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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Bookstagram Etiquette

I wanted to start this year with a post about Bookstagram "etiquette".  And I use the word etiquette loosely because let's face it, it's your damn platform, you do whatever the hell you want.  Post whatever you want.  Comment or don't comment. Interact or don't interact.  It's YOUR account. But as we've all been privy to, there are just certain things that can get QUITE annoying on BG and this is where I'd like to address some of them.  Please keep in mind that these are my opinions alone.  While some might agree, maybe some of you won't.  And that's FINE.  I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers (or maybe I AM a feather ruffler, who knows!) (Plus this goes back to my first point, this is MY platform and I'll write whatever I want - *curtsy*). In any case, here I GOOOOOOOOOO....

The Follow/Unfollow Phenomenon:

I'm guilty of when I first started of following EVERY account I could find - especially the one with a large follow count.  Then as I grew and as I realized I didn't have much in common with 15 year olds who strictly posted YA (don't get me wrong, I'm an absolute lover of YA), I unfollowed and pared down my account to where I was following people that I either had things in common with or that I enjoyed interacting with regardless of our different tastes. (Diversity is everything you guys).

I've also found that Instagram sometimes has a mind of its own and would follow or unfollow accounts without my permission or even knowing about! SO FRUSTRATING.

Here's the thing though - do NOT follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow just to try and get someone to follow you.  More than likely that person will end up blocking you, DMing a friend about you and wondering WHY you think this is a good idea.  

Look, we all like to have a lot of followers and those who say they don't are probably lying.  It feels good to hit those milestones.  Ultimately though, if that's SOLELY what you're here for, well... then I don't know what to tell you - I don't understand that but that's my feelings on it.  I use this as my online book journal and love interacting with fellow bookworms, promoting books and giving away books - whether gifting them, running giveaways or donating them locally.  Speaking of Giveaways..... 


If you've been following my account for any amount of time, you know I love collaborating and doing giveaways! I know some Bookstagrammers feel this is a cheating way of getting followers. 🤷 I personally just love spreading the wealth.  If a publisher wants to put a book out and asks me to collaborate - ABSOLUTELY I will.  If I have extra copies then of course I want to spread the BOOK LOVE.  I sometimes just gift books randomly.  I find this so satisfying and I never expect anything in return - that's what gifting is truly about now is it? 😉

Here's what I find interesting though - getting DMs from people who enter wanting to know why they haven't won a giveaway yet. Well, there are literally hundreds of people who enter the giveaways and I have no say in what the random selector does. You DMing me and telling me it's not fair that you haven't won yet isn't going to help you. Sorry, not sorry.  

Why don't I post the random selector picks like some other BGers do in my stories? Well, because there are rules and not everyone who enters follows them so if I find that the selector chose one particular BGer and then I check to make sure they're following who they need to, etc and they haven't?? Well then I need to pick someone else.  Look guys and gals, this takes time and I just don't have enough time to put that out there.  It's not you, it's me.  

Also, please don't message me and ask if I could just pick you as the winner.  Are you kidding/not kidding? I really don't know.  In all my giveaways I am completely fair, mark every single entry and check to make sure all rules are followed before announcing the winner. Asking when the winner will be picked because life got in the way I couldn't do it first thing in the morning will also not help in making you the winner.

Posting Other Peoples Photos/Copying Profiles

This has been a source of pain in the community.  There has been an ABUNDANCE of people stealing photos and copying profiles.  While technically this isn't illegal (which I believe is still up for debate), it's RUDE.  Some people spend  hours creating the perfect picture and/or caption.  Some people just snap and go.  Either way they are taking time out of their lives to create a platform for you to enjoy.  Stealing it is like stealing a part of their soul. And for goodness sake, if you don't care and are going to do it anyway, be a doll and at least give credit where credit is due - not just a side note, not in a teeny itsy bitsy tag at the bottom of (their stolen) caption, but where it's plain and easy to see.  ASK FOR PERMISSION, it's really that simple.

