Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

All By Myself, Alone

All By Myself, Alone
All By Myself, Alone

Friday, August 18, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829. 

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard. 

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?


WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER:




LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:



Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a 2013 Little, Brown and Company publication.

This story is mind-boggling and perhaps a little overwhelming at times.

As the blurb states, this story is inspired by true events that took place in Iceland in 1829-30.

Agnes, is convicted of murdering two people, one of whom was her lover, then sentenced to be executed by beheading.

She is sent to live out the remainder of her days on an isolated farm with a family forced to take her in because of a lack of prisons, and who are mortified, and even terrified, of having her under their roof.

Also, in tow is a young priest, Toti, who Agnes chose, specifically, to be her spiritual guide as she faces her imminent death.


This book came to my attention recently, and although I knew it would end badly, the book has achieved so many accolades, I decided to give it a try anyway.

I’m so glad I did. The author did an incredible job of fictionalizing Agnes’ story, capturing the bleak and barren Icelandic terrain and atmosphere, while aptly describing the stark living conditions, and superstitions of the day.

I thought I had emotionally prepared myself for what was to come, but I wasn’t expecting such an amazing story, which humanizes Agnes, and allows the full story to emerge, while Agnes works on the farm and eventually carves a niche for herself with the family who so reluctantly took her in.

Toti is also a terrific character, so open minded with Agnes, who listened to her with a sympathetic ear, not all together convinced of her guilt.

In the end, despite the lack of reprieve for Agnes, she’s able to hold her head up, to feel supported, comforted, and is at least spiritually exonerated by her priest and by others who surrounded her in those final harrowing days.

So, all my emotional preparedness was for naught. I ended up swallowing a huge lump in my throat, and felt nearly gutted by the time I turned the final page.

This book is obviously well researched and is exceptionally well written. Although the story is very sad, and the atmosphere is often heavy and depressing, the ending is still touching and uplifting in its way. Although, I do enjoy historical fiction, this is not the type of book I typically chose, but I am glad I stumbled across it and gave it a chance.


This is a riveting novel historical fiction fans will not want to miss.


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Burial-Rites-Novel-Hannah-Kent-ebook/dp/B00BAXFDBC/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burial-rites-hannah-kent/1114308482

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir.

Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award.

Burial Rites is her first novel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

All By Myself, Along- an Alivrah and Willy Mystery- By Mary Higgins Clark- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:


A glamorous cruise on a luxurious ocean liner turns deadly in the latest mystery from “Queen of Suspense” and #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark.

Fleeing a disastrous and humiliating arrest of her husband-to-be on the eve of their wedding, Celia Kilbride, a gems and jewelry expert, hopes to escape from public attention by lecturing on a brand-new cruise ship—the Queen Charlotte.

On board she meets eighty-six-year-old Lady Emily Haywood, “Lady Em,” as she is known throughout the world. Immensely wealthy, Lady Em is the owner of a priceless emerald necklace that she intends to leave to the Smithsonian after the cruise.

Three days out to sea Lady Em is found dead—and the necklace is missing. Is it the work of her apparently devoted assistant, Brenda Martin, or her lawyer-executor, Roger Pearson, and his wife, Yvonne, both of whom she had invited to join them on the cruise? Or is it Professor Henry Longworth, an acclaimed Shakespeare scholar who is lecturing on board? Or Alan Davidson, a guest on the ship who is planning to spread his wife’s ashes at sea? The list of suspects is large and growing. 

Celia, with the help of her new friends Willy and Alvirah Meehan, who are celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, sets out to find the killer, not realizing that she has put herself in mortal danger before the ship reaches its final destination.

Never, in all her long career as a #1 bestselling suspense novelist, has Mary Higgins Clark been in better form.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:


All By Myself AloneAll By Myself Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark is a 2017 Simon & Schuster publication.

It seems like it has been a while since I touched base with Alvirah and Willy, so it felt good to hear from them again.

In this eleventh installment in the series, Alvirah and Willy are celebrating their forty-fifth wedding anniversary by taking a cruise aboard a new luxury cruise liner, so opulent it could rival the Titanic.

Also on board is: Celia, who is there to give a series of lectures, but who is also trying to forget her ex-fiance, a con man who stole money from her friends, and has now implicated her in his plot- and ‘Lady Em’, an elderly woman carrying a priceless emerald she plans to donate to the Smithsonian.

