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text SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-03 03:31

Chapter 1


   My hands are numb from the cold air. It's 6 am and I'm waiting outside of the Prelude Clubhouse for my dad to finish a breakfast meeting with his work group. Every Sunday, he insists on taking me with him for golf, but when the meeting starts, I only stay long enough to finish my food. Their conversations are always so bland, so reserved. They talk numbers and reports, almost as if to bore me. Deep down, I know that it's a distraction. It might be a family gathering, but I am the only relative that comes. There are dozens of men there. I can't imagine that not a single one is a father or a husband.

No—they purposefully wait for me to leave to talk business. It worries me what kind of work my dad is involved in that's so closed-off and secretive. I picture them as a room of criminals. My presence is an inconvenience, but I have to attend. It's only fitting after my mom died two years ago. He would take her. I feel like coming here helps fill that empty void for my dad.

   A door opens from behind me and I turn slightly to see a younger member of the group approaching me. He's dressed in a black business suit like the others, but striking blue eyes contrast jet-black hair. He stood out to me from the first day and from what I've seen of his mannerisms, he's fairly new to the organization.

   "Needed some fresh air?" he asks as he comes to stand at my left side.

   I shrug. No one has ever asked me this before.

   "I wouldn't know what to talk about in there," I admit.

   He smiles, but looks ahead at the foggy rolling hills beyond the course.

   "You might be surprised," he responds. "There's a lot to be said about what we do. You never know—one of these days, this might be your legacy to share with us."

   I smile back, failing to re-capture his wandering gaze. "I doubt I'm cut out for it. That's more my father's thing." I question why I called my dad that. I'm not one to pick up conversational cues for the sake of the other person. This man has a strange effect on me. It doesn't make me feel very comfortable.

   "Maybe," he concludes simply.

   I open my mouth to mention that I'm not fully sure what it is that they do, but he turns and returns to the front double-doors.As one opens, he catches it, holding it for my dad.

   "Thank you," my dad says to him, before walking to me.

   The man disappears inside, but not without another glance at me. I'm not sure what it is behind his eyes that has me stuck in place. It was forceful.

   "There you are," my dad tells me in a tone that's meant to be cheerful. I don't buy the attitude for one second—his eyes tell a different story. They're apprehensive, almost scared.

   "That was weird," I explain to him. "He asked why I'm out here."

   "I'm not surprised. You never stay." He starts walking with me across the road leading from the clubhouse to the entrance gate. "What did he say?"

   "I'll explain when we're back at the house."

   This place has the tendency to give me the creeps on any day. I have no interest in discussing anything personal within possible earshot of the grounds. Before we take more than two steps onto the lawn to cut across to the parking lot, a black sedan drives at an oddly-low speed across the road. I follow it with my eyes as it circles to behind us. Then, it stops—so do I. My dad must sense my hesitation. He stops, too, turning around to look at the car. A rear passenger's window rolls down and I see a mirror-like reflection no bigger than a bottleneck shining from the lower edge of it. I get an uneasy feeling and step towards my dad.

   A loud bang cuts through the air and I hear my dad gasp. The window rolls up as the car leaves, just as slowly as it came.       The next few moments don't feel real—they happen too quickly. All I can do is let out the breath I've been holding as I shake my dad on my lap, having collapsed onto the grass in a desperate attempt to catch his falling body. I see blood soaking through his blazer where his heart should be. I near to touch it, to try to stop the bleeding, but my hand freezes, moving sharply to his face instead as I pray that he moves.

   "Dad," I squeak in the loudest voice that will escape my lips—it's inaudible. I shake him again by the shoulders, but he won't move anymore. It's like he froze. "Dad!"

   Echoes of my cries pulsate through my head, but he won't hear me. He won't listen anymore.

Source: mayatripathi.wix.com/fallacies/radicals
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review 2016-02-07 04:33
NoWhere Girl
Nowhere Girl: A Novel - Susan Strecker

By: Susan Strecker

ISBN:  9781250042859

Publisher: St Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne

Publication Date: 3/1/2016 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars 


Featured Weekend Read Feb 5 


Advance Praise
"In the end, this is a novel about great loss and refusal to surrender to the pain of this loss, showing instead how one can learn to live with it and, ultimately, find forgiveness and love as a survivor.  Compulsively readable."  --Kirkus Reviews

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Cover Love.