Now, I don't mind when publishers/promoters repost because that's completely expected (and appreciated by me).  But for anyone else... well, just play nice.

Follower Count & Look at My Page Requests

We are all on Bookstagram for the interaction and love of books with like minded people.  If you want your page to stand out or get some notice, then rather than commenting on someone's post to "Look at my page - please acknowledge my posts"... well, do the same to the person you're commenting on.  INTERACT.  Don't just request.  I get these a lot - and these people typically don't acknowledge my posts, follow me or interact about the posts at hand.  Come talk to me about books! Or life in general.  Let's get into a conversation.  THIS is how I follow people whether their book interests mirror mine or not.

ARCS.. and how to get them

The question I get most is how do I manage to get so many Advanced Reader Copies.  The best advice I can give you is this:  Get on NetGalley.  Create an account and start requesting books you are truly interested in.  Read them, review them. Build relationships with the publishers.  AND/OR, you can look up the publisher email via their website and request the book you're absolutely DYING for.  But be professional.  Don't just ask for a free book.  Explain how you can promote the book and why you want to read it.  Create a symbiotic relationship and eventually it'll explode and you'll be buried in books and wondering how you're going to get through all the books landing on your front step. 😉📚  But please don't ask me for my contact's information - this is trudging on awkward territory sometimes and puts people in the middle. Do your research.. it'll all be worth it, I promise.

(Yes, I absolutely still buy an abundance of books!)

Authors, PLEASE....

There's nothing I love more than promoting all the authors! But I kindly request that you do not spam me on any social media platform with the same post to read your book.  The exact same message across several posts over and over and OVER AGAIN.  Quite frankly, this makes me NOT want to read your book, EVER. 

It would help if you provided a synopsis of what your book is about.  Just saying, "Hey, I love your page, if you're interested, please read my book."  This gives me absolutely no information.  

Authors are also guilty of the follow/unfollow phenomenon.  This does not help your case either.  I had one particular author who I did this, I eventually agreed to do a spotlight of the book and then got an abundance of messages asking when I was going to read and review the book.  I had already said I was passing due to my ginormous TBR stack and the spotlight was all I could do for the moment.  I then eventually received a SCATHING message saying that I didn't say it (Um, it was clear in the messages when I scrolled up) and that they didn't want me to review it now anyway and basically called me a bitch. Sigh. I have since deleted their spotlight (obviously).

Listen, this is not very common thank goodness. The majority of the authors I have worked worth are absolutely delightful and I appreciate their patience.  (My sincerest apologies to those authors whose books I haven't gotten to quite yet - I'm getting there, I PROMISE!)  I have also made great author friends via social media and I'm truly grateful for each and every one of them. 💖  

REVIEWERS:  Be kind in your reviews.  You can not like a book and still be gracious in your reviews.  Don't get me wrong, I get amused by some scathing reviews I've read but ultimately this is their heart and soul out there and while yes, they need a strong backbone and can't expect every review to be a good one, it's still nice to be polite.

Interestingly enough, I had an author a while back who didn't agree with my review, which I thought was very respectful though the book did NOT work for me. This author proceeded to slam into me about my immaturity and how I SHOULD HAVE written my review. BYE.

On the flip side, when I receive that email from an author who says thank you for your time and honesty, it really makes it all worth it.  

ANYONE: One more thing - please do not DM me, or any Bookstagrammer, asking for free books. PLEASE.


I absolutely love the Bookstagram community.  And while there are certain nuances and annoyances as noted above, at the end of the day, this community is mostly about love, sharing, compassion and a common love of books.  I couldn't do what I do with my platform without any of YOU!  So, if you're reading this, whether you agree or disagree with any of the above, know that I appreciate YOU!

You'll find great friends that you have the most in common with or just clique with immediately.  You'll find books you never would've even though of picking up due to others posting about them.  You'll see your bank account diminish slowly at first and then in an avalanche from buying book after book after book!  