But, once they are out to sea, Lady Em is found dead and the emerald is missing…


I enjoyed this one, which was little change of pace for our favorite lottery winners, because it was set aboard a cruise ship, which created the opportunity to introduce a variety of different characters, and of course the murderer has to be on board!!

There is no shortage of suspects or surprise developments along the way. I can’t say Alvirah and Willy were as hands on in the investigation as they sometimes are, and I felt Celia’s story was the more prominent one, but they make their fair share of contributions to the story.

For those unfamiliar with the Alivrah and Willy mysteries, they are always fun, very light, whodunits. With the exceptions of some mild language and adult themes, these stories are clean, and go very easy on the violence, making them a great choice for mystery fans of all ages and tastes. In fact, they could easily be categorized as ‘cozy mysteries’.

If you are familiar with the series, you know what to expect and will find this one on par with the previous installments.

Others, who may be expecting a novel along the lines of Clark’s stand -alone books or similar to her collaboration with Alafair Burke, may feel a little confused by its much lighter tones. So, I feel I should stress that these are very easy to read, are not terribly deep, and perhaps they should simply be enjoyed, taken at face value, and not over- analyzed.

Overall, I found this installment to be one of the better ones in the series and think fans of the author or of Alvirah and Willy, or cozy style mysteries, will want to check this one out.







GET YOUR COPY HERE:


https://www.amazon.com/Myself-Alone-Mary-Higgins-Clark-ebook/dp/B01HMXRYWY/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-by-myself-alone-mary-higgins-clark/1124015927

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, is the author of 46 books and counting: she’s written thirty-three suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel, Mount Vernon Love Story; two children’s books, including The Magical Christmas Horse; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. She has also written five holiday suspense novels with Carol Higgins Clark and The Cinderella Murder, a new thriller in collaboration with bestselling novelist Alafair Burke.

Clark’s books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone. Her books are beloved around the world and have made her an international bestseller many times over.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris- Feature and Review




ABOUT THE BOOK:


If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER:

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:


The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Masterful and frightening tale of suspense-


It was a dark and stormy night…

No matter how cliched that sounds, nothing sets the atmosphere and tone quite like a stormy night on dark and desolate highway.

Now imagine seeing a stranded motorist, waffling on the decision to stop and offer assistance or pass on by, then ultimately deciding it was safer to drive on past, especially since the driver didn’t appear to be injured and did not indicate they wanted help.

Then imagine hearing that the person you left all alone on the side of the road was murdered. If you had stopped, would that person still be alive?

Cass had promised her husband, she would avoid taking the shortcut that night, but changed her mind. Knowing he would be furious with her for taking such a risk, and feeling like a horrible human being for ignoring the driver, she never tells anyone what she witnessed.

She can’t stop dwelling on it, though, and the guilt nearly eats her alive. But, Cass has other issues to contend with as well. She has begun to experience some serious memory lapses. With her family history, this is especially troubling.

But, for the reader, it’s a huge red flag. Does Cass have vital information locked inside her mind that could finger a killer? Well, someone is worried about Cass, because soon after the murder, she begins receiving menacing phone calls she perceives as threatening.

To cap it all off, people are having a hard time taking Cass seriously after a series of baffling occurrences have her family and friends convinced she has early onset dementia.

Unsure of her own sanity, Cass begins a slow downward spiral, fighting her losing battle with memory loss, but determined to avenge the death of the woman whose life she feels responsible for.

Anyone who has read the runaway hit ‘Behind Closed Doors’, has probably been looking forward, with great anticipation, to the second novel by this author. Expectations were high, and the excitement about the book was palpable.

But, I decided to take a more cautionary approach, concerned that the book might suffer from the dreaded ‘second book hangover’.

But, I needn’t have worried. This book might not have had the same, ‘I can’t bear to watch”, edge to it, but it definitely sucked me in and kept me glued to the pages.

I think we have all heard those stories about stopping to help a stranger whose car has broken down. It’s the perfect setup for serial killers looking for their next victim, and has been the opening for countless eerie ghost stories. As badly as you might feel for the person, would you risk your life on a dark, lonely highway in the middle of a storm, with no cell service?

