Tag Archives: thriller novel

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A group of mothers within a popular cul-de-sac find their little community threatened by a mysterious figure who threatens to reveal the dark secrets of their past in author Tara Laskowski’s “The Mother Next Door”.

The Synopsis

For fans of Lisa Jewell, Aimee Molloy, and Joshilyn Jackson, an upmarket suspense novel from a multi-award-winning author about a tightknit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them…

The annual block party is the pinnacle of the year on idyllic suburban cul de sac Ivy Woods Drive. An influential group of neighborhood moms—known as the Ivy Five—plan the event for months.

Except the Ivy Five have been four for a long time.

When a new mother moves to town, eager to fit in, the moms see it as an opportunity to make the group whole again. This year’s block party should be the best yet… until the women start receiving anonymous messages threatening to expose the quiet neighborhood’s dark past—and the lengths they’ve gone to hide it.

As secrets seep out and the threats intensify, the Ivy Five must sort the loyal from the disloyal, the good from the bad. They’ll do anything to protect their families. But when a twisted plot is revealed, with dangerous consequences, their steady foundation begins to crumble, leaving only one certainty: after this year’s block party, Ivy Woods Drive will never be the same.

From award-winning author Tara Laskowski, The Mother Next Door is an atmospheric novel of domestic suspense in which the strive for perfection ends in murder…

The Review

This was a chilling and adrenaline-fueled thriller that will give readers whiplash with the twists and turns that the narrative takes them on. The atmosphere and tone really do a great job of highlighting the contrast between the picturesque suburban dream the Ivy Five portrayed to the public and the hellish nightmare their secrets and lies have created in the background of the community. The author perfectly captures the privilege that wealth and status buy people who have done terrible things in this life, and captured the societal emotions that have taken hold in recent years at the injustice of such secretive actions.

Yet it was the narrative and character growth that really stole the show here. The razor-sharp wit of the moms, especially Kendra, as they move people around like pawns in a game of their own making is highlighted perfectly in Theresa’s chapters especially, as the protagonist shows the struggles to adapt and make herself belong in this group, as mistakes of her own past begin to haunt her as well. The weight of those secrets and lies highlights the elevated anger and fear that builds up with keeping such a secret for so long, and the author’s use of this to add tension into the narrative was a stroke of genius.

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The Verdict

Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge with a Halloween twist, author Tara Laskowski’s “The Mother Next Door” is the perfect suburban thriller this fall. The memorable characterization of the “perfect” suburban dream team and the haunting emotions that build as the secrets begin to pile up on one another more and more make this a truly memorable read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Tara Laskowski

TARA LASKOWSKI is the author of One Night Gone, which won an Agatha Award, Macavity Award, and Anthony Award, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, Left Coast Crime Award, Strand Critics’ Award, and Library of Virginia Literary Award. She is also the author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, has published stories in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Mid-American Review, among others, and is the former editor of SmokeLong Quarterly. Tara earned a BA in English from Susquehanna University and an MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Virginia. Find her on Twitter and Instagram, @TaraLWrites.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://taralaskowski.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tara.laskowski.9

Twitter: @TaraLWrites

Instagram: @taralwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56555529-the-mother-next-door

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-mother-next-door-a-novel-of-suspense/9781525804700

Politics & Prose: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781525804700

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mother-next-door-tara-laskowski/1138551311?ean=9781488078125&st=AFF&2sid=HarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC_7651142_NA&sourceId=AFFHarperCollins%20Publishers%20LLC

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Next-Door-Novel-Suspense/dp/1525804707/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-mother-next-door-by-tara-laskowski-paperback/-/A-82219724

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-mother-next-door/id1547075567?id=1547075567&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

One More Page: https://www.onemorepagebooks.com/book/9781525804700

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-mother-next-door

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781525804700?aff=PublishersWeekly

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/The_Mother_Next_Door_A_Novel_of_Suspense?id=baYREAAAQBAJ&hl=en_US&gl=US 

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Q&A with Tara Laskowski

Q: Please give us a one sentence pitch for your novel, The Mother Next Door.

A: An atmospheric suspense novel about a tight-knit group of suburban mothers who invite a new neighborhood mom into their fold, and the fallout the night of the annual Halloween block party, when secrets from the past come back to haunt them.

Q: Why do you believe thrillers are so popular?

A: They naturally invoke our curiosity–our sense of “I have to know what happens.” Plus, I think people like to read about bad things happening to other people. It’s the same with horror movies or books–it’s a fun way to put yourself in a terrifying situation without actually having to be in a terrifying situation. As long as our brains know we are safe, we can enjoy that rush of adrenaline without the sheer panic.

