Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia #BlogTour #Extract

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Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia. My thanks also to Quercus Books and Ella Patel for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have an extract to share today of the initial meeting of the two main characters, speech-therapist Maya and Lucas, the boy who went missing with his father 10 years earlier. If this sounds as interesting to you as it did to me, then do read on!

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There is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

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Author

Mindy Mejia is an internationally acclaimed thriller writer, known for mixing compelling characters with page-turning suspense against the backdrop of the US Midwest. Her books have been chosen for People’s Best New Books Pick and listed in The Wall Street Journal’s Best New Mysteries. She lives and works in the Twin Cities.

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Extract

The patient faced the back of the room with his hands on the cement block wall in a push-up position. From the way he stood with his shoulders tensed and legs braced it looked like he was trying to move the entire wall. I took a step closer and noticed his hospital shirt was torn at the bottom and he’d used the missing strip to tie his hair back.

‘Hello, Lucas.’

He remained still for a second, but then surprised me by turning his head. I saw his face in person for the first time.

He wasn’t a boy.

My brain stuttered on that one thought for what felt like a stupidly long time as our eyes met and held. Why did all the media keep calling him a boy? Lucas Blackthorn looked at least as old as me and stood a foot taller. His cheeks were hollow and shaded with the beginning of a beard. His skin was a deep reddish tan, not the pasty white of most of our long-term patients, and his eyes conveyed things that no first session speech therapy could have drawn out: intelligence and caution mixed with undisguised curiosity.

Moving slowly and deliberately, I walked to the bare mattress between us. There was no table, so we’d have to start the flashcards on the bed. He watched my progress, studying my hair. The short, pixie-cut combined with its dyed color grabbed a lot of patients’ attention. One of the men in ward two, a lifer named Big George with a traumatic brain injury, even liked to touch the ends of it that swished in front of my ears. I made sure he stuck to the left side so he didn’t get distracted by the tiny silver hoop earrings along my right ear. Lucas noticed those, too. I watched him catalog every part of me, absorbing the appearance of this outsider to his room, like someone would analyze a newly discovered insect. His gaze paused on the blue fabric bag I carried, his expression unreadable now.

‘I’m Maya.’ Three syllables. Slow rate, distinct pronunciation.

I didn’t smile. I’d never trusted strangers who smiled at me – they always wanted something.

Patting the place where my pulse beat too fast, I nodded and said it again. ‘Maya.’

He swiveled back toward the wall, dismissing the insect. I glanced behind me where Stan was shaking his head through the lead glass. Shrugging, I started to pull out the flashcards when suddenly Stan’s face changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a warning I couldn’t hear.

I hesitated and before I could turn around, a giant force threw me into the wall and something was being looped around my neck.

The metal door shrieked as Stan wrenched it open and I was pulled back, my body turned into a human shield. The thing around my neck tightened and I panicked, unable to breathe. Lucas had my arms locked behind me in an impossibly strong grip. I fought against it, desperate to free myself.

‘Keys,’ he said in a hoarse voice. I bowed my body against his,

trying to find some slack in the cord around my throat, but met only a column of unyielding muscle. If anything, the cord grew tighter.

My vision started to contract, black creeping in at the edges.

I kicked viciously, striking his shins so hard they should have snapped in half, and used the rest of my oxygen in the process. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was Stan’s hand, holding out his ring of keys.

*** Don’t forget to check out the other stops of the blog tour ***

Leave No Trace blog tour poster updated

 

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Author Spotlight: In Defense of Innocence by @DaveWickenden #QandA

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From time to time you come across a novel that piques your interest and In Defense of Innocence did just that. I think it’ll deliver some great conflicting feelings towards the person who’s avenging crimes and I already wonder what the main character, Janice Williams, will do in the end.

It doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet on Goodreads but I think it really deserves a spotlight so I’m very happy to have Dave Wickenden on the blog today. I have an interesting Q&A coming up but first some info about the novel:

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In Defense of Innocence follows Janice Williams, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Child Sex Crimes Division, as she hunts child abusers only to be beaten to their capture by a vigilante who avenges the harms done to these innocent children.

When Janice uncovers the identity of the vigilante, she is faced with the dilemma to do her job to uphold the law or help this person escape a nation-wide manhunt.

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Customer Reviews IDOI

Author

David Wickiden

Dave has lived the life of a protagonist. He spent time in the Canadian Armed Forces before the Fire Service, so is as comfortable with a rocket launcher as a fire hose. He has brought people back from the dead utilizing CPR and a defibrillator and has assisted in rescuing people in crisis. He has led men and women in extreme environments. He retired as Deputy Fire Chief to write full time.

Dave and his wife Gina are parents to three boys and three grandsons. His two youngest boys are busy with minor hockey and fishing, so you can guess where you’ll find Dave when he’s not writing. He is a proud member of the Sudbury Writers Guild and working on his fourth thriller novel.

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QandA

1. Defense of Innocence is a police procedural about the hunt on someone who targets child abusers. My first obvious question is:  How hard do we need to brace ourselves when starting this novel for graphic scenes? Should readers take caution about some disturbing scenes?

