MONDAY UPDATES & A BLOGGING HIATUS

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Hi Everyone! I know it’s been pretty quiet on the blog these last couple weeks, life has certainly been busy for me and blogging has taken a backseat. Among other reasons, my reading life has taken a weird turn in that I don’t seem all that interested in reading my advanced copies or any new releases lately. Needless to say, that makes having any reviews wrote to post to the blog kind of difficult. What I have been reading is somewhat surprising to me, but on vacation a couple weeks ago I read my first Colleen Hoover book…It Ends With Us…and I was HOOKED! I absolutely loved that book and have to thank my friend Brandie at Running On Words and Wine for recommending I read it.  I had wondered for so long why so many readers seemed consumed by her books but now I know and I’ve proceeded to work my way through her backlist. Here’s what I’ve read in the past 2 weeks….

 

I loved all these books so yes, I’m having a Colleen Hoover reading love affair at the moment and my poor ARCS and new releases from the library will have to wait as I make my way through the rest of her backlist. I love it when I find a new favorite author, especially when they have a significant backlist.

A BLOGGING HIATUS….

During my unexpected blogging break over these last couple weeks, I’ve realized that I’m feeling a little unmotivated about blogging and can’t say I have much of a push to get back in the swing of things so I’ve decided to take a blogging hiatus for now. I still plan on visiting other blogs as I want to know what you all are reading and reviewing, it’ll just be on a more sporadic basis. If you’d like to see what I’m reading I’ll still be posting on Goodreads and working on my challenge. You can use my Goodreads link on the blog or send me a friend request at itsbooktalk@gmail.com.  Happy Reading to you all and hopefully I’ll be back soon!

Chatting with Ruth Emmie Lang, author of the excellent debut Beasts Of Extraordinary Circumstance

I love talking with authors, so I was thrilled when Ruth Emmie Lang so generously agreed to do a Q & A for my blog. I loved her debut, Beasts of Extraordinary Experience, (Nov, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press) which featured a character (Weylyn) who I won’t soon forget. Read on to find out her inspiration for Weylyn as well as how she wrote such an imaginative, unputdownable book…

 

How did you develop Weylyn’s character? Inspiration, motivations for him?

I knew I wanted my main character to be someone who lived with wolves. Weylyn’s personality came about naturally as I considered what a person living in the woods and cut off from society would act like. To me, that meant someone who was warm and open and not-yet-cynical. I could have gone the opposite route and made Weylyn someone who is scared of other people simply because of his lack of exposure, but I decided to go with the former because the latter was more expected.

I read that you wanted readers to empathize with him, what was the most important facet of his character that helped ensure we would love him because of course we did and I immediately felt a connection with him so you nailed the empathy part

I think his openness is what draws the other characters in the book to him. This borders on naïve sometimes, but it gives him a childlike sense of wonder that adults are too often in short supply of. I wanted my readers to be able image themselves as any one of these narrators, sharing in an adventure with someone who knows how to find beauty in places they maybe hadn’t thought to look.

What is it about nature that inspires you? Animals?

Everything about nature inspires me: forests, mountains, oceans, you name it! If I could spend all day outside, I would (except that I’m a redhead, so that would probably be ill-advised). I’m also an animal-lover (particularly dogs), so that heavily influences my writing.

Can you tell us a little about how you write, do you outline ahead of time or did you write Beast’s free flow as you went along?

No outlines. I’m a figure-it-out-as-I-go-along kind of writer, but I do have a general idea of where the story is going (most of the time). There was a period of a couple of months where I had to completely shelf Beasts because I had no idea where the story was going next.

For me, Beast’s had so many interesting facets, it’s coming of age, magical, a love story, a friendship story, a story about fate…What facet did you most want readers to take away from your book?

I’d like to think that my book would inspire someone to have an adventure of their own, or to simply go outside and appreciate the world around them. Also, Weylyn demonstrates that you can live simply and still be happy, and that meaningful relationships are more important that material possessions.

What was your biggest fear in writing this story?

That is was too weird to get published! I knew I was taking a risk, but I’m glad I did. It was the story I wanted to tell, and I think if I had played it safe, I wouldn’t have put the same time and care into it.

What did this story teach you about yourself and the writing process?

It taught me that I am still able to write even under difficult circumstances. I was having a very rough year when parts of this story were written, but it doesn’t show on the page. Writing Beasts was like therapy for me during that time.

For would be writers, what was the best and worst part about the whole writing and publishing process? Was Beast’s bought immediately or did you receive initial rejection letters?

