Review: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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Please click on book cover for synopsis.


The cover and book title are genius!!  Wow, I was thrown for one huge loop, when I reached the end of the book!  Mia is a socialite, who doesn’t follow the norms within her family.  Her father, a prominent attorney, turned judge, is very much into appearances and will stop at nothing to make sure the family name stays untainted.  Mia’s mom is the perfect wife, albeit on the outside, as she does her best to keep up appearances, too.  Mia has a sister, who follows the family rules and becomes an attorney herself.  Mia, on the other hand, struggles as a teenager and soon cuts herself off from the family, as she pursues art and becomes a teacher for the inner-city kids.

The story is told through flashbacks and present time, with the book addressing many issues: family secrets, why Mia is kidnapped, the relationship between Mia and her captor, Mia’s relationships with her family, the relationship between Mia’s parents, the justice system, and so much more.  It’s a book that held my attention the whole time.  Mia tries to escape her captor, but overtime, experiences the Stockholm Syndrome.  What happens to Mia? What happens to the family and their public image? Who wanted Mia kidnapped? Those are just a few of the questions that will addressed in the book.  It’s a book that will certainly engage the reader and offer some huge surprises along the way! excellent cupcake 5

*This book was provided through the publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.



TLC Book Tour Review: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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  Paperback: 400 pages
  Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (7/15/2014)

Boston Globe Best Crime Novel of the Year
An Entertainment Weekly Top Ten “Must List”
Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award
Publishers WeeklyLibrary Journal, and Booklist starred reviews


Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation: helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a phone call late one snowy night, they are lured to an old church on the outskirts of town, where Sylvie falls asleep in the car and is awoken by the sound of gunshots.

Orphaned on that night, Sylvie comes under the care of her reckless, distant older sister, still living in the rambling Tudor house that guards the relics of her parents’ past. As she pursues the mystery of their deaths, Sylvie’s story weaves back and forth between the time leading up to the murders and the months following, uncovering the truth of what happened that night—and the secrets that have haunted her family for years.

my book thoughts

Wow!  That is the one word that I would use to define this incredible, fantastic story.  It is easily the Best Book of 2014 for Books in the Burbs, and will definitely be one of my all time favorite books for many years to come.

From the very first page, there is an eerie, Gothic approach, which makes the book even more creepy to read.  It’s a perfect mystery thriller for anyone that loves this genre, but even those who love books about relationships, family secrets, religious fanaticism, too.  I was determined to find out the ending as soon as possible, so I actually took this book with me everywhere to sneak in as much reading as I could.  I ended up reading this book in about 2 days, and in the end, I just cried.  My heart broke for Sylvie and I wanted to process this book with someone, who had also read it.  It’s a book that you can’t just read and move on from.  You will need to talk to someone, who has read it, just to get some closure and talk through some of the scenarios that occur in the book.

Sylvie is a young girl, still grappling with the loss of her parents and adjusting to living with her sister, Rose.  The story is told through present and past flashbacks from Sylvie’s perspective.  She is the only witness to who she says murdered her parents, and as she slowly retraces her steps and those of her family’s, the truth reveals itself to Sylvie and the reader at the same time.  So, as Sylvie is shocked…you will be, too!

Religion fanaticism, healings, demon possession…those are some of the topics that will be brought up in the book, albeit a murder mystery.  John Searles raises incredible points: How far will a family go to finding peace?  At what point does the preacher/healer use his influence and plays “God”?  How can family secrets destroy a family and keep them from truly being happy? Do you do what is right, even if it means that you lose everything? Or do you hold a secret and tell a lie to maintain the status quo?

I absolutely loved the topics John brings up and weaves it into a fantastic storyline.  This book shows how something that starts out with good intentions can go wrong, and go off course because of different factors, such as : greed, selfishness, fear of realizing everything was an illusion, and the way that one lie has the domino effect of building upon other lies that eventually tear up a family.

