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Monday, April 23, 2018

REVIEW: When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger @lweisberger @simonschuster @simonbooks

When Life Gives You Lululemons
by Lauren Weisberger

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for this very funny and engaging read!
After reading The Singles Game last year, I was very excited to get my hands on this copy!


Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publish Date:  June 5, 2018
Hardcover
352 pages
Standalone
Genres:  Chick Lit, Womens Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:


New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.


Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.



Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.



Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.



Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career. 



Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.


My Review:




Sometimes you need the perfect, lighthearted and hilarious read to cleanse that thriller palate and this book does the job!  I haven't read The Devil Wears Prada but I have seen the movie and it's one of my favorites.  I DID read Weisberger's The Singles Game back in 2016 and absolutely loved it (see my 5 star review HERE) so was THRILLED when this copy came in the mail for me!


This book brings in Emily, Miranda Priestley's ex-assistant, as an image consultant to the stars who is losing popularity to a younger version who is more in tune with today's social media which makes her start to question herself.  Then there's Miriam, who has moved to the suburbs with her husband and kids, quitting her job and feeling predictably underwhelmed in all aspects.  She's the link between Emily and Karolina - a former supermodel who gets busted for a DUI while driving her step-son and his friends in her own neighborhood.  This somersaults into political and social devastation and now she must count on her friends to help her through this horrible situation.

What I absolutely love about this story is the coming together of these three very different women as they bond and figure their lives out.  At any age, and in any station, you never stop growing, things never stop changing and insecurities regarding infidelity, career moves, body image and self worth come to a head in this roller coaster we call life.  And who better to take these crazy rides, other than two amazing women who you can consider your best friends? 

This makes me think of my two best friends from college.  Twenty years plus and we are all radically different from each other and yet through it all, we have been there for each other through thick and thin and that bond is a sisterhood only others who have the same relationships can understand.  I was just discussing with someone earlier about how at a younger age you think that once you hit your 40s (or even sooner sometimes), you think the drama and bad decision making will just disappear and you'll fall into the routine you're meant to be set in at that age.  I'm living proof that is NOT true. 🤣  Really not a whole lot changes and this book just goes to show that even in these "richer" lives, that there are still drama to be had and that nothing is ever as it seems at face value.

Delightfully funny and with the best chapter headings I've seen in a LONG time, I highly recommend this if you're in the need for something hilarious and entertaining.  This is pure fun, somehow incredibly relatable and extremely quotable.  

★★★★★


SPOTLIGHT: White Night by J.J. Holt @JJ_HoltAuthor

White Night 
by J.J. Holt

Spotlighting this new hot detective series from J.J. Holt!
Continue below for a synopsis, about the author and book trailer!



Publisher:  New Take Publishing
Publish Date:  January 21, 2018
Paperback
348 Pages
Series: Detective Connors (Volume 1)
Genres:  Police Procedural, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense


With reviews like “Long story short. Read this book…”, “Best detective novel I’ve read in a long time!” and “If only they were all this good…” Lovers of crime fiction and mystery – J.J. Holt’s White Night is for you.

---------------------
Her last case nearly killed her.

After a year fighting her way back from life-threatening injuries, Homicide Detective Jen Connors is finally reinstated, but tough questions still surround her actions that night.

Now, partnered with the controversial Detective Alan Ross—a move she suspects is designed to end her career—she faces a homicide case that quickly spirals into a horrifying twist of death, terror and survival as the mysterious “White Night” event threatens more than just their lives.

But there’s more to Alan Ross than the department rumors suggest. He could just be the best partner she’s ever had, or her last.

Together, they are the city’s strongest chance at preventing White Night’s destruction and stopping a killer who uses every resource, including the NYPD themselves, to carry out his plan for redemption...

Purchase on AMAZON



Review from OnlineBookClub.org

White Night by J.J. Holt follows Detective Jen Connors after she is reinstated to the NYPD following a devastating accident on her last case. With her career in jeopardy and her fitness for duty in question, she's less than thrilled about her new partner, an uncooperative transfer who is damaged in his own right. Their first case together involves solving a murder mystery with almost no viable initial leads, and Connors must ultimately stop a plot orchestrated by a mob member that could lead to many casualties.