The other major theme is dementia. What a horrible realization it must be to discover you are, for all intents and purposes, losing your mind. If this insidious disease runs in your family, any tiny misplaced item or forgotten appointment could trigger alarm bells.

Playing on real fears and putting the reader inside the mind of a person living through those scenarios allows us to feel their confusion, experience their doubt, and understand their anguish. But, of course, we all know, there is something truly ominous brewing, and it is not clear who can be trusted, even Cass- or especially Cass.

I picked up on a few obvious clues along the way and pieced together a close enough guess as to what might be going on, but I enjoyed watching it play out, and was satisfied by the way it was all wrapped up in the end.

The concept is not original, and has been done often enough and notoriously enough, its format has gone down in pop culture history. However, the author did a fine job of modernizing a classic and ever effective plotline.

No, this book is not exactly like the author's debut novel, but it stands on its own merits and was a very solid psychological thriller in its own right.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/Breakdown-Gripping-Thriller-Bestselling-Author-ebook/dp/B01M2BPO4O/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-breakdown-b-a-paris/1124590042

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




From a Franco/Irish background, B.A. Paris was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before retraining as a teacher. She still lives in France and has five daughters. 

Her first book, Behind Closed Doors, is a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 36 languages. It has also been optioned for a film. Her second novel, The Breakdown, is available now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.

Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a "fallen" Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

READ AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:


Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder, #9)Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo is a 2017 Minotaur Books publication.

Another solid addition to this outstanding series!!

Do you ever really forget your first crush?

For Kate, Joseph King was the first boy she ever had tender feelings for. But, eight years ago, he was convicted of murdering his wife and sent to prison. However, he has managed to escape, and although it’s foolhardy, the first thought in his mind is his children.

Apprised of the situation, Kate isn’t convinced Joseph would come back home, but when he ambushes her, a standoff ensues, with tragic results. But, Kate soon comes to believe Joseph might not be the person who killed his wife.

Compelled to investigate the matter out of respect for her old friend, Kate manages to stir up a hornet’s nest, putting her career on the line and maybe even her life.

I love cold cases and this storyline fits neatly into that category. The author once again does a terrific job of portraying the Amish community and how is contrasted with the ‘Enlischers’. Kate, of course, understands bother sides of the equation, which is a big help in many ways, but also works against her in some cases.

Her past friendship with Joseph complicates things for Kate. Not only are her loyalties questioned, but she is also in danger of losing her hard won battle for respect in the law enforcement community. It looks like the odds are against her, but Kate is determined to get to the truth. In the meantime, some shocking revelations spill out, with repercussions, no one could have seen coming.

I will admit I was onto parts of the game, early on in the story, but the well -placed revelations and twists still kept me on my toes.

As always, the characterizations are stellar, and my familiarity with the cast only makes that even more impressive. The story is well constructed, deeply absorbing, with just the right blend of emotion, action and suspense, with the added personal touches capping everything off.

This is one of the best mystery series out there right now. Kate is a balanced character that makes her identifiable and likeable, but her background and the darker aspects of her life, also makes her a complex character with many layers.

The roadblocks and difficulties of communicating with the Amish, takes away the usual avenues of investigation at times, and the team must resort to old fashioned leg work to solve the case, while working around some deep -rooted suspicions and peculiarities of the residents.

This setup never fails to fascinate me, with the only drawback being I finish the book too fast and have to wait too long for the next one!


Overall, this was a very satisfying installment in this superb series!!


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Down-Dark-Road-Burkholder-Novel-ebook/dp/B01NCNGVL3/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/down-a-dark-road-linda-castillo/1124568773

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Linda Castillo knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer—and penned her first novel at the age of thirteen. She’s published thirty books for three New York publishing houses and won numerous industry awards, including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover, the Golden Heart, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and a nomination for the prestigious Rita.

Her debut thriller, SWORN TO SILENCE, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Booklist—and spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The following books in the series also hit the NYT and USA Today lists and became international bestsellers. Recently, SWORN TO SILENCE was adapted into a two-hour original movie re-titled AN AMISH MURDER and starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder.

In her spare time, Linda enjoys trail riding, and dabbles in barrel racing. She resides in Texas with her husband, two rescued Blue Heelers, and two Appaloosa horses. She’s currently at work on her next novel, a thriller set in Amish Country and featuring Chief of Police Kate Burkholder.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure comes a thriller that ventures into science, secrecy and danger.

