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review 2017-09-19 15:42
Lies She Told
Lies She Told - Cate Holahan

By:  Cate Holahan 

ISBN: 9781683312956

Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: 9/12/2017 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

LIES SHE TOLD by Cate Holahan is a dark and twisty mind-bending thriller with more than one unreliable narrator. 

On almost every page, this imaginative psychological thriller forces the reader to reconsider what is real. A book within a book when the lines of fact and fiction are blurred.

“The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.” — Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Notebook H 

Manhattan author Liza, (of romantic suspense) is under extreme pressure with her upcoming novel. 

Trevor, a forty-two-year-old (editor) is telling a thirty-five-year-old woman in the middle of her target audience demographic, what her peers want in the sack. He thinks he knows trends. 

Alternating between Liza’s POV in the real world, and Beth (the protagonist) in Liza’s novel. Needless to say, both these ladies lives are complex. 

"Blurring fact and fantasy is my trade. I am a con artist. A prevaricator. I make up stories." So why does he think this one is real? 

David Jacobson, husband of twelve years. Nick Landau, David’s law partner is missing. Nick never liked Liza.

Liza and David have been unable to conceive. Both the anxiety of this plus her writing deadlines push her to get lost in her characters. Their marriage is strained. 

. . . She does not invent her characters. She steals them from her surroundings. To be a writer is to be a life thief. Every day she robs herself blind.

"It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place." —Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major

As the pressure of the deadlines mounts, Liza becomes immersed in her heroine. Unfaithful? Murder?

Is she writing about her own life? 

Beth has a new baby and her husband, Jake is a prosecutor. He is cheating, while she is home taking care of the baby. The sexy officer, Colleen. The psychiatrist, Tyler, and an old friend.

Will both stories lead to murder? The lines are blurred. 

Who is telling the truth? Who is not? Two stories intertwined.

The author cleverly draws readers into a world where truth blends with delusion, plus more. . . 

Dark, twisty, and sinister grip-lit. The author keeps the reader on its toes while switching from fact and fiction while questioning every move. 

Chilling, unique, intriguing, and disturbing, LIES SHE TOLD, will keep readers turning the pages. With all the books about LIES these days, this one definitely takes a distinctive spin. 

A special thank you to Crooked Lane and NetGalley for an early reading digital copy. 

I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Amy McFadden and Lisa Larsen, for a captivating performance.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/05/12/Lies-She-Told
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review 2017-09-05 07:35
Best Day Ever
Best Day Ever - Kaira Rouda

By: Kaira Rouda

ISBN:  9781525811401

Publisher:  Graydon House

Publication Date: 9/19/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +++

Best Books of 2017 

 

Psychologically rich, Kaira Rouda's latest, BEST DAY EVER is one of the most satisfying and entertaining books I have read in 2017! 5 Stars +++ When I add (+s): my Top List for the year. 

Kaira Rouda creates an unpredictable delicious unique domestic suspense at its finest. I predict BEST DAY EVER will be a blockbuster hit and prime for the wide screen. What goes on behind closed doors? 

BEST DAY EVER, a Big Little Lies, but better. The author’s best work to date and this psychological domestic thriller sets itself apart from all the rest due to, a number of things which I will address in my review. (sorry for the length of the review, but have a lot to say).

There are so many psychological elements at play here (starting with the car ride). A weekend trip. The allure. A lake house. A dinner. The anticipation. Afterwards. The perfect set up. You will be dying to know what will happen next. Truly edge-of-your-seat. 

I can envision Alexander Skarsgård (Paul) and Nichole Kidman (Mia) starring in the film. I want a front row seat. An ideal choice for BEST DAY EVER. Hint, someone! Will need to ponder the cast for Buck. (he needs to be hot and hunky)! 

Skillful writing and execution tactics abound. The story takes place within a 24 hr. period. Tick Tock. There is not one moment of boredom. It is addictive and compelling. 

The banter is to die for! 

The author has outdone herself. Spine-tingling. Impending peril (not knowing what Paul will do next) creating intense tension, that propels this claustrophobic cat-and-mouse tale toward its hold your breath, gratifying conclusion. 

Meet Paul and Mia Strom. 

Mia was once a copywriter at an advertising agency when they met. She is from a wealthy family. Paul is an advertising executive and he thinks he is God. He thinks everyone worships him. It does not matter what he does wrong. He can put a spin on it. He has secrets. 