Q: Where do you get your ideas? Of course, from your imagination, but do you read, see or hear something that clicks? How did you come up with the idea for The Mother Next Door? Is this book based on any true events?

A: I usually start with setting, weirdly. I need a place that I can envision, and that I can see bad things happening in. If I’ve got the place, then I can insert characters and make things happen. 

For The Mother Next Door, I took all of the things I love most–Halloween, cool houses, urban legends–and put them in a domestic suspense set in a creepy suburban neighborhood. The book isn’t really based on any true events, but it definitely riffs off stuff in my real life. We live in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac that throws a Halloween potluck every year, for example, though as far as I know nothing nefarious has happened over there!

Q: Are you a plotter or pantser?

A: I don’t do well with outlines. I need to feel my way through a book with a blindfold on (though occasionally I guess I pull it down and try to get a glimpse of what’s ahead.) By this, I mean, I like to write a little, then figure out the next few “beats” or things that might happen, then write those, then figure out a little more, etc. And delete and rewrite and cry a little and doubt myself and think I’m the greatest thing since barbeque chips and start the whole process over again. And each time, so far, it’s ended up in a book, so fingers crossed!

Q: Any great tips for aspiring writers?

A: 1) Find your tribe 2) Learn to take criticism and rejection gracefully 3) Read. A lot. 4) Sign up for a monthly massage program.

Q: What is your favorite place to write?

A: It’s super boring, but my home office. I like to have control over my environment. I know writers who can write in coffee shops or libraries or outside, but I need to be at a desk in relative quiet most of the time. If it’s too noisy or too cold or there’s a chance that a spider will crawl on me, I can’t concentrate. That said, we have an excellent screened-in porch and I do like writing out there sometimes.

Q: Are you working on another book now or taking a break?

A: I’m working on my third novel, which is set in upstate New York at a winery and estate and features a group of old friends who return there for a reunion only to realize they are caught up in a decade-old revenge plot.

Q:  What is your favorite season and why?

A: Hands-down: Fall. Sweaters! Crunchy leaves! Pumpkin everything! Football! Also, Halloween is my birthday, and I adore anything and everything spooky. So, there you go.

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Here is an Exclusive Excerpt From “The Mother Next Door”

HALLOWEEN

Ladies and gentlemen, skulls and boys: by the time our Halloween block party is over tonight, one of us will be dead.

And I don’t mean dead as in dull, or dead as in zombified. I mean dead as in gone. Dead as in expired. Killed.

Murdered.

You may be feeling distressed about this, knowing what you know about Ivy Woods—the great neighborhood it is, the sweet, loving families that live there. How could such a tragedy happen in such a wonderful place? You may have traveled here yourself, as a child or as a parent, lured in by the local fame of the street and its ghoulish decorations each year. The lights, the smoke, the gravestones, and the moaning. The witches, cackling and handing out candy. The swarms of little Frankensteins and cowboys and robots and ballet dancers lugging their pillowcases and plastic pumpkin buckets filled with sugar and junk.

But Ivy Woods isn’t perfect.

Far from it.

Look closer. Look under the makeup and the masks, look into the windows of the perfect houses. Dig under the surface of those freshly mowed lawns and you’ll find the worms. I’ve looked—believe me, I’ve looked. There’s something about this street. There are secrets. I know from watching through the windows, from hearing the hushed conversations, from lingering on their faces when they think everyone else has looked away.

Oh they think they are perfect. They pat themselves on the back for throwing such good parties, for raising such fine children, for living in such big houses.

But they are pretending.

They don masks on this one single night to dress up as someone or something else, but in reality they live their lives this way.

We all do.

We hate ourselves. We are too fat, or too thin. We should work hard, be smarter. We are lonely and depressed. We are worried about money. We are ashamed of the way that our friends and family treat us. But we lie about it all. We hide behind a protective façade, fragile glass figurines inside elaborate dollhouses designed to look like perfect, safe, happy places.

Tonight it will all shatter.

Watch closely and you’ll begin to see what I see. There’s trouble in the air, a cold wind blowing in from far away, and it’s settled on Ivy Woods Drive. The secrets and the lies we tell ourselves and others will emerge tonight like spirits of the dead. Lines will be drawn. Sides will be taken. Someone won’t make it out alive.

I can’t save that person, but I’ll tell the story. Turn over the rocks, expose the worms. Pull back the masks.

Because I know their secrets, secrets that will destroy them all.

If they don’t destroy themselves first.

Excerpted from The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski, Copyright © 2021 by Tara Laskowski. Published by Graydon House Books. 