Although the story surrounds a very disturbing topic, there are no scenes of child abuse. There was no way I was going to sensationalize the horrors that played out by monsters within our society. Although I allude to and come close to tell the story, readers do not have to worry about graphic or gory details. In one scene, I go into the thoughts of a child abuser and a fair amount of readers told me that one scene spooked them good.

2. What gave you the idea to write a novel about this subject matter? Did your job have anything to do with it perhaps?

Although I have come across physical abuse of women in my career as a firefighter, I never had to deal with a child abuse incident. However, I personally know of some children who have been abused and of course we are inundated through the media with countless stories of animals preying on children. Each and every time though, the punishment did not fit the crime and that got me upset. The story had been growing in me for a number of years and finally I decided to write a story that brought attention to the issue while at the same time was an exciting read.

The vigilante in the story does what I think a lot of us contemplate in the darkest corners of our minds. What parent wouldn’t think about taking the law in their own hands if someone touched their child? I’ve listened to fathers, god fearing and law abiding citizens say so when the topic is raised.

3. What was the most challenging part when writing this book?

The hardest part is keeping it real. Although I write fiction, it has to be realistic. There is a scene where a mother comes to realize that her child is dead. As a parent, this had to be the hardest scene. I won’t lie, I bawled my eyes writing this part, because I had to put myself into the character’s head and imagine finding my own child. I also had to get into Janice’s head while dealing with this distraught parent. It hurt like hell.

4. What’s the most fun part of being a full-time writer?

The best part is having time. I have no idea how authors who work full time can write a book. Even working all day long, I’m still struggling to get all I want done completed. As I become more comfortable with the writing process, the stories are taking less time to complete, so I am able to produce more. And I have so many ideas.

5. The detective in Defense of Innocence is Janice Williams. Who is she? Can you compare her with another detective we might know?

Janice could be anyone of us. We all carry baggage, some more than others. We all struggle with our demons; some real, like her past and some circumstantial like overcoming a marriage breakup. How we deal with those demons defines us. By facing her biggest fear, Janice has become a strong successful police officer. She still has issues but she won’t quit.

As for comparisons, I think a good contender would be Detective Olivia Benson from Law and Order: SVU. Using her tortured past to help her understand what the victims have had to deal with.

6. Who is your own all-time favorite detective?

My favorite detective would have to be Batman. He’s been around forever uncovering and stopping the schemes of the world’s most evil villains. He uses a variety of techniques and technologies that are usually cutting edge. Hell if I was as buff as the Bat, I’d wear spandex too.

7. You write books about child abuse and ISIS, two very diverse novels. Is there a story in your head that you still really want to write in your life?

I have a number of ideas swimming in my head. One would deal with a cult that is involved in a scheme to take down the government. Another idea is an issue that is growing and surrounds itself with fresh water. Canada has it in abundance. I think in the future it will be fought over more viciously than oil (Next World War?)

Of course any important issue that is affecting the world like child abuse and the radicalization of young people by ISIS is always on my radar. My question is always – what would I do if…

8. What’s the current working title for your Work In Progress? 

My WIP is the sequel to IN DEFENSE OF INNOCENCE. I haven’t confirmed a title, but I am toying with DEADLY HARVEST. My main character is in Paris and fights an International Human Trafficking organization.

9. One final question to round up: You’re Canadian and I haven’t been to Canada yet but I would love to visit one day. Can you give me just one tip what not to miss when I visit (sights, food, anything)? 

When you visit Canada, make sure to try Poutin – this is a national treat that stems from Quebec. It is french-fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. Of course, if you’re American, try our Canadian beer just so you taste the difference – of course, this might cause an invasion on its own.

Thank you Dave for your answers. It was a pleasure to have you on the blog!

WWW Wednesday (29-08-2018)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a book list hosted by Taking on a World of Words, and I’m happy to participate today.

The three W’s are:
What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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What I recently finished :

My second novel by Lucy Dillon and while the first one was a good read (at least that’s what I remember from reading it in 2015) this novel was exceptional. The friendships formed were so heart-warming, I was almost sad to say goodbye to everyone.

Where The Light Gets In by Lucy Dillon

Blank bookcover with clipping path

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What I’m reading now:

I only received a copy of Resin one or two weeks ago, courtesy of the publisher, and I bumped this one up to the very top of my readlist, I just couldn’t help it, when I read the first line of the novel I wanted to know more. It’s turning out to be a somewhat heavy novel because there’s a new normal in it that isn’t really normal at all. There’s no abuse, Liv is loved by her parents and she’s not even locked up or anything, but the family Horder (what’s in a name huh) live in dire circumstances and it has a very claustrophobic feel. I expect quite some buzz about this one.

Resin by Ane Riel

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What I’ll (probably) read soon:

I’ve read 3 books by John Marrs so far and his new one’s due to be released in November. I was lucky to be approved for an ecopy on Netgalley and I can’t wait to read it!

Her Last Move by John Marrs

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She’s chasing a killer. He’s watching her every move.