He, of course, has taught his wife everything. (gag) Sex, love, fine food, travel. He is the sophisticated older man she pledged to love honor and obey. As most psychopaths, they do not respect women. They are a conquest. They seek them out. Put on the charm. Slowly turn on their dark side. 

We hear from Paul, in Ohio and his plans to take his wife away for the weekend to their home on Lake Erie. It is a Friday afternoon and Paul feels some tension. He has made these plans and he wants nothing to go wrong. He appears charming and romantic. It will be the BEST DAY EVER. 

They have not been away for a weekend together in more than a year. This day was going to be just for them and it was time to go. The phone rings causing a little delay. 

They drop the kids off at the sitter’s house and then they are on their way. After all, he has loaded and syncing all his wife’s favorite songs. It will be a romantic weekend, with candles, wine, and a fabulous restaurant. Everything to set the mood. Nothing will stand in his way. 

As for most of us, we are aware of any sort of relationship- when you are traveling, you have expectations of an upcoming trip. Emotions run high. She is thinking. He is thinking. Trying to read the other's mind. However, as the car winds its way to the lake, we soon get the feeling, Paul has a dark side. 

However, we are not quite sure what is going on with Mia. 

 




Of course, he does not like it when she wants to stop for a restroom break (God forbid) or stop at a bakery for croissants. However, he is in a flexible mood. He will throw her a bone or two. This once. Paul also talks about the neighbors and bad mouths them if they do not like him. He is all about appearances. 

First, I knew nothing about this book going in, except the summary and the book trailer. At first glance, you think this will be another murder at the lake. Been there, done that. Think again. This book is nothing like anything I have read. 

Not the blood and gore. It is the most dangerous of all. The mind. The thoughts. The suspense. The impending danger. The mystery. The intrigue and the dark humor. Character-driven. 

You pretty much suspect early on Paul (husband) looks at life through rose-colored glasses. He thinks he can do no wrong. Everyone is beneath him and he can manipulate anyone to his advantage. What a jerk. 

He is king of their castle and his queen needs to fall back in line. He is all about action, like a super hero. About achieving and success. Their family is superior. What is this talk about her going back to work? No way. 

You have no clue what he has planned for the romantic weekend away at the lake without the boys. You know something is hidden in the car in the glove compartment, but you do not know what. It will be the BEST DAY EVER. 

He has a lot riding on this weekend. More than you can imagine. 

Paul is trying to make this a pleasant experience to smooth things over, or so it appears. We soon learn Mia has been sick. It annoys him when she eats healthy and controls their eating and dining habits. He appears to be trying, yet he does not like it when the conversation does not go his way. 

Everything he is thinking is played out in the book. He continues to steer it in his direction. He demands control. 

This is where the book excels in my opinion. I could not put this book down. If I had to, I was dying to get back to it. You know something has occurred and he is trying to make a good impression to get Mia back to his side. He wants to smooth things over for some reason. 

He gets annoyed when she starts talking about her strawberries and garden at the lake. The guy Buck is their next door neighbor and his wife died. He helps look after her garden when they are away.

Of course, Paul does not like Buck. Mmmmm . .

The next thing which keeps the reader guessing. Mia does not seem like the meek and mild type with an overbearing controlling (Sleeping with the Enemy husband). She seems a little cocky. She is not argumentive, but yet she brings up topics which are uncomfortable for her husband. 

It is a tug and pull; a little tit for tat, cat and mouse game. She appears calm and collected. What does she have on him? She keeps him on his toes. 

She is intriguing. Mysterious. You do not know what is going through her mind at all. It is all coming from Paul’s viewpoint (which you soon find out, he is wacky). Love her character. 

A modern-day psychopath. 

Mia, on the other hand, does not seem too worried about what her husband has planned, and pretty much drives the night in a subtle way, much to her husband’s displeasure.

When Buck interrupts their alone time, throws dinner reservations late, and at dinner, appears the waiter hates him (because he is a pompous ass) and always looks at his wife, plus his wife seems to be looking at the window in a daze with a smile on her face. He is thrown off his game. 

Could Mia have turned the tables on him? Mia knows much more than she has let on about her husband’s secrets and lies. She is the one who comes from money (parent’s wealthy) and they do not like him and never have. 

How could he have not been paying attention? When did little Mia become so confident and bold? And what does she know? Has someone told her what is going on? He has many skeletons in his closet. 

“This was supposed to be the best day ever, and now it is deteriorating, decaying like the memories of his childhood. “

Frantic, we see Paul’s world unraveling and spinning out of control. And the letter . . . . Priceless!!! I have never laughed so hard. Karma will bite you in the butt when you least expect. 