Cult by Warren Adler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After receiving a frantic call from the man she once loved claiming his current wife has been taken, a woman must put aside her misgivings and risk all to help the man she cared for deeply save his wife from the hands of a dangerous cult in author Warren Adler’s “Cult”. 

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The Synopsis

In the dead of night, Naomi Forman receives a phone call. Barney Harrigan, the man she once loved—now happily married with children—utters, “My wife Charlotte has been captured by the Glories.” What began as a rude interruption of her night becomes a horrifying interruption of her life, as she is unable to ignore Barney’s cry for help.

Drawn into the Glory Church doomsday cult by her estranged sister, Charlotte Harrigan succumbs to the will of the enigmatic Father Glory. Brainwashed beyond comprehension, she is now not herself, but only one of many who have been entrapped by the cult’s promise of rebirth into a new, idyllic life.

Against her better judgment, Naomi agrees to help Barney confront the Glories and save Charlotte. But naïve optimism quickly plummets to misery as their plans are systematically picked apart, dashed by members of the cult past and present, and even by the local Sheriff T. Clausen Moore, who is only as helpful as the Glories want him to be. His awareness of the Glory’s practices and their secluded compound—including the river, where there has been more than one “accidental” drowning—is the one obstacle that he too must overcome to restore order to his county. No one is safe.

Naomi’s will is tested and Barney becomes more and more desperate. The lengths he is willing to go to save his wife are as sinister as the Glories themselves.

From the Manson family to Scientology, cults have been fascinating, disturbing, and terrifying, from their induction methodologies to doomsday imperatives. The Glory Church of Warren Adler’s vision is no different. Just look to the headlines. Their time will come. 

The Review

When a story like this comes along, the thing that always separates the well-written from the more sensationalized storylines is how the story impacts the conversations they stir up. This novel really did an amazing job of creating buzz-filled conversations that pushed the limits of what we think about when it comes to religious freedom vs indoctrination. 

The character growth was so layered and complex that it really drew readers into the narrative. The novel introduced a story that felt very real, due in large part to the conflicted and flawed protagonists and antagonists of this narrative. The question of morality comes into play so strongly that readers will be forced to analyze how they would approach this emotional and mentally challenging subject. While saving our loved ones from indoctrination seems like a simple enough task, the means by which we do so and the consequences for those actions are what the characters here are forced to deal with.

The Verdict

A brilliant, complex, and engaging read, author Warren Adler’s “Cult” is a fantastic read. It allows readers to understand the challenging and emotional task of losing loved ones to fanaticism and cult activity, while also exploring the consequences of our choices. The concept of choice is a major theme in this novel, and the twists and turns both halfway through the novel and in the end will keep readers on the edge of their seats. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Acclaimed author, playwright, poet, and essayist Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce that was adapted into the iconic dark comedy that starred Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Following the success of his The War of the Roses, Adler went on to option and sell film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts, The Sunset Gang, Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline’s Miracles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler’s mark on contemporary American authorship from page to stage to screen.

Adler illuminates the intricacies of the modern American family through wit and realism, a trademark that has earned him the moniker ‘master of dysfunction’. On the other hand, he navigates the turbulent waters of the American political and social scene with unsurpassed authenticity; his political thrillers such as The Henderson Equation, The Casanova Embrace, and American Quartet – a ‘New York Times notable crime book’ are born from his experiences as a former White House correspondent, and co-owner of Washington Dossier Magazine, chronicling the social history of the nation’s capital from 1975-1991. He was also a businessman and once campaign strategist to President Richard Nixon. With over 40 years of an insider’s view of the exclusive domain of the nation’s political elite, Adler writes with a unique insight and command rendering him an invaluable voice in the evolving American experience, and a trademark in American literature. 

https://www.warrenadler.com/popularbooksbywarrenadler/

Little Owl by Lauri Schoenfeld Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A mother must find a way of unlocking her past, saving her marriage and discovering the truth behind her daughters disappearances in author Lauri Schoenfeld’s “Little Owl”.

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The Synopsis

Adaline Rushner is a woman in pieces. Her daughters have gone missing, and although the authorities seem to have found their bodies, something still isn’t right. Her husband, Cache, can’t bear the pain and wants to move on, but Adaline can’t shake the feeling they’re still alive. She even starts seeing them in the house, though Cache does not. Adaline wonders whether this current tragedy has something to do with the misfortune and painful experiences she suffered in her own childhood, but her memories have gaps in them that she can’t quite close on her own.