Susan Strecker returns following her dynamic debut, Night Blindness, with another family in crisis. NOWHERE GIRL, a riveting and distinctive mix of contemporary, young adult, wit, mystery, psychological, crime, sex, and domestic family suspense. Top Books of 2016.

"Where nothing is ever as it seems."

Beyond the novel’s taut suspense and subtle characterization, Strecker’s vivid prose, unique structure, and unexpected twists, provides an additional pleasure. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Amy Hatvany, Jo Jo Moyes, Diane Chamberlain, T. Greenwood, and Carla Buckley will enjoy the complexity and highly charged emotional topics.

“All my life I’d remember that moment. But it was only in my thirty-third year that Savannah decided to finally return to save my life by leading me to her killer.”

It had been 5,914 days since she had been gone.

Candace (Cady) was the twin sister of Savannah. Growing up in Kingswood, her sister was the beautiful, sexy, charismatic, and promiscuous one; always having her twin to cover for her. Sneaking out of the house, getting high, and having sex since age fourteen. She was the popular one with older, cooler friends; secret boy crushes. However, Cady was protective of her sister, she loved her. Did she tell her all her secrets?

As the book opens, we go back sixteen years, (1998) when Savannah does not show up to meet her twin, Cady. As twins often do, she knows the minute of her death--she knows her sister is in trouble, but afraid it is too late. She felt the tightness in her chest, as if she were choking and could not breathe—immediately calling 911 for help, even though she was unsure where her sister could be. Her sister died of affixation.

Flash forward, to 2015, after her sister’s murder; meet Cady, present day. She has never gotten over her sister’s death. The murder has not been solved. Their family has been ripped apart. Her brother David has all sort of issues, from his job, low self-confidence, depression to his failing marriage. Her parents sold their family home and moved to St. Augustine, FL (nice place) to escape their trauma. Their family does not communicate, or discuss Savannah’s death. It was a topic they had all tried to put behind them. Each person has handled their grief in a different way.

Cady, still has dreams—nightmares and feels Savannah is trying to speak to her about her killer. Maybe she is leading her. She sees a prison. She never gives her clear clues—possibly she is trying to help her deal with her death. Cady has never forgiven herself; could she have done something to prevent this from happening?

There was an investigation, and nothing turned up, winding up in cold cases in a basement. No more city money. They tried to blame it on some serial killer; versus looking at people who may be in their own town, looking like a normal person. She had no one to blame—no where to direct her anger.

Cady Martino Bernard, a Princeton graduate, now a successful novelist, of dark mysteries and thrillers as a way to escape her grief—is married to Greg, a psychologist. Instead of letting the memory of her sister, drown her, she would write.

Their marriage has deteriorated to roommate status. After many unsuccessful attempts at trying to conceive, and miscarriages; they have grown further apart. They have nothing in common—he enjoys her money, their nice big home (she does not like), social status, golf, art, culture, imported cheeses, and expensive wines. He does not support her writing. He resents her money; however, enjoys the fruits of her labor. She suspects he is having an affair with his receptionist, and she really does not care. She has her writing and her friends. He stays with her because she is safe. She stays with him because she is fat and feels she cannot do any better.

She now is working on a new novel—with an approaching deadline, she wants to get an inside interview with an inmate at the prison--a killer's head--one of the most evil serial killers to help with her book--she needs a fresh approach.

In the meantime, she has her group of close friends. Each week her best friend Gabby (from high school), David, her brother, Chandler and his gay partner, and their little girl (occasionally)-- They cook, drink wine, play games and a great support network for one another. A weekly ritual. Greg never attends. None of her friends like him, and the feeling is mutual.

Cady is struggling with her fifth book. Devils and Dust and wants to tell her editor to forget it. She does not have it in her. Since the death of her beautiful, sexy sister, she decided to remain fat. This way, the same thing would not happen to her. She has low self-esteem. The dark writing helps. as a means to express her grief.

