Death by Curiosity: Interview + Review

Hello Friends! It’s Monday, and I know Mondays are tough! If you, like me have spent the last few days at home trying to avoid every other living person on planet earth, I KNOW you are getting some serious cabin fever! I am with you, friends!

Today I am going to shine a spotlight on Lisa Matthews’ DEBUT novel, Death by Curiosity, which is one of my favorite reads this year! If you are into magical realism, witches, cults and enjoy a good mystery with fun characters, you have to pick up this book! Death by Curiosity is the first book in the Armitage Black series, and GOOD NEWS- the sequel will be released next year!!! EEK!

Lisa Matthews is not only an amazing storyteller, she is a lovely person that I always look forward to talking to, so I’m really excited to share my interview with all of you!

Everyone knows that witches aren’t real.
And yet when the sleepy village of Habely is rocked by a series of bizarre murders and James Pettyfer is arrested after being caught whilst disposing of the bodies, he claims that he was made to do it by Elodia Knight – a lady who’s capable of magic and can get into other people’s souls.

Armitage Black is a very relatable, witty protagonist. She is a police typist that will stop at nothing to solve the mystery of the dead bodies that keep appearing in the woods of her sleepy town. Elodia Knight is a local witch with a devious plan, AND a coven of people who worship her, and stop at nothing to see her plan through.

I enjoyed this book, and what I enjoyed most was the witty banter between Armitage and, well everyone. I related to Armitage, she was a very real protagonist that had me laughing out loud several times throughout the book.

I am giving this book a solid 4 stars. It had a strong premise and a fun story.
At some points during the book I felt overwhelmed with detail, and to get through a scene sometimes took paragraphs and paragraphs of detail, which wore me out a bit. The magical realism in the book fell flat for me, but I don’t think that took away from the story.

This is a solid mystery with a great cast of relatable characters, and I will definitely be reading the next installment in the Armitage Black series!

SO, lets talk about your debut novel, “Death by Curiosity”, the first book in the Armitage Black series. I just recently finished it, and it was a fun read! I like the way Armitage’s character developed throughout the book. Where did you get your inspiration for her character?Believe it or not, Armitage was actually inspired by Sherlock Holmes!  I have to admit, I’ve never read any of the actual books – not for lack of trying – but I absolutely loved the first Robert Downey Jr film and the modern show starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  I remember watching both and thinking how much I’d love to write something like that.  I had a vague idea about what I wanted to write for a few years, but it wasn’t until I started working in the Typing Pool for my local Police Force that I realised how Armitage would find a way in to the case – I’m not sure Armitage would’ve had her story told if it wasn’t for that job!
This is your debut novel, which blew my mind, because it was so well written, and so incredibly witty! At times I was laughing out loud! How did writing/publishing your first book change your writing process?Thank you very much!  I’m really glad you enjoyed it 🙂 I actually wrote the book about eight years ago now, and this has been its third (and final) rewrite.  I think my own life experiences have helped in reshaping Armitage – I’ve grown up a lot since the first version – but I also think it helped to really know the characters.  I’ve hand-written three sequels so far, which has allowed more development of the characters, and Armitage & Co have been in my life for so long that I know how each of them would act and react much more now than I did when I first started writing about them.
I loved the supernatural realism in Death by Curiosity, and let’s be honest, witches and cults make fun reading too! Do you live in an area with a lit of witchcraft history, or is that just something you are interested in? What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?Unfortunately, I don’t!  The nearest place with a supernatural history is Whitby, which is much more about Dracula than witches.  I’ve tried a few stories about witches over the years, but this is the first one that really found its way.  One of the things I really enjoyed about writing the book was that I didn’t have to do any research whatsoever – I spent most of my teenage years writing about twins who were the Presidents’ kids, so that took a lot of Googling about High School grades and American politics.  Because Habely and the surrounding areas are only based on my own home town and region, and because of the witch element, it was such a breath of fresh air to just get stuck in and write whatever I wanted to. 

Let’s be honest here, Armitage is kind of a badass, and so is Elodia Knight! How did you select the names of your characters? I love books that have characters with unique names, and I have always been curious about how authors choose the names of their characters! You should see the list of original names I have in the notebook I first wrote Armitage in!  I always wanted Armitage to have a unique name, primarily because who she was inspired by.  She was originally going to be called Fallon Blackwood, but I can’t say I was every in love with the name.  As soon as I stumbled upon the name Armitage, I knew that was the right choice for her.  Elodia Knight was much easier – I wanted something that sounded vaguely witchy, and the name just popped into my head.  To this day, I have no idea where I got Elodia from – but I think it suits her down to a T.  Hadaway was actually the hardest character to find a name for – I have two long lists of names just for him!   