After Adaline and Cache move to Salt Lake City, everything gets even stranger. Local cop Officer Abbott thinks Adaline’s distinctive owl necklace may somehow link to his own missing daughter. Adaline’s neighbor Maggie offers assistance and comfort, but Adaline suspects her of hiding other truths from her. Adaline tries to prepare for her girls’ eventual return while investigating her own past forgotten traumas, but a threatening message urges her to let the past stay forgotten. Can Adaline find the truth and save her marriage to Cache, or will the tangled web of memories from her past keep her from moving on?

Author Lauri Schoenfeld’s psychological thriller is a suspenseful tale of family trauma, discovering our inner strength, and understanding the power of forgiveness.

The Review

Wow. This was my first thought after reading this incredible thriller. The character growth was outstanding in this narrative. The heartbreak and tragic nature of the protagonist and her refusal to accept the loss of her daughters was such a natural and emotional reaction that any parent would likely be able to relate to in those circumstances. Her relationships and the twists and turns the narrative takes to force the readers to question if Adaline is truly having a break from reality due to the loss of her children, or if something far more sinister is afoot.

The thing that really drew me into this narrative was the atmosphere and theme of trust that the author played with. One thing I always look for in a thriller is if you can guess right away who the true “culprit” is, or if the story is so rich that you can’t make up your mind either way. This novel was definitely in the latter category, making me question everyone and truly shocking me several times over the narrative. 

The Verdict

A haunting, shocking, and entertaining thriller, author Lauri Schoenfeld’s “Little Owl” is a must-read novel of 2021! Honestly, this book captured the same shock and wow factor that Dean Koontz’s “False Memory” did, not necessarily by shocking with the revelation but the actions and twists the narrative took readers in. The final revelation of what happened to these children and who is responsible will absolutely be a jaw-dropper of a revelation, and make this story really stand out! If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lauri Schoenfeld currently resides in Utah with her husband, three kids, and dog, Jack Wyatt Wolverine. She’s a child abuse advocate, a Nancy Drew enthusiast, and is part cyborg. Teaching creative writing classes to her community is one of her favorite things to do when she’s not having long conversations with her characters. Visit her at www.laurischoenfeld.com

https://www.instagram.com/laurischoenfeld/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/laurischoenfeldevents/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B094YTXTFH/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F58205041-little-owl%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DtcaeVHp5mn%26rank%3D2&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

A Good Mother by Lara Bazelon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two young mothers find themselves in a gripping murder trial as one must defend the other and prove her innocence in the face of growing evidence to the contrary in author Lara Bazelon’s “A Good Mother”.

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The Synopsis

A gripping page turner about two young mothers, one grisly murder, and the lengths both women will go in the name of their children.

When young decorated combat veteran Travis Hollis is found stabbed through the heart at a U.S. Army base in Germany, there is no doubt that his wife, Luz, is to blame. But was it an act of self defense? A frenzied attempt to save her infant daughter from domestic abuse? Or the cold blood murder of an innocent man?

As the case heads to trial in Los Angeles, hard-charging attorney Abby Rosenberg is eager to return from maternity leave—and her quickly fracturing home life—to take the case and defend Luz. Abby, a new mother herself, is committed to ensuring Luz avoids prison and retains custody of her daughter. But as the evidence stacks up against Luz, Abby realizes the task proves far more difficult than she suspected – especially when she has to battle for control over the case with her co-counsel, whose dark absorption with Luz only complicates matters further.

As the trial careens toward an outcome no one expects, readers will find themselves in the seat of the jurors, forced to answer the question – what does it mean to be a good mother? A good lawyer? And who is the real monster?

The Review

A gripping legal thriller, the author has used her expertise in the field of legal aid to really dive into the laborious work that goes into being a lawyer at trial. The balance found of legal work and suspense as the evidence and discoveries made in the case keep the reader guessing made this such an entertaining read. 

The character development was fantastic to see here. From protagonist, Abby, and her challenging battles both at home and in the case kept the reader invested in the narrative, while the back and forth on Luz as a suspect in the case and whether or not she could be trusted made for some interesting and gripping storytelling. Then pacing is what really sets the tone for the novel, as the story begins wildly with the 911 call on the night of the crime, and then steps back and begins to set up the trial itself as the mystery begins to slowly be peeled layer by layer. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, heart-pounding, and evenly-paced read, author Lara Bazelon’s “A Good Mother” is a fantastic thriller and a must-read novel. Great character growth and a pulse-racing mystery that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat make this story shine brightly and make for the perfect summer read for fans of the genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lara Bazelon is an attorney, journalist, MacDowell Fellow, former public defender, and professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she holds the Phillip and Muriel C. Barnett Chair in Trial Advocacy. She is also the author of Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction, as well as the upcoming nonfiction book, Ambitious Like a Mother: Women, Ambition, and Motherhood, and her writing has been published widely in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, The Washington Post, and many others.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://larabazelon.com/ 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/larabazelon