The best part is when you finally land a book deal. Beasts did receive rejections, so I was trying not to get my hopes up, but when my agent called me with the offer, I was over the moon. The worst part of the publishing process is querying agents, because that’s the first real hurdle you have to clear to get your book published. It can be hard to hear that someone doesn’t want to rep you, but ultimately, it’s about finding the right fit.

Your writing is just gorgeous, can you tell us about your background? Have you always been a writer, do you have a writing degree or a background in literature?

Thank you! I was an English major in college and took several creative writing classes during my time there, but I started writing when I was 9 or 10. I don’t think you need a degree to become a writer, but I do think you need to read a lot of books to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Which authors inspire you and why?

The Lord of the Rings made me want to become a writer. I loved them so much that I knew I wanted to tell stories in some form or another. As far as writing style, I love Karen Russell. Her prose is concise and whimsical, and her stories have just the right amount of weirdness.

Do you have any favorite books you’d like to share?

Other than the work I discussed above, it’s constantly changing. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction. American Fire and Wild are two of my recent favorite reads.

Do you have any current reads sitting on your nightstand?

I just started The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.

I for one will be waiting somewhat impatiently for your next book, can you share any info about it?

Not yet 😉 But I am currently working on something I think has potential.

Do you have a favorite quote about writing and/or books?

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman

 

Many, many thanks to Ruth Emmie Lang for taking the time to answer these questions! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit more about her writing process and her wonderful debut book, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance.

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published May 2007 By Algonquin Books

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932 

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

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This was a book I resisted reading for so long due to the circus setting and I could’ve kicked myself because I LOVED it! I’m all about star crossed lovers so really this was a perfect book for me and the circus setting and time period just helped to enhance the story. The suspense was often palpable and I would definitely put this book in the unputdownable, page turning category. There’s a little bit of everything in this story…drama, thrills, suspense, heartbreak, mystery…plus excellent characterization which puts this into the must read category for me. If this all sounds good to you, I highly recommend giving this one a try

HAPPY READING!

 

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

Kaila at The Traveling Inkwell

REVIEW: THE BROKEN GIRLS By Simone St. James

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Publication March 20, 2018 By Berkley

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

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The beginning of this story completely pulled me in…a young girl, alone, on a dark road road near woods…when all of sudden she’s no longer alone! What an atmospheric, dramatic start to a story that was just outright creepy in parts. As stated in the blurb, the novel alternates between the girl’s boarding school in 1950 and Fiona’s life in 2014. Fiona actually has ties to the school as her sister was murdered in the field surrounding the school. The question that has taken over Fiona’s life is: what really happened to her sister on the night she was murdered all those years ago? There were no witnesses, no footprints, no evidence at the scene, yet her boyfriend was tried and convicted…did he really kill her or was there a more sinister force behind her death?

Then we have the storyline from 1950 and the four roommates who became best friends until one of them vanishes. For the first half of the book, I was slightly more interested in this storyline as the boarding school was just plain creepy and I really liked the girls; I felt bad for each of them. The author did a fantastic job of creating an atmosphere of gloom, dread, and eeriness. I felt worried for the girls. I was actually much more invested in the girls’ story than I was Fiona’s, mainly because I found Fiona hard to like or relate to. Things seemed to fall into place a little too easily for her.

I found the first half of the book to be much faster paced than the second half. I’m not sure exactly how or why my reading shifted but it did and I found myself skimming scenes along with losing my ability to “believe” the ghost story. For me, a little ghost goes a long way and in the second half the ghost story became a bit over the top for me. I was surprised by the resolution to the girls’ story from 1950, much more so than Fiona’s which was resolved way too easily and predictably in my opinion. Overall, this was a stronger first half story for me. If you enjoy atmospheric ghost stories with alternating timelines and subtle mysteries then definitely give this a try.

Many thanks to Berkley via Netgalley for my copy

LET’S DISCUSS…ARE “TWISTY” PUBLISHING BUZZWORDS STILL HOT…OR NOT

MY THOUGHTS…

I feel a change in the air…the publishing air that is…and it involves the ever-present marketing blurbs for books. Those hook-the-reader tantalizers that have, since the publication and sky rocketing popularity of Gone Girl in 2012, inundated us with buzzwords like “twisty,” “unreliable narrator,” and psychological (fill in the blank). It would seem that readers and publishers alike couldn’t get enough of the “girl” who…lost her memory, had her child kidnapped, killed her husband, drank too much, lied about her identity…and on and on. We get it, she’s unreliable and can’t be trusted. But is she on her way out?
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This premise has been so popular that an entire publishing subgenre exists based on it. But…there seems to be a subtle shift happening among readers (well, at least me and maybe a couple others), one involving reverse psychology if you will. I, for one, have learned the hard way to run (metaphorically speaking) the other way when I see any of the above mentioned buzzwords in a book’s blurb. Let me give you an example. A book is compared to Gone Girl which yes I really enjoyed and/or said book is touted as having “twists I won’t see coming,” and that’s it, I was hooked.  I must read this book and be dazzled off my feet by the very best plot surprises I never saw coming.

