#FemaleAuthorFriday – Lisa Maxwell

Welcome to the Disappear Here Book Blog’s first ever #FemaleAuthorFriday. In an effort to post more than book reviews, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite female authors on the blog. 

I began this blog with a review of Lisa Maxwell’s The Last Magician, so it only feels right to begin this series with her as well. 

I first stumbled upon Lisa Maxwell in Barnes and Noble in Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. I enjoy reading all of the recommendation cards scattered around book stores and there was a book titled The Last Magician with a note highlighting that the author was local to the area. 

I’m not sure if the synopsis stood out to me at that moment, but supporting a local author – yes, please. 

Once I began the novel, a love story began (between myself and Lisa, of course). I read the first novel in the series, eagerly picked up the second novel The Devil’s Thief (my review here), and now the third novel The Serpent’s Curse is next on my TBR. 

Side note, Lisa Maxwell also likes and comments on things I tag her in on Instagram. I know that may seem like a silly thing to some, but it makes me so happy I can barely contain myself when it happens. 

I won’t rehash her whole bio, you can read it here on her website, but one more cool fact is that she lived in Birmingham, AL, for a while – which is where I am now. Almost like we switched places. Maybe some of her motivation to start that first novel will rub off on me while I’m here for the next few years.

I’ve included the synopsis of her novels below, but if you like magic, badass female protagonists, a good love story that isn’t the central focus of the plot but OH SO perfect, and a fun adventure around the U.S. – The Last Magician series is for you. (Full disclaimer, I have not read her novel Unhooked.)


For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.

But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged into a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…

Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.

Caught in the ultimate battle between good and evil, with time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?

The Last Magician

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Devil’s Thief

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

The Serpent’s Curse

Esta isn’t a stranger to high-stakes heists. She’s a seasoned thief who has no reservations about using her affinity for time to give her an edge, and she’s trained her whole life for one mission: travel back to 1902 New York, steal the ancient Book of Mysteries, and use its power to destroy the Brink and free the Mageus from the Order’s control.

But the Book held a danger that no one anticipated—Seshat, an angry goddess was trapped within its pages. Now that terrible power lives within Harte, and if given the chance, Seshat will use Esta to destroy the world and take her revenge.

Only Esta and Harte stand in her way.

Yet in their search to recover the elemental stones needed to bind Seshat’s power, Esta and Harte have found themselves stranded in time with a continent between them. As Esta fights to get back to Harte, the Order is no longer the only obstacle standing in her way.

Saving Harte—and magic itself—will put even Esta’s skills to the test. And all the while, another danger grows, one more terrible than both Seshat and the Order combined…

Book Review – Home Body by Rupi Kaur

Genre: Poetry

Rating: 5 / 5

I’ve been a fan of Rupi Kaur for years. I was first introduced to her when my husband and I decided to read her debut book Milk and Honey together. We sat in bed for two nights in a row reading poetry aloud. Reading Rupi Kaur’s poetry is an intense experience when you do it alone, and it’s even more powerful when you share the moment with another person.

For me, it was like someone finally was able to verbalize things I have been through. For my husband, he said it was moving to hear a woman’s perspective, especially one with such writing talent as Rupi Kaur. 

One poem in the book Milk and Honey inspired the tattoo I have on my left arm. While not a direct replica of the art in the book, it was the foundation of the final product. 

I read Home Body in an airport/on an airplane, so the experience was a bit different than my reading of Milk and Honey. But the power and raw emotion behind Rupi Kaur’s words were not dimmed. I read through the book in about an hour and spent the next hour flipping through and re-reading poems that really struck me. 

At one point I found myself holding back tears. 

If you are a woman, man, young, or old – you need to read everything Rupi Kaur has ever written. She will find a way into your soul. 

Instead of a standard review, I am going to share a few of my favorites from Home Body and hope you take the time to go read the entire book. 

The poem above covers one of the lighter topics in the book, but it really struck a chord with me. Throughout high school and college I had such a solid group of friends (and still do). We did everything together. It was rare for me to go a day without seeing my best friend. 

Now, here I am, with my overly demanding job, a wife, almost a mother of two, living hundreds of miles from the people I have selected as family. It’s hard. 

I’m good at being alone, and my husband and I are such a strong team. But I often find myself missing my best friends. The laughter, love, and fun we always had – whether we were at the grocery store, sitting at home, or out with a large group of friends – we always had a smile on our faces.

They know who they are – I love you. 