This would make a great book club pick, because the discussions would be endless!  I would love to hear people’s own personal stories about healing services, tent revivals, and their own personal experiences.  I would equally love to know what people think of this particular family, the lengths one person goes to shield the truth, and what happens when secrets have a stronghold on a person.  Sylvie is a beautiful, remarkable, and brave little girl, who I am sure many will love and cry for, too.  Get the book and move it to the top of your TBR pile, because it’s that good!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided through TLC Book Tours and the publisher! Many thanks to both of them!


Special offer for book clubs:

Book clubs that sign up to chat with John Searles about Help for the Haunted could win a tote bag of books for each member of their book club! Find out more details about John Searles’ goal to speak to a book club in each state of the United States over at Book Club Girl!


About John Searles:

John Searles is the author of the national bestsellers Boy Still Missing and Strange but True. He frequently appears as a book critic on NBC’s Today show and CBS’s The Early Show. He is the Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan. His essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other national newspapers and magazines. He lives in New York City and can be found on Facebook and also on Twitter: @searlesbooks.

John’s Tour Stops

Thursday, July 17th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, July 21st: Great Imaginations

Tuesday, July 22nd: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, July 23rd: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Monday, July 28th: missris

Tuesday, July 29th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, July 30th: Excellent Library

Friday, August 1st: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, August 4th: Books in the City

Wednesday, August 6th: Kahakai Kitchen

She Reads July Book Club of the Month: That Night by Chevy Stevens

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Click here to win a copy of this fantastic book!

Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller


They said she was a murderer.

They said she killed her sister.

But they lied.

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

my book thoughts

Have you ever read a book that was from a genre you don’t typically read, and when you do, it’s the book that busts wide open your interest in that genre??  Well, this book absolutely did!  I do read Mystery Thriller books, but it’s not often, so I was amazingly surprised at how incredible this book was.  Chevy Stevens delivers a brilliant book to readers, who will be on the edge of their seat the whole time!
The storyline is real, raw, and the character development is detailed.  While each character is developed, the action and drama is what drives this book home.  It’s a book that will definitely deals with complex issues of: family, parenting, perfect child vs. troublemaker, mean girls, social injustice, abuse of power, sexual abuse, and murder.

Tori is the “troublemaker” daughter, who has been recently released from prison.  She and her boyfriend, charged with the murder of her younger sister, and is shunned by her community and family.  While Toni just wants to move on with her life and forget about the past, Ryan wants to know who framed them and why.  The secrets that are unveiled are unexpected, sad, horrific, and in the end…the readers are left with a little hope.

Brilliantly written, it’s a book that deserves to be a “Summer Must Read!” I would love to share more about Tori’s family, but doing so, would give too much away to the storyline.  This is the book your book club needs to read, because the discussions will be endless!!!

excellent cupcake 5

*A huge thanks to the publisher and She Reads for allowing me the opportunity review this book!


Chevy Stevens. Photo Credit Poppy Photography

CHEVY STEVENS grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing.Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.

Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.



Quick Reviews for Books I’ve Read This Summer

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It doesn’t always happen, but with the recent health issues I’ve had, being homebound has allowed me the opportunity to read more than I have in a long time.  Reading has been the silver lining, this summer.  Usually, summer is the time when I read from my TBR list, which I have yet to touch! I think most readers can relate-but it seems my TBR list is always expanding!!!  With new releases each week, it can be overwhelming to keep up with!

Below are some books I’ve read-so far!  If you click on the picture of each book, it will take you book page, so that you can read the synopsis.


This is a story that reads almost like a mystery, because Olivia has to piece together the events that happened before the fatal death of her estranged friend, Sally.  I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Sally and Olivia (before they became adults), and could certainly relate to having that “crazy friend”-who goes off the edge.  Eleanor Moran doesn’t give all the details in order, with the story changing from past to present, which made the book even more fascinating to read!  I love a great mystery, wrapped up in a novel that has a little bit of everything: widowhood, survivor’s guilt, infidelity, friendships, lies and betrayal, and a little romance.  The reader is given one piece of the puzzle, in random order, as each piece slowly takes shape to reveal the hidden truths that were there the whole time.