Many crime thriller books fall into predictable patterns. White Night bucks this trend completely, with uncooperative witnesses, personal flaws that greatly hinder the protagonists, and a variety of unknown quantities that lend a great deal of suspense to the narrative. Holt doesn't shy away from throwing any variety of catastrophes at her characters, so even the result of the book's climactic operation seems like it could go either way. These elements never feel shoehorned in or disorganized, though, and the ending is still quite satisfying.

Another striking narrative element was the sheer amount of character in the book's world. Rather than focusing on only a few main characters to develop, Connors' enemies, co-workers, and even people she knows personally are incredibly distinct. This also leads the reader to sympathize, at least a little bit, with several of the antagonists. It's a bit hard to quantify, but every single character in this book, regardless of the impact of their role, feels like a real person.

White Night is very character-driven, and while it takes place in New York City, I felt that the story could be transposed to practically any urban setting with very little difference. This isn't necessarily a flaw, merely a stylistic choice that follows in the footsteps of most police procedurals. There is also no romance between Connors and Ross. I found this refreshing, as it would undermine Connors' struggle to become independent after her injury, but readers who demand romantic relationships in thriller books may not be satisfied with how their relationship develops.

Ultimately, its character-focused narrative is White Night's greatest strength. It is an incredibly engaging novel with starkly realistic motives and relationships, and every page is infused with a sense of urgency and tension.

For these reasons, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I'd highly recommend it to both new and old fans of police procedurals, from literature to television cop dramas.


Author Bio:

J.J. 's background is about as varied as it gets. A consultant for the British Navy, Fortune 500 Companies, various branches of the US Government and non-profit organizations, it was only a matter of time before J.J. returned to a love of writing.


J.J. never has a shortage of experiences to draw from after living in the UK, US and Canada. With a natural storytelling voice and a talent for connecting characters and readers via real world emotions and experiences, J.J. is already turning heads with White Night.




REVIEW: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier @jenniferhillier @minotaurbooks

Jar of Hearts
by Jennifer Hillier

Thanks so much to Minotaur Books for this amazing thriller!
All thriller lovers (and even those that aren't) need to put this on their TBR.
An absolute thrill ride that you won't ever forget.


Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publish Date: June 12, 2018
Hardcover
320 Pages
Standalone
Genres:  Thriller, Mystery, Fiction

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who's been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela's death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

My Review:


WOW WOW WOW! What a fantastic thriller!  Told in four eye opening and jaw dropping parts, this is a book that will draw you in and spit you out with a maniacal grin.

Oh that first love.  The guy you get obsessed with, who can do know wrong, and where love and obsession really is blind.  Focus on the good.  The bad really isn't THAT bad, right?   We start with Geo at trial.  She's turned herself into a successful business woman, fiance to a well known business man and has her life together.  Yet she isn't surprised when the authorities show up to take her away.  Five years she's put in prison while Calvin, the love of her life, is put in for life.  What part did she actually play in the murder of her best friend?  And why didn't she say anything?  Fourteen years is a LONG time to hold on to a secret and we see how it has scratched away at her from the inside out.  Hillier takes us through Geo's time in prison, her tenacity that made her a shrewd business woman helps to save her and make her five years less terrible than it could have been.  Then, right when she's about to be let out, it seems more murders are happening and Calvin is trying to speak to Geo through them.

How does one get back into "normalcy" after being shunned by her peers and her neighborhood?  Why is the obsessive nature between Geo and Calvin never ending?  All the secrets that lie between them create an eternal bond that neither of them can shake.  The past will catch up with them and when the secrets spill, it culminates into an unexpected ending that will leave you picking up your jaw.

Hillier pulls you in straight from the first page and never lets you go.  A page turner that will keep you up late and pull at your emotions.  I loved and hated each character equally.  Extremely well written, a different kind of thriller that will delight those who read a lot in this genre and cause newcomers to want to pick up more.   I HIGHLY recommend this and suggest you ALL put this on your TBR lists immediately.

★★★★★

Saturday, April 21, 2018

REVIEW: Forks, Knives and Spoons by Leah DeCesare @LeahDeCesare @gosparkpress

Forks, Knives and Spoons
by Leah DeCesare

First, thank you SO much to the author for this signed copy! Second, apologies for taking so long to read this.  I'm kicking myself because this was such an ADORABLE and FUN read!


Publisher:  Spark Press
Publish Date:  April 18, 2017
Paperback
392 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York's father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond. Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves and not to settle in love or life.