He hides in the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment. Each kill is calculated, planned and executed like clockwork.

Struggling to balance her personal and professional life, young DS Becca Vincent has landed the biggest case of her career—and she knows that it will make or break her. But she can’t catch the culprit alone. Together with facial recognition expert Joe Russell, she strives to get a lead on the elusive murderer, who is always one step ahead of them.

Time is not on their side. The body count is rising, and the attacks are striking closer and closer to home. Can Becca and Joe uncover the connection between the murders before the killer strikes the last name from his list?

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So that’s it, what are you reading this week? Share your link in the comments below so that I can come and take a look !

There’s a new color in crime

TRENDING BOOK COVERS

While I was preparing my Book Battle for this month I suddenly saw two covers with striking similarities. As I thought about it I remembered I read another one myself that fit the bill and remembered one that many other bloggers received in the post recently. Coincidence, I don’t think so, I think I spotted a trend.

I know, I know, it takes more than a couple of books to be able to speak of a new cover trend but you have to admit that the theme is quite obvious. You know what, I’m not even going to tell you what it is, you can see for yourself:

The Confession by Jo Spain

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An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

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 The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman In The Window

The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne

This was the first cover to feature the yellow window (July 2017 by Picador Books)

The Upstairs Window

Your Closest Friend by Karen Perry

Your Closest Friend

The New Girl by Ingrid Alexandra

The New Girl

Our Little Lies by Sue Watson

Our Little Lies

When I Find You and One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

 When I Find You  One Little Mistake

So what do you think? Have you noticed this as well? Which cover is your favorite or do you find them too alike? 

Mid-year top 10 favorite reads

My mid-yearTop 10 Favorits

It’s only mid-year (actually a bit later but between deciding to jump in and actually making the list, we’re already a month further along) and I can already make a top 10 of reads that were pretty amazing so far. Here’s my top 10 of favorite reads till the end of July. Choosing my top 10 wasn’t so hard as I thought but I already don’t want to think about the end of the year because I already have one that I just read and absolutely has to be on the list so sad but true, this list is still going to change at the end of the year.

 

 

In order of reading this year, here are the books with the links to my reviews:

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson

The Fear by C.L. Taylor

The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh

Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

A Scorned Woman by Jack Jordan

Never Go There by Rebecca Tinnelly

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

So what do you think of my selection? Did any of these make it on your list too? 

Same book, different cover #07

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I’m back with 5 new book covers for you to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK, I’ll go first:

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

Editing Emma 02  Editing Emma

I pick cover 1. There’s just a little more flow on that cover.

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

The Guilty One 02  The Guilty One 01

I choose cover number 2. Difficult to explain why I’m more attracted to that one, maybe because there are children on the cover and it looks like a dangerous situation?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale 001  The Nightingale 002

Definitely cover 1.

In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira

In Search Of Us 01  In Search Of Us 02

Cover 2. I read that novel as well and I’m really fond of all the colors on the cover. I feel like I’m looking at a true summer beach read.

Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl

Portraits of the Dead 01  John Nicholl - Portraits of the Dead_cover

Cover 1. Maybe it’s also because I read this version too but the second one really is too creepy for me. I really like how they redid all the other covers in this detective series, except this one.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books #1 – #2#3 – #4 – #5#6

Goodreads Monday (23-07-2018)

goodreads monday

I saw this meme on Books, Vertigo and Tea and I thought this one seemed fun to join and feature on my blog from time to time as well! The original post of Goodreads Monday was posted by Lauren’s Page Turners. Thank you Lauren for this great idea. This really is a great way to help me take another look at all the books added to the wishlist so long ago and at the same time I can share some interesting titles.

There’s only one rule: Simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to link back to Lauren’s Page turners and add your own links!

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By A Thread

By A Thread by R.L. Griffin

Added on April 23, 2013. It has a 3.95 rating on Goodreads. Keep or Go? Dilemma!

I don’t particulary like the cover but the blurb sounds promising, I do love such an emotional read!

Stella’s future was set, and it was a bright one. She was engaged to a man she adored, and was headed to law school in the fall. Tragically, her perfectly planned future ends just as it was beginning.

With no ties to family or friends, Stella finds herself alone in a new city, spiraling out of control. Her typical day comes to a close with her passed out on the floor; sometimes clothed.

Luckily, her new roommate, essentially a stranger, is dead set on getting Stella past her grief and back to functioning within society. Putting one foot in front of the other, she climbs up from the bottom of a bottle. Even with all her progress, Stella walks through life unfeeling, numb. Defiant, she sends out warning signals for the world to keep away. But, is that what she really wants?

With the steadfast help of a few tight knit friends, she gradually begins to feel again. She starts to savor the flavor of food again; lets herself notice how the handsome bartender glances at her. Still, after allowing herself a fling, she wonders if she will ever be able to let go of her shattered past, fully enjoy the present, or get over what she thought would be her perfect future and with the man who destroyed her heart.

So what do you think, yay or nay? Have you read it or is it on your readlist too?