February Weekly Kindle Haul #1

Happy Sunday everyone! I have a pretty short (for me) haul this week. I know I say this a lot but there is a good mix of genres today but perhaps more non fiction heavy than usual.

A jaw-dropping insider look into the world of the so-called “Hollywood Sex Cult” NXIVM chronicling the rise of enigmatic cult leader, Keith Raniere, from its “Patient Zero,” his former girlfriend and test subject for his coercive control techniques.
Many have heard of NXIVM and its creator, Keith Raniere, the unassuming Albany man now prosecuted for ensnaring tens of thousands of people in the US, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere, to do his bidding and pay millions of dollars to participate in his self-improvement methodology. But where did Keith Raniere begin? 

Enter Toni Natalie, Keith’s Patient Zero, the first one indoctrinated into Raniere’s methodology and the first one to escape. THE PROGRAM begins with the origin story of NXIVM, follows its rise to international prominence, and takes the reader into the downfall of Raniere through Toni’s eyes. During this time she bore witness to the evolution of his methodology, including his use of sex, blackmail, and employment of psychological tools such as neuro-linguistic programming to control and punish those who would not heed his wishes. She uniquely details the fortunes lost and the lives left in disarray that she witnessed contemporaneously, including members of DOS, a group of women coerced into sexual acts under the guise of a “women’s empowerment” inner circle, whom Raniere exercised extreme control over directly and through his lieutenants.

But far from being a victim’s story, in the spirit of Erin Brockovich, Toni’s is a nuanced narrative of a multi-dimensional woman saving herself, and then working tirelessly to help other women do the same for themselves. Today, Toni is happy, reunited with her son, and surrounded by friends and family–it is this perspective that makes her such a unique storyteller.

If Shirley Jackson wrote The Shining, it might look like this deliciously unsettling horror novel from the acclaimed author of Baby Teeth.

A mother must protect her family from the unnatural forces threatening their new and improved life in a rural farmhouse.

The Bennett family – artist parents and two precocious children – are leaving their familiar urban surroundings for a new home in far upstate New York. They’re an hour from the nearest city, a mile from the nearest house, and everyone has their own room for the very first time. Shaw, the father, even gets his own painting studio, now that he and his wife Orla, a retired dancer, have agreed that it’s his turn to pursue his passion.

But none of the Bennetts expect what lies waiting in the lovely woods, where secrets run dark and deep. Orla must finally find a way to communicate with – not just resist – this unknown entity that is coming to her family, calling to them from the land, in the earth, beneath the trees… and in their minds.

A Jolly & Delightful Cozy Mystery

Christmas cheer has sent the griddle into overdrive at Robbie Jordan’s popular country store and café. And this year, there’s a new seasonal special to feast on: murder!

As December sweeps through South Lick, Indiana, Robbie’s life seems merry and bright like the string lights glistening around town. But strange happenings signal a bumpy ride into the holidays. First a man raises eyebrows at Pans ‘N Pancakes when he claiming to be the long-lost half-brother of Robbie’s assistant. Then a fire destroys the home of a controversial anesthesiologist, exposing skeletal remains in his attic. Helplessly intrigued, all Robbie wants for Christmas is to stop her winter wonderland from becoming a real nightmare. With a decades-old mystery taking shape, can she run as fast as she can in pursuit of a killer who’s harder to crack than a stale gingerbread man?

Includes Recipes for You to Try!

Some memories are too painful to forget…
American History lecturer Paul Mahan was looking for a little peace and quiet. A place to recover from his personal demons, and pursue his academic career. But when he moves into the newly refurbished Rookwood Apartments, he soon finds himself trapped in a living nightmare. 

A series of terrifying events forces Paul to question his sanity. Strange messages scrib-ble themselves across the walls. His beautiful neighbor seems to vanish without a trace. And a deadly accident tears away the veil from Rookwood’s dark past. 