The other day I was staring at myself in the mirror, and all of the sudden I started to cry and laugh. The woman I was looking at, she amazed me. I thought she was beautiful and strong. 

As I continue the journey into my thirties, there is so much focus on “looking young.” My friends are visiting the doctor for botox or plastic surgery. We are all fighting to hold onto our youth. 

But here I was (no botox – no plastic surgery), looking at this woman with a swollen, pregnant belly, arms her younger self would have fainted over (because they aren’t perfect), and laugh lines all around my eyes. It was a magical feeling – falling in love with myself.

My body has done so much for me. It has carried me through trauma, given me one (almost two) perfect children, shown me pleasure, and fought through pain. What kind of person would I be if I didn’t love this body with every part of my heart and soul? 

This poem, along with a few others in the book, brought me back to that moment. It was a sacred experience I hope I never forget. 

These are just two poems selected out of one of the most powerful books I have ever consumed. Please pick up a copy and experience it for yourself whenever you have the chance.

My Favorite Pick-up Lines

Recently, while scrolling Bookstagram, I came across this question – “How do you typically decide which book you are going to buy next?” Whether the cover catches my eye or the bookstore has recommendations worked into the book display – I always open to the first page and read. 

I want to get a sense of the author’s writing style and the narrator’s voice. If I were more in favor of making informed decisions, I might read the whole first chapter, but in all honesty I read the first few lines and that’s where I make my decision. Think of it as the author’s chance to “pick me up” using their best one-liner. 

Sometimes this steers me wrong, but rarely. 

Below I’ve listed my favorite opening lines of novels. I recommend each of these six books as a “must read” because the excitement doesn’t stop at the first line. Enjoy!

“The first sentence of a novel is the most important, except maybe the last, which can stay with you after you’ve shut the book, the way the echoing of a closing door follows you down the hall.”

The Serialist by David Gordon

“Fuck you,”

Savages by Don Winslow

“Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him.”

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

“For eight years I dreamed of fire.”

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

“If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.”

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Do you have a favorite opening line of a novel I didn’t list above? Let me know in the comments!

The Foundation

A good friend of mine made a recommendation that a good way to start this blog would be to let you know what my favorite novels are – a way to share what has inspired me the most.

The books below shaped my viewpoints of the world, myself, and everyone around me and provided such beautiful storytelling that I’ve been unable to forget. There is no clear algorithm for what type of book will resonate with me. Sometimes it’s the gorgeous prose, other times it’s just a unique and interesting story, and often it’s that I’ve fallen deeply in love with a character and cannot let go or move on.

I urge you to come at this with an open mind. Some are controversial novels, so take them for what they are. I will also warn that some have violent, graphic, and disturbing content, so please read through the description before buying. 

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Seems appropriate to begin this list with the book that inspired the name of my blog – Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. I read this book in college (and all of the Bret Easton Ellis books) at the recommendation of a friend. That friend will always hold a special place in my heart for introducing me to my favorite author. This book imprinted on my soul and the Ciera who finished the book (in about a day) was not the same girl who first opened the cover – mainly centered around my now steadfast principle of wearing nothing but Wayfarers. 

I followed the main character, Clay, through what can only be described as one hell of a journey you would never expect and can absolutely predict. I couldn’t help but embrace the world of juvenile drugs, parties, and unfulfilling personal connection. As Clay moved through his visit back home to California, I felt his sadness, loneliness, and despair as he realized nothing around him would stay the same. You will walk away from this novel with a different viewpoint of the world around you.

Over the years, this book has remained at the top of my “favorites” list and it’s not going anywhere. The phrases “people are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles” and “Disappear Here” will have entirely new meanings once you’ve made it through this novel. 

Buy Less Than Zero here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

You will not find another book or story like The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Situated during the time of Hilter’s rise in Europe, this book dives into the life of two boys who change the (fictional) world. This story had me laughing, crying, and falling in love from beginning to end, and really is a no brainer for my Foundations list. It’s a bit longer than most on this list, but it won’t feel that way when you’re reading. You will be begging for more once you’ve read the last page. (Luckily, there’s enough Chabon titles out there to go around.) 

Buy The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

You may struggle at the beginning to keep up with the unique style of writing in A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. But, by the end, you will feel a mix of love and hate toward the main character, Alex, and find yourself easily moving through the pages. The flow of the ideas throughout this novel will lead you to question the institutions imposed on us, especially the institutions meant to tame the “criminals” among us. You will be itching for a trip to the milk bar and adorning a bowler hat by the time you turn the last page. 