Long ago--A year after her sister’s death, she no longer wanted to live. Some lunatic was out there who took away her sister. Through her rough years of cutting herself, and trying to commit suicide herself to dull the pain, she finally decided she could not put her parents though another lost child. Could her sister have saved her back then? She has to help her now, find the murderer.

She escapes in her writing. Between the characters in her book and her current life, she has craved being alone, as why she turned down writing groups, and teaching workshops. After many denied requests for prison interviews, she decides to show up and maybe she can get in…possibly Savannah would make a way.

No luck, shut down, "inmates don't give interviews," the warden had hold her. "They're convicts, not movie stars."

As she is leaving the prison, she is on her way back to the car when she meets Brady Irons. A high school hottie, Cady always crushed on back in high school. Sexy James Dean look back then—good-looking and sexy as ever, he is now a corrections officer at the prison. She asks for his help. He seems to be genuine and involved in a lot of tutoring, volunteering, and community work. This may be her answer to getting inside the prison.



Cady believed if she wrote enough, did enough research, interviewed enough perps, and victims, got inside their minds of murderers, went back again and again to that day, she might actually find Savannah’s killer. She would never give up.


Cady cannot believe she has laid eyes on Brady at South Jersey Pen! She cannot wait to tell her friends. He evidently left town years ago and moved back. He is dating someone; however, she is excited about a possible new friend, and a chance to get into the prison and interviewing one of the worst serial killers, Larry Cauchek.

She gets the interview and cannot believe the murderer, looks like a regular good-looking guy on Wall Street. He is manipulative, evil, and chilling. (great job with this character). Could someone like this have been behind the murder of her sister? A devil in disguise? He is getting in side her head.

She begins thinking more and more of Brady and invites him to her weekly dinners. They grow close; however, she feels Brady is hiding something and has a psycho-girlfriend.

In the meantime, between her weekly dinners, her friends, her new attraction to Brady, her novel, her husband (who never gives her quiet time to write), marriage counseling, and the serial killer at the prison haunting her, she is contacted by Patrick, the detective on the case when her sister died. There was some politics involved, and now some of the key players are forced into retirement. Patrick always felt there was more to the case; however, at the time he was told to back off.

Now with the case being re-opened, Cady is actively involved, and returns to storage to give review Savannah’s things, the list of attendees at the funeral, and her high school yearbook. Patrick Tunney thinks the way she was killed, it had to be someone close to her. The murder was in an old abandoned mansion, where a lot of the teens went to party, have sex, and get high. Numerous fingerprints. Why and Who?

Another odd factor, she and her sisters had matching necklaces they had never removed since birth, except to get longer chains as they had gotten older. The chain was missing at her sister’s murder. The killer had it.

Flashing back and forth from past to present, Strecker slowly hands out emotional tidbits of each character, with Cady the center of focus. While thinking about Brady, and becoming close to Patrick, she begins suspecting everyone.  

Will she ever be free of the hold of her sister’s death? Will the dreams lead her to what really happened that night so long ago?

With many clues, just when you think you know the identity of the killer, the suspicions moves to another. This is one you do NOT not see coming! A Twist - Wow…. Readers will enjoy the flawed characters, their complex and intense relationships.

A well-written, engrossing, finding your way back from tragedy to second chances. Forgiveness and redemption. What it means to be a survivor, when the person you love has gone. Survivor guilt. The what ifs? The unknowns, which haunt love ones for years.

The structure is brilliant. Slow-burning. Not a fast paced thriller; however, it is more of an intriguing psychological tale, of the way one person’s decision can suddenly recast more than one person’s life. An excellent choice for young adults--Actions, Choices--can lead to deadly consequences carrying over to others, in so many ways.

On a fun note, for fans of FRIENDS and in honor of the upcoming reunion show--readers will enjoy the adult’s witty gathering for the weekly dinners with an array of eccentric characters. An excellent choice for book clubs and further discussions.