Then,  I read it and find out that there are no twists or that I could see them coming from a mile away.
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Disappointment ensues. I’ve went round and round this “twisty” curve one too many times that now I’m at the point that if I see those words in a book’s marketing I decide NOT to read it. I know, this may seem harsh, what about all the potentially amazing books I’m missing out on? I’ll take my chances. I don’t think I’m alone, however, because I’m hearing whispers among my reading friends and fellow book bloggers who’re taking the same stance.

But wait, there’s a publishing light at the end of this twisty tunnel I believe and it involves letting a book stand on its own…no Gone Girl comparisons, no use of the word “twisty” or “unreliable narrator”. Sound too simple? It’s not. It’s pure genius in my opinion and it’s working its magic. I recently read and loved Laura Lippman’s new book Sunburn and Sally Hepworth’s The Family Next Door that made no mention of those trendy buzzwords in either book’s marketing but absolutely turned out to be full of unexpected surprises and narrators who were rather untrustworthy. Yes, I think the tide’s a turnin.

What do you think? Am I the only one with these thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether these publishing buzzwords still pull you in or drive you away?! 

 

8 books on my Spring Reading List

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As much as I love reading by the fire and cozy nights under a blanket with a glass of wine and my current read, I’m so READY to say goodbye to winter and hello spring! With that being said, I have quite a few upcoming spring reads that sound pretty good but for this post I’ve picked the top 8 I’m most excited about. I’ll give you a sneak peak with my short thoughts, rather than just putting in lengthy blurbs. I hope some or all spark your interest…bring on the pre-orders and library holds!

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The Room on Rue Amelie March 27, 2018 by Gallery Books 

For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls, this powerful novel of fate, resistance, and family—by the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting and When We Meet Again—tells the tale of an American woman, a British RAF pilot, and a young Jewish teenager whose lives intersect in occupied Paris during the tumultuous days of World War II. Rich with historical drama and emotional depth, this is an unforgettable story that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

I was drawn in yet again by the “for fans of ” marketing ploy comparing this to The Nightingale. I just couldn’t resist. That and early reviews on Goodreads are very positive for this one. Fingers crossed it lives up to the comparison

 

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We Own the Sky April 3, 2018 By Park Row

Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness.

I’m a sucker for love stories that hint of loss and finding one’s way back so this debut sounds right up my alley.

 

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The Craftsman   April 5, 2018 By Trapeze

Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.
Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.  Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play?
***This publishes in the UK first so the link I’ve provided is for Book Depository, it’s not an affiliate for me, I’m pre-ordering my copy from them!***

This is my MOST anticipated book of spring, Sharon Bolton is one of my very favorite authors and early buzz for this is that it’s one of her best and scary creepy. I can’t wait.

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Love and Other Words April 10 By Gallery Books 

Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her…

I love stories about the one who got away, first loves and new loves colliding, etc and this seems to have all those elements. Plus people seem to love this writing duo, here’s hoping I do too

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You Think It, I’ll Say It April 24, 2018 by Random House 

The theme that unites these stories in this dazzling first collection by Curtis Sittenfeld is how even the cleverest people tend to misread others, and how much we all deceive ourselves. Sharp and tender, funny and wise, this collection shows Sittenfeld’s knack for creating real, believable characters that spring off the page, while also skewering contemporary mores with brilliant dry wit. 

 

This is a curiosity pick for me. I loved her previous book, Eligible, and I love the idea of hearing her take on how we often misread others. I’m definitely trying something new here since I don’t ever read short stories but I feel pretty confident that this author will deliver

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Tin Man May 15, 2018 by G.P Putnam’s Sons

An unforgettable and heartbreaking novel celebrating love in all of its forms 

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.

Ellis and Michael are twelve-year-old boys when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This sounds like another potentially heartbreaking love story so I’m in. And it hints of a mystery as well…I really want to know what happened to Michael and what about all those years in between! I have very high hopes for this one and it’s already gotten tons of high ratings on Goodreads (I’m not reading ANY reviews)

 

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Paper Ghosts May 15, 2018 by Ballantine Books 

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer.