My Review:

What an absolutely delightful, sparkly and fun read!  Set during the time I basically went to college (give or take a few years), it was extremely nostalgic and took me right back to my college days.  Freshman year, rushing a sorority, making new friends, entering the dating life... fast forward to senior year and embarking on new adventures... to later in life when you really "grow" up and learn about yourself.  

This is an honest look into how a classification system is used to find that "perfect" someone - in this case, a steak knife.  I'll admit, I found it slightly annoying at first with the continual classification system... so I felt a kinship with Veronica when she would tell Amy to chill out with it or roll her eyes at the process.  However, as I continued to read, it grew on me.  I'm not saying I USE the system.... but I'm not saying it doesn't pass through my head sometimes... 😉.

I absolutely adore Amy's relationship with her father.  This is reminiscent to my own relationship with my father.  Especially at the very end.  The tried and true types of people are riddled throughout the book.  Each personality shining in their own way.  The plot is fairly transparent and you already know what the outcome will be and where the book is headed.  Leah has you pinned though - you just want to see how each of these characters get there!  

Never settle.  Never give up.  And remember, fork is just another four letter word. 😜  Highly recommend.  I look forward to more work from Leah and hope this book brings a big a smile to your face as it does to mine.

★★★★



BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: The Lost Children by Theresa Talbot @aria_fiction @theresa_talbot

The Lost Children
by Theresa Talbot

Thank you to Aria Fiction for letting me be today's Blog Tour stop!

Continue below for a synopsis, about the author, my review and an excerpt!
Publisher:  Aria Fiction
Publish Date:  April 1, 2018

Kindle Edition
466 pages
Series: Book One
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction

First in a gripping new thriller series featuring investigative journalist Oonagh O'Neil. Perfect for fans of Broadhurch.

TV journalist and media darling Oonagh O’Neil can sense a sinister coverup from the moment an elderly priest dies on the altar of his Glasgow church. Especially as his death comes as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of a Magdalene Institution. The Church has already tried to suppress what happened to decades of forgotten women. Is someone also covering their tracks?

DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest's death. He and Oonagh go way back. But what secrets lie behind the derelict Institution's doors? What sparked the infamous three-day riot that closed it? And what happened to the girls that survived the institution and vowed to stay friends forever?

From Ireland to Scotland.

From life to death.

Purchase here:  Amazon | Kobo | Google Play | iBooks


Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many she will be most familiar as the voice of the station's Traffic & Travel. Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She's much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson.


"Hi I’m Theresa Talbot – I was born at a very young age in Glasgow and things developed from there. Strange as it may seem now, my first and only baby-sitter was a huge German Shepherd called Rusty. Rusty would guard my pram outside our flat in Finnieston, when it was deemed normal to leave your children outside unattended. This was the 60s when Finnieston was a densely populated working class area in the west end of the city. Now it’s densely populated by Hipsters who roam wild among the trendy new cafes and bars selling organic food served on rustic bits of slate. I mean the Hipsters no harm, but had they been on the scene in the 60s I’m sure my ever resourceful Mother would have found them more gainful employment and roped them into watching my pram for a few hours, leaving Rusty Dog to run free in the local park.  

Rusty belonged to my God-Mother Ruby who ‘lived-in-sin’ with a Polish chap who ran a speakeasy downstairs from us. I was devastated when I discovered that Ruby wasn’t actually my Fairy Godmother – but eternally grateful that through her I was familiar with the term ‘living-in-sin’ from a very young age and gorged myself on the possibilities of what that could possibly mean. I was eighteen before I knew what a speakeasy was, but that didn’t hold the same appeal.
I can’t remember when I decided I would like to become a writer, certainly not as a child, as to me being ‘a writer’ was something posh people did. I never even considered it could be a job, and certainly not my job. I’ve always had a fertile imagination and loved to read and hear stories. It was so much part of my childhood. My Mum & Dad were Irish and told great ghost stories that I lapped up, my Grandfather too, he would always have a tale that was just that wee bit scarier than everyone else’s – and swore each word was true. At bedtime I drove my entire family mental demanding story after story. My older siblings would beg to be let sleep as I pinched them awake demanding ‘just one more’.

Perhaps it was this background of fantasy and ghost stories that first inspired me to write. One I remember particularly well was my Dad telling me that if a priest dies on the altar saying mass, then his ghost has to come back and finish the service. Bear in mind I was five years old when I first heard this – no wonder I had insomnia from an early age! But it was that actual tale that made me want to write my own ghost story. I thought it was super-scary.