As these violent incidents escalate, residents call in a paranormal expert, hoping to end the strange accidents once and for all. But only Paul understands the chilling truth. The pain and torture of Rookwood’s blood-soaked past can no longer be contained… 

And a terror beyond anything they have ever experienced is about to be unleashed.

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.

Olga Tokarczuk is a Nobel Laureate. 

I lost my job and got kicked out by my roommate, who happens to be my ex-husband, on the same day.

If I nail one interview, I can get my life back on track. I even get to fly on a private jet with my prospective boss’s dad Gentry King, a widowed oil company CEO. We’ll make one stop and once Mr. King’s business is done, we’ll continue on to Denver where I’ll hopefully land a high paying job that’ll keep me from moving back in with my parents. I’m not even thirty, I can’t go backwards in life.

Mr. King is unbelievably attractive and intimidating, but it’s a short flight and I never have to see him again after it’s done. Only we don’t make it to Denver. A snow storm strands us in Wyoming where the only hotel room available has one bed. Unlike me, Mr. King remains undaunted and continues to work remotely at the desk in the room, otherwise ignoring my existence. Until the power goes out and there’s nothing for us to do but get to know each other.

Between our age difference, his adult kids, and his former mother-in-law who’s still in control of the company, what happens in Wyoming might have to stay in Wyoming.

Belle Evans just won a cruise and it couldn’t come at better time. Between her wrecked marketing career and finding out her fiancé was cheating on her, all she wants is an escape from life. The last thing she wants is a relationship—until she meets Tristan.

Billionaire Tristan Stone is sick of being used. When he inherits his grandmother’s cruise line, it seems like the perfect opportunity to take a vacation and be a regular guy for a while. Then he meets Belle. She’s cute and funny with a heart of gold.

When Belle’s ex-fiancé and his new girlfriend show up on the same cruise, she’ll do anything to keep from looking pathetic, including pretending to date Tristan. It doesn’t take long before the lines blur between pretending and reality.

In the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New Englandschool she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

In the smoke-wreathed gloom of a Parisian salon, Inspector Bencolin has summoned his allies to discuss a peculiar case. A would-be murderer, imprisoned for his attempt to kill his wife, has escaped and is known to have visited a plastic surgeon. The fugitive’s whereabouts are uncertain, though with his former wife poised to marry again, Bencolin predicts his return. 
Sure enough, the Inspector’s worst suspicions are realised when the beheaded body of the new suitor is discovered in a locked room of the salon, from which it appears nobody could have escaped unseen. The challenge set, Bencolin sets off into the Parisian night to unravel the dumbfounding mystery and track down the sadistic killer. 
This new edition of Carr’s first mystery novel also includes the rare Inspector Bencolin short story ‘The Shadow of the Goat’.

A searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors

Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job, Tambudzai finds herself living in a run-down youth hostel in downtown Harare. For reasons that include her grim financial prospects and her age, she moves to a widow’s boarding house and eventually finds work as a biology teacher. But at every turn in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality ultimately drives her to a breaking point.

In This Mournable Body, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. As a last resort, Tambudzai takes an ecotourism job that forces her to return to her parents’ impoverished homestead. It is this homecoming, in Dangarembga’s tense and psychologically charged novel, that culminates in an act of betrayal, revealing just how toxic the combination of colonialism and capitalism can be. 

New jobs can be murder…

At least, that’s what it seems like to Emma Harmon of Cape Hope. She’s got a new job blogging about food and she’s super-thrilled to be traveling to a new resort to sample the fare and meet local celebrities. One of who is First-Kiss-Robbie. The first boy to kiss her, he’s a famous chef now.

She finds out her photographer is a hot guy with a major chip on his shoulder. More like an iceberg, considering the way Deke treats her.

She’s not so thrilled when she discovers a body in the sand dunes. One with a knife sticking out of him. A chef knife. Robbie’s chef knife.

She’s even less thrilled when she makes the mistake of handling the knife.