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larabazelon

Twitter: https://twitter.com/larabazelon 

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/a-good-mother/9781335916099

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335916099

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-good-mother-lara-bazelon/1137392597?ean=9781335916099 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1335916091?tag=hqnweb-20

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-good-mother/id1525079297?uo=4&at=10l9MF&ct=hqnweb 

Books A Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9781335916099?AID=10747236&PID=7651142&cjevent=2e657d74919611eb8308010a0a82b820

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-good-mother 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780369703149&c=books 

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An Excerpt from “A Good Mother”

Saturday, October 14, 2006

2:51 a.m.

Ramstein Air Base

Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany

“Front desk, Sergeant Jamison.”

“He was too big. I couldn’t get him off me. He told me I was going to die—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am?”

“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, where are you?”

“1074-B Arizona Circle. Call an ambulance. I need—”

“Okay, okay. I’ve got the EMT on the other line and the ambulance en route. Where are you hurt?”

“Not me—”

“Ma’am, is that—is that a baby crying? Is that your baby?”

“[unintelligible]”

“Did he hurt the baby?”

“She’s—[unintelligible]—the other room. He was going to [unintelligible]”

“Okay, I reported the break-in. We are dispatching—security forces have been dispatched. Where is he now?”

“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, where is the intruder now?”

“He was stabbed. Oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus—[unintelligible]”

“What is the nature of the injury?”

“There’s so much blood—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, I can’t—I’m having trouble understanding you. I need for you to calm down so I can tell these guys what’s going on.”

“[unintelligible]”

“Where is he stabbed?”

“In his chest. He’s losing all of his blood.”

“The EMT is en route now.”

“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, could the intruder hurt you or the baby? Are you still in danger?”

“He’s not—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am—”

“—an intruder. He’s— It’s Staff Sergeant—[unintelligible]”

“I’m having a hard time understanding you, ma’am. Take a breath. Take a breath.”

“Staff Sergeant Travis Hollis—”

“The intruder is—he’s—he’s military?”

“He’s my husband. He was stabbed. I stabbed him—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, ma’am, are you still there?”

“Travis, baby, don’t die on me. Please, don’t die.”

Excerpted from A Good Mother by Lara Bazelon, Copyright © 2021 by Lara Bazelon. Published by Hanover Square Press.

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

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https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A tragic loss and desire for a better life leads a woman down a dark and dangerous path into the past and future in author Karen Hamilton’s psychological thriller, “The Last Wife”. 

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The Synopsis

In Karen Hamilton’s shocking thriller, THE LAST WIFE (Graydon House, July 7, $17.99) Marie Langham is distraught when her childhood friend, Nina, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before Nina passes away, she asks Marie to look out for her familyher son, daughter, and husband, Stuart. Marie would do anything for Nina, so of course, she agrees. 

Following Nina’s death, Marie gradually finds herself drawn into her friend’s lifeher family, her large house in the countryside. But when Camilla, a mutual friend from their old art-college days, suddenly reappears, Marie begins to suspect that she has a hidden agenda. Then, Marie discovers that Nina had long suppressed secrets about a holiday in Ibiza the women took ten years previously when Marie’s then-boyfriend went missing after a tragic accident and was later found dead. 

Marie used to envy Nina’s beautiful life, but now the cards are up in the air and she begins to realize that nothing is what it seemed. As long-buried secrets start surfacing, Marie must figure out what’s true and who she can trust before the consequences of Nina’s dark secrets destroy her.

The Review

The author does an excellent job of ramping up the suspense early on in the story. At first glance, the mystery of the promises Marie made to Nina seems harmless, but they are anything but. The edgy nature of the thriller lends itself well to the cast of characters and their hidden natures.

The author’s focus on character development really shines through in this thriller. The mark of a good mystery shows in this narrative, as the characters all show evidence of both good and nefarious intentions, marking them as well-rounded and complex characters that are both relatable and engaging to readers. 

The Verdict

An edge-of-your-seat thriller, author Karen Hamilton’s “The Last Wife” is a must-read summer mystery that is reminiscent of the shocking and electrifying mystery surrounding Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”. The characters steal the show as by book’s end those you thought you could trust suddenly are not, and readers are left shocked as the book comes to a close. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author Bio: 

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. She is also the author of the international bestseller The Perfect Girlfriend.