Death by Curiosity is a fast paced, fun mystery and I loved every scene! Was there anything that you chose to edit out of the book? Yes, I took loads out this time. In the previous versions, there was a lot of Armitage arguing with herself about Hadaway, and I realised that that was telling more than showing – so I took all of that out and tried to make it more subtle. I moved a couple of scenes around and took a whole scene out, because it didn’t add anything to the story. Luckily for me, I absolutely love editing 🙂
I would think that the magical realism would be a hard thing to write about in a believable way, but you smashed it! What was the hardest scene in the book to write?The fight scenes are always hard to write; I’m not a natural action writer, but I knew that there had to be some scraps in there. I constantly question myself as well, asking myself if what I’m writing is believable in terms of Police procedure – but where it isn’t, I’d like to go ahead and claim poetic license 🙂
Armitage is getting a sequel soon, and I am SO EXCITED about it! How many books do you predict will be in the series, and can you give us an idea of what Armitage will be up to in the next book?Thank you! I’m really excited too 🙂 there will be ten books in Armitage’s series – the first four are already written, and I’m typing up the second book at every chance I can (although admittedly I’ve been distracted by wedding planning over the last couple of weeks). I’m really nervous about the next one – I know I struggled with the handwritten version, so I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. I know there’s a lot of waffle in there that needs to come out, so I’m also really excited to see how it turns out. The supernatural realism will continue, but this time it’s a demon instead of a witch. (If it sounds a bit out-there, bear with and all will be revealed.) Hadaway’s got a temporary promotion in this book, and he’s determined that Armitage won’t get any chances to get herself involved in this case. You also get to meet Armitage’s older sister, Coveney, who’ll cause a bit of chaos of her own.
After reading Death by Curiosity, and it being your debut novel, it is clear that you have amazing talent when it comes to storytelling. have you always wanted to be a writer?Thank you, that’s really kind! I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember – I’ve always wanted to see my name on the front cover of a book. I wrote my first short story when I was about seven or eight (in bright red Jokerman font on the first computer we had), and I was writing from being ten – mainly the Presidents’ twins mentioned above, but also a few stories that didn’t get past the first chapter. I came up with plenty of ideas as a teenager that I still remember, and I’m planning to revisit them some day.
What advice would you give the Lisa that is just beginning her writing journey, and have you gotten any good advice from any other authors along the way?The biggest surprise I got with Armitage – and the thing I enjoyed the most when I was handwriting the first draft – was that the story went in a totally different direction than I originally meant it to. So I guess my advice would be to not put pressure on yourself – just put pen to paper and let it flow, and let yourself enjoy it. Also to develop your own cures to Writers’ Block; it’s going to happen, and everyone’s got their own way through it – what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
And last but not least, the question I ask every author I interview, What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?Oooo, good question! I don’t know if it’s under-appreciated, but I’m the only person I know who’s read it – so I’m going to say Marley & Me. I absolutely love it, and it’s even better than the film – it’s got more stories than those that made it into the movie. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll coo over the pictures. It’s really well-written, and I never get tired of reading it.

Death By Curiosity is available now!

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February Amazon first reads pick!

Amazon first reads is pretty awesome. If you are an Amazon Prime member you have early access to editors picks, one FREE kindle book each month (Chosen from a selection of books each month) and you can shop select print editions for $9.99 or less in participating months.

ANYWAY, I wanted to share with you my February pick! I’m pretty excited about this one, and after reading a few contemporary YA books recently, I am SO READY for a good thriller.

DRUMROLL PLEASEEEEEEE- I present to you, my February pick, “A Killer’s Wife” By Victor Methos.

From the bestselling author of The Neon Lawyer comes a gripping thriller about a prosecutor confronted with the darkest part of her past and the worst fears for her future…

Fourteen years ago, prosecutor Jessica Yardley’s husband went to prison for a series of brutal murders. She’s finally created a life with her daughter and is a well-respected attorney. She’s moving on. But when a new rash of homicides have her ex-husband, Eddie, written all over them—the nightmares of her past come back to life.

The FBI asks Jessica to get involved in the hunt for this copycat killer—which means visiting her ex and collaborating with the man who tore her life apart.

As the copycat’s motives become clearer, the new life Jessica created for herself gets darker. She must ask herself who she can trust and if she’s capable of stopping the killer—a man whose every crime is a bloody valentine from a twisted mastermind she’s afraid she may never escape.

Okay, Yes, yes and yes. I am all for a good thriller. This book has great reviews on Goodreads, and sounds absolutely delicious. Have you read A Killers Wife? Let me know!!

5 new books I’m excited to read this spring & summer!

There are quite a few new and exciting books on the horizon, friends! These are the ones that I am most excited about. Check them out, and get excited with me!

Enter The Aardvark

Only one thing stands between Alexander Paine Wilson and his destiny… and it has long ears, spoon-like claws and a tubular snout.

Republican congressman Alexander Paine Wilson is determined that nothing will stop him in his campaign for re-election. Not the fact that he is a bachelor, not the fact that his main adversary Nancy Beavers – married, with children – is rising in the polls. Nothing. That is, until one hot day in August, he receives a large parcel via FedEx. Inside is a gigantic taxidermied aardvark.

This aardvark has a surprising history – from the Victorian naturalist who discovered it to the taxidermist who deemed it his finest creation. But for Wilson, the entrance of the aardvark sets off a chain of events that threaten to ruin his entire career.

Constantly surprising, brilliantly comic and piquantly provocative, Enter the Aardvark is a tale for our times, a biting satire with a tender underbelly.