I loved Madeline and felt her emotions were true to that of a child, who deals with the loss of her parent.  She is angry, distant, reluctant, and slowly opens her heart to the possibilities of loving and honoring her mother, while also accepting a new beginning.  My heart ached for her, as she struggles to balance her faithfulness to her mom, while also learning to accept someone else in her life.  It isn’t until the very end that Moran reveals to the reader and Sally’s family-the reason for Sally’s demise and “crazy behavior”, which came as a shock but then made sense!  Eleanor Moran nails the psychological issues Sally faces and the internal struggles she dealt with and the demons that she faced.

While there were times that it seemed Olivia was in a trance and did whatever William wanted, it seemed that in some cosmic weird way that Sally wanted things to evolve as they do and that in the end, she could rest in peace knowing those she loved were all together.

It’s an excellent read!  I read this one quite quickly because  I wanted to know what happens!  Most of all, I love the style of writing Eleanor Manor has in this book-as it was a puzzle that slowly connects and reveals all the hidden secrets that the characters have.  Those who love books about mental illness, family secrets/relationships, and friendships, will certainly love this book!

excellent cupcake 5  *A huge thank you to the publisher for giving me the opportunity to review this book.


Let’s face it.  The book cover doesn’t scream, “READ ME!”.  But….don’t let that deter you from reading it!  Once you’ve read it, you will completely understand the cover and appreciate it that much more.  This book is a traditional thriller book.  It has mystery, electric energy that intensifies as each chapter is read, murder, possible suspects and motives, and psychological drama that will have your head spinning!  It’s definitely one of my best picks for 2014, because it the kind of book that any reader will enjoy.

You love history? Check.

You love murder mystery? Check.

You love reading about an underdog protagonist that has a secret? Check.

You want to read a book that you won’t be able to put down? Check.

You want a book that has to deal with sociopaths, psychological issues? Check.

You want a book that intensifies as each chapter is read? Check.

This book has it all.  There is so much detail, that Lisa Unger leaves no stone uncovered.  She weaves this incredible story, with two alternating voices.  Whose voice is the second? That ‘s one of the mysteries!  I absolutely loved this book, couldn’t put it down, and read this book in 1 day.  That is really unheard for me, and being sick, I actually read this book with a migraine.  I literally read with one eye closed at times because my head hurt….but I needed to know what happened! Yeah, this book is that fantastic.  Add it to your TBR list, or better yet, just stop what you are reading and grab this book!  It’s that good.

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided for review, courtesy of the publisher.



This is a book that starts out quite intense.  Clarissa is a girl that people either can relate to because they see parts of themselves in her, or know someone who is like her.  Either way, Clarissa will be someone that will bring out strong emotions in the reader.  Clarissa is the typical victim: she is isolated, wants to have a relationship but doesn’t know how to set boundaries because she has self-esteem issues, and doesn’t know who to trust.  There are so many issues Clarissa is challenged with, because of the torment she endures from her predator (Rafe).  The reader is taken on a journey of the psychological trauma and prison a person can get entrapped in, and how it slowly strips everything from the victim, to a point of panic.  It’s an incredible book that shows that cycles repeat, until the victim takes control and makes a shift mentally.

If you or someone you know is feeling threatened, in an unsafe situation, or needs to talk to someone, please call the Crisis Hotline!


24/7, anytime, anywhere.

great cupcake 4  *This book was provided through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.





Early LibraryThing Book Review & Giveaway: Starter House by Sonja Condit

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Publisher:  William Morrow

Release Date:  December 31, 2013

Pages:  384

ISBN: 0062283057

Source: Publisher & LibraryThing

Genre:  Mystery


Promising talent Sonja Condit makes her debut with Starter House, an eerie and mesmerizing tale about a young couple whose new house holds deadly secrets from the past, sure to appeal to fans of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale.

From the moment Lacey sees the house with the beautiful wood staircase, she knows she’s found her dream home. Growing up rootless with her flighty mother, Ella Dane, a self-proclaimed psychic, Lacey is determined to give her unborn baby the stability she never had.

