Book Nerds' Night Out: Hidden Pieces


As it is per tradition every month, we attended The Bookmark book club. Promoted by Epic Reads, each month a newly released Young Adult book is picked and we meet at the Bookmark located in San Patricio Plaza the last Wednesday of every month for a Skype session with the author to discuss the book. This month’s book was the recently released thriller titled Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes.

The plot follows Embry, a girl who carries many secrets that she has sworn to take to her grave. An accident happened at the Sea Cliff Inn, one that has her being hailed as a hero even though that’s not what she feels and when she really isn’t one. When she is confident that no one will find out the truth about that night, she receives an anonymous letter from someone that knows the truth. Next, a series of threatening messages appear, asking Embry to make impossible choices, forcing her to put those she loves at risk. Someone is blackmailing her, with the full intention of not allowing all of those she loves to come out alive.

Paula Stokes was really fun to chat with! There had been previous book clubs for her other books, so she was no stranger to The Bookmark crowd.

Stokes is incredible, kind, and she was so lovely. There are certain questions that are always asked every author, one of them being writing advice and the other being book recommendations. She recommended some adult thrillers and obscure reads. Some of these were Young Adult novels such as The Wicked Deep, The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan, and The Chaos of Now. 

For writing advice, she said that every writer should just write because they love it and not because of a job and that they need to start with cheesy stuff because every writer needs practice. She also strongly recommends outlining. She shared with us her process of plotting and writing Hidden Pieces, as well as how that idea took shape. What helped her the most was outlining, as she would have clear in her head from the start who would be the person blackmailing Embry, the rest being a matter of fleshing it out. That train of thought continued on after someone expressed their love for Embry’s Golden Retriever, Betsy. As a passionate lover of animals, Paula Stokes was completely against the killing off of animals in books to move the plot, and that she would not do that. She said, no tea, that good author wouldn't kill off animals to make the plot better.

At the end of the Q&A session, Paula took the time to say some kind words about Puerto Rico. She hopes, and how she hopes that we the young generation are able to move the island forward without the government stopping us. She says she hopes for the best for all of us.


As for her latest book, it was a very enjoyable and thrilling read. It was the typical “whodunnit” story, but I loved the fact that it took some twists and turns that were unexpected and kept you on the edge of your seat. It was super fun and it is definitely worth the read. She was asked if she had some inspiration from the classic Lifetime movies, to which she replied that she didn’t because she hasn’t been able to see them, but she knows how ridiculous and exaggerated they are. It’s worth clarifying that her book is not as all over the place like a Lifetime movie. These movies make you question the color of the sky, while her book makes perfect sense in every aspect. I really enjoyed this book and what was even more enjoyable was seeing the people’s reactions to the twist. It was just hilarious to see everyone lose their minds. Paula especially loved the fact that we all had enjoyed it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to read a fast-paced thriller with a satisfying conclusion.

- Gabriela


Hidden Pieces is the fourth book I read by Paula Stokes, and as in her other books, this one is full of enjoyable details. Be it from the small town along the west coast of Oregon to the characters themselves. Her writing is easy-going and meaningful, making it a quick page turner, here even more with the constant twists and stakes. Paula’s signature required animal is present, giving us a bit of sunlight among the chaos between Embry’s secret and the mystery person behind the blackmail. There is also a bit of romance sprinkled here and there, particularly towards the end to sweeten it up a bit. While in bad moments, some good may happen. Chatting with her last Wednesday is always fun and insightful, be it from her experience writing a particular genre or whatever she likes as inspiration. We had a bittersweet goodbye as this would be (for now, hopefully!) the last book club as next year there are no book releases (thus far, people, thus far...). Paula also acknowledged and admired us after the struggles of Hurricane Maria, and said she believes in us being able to rebuild without the government making it harder for us (cue hearty laughs from everyone). As always, a great pleasure to read her stories and share some time as fellow bookworms. 


I always love going to the Bookmarks Book Club. It's a great destresser, and talking to authors about their writing goals, how they got there, and their writing processes, always make me feel better when I have a writing bump. Paula Stokes was super nice. She sent us autographed bookmarks, and a trio of books to be raffled. Her book is hella interesting, and you should give it a read!

- Luna


Come to the next Bookmark Epic Reads Book club! It's set for October 24. The book is Sawkill Girls. Hope to see you there!


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