That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted.

Before his admission to a care home for dementia

Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.

Only she’s not his daughter and, if she has her way, he’s not coming back . . .

I love stories where a person’s guilt or innocence for murder is called into question so this book pushed all my must read buttons. The did he or didn’t he and what will she find out and do about it has me very excited for this read

 

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The Outsider May 22, 2018 By Scribner 

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.
As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge questions surface about Terry Maitland who seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can

I’m all about this story  and the fact that IT’S STEPHEN KING! Even though I didn’t care for Sleeping Beauties (it was a DNF for me), I ‘m super excited about this book and I fully expect to be creeped out and turning the pages late into the night…I can’t wait!

So, what do you think? Any of these interest you or are already on your list for Spring? I’d love to hear what you think and also what’s on your must read list this Spring

HAPPY READING! 

 

 

 

 

IT’S MONDAY WHAT ARE YOU READING?

 

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Hosted by The Book Date

Happy Monday everyone! I had a great weekend, not only in terms of reading but also because I attended one of my very favorite places to go every spring called The Gift of Light Expo which is a mind/body/health/wellness expo. I love it because it includes the opportunity to sit down with many psychics and if you recall my post about The Immortalists you’ll remember I have 2 favorite psychics I chat with every year. It’s enlightening and so much fun! On the reading front I had a bit of an ARC crisis last week as I tried to read a couple of my upcoming ones and I couldn’t get into them. I know I’m not the only mood reader out there, so those of you who are as well will understand that sometimes only a certain genre will “hit” you and for me this past week it’s been…wait for it…romance!! I feel like overall I don’t read a lot of romance but when I come across well-written, angst filled, juicy drama I just love it. Yes, I’m also a sucker for love triangles, that’s probably why I love The Bachelor, isn’t that the ultimate love triangle?? So, you may be surprised about my current reads but I’d love to hear from you if you have other top romance recommendations for me…your favorites and must reads…bring them on!!

RECENTLY READ…

Collide is book one of two in the Collide series and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing drew me in immediately and once I settled in with my glass of wine, I flew through this book in one evening. This was exactly the type of read I was looking for and I don’t know how I haven’t come across Gail McHugh before.  Pulse is book two and I also read it in a day. These definitely need to be read in order. While I liked Collide a smidge more, I did find a certain twist the author included in Pulse to be so surprising and unexpected that I found myself seriously considering throwing my kindle across the room! In the end, I recovered and my kindle is fine:) Check back later this week for mini reviews of both. ***In the meantime, if anyone knows why Gail McHugh hasn’t wrote a book in almost 3 years please let me know, I want to start Amber to Ashes but apparently it ends in a cliffhanger and the next book has never come out***

 

TRIED BUT WASN’T FEELING….

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Well, I got to about 24% (kindle reading) which is a lot for a book I kind of liked but wasn’t really feeling and then I decided I really didn’t care about picking it back up. It wasn’t that it was bad either because I thought the beginning was great but for some reason the storyline stalled and I lost interest. As others have suggested I’ll try a different Bohjalian at another time.

 

PODCAST I’M LOVING…..

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You guys know I love podcasts and true crime so I’m thrilled I found this podcast which has kept me busy through several long drives and house projects. Georgia and Karen bring a dark humor vibe to their show (they’re comedians) and I just love it. I highly recommend starting with their episode titled Project Artichoke if you decide to give it a try

 

UPCOMING READING POSSIBILITIES….

Both of these sound great so I may head back into dark and scary with The Sandman or  psychological tension and suspense with Tangerine. Of course I may also grab another romance to squeeze in this week!

Hope you have a great reading week and please feel free to give me some of your favorite must reads in romance

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

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***Before I get to this week’s pick, I wanted to update you on the upcoming discussion post for Rebecca…the consensus was that many others haven’t read it either (yay!) but needed longer to get to it so I’ve moved the date to Thurs. May 31st! Can’t wait to read and discuss this classic with all of you***

 

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

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Published May 2006 By Bantam

My Rating: 4/5 Stars  

What would you do for love? Would you die? Would you kill?
We have your wife. You can get her back for two million cash. Landscaper Mitchell Rafferty thinks it must be some kind of joke. He was in the middle of planting impatiens in the yard of one of his clients when his cell phone rang. Now he’s standing in a normal suburban neighborhood on a bright summer day, having a phone conversation out of his darkest nightmare.
Whoever is on the other end of the line is dead serious. He has Mitch’s wife and he’s named the price for her safe return. The caller doesn’t care that Mitch runs a small two-man landscaping operation and has no way of raising such a vast sum. He’s confident that Mitch will find a way.
If he loves his wife enough. . . Mitch does love her enough. He loves her more than life itself. He’s got seventy-two hours to prove it. He has to find the two million by then. But he’ll pay a lot more. He’ll pay anything.