Every time I read this one I learn something new, experience something unique. It’s worth every moment I’ve spent absorbed in the words of this novel (and the movie is pretty spectacular, as well). 

Buy A Clockwork Orange here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (AKA Being Flynn) by Nick Flynn

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City // Being Flynn by Nick Flynn is another book that left a lasting mark in my life. Having also grown up without my biological father present, I relate on a personal level to the author’s struggle to reconnect with his father. This is the only non-fiction novel on the list, and that’s likely why. The desire to rekindle a lost connection is something I can empathize with and have danced with the idea myself. A child’s desire (no matter how old they are) to be loved by their mother and father will never completely fade. We all do, hopefully, reach the age where understanding the reality will overshadow the childish need for connection, but it’s still a very real feeling we all struggle with in some form or another. This experience is displayed perfectly in Nick Flynn’s biography. 

I’m not sure if this novel will impact others in such an intimate way, but regardless it’s a gorgeous story of second chances. 

Buy Being Flynn here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

At this point I’m probably really racking up on the “banned books” theme, and I won’t stop here. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov effected me in a different way. For full disclosure, this is a story, at the heart, about child molestation, but as you read through you see that it is so much more. At times, it can be difficult to stomach what the flowery language is describing, but the cadence is captivating. I often find myself reading passages from Lolita out loud to really hear how the words sound. Like most of the books on this list, I read this while in college. I’m beginning to think I did most of my impactful reading while walking the halls of UNC Charlotte. 

Definitely one of the more (but definitely not most) controversial books on this list, the writing is beautiful, the story is heart wrenching. A good follow-on read is The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman. It provides a historical and in-depth look into the creation of the novel. If you enjoy Lolita, you’ll find this one interesting, as well. 

Buy Lolita here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk

I’m going to be completely honest with you, after reading two or three times I’m still not sure I completely understand Rant. Chuck Palahniuk builds a completely overwhelming and insane story that is somehow also logical and systematic, the writing like silk flowing from one outrageous scene to the next. The switching of narrators does get confusing at the beginning, but as you learn each person’s tone and voice it starts to flow easier. 

This book is on the list, not because of any emotional connection, but because what Palahniuk accomplishes in creating this one-of-a-kind world and story is something I think every reader should experience. I will also make a plug for all Palahniuk novels – I have yet to read one I didn’t enjoy. 

Buy Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

I know, I know, (Bret Easton Ellis again). This book is vile and terrible and how could I POSSIBLY have it on my list of favorite novels!?! My answer – only Bret Easton Ellis could write a story like American Psycho in such a confusingly engaging way. This story is horror literature at it’s finest, and I’m not even sure if that is how Ellis would categorize it. I could not sleep after reading this novel, and I still only revisit if the sky outside is bright and sunny. Written as a satire against male-ego driven society, it points out very real and terrifying possibilities.

I will say the largest change I saw in my life after reading this one is being more aware of how 95 percent of the time, the person you are talking to is not listening. Patrick Bateman and his colleagues personify what a sociopath and/or psychopath really looks like. And they remind you … they are among us. The scariest people are likely the ones who seem perfectly normal and successful.  

The underlying story here, the satire and humor (although very dark) is all consuming. The few times I’ve read this one, it’s been a cover to cover event. Full disclosure – there are two specific chapters I now skip every time I read because they haunt my nightmares – no, I will not tell you which ones. I have experienced them once and that is plenty for a lifetime. I will say, that is a testament to Ellis’s writing and how real his stories feel. 

Because of this novel, and Less Than Zero, I will read everything written and published by Ellis, no questions asked. 

Buy American Psycho here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

P.S. – If you are a fan of Bret Easton Ellis and want to hear more about the “making of” his novels and life, read his most recent book White

The House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristen Cast

There are 12 books in the House of Night Series by P.C. and Kristin Cast – the first being Marked. These are the epitome of young adult fantasy literature. If you love teenage drama, mixed with vampires and the end of the world – this series is absolutely for you. 

I’m currently reading the whole series for the second time. It’s a different experience as a 30-year-old woman than it was as a high school teenager, but it’s still a fun read. It’s also easy flowing and nice to read if you don’t have a lot of time or brain power (shoutout to my fellow parents). This series also provides a unique take on the vampire myth, which I always find entertaining. 