But shortly after she and her husband, Eric, move in, the warm and welcoming house becomes cold and dark. There is something malevolent within these walls that wants to hurt her unborn child—a terrifying presence that only she can sense. And there is Drew, a demanding and temperamental little boy who mysteriously appears when Lacey is alone.

To protect her unborn child and save her family, Lacy must discover the truth about her dream house and the troubled Drew—a decades-old mystery involving secrets, violence, and guilt—and confront an evil that has lingered in wait for years.

My Review:

I loved the cover! It’s the window of the “starter house”, and gives the impression that someone is looking out the window…guarding the house.  In order to give my review, I need to include 2 disclosures.

First, I absolutely HATE, yes, hate, when books are compared to other masterpieces.  I can understand there are books that may be similar, evoke the same emotions, and possibly have a similar storyline….but unless the book is a rewrite-it should be a stand-alone and not compared to other books. Period.

Secondly, when I read a book, I don’t like to guess what will come next or poke holes in a storyline.  Sure, some books may be a little obvious, while others may be a little too hokey and simply unrealistic.  However, that is the beauty of books: they are a great escape.  It’s not 48 Hours, the TV show.

With my two disclosures not shared: I can honestly say that I LOVED this book!  I’m a big scaredy cat and definitely will not read any demonic stories.  While it’s not a demonic storyline, it’s definitely creepy and kept me reading through the very last page.

If you’ve read my posts about e-readers, then you know that I prefer any kind of e-reader device over a paperback.  I typically read at bedtime, so finding the “perfect” book light hasn’t happened for me yet.  However, I managed to read this book at night, took it everywhere with me, and enjoyed the book to the very end!

It has all the elements of a great mystery: flawed characters, who are disconnected, so that they don’t share what they know until the very end (when it’s almost too late), an old house with a history of murders, a neighbor that knows more than he’s willing to share, a realtor that doesn’t want to sell the house but gives in because of a hefty commission, and a mom tuned into the supernatural….as well as the daughter (wife and homeowner).

Don’t rush through the book, realize it’s not Amityville House of Horrors (although it comes close), and know that everything will unfold as it needs to-leading up to a great ending!

Without giving too much away, I will answer these questions:

Why does Lacey seem intent to stay in a home that is obviously haunted?  First, she is wanting to give her unborn child what she never had: roots.  Also, by the time she realizes she needs to get out, she learns that where she goes-the ghost does too.

Why doesn’t Eric leave?  Because he’s mounted high in debt and doesn’t want to disappoint his wife, and he also doesn’t want to believe that there is any truth to what is presented to him by Lacey and others.

I enjoyed this book and loved how each chapter had a picture of the book cover…..just to remind you that someone is always watching!  The only suggestion I have is for the author: please be more visible on FB & Twitter, as well as amping up the website.

It’s such a fantastic book, that I’ve decided to offer this book as a giveaway!

A huge thanks to LibraryThing and the publisher for giving me an opportunity to read and review the book!

Scroll down to get the info!

About the Author:

Sonja Condit received her MFA from Converse College, where she studied with Robert Olmstead, Leslie Pietrzyk, R. T. Smith, and Marlin Barton. Her short fiction has appeared in Shenandoah magazine, among other publications. She plays principal bassoon in the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium. She teaches at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.

Book Details:

Enter your name, email, and answer this question in the comment section:

What’s the name of the scariest movie you’ve seen?

Giveaway ends: March 30, 2014.

(US entries only).


TLC Book Tour Review: The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

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Pages : 304

Genre :  Mystery, Noir

Publisher: William Morrow, February 2014

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher


An atmospheric tale of romantic noir with shades of Hitchcock about a man who is swept into a vortex of irresistible passion and murder when an old love mysteriously reappears

George Foss, a forty-year-old employee of a Boston literary magazine, has passed the age when he thinks he might fall madly in love or take the world by storm, or have anything truly remarkable happen to him. He spends most of his evenings at his local tavern talking about the Red Sox and the minutiae of everyday life, and obsessing over a lost love from his college days who vanished twenty years earlier. Until she reappears.