WOW! It is hard to describe a book of this nature since you do not want to give anything away. You want to provide enough to encourage others, they “Must” read this book. From the cover, author, characters, plot – from the first page to the last (A complete package). I would not change a thing. 

All the dirty secrets are revealed. 

 



Rouda has created a character so evil with his banter and thoughts. I would put him next to any of the bad guys out there. One reviewer compared him to Joe in You and I agree. I think also Perry in Big Little Lies and Jack Behind Closed DoorsAn utterly compelling journey through the darker side of the human psyche. 

The things which go on in his head! Clever writing. Both creepy, and witty. Paul is psychotic, entitled, and a narcissist with a capital N! Rouda reminds me of Paul Cleave here. Another favorite author which uses a lot of dark humor mixed with the thoughts of his psychos. 

As many of you read, my personal notes in my recent review of Emma in the Night— this topic is very relatable and one I have researched for years since my ex-husband was a narcissist. Most everything in this book is so realistic. I think Paul and my ex could be brothers. SCARY. If you meet someone too charming and too good-looking. RUN. 

The author keeps you guessing all the way through the book. You want to savor each moment and not rush. What I did indeed enjoy (which I wish more authors would follow)- Kaira recaps the night and the events leading up to the night from Mia’s point of view at the end. A "behind the scenes." 

During the reading, the author does not give anything away. As a reader, you think she is being manipulated by her husband. By providing all the final details, this balances the story for a satisfying conclusion.

Note: Kaira, if I see Paul around Palm Beach at the Breakers or shopping along Worth Avenue in his pink shirt with an older rich lady on his arm, will let you know. This could be a great follow-up book. Even better, he and Donald Trump have a lot in common, so I am sure Paul will worm his way into Mar-a-Lago. I can view his estate from my apartment window. Will keep you updated! 

Seriously, this may be my favorite psychological/domestic thriller this year. Congrats. Can’t wait to see what’s next. You have found your groove. Give us more of this, please. (no pressure).

 

Have ordered the hardcover (to arrive today), and currently listening to the audiobook, narrated by Graham Halstead and Amy McFadden. Look forward to reading 2018  PLENTY TO GO AROUND. (sneak preview included). 

If I have not convinced you yet. Readers, pre-order this now. The best psychological thriller of 2017! Fans of Mary KubicaFiona Barton, and B.A. Paris will enjoy.

A special thank you to Graydon House and NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

In the Mirror 
Here Home Hope 
The Goodbye Year 

 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/03/02/Best-Day-Ever
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review 2017-09-04 03:04
Lie to Me
Lie to Me: A Fast-Paced Psychological Thriller - J.T. Ellison

By:  J.T. Ellison 

ISBN: 9780778330950

Publisher:  MIRA

Publication Date: 9/5/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  4.5 Stars  

 

From No One Knows (2016) to the present with her latest standalone. 

From the southern town of Franklin, Tennessee to glamorous streets of Paris, and Hemingway’s old haunts, talented storyteller J. T. Ellison delivers a gripping domestic suspense thriller. LIE TO ME – the highly anticipated story of need and desire. Of betrayal, secrets, lies, and danger. 

Reminiscent of Gone Girl (even better), two writers' lives set on a downward course driven by lies, secrets, evil, and revenge.

Love, the author’s journey, the literary references, and her passion. From the inspiration, the setting, and the final words, which jump off the page. (not sure how the author can crank out so many books, and travel – she is superwoman)!

Two ultimately unreliable narrators. The third one is freaky, creepy. Watch your back. Trust no one.

“Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.”— George Santayana

As the book opens we meet a nameless and faceless demented person. She/he is talking to the reader. This person informs us we are not going to like them. Stealing, killing, manipulating, and leaving a trail of destruction. 

Everyone is powerless. 

Next, there is a body in the woods. It has been there for six days before she was found. Who is this body burned and left to decay?

Moving along we meet a literary power couple. Ethan and Sutton Montclair. They made a powerful and attractive couple. Looks, brains, and success. However, all is not so perfect behind this façade.

Their son, Dashiell had died. SIDS. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). He was not even six months old. Things were not the same after this. Their marriage and relationship were on the rocks.

Presently, Ethan finds a note from Sutton stating she has gone away. She is unhappy. She asks him to forgive her for being a coward and instructs him not to look for her.