If you have not read Strecker’s previous book, Night Blindness - highly recommend, as well as Nowhere Girl. Both books have common themes- emotional choices we make, the sanctity of friendship, and the power of love and forgiveness.



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Nowhere-Girl/cmoa/55e7b8d80cf23d0feff9f574
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review 2016-01-19 03:33
He Will Be My Ruin
He Will Be My Ruin: A Novel - K.A. Tucker

By: K. A. Tucker

ISBN:  9781501112072

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date:  2/2/2016

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating:  4 Stars 


A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

K.A. Tucker delivers a clever and twisted contemporary suspense HE WILL BE MY RUIN –a mysterious death of a best friend, and one woman’s unwavering tenacity to seek justice.

Exploitation. He uncovers your secrets. Your fears. Your flaws—and HE uses them against you. Trust, charm, and belief of HIS lies. It was so easy to allow HIM to get close. Close Enough to KILL.

Celine Gonzalez, age twenty-eight-years-old, gorgeous, with lush locks, full lips, and voluptuous curves, and a tiny waist, with roots from Mexico---men admire her charm and looks. . Residing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She had everything to live for, even an acceptance letter to the prestigious Hollingsworth Institute of Art. She always wanted to become an antiques appraiser for a major auction house.

Why would she commit suicide? Her mom had said she had delayed the enrollment for some reason. Why?

Maggie Sparkes was her best friend. She started Village United, a humanitarian venture, a nonprofit focused on high-impact lending projects throughout the world geared toward building self-sustainable village. Teaching children to read and give them roofs to sleep under—water and food. Thirty-six communities around the world.

Now she is in New York City, thirteen days later, after her friend’s death, in the old third floor apartment – looking like an old vintage shop; built in the 1800s, going through her things. The police assume it was a regular suicide, with a mix of lethal cocktails of Xanax and booze. The cops were waiting for the final autopsy report to confirm. An open and shut case. A single note in her handwriting, “I’m sorry for everything.”

The estate proceeds would eventually go to Celine’s mother, Rosa; however, she does not want anything, requesting for Maggie to sell off anything she did not want for herself-- and to use the money for one of her humanitarian efforts, in her daughter’s name.

The two girls had met when Maggie was five. Her mom had hired Celine’s mother, Rosa Gonzalez as a housekeeper and nanny, offering room and board for both her and her four-year-old daughter. The girls became inseparable. They were an odd match, from their looks to their social status—different in all sorts of ways.

It could not be possible. Her mom, Rosa had even fought breast cancer and had won. So why would she do this to her mom and to her now, in his way? Rosa had taught her daughter to be proud and stubborn as she was.

While going through her things, Maggie finds a box. Ten thousand dollars? An ornate bronze key. A scandalous picture of a naked man. Who is this guy? Does he know she is dead? She slowly opens the paper and words jump out which makes Maggie’s heart stop:

“This man was once my salvation. Now he will be my ruin.”

Even though Celine was known for her flowery prose in literature; however, what is the story behind this message? She is unable to find her phone--she has flowers from a guy she never told her about, a stack of money, a picture of a naked man and a diary with missing pages. What if she was murdered and made to appear as a suicide? Maybe the money was for her tuition?

Detective Chester Childs, around fifty a younger Morgan Freeman look, is on the case. All he concentrates on is mild depression and anxiety. Maggie is sure she would not kill herself. A glass with traces of Xanax, OxyContin, Ambien, and alcohol, similar to Vodka. A deadly combo. He says the case is closed.

Maggie will stop at nothing to find this guy and prove her friend would not commit suicide. A wealthy hedge fund manager. Jace Everett, the governor’s son. A successful one. Princeton. However, he sticks to the rich girls, not girls like Celine. He was an SOB and Celine was shy and sweet.

What was Celine involved in? She had never mentioned this guy.

Let the real investigation begin with a host of eccentric characters: blackmail, obsession, greed and dark secrets—the closer Maggie gets to uncovering the truth, the greater the danger to herself.

An entertaining combo of new adult fiction; wit and humor, a whodunit mystery, cool secondary characters, and a feisty female sleuth!