I know that I'm going to post this and then think of about a zillion other things I wanted to note.  Happy 2019 everyone and I look forward to conversing with you via BG, Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, etc. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

REVIEW: Thieves by Steven Max Russo

by Steven Max Russo

Thanks so much to the author for this copy. Debut novels are tough to put out there and I appreciate the chance.

Publisher: Down & Out Book
Publish Date: November 12, 2018
Kindle Edition
Genre: Crime Fiction

Esmeralda works for a housecleaning service during the day and as a restaurant hostess at night. Just out of high school, she is the sole support for her mother and two young siblings.

She has drive and ambition. What she doesn’t have is money.

She knows of a home in the upscale town of Mendham, NJ, that will be empty for more than a month. The rich people who live there go away the same time every year to spend time at their vacation home. Having cleaned the house, she also knows it contains a fair amount of cash and valuables.

One night sitting with Ray, one of her co-workers, she casually mentions a “what if” scenario; Ray tells Skooley, a white trash drifter who recently moved to New Jersey from south Florida, and a plan is hatched.

It isn’t long before Esmeralda finds herself trapped by both circumstance and greed, forced to try and defend herself against one of her partners in crime, who she quickly discovers is far more dangerous than she ever thought possible. 

My Review:

There is so much that I wanted to like about this book. The beginning is strong with the fingers in a pickle jar and OUCH... where is this going to go from here?? And then we pretty much see nothing of this again until about the 80% mark or so. Where were the bad guys this entire time? Still, I'm extremely intrigued.

Stooley, Esmerelda and Ray… well, one thing I can tell you is that I'll never forget their names. They were used SO much throughout the book and unfortunately, this happened a lot in conversation and people just don't speak this way. I found myself getting very irritated every time this happened and I think it took away from my enjoyment quite a bit. Personal preference maybe? While the synopsis gives us a world with Esmerelda, she felt a secondary character next to Stooley - it's Stooley's mind we are in most of the time and she's right, he's a RAT!

These characters, they talk.. and they talk a LOT. If names hadn't been used it would've been a bit hard to distinguish between the characters and their speaking styles. Then there's one particular character - I'm confused as to why she's even a plot line. It only added to Stooley's character, yes, but otherwise it seemed misplaced for the read.

There were also parts that didn't quite make sense - HOW are they getting away with this and that and then the ending part where... well, I can't tell you or I'd spoil it but whattttt…… I found it a bit hard to believe.

Now, before you think I'm ripping this apart, that's not my intention. I enjoyed the smarminess of the characters and once I started reading it as more of a "parody" (for lack of better term), it became fun to see which side was going to come out on top and how.

What I do know is that I won't be eating chili for a while now and I certainly will be giving my cleaner the side eye. (Good thing I'm not rich.) This is a debut novel and I do like where Russo was heading to with the storyline. I think with more to come it'll become more seamless and have more continuity.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry @HMHbooks @unlandedgentry

Last Woman Standing 
by Amy Gentry

Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for these copies! 

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
320 Pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Dana Diaz is an aspiring stand‑up comedian—a woman in a man’s world. When she meets a tough computer programmer named Amanda Dorn, the two bond over their struggles in boys’ club professions. Dana confides that she’s recently been harassed and assaulted while in L.A., and Amanda comes up with a plan: they should go after each other’s assailants, Strangers on a Train–style. But Dana finds that revenge, however sweet, draws her into a more complicated series of betrayals. Soon her distrust turns to paranoia, encompassing strangers, friends—and even herself. At what cost will she get her vengeance? Who will end up getting hurt? And when it’s all over, will there be anyone left to trust? 

My Review:

When I read Gentry's Good As Gone a while back, I was floored at just how RAW of a read that was.  While Last Woman Standing is a different category, it's still quite raw in terms of the victimization and harassment of women, comics or otherwise.  

Gentry gives us Dana Diaz - an aspiring comic who has been on the brunt end on more than on occasion.  When Amanda enters her life, here comes the outlet she needed... because sometimes the inactions taken in the past explode into actions in the present. 