“I very much need to be dead.”

These are the chilling words left behind by a man who had everything to live for—but took his own life. In the aftermath, his widow, Jane Hawk, does what all her grief, fear, and fury demand: find the truth, no matter what.

People of talent and accomplishment, people admired and happy and sound of mind, have been committing suicide in surprising numbers. When Jane seeks to learn why, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America. Her powerful enemies are protecting a secret so important—so terrifying—that they will exterminate anyone in their way.

But all their power and viciousness may not be enough to stop a woman as clever as they are cold-blooded, as relentless as they are ruthless—and who is driven by a righteous rage they can never comprehend. Because it is born of love.

WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER:



  READ AN EXERPT:





MY REVIEW:


The Silent Corner (Jane Hawk, #1)The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz is a 2017 Bantam publication.

This is the best Koontz novel I have read in a very long time.

After Jane’s decorated husband commits suicide, she detects a noticeable uptick in suicides, prompting her to do a little research into the matter.

The FBI agent quickly realizes her findings have made someone very nervous, which prompts her to relocate her son to a safe place, while she goes in search of answers.

The horror she uncovers is a spine tingling world of brain implants and mind control, evil geniuses, bent on control, drunk on power and wealth, armed with technological advances that will both blow your mind and keep you up at night.

Jane is an awesome protagonist with just the right balance of ‘bad ass’ and smarts, and human compassion. Her maternal instincts coupled with her vigilante mission is a riveting juxtaposition amid Jane’s terrifying battle to stay one step ahead of the game and come out alive.

I did enjoy the finer tech details, which made the story seem shockingly realistic, and does make for some pretty intense scenarios. The pacing is very brisk, with little down time along the way, the plot is very well constructed, with most of the I’s dotted and t’s crossed.

I can see why this book would appeal to the video media- movies or television, although I dislike books written with this very thing in mind. But, because I was so relieved this book didn’t suck, like so many of Koontz recent offerings, I was willing to overlook a lot of that pandering, and slick production, which deprived the novel of a certain level of grittiness that would have served it well, in my opinion.

Still, overall, I am on board for this series, and hope the upcoming installments are on par with this one.

4 stars


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Silent-Corner-Novel-Suspense-ebook/dp/B01LY7FAHO/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-silent-corner-dean-koontz/1124596058

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






Acknowledged as "America's most popular suspense novelist" (Rolling Stone) and as one of today's most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Dean R. Koontz has also published under the names Leigh NicholsBrian CoffeyDavid AxtonOwen WestDeanna Dwyerand Aaron Wolfe.

Dean, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirit of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

THE SILENT CORNER is available 6.20.17

Facebook: Facebook.com/DeanKoontzOfficial
Twitter: @DeanKoontz
Website: DeanKoontz.com

Friday, August 11, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Secret of Mirror House by Jennifer Blake- Feature and Review





ABOUT THE BOOK:

THE SECRET OF MIRROR HOUSE:

A Jennifer Blake Classic! Romantic gothic suspense set in the Deep South in the 1870s.

After Amelia Harveston loses her mother to tragic circumstances, she fears she will be forced into poverty and the position of a desperate woman. When distant relatives invite her to live with them at Mirror House, the plantation home built by her grandfather, she readily accepts. Her expectations of a warm family embrace where she'll be loved and protected, though, are soon shattered.

Mirror House is a home haunted by the past, by dark secrets and by the cruel games its inhabitants play. Alone and with no one to confide in, Amelia struggles to unearth the house's secrets. Then the accidents begin, and Amelia knows she's become the target for the hate that infests it.

Out of the despair, two seeming allies appear. Two offers of marriage promise sanctuary. Both men claim to love her. One of them is lying. Amelia must choose the one man whose embrace promises the love and safety her very life depends on. But the house, it seems, has other ideas...



READ AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:


The Secret of Mirror HouseThe Secret of Mirror House by Jennifer Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Secret of Mirror House by Jennifer Blake is a 2013 Steel Magnolia Press publication. (Original publication date: 1969)

I love these classic Gothic novels!!

After her mother's death, Amelia finds herself nearly destitute, so when distant relatives extend an invitation for her to come stay with them, she doesn't hesitate to accept.