George has both dreamed of and dreaded seeing Liana Decter again. She isn’t just an ex-girlfriend or the first love George could never forget. She’s also an enigma and quite possibly someone who was involved in a murder years ago, a woman whose transgressions are more in line with Greek tragedy than youthful indiscretion. But suddenly, she’s back—and she needs his help. She says that some men are after her and that they believe she’s stolen money from them. And now they will do whatever it takes to get it back.

George knows Liana is trouble. But he can’t say no—he never could—and soon his quiet life is gone as he is pulled into a terrifying whirlpool of lies, betrayal, and murder from which there is no sure escape.

Bold and masterful, full of malevolent foreboding and subtle surprises, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart is an addictive, nonstop reading experience—an ever-tightening coil of suspense that will hold you in its grip right up to its electrifying end.

My Review:

This is a story that you will either love or hate.  It is that black and white and the story actually reads like a black and white, old mystery movie.  I was immediately drawn into the weird life of George and his odd relationship with Liana.  Told in alternating time periods: past/present, we get to know a little bit more about George and get a lot confused by Liana.  George is a character that most people will sympathize with, because he is just so “normal” and quite traditional.  Who George was 20 years ago, is who he is now…only, he has given up on life a bit.  Enters Liana into the bar, and he is rejuvenated and no matter how dangerous and destructive, he aims to help Liana-who could quite possibly be a heartless murderer.  I enjoyed the storyline and the characters were quite interesting.  It was a novel that had my attention and had me on one crazy ride, as I felt like a little fly buzzing around George and figuring out a mystery that certainly took me by surprise at the end.  It is a darker novel, and readers who enjoy a great mystery novel, should know that it is not a cozy mystery.  It’s a book that certainly gives a nod to the brilliant mind of Alfred Hitchcock.

*Thanks to TLC Book Tours for always giving me a great book to read, in exchange for an honest review!


About Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson has degrees in creative writing, education, and literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College. His stories and poems have appeared in the Atlantic, Mysterical-E, Vocabula Review, and Yankee Magazine. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is at work on his second novel.

Find out more about Peter on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Peter’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, February 5th: Stephany Writes

Thursday, February 6th: Drey’s Library

Monday, February 10th: The Infinite Curio

Tuesday, February 11th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, February 12th: Unabridged Chick

Thursday, February 13th: Joyfully Retired

Monday, February 17th: cupcake’s book cupboard

Tuesday, February 18th: A Dream Within a Dream

Wednesday, February 19th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, February 20th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Friday, February 21st: Good Girl Gone Redneck


TLC Book Tours: Review-The Fixer by T.E. Woods

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Genre:  Thriller

Publisher: Alibi (February 4, 2014)

Sold by: Random House LLC

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher


T.E. Woods delivers a fast-paced thriller—the first in an electrifying new series—peopled with sharp, intriguing characters and more twists and turns than a corkscrew. 

Never a doubt. Never a mistake. Always for justice. Never for revenge. She’s the person you hire when you need something fixed—permanently. With a strict set of criteria, she evaluates every request and chooses only a few. No more than one job per country, per year. She will only step in if it’s clear that justice will not be served any other way. Her jobs are completed with skill and precision, and never result in inquiry or police investigation. The Fixer is invisible—and quite deadly. . .

In the office of a clinical psychologist in Olympia, Washington, a beautiful young woman is in terrible emotional pain. She puts up walls, tells lies, and seems to speak in riddles, but the doctor is determined to help her heal, despite the fact that she claims to have hurt many people. As their sessions escalate, the psychologist feels compelled to reach out to the police . . . but it might be too late.

In Seattle, a detective gets a call from his son. A dedicated journalist, he wants his father’s expertise as he looks into a suspicious death. Together they follow the trail of leads toward a stone-cold hired killer—only to find that death has been closer than either could have imagined.

My Review:

I loved the synopsis, the author is a clinical psychologist (so she will have some fantastic insight into the mind of an assassin), and the main character is a heroine…hello!

