in the first 10 pages, I’m going to put it aside. Being an author, software developer, and now grad student, I just don’t have the time to waste on bad books. But I have been reading a lot lately, and since our new book is about a bookstore, I thought I’d share some love.
Books I loved
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
I’ll be honest, I stayed away from this one for a while just because of the title. It seems everyone and their brother has read this book, but I just thought it sounded silly. Until I read it. It’s an awesome deconstructed look at what makes a book good. It gives a roadmap to taking the bones of novel structure and making it your own in beats that are easily recognizable. She also breaks down fifteen popular novels and maps them to the structure points for a great analysis.
Blurb: Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 “beats” (plot points) that comprise a successful story–from the opening image to the finale–this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot that will captivate–and a novel that will sell.
Low Pressure by Sandra Brown
This book has stuck with me which is rare. Sandra Brown has such a deft hand when it comes to suspense. She keeps me guessing with every story and I love that. Her characters are well-developed, and the settings are vivid. If you like romantic suspense, she is a must-read.
Blurb: Bellamy Lyston was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy’s fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene along with her memory of what really happened during the day’s most devastating moments.
Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a sensational, bestselling novel based on Susan’s murder. Because the book was inspired by the tragic event that still pains her family, she published it under a pseudonym to protect them from unwanted publicity. But when an opportunistic reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on fact, Bellamy’s identity is exposed along with the family scandal.
Moreover, Bellamy becomes the target of an unnamed assailant who either wants the truth about Susan’s murder to remain unknown or, even more threatening, is determined to get vengeance for a man wrongfully accused and punished.
In order to identify her stalker, Bellamy must confront the ghosts of her past, including Dent Carter, Susan’s wayward and reckless boyfriend — and an original suspect in the murder case. Dent, with this and other stains on his past, is intent on clearing his name, and he needs Bellamy’s sealed memory to do it. But her safeguarded recollections -once unlocked-pose dangers that neither could foresee and puts both their lives in peril.
As Bellamy delves deeper into the mystery surrounding Susan’s slaying, she discovers disturbing elements of the crime which call into question the people she holds most dear. Haunted by partial memories, conflicted over her feelings for Dent, but determined to learn the truth, she won’t stop until she reveals Susan’s killer.
That is, unless Susan’s killer strikes her first…
Closer Than You Think by Karen Rose
I met Karen Rose at an author conference in Orlando and really appreciated the depth with which she researched for her romantic suspense stories, so I thought I’d give her a shot. She has incredibly intricate relationships across novel series, building gorgeous characters and then using them throughout the entire series. It’s truly inspiring to watch.
Blurb: Psychologist Faith Corcoran is desperate to escape the stalker who’s made her life a nightmare for the past year—desperate enough to run to the one place that has been her nightmare far longer. Her recent inheritance of her grandmother’s old house in Cincinnati offers sanctuary in which she can start her life anew, but requires that she face the dark memories that still resonate to this day. But she has no idea how close to home her fears still are…
Two college girls have gone missing in the area, and FBI Special Agent Deacon Novak is called to work on the case. When his inquiry unexpectedly leads him to Faith, he finds a beautiful and brave woman he can’t help but fall for. Soon they’ll discover that this seemingly simple investigation is anything but. Reaching back decades into Faith’s own past, it will shatter everything she believes to be true and will give terrifying new meaning to flesh and blood.
City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
I’ve been a fan of the Pendergast/D’Agosta dynamic since their very first book together (Relic). Preston and Child have a fantastic way of leaning this way and that until you’re not sure what to believe. And of course one has to wonder if his methods make Pendergast any better than the criminals he hunts. It’s a wonderful ride.
Blurb: When Grace Ozmian, the beautiful and reckless daughter of a wealthy tech billionaire, first goes missing, the NYPD assumes she has simply sped off on another wild adventure. Until the young woman’s body is discovered in an abandoned warehouse in Queens, the head nowhere to be found.
Lieutenant CDS Vincent D’Agosta quickly takes the lead. He knows his investigation will attract fierce scrutiny, so D’Agosta is delighted when FBI Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast shows up at the crime scene assigned to the case. “I feel rather like Brer Rabbit being thrown into the briar patch,” Pendergast tells D’Agosta, “because I have found you here, in charge. Just like when we first met, back at the Museum of Natural History.”
But neither Pendergast nor D’Agosta are prepared for what lies ahead. A diabolical presence is haunting the greater metropolitan area, and Grace Ozmian was only the first of many victims to be murdered . . . and decapitated. Worse still, there’s something unique to the city itself that has attracted the evil eye of the killer.
As mass hysteria sets in, Pendergast and D’Agosta find themselves in the crosshairs of an opponent who has threatened the very lifeblood of the city. It’ll take all of Pendergast’s skill to unmask this most dangerous foe-let alone survive to tell the tale.
Books I read but didn’t really enjoy:
Outsider by Stephen King
This one was all me. The book had a great set up, but where Lincoln & Child take the paranormal and make it normal, King goes the other way. I think it would have been a better book had the antagonist been human.
Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
While Preston & Child are an auto-buy for me, sometimes I’m just not on the same wavelength. This one just didn’t have the same punch for me that their other books have had.
Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose
To be honest, by the time we got to the 4th book, I was starting to hate Adam and it didn’t really get any better for me. Also, the subject matter was just too harsh for me to get into it. Sex slave operations and child predators.
Rule of the Bone: A Novel by Russell Banks
I had to read this book for a class and I can honestly say that I hated it. It’s the meandering tale of a self-absorbed teenager that I couldn’t stand.
Books I really wanted to read, but just couldn’t get into:
Burning Girl by Christopher Rice
Mindhunter by John E Douglas
The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
Want to read the charming book about the bookstore and its ghostly inhabitant?
I’ll start by saying I liked this book. However, going into this book, I wanted to love it. Books with ghosts always intrigue me, and I wanted to snap it right up. It definitely intrigued me, and kept me guessing a bit, so yes, I did like it. Having it be based around a bookstore, just made it that much more enjoyable. However, as a reader, I felt there was a lot going on in this book, possibly too much.
There was Kyle’s past, which caught up to him towards the end. I felt a like some of it was bit unresolved (due to Hope), but that is real life…sometimes things don’t quite resolve as you’d prefer them to.
There was also Noah’s ghostly friend, Henry, which when we met him, I assumed we would find out more about his death. In the end, resolution for him came from a different path, still very enjoyable, but I felt he was gone too soon. Henry was awesome, though. Funny, sweet, and obviously caring. And his cat…made me giggle. 🙂
Noah’s life was a bit of a mess from the second he stepped back into Georgia following his father’s death. I did love how this was able to resolve, what a great feeling. And with Noah, you really got to see him mature, change and realize what family means for him. The reader was able to see him grow as a person.
The book was slow in a few places, but overall gave
JP Barnaby is an award-winning contemporary romance and romantic suspense novelist with over a dozen novels. Her heart and soul, the Survivor Series, has been heralded by USA Today as one of their favorites. She recently moved from Chicago to Atlanta to appease her Camaro (Jake) who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not working on her latest novel, she binge watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix with her husband and Jack Russell Terror, Chase.
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