Strangely enough I never did write a ghost story. I sort of fell into journalism after a range of jobs as diverse as Library Assistant, Care Home Assistant and Medical Rep. But there was always something niggling at the back of my mind telling me to write. I’d toyed with a few writers groups, wrote short stories etc, but never really took myself seriously as a writer. Looking back now I think that was a lack of confidence.

But I never gave up! It wasn’t until the year 2000 that I considered actually sitting down and writing a book. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, no plan, no structure, I just started writing. In fact it was that early ghost story of the priest dying on the altar that gave me my opening line and it blossomed from there.

At the time I was a broadcast journalist and was researching a story surrounding Glasgow’s Magdalene Institution which closed down in 1958. I thought it would make a great radio feature, but the more I looked into it the more absorbed I became. There was a bigger story to tell and I decided that turning it into a work of fiction would give me greater dramatic licence and more freedom.  

That story eventually became ‘The Lost Children,’ and I’m thrilled to bits that Team Aria love it as much as I do.

I’m still a broadcast journalist, with the emphasis on broadcast rather than journalism. My day job is basically talking out loud on the wireless; BBC Radio Scotland rope me in a few times a week as a traffic & travel presenter & newsreader. I also presented the weekly gardening programme for a few years  – but that’s given way to some programme where men hit balls with sticks.


Oh I’ve got so much more I want to tell you, but sadly we’ve run out of time!"

Follow:  Website | Twitter | Facebook

Follow Aria Fiction:  
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | NETGALLEY | NEWSLETTER

My Review:

A fantastic first in a series from Theresa Talbot.  Rather than seeing this mystery/thriller through the eyes of law enforcement, instead we see through Oonagh's eyes - a journalist who is looking into the Magdalene children and how they were forced into asylums by their family and the Catholic church where they were tortured, stripped of their dignity and suffered for their "sins"... mostly created by their own families.  Sweep them under the rug.  Sell their children.  Out of sight.  Out of mind.  But what happens when they rebel and secrets come out YEARS later.

This definitely does not shed a good light on the Catholic church, priests and the means that people went to in the 1950s (really not that long ago) to put problem children in their place.  There were some harrowing moments and hard reads in which we see the children abused, physically and sexually, by their own families.  Tossed aside like bad meat.  Told they were the sinners.  How many times do you have to hear such things before you begin to believe it's true?  Can you ever forget and let go of the torture that you went through - both mentally and physically?

Oonagh herself is going through her own issues - pregnant with her married boyfriend's baby.  Unwanted, she questions her own decisions and remember how her father told her she'd know the Devil when she saw him.  I personally love Oonagh - her tenacity, her flaws, her inability to back down and let go of this story - even almost at the cost of her own life.

Looking forward to book two and continuing on in this series.

★★★★

Prologue
Glasgow, 1958

The body had been wrapped in a piece of torn sheet, then stuffed into the box.

Sally came in from the cold; stopping at the back door to stamp her feet and shake off the wet earth caked to her boots. They were miles too big and tied around the ankles with string. Her skinny wee legs were mottled blue with the cold. She caught Irene Connolly watching her from a third floor window. Her face and hands pressed hard against the glass. She shooed her away – gestured for her to ‘beat it’ – hoping to God she’d go back to bed before there was trouble.

Sally’s footsteps sent the rats scurrying for cover as she opened the door. Tiny claws scraped and clicked on the stone floor, their tails slithered like big, fat worms. There were two boxes stored overnight in the pantry. She carried them through and laid them on the table beside a third. Each held a similar bundle. Tightly bound. Carefully wrapped. Like tiny Egyptian mummies, so small they could easily fit into one box.

She pushed a strand of hair from her eyes, wiping the sweat from her brow at the same time. Despite the cold, beads of perspiration clustered on her forehead, her thin shirt had become damp and it clung to her back from the sheer effort of digging into the hardened earth out in the yard. Her small wiry frame concealed a surprising physical stamina. The mental stamina came from knowing no other way of life.

Some said she was simple – ‘There’s a waant wi that yin,’ they’d say. Sally let them think what they liked.

The lid balanced precariously on top of the third bundle, which was still warm. It took all her weight to hold it down in place. A tiny bone cracked under the pressure, but she carried on regardless. She took a nail from between her teeth and hammered it into the wood. She did this with all six nails before being fully satisfied the lid was secure.