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Now Here is an Excerpt From “The Last Wife” by Karen Hamilton


PROLOGUE

Clients trust me because I blend in. It’s a natural skill—my gift, if you like. I focus my lens and capture stories, like the ones unfolding tonight: natural and guarded expressions, self-conscious poses, joyous smiles, reluctant ones from a teenage bridesmaid, swathed in silver and bloodred. The groom is an old friend, yet I’ve only met his now-wife twice. She seems reserved, hard to get to know, but in their wedding album she’ll glow. The camera does lie. My role is to take these lies and spin them into the perfect story.

I take a glass of champagne from a passing server. I needn’t be totally on the ball during the latter half of the evening because by then, people naturally loosen up. I find that the purest details are revealed in the discreet pictures I snatch during the final hours, however innocuously an event starts. And besides, it seems this event is winding down.

The one downside of my job is the mixed bag of emotions evoked. I rarely take family photos anymore, so normally, I’m fine, but today, watching the wedding festivities, the longing for what I don’t have has crept up on me. People think that envy is a bad thing, but in my opinion, envy is a positive emotion. It has always been the best indicator for me to realize what’s wrong with my life. People say, “Follow your dreams,” yet I’d say, “Follow what makes you sick with envy.”

It’s how I knew that I must stop deceiving myself and face up to how desperately I wanted to have a child. Delayed gratification is overrated.

I place my camera on a table as the tempo eases and sit down on a satin-draped chair. As I watch the bride sweep across the dance floor with her new husband, I think of Nina, and an overwhelming tide of grief floods through me. I picture her haunted expression when she elicited three final promises from me: two are easy to keep, one is not. Nonetheless, a vow is a vow. I will be creative and fulfill it. I have a bad—yet tempting—idea which occasionally beckons me toward a slippery slope.

I must do my best to avoid it because when Nina passed the baton to me, she thought I was someone she could trust. However, as my yearning grows, the crushing disappointment increases every month and the future I crave remains elusive. And she didn’t know that I’d do anything to get what I want. Anything.

ONE

Ben isn’t at home. I used to panic when that happened, assume that he was unconscious in a burning building, his oxygen tank depleted, his colleagues unable to reach him. All this, despite his assurance that they have safety checks in place to keep an eye out for each other. He’s been stressed lately, blames it on work. He loves his job as a firefighter, but nearly lost one of his closest colleagues in a fire on the fourth floor of a block of flats recently when a load of wiring fell down and threatened to ensnare him.

No, the reality is that he is punishing me. He doesn’t have a shift today. I understand his hurt, but it’s hard to explain why I did what I did. For a start, I didn’t think that people actually sent out printed wedding invitations anymore. If I’d known that the innocuous piece of silver card smothered in horseshoes and church bells would be the ignition for the worst argument we’d ever had, I wouldn’t have opened it in his presence.

Marie Langham plus guest…

I don’t know what annoyed Ben more, the fact that he wasn’t deemed important enough to be named or that I said I was going alone.

“I’m working,” I tried to explain. “The invitation is obviously a kind formality, a politeness.”

“All this is easily rectifiable,” he said. “If you wanted me there, you wouldn’t have kept me in the dark. The date was blocked off as work months ago in our calendar.”

True. But I couldn’t admit it. He wouldn’t appreciate being called a distraction.

Now, I have to make it up to him because it’s the right time of the month. He hates what he refers to as enforced sex (too much pressure), and any obvious scene-setting like oyster-and-champagne dinners, new lingerie, an invitation to join me in the shower or even a simple suggestion that we just shag, all the standard methods annoy him. It’s hard to believe that other couples have this problem, it makes me feel inadequate.

One of our cats bursts through the flap and aims for her bowl. I observe her munching, oblivious to my return home until this month’s strategy presents itself to me: nonchalance. A part of Ben’s stress is that he thinks I’m obsessed with having a baby. I told him to look up the true meaning of the word: an unhealthy interest in something. It’s not an obsession to desire something perfectly normal.

I unpack, then luxuriate in a steaming bath filled with bubbles. I’m a real sucker for the sales promises: relax and unwind and revitalize. I hear the muffled sound of a key in the lock. It’s Ben—who else would it be—yet I jump out and wrap a towel around me. He’s not alone. I hear the voices of our neighbors, Rob and Mike. He’s brought in reinforcements to maintain the barrier between us. There are two ways for me to play this and if you can’t beat them…

I dress in jeans and a T-shirt, twist my hair up and grip it with a hair clip, wipe mascara smudges from beneath my eyes and head downstairs.

“You’re back,” says Ben by way of a greeting. “The guys have come over for a curry.”

“Sounds perfect,” I say, kissing him before hugging our friends hello.