However, Amelia begins to regret that decision almost immediately, when she encounters a house full of relatives who seem to dislike her on sight.

She is particularly shaken by the response she receives from Neville, a man who has never married, is rude, blunt, and even cruel at times.
But, at least her cousin, James is friendly... On the surface, at least.

But, Amelia is doubly shocked when it becomes clear her relatives want her marry one of these gentlemen, the sooner the better. Not only that, they seem to have a preference. But, Amelia has no interest in marriage, much less to either of these two men.

The tension mounts as the family seems to become more desperate and worried about the threat Amelia represents for their future.

Is there anyone in the house Amelia can trust? Will she learn the secrets of Mirror House?

This book was written at the height of the Gothic mystery/romance craze, but boasts a historical setting which gives it a more sinister atmosphere, as does the Southern locale. The extreme heat and humidity that hangs in the air intensifies the feeling of hostility and increases the level of suspense.

The author did a very good job of capturing the true Southern Gothic tones, building the tension at just the right pace. Because the story was set in the 1870's, a time when women had few options, Amelia could have become a stereotypical 'damsel in distress', but instead, she stands her ground, even when she was subjected to numerous mind games and trickery, displaying bravery, even when she began to fear for her life.



The romance is clean, and while there are some adult situations, anyone can enjoy these stories.

So, although this book was originally published back in the late sixties, it manages to stand the test of time for the most part.

I was so excited to see these books out there in the digital market because they are very hard to find in paperback. For people like myself, who loved borrowing these books from their mothers, it is so nice to be able to buy them , re-read them, and keep them forever. It is also a chance for readers to discover them anew and gain a new audience.




A wonderful and rare Gothic Classic- 4 stars

GET YOUR COPY HERE:
https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Mirror-Classic-Gothics-Collection-ebook/dp/B00GY5J2IQ/

ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE KINDLE UNLIMITED PROGRAM!! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jennifer Blake has been called "the steel magnolia of women's fiction" for her enduring career as an author. She has also been lauded as a "pioneer of the romance genre" and an "icon of the romance industry." A New York Times and international best selling author from the publication of "Love's Wild Desire" in 1977, she is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, member of the RWA and Affaire de Coeur Halls of Fame, and recipient of the RWA Lifetime Achievement Rita. She holds numerous other honors, including two Maggies, two Holt Medallions, multiple Reviewer's Choice awards, the Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times BookReviews Magazine, and the Frank Waters Award for literary excellence. She has written more than 75 books with translations in 22 languages and more than 35 million copies in print.

After three decades in traditional publishing, Jennifer established Steel Magnolia Press LLC with Phoenix Sullivan in 2011. This independent publishing company now publishes her work. FMI: http://www.jenniferblake.com. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:



All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All is not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is a 2016 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Oh man, did this book mess with my head.

Compared to some psychological thrillers that keep your heart rate up with an ‘easy on the joints’, low impact workout, this book was like a high impact workout for the mind. So much so, my poor brain needed time to recover before I could write this review.

After Jenny Kramer is brutally raped, she is given a drug to make her forget what happened. But, instead of helping her cope, it only stymies her ability to heal emotionally and move forward with her life, which leads her into a very dark place.

In the meantime, Jenny’s parents, Tom and Charlotte, deal with the fallout, which turns the cracks in their marriage into asteroid sized craters.

Shocking secrets spill out, and the investigation turns up evidence that suggests the attacker might not be a stranger, but someone living right there in their small community.

This novel kept me on edge from the first page forward. There is so much to think about, so many layers, and corners filled with dark shadows, paranoia, revenge, and anger. But, often it’s the morality and ethical questions that really added the spice to the pot, on several different fronts.

One of the most compelling topics this book addresses is the use of a drug that could erase your memory of a traumatic event. On the surface, this may seem like an act of compassion, but it raises a plethora of questions, which could certainly inspire some interesting debate.

But, there are other dilemmas that arise, and frankly, I was just as torn over those issues as with anything else going on.

Not only that, we see every individual in treatment go through intense therapy, both as individuals and as a group. Watching them all come to terms with their pasts, taking slow, measured steps toward healing, and seeing real promising results, despite the incredibly bizarre circumstances, was often a harrowing, but fascinating process.