Buy the first book in the series, Marked, here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Probably one of the most “classic” on the list, I first read The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury on recommendation of Georgia Hardstark of the My Favorite Murder Podcast. It did not disappoint. Unfortunately, there are a lot of parallels in today’s world with this science fiction masterpiece, which definitely impacted my perspective a good bit. There is no humor here, only destruction and heartbreak, but it’s gorgeous. This novel – or collection of interconnected stories – will change how you interact with the people and world around you. It will bring to light the terrible effect we have on this world, and likely in the future, other worlds as well. 

Buy the Martian Chronicles here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

No list of my favorites would be complete without The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. As you can imagine, reading this series as a kid changed my life. I had a safe place to hide in these books. I remember reading through each book in one sitting, waiting up until midnight on book release nights, and, of course, all of the midnight premieres of the movies. I often find myself wishing I could be the girl dressed in her best Gryffindor attire as she waits for the midnight reveal of Prisoners of Azkaban. That girl was happy and present and did not have a single care or stress in the world. That’s what these novels do for me. 

I know most of you have read these at this point, but if you haven’t it really is a journey worth taking. 

Spooky Szn Recommendations – True Crime Edition


All books discussed below contain stories and descriptions of murder, violence, sexual assault, among other disturbing material. Please be kind to yourself and your experiences before deciding to dive into anything listed below. 

All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, and while I’m not a reader of horror, I do have another … obsession … that may suffice. True Crime, in my opinion, is more effective than it’s fiction counterparts because no matter how surreal it seems, it’s all true. The monsters in these stories aren’t the creation of an author’s imagination. 

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to share two of the scariest novels I have ever delved into. These are just a fraction of all the great true crime books out there. Every true crime novel will break your heart and sear itself into your memory. The moment you begin to forget about the stories you’ve read, they will reappear, reminding you how vulnerable you really are.  

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This book will forever remain at the top of my list for true crime recommendations. The late Michelle McNamara didn’t just dedicate her life to learning more about the Golden State Killer or his victims. She gave a platform to his victims and shared their stories, whether they are still with us or not. In this novel she takes a truly horrific story and focuses on those hurt by Joseph DeAngelo. 

A lot of true crime novels, podcasts, and more focus on the perpetrator. I’ve read novels centered on the lives and acts of serial killers, focusing only on the victims in the lens of victim and rarely taking a deep look at their humanity. In this novel you absorb the impact, the heartbreak, and the lasting pain DeAngelo left in his wake. 

And not only did she do hero’s work in sharing these stories, her inquisitiveness and inability to leave this story untold ultimately led to the identification and arrest of the Golden State Killer. His last act was committed in 1986, and police had no leads. Following Michelle McNamara and Paul Holes, among others, non-stop focus, he was ultimately identified using familial DNA. Now the victims of his 13 murders, more than 50 rapes, and more than 150 burglaries can rest well knowing the monster that haunts their nightmares is no longer walking the streets. This brings a different element, or emotion, to the mix as you read this novel. My heart was constantly aching and crying out for justice, it helps reading this story and knowing it has been served.

This book will change your life and you will be amazed at the dedication Michelle McNamara and her team had when it came to tracking down a killer. 

Buy I’ll Be Gone in the Dark here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

At the heart of this story, the true horror is subtle. It’s one man’s ability to completely manipulate and control all of those around him. Written by the prosecutor who tried and ultimately convicted Charles Manson, this novel is a detailed account of every aspect of the trial and everything leading up to it. Often these true crime novels are filled with pain and suffering followed by no real closure, no resolution. Thanks to Vincent Bugliosi, we have solace in knowing that the man responsible for so much death is now behind bars. 

This book will put the Manson Murders in a new light and really bring a different perspective to the entire Manson Clan and the acts they committed. There is little speculation or “he said, she said.” The author was there, he lived it, he looked Charles Manson in the eye and had conversations with him. Take advantage of this opportunity to really see who was behind these murders. 

Other than the first-hand account, the thing that stands out to me is Charles Manson’s ability to control anyone and everyone around him. His hands were not bloody, but it was not because he wasn’t responsible. Throughout this novel you see how Manson slowly worked up to full and complete control of those in his cult, up to the point where they would commit brutal and horrific murder without a second thought. This element of the story is still something I have never been able to comprehend. 

But be warned – It took me weeks to read again after this one. It completely and fully rocked my existence to the point where I was able to think about little else for quite some time. 

Buy Helter Skelter here on Amazon (or at your local bookstore)!

Have any other true crime recommendations? Let me know in the comments or by sending a message via the Contact Page. I’m always looking for new book recommendations!