As she wiped the sweat and mucus from her top lip, she stopped dead in her tracks. She pushed her ear against the makeshift coffin and froze.

There was no mistaking the tiny cries from within.

1
Glasgow, 2000

 ‘Take this, all of you, and drink from it.’ Father Tom Findlay held the chalice above his head. ‘This my blood…’

The meagre congregation mouthed the words along with him. He looked out at his flock and could have wept. There were a dozen at best. They were mostly old; mostly women and most of them had nowhere else to go. All huddled around the pews closest to the radiators. Still, at least he had a job.
He took just one sip. Meticulously he wiped the rim of the chalice clean with a linen cloth and handed it back to the old priest by his side, before walking down the steps of the altar.

He wanted to believe he carried the sacred body of Jesus Christ in his hands. He wanted to, but couldn’t.

A handful of people shuffled sideways out of the pews to get their daily bread. He was desperate to give them more, but he really had nothing left to offer.

The first supplicant was too frail to shuffle the few feet to the altar; he went to her first. Walking over to her pew, he smiled, pretending not to notice the faint smell of piss, masked by thick musky perfume.

‘Body of Christ.’ He tried not to gag as he placed the communion wafer in her slack mouth, and looked away when her ulcerated tongue licked the crumbs from her parched lips.

‘Amen,’ she replied, then wound her shaky arthritic fingers round his, and bent to kiss his hand. ‘Thank you, Father. Thank you, Father.’

Tom felt like a complete fraud as he prised his hand away and left her rocking back and forth, her milky eyes spilling with gratitude that the priest had gone to all that trouble.

As he turned to go back to the altar there was a collective sharp intake of breath from the congregation. He turned as the old priest stumbled towards him and fell to the floor. The weak autumn sunshine streaming through the stained glass windows gave his ashen face an undeserved healthy pink glow. His catatonic stare was fixed on the crucifix. Tom rushed to his side and felt for a pulse. But there was none.

Father Kennedy’s frail body lay prostrate on the altar: the ultimate offering. The gold chalice by his side. The puddle of wine became a blood-red snake that trickled its way along the marble floor, reaching out for him, pausing briefly to lick its lips before creeping into his white cassock.


Friday, April 20, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Raven's Cry by Dana Fraedrich @danafraedrich

Raven's Cry
by Dana Fraedrich

It is my absolute pleasure to be Spotlighting Dana Fraedrich and her latest book, RAVEN'S CRY.  Perhaps you remember my Author Spotlight post I did last year.  No? Then click HERE to get the nitty gritty on Dana, her books and a Q&A.

Continue below for a synopsis and about the author and give her a follow. She's one of the nicest people I know and very talented!


Publisher: Goatsong Publishing
Publish Date: May 1, 2018
Paperback, 234 Pages
Breakout Standalone set in the same setting as the Broken Gears Series
Genres: Steampunk, Dark Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings


Buy on AMAZON

A dark retelling of Swan Lake set in the fantasy steampunk world of Broken Gears.
Calandra is happiest when she’s surrounded by quiet. As the younger sibling to the future Count of Bone Bay, she's pleased by the idea of being able to assist her people without all the pressure of an official title. When Nicodemus, a magus with immense power, joins the royal court of Invarnis, Calandra’s life will change forever. As a terrible curse pursues her through the centuries, Calandra will have to overcome captivity, war, and loss.

For fans of Suzanne Collins, Sarah J. Maas, and Naomi Novik. In this standalone installment, readers will discover a realm of dark magic and technology as they join Calandra in her battle for freedom, hope, and healing.



Dana Fraedrich is an independent author, dog lover, and self-professed geek.  Even from a young age, she enjoyed writing down the stories that she imagined in her mind.  Born and raised in Virginia, she earned her BFA from Roanoke College and is now carving out her own happily ever after in Nashville, TN with her husband and two dogs.  Dan is always writing; more books are on the way!


Follow her: 



Thursday, April 19, 2018

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW: Her Greatest Mistake by Sarah Simpson @sarahrsimpson @aria_fiction

Her Greatest Mistake
by Sarah Simpson

Hi everyone! I'm today's stop on the BLOG TOUR for Her Greatest Mistake!

Come check out this book, the author, my review and read an excerpt.


Publisher:  Aria Fiction / Head of Zeus
Publish Date: April 1, 2018
Kindle Edition
Standalone
Genre: Psychological Thriller


Do we ever know what goes on behind closed doors?