Listen, as  woman who has been through her fair share of harassment, there certainly is a fine line of what you think you should fight against and whether or not it's worth it.  I tried to get a manager fired but instead he was just sent to another restaurant, where I'm hoping he didn't harass anyone there... and it's this type of "justice" that gives women a sense that it's not worth it.  Just because he's not in the same place to bother me and the other girls who complained (to me, and me who took it higher), instead of being punished or corrected, he was just sent away.  Out of sight, out of mind? Nope. It just doesn't work that way and this particular incident was an extremely small action compared to others.  I have been lucky that it never escalated to something worse and it's sad that I think this way.

But I digress, back to this read.  I don't particularly get triggered by books but those who do, this may be a hard read for you.  Keep this in mind when reading, straight from the author: "I started writing Last Woman Standing before the #MeToo tidal wave, unaware of some of the worst offenses by famous comics - though I'd heard some rumors.  When the first big story broke, I worried that people might draw conclusions about who certain characters represented.  But as more and more stories came to light, I realized that this type of behavior was just too ubiquitous in the industry to any one person.  Which would be funny if it weren't so sad.  Rage, like comedy, is unforgiving."

This book definitely went in a direction I wasn't expecting from the beginning.  I found the beginning a bit slow quite frankly, but I also *know* Gentry and she has a purpose and I'm glad I continued.  One, I'm certainly going to have less delivery services from now on (or at least for a little bit) and two, guys that won't believe women are probably a bit guilty of something themselves.  STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM.

But on a less serious note, the revenge game is nothing new to the genre, but the manipulation and strategic movement and underscoring of what is happening in the world intertwined was well done.... I don't understand why men just don't get it - DON'T PISS OFF WOMEN.  We are patient, calculating and vindictive... but only when we have to be *wink*.  But man, crazy is as crazy does and UFF, Amanda...…. 

I don't think this book is going to be for everyone considering the slow-ish start and the topic, but I think it's worth the read.  


Jessica's Review:

I'll start off with saying that this book won't be for everyone. I'm not a person that is usually triggered by topics within books, but this deals with harassment experienced by women. I didn't know that Amy Gentry had started this book before the #MeToo movement and before a lot of men in the stand up industry had been implicated. LAST WOMAN STANDING is one that takes that female rage and frustration and turns it on the horrible men that committed these acts.

Dana is trying to make a name for herself in the world of stand up. After a set one night, she meets Amanda. The two begin to discuss the wrongs they have experienced at the hands of their male counterparts in the industry. Fed up, they decide they should go at this STRANGERS ON A TRAIN style and take care of each others' list of enemies. How far will they go to get vengeance on those that abused and harassed them?

There were plenty of twists in this book but it started off a little on the slow side for a thriller. The revenge plot is nothing new to the thriller genre, but it's always great to see the whole "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" in books and the direction the authors take it. Men underestimate women and don't understand the lengths we will go to - vindictive and focused is a dangerous combination! Like I said, this will not be for everyone, but it's a book that's very timely and covers very prominent issues. 

3.5/5 stars

#ATBR2019 Review: The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye @putnambooks @LyndsayFaye

The Paragon Hotel 
by Lyndsay Faye 

Thanks so much to Putnam Books for these review copies.
Jessica and I are a fan on Faye and her brilliance in these historical tellings are one to add to your list.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: January 8, 2019
432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

My Review:

I've been a fan of Faye since Jane Steele and she come back to us again with another stunner in The Paragon Hotel. I'm not much on historical fiction usually but I've ben surprised lately.. however, I already knew going in that Faye has a talent of bringing history to life. She brings Nobody and everybody into The Paragon Hotel.

We switch back and forth from NYC Harlem and how Nobody, "just call me Alice", came to Oregon, The Paragon Hotel and her reasonings behind what she does. Introducing characters such as the doctor, Davy and Blossom, here comes a mystery I wasn't expecting and the KKK, which I was. I was fortunate enough to meet Lyndsay when she was promoting The Whole Art of Detection and remember her mentioning this is where her next book was going to be heading. I was instantly intrigued and SO excited to get my hands on a copy.

