2020 Book 316: WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING by Alyssa Cole

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
ISBN: 9780062982650 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062982667 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780063036048 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799941491 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B083WMCX8R  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082T33HC3    (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: September 1, 2020


Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear? 





Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound.org  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  | Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  | B&N Audiobook on CD  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  | !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook 


Take two unreliable narrators, add in a mess of racism, a touch of white privilege and white fragility along with a history of displacement caused by gentrification and you’ll get some idea of what’s taking place in When No one is Watching. A Brooklyn neighborhood is rapidly losing its sense of racial identity or at least the racial identity it had when Sydney Green grew up in the neighborhood. And many of her long-term neighbors are being displaced, some willingly and others not-so-willingly if rumors are to be believed. Adding insult to injury, the “community” bulletin board seems to have a hidden chat function indicating that not all is what it seems to be in the rapidly changing neighborhood. This story is presented in the alternating voices of both Sydney and Theo, so the reader gets to see things from both sides of the table (so to speak). Sydney is a divorced woman that has returned home from the West Coast after dealing with some intense issues, now has to deal with her mother’s declining health (actually, her mother may or may not be deceased…unreliable narrator folks!), a best friend/roommate that may or may not be “working” for the “enemy”, and above all preserving her childhood home. Theo thought his new girlfriend might be the “one” and was delighted to buy a home with her. The only problem is he is now relegated to living in basically the attic and his “girlfriend” doesn’t really want anything to do with him. Fortunately, Theo is enamored with the current history of his new neighborhood and is willing to work with Sydney to uncover what might be going on behind closed doors. Can Sydney rely upon Theo and his insights even if he seems to be one of the enemies? Just because Sydney, and even Theo, are paranoid does it mean that there aren’t people out to get them…or are there?

To say that When No One is Watching is a change of pace for Alyssa Cole is a major understatement. Not only does she change genres, but she does so in a huge way. I’ve been trying to figure out an apt way to describe this book and even after ruminating for a few weeks, I can’t come up with anything succinct. When I first began this book, I thought it was going to be an “us against them” read, and it is and it isn’t. This book does touch on a host of issues, including racial pride, identity, racism, white privilege, the effects of gentrification, the opioid epidemic, and more. Ms. Cole isn’t just looking at things as a Black vs. White world, but also the myriad shades of gray in between and how so many people get lost or forgotten when “others” are only interested in the bottom line. When No One is Watching deals with the battle of big business and its impact on communities, large and small, in the quest for more money and power. In many ways, Sydney and Theo are battling as David against Goliath in their attempts to help the old neighborhood and their older neighbors. There’s a lot going on in this story and I can’t really do justice to this book by attempting to describe it all. What I can do is say if you enjoy reading stories about realistic battles of good vs. evil, the little guy fighting against the big guy, then you’ll definitely want to read When No One is Watching. This story has a perfect blend of paranoia and dysfunction to be realistic without going overboard. There are plenty of twists as well as bad people and worse people. I’ve enjoyed reading everything that Ms. Cole has written in the past, but this book had me on the edge of my seat until the final page. Seriously, if you enjoy psychological thriller reads, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of When No One is Watching. For those of you that have enjoyed reading Ms. Cole’s romance books, step outside of your comfort zone and grab a copy of this book. Although I received a digital review copy of this book, I’ve already purchased an ebook version for my digital library. I’ll be buying a print copy of When No One is Watching to give to my 85-y.o. mother as she has enjoyed reading Ms. Cole’s historical fiction. (Okay, I’ll probably buy two print copies so I can have one as well.) I can’t want to see what Ms. Cole will write next!

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ and NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2017 Book 399: A HOPE DIVIDED by Alyssa Cole

A Hope Divided (The Loyal League #2) by Alyssa Cole
ISBN: 9781496707468 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781496707475 (ebook)
ASIN: B06XFJ6224 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 28, 2017 
Publisher: Kensington Books


The Civil War has turned neighbor against neighbor—but for one scientist spy and her philosopher soldier, war could bind them together . . . 

For three years of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother’s traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her—until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie’s home for their new base of operations in the guerrilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.

Unbeknownst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible.

When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie’s freedom on the line, she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love—and freedom—before they ever cross state lines. 


Add to Goodreads badge



Marlie Lynch was born as a free Black and raised by her mother, Vivienne, in eastern North Carolina for the first thirteen years of her life. Then things changed. A white woman, Sarah Lynch, came to their home, claimed Marlie as family and took her back to the Lynch’s ancestral home, Lynchwood. Marlie was viewed by many as a “witch woman” simply because she was born with heterochromia or two different colored eyes, one brown and the other hazel/green. But Sarah didn’t see this as anything abnormal and ensured Marlie received an education, was allowed to participate in Unionist activities (if so desired), as well as further her scientific exploration into herbalism and aromatherapy. Marlie began using the skills she learned from her mother as a natural healer and the scientific knowledge of herbalism to help neighbors, escaping slaves and Freemen, and even Union soldiers at a local prison. It is at the local prison that Marlie is able to utilize another skill as a member of the Loyal League by receiving and sending coded messages from prisoners and others. One of the prisoners that she’s built up quite a rapport with is a man she refers to as Socrates or Ewan McCall. Prison life is harsh but endurable until the Confederate Home Guard takes over and the leader of the Home Guard becomes a frequent visitor then a permanent guest at Marlie’s home. Then Marlie is treated with disdain and even threatened with enslavement (not just slavery but sold into prostitution). Her only option is to find refuge in her quarters. That refuge becomes all the more important when there’s a prison break, Ewan is one of the few prisoners to get away, and he’s hidden away in a secret space in Marlie’s quarters. Then Ewan and Marlie stumble upon a secret that almost destroys Marlie. Can these two formidable former philosophical sparring partners become friends fighting a battle against a common enemy? Is it possible for Marlie’s family to stand up to the Home Guard and protect her or will she need to run away? Can Ewan keep his promise and protect Marlie at all cost?

A Hope Divided is the second story in the Loyal League series by Alyssa Cole and takes place during the Civil War era. Once again, the story features a strong, educated, and independent-minded female and a strong, cocky, male. It was a fast-paced and emotionally engaging read. What makes these stories such a nice change of pace for me is that the women are often the ones to the rescue although they are periodically in need of rescuing as well. Yes, there’s romance, it is an HEA, but there’s also history, a strong sense of the turmoil of the time, drama, and more. I enjoy the way Ms. Cole blends the history of the time with the storyline, the Resistors, the Unionists, the inherent dangers of those involved in the Loyal League, and the way the Confederate Home Guard had little regard for its treatment of women or children, much less men be they Confederates or not. All is not happy and light in A Hope Divided even though it does end with a Happy-Ever-After. If you read An Extraordinary Union then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of A Hope Divided to read. For those of you that enjoy historical romance, especially Black historical romance, if you haven’t read An Extraordinary Union, then go grab a copy, read it, then get a copy of A Hope Divided to read. I’m hoping there will be more historical romance from Ms. Cole in the future, especially in the Loyal League series as I’m hooked.


Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Buy the Book


Available at           BookDepository     |     Alibris
icon


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org



   



   



A Hope Divided

A Hope Divided
  

icon

icon