The story starts off with a bang, literally.  The characters are flawed, imperfect, and will certainly do some crazy things that will have you on the edge of your seat.  The storyline moves quite quickly, and as it gets more complex, more rabbit trails are created, with more mysteries to solve.

This book is not for the queasy, or for those who don’t like detailed violent acts in novels.  There are some graphic, very disturbing, and often stomach turning details, of the different murders that take place.  There are also unethical issues that made me cringe, more than once.  I realize it is only a story, but as a therapist, I couldn’t help but have a difficult time connecting with Lydia.  As a psychologist, she broke so many taboos: self-mutilator, burnt out or works off a standard script with clients, works with a client that she’s had a relationship with before, allows a client to set her own boundaries and schedule, and goes to the police and starts working with him with ulterior motives.

In the beginning, I could understand the reasons why Savannah is “a” vigilante and how she decides which “job” to do.  However, as the story evolves, it seemed that more issues and storylines were thrown in to a storyline that already worked.  It was like reading lots of little vignettes, squished into one.  I am hoping the follow-up novel will dive more into the story behind Mort, and even Lydia, as they both had very interesting backstories.

*A huge thanks to TLC and the publisher for giving me an opportunity to join this tour!

About T. E. Woods

T. E. Woods is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. Her scientific writings are well represented in peer-reviewed journals and academic texts. Her literary works earned her first place for Fiction at the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute. Dr. Woods enjoys kayaking, hiking, biking, and hanging around the house while her two dogs help her make sense of the world. Her habit of relaxing by conjuring up any manner of diabolical murder methods and plots often finds her friends urging her to take up knitting.

Connect with Alibi: Facebook | Twitter

T. E. Woods’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, January 27th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller

Monday, January 27th:  No More Grumpy Bookseller - Author Guest Post & Giveaway

Tuesday, January 28th:  The Best Books Ever

Wednesday, January 29th:  Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, February 4th:  Kritter’s Ramblings

Tuesday, February 4th:  Booksellers Without Borders

Wednesday, February 5th:  Mockingbird Hill Cottage

Thursday, February 6th:  She Treads Softly

Monday, February 10th:  Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, February 11th:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Wednesday, February 12th:  A Fantastical Librarian

Wednesday, February 12th:  Queen of All She Reads

Thursday, February 13th:  The Written World

Monday, February 17th:  Booksie’s Blog

Tuesday, February 18th:  Mystery Playground

Wednesday, February 19th:  Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, February 20th:  The Reader’s Hollow

Friday, February 21st:  From the TBR Pile

Monday, February 24th:  The Novel Life

Wednesday, February 26th:  Luxury Reading

Atria Fiction Round-up Mini-Reviews!

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With All My Love  My Mini-Review:

This book had all the ingredients for a great book: guilt, lies, secrets, mother/daughter relationships, family issues, 3 generations of strong women, and trying to rebuild together.  However, I just couldn’t find myself attaching to any one character and truly accepting the reasons for the secrets and betrayal.  Perhaps, I wanted it to be a bit more scandalous, or just even more layered.  While much attention is given to each character, this is one book that I would have preferred to have had only major lead.  Maybe because I love complexity and just love Patricia’s style of writing, but I would have rather seen this book in a series-broken down a little bit more, so that it didn’t seem so rushed.  All in all, a good book!


My Review:

This is one of those odd books that is like being a peeping tom. I don’t want to look in the window and see what’s going on, much less hear what they are saying, but I can’t stop.  The book seemed so scrambled at times, quite symbolic of the mice scrambling everywhere, but it somehow works.  It doesn’t matter that the book is loosely based on the author’s own personal life, but because it goes where people don’t always want to follow: the hard truth-life or death, acceptance or rejection, perfection or horrendous, etc.  It really gives a hard look into the way a couple copes with the loss of a dream: a perfect marriage, a perfect baby, and a perfect career.  What happens when none of it is perfect and in the midst of figuring out why, something happens: the finding of beauty in an imperfect world.  I loved the wacky characters that become housemates, the small town and it’s own scars, and the way a baby, no matter how imperfect-loves unconditionally and will slowly open the heart of others.  A brilliant book that will leave you wondering why in the world you’d want to read a book about mice and the parent’s rejection of a child born severely disabled.