I feel smug at the wrong-footed expression on Ben’s face. He thought I’d be unable to hide my annoyance, that I’d pull him to one side and whisper, “It’s orange,” (the color my fertility app suggests is the perfect time) or suggest that I cook instead so I can ensure he eats as organically as possible.

“Who’s up for margaritas?” I say with an I’m game for a big night smile.

Ben’s demeanor visibly softens. Result. I’m forgiven.

The whole evening is an effortless success.

Indifference and good, old-fashioned getting pissed works.

Excerpted from The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Hamilton 

Published by Graydon House Books

Judenrein by Harold Benjamin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A troubled man with a checkered past finds himself forced into the role of a hero when a white supremacist led America faces a terror attack that is set to pin the blame on the already disparaged Jewish community, and plunge the nation into chaos in author Harold Benjamin’s novel “Judenrein”. 

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The Synopsis 

Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

The Review

There has never been a more relevant time for a thriller novel such as this. The author conveys a powerful story that relates a long history of violence, hatred and prejudice through a dystopian thriller lens. 

The author does an amazing job of creating a vast cast of characters, but most importantly a complex, multi-layered protagonist. Getting to see Zack struggle with his addiction and the complex relationship he has with his people and the circumstances they find themselves in really made the narrative shine through much brighter. It brought the harrowing experiences occurring in the dystopian future into the light and showcased how scary the events of our own world are sadly not far off from this reality, making it a plot that readers greatly pay attention to. 

The Verdict

A true page turner, author Harold Benjamin’s “Judenrein” is a heart-pounding thriller. This sad and dystopian future  is a stark reminder of how important it is to resist the hatred that threatens to overtake the world, and the flawed nature of protagonist Zack keeps the reader fully invested in the character’s journey through this dystopian world. It is a must-read thriller that won’t disappoint fans, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Harold Benjamin is the pen name of a 50-something Jewish writer who lives in the American midwest. He grew up in New York. Three out of his four grandparents were born in the 19th century.

Judenrein is available as an ebook and paperback.

For more information, visit www.judenreinbook.com.

Website: http://judenreinbook.com/

Video URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4j26RJJMCQ

The Tech by Mark Ravine Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young FBI agent takes charge of a new team, and discovers that a series of new cases are mysteriously tied to a shadowy organization in author Mark Ravine’s novel, “The Tech”. 

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The Synopsis

Alexandra has just taken charge of her new team, a motley crew of screw-ups at the Arizona Field Office, the latest in a series of forgettable assignments. With a history of rebelling against authority and blunt speaking, she vows to change her ways and make this assignment work.

Within minutes of her taking charge, she is drawn into a bank robbery case. She leads her new team to catch the robbers but discovers that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. The very next day three girls go missing. Before they could be trafficked out of the country, she races against time to rescue them. Soon, she begins to realize that all the cases coming her way are mysteriously connected. As she unravels the threads of a massive conspiracy, she discovers that a secret organization with immense power and authority is behind these horrific crimes. Forces within the FBI thwart her every move to discover the truth. Helping her navigate this maze is the shadowy Michael Patterson. But can she trust him? Can she trust anyone? Soon, witnesses disappear, suspects are killed, with her life and the lives of her team in lethal danger. Will she come out of this alive? Will she uncover and expose this cabal? As time starts running out, Alexandra Cassidy has to evade indictment and defy death in a deadly game of cat and mouse. 

The Review

The author has excelled in his debut novel. The characters are fully developed and do an amazing job of pulling the reader into the narrative as a whole. The complexity of the plot really keeps the intrigue and suspense of this FBI thriller alive, weaving together various cases and plots involving human trafficking, bank robberies and murder. 

The author does an amazing job of crafting a narrative that focuses on a tech-based approach to investigative work and yet makes it accessible and easy for the average reader to delve into, even venturing into sci-fi territory with the sophistication of the tech used in the investigations. Yet it is the character development that really shines the brightest in this novel, crafting a unique blend of suspense and bonding between the protagonist and the team of characters she finds herself surrounded by. 

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The Verdict

A must-read action-fueled thriller, author Mark Ravine’s “The Tech” is a smash hit debut novel. The author has put together a memorable cast of characters and an amazingly interwoven plot that ticks every box in the classic FBI thriller and takes it up several notches. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Earth Angel by Chris Stevenson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After surviving a vicious attack, a young woman discovers a unique ability that could help her police officer fiancee catch a brutal serial killer in author Chris Stevenson’s “Earth Angel”. 

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The Synopsis

Tag/Hook: Hell hath no fury when an angel gets mad.