Eve and Gregg were the perfect couple, with the perfect marriage...which has become the perfect lie. Gone is the charming, attentive Gregg - instead Eve wakes up each morning beside a manipulative and sinister man who controls his wife’s every move.

So Eve flees her immaculate marital home to keep herself, and young son Jack safe. Yet no matter how careful she has been, she knows Gregg will be relentless in his pursuit of his missing family. And that one day, when she's least expecting it, he will find them...

What was Eve’s greatest mistake?

Marrying Gregg? Leaving him? Or leaving him alive…?

Purchase here:  AMAZON | KOBO | GOOGLE PLAY | IBOOKS


Sarah Simpson has a first-class honours degree in Psychology and has worked in a neuro-psychology department at a Brain Rehabilitation Hospital. When she first graduated she formed a mental health consultancy and worked as a psychologist within the family court system of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. Three years ago she moved to Cornwall with her husband and three children, and runs her own practice in Truro. Her Greatest Mistake is her first novel, and she is currently working on the second.

Follow the author: TWITTER | FACEBOOK

Follow Aria Fiction:  

Continue below the extract to see the author's "BEST OF CRIME...."

My Review:



I have a thing for domestic thrillers and imperfect marriages where the husband (in this case) is a psychopath.  It's interesting what the heart can do, isn't it?  Eve, who is educated as a counselor and feels like she should've known better, gets wooed and brought into a relationship/marriage with Gregg.. who she aptly states uses people as tools. 

The pacing of this one was a bit slow in the middle.  The beginning hooks you right into the story and then it becomes a little bit stagnant.  With a lot of back and forth throughout the timeline, it can be confusing at times.  Once I became used to this, it seemed to flow better and gives you a feel for how slow of a process it was for Gregg to come and show his true colors... or maybe for Eve to see what she couldn't before when she was blinded by his initial magnetism and her love for him.

If you like domestic thrillers, then this will be a good read for you.  The last 20% picks up the pace and I think the ending will be divisive among readers but you should give it a shot and decide for yourself 😉.


EXTRACT

Chapter One

One week after my story…

I open an eye at a time, my head being heavy, stuffed with cotton wool. Bleached, dense fluff smothers any intelligence, any rationale and all of my problem-solving capabilities. I’ve been here before, so many times, this feeling of being unique but not in a good way. These special feelings, mingling with my past confining me to loneliness. We’ve needed to become friends, get used to each other, a sad but expedient relationship. Maybe we can never be separated; our way of being is all too entwined. Even so, an extra convincing tiredness joins us today and I can’t be bothered to fight it. I’m bone-weary from all the belligerence, game-playing and secrecy. Dog-tired of being isolated by the never-ending lies and imprudent perceptions. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

But then, from the outside in, it isn’t this way.

I drag myself up and float across the wooden floors with a need to be close to something, finding myself in Jack’s empty room. Apparently lured to the mobile sitting on his window sill, sneering without a conscience. I pick it up. I still don’t know for sure who was in my home the other day; the day they left something dangling in the air. I’ve kind of accepted this, what a peculiar response. Or is it? I understand it should be, but it doesn’t change the fact; it now feels ordinary. This is in part what has muted me; my world was and is my normal, but to others, if they knew of it, it would be weird and twisted. Being a prisoner of this world for so long, I’m quite the institutionalised. Perhaps I can never live a normal life; for normal now appears alien. Whatever normal is. So, I play at life as I’m unable to live it.

I gently place Jack’s deadly mobile on his chest of drawers and peel back the undisturbed duvet protecting his bed. I climb in, and curl up, wrapping the duvet tightly around me, inhaling his vulnerable scent. If someone was in our home, could this mean there is more to come? That we’ve come full circle? Is someone now looking for the new truth? Or is this still about the same old lies, same old unanswered questions? Or is it just me and it’s all just cotton wool? Isn’t it strange when everything you think you know evaporates? When truths have been held hostage by seeping lies. Then, the moment you realise, it’s never been about what you know, but what you don’t know. The world you perceive isn’t really the world itself, but simply your story of the world, in a twinkling of fragile time.

I let my eyelids fall heavy. Some time ago, people used to refer to us as a broken home. Why? They got it so wrong. It was broken before, not afterwards. When we lived in a broken marriage; broken vows, a relationship drip-fed by abuse. But our home after we’d escaped wasn’t broken. It was new, fragile, other-worldly even as we trod uncertain steps, but not broken.