  My Review:

Wow! This is a fantastic book that will draw you and keep you there, until the very last page!!!  I absolutely loved the storyline, the characters, and the way the story unfolds.  The description in the story brings everything to life and I immediately felt as if I was a fly on every wall.  It shows the bravery of one woman, who simply wants to be a housewife.  However, with her husband away at war, she also becomes part of the Resistance and trains alongside other men and women, to help free the people under Hitler’s regime.  It is so easy to place judgment on people, who befriended Nazi soldiers and to make grand assumptions about who they really are.  However, Lucinda shows the true complexity of those who had to balance their loyalty to their homeland and their relationship with the enemy.  However, love knows no boundaries, and we see a love that blossoms and how much it is tested, even after death.  This is a must read for any one that loves a great book! It is a fantastic book that will leave you wanting more!


My Review:

Grab your Kleenex!! You are going to need it for this one!  I was surprised at how much I absolutely loved this book.  Not because I didn’t like the synopsis, but because of how raw, real, and relevant this book is.  No one expects to lose their spouse, during their honeymoon, but this is what happens to Elsie, a woman in her 20’s.  I hurt so much for Elsie, that I found myself hoping the “what if’s” she had came true.  And, when they didn’t, I was sad with her….and grieved all over again, too.  While she grieves, she also tries to have a relationship with her mother-in-law…is that who she is?? Elsie doesn’t know if Susan (Ben’s mom) will even want to be a part of her life and if so, how will they fit in each other’s lives without the glue: their Ben.  I loved how the story slowly unfolded, never rushed, and just let the relationships and issues slowly fall where they may-like leaves falling from a tree.  It is a beautiful story, albeit, sorrowful, but in the end, there is hope…and that is all one can ever want!


  My Review:

I really wanted to love this book! I really, really did.  However, the further I went into the book, the less real it became for me. I loved the beginning and the weird relationship with Jago, an author who writes a book that seems to feed into Kate’s fears.  If the story had just focused on Kate finding her new normal with the loss of husband, and dealing with her over the top anxieties and in-laws that seem to be watching her like a hawk, it would have been great!  However, I just couldn’t buy into the other things that happened and I couldn’t understand the weird things Jago would make Kate do in the name of alleviating her anxiety.  Top that off with a psycho neighbor, who breaks in from the inside, and a big secret that isn’t disclosed until much later-that I just felt disconnected from Kate and felt hugely sorry for her son, Jack.  It’s a good read, but just not one that kept me fully engaged throughout the book.

*A HUGE thank-you to Atria Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read some great books!!


TLC Book Tour Review: The Preservationist by Justin Kramon

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Author: Justin Kramon

Publisher: Pegasus (October 15, 2013)

Pages: 288

Genre: Thriller (Psychological)

Source: TLC Book Tours

Cupcake Rating: An excellent cupcake with sprinkles AND a cherry on top!

Synopsis from TLC Book Tours Site:

To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him.

Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention.

But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia. Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches—and Julia becomes less and less sure whom to trust.

My Review:

I read this book in one very long road trip-17 hours to be exact. Driving from Houston, Tx to a small town in Tennessee…down dark roads, with not much traffic on the way, made for a very scary read!!!

This is the perfect book to read, with Halloween fast approaching. However, it can really be read any time throughout the year….just be prepared for some goose bumps along the way! The story centers around Julia and her relationships with two men: Marcus and Sam. I loved that the storyteller alternated between characters, which gave me a bird’s eye view into their mind and ways they reasoned their behavior/actions. Each have their own secrets, their own issues, and their own reasons for doing what they do.

Julia could be any young college student, dealing with grief, and feeling quite alone. Sam reminded me of Norman Bates…even with his warped mother issues, although nothing incestuous. Marcus is the typical college student, however he also is dealing with grief. When their worlds collide, the storyline moves quite rapidly. I loved the feeling of being on the edge of my seat, not knowing what was going to happen next, and trying to figure out how Julia decides which man to give her heart to….or does she???