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!He-Will-Be-My-Ruin/cmoa/564e157b0cf20af044b95f92
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review 2015-05-19 20:22
REVIEW: "The Deal" by Elle Kennedy
The Deal - Elle Kennedy

I have never read Elle Kennedy before, but I have heard great things about her sexy contemporary romances.  Since I adore sports-themed romances, I decided to give her debut New Adult book a try and am blown away by it.

The Deal has a similar plot to other NA books I've read with a college sports star needing tutoring and simultaneously falling in love with their tutor.  Garrett is the best player on his school's hockey team and usually has no problem balancing his classwork with his team commitments.  But, his ethics course is currently kicking his ass and he finds himself very close to missing games due to his low grade.  Hannah is the only student in the class who understands what the professor is wanting and this catches Garrett's attention.  It quickly becomes obvious that Hannah has a crush on one of the football players so Garret and Hannah decide to make a deal.  She will help him pass the class and he will pretend to date her in order to make Justin jealous.


While the plot is a little low on the creative side, what makes this book stand out for me is the characters.  Garrett and Hannah both have tortured pasts that they are trying to deal with and the find themselves trusting one another with their secrets as they spend time together.  I loved the way that the author had them growing as friends before jumping into bed.  Their constant back-and-forth was so funny and really showed the development of their relationship.  It was also fun to see Hannah interact with the rest of Garrett's housemates who I believe will be getting their own stories later in the series.


I recommend The Deal for anyone who loves mature NA with well-developed characters and a serious look at some current social issues like domestic violence and rape.  I will definitely be continuing this series and will probably add her adult books to my wishlist.

Source: feministfairytalereviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/review-deal-by-elle-kennedy.html
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review 2015-04-06 11:28
Writing New Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson
Writing New Adult Fiction - Deborah Halverson,Sylvia Day

I have the urge to applaud Halverson for putting together this part guidebook part workbook on how to write New Adult. She covers everything between outlining your novel to the general mindset of a "new adult" to techniques for creating authentic voices and characters, to how to get your novel published. Many parts, such as conveying emotions and basic structure can be used for other categories and genres than just NA. It's brilliant advice for anyone, both published authors and aspiring authors. If more NA authors incorporated Halverson's advice and techniques I doubt this genre would suffer from the stigma that surrounds it.

As a "new adult" myself, I agree with many of the points Halverson does. She repeats the most prominent parts of a new adult's life such as for the first time being truly on their own away from parents viewing every step and guiding them through life. That, and the general feeling of optimism – a feeling I share in regards to my own future, but in general I am actually a rather pessimistic and cynical person – and the stress that comes when our expectations are crushed by reality. On this part I cannot agree more. New Adults are an optimistic bunch of people in search of who they are and who they want to be even if some of us have already found who we are at this age. (Speaking from experience here, not hard facts.) Simply put: Halverson hits the nail on the head on this part.

I strongly appreciate the tips she gives on structuring the novel, how to build tension, creating characters... basically everything that has to do with the actual writing and structuring. It's obvious Halverson is a brilliant editor, and given by this book, a good author as well as teacher. The way she explains how to incorporate sensibility in the narrator voice is spot on. Truly, I wish more authors did this in their novels as this is a common issue in the NA genre.

That said, I concede that Halverson has great advice and know her stuff. But. There's always a but, isn't there? Some things I can't agree on, not even a little.

First thing, Halverson explains how to create a supporting cast of secondary characters, who they are and what part they should play in the story. She mentions lovers, friends, co-workers... the basic stuff. Then she comes to the part on "adults in positions of power".

Generally the older folks are nonexistent or in the extreme periphery, like the professor who lectures but hands you off to the hot assistant teacher. Or the detective who shows up on-scene but doesn't do much but push a few buttons before he leaves ... In teen fiction, these old folks are more omnipresent even if they keep hands off, but in NA you can ban them almost completely and really should.