I'll be completely honest, it took me quite a bit to get into this book. The cadence and language was hard for me to grasp on to right away. "Quelque". There's nothing that comes out and nudges you or completely WOWs you in an instant scene or reveal. What we get is a span throughout the ENTIRE read that starts to settle into your soul. If you're a lover of historical fiction and reading about the KKK and prohibition times, this is most definitely the read for you. Don't let what I consider a slow start deter you. At right about the third way into the story, I found myself wanting to take this journey with Nobody.

This time period is such a hard one - we still see racism and the KKK is still affluent unfortunately. Some language and scenes really made me angry and I found myself frowning quite a bit throughout the read. If a book can pull these feelings well... I think it's doing something right. 


Jessica's Review:

My introduction to Lyndsay Faye was THE WHOLE ART OF DETECTION, a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. I love her writing and how effortlessly she sets the scene and the creates the atmosphere for us. THE PARAGON HOTEL is another incredible historical fiction meets mystery read.

Set in the 1920's, Alice, better known as Nobody, flees New York for Oregon. She ends up at The Paragon Hotel and we are introduced to a wide variety of characters. I was impressed with how well Faye was able to flesh them all out for us and how unique each character was.

This book does deal with topics such as racism and focuses on the presence of the KKK in Oregon. If you're a fan of historical fiction that centers around the Prohibition era, then this will be perfect for you. Faye approaches the topics very well and immerses the reader in the time period. For some readers I can see the start being a little slow to grab you, but you find yourself becoming more and more engrossed in Nobody's journey.

I can see this evoking an array of emotion from readers, such as frustration with the situations the characters find themselves in, but hey, that's a sign of a good book, right? If you're a fan of historical fiction then I would highly recommend this one! Faye has an incredible writing style and I'll continue to pick up her books!

4/5 stars

SPOTLIGHT: What Could Go Wrong by Brett Grayson @FSBAssociates @brettgraysondad

What Could Go Wrong 
by Brett Grayson

A comedic look into marriage, parenting and depression.
Read the excerpt below - it's well worth the laugh!


There comes a time when couples decide to create and raise tiny helpless human beings, hoping they one day become non-tiny and less helpless.

This is one family’s journey through ten months of pregnancy (isn’t it supposed to be nine months?), the first years of parental cluelessness, the terrible twos, threenagers, and the few years that follow when they begin to learn about a world that’s even crazier than they are.

Join the author and his wife as they navigate those ten months, from the always romantic conception, to her water breaking in the most unique way possible. Then watch them attempt parenthood, from the seemingly simple routine of dressing their kids for school, to the complex experience of teaching them to use public bathrooms.

It’s mostly a breeze…

No it isn’t. Pre and postnatal complications; battles with their own mental health; and those rapidly growing and irrational miniature versions of themselves. Some of it is devastating. Much of it is overwhelming. All of it challenges them to maintain their sense of humor.

And when they attempted to go on an airplane as a family... that was a sh*tshow.

Brett Grayson is the author of What Could Go Wrong? My Mostly Comedic Journey through Marriage, Parenting and Depression. A successful trial attorney with offices throughout the five boroughs of NYC and New Jersey, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children. 

An excerpt from What Could Go Wrong? My Mostly Comedic Journey through Marriage, Parenting and Depression by Brett Grayson

Urine Catching

“Honey, I didn’t get my period yet.”

“When were you supposed to?”

“Four days ago.”

“So you’re pregnant.

“Stop. It’s not a joke.”

“I’m not joking. If you are, that’s great. We’ll deal with it.” (At least 40 percent of me is okay with this statement.)

“Maybe you should pick up a pregnancy test,” Lauren suggests.

“Should I just get one test or a few?”

“Get one. How hard can it be?”

Thirty minutes later, I have the test stick in my hand. I read the instructions: she needs to pee in a cup and we need to dip the stick in the cup. We then wait for either one or two lines to appear. If a second one appears, she’s pregnant.

I get a cup and come back upstairs.

“What are you doing?” Lauren asks.


