Friday, September 27, 2019

PICT Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway: One Night Gone

Today I'm participating in the Partners in Crime blog tour of One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski.

One Night Gone 

Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Publisher: Graydon House Books (Harlequin)
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
 Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1525832190 (ISBN13: 9781525832192)

Purchase Links . . .  Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Kobo  GoodReads

Synopsis . . . It was the perfect place to disappear . . .

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all . . .

My Review . . . In One Night Gone, the debut novel by Tara Laskowski, two women, three decades apart seek refuge at Opal Beach during a three-month stay, each focused on regrouping and moving forward with her life . . .

Maureen Haddaway is at loose ends when she comes to the island during the summer of 1985 as part of a traveling carnival.  Allison Simpson arrives off-season in 2015 to house-sit after an ugly divorce.  These women have something in common: a determination to improve their prospects and live life on their own terms despite personal setbacks that damaged their sense of self-worth and emotional stability.  And each in her own way discovers that small towns like Opal Beach aren’t always kind to outsiders, especially when there is a difference in social status.

While living at Opal Beach, Maureen becomes fast friends with Tammy Quinn, a local girl; and soon she’s dating Clay Bishop, whose wealthy family owns a restaurant chain.  Although Maureen’s stay is meant to be temporary, she unexpectedly vanishes without a trace before summer’s end.  Tammy has been haunted by Maureen’s disappearance for the past thirty years, certain that she was murdered on the island.

Years later, as Allison settles in, she encounters many of the same residents Maureen once knew.  And Tammy, who now owns the local coffee shop, draws Allison into investigating the mystery of Maureen’s disappearance.  Allison’s search for information threatens to expose long-buried secrets and transgressions, and connecting the dots between Maureen’s relationships with people in Opal Beach puts both Allison and Tammy in danger.  Will they uncover the truth without risking their own personal safety?

One Night Gone is an engrossing mystery with a page-turning plot. Laskowski infuses the story with characters harboring dark secrets who are credible murder suspects, and uses multiple twists and turns to deliver a thrilling read.  Although One Night Gone is first and foremost a solid suspense novel, it is also a story about independent women who stand up for themselves, never giving up or feeling sorry for themselves.  Issues of social and gender status add dimension to the plot, and the author also creates a unique kinship between Maureen and Allison—women who never met and lived thirty years apart—a bond that ultimately honors Maureen’s struggle and helps Allison move forward with her own life.

This finely-crafted novel showcases Laskowski’s impressive writing skills, which are well-suited to the suspense genre.  I hope that One Night Gone is the first of many novels from this talented author. 

Read an Excerpt . . .
Opal Beach was about a two-hour drive without traffic from downtown Philadelphia. It was somewhere halfway between Ocean City and Atlantic City and way less touristy. The beach always reminded me of vacations as a kid, running barefoot on hot sand, creating lopsided sand castles with plastic buckets, breaking crab legs and sucking out the meat. But there was also a sense of slowing down, of taking it all in, and I needed that now. I could feel the air change, the way it clung, coated, opened everything up.

Through the car windows, the October air was shockingly cold but also reviving. The salty air had always bothered my mother and sister, who complained it was too humid and their tongues felt strange, but I loved the way it worked its fingers into my hair and curled around the tendrils. It made me feel a little wild, a little different. Untamed. Like anything could happen.

Was I really doing this? Was I really pressing on this pedal, steering, guiding these four wheels to a stranger’s beach house, where I would live for the next three months alone? It had all happened so fast. A blur, really. Annie’s friend Sharon, with that same nurse-like efficiency that Annie had, set it all up so quickly that I’d barely had time to adjust to the idea before it was actually happening.

But I was used to life messing with me now, used to tripping over a curb or forgetting to eat breakfast or chipping a nail, waking up only to discover that everything I’d known to be true was suddenly different. So in some ways this journey, the picking up and leaving behind, felt like an emerging. Like Rockefeller, the hermit crab I’d bought on our family vacation one year at a boardwalk shack, I was crawling out of a dingy shell and moving into a shinier, larger home. (Unlike Rockefeller, though, I hoped I wouldn’t die from the soap residue that was left inside the new shell when someone tried to clean it too vigorously before setting him inside the cage.)
I drove down a two-lane road just off the ocean, the main drag for all the beachfront houses. I could imagine that on a weekend in July it looked like a parking lot as families navigated in or out of town, canoes and coolers tied up on their roof racks. But now it was eerily vacant, and I had the sense I was the last woman on earth, that in my quiet drive alone the rest of humanity had vanished. I was trying to decide if that was a good thing or not when a giant orange Hummer zoomed into view behind me and passed without slowing down. “Well, so much for that. Asshole,” I said.