You were broken, you always were. I was a fool not to notice the fine stitching at first, holding your independent components together. It was too late by the time I did. Part human, part robot, that’s you. Smooth-talking hunter. I feel no comfort in believing I’m not alone with my story. Someone else out there gets cotton wool too, sees the truth as I do. Where context is everything. Hindsight is futile.
I squeeze my eyelids tightly to push away the glimpses of that night, suffocated by vulnerability, the acrid stench of burning rubber. I’m holding my breath again. Sometimes, I’m too afraid to breathe; at times I’ve wished I’d stop. I can still feel my hands sweating, sliding on cold leather. I have solitary moments when I ache to scream, to be heard, but my words jar and still – a chalky dryness strangles me. The tang of bile repulses me. It’s been a while but I can still taste the sourness of fear. I think I always will. I think we both will. Our past being the backbone of all we know.

Sedentary remains, rotting flesh hidden under floorboards but too pungent to ignore.

I watched you that night, how calm you were. Your uncertainty forcing your foot harder to the pedal proffered you some mislaid control, didn’t it? I mean, knowing the effect it was having on me. Your steady upturned lips, fighting back your laughter. Inwardly flying high. Though it was never just about that night, more about the lives you stole. It didn’t happen overnight, but by stealth. Day by day. Year on year.

I tug at the duvet to cover my asphyxiated mind. It wasn’t meant to be this way; I’d intended we’d be free by now. But at the very last minute you stole that too, didn’t you? Now, I fear it’s all too late; for me it is anyway.

Three years ago, I thought I could finally change things. I was wrong.


BEST OF CRIME....


... authors
For me, my love of books and the wonderful journey into the depths of my imagination began with Enid Blyton. A few years on, I immersed myself into the stories of Agatha Christie. I loved not only the mystery, the ‘who dunnit,’ but the use of often flamboyant, fragrant characters to steal the show. Glamorous settings, elegant characters adorned in period attire leading the way.

... films/movies
Difficult to name one. I love emotional films, those that leave me with a feeling for some time after. But a film I still talk about is Silence of the Lambs. There is something so chilling about seeing Anthony Hopkins in that infamous face mask, yet I still quite like something about him. For a feel good film, maybe – Love Actually.

... TV dramas
There have been a few just lately that have kept me salivating for next episode. But, for the overall feeling, I loved - Broken by Jimmy McGovern with Sean Bean. I thought this was something special. It incorporated everything about life, sad, funny, dark and light with some wonderful acting too. I cried, I laughed, I sat on the edge of my seat.

... fictional killers
It has to be Hannibal Lecter. How can anyone capable of such atrocities still manage to keep me searching for what I like about him? He captures that psychopathic trait, of killing for good reason without conscience, without responsibility so brilliantly. Chilling, yet eloquently charming.

... fictional detectives
It has to be Sherlock Holmes. Again such a complex character, rude, egotistical, incredibly sharp and witty all in one spoken sentence.

... murder weapons (can be as bizarre as you like)
Roald Dahl, A lamb to the Slaughter. Where the wife kills her husband with a leg of lamb which she later feeds to appreciative, investigating detectives. Clever woman!
  
… death scene (horrific/bizarre/amusing/surprising)
Probably one of the worst death scenes for me is when Hannibal Lecter removes the face from his guard to use as his own disguise. Before suspending him from the ceiling. It’s fair to say, that one stayed with me for quite a while.

... blogs/websites (for book research/writing/crime research – not book review blogs)
I was laughing to myself the other day, wondering what anyone would think if they took a saunter through my browser history… how best to kill yourself quickly? How does it feel to drown? Which emoji’s will help me find a weed dealer? I also search back through old newspaper articles, across the world. And of course, behavioural psychology research papers.

... writing tips
I am not a planner. I have tried to be but it doesn’t work for me. It only prevents my mind from ticking over. I also make lots of notes that I never return to or refer to. I use them only to sew a seed, then I let the story tell me how and where it wants to go. So – do whatever works best for you, we all work differently and like many things in life, there is no right way to write.

... writing snacks
Peanut butter, anyhow, anyway, on toast, on a sandwich on crisp breads. I’m mainly a savoury person but if I’m feeling the need for sugar – Jelly Babies, all day.