BOOKS & BLOG: July 14, 2021

by | Jul 15, 2021 | 2021


  • Cursed Luck, Kelley Armstrong
  • The Last Watch, J.S. Dewes
  • Little Pretty Things, Lori Rader-Day
  • The Kingdom of Liars, Nick Martell
  • Blacktop Wasteland, S.A. Cosby
  • Hard Time, Jodi Taylor
  • The Newcomer, Mary Kay Andrews
  • Win, Harlan Coben
  • The Best of Me, David Sedaris
  • The Inheritance Games, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Near the Bone, Christina Henry

Cursed Luck is Kelley Armstrong’s first entry in a new series about three sisters living in a town (Unstable, Massachusetts) where magic is acknowledged, and tourists come flocking. However, Kennedy Bennett is trying to live in Boston to break away from the family. She has a shop featuring antiques she un-curses. But then she gets an offer she can’t refuse . . . though she ought to. Luck is as good as Armstrong’s work always is.

J.S. Dewes’ The Last Watch is listed as Dewes’ debut. What an achievement. This is what’s known as a space opera, and it’s excellent. Adequin Rake, commander of the Argus, is supposed to be watching the Divide, making sure it’s staying where it ought . . . until suddenly, it’s not.  She knows no one will come to their aid, and yet she has to try to keep her crew alive. I enjoyed this book immensely.

I’ve known mystery writer Lori Rader-Day slightly for several years. I don’t know why I put off reading her, but Little Pretty Things blew my socks off. Juliet Townsend has a dead-end job cleaning rooms at a ratty motel, but the weekend of her class reunion, her old friend and rival Maddy comes to the motel to talk. And then Maddy dies. This triggers a series of events that show Juliet she never really knew Maddy, or what was going on in her home town.

The Kingdom of Liars, a well-written fantasy debut by Nick Martell, has an interesting premise that peoples’ memories can be removed and blank spots inserted in their place. Michael, son of a traitor and murderer, lives his life in the shadow of his father’s crime . . . until he begins to wonder if that crime ever occurred at all.

S.A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland deserves all the accolades it’s received from very famous mystery/thriller writers. Former wheelman Bug Montage is trying to live the straight life, but when his garage is hanging on by a thread and his son needs braces, he returns to his criminal past to drum up some money. Suspenseful and touchingly real.

I love everything Jodi Taylor writes, and Hard Time (a Time Police book) joins the list.

I’ve known Mary Kay Andrews for many years, from when she was writing under another name and I liked her books just as much. The Newcomer may be classified as a beach read, but it’s a superior murder mystery with engrossing characters. Letty Carnahan is on the run with her niece, after she found her sister murdered. She knows who did it, and she knows he’ll kill her too, if he finds her. She flees to the motel in Florida her sister has told her about, and there she tries to find a way to live and protect the child now in her care . . . though technically she’s a kidnapper, and the son of the motel owner is a police chief. Ah-oh!

Harlan Coben’s character Win has interested me from the first Myron Bolitar book, and when I saw there was a new book about him I could hard wait. Win did not disappoint. When the uber-rich Win is asked to come to a murder site by the FBI, he can’t fathom why until he sees a painting that he can identify. As always, Win follows his own path in tracking down the killer.

David Sedaris, whose writing I greatly admire, picked out his own favorite essays for this collection. Maybe not surprisingly, they are not the ones I would have picked. But if you’ve never sampled Sedaris (who gives a wonderful lecture, I’ve heard him twice), maybe Best of Me would be a good place to start.

Though the title is derivative – and we all know what “games” means in a book sense, now – I really enjoyed Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Inheritance Games. Who doesn’t like a good Cinderella story? Avery Grambs, a high school student with no money but good grades, discovers she is the sole heir of a huge fortune, left her by a man she’s never met. Here’s the catch: Avery has to live in the huge mansion with the disinherited grandsons for a year. Let the trouble begin!

Near the Bone (Christina Henry) is a troubling book about a young woman who doesn’t know she was kidnapped as a child by the man who is now her husband, William. If she doesn’t obey him, dire things happen to her. But overnight things change when their isolated mountain home becomes invaded by a strange creature, and paranormal adventurers arrive to track it. This is really a suspenseful book . . . don’t read before bedtime!


Here are some highlights of the past couple of months and the month to come.

I finished the next book, which right now is titled The Serpent in Heaven. (That could change, though.) It’s about Felicia, Lizbeth’s half-sister, and her life at the Rasputin School in San Diego. Felix and Peter are in the book, too, in major roles.  My Beta readers (who are really my Alpha readers), Toni Kelner (Leigh Perry) and Dana Cameron (who has a new story collection available on Amazon, Pandora’s Orphans) are reading it now. Then I’ll do some rewrites, and hopefully it’ll arrive in my editor’s inbox by July 31.

As of now, Paula and I will be going to Bouchercon in New Orleans in August. If pandemic news becomes alarming, that may change. But we’re so looking forward to seeing people! And I love Nola.

I recorded a virtual panel for Malice Domestic, and we had a wonderful and interesting time. I was unable to be on the one I originally was assigned, which had some very cool panelists, but I was delighted with the one I got as a consolation. It was moderated by Ayo Onatade, one of the best moderators I’ve ever encountered. If you’re registered for Malice, check it out.

I’m also scheduled to do a virtual event (August 18, for Powell’s bookstore) with the much-revered and amazing James Lee Burke. Running with the big dog!  He was scheduled for the panel I had to drop when my internet gave out, so I’m really excited to do this event with him.

In October, the first Saturday, I have a speaking engagement at one of the Fort Worth libraries. This has been rescheduled many times during the pandemic, and I hope this time it actually comes to pass.

The second weekend in November I have an appearance at the Grand Rapid ComicCon. ComiCon? Comic Con? Anyway, Grand Rapids in November seems counterintuitive, but I agreed to do it. I seldom do events in that part of the country, which is one of my criteria. I think all my stuff there will be on one day.  I’ll tell you more when I get the information.

In personal news, our basement still has water in it, and we donated about 300 + books to the local library as a result. Work is underway. I think it will be forever. All the bookshelves taken off the walls, all the Christmas stuff in our garage . . . much upheaval and expense. But we’ll get through it.

My Edgar award arrived, and I have it on my mantel. I am so proud of it! I hope people will notice it when I do Zoom events. Shameless, that’s me.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful summer. Watch out for the mosquitoes. My desk is RIGHT BY our dog door, and I think the little critters just hang around there, waiting for Abigail and Colt to come in or out.

Charlaine Harris

About Author

She is a nonbinary sexual health educator, coach, and journalist based in Las Vegas. S/he was formerly managing editor of a Kinsey Institute blog. S/he has presented academic research on transgender youth health advocacy and menstrual biohacking, and is passionate about normalizing healthy discussions of sexuality in everyday life. her dreams came try with the site, She has worked here for 3 years.