With so much going on, these individual threads could have easily spiraled out of control, but the author kept them right on track and then slowly merged them until I was sitting there watching what was sure to become a spectacular eruption, frozen in my seat unable to tear my eyes from the impending collision.

I really, really liked this book!! It’s absorbing, thought provoking, troubling, tense, and riveting! I could not have guessed the way things would turn out, was never sure who to trust, and had to ask myself on more than one occasion: “What would I do in this situation?’

Be warned, however, that there are graphic descriptions of rape, with some very disturbing passages to read through, but because of the memory erasing side effects, it was necessary to delve deeper into the physical trauma, and was relevant to the story.

Also, it is worth mentioning that while the drug featured in this story has not been marketed in real life, there are drugs similar to it, that are currently being tested, along with therapy, that could indeed alter, impact, or erase memories.

Overall, this is super smart, perfectly paced, psychological thriller, unique and original, and I really appreciated the challenge it presented, how it held my attention and the way everything wrapped up. There are still a few secrets held close to the vest, but the reader knows all, and I had to give the author a big nod of approval for giving me that insider knowledge which was a nice touch and a perfect way to conclude the story.

I think the book deserves the five -star treatment!!


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/All-Not-Forgotten-Wendy-Walker/dp/1250097916/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-is-not-forgotten-wendy-walker/1122537672


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Wendy Walker is an attorney and former investment banker. Her first thriller, All Is Not Forgotten, has become an international bestseller with movie rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Warner Brothers. The paperback will be out on July 18, 2017. Her second thriller, Emma In The Night, will be released on August 8, 2017. Wendy lives in Connecticut where she is busy raising her three sons and writing her next novel.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:


From Senator Al Franken - #1 bestselling author and beloved SNL alum - comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that.This is a book about an unlikely campaign that had an even more improbable ending: the closest outcome in history and an unprecedented eight-month recount saga, which is pretty funny in retrospect.
It's a book about what happens when the nation's foremost progressive satirist gets a chance to serve in the United States Senate and, defying the low expectations of the pundit class, actually turns out to be good at it.
It's a book about our deeply polarized, frequently depressing, occasionally inspiring political culture, written from inside the belly of the beast.
In this candid personal memoir, the honorable gentleman from Minnesota takes his army of loyal fans along with him from Saturday Night Live to the campaign trail, inside the halls of Congress, and behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic and/or hilarious moments of his new career in politics.
Has Al Franken become a true Giant of the Senate? Franken asks readers to decide for themselves.



LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW:


Al Franken, Giant of the SenateAl Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Al Franken: Giant of the Senate is a 2017 Twelve publication.

It’s always a slippery slope when reviewing a non-fiction politically based book. However, in the states, the current political polarization makes it even more of a challenge.

But, never fear, this review will not be a political commentary. Franken's views fall within party lines, and if you are a democrat you will agree with him on most issues, and if not, you do know going in what his values are and what his political opinions will be, so I won't delve into those here.

‘They tell you in this country that you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And we all believe that. But, first you’ve got to have the boots”


Al Franken wasn’t really on my radar, politically, until after the 2016 election. I watched all the confirmation hearings, and of course anyone following politics will know Franken asked some pretty tough questions and caused quite a stir by asking what on the surface were pretty innocuous questions. He had done his homework, which is more than I could say about most participating in those proceedings. And...

I loved it!!



WATCH AL IN ACTION:

I knew Franken had been a writer for Saturday Night Live and had been elected to the senate, representing the state of Minnesota. But, since he does not represent my state, I never heard much about him or how he was doing in his job as senator.

But, once I saw him in action, I was very impressed and couldn’t wait to read more about his life.

Franken is naturally funny. He doesn’t have to work at it at all, coming up with hilarious quips right off the top of his head. However, in Washington, these folks are not exactly known for their sense of humor. Therefore, Al has had to tone down his humor in order to be taken seriously, to appease other members of his party, and of course to keep himself from saying something that might get him in hot water.

He does a great job of balancing his gregarious personality with the seriousness of his job, and frankly, it’s too bad, other members of Congress worry so much about making jokes or laughing at the absurdity of politics, or at their own party.




But, Franken is able to release a bit of his pent -up humor in this book, which detailed his very interesting journey into politics, the messiness of campaigning, raising money, mistakes he made, the challenges he faced, and his hopes for the future.