I'm well aware that the new adults social circle isn't filled with people that are older, but to suggest banning older people from the narrative is plain wrong. I find two issues with the concept of banning these people. First, as a new adult myself I do not have close friends that can be considered "old", but here's the thing. I know older people, and I find them an important part of my life. Not as guidance counselors or people that I go to for wisdom. These are people I know see as equals, and they interact with me as an equal as well. That means, if I know they have the knowledge I need, I go ask them, and they will not meet me as a child. They meet me as an equal.

Second, I find it problematic for the reason that the heroine/hero is a new adult. This means she/he will have to interact in a world full of older people in position of power. While doing this they must find who they are in a world that no longer treats them as children, but as equals. To be blunt: New adults must face the hard reality that they are viewed as adults. And having people of power that aren't their parents of relatives. By banning adults in position of power would take away one big part of finally being an adult. Note that I am in no way saying they need to play a big part of the narrative, just that I believe banning them is the wrong thing to do.

Moving on, we come to the matter of the two main characters (if there's a romance).

Women want the man who is sincere and loving and who needs us for his inner completeness, even as he's physically yummy and able to stand up to outside threats.

There's nothing wrong here. I just find that every example takes for granted that the two main characters are of opposite genders. Then there's my personal preference that a man shouldn't needme, at least not for his "inner completeness". But, as I said, this is a personal preference. Halverson does mention that NA is a place to explore sexuality, and I wished she'd discussed this further and made examples that would take LGBT characters, too, apart from the typical hetero relationship.

However, my biggest issue is when Halverson goes on the topic of character's looks. (She does this very briefly.)

When Beauty knows she's beautiful, Beauty is likely to be alled a bitch. Women are quite conscious of their own flaws, so they will relate to a female character who demonstrates that she's conscious of hers even as everyone else tells her she's hot stuff.

I've seen several reviews point out exactly this. That women who are secure in their looks and knows it aren't as well received as the ones with insecurities. Personally, I like female characters that knows they are "all that". I'm so darned tied of heroines that are insecure of their looks and need conformation from the male love interests. Also, if we continue to have female characters that are very modest about their looks, this reaction of calling women a "bitch" will remain, something I find disturbing to think of. I will say this is a problem in society in general and a bit bigger than what women call each other in fictional stories. But still. We continue on this topic though.

Perhaps she can worry that the outfit she must wear will accentuate the wrong things, or you could send her into a scene on what she'd call a bad hair day and have her totally turn on Mr. Hot Stuff anyway.

Here we continue on the topic how women are judged by their clothing. Most of those that have read my reviews know why I find this problematic. But, to shorten that long rant and put it simply: slut shaming is wrong and judging a woman by the way she dress, wether she dresses sexy or conservative, is wrong.

Then we have the topic of the male character's looks.

The male lover does need to look mighty fine. Perhaps he's not a model, but he's got the general features we can agree on as appealing: nice hair; a healthy, strong physique; strength and gentle touches as the situation calls for.

Notice that there's no need to have the male lead be modest about his looks. I'm not saying he isn't allowed to be confident in his looks, but I feel the need to point out the double standard here. In fact, despite what many may say, men – certainly men in this age group – can be very away of their looks, both positive and negative. These days men have some high standards they are supposed to meet just like women and, speaking form experience, this can make them insecure just like women, albeit they might not voice that insecurity as women can. This need for men to meet certain standards are raised here. The male lover is supposed to have a "strong physique", and as the previous quote said, be labeled Mr. Hot Stuff (or alike). Another point that should be addressed in NA is male leads that aren't meeting this criteria. That would be wonderful. Not all women (or men) prefer men that are excessively strong. I know, this is fiction and the hero can be very dreamy, but I believe this is part of the reason why NA is called "sexed up YA". Again, to put it simply:we need more heroes in NA that aren't considered God's gift to mankind in the looks department.

Now that I've addressed these issues, I will back up again and say that this book is great. It offers many tips that authors should take to heart. Despite my issues – sorry for long post on those, by the way – I would recommend this to pretty much anyone writing NA or hoping to write for this genre. It has great insight on how new adults think and behave as well as the struggled they face. If you're planning to write NA, read this book before you publish your work. It'll help you immensely.

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