Now, she’s under suspicion and Detective McHottie’s got his eye on her–and not in a good way.

Can she find the real killer before she becomes his target?

An eloquent, restless, and enlightening memoir by one of the most thought-provoking journalists today about growing up Black and queer in America, reuniting with the past, and coming of age their own way.

One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them.

Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms. It looks back in tenderness as well as justified rage, forces us to address where we are now, and, born out of hope, illuminates the possibilities for the future. 

The award-winning author of The Parable of the Sower explores the paradoxes of power and inequality in this highly imaginative collection of parables for the contemporary world. “Bloodchild, ” the title piece, has received both Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Hunter Caldwell has never encountered a challenge he can’t conquer. He’s built an impressive real estate business in New York, succeeding against all odds. He shatters every obstacle in his way…until now. 
He only has one option: asking for help the one woman who is off-limits…his best friend. 

It all starts as pretend… 
The first kiss is unplanned, but Josie surrenders to him instantly, driving him crazy. The second one is in front of his tight-knit family. They have to be convincing, but he’s not pretending at all. Her taste is addictive, the scent of her skin is intoxicating. 
On their first night together, he barely stops his fingers from pushing down the straps of her dress…
Their second night is sexy as hell, intense and unforgettable. 
How can he stop the lines from blurring when all that really matters now is Josie?

The epic new novel from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author of 1Q84.

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a strange painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors.

A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art – as well as a loving homage to The Great Gatsby – Killing Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers.

When Bree Prescott arrives in the sleepy, lakeside town of Pelion, Maine, she hopes against hope that this is the place where she will finally find the peace she so desperately seeks. On her first day there, her life collides with Archer Hale, an isolated man who holds a secret agony of his own. A man no one else sees.

Archer’s Voice is the story of a woman chained to the memory of one horrifying night and the man whose love is the key to her freedom. It is the story of a silent man who lives with an excruciating wound and the woman who helps him find his voice. It is the story of suffering, fate, and the transformative power of love.

“Ada” means first daughter, means oldest girl, means pressure. “Ada” means you are expected to do a lot of things because the honor of this family rests on your back.

When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.

Every Body Looking is a luminous and inspiring novel in verse about bearing the weight of others’ expectations and finding the courage to shape a life of one’s own.

From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New Yorkmagazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.”

He’s here to score and he always wins. 

Heath Dawson: football star, gorgeous man candy, and panty-dropper extraordinaire. He was also Camille Pollert’s first crush. But then he humiliated her at a high school football game, and while she got her revenge, she also closed off her heart. 

Ten years later, Camille is a football photographer and single mother, and her old crush returns with a vengeance when she sees Heath again. He’s just as handsome, but now he’s a man. A man she can no longer resist. 

Heath hardly recognizes the skinny girl he knew in high school, but he can’t deny the attraction he feels for the curvaceous and beautiful woman Camille has become. He wants her, and he always gets what he wants. 

Just as the two of them start to realize they might be perfect for one another, reality rears its ugly head. Can Heath and Camille score a touchdown for their love? Or will they fumble the play and be parted once again?

Buried secrets never stay hidden in the South. 

Kallie 
I fell in love with him when I was seven. I scraped my knee, and he helped carry me inside. 
Our love story was the talk of the town until a woman told everyone she was pregnant with his baby. The only rational solution was to high tail it out of town and never come back. 

My best friend needed a place to hide, and you can’t get much more covert than my family farm, so I came back. For her. It was supposed to be temporary, and I wasn’t supposed to see him, but that’s what happens when you live in a small town where everyone knows each other. 

Jacob 
Being the sheriff in a small town was never my dream. My father died and my older brother took off, so I had to be the one to look after my mother. I stayed. I fulfilled my duties as a son and I protected my hometown. 

My life wasn’t perfect, but I was content. Until I locked eyes with a ghost from my past, Kallie. I thought it was my imagination, it couldn’t be. I loved her most of my life, but now I hated her. 