Political satire, a taxidermy, and mystery? what more could you ask for? This synopsis reeled me right in, and I can not wait to devour this comical morsel! Enter the Aardvark will be published March 24, 2020, and you can pre-order it here-

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The Familiar Dark

A spellbinding story of a mother with nothing left to lose who sets out on an all-consuming quest for justice after her daughter is murdered on the town playground.

Sometimes the answers are worse than the questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

Set in the poorest part of the Missouri Ozarks, in a small town with big secrets, The Familiar Dark opens with a murder. Eve Taggert, desperate with grief over losing her daughter, takes it upon herself to find out the truth about what happened. Eve is no stranger to the dark side of life, having been raised by a hard-edged mother whose lessons Eve tried not to pass on to her own daughter. But Eve may need her mother’s cruel brand of strength if she’s going to face the reality about her daughter’s death and about her own true nature. Her quest for justice takes her from the seedy underbelly of town to the quiet woods and, most frighteningly, back to her mother’s trailer for a final lesson.

The Familiar Dark is a story about the bonds of family–women doing the best they can for their daughters in dire circumstances–as well as a story about how even the darkest and most terrifying of places can provide the comfort of home.

If you know me, you know I am ALL IN when it comes to a good atmospheric thriller! I am digging the creepy feel of this book, and I have to admit, it is one of my worst nightmares as a mom to think about things like this! On of the things I am loving about this book is the strong female protagonist. I have been looking for a book with a strong female character, and this is the one I am most excited about! The familiar dark will be published on March 3, 2020, and is available for pre-order here-

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Goodreads

Chosen Ones

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons—and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Veronica Roth’s first adult fantasy novel…..FIRST OF ALL, YES, and SECOND, pick me up off the floor, I’m so excited about this. The trend of YA authors branching out into the adult genre is everything. I love everything about the premise of this book, and YET AGAIN, a strong female protagonist. BRING IT TO ME! Chosen ones will be published on April 7, 2020 and is available for pre-order here-

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Goodreads

The Boys’ Club

weetbitter meets The Firm in this buzzy, page-turning debut novel—already optioned to Netflix—about sex and power in the halls of corporate America.

Alex Vogel has always been a high achiever who lived her life by the book—star student and athlete in high school, prelaw whiz in college, Harvard Law School degree. Accepting a dream offer at the prestigious Manhattan law firm of Klasko & Fitch, she promises her sweet and supportive longtime boyfriend that the job won’t change her. Yet Alex is seduced by the firm’s money and energy . . . and by her cocksure male colleagues, who quickly take notice of the new girl. She’s never felt so confident and powerful—even the innuendo-laced banter with clients feels fun. In the firm’s most profitable and competitive division, Mergers and Acquisitions, Alex works around the clock, racking up billable hours and entertaining clients late into the evening. While the job is punishing, it has its perks, like a weekend trip to Miami, a ride in a client’s private jet, and more expense-account meals than she can count. 

But as her clients’ expectations and demands on her increase, and Alex finds herself magnetically drawn to a handsome coworker despite her loving relationship at home, she begins to question everything—including herself. She knows the corporate world isn’t black and white, and that to reach the top means playing by different rules. But who made those rules? And what if the system rigged so that women can’t win, anyway? 

When something happens that reveals the dark reality of the firm, Alex comes to understand the ways women like her are told—explicitly and implicitly—how they need to behave to succeed in the workplace. Now, she can no longer stand by silently—even if doing what’s right means putting everything on the line to expose the shocking truth.

Gather round children, have a seat, and lets talk about YET ANOTHER strong female character. I am starting to see a trend here, and I LOVE IT! The Boys’ Club is Erica Katz’ debut novel, and if the amazing, smart, synopsis doesnt make you want to RUN out and pre-order this book, I am positive this will…..Drumroll please……Netflix has aquired the screen rights to this book! SOOOO now you can not only binge the book, but the Movie too! YAAASSSSSS! The Boys’ Club will be published on August 4, 2020 and is available for pre-order here-

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Goodreads

Valentine

Written with the haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout and Barbara Kingsolver, an astonishing debut novel that explores the lingering effects of a brutal crime on the women of one small Texas oil town in the 1970s.

Mercy is hard in a place like this . . .

It’s February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.

In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field—an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, one of the town’s women decides to take matters into her own hands, setting the stage for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.

Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader’s heart, this fierce, unflinching, darkly funny, and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women’s strength and vulnerability, and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive.

This is probably one of the books I am MOST excited about. The town of Odessa, Texas is close to my heart, and it is always exciting to read a book that is set somewhere familiar. The oilfield can be a crazy, scary, exciting place! The premise of this story is heartbreaking and raw, and I am excited to meet yet again, another strong, smart female protagonist. Valentine will be published on April 7, 2020, and is available for pre-order here-

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Check out the author

Goodreads

Many thanks to Netgalley and Buzzbooks 2020 for sharing these wonderful books, and giving me the opportunity to preview them, and share them with all of you! Let me know if you read them, and what you think about them!

Happy reading, friends!