I was impressed by his sharpness, his work ethic, and how he plays the political game. It is obvious he and his wife have a strong relationship, and he enjoys his family, which was very refreshing.

Al will surprise you with how prepared he is, how serious he takes his responsibilities, his willingness to work with those on the other side of the aisle, his openness, and sense of fair play.

Al is a democrat through and through, but even if you are not, you have to love the dedication, the sincerity he exudes and believe me, with only one notable, (and spot on), exception, Al gets along, and is respectful to his Republican counterparts, working side by side with them to actually see results.

I thoroughly enjoyed Al’s humor, the glimpse into his personal life, looking back on some memorable SNL skits and personalities, and reading about Al’s tenuous political beginnings. His journey has been very interesting! Al has a larger than life persona and I believe his state is lucky to have them on their side.

This book also has some marvelous personal photographs, and his grandchildren are simply adorable!!


GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Al-Franken-Giant-Senate-ebook/dp/B01LL8BRRE/ref

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/al-franken-giant-of-the-senate-al-franken/1124564427



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Senator Al Franken has represented Minnesota in the United States Senate since 2009. Before entering politics, he was an award-winning comedy writer, author, and radio talk show host. He's been married to his wife, Franni, for 41 years — many of them happy. They have two children, Thomasin and Joe, and three grandchildren. Senator Franken graduated from Harvard College and received his doctorate in right-wing megalomania studies from Trump University.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time. 

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.


READ AN EXCERPT:






MY REVIEW: Black Tie Optional (Wild Wedding, #1)Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Black tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This fast-paced, quick-witted romantic comedy is an ‘enemies to lovers’ themed story, with a side of opposites attracts.

Oliva is a humanitarian, hippie-ish, organic, animal lover, who is hounding the obnoxious, but very wealthy, Coleman Grant, about saving an endangered species.

The pair mixes like bleach and ammonia, sending toxic fumes into the air every time they meet. But, neither one of them are blind and secretly acknowledge, to themselves, a grudging attraction to the other.

But, when Oliva heads to Vegas for a girl’s night out, she drunkenly ends up in Coleman’s bed. The next morning, nursing a painful hangover all she wants is to make a hasty, albeit humiliating exit, but Cole surprises her with a little proposition.

Cole’s father left an odd codicil in his will, and it is apparently etched in stone. His grandmother is hoping Cole won't be able to find a bride in the allotted time frame, so that she can control his money.

Desperate to save all that he has spent his adult life working to achieve, Cole strikes a bargain with Olivia.

If she marries him, he will do whatever she asked to help her endangered species. Once the will is settled, his company is safe and securely in his hands, they can go their separate ways…. If they don’t kill each other first.

I haven’t read a romantic comedy like this one in a very long time, and after reading some serious, heavy, and dark material, I was ready for something fun.

Opposites attract, enemies to lovers, and pretend marriages have been covered six ways to Sunday, and this story doesn’t necessarily introduce anything all that unique or original to those tropes, per se, but the lightning fast pacing, the sharp wit and dialogue, the laugh out loud funny predicaments, topped off by the sizzling hot chemistry between the main characters, kept the story from falling prey to the dangers of predictability.

I did appreciate the level of intimacy, which stayed inside my comfort zone, and the character growth that developed in the midst of this zany, madcap, scheme.

At the end of the day, sometimes the most important thing is how entertained I was, how much fun I had reading the book, and if, by the last paragraph, I have come away with a smile on my face or find myself in better spirits.

That’s a pretty tall order these days, for me, but this story managed to pull it off, giving me a slight reprieve from life’s stresses, and if you can pull that off, you deserve a round of applause and have my sincere thanks.




  GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Black-Tie-Optional-Wild-Wedding-ebook/dp/B01N27SP0C/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-tie-optional-ann-marie-walker/1125581429

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Ann Marie Walker writes steamy contemporary romance. She is the author of the Wild Wedding series from St. Martin's Press and co-author of the Chasing Fire series (Remind Me, Release Me, Reclaim Me, Embrace Me) from Penguin Books. You can find her on twitter as @AnnMarie_Walker or via her website www.AnnMarieWalker.com where she would be happy to chat about alpha males, lemon drop martinis and British supermodel David Gandy.