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I thought it was time to feature another Dean Koontz on the blog! I featured Velocity last year which is another must read thriller that puts an average guy into an out of the blue nightmare. Can you imagine just being out on a nice summer day, planting impatiens, and you get a call that blows up your entire life?? I love it and I love that he writes this story full speed ahead. Along with the thrills of wondering how he’s going to get that much money in such a short time, there’s also the mystery of why his wife was taken and is he really going to get her back. Lots to love with this book, so if you haven’t yet read Dean Koontz and you’re in the mood for a fast paced thriller, why not add this to your TBR this week.

HAPPY READING! 

 

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Diana at A Haven for Book Lovers

Kaila at The Traveling Inkwell

REVIEW: BACHELOR NATION By Amy Kaufman

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Publication March 6, 2018 by Dutton

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon.

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My secret is out….I’m a Bachelor Fan! Of course, my immediate family and a few friends know I love The Bachelor and Bachelorette shows but it’s not something I regularly admit to watching. I know I’m not alone since I’ve been seeing comments for this book pop up on Goodreads from others who start off by saying The Bachelor is their guilty pleasure show. And a secret. Well, Amy Kaufman has now put our #BachelorNation obsession into coherent words with her engaging, witty book. Seriously, how has this show continued season after season, weathering controversy and drama and still manages to bring in millions of viewers each episode?? Amy has your answers.

Friends, I have to say this up front…I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I read it in one sitting on a Friday evening with a large glass of wine and I had the best time. As someone who’s watched the show since Trista and Ryan’s season, so the 2nd season and they’re now on season 35 I believe, I absolutely loved reading about how the show was created (a fluke) and the very interesting behind the scenes details about it’s creators. Amy Kaufman had behind the scenes access to the show for many years until one day it vanished and she was deemed banned from all things Bachelor…makes you say hmmm. I loved her interviews with past contestants and her inside scoop on how the episodes are actually made. I always wondered how the producers were working behind the scenes to get the girls and guys to SAY some of the things that come out of their mouths…now I know and truly I’ll never watch the show the same.

What I especially liked was Amy’s writing and her ability to keep the pace fast and the tone upbeat. I never felt that the book ventured into gossip territory; rather, I found her writing to be intelligent and informative. The only part that I sort of breezed through was the chapter on the history of reality dating shows but I appreciate the background info she was providing to put The Bachelor of today into context. If you’re a fan, secret or otherwise, of The Bachelor/Bachelorette I think you’ll absolutely enjoy this book!

Many thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy

REVIEW: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR By Sally Hepworth

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Publication March 6, 2018 By St. Martin’s Press

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread – and they’ll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

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Desperate Housewives meets Big Little Lies in this page turning domestic suspense drama! This is my first time reading Sally Hepworth but it definitely won’t be my last as I enjoyed every last page of this book. I have to say, I wonder if I enjoyed it so much because she tapped into the underlying thoughts I have as I take long nighttime walks in my neighborhood….what’s really going on inside all these houses? I can’t be the only one out there who waves at my neighbors, says hi here and there, gets together on each other’s patios in the summer but occasionally wonders how well I really know them.

Sally Hepworth has done a magnificent job of deconstructing the idiosyncrasies of suburban living and families, especially the lives of mothers with young children. Although my kids are older, I can remember those days so clearly and the way she weaved those details in with the secrets and drama of each family was perfection. The story revolves around the lives of four women – Essie, Ange, Fran, and Isabelle- and boy are they keeping secrets…big ones, little ones, and bombshells!

I had no idea what was happening and at one point I realized I needed to stop trying to figure it all out and just enjoy the drama. This book was so well paced that I felt like I flew through the pages, staying up late into the night to find out how it would all unfold. No spoilers here but I will say there were surprises galore!! Were a couple of them a little predictable, yes, but the others were superb…I love it when I can say I didn’t see that coming…or that. This would make a perfect book club book as well as a fantastic must read for your summer TBRs…if you can wait that long to read it that is:)

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for my copy