Twenty one year-old Daryl Victoria and her fiancé, Dean Fowler, a rookie detective who has been working on a serial killer case that involves the murder of five high school girls, are parked in their car for some frolicking when a carjacking goes wrong. Both are gunned down. Daryl takes a bullet in the face, and as a result of the damage, needs a corneal transplant. Dean has been shot through the lungs. They’ve been ordered to quit work, heal and recoup. Dean suffers a nervous breakdown as the murders increase and he is powerless to help, coupled with his guilt of having placed his bride-to-be, Daryl, in harm’s way in a seedy little lovers’ lane.

Daryl finds out that her transplanted eye is causing what she thinks are hallucinations. She begins to see what she believes are glowing angelic escorts and rancid death stalkers who are following persons of the general populace. When these supernatural beings get too close, the person they’re following dies within a short period of time. She discovers there’s a mysterious formula to the manner and timing of the deaths.

Daryl discovers that the donor for her new cornea was a 14 year-old gifted medium with some heavy duty clairvoyant powers. Only sparse information can be gleaned from the young girl’s mother since the daughter has died in her own mysterious way.

Daryl’s good eye sees the normal world. The donor eye sees a totally different realm with its own rules. With the help of Daryl’s best friend, Abbey, they embark on a mission to use the gift and try and save lives. But Daryl has a better plan—she can stop the serial killer by using her, gift, brains and looks. All it will take is an ingenious trap. First, she has to find out how the killer is gaining access into the homes. Then she has to use herself as bait and stop this madman at any cost. 

The Review

The mystery and suspense of the novel kickstarts immediately from the early pages of the novel. The sadistic nature of a new serial killer drives one cop to obsession, his mind wracked with guilt over not stopping the killer sooner. Then the protagonist Daryl finds her world turned upside-down when she and her police officer fiancee are attacked. From that point on the action ramps up as her recovery leads to a supernatural level ability that gives her insight into an entirely different world. 

The author does a great job of balancing the supernatural elements of the story with character growth and the mystery and suspenseful nature of the thriller genre. The creation of this deadly new serial killer is balanced well with the complex relationship between Daryl and Dean throughout their recovery and the overwhelming nature of Daryl’s new abilities. 

The Verdict

A memorable, heart-pounding thriller and supernatural drama, “Earth Angel” by Chris Stevenson is a must-read book! Reminiscent of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s “Black House” (the sequel to their first novel The Talisman), and the blend of fantasy driven storytelling with a monstrous serial killer, author Chris Stevenson has created a healthy blend of crime thriller with supernatural horror and emotional, relatable characters that readers can get behind. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Check out my blog GUERRILLA WARFARE FOR WRITERS (SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS):

Christy’s Young Adult Fabuliers:

About me

Gender Male

Industry Science

Occupation Novelist and Science Writer

Location Sylvania, Alabama, United States

Links Wishlist

Introduction Been writing for 32 years, publishing novels, non-fiction books, radio horror plays, short stories, reviews, interviews, poetry and thousands of non-fiction automotive articles. I’m on my third agent, and have had 10 books and twenty-two short stories published, beginning in 1988. Writing Credits and History BOOK CREDITS: Auto Repair Shams and Scams (Forward–Ralph Nader), 1990, Price Stern & Sloan, Los Angeles–226 pages, non-fiction, consumer warning book. Garage Sale Mania, 1988, Betterway Publications, Crozet, Virginia–190 pages, non-fiction book—1988. Word Wars, a SF novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—May, 2007. Once Upon a Goddess, a Fantasy novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—January, 2008 Planet Janitor—Custodian of the Stars, a SF novel sold to Engage Books, May 2009 Gate Walker, a Paranormal Fantasy, sold Lyrical Press—January, 2009. The Wolfen Strain, a fantasy thriller sold to LBF Books, February 2009

The Girll They Sold to the Moon, Intrigue Books

Blackmailed Bride to Melange Satin Romance. Screamcatcher: Web World by Melange Books.

Interests Hiking, paleontology, Ufos, cryptozoology, bigfoot, astronomy, lake monsters, ancient Egypt, archeology, geology

Favorite Movies Blade Runner, Time Cop, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Logun’s Run, Transformers, The Time Machine, Kickass

Favorite Music REM, Abbaa, When in Rome, Steve Miller Band, SF and fantasy soundtracks.

Favorite Books Icerigger, Virgin Planet, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Lord of the Flies, Black Marble, Close Encounters, The Island, Black Marble, Dune, Riverworld, The Mote In God’s eye

How many books have I published? 10 to date, with three out on agent subs, and five more in the wings ready to go.

Amazon Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK

Christy’s Website:  https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/

Blog:  http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/