“You think I’m peeing in a ‘#1 GRANDMA’ mug?”

“I thought we had plastic cups. We don’t. This is the first thing I found. Why do you have it, anyway?”

“I forgot to give it to my Grandma for Mother’s Day. I’m not peeing in it, Brett. It’s disrespectful to her.”

“Are you kidding me? This is a much more important life for a mug than just holding coffee 100 times. This mug will confirm if she’s going to be a Great-Grandma for the first time.”

“Whatever. Just give me it.”

Lauren pees in it and we put the test down and discuss what we think it will be. After a few minutes, the second line is sort of starting to come in. But is it?

“Let’s bring it in the other room with better light,” Lauren suggests.

We walk into the other room.

“I think I see a second line,” I exclaim.

“You have the worst eyesight.”

“Well, what do you think?”

“I don’t know. I’m freaking out.”

I go to the pharmacy again and buy three different tests. I take mild notice of how expensive it becomes—as much as you can notice when you’re on a mission.

At home, I’m looking at the pink lines from the first test again. It looks like it came in a bit more.

“The new test says ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’.”

“Why didn’t you just buy that test in the first place?” Lauren asks.

“I don’t know. Leave me alone. I’m nervous.

“YOU’RE nervous?

This test requires you to pee on the actual test stick. She can’t pee, though. I get her water. Finally, she announces that she’s ready to pee.

“Brett, can you hold the stick while I pee on it?”

“I feel like that’s your department.”

“I don’t care whose department it is. There’s no way I’m doing it myself.”


I hold the test stick under her while she takes what seems like nine hours to start peeing. Finally, pee comes flying out in all directions. I don’t think I ever concentrated on the flow of urine from a female before this moment. It is very different from a man’s flow and there are numerous variables. I am caught off-guard and the test stick may not be sufficiently saturated.

“Why didn’t you get it?” Lauren yells.

“You moved.”

“No, I didn’t.”

We put the test down and wait. The dogs are in their dog bed bored by our bickering.

“If it says ‘Not Pregnant’, are we taking another test?” Lauren asks.

“Yes, of course. That’s why I bought three tests ... that second pink line from the first test really looks like it’s coming in ... is it three minutes yet?” I ask impatiently.

“Why, did you stop looking at the watch?”

“What’s the difference? It will either pop up ‘Pregnant’ or ‘Not Pregnant’. It’s not going to change to ‘Maybe’.”

Lauren is staring at the test stick. “I see an hourglass.” She reads the instructions. “An hourglass means the test isn’t working.”

“I knew it,” I say. “There isn’t enough pee on it.”

We have two tests left. We take one out, but she can’t pee. Again, she drinks a glass of water and we run the faucet. Twenty minutes later, she’s ready.

“Brett, if you don’t catch the pee this time, I’m leaving you and I’m having this baby with a much older French businessman.”

“That’s very specific.”

Fortunately, I have improved my urine-catching skills and the stream flows on the stick for a few seconds. We wait. We look at the first test and the second pink line has gotten more pronounced.

The moment comes – “Pregnant. We’re as prepared as a piece of sashimi. No turning back now. 

From What Could Go Wrong? by Brett Grayson © 2018 by Brett Grayson. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

#ATBR2019 Review: As Long As We Both Shall Live by Joann Chaney @joann_chaney @flatironbooks

As Long As We Both Shall Live 
by Joann Chaney

Thanks so Flatiron Books for these amazing review copies - Jessica and I are starting strong for our All The Book Reviews reads for 2019.  Continue below to see what we thought of this crazy ass story.

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
336 Pages
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

What happens when you're really, truly done making your marriage work? You can't be married to someone without sometimes wanting to bash them over the head...As Long As We Both Shall Live is JoAnn Chaney's wicked, masterful examination of a marriage gone very wrong, a marriage with lots of secrets...

"My wife! I think she's dead!" Matt frantically tells park rangers that he and his wife, Marie, were hiking when she fell off a cliff into the raging river below. They start a search, but they aren't hopeful: no one could have survived that fall. It was a tragic accident.