The town gossip mill was going into overdrive. I kept my head down and my mind off of the woman who shattered my heart when she ran away. She didn’t give me a chance to explain, it didn’t matter to her then. I didn’t matter. 

A second chance is never promised, but now that mine is right under my nose, I’m not sure I can take it. 

A billionaire who wants a perfect wife…

At thirty-five, Marcus Carelli has it all: wealth, power, and the kind of looks that leave women breathless. A self-made billionaire, he heads one of the largest hedge funds on Wall Street and can take down major corporations with a single word. The only thing he’s missing? A wife who’d be as big of an achievement as the billions in his bank account. 

A cat lady who needs a date… 

Twenty-six-year-old bookstore clerk Emma Walsh has it on good authority that she’s a cat lady. She doesn’t necessarily agree with that assessment, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Raggedy clothes covered with cat hair? Check. Last professional haircut? Over a year ago. Oh, and three cats in a tiny Brooklyn studio? Yep, she’s got those. 

And yes, fine, she hasn’t had a date since… well, she can’t recall. But that part is fixable. Isn’t that what the dating sites are for? 

A case of mistaken identity… 

One high-end matchmaker, one dating app, one mix-up that changes everything… Opposites may attract, but can this last?

This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).

In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history.

But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP)

That Bird Has My Wings is the astounding memoir of death row inmate Jarvis Masters and a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit and the talent of a fine writer. Offering scenes from his life that are at times poignant, revelatory, frightening, soul-stirring, painful, funny, and uplifting, That Bird Has My Wings tells the story of the author’s childhood with parents addicted to heroin, an abusive foster family, a life of crime and imprisonment, and the eventual embracing of Buddhism.

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner. 

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

He was my obsession. Haunting my dreams, reminding me of my past. 

He was the one whose heart I destroyed. 

Pierce Lykaios was everything I could want: captivating, cunning, and controlled. He understood my darkest desires and took pleasure in feeding my every craving. 

And when I walked back into his world, it was my fault for letting the first touch lead to a second. And a third. I shouldn’t have let him reawaken my need. 

Now I’m caught in his grasp with no hope of escape, unable to forget, unable to stop. 

He says this time I won’t leave him. I won’t forget him. And I’m afraid he’s right.

Maggie Jennings didn’t think she’d ever see Dylan McCormick again. When she was eighteen, he took everything she had to give—her heart, her love, and her virginity—and then broke her heart when he left for college. But now he’s back in her life, playing for the Dallas Longhorns, where Maggie works as the team’s media director. Watching him on the field is the most exquisite torture—he’s a muscled, talented athlete who looks amazing in a pair of baseball pants. Seeing him again makes her want all kinds of things she shouldn’t.

Dylan McCormick has it all. A pro baseball career, millions of dollars, and a life most only dream of. But everyone has regrets, including Dylan—and his is Maggie. One look at her, and he knows that he’ll do anything to get her back. He wants her. He needs her. He’s determined to atone for the past while showing her the man he’s become because he knows there’s no one else for him. But the past has a way of refusing to stay buried, and when secrets surface, their sizzling chemistry may not be enough to keep them together…

I never knew this was a Daphne du Maurier story!

“Anyone starting this book under the impression that he may sleepily relax is in for a shock…continually provokes both pity and terror.” —The Observer (UK) 

A classic of alienation and horror, The Birds was immortalised by Hitchcock in his celebrated film. The five other chilling stories in this collection echo a sense of dislocation and mock man’s dominance over the natural world. The mountain paradise of ‘Monte Verità’ promises immortality, but at a terrible price; a neglected wife haunts her husband in the form of an apple tree; a professional photographer steps out from behind the camera and into his subject’s life; a date with a cinema usherette leads to a walk in the cemetery; and a jealous father finds a remedy when three’s a crowd . . .

~Cassie

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