This is a very creepy, chilling read that shows the making of a serial killer (who is that?), and how one attempts to escape the clutches of a mad man. Being isolated, Julia finds herself making decisions based on persuasion, rather than instinct, and she finds herself in quite a difficult situation. I loved the book from the beginning to end, and found myself watching the gas station clerks a little more closely, when we’d stop en route to Tennessee!

The ending made me cringe! The very last sentence…while some may get warm and fuzzy feelings, I felt quite the opposite. I’m not sure if that is what the author wanted from the readers, but knowing that a lie was told had me thinking if the cycle would continue in some weird, subconscious way. Either way- it left me thinking….

What I learned: Trust your instinct and never, ever stay in a cabin on a lonely road!!

I absolutely loved this book! If you love psychological thrillers, mysteries, or simply want a great read-then pick up this book! It’s a fantastic story!!

P.S. I am absolutely ecstatic to interview Justin Kramon (interview will be posted at a later date)!

*A huge thank-you to TLC Book Tours and Justin Kramon for giving me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review!

About Justin Kramon

Justin Kramon is the author of the novels Finny (Random House, 2010) and The Preservationist (Pegasus, 2013). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has published stories in Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, Boulevard, Fence, TriQuarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, and others. He has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers’ Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation.

Find out more about Justin at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

Justin’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 15th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, October 16th: Book-a-licious Mama

Thursday, October 17th: The Lost Entwife

Tuesday, October 22nd: BoundbyWords

Wednesday, October 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, October 24th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, October 28th: Book Addict Katie

Tuesday, October 29th: Tina’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 30th: A Novel Review

Thursday, October 31st: Lectus

Monday, November 4th: Under My Apple Tree

Tuesday, November 5th: Seaside Book Corner

Wednesday, November 6th: The Well-Read Redhead

Thursday, November 7th: nomadreader

Friday, November 8th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, November 12th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

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A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

My Review:

Having not read Gone Girl I really didn’t have anything to compare this book to.  I always think that when a book is compared to another, it dilutes the experience for the reader because it becomes more of a comparative analysis-rather than just having an organic reading experience.

I read this book pretty quick. While the subject matter is heavy, the storyline really didn’t dive deep into issues of infidelity, betrayal, anger, and guilt.  Each chapter alternates with a “his” and “her” chapter, giving the reader an inside perspective to that person’s opinion.  While it was interesting to read both points of view, both Jodi and Todd don’t ever really look at the ramifications of their actions and don’t take full responsibility for their decisions.

On the whole, the book seemed a little surface to me-touching on topics, but not really exploring the in’s and out’s of a relationship on the brink of destruction.  However, it would make for a great book to discuss with others-at a book club or just readers chatting about it, because the subject matter is prevalent and affairs happen quite often.

While the author doesn’t spell out for the reader the why’s, it was quite interesting to read how easy it is for couple’s to come together through their own pain and personal issues, how childhood impacts adult relationships, and that in the end-everyone wants to be loved and respected.

There was a lot of dialogue between Jodi and her therapist, who modeled this counseling approach to Adlerian.  This was also the model Jodi used in her own private practice and how she approached her own relationship with Todd.  While Jodi is quite focused with her clients and helps them to be aware of their situations, be empowered, and create the change they want, she is unable to do that in her own relationship.  Rather, she diverts to modeling her relationship with Todd like that of her own parents.  Whereas Todd feels entitled and feels that because he isn’t an alcoholic like his father, that he is that much better as a partner.  Sadly, they both never work together to create their own rules and follow through with their own relationship expectations.  Both seem to be cohabitating and living parallel lives.

Overall, this was a great book!  I was sad to read that A.S.A. Harrison passed away from cancer before her first novel-The Silent Wife, was published.  I would have loved for her to have seen the success of her own book and wish her loved ones some healing and hope during this difficult time in their lives.

*This book was provided for review through Netgalley.