The houses were dramatically large and looming, blocking what otherwise would’ve been a magnificent view. You could tell which ones were just rentals—the monstrosities with thirteen bedrooms and a six-car garage that five families could rent out at once. But further down the road, the houses had more style and character. The kind of places—lots of windows, big porches, nice landscaping—that would make your mouth water even without the lush ocean backdrop as icing on the cake.

I slowed as my GPS indicated I was getting close, but even so I almost missed the tiny driveway and its faded, weather-beaten road sign declaring my new mailing address: Piper Sand Road.
I had made it.

The long gravel drive split off halfway up, with one side leading to the Worthington house and the other side to their neighbor’s. When I’d first met the Worthingtons for my “job interview” just a few weeks before, I’d been so nervous about the whole thing that I’d taken the wrong driveway and parked in the neighbor’s lot and stared at it for a good minute before realizing the house number was wrong.

But now, pulling into the correct driveway slowly, it felt like an adventure movie soundtrack should be swelling. And our heroine finds her destiny.

I could imagine Annie’s reaction when she finally saw the house in person. It was stunning. The surrounding homes were propped up on beams, like old ladies hitching up their skirts so they wouldn’t get wet in the surf, but that just gave the Worthingtons’ house an understated effect. It stood confident and modest between them, a beach gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale, with light blue curtains and sweeping eaves.

I parked right at the porch steps and got out, wrapping my cardigan around me to stave off the whipping wind. The front porch was small but quaint, with two wooden rocking chairs and a small white table with flaking paint. I ran my palm along the back of one of the tall chairs, and it creaked from my touch. The chairs seemed to be more for decoration than sitting.

Dolores, Sharon’s sister who lived in town, was supposed to be meeting me to hand over the keys. Yet it seemed I’d arrived first. I’d had to come one week sooner than planned, as Patty and John had been whisked away to her mysterious assignment in Eastern Europe a little earlier than expected. Patty had called me from the airport with the news. I’d pictured her in her white visor and tennis sneakers rushing through the terminals, bags bouncing off her lower back as she breathlessly gave me instructions.

Still, I half expected Patty to appear in the window as I squatted down and peered inside the house. It was hard to see with the bright sun glaring at my back, but I could make out the shadowy silhouette of the large island counter in the middle of the kitchen. Beyond that room, I remembered, was the living room, with doors and stairs leading to all the many nooks of the house.

All empty now, waiting for me. A shiver curled from my spine up to my neck, unwinding inside me. Calm down, you idiot, I told myself. Not everything is a trap. Think positively, and positive things will come.
Excerpt from One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski. Copyright © 2019 by Tara Laskowski. Reproduced with permission from Graydon House Books (Harlequin). All rights reserved.

Author Bio  . . . TARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award.

Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel.

Author Links . . . 
Website   GoodReads  BookBub   Twitter   Instagram  Facebook

Giveaway . . . Partners in Crime is hosting a rafflecopter giveaway for Harlequin and Tara Laskowski. There will be 1 winner of one (1) copy of One Night Gone (print). The giveaway begins on September 23, 2019 and runs through October 6, 2019. Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Void where prohibited.

Enter giveaway here.

Disclaimer . . . I was given a copy of One Night Gone in exchange for an honest review.


THE One Night Gone TOUR
 September 23 – October 4, 2019  

Participants . . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph

It's Tuesday . . . time for . . . 


First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, now hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach, is where bloggers post the first paragraph(s) of a book they are currently reading or planning to read sometime soon. 

Today I'm featuring an upcoming read, Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield.  The excerpt shared is from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.

 Every Other Weekend 

House One:
Kensington Drive

How to Stand in
Front of a 
Broken Home

Note, first, the crepe myrtle.  How lovely and silken its wrinkled petals, you might shovel them up like taffeta snow.  In spring, scoop fistfuls of petals into sturdy leaf boats, and at dusk, when the neighbors water their lawns and the gutters river up, sail your little crafts downstream, to other cities and children unknown.  Have your fun while you can, though, because those petals don't last very long.  Soon the myrtle's limbs will be ragged and bare.

It is 1988 and America is full of broken homes.  America's time is measured in every-other-weekend-and-sometimes-once-a-week.  Her drawers are filled with court papers and photos no one looks at anymore.  Her children have bags that're  always packed and waiting by the door.

