Friday, April 8, 2022

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: The Secrets that Kill Us by Phoenix Blackwood

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for The Secrets that Kill Us by Phoenix Blackwood. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as some great book recommendations from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: The Secrets that Kill Us
Author: Phoenix Blackwood
Publication Date: April 5th 2022
Print Length: 247 pages
Genre: LGBTQ+ Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
At sixteen, Liz had already trudged through hell and back. Having bounced from one foster home to another most of her life, she finally finds herself in a stable home. But stability poses its own challenges after a life of unsteady fooling, and Liz grapples to find a way to be still. Her past still plagues her in this new world. Everything feels wrong, she is at odds with her own body and mind, and struggling to survive.

Liz finds an unlikely friend in Alex, a girl who may not share Liz’s troubled past but strives to understand, even though it means becoming a pariah at school. With Alex’s help, Liz searches for the strength to confront her demons, and the two see each other through addictions, transitions, and the dangerous consequences of coping.

Unable to let herself trust and love, even in this new space with new support, Liz’s trauma begins to drag her under. Some secrets kill, and some truths fight to stay hidden. Unearthing them all will require Liz to trust others despite a lifetime of learning just how dangerous that is.

I still didn’t understand why she was being nice to me, but I felt a sharp pain in my stomach as it grumbled, begging for something to subsist on. Picking up one of the apple slices, I muttered, “Thanks,” as I bit into it. The gratitude was barely audible to myself over the chatter of the room.

She smiled at me again. “People are usually jerks to the new kids, especially halfway through the year. We can be friends if you want, I’ll at least try not to be a jerk.”

The end of her sentence had a slight sarcastic tone to it, but she seemed genuine enough. I was still looking for any ulterior motive she would have for talking to me. Something told me that she liked the project of winning over the gloomy outsider.

“Okay.” I conceded.

She held out a hand. “That means we look out for each other. I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine.”

Shaking her hand, I avoided eye contact. If only she knew how much trouble I’d be.
Born and raised in New England, Phoenix Blackwood has always been a creative – whether it’s painting or writing. From a very young age, Phoenix has envisioned and created characters, writing them into existence and exploring them through visual arts. Having graduated to first-time short story author, Phoenix is embarking on a journey towards novel writing as they finally bring characters they’ve known for years into the world. Phoenix is neurodiverse and intersex and hopes to bring more representation to both topics with their writing. They believe in creating relatable characters that people can find themselves in and empathize with.

- What are your top 5 books that you believe everyone should read and why?
1. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
This book takes a good look at what it’s like to be a trans teen in high school. The characters are endearing, and you really feel for Felix throughout the book. It tackles the struggle of not being completely sure in your identity, as well as how to navigate romantic feelings that you’re unsure of. This was one of the first books I read that made me feel truly seen, and it’s what sparked my interest in completing my own book as well as kick started my reading. Ever since I read this book I’ve been devouring queer lit one book at a time.

2. Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden
This is my favorite book. It’s an incredible story about a transgender woman who was born a prince reclaiming her throne. The MC is fierce and unapologetically herself throughout both this book and the sequel, Gifting Fire. She’s truly inspiring and has an incredible strength that made me so proud when I was reading. This was one of the most positive representations of trans women that I’ve ever seen. There’s a sense of found family, and the MC protects this family any way she can.

3. Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson
This is an amazing memoir that tackles both queerness and mental health struggles. It is raw, authentic, and relatable. I both laughed and cried with this book, and read the whole thing in two days (which is incredibly fast for me). The writing really draws you in and makes you not want to put the book down. You feel for Shaun because you were him, stumbling your way through life trying to find a place where you belonged. It’s a look at an imperfect life where everything, eventually, turned out for the better.

4. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
This is the only book I’ve read where the MC was fat and didn’t talk down about it. Her size is embraced, in a way that’ll make you feel good about your own curves. Heavier MCs are difficult to come by, and the representation is pretty scarce. This book also tackled a lot of issues, such as racism, sexism, and embracing femininity. Never once did it sound as if it were preaching. Everyone makes mistakes, but characters take it as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than getting defensive about being corrected. It’s an environment that I’d love to be in, and I learned a lot about myself reading this book. It’s a must-read for the simple fact that you’ll likely learn something as well.

5. Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland
This is an amazing story that approaches sex work in a non-judgemental way, and is one of the only books where I’ve found asexual representation. The MC is ace, and it’s approached in such a normalized way where I could really see myself in her. The writing is spectacular, not to mention a scene that beautifully explains gender and sexuality in simple and matter-of-fact terms. There’s no queer discrimination in this world, it’s a wonderful place to run away.
Phoenix Blackwood will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!

(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway, its entries, or the prize. Goddess Fish Promotions and the author assume all responsibility for this giveaway.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Looks like an interesting book.
    Thanks for the contest. 

  2. Sounds like a very good book.

  3. I enjoyed the excerpt. Definitely sounds like a good read

  4. this sounds like a very interesting book

  5. I like the excerpt and cover. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for the great excerpt. The book sounds interesting.

  7. This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  8. Do you listen to music when you write?

  9. I like everything about this book - genre title and cover!
    Thank you for sharing it.

  10. I liked the excerpt. Thank you for the giveaway!

  11. Where is your favorite place to write?

  12. What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?

  13. How do you decide on a title? Do you check to see if it is the same as another book?

  14. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?