But Matt's first wife also died in suspicious circumstances. And when the police pull a body out of the river, they have a lot more questions for Matt.

Detectives Loren and Spengler want to know if Matt is a grieving, twice-unlucky husband or a cold-blooded murderer. They dig into the couple's lives to see what they can unearth. And they find that love's got teeth, it's got claws, and once it hitches you to a person, it's tough to rip yourself free.

So what happens when you're done making it work?

My Review:

"If you try to kill your wife without a plan, you will fail.  There are plenty of assholes who do just that, men who decide to murder their significant other on the spur of the moment because they're angry or drunk or jealous or just plain tired of the nagging or they don't want to go through the hassle of a divorce, and they get caught.  They always get caught."

And with that beginning, I was hooked and found myself spiraling my way into this crazy read.  Men are known to be aggressive, conniving and manipulative at times.  Cheating on their wives, making their wives feel they are going crazy and start questioning themselves. They think they're so clever.. but really, it's the women you don't want to piss off.  Women are patient, calculating and when they have their minds set to something... well, you don't want to be on the bad side of their anger.

When in a relationship for a long time, particularly a marriage, things can start to get dull, complacent.  The cute things you loved at the beginning are now nothing more than tingles under the skin that get more and more irritating.  But then there are moments where you remember why you married that person... why you fell in love with them.  And those are the things you grasp onto... for better or worse, that's a marriage, no?  Matt and Marie take a hiking trip - a romantic trip to try and flame the embers of their long dilapidated marriage.  Next thing you know Marie has fallen off the side of a cliff.  Matt's wife has died... again.  This isn't his first marriage where his wife has died and he has been exonerated.  But where does the truth begin when the lies start to fall apart around him?

This book is all over the place but in a good way.  I really enjoyed Spengler - and the advice her mom gives her "You squeeze all their balls now." Maybe I related to her because we're both 1/2 Korean and I understood the hassles she went through.  I can only imagine how hard it is to be in the law enforcement field as a woman who doesn't get taken seriously enough.  Her bite made me giggle on more than one occasion.  I'm not sure if the background or side story within that field was really necessary but I also enjoyed it - along with the camaraderie between her and Loren.

There's a lot going on within this story. I found myself going AHA at around page 180 thinking I knew what was going to happen and I was half right... which hell, I gave myself a pat on the back for.  But nope - it went just a tiny bit in a different direction.  

Look, for avid thriller readers, this will be nothing too new.  However, this is most definite binge worthy read.  Short chapters, page turners and well, damn... I do love some crazy ass people so for me, pure love for this story.  I also enjoyed the different headings for each section. Kept me singing in my head - like I need more noise there. 😉


Jessica's Review:

The first pages had me instantly hooked - "If you try to kill your wife without a plan, you will fail." Talk about an opening sentence. AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE by JoAnn Chaney was an ironically timed read for me. Started and finished it the day I picked out my wedding dress. This was a total binge read and I only put it down because it was 1am and I was falling asleep.

Matt and Marie's marriage is hitting a rough patch. Everything they once loved about each other are now irritating and they find themselves resenting each other rather than loving the other. A nice trip away together should help, right? Well, things take a turn for the worse when Marie falls off a cliff on a hike. A tragic accident, or is it? This isn't the first time a wife of Matt's has turned up dead, is this a pattern or just horrible accidents?
We seem to bounce all over the place but not in a way that confuses you or loses you in the story. Plenty of twists throughout the book and the short chapters kept me flipping through. I read chapter to chapter, so when they're so short I fall victim to the "oh, only 5 pages? I can do one more chapter." cycle. I also enjoyed the chapter names, like my buddy reader, Chandra, I found myself singing them in my head a few times. 

Overall, this is a solid thriller. Plenty to keep you on your toes and really well-written crazy characters. Despite the horrible things men can do to their wives - cheating, manipulating them and causing paranoia - you never want to underestimate the power of a woman on a mission. I would definitely recommend this one to be on your winter TBR.

4/5 stars