What do you think?  Would you continue reading?
The opening paragraphs set a very sad tone, yet I am interested in reading this debut novel that is a Barnes & Noble discover pick.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings


It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Today I'm featuring a current read, The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz.  The excerpts shared are from a hardcover version borrowed from the library.

Beginning:  Prologue
A beggar nobody had seen before appeared in the neighbourhood that summer.  No-one knew him by name, nor seemed to care much about him, but to a young couple who passed him every morning he was the "crazy dwarf."

Page 56: None of them looked all that pleased to see him, and Blomkvist kept his eyes on the table, drank his wine, and thought of Lisbeth Salander.
My thoughts:  This is book #6 in the Millennium Series, which began with the much celebrated first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  The original author, Stieg Larsson wrote the first three books in the series before his untimely death.  The current author has continued the series beginning with book #4, The Girl in the Spider's Web.  I've been enjoying the stories created by both authors, and the continuing saga of Lisbeth Salanader, one of my all-time favorite brave, take-no-prisoners feminist character.  Sadly, this may be the last book in the series.

From Goodreads: Lisbeth Salander--the fierce, unstoppable girl with the dragon tattoo--has disappeared. She's sold her apartment in Stockholm. She's gone silent electronically. She's told no one where she is. And no one is aware that at long last she's got her primal enemy, her twin sister, Camilla, squarely in her sights.

Mikael Blomkvist is trying to reach Lisbeth. He needs her help unraveling the identity of a man who lived and died on the streets in Stockholm--a man who does not exist in any official records and whose garbled last words hinted at possible damaging knowledge of people in the highest echelons of government and industry. In his pocket was a crumpled piece of paper with Blomkvist's phone number on it.

Once again, Salander and Blomkvist will come to each other's aid, moving in tandem toward the truths they each seek. In the end, it will be Blomkvist--in a moment of unimaginable self-sacrifice--who will make it possible for Lisbeth to face the most important battle of her life, and, finally, to put her past to rest.

This Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog,  It cannot be republished without attribution. Sharing this original post on Twitter, Google+ and/or other blogs with appropriate recognition is appreciated.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph

It's Tuesday . . . time for . . . 


First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, now hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach, is where bloggers post the first paragraph(s) of a book they are currently reading or planning to read sometime soon. 

Today I'm featuring an upcoming read, Campusland by Scott Johnston.  The excerpt shared is from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.



Devon University
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Devon University is an American private research university located in the New England town of Havenport.  With an admissions rate of 83 percent, it is considered one of the most elite universities in America.

* * * * * * * *

Blue Nation Coffee

School years had a dependable rhythm, one Eph always found comforting.  This was his favorite time, September--the anticipation, the excitement of reconnecting after summer break.  Official move-in day wasn't until tomorrow, but many students had come early for orientations or team practices, so the sidewalk was busy.  Walking down Ellsworth, a commercial street that ran along one edge of campus, he saw eagerness painted on the passing faces.  He had little doubt his own face looked just the same.

What do you think?  Would you continue reading?
I love the start of a new school year and books set on college campuses.  Now is the perfect time to read this type of novel--the new fall semester is a few weeks old, and there is a hint of autumn in the air here on the East Coast.

This First Chapter ~ First Paragraph post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog,  It cannot be republished without attribution. Sharing this original post on Twitter with appropriate recognition is appreciated.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph

It's Tuesday . . . time for . . . 


First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, now hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach, is where bloggers post the first paragraph(s) of a book they are currently reading or planning to read sometime soon. 

Today I'm featuring my current read, The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.  The excerpt shared is from an eBook borrowed from the library.

The Innocent Wife 


The girl was found seventy-six hours after she was reported missing.  The fingertips had been removed with cable-cutter pliers, a calculated attempt to hide DNA evidence, the flesh of her attacker gathering beneath the whites of her nails as they dragged over his skin.  Her body had been moved shortly after death; wherever she was killed had been private enough for a prolonged and violent attack, followed by the mutilation of her corpse.  Holly Michaels was dumped in the dark water of the bayou, in the northernmost part of Red River County, Florida, ten miles from her home.

What do you think?  Would you continue reading?
The very descriptive first paragraph grabbed my attention immediately, in much the same way you can't look away when you come upon the scene of an accident, even though you want to.  I'm also curious about how the title relates to the unfolding story.

This First Chapter ~ First Paragraph post was originally composed and/or compiled and published by Catherine for the blog,  It cannot be republished without attribution. Sharing this original post on Twitter with appropriate recognition is appreciated.