She was gone. 

 



He deserved this. He was selfish. (A narcissist) However, why would she leave without her things? Her laptop, and phone. These things were her lifeline. She was a writer. 

Frantic, he must call her friends. They would know. Rachel, a yoga teacher. Ellen the head of library sciences at Vanderbilt, Filly (Phyllis), and Ivy. Ivy, a self-employed stock broker- was out of town on business and she was Sutton’s closest friend and confidant for the last three years. 

Then, of course, the bloody mother, Siobhan. They do not get along but she receives a monthly check from her daughter. 

We soon learn there were cracks and fissures in this domestic house of bliss. Was Ethan abusing her? There had been multiple domestic calls. What was missing?

Ethan thought he was the best writer. However, he had not produced anything since the baby’s death. Sutton had sustained them with her historical romance, which he never gave her the credit or respect. 

Sutton never wanted children. Ethan knew heirs were simply part of the things that should be expected from someone of his standing. 

However, he got desperate. He had made a mistake. 

He loved Sutton. If she did not show up, he would call the police. It was the anniversary of their son’s death. 

From beauty and the beast. A love and hate relationship. From then to now. 

Most of his family money was gone now, eaten up by the Victorian house they purchased, the renovations, and no writing. An advance paid back, humiliated in the industry and social media. He relied on Sutton’s income to support them. He simply had not been able to write a word since Dashiell’s death. He resented his wife. She resented him. They blamed one another. 

He needs a lawyer. The cops always look at the husband first.

Their lives had unraveled. The affair, the death of the baby, the book cancellation, and now Sutton’s disappearance.

He had not told her the truth. 

Where could she be? And who is the woman they found dead? What about her friends? Is Sutton dead or alive? 

What dark secrets does Sutton hold? Money missing. An investigation. 

Sergeant Roy Moreno and Holly Graham. However, Holly does not seem to think Ethan is the culprit. She has to find out more about the stalker, the friends, and where Sutton could have disappeared to. 

However, was it really SIDs? Ethan had lost his son, his marriage, his wife. His life. Are the friends reliable? Then there was the horrible review from a blogger.  Everything had spiraled out of control. The video. 

Had his wife snapped, or is there something more sinister going on? All the signs point to foul play; however, who is at the wheel and why?

Get ready for the ride of your life! Ellison takes readers from Tennessee to Paris and back. Character-driven (unpredictable) we hear from Ethan’s voice in the first part of the novel. Then Sutton the second part. From the past to present and all the dark juicy evil secrets in between. 

Skillfully executed, with twists and turns keep you guessing as to the real murderer. The creepy (third narrator) voice, carefully orchestrating a plan, watching the cops and all the puppets. Tick tock. 

A compelling journey through the darker side of the human psyche. An absorbing complex web of deceit. 

Ellison withholds the identity of the killer until the end. (the final little twist, was perfect). The note from the author seals the deal making this a “must read” if you love literary, psychological thrillers and domestic suspense. (Holly) was the best character. Otherwise, not a lot of likable characters here. 

If you enjoyed Gone GirlThe Marriage LieEvery Last Lie, and Behind Closed DoorsLIE TO ME is for you. Movie-worthy and an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. 

4.5 Stars. A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

Also pre-ordered the audiobook. Listen to clip which should be quite entertaining narrated by Matthew Waterson, Saskia Maarleveld, Sarah Naughton, and Julia Whelan (my favorite). 

PS Be sure and look for Dead Ends: Stories from the Gothic South Coming Sept 28, featuring 13 original stories by 13 incredible authors.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/04/24/Lie-to-Me
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review 2017-08-29 03:40
Book 47/100: Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford
Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love - Katie Sullivan Morford

I found out about this book while reading a review of "Beating the Lunch Box Blues," and since I enjoyed that one, I gave this one a read, too.

This is a more traditional "cookbook" in that it actually has lunch recipes in it, but its approach is similar. The recipes are simple and would satisfy a diverse palate -- again, I perused this for ideas for my husband's lunches, not for kids, and there's plenty here for adults to enjoy. None of the "recipes" has more than 10 ingredients or so, and most of them only have about 5. This book is also a little more health and budget-conscious than "Lunch Box Blues." Taken together, there's lots of inspiration to be had for lunches, whether for school, work, or the occasional picnic!

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review 2017-08-22 03:12
Heat Trap (The Plumber's Mate #3)
Heat Trap - J.L. Merrow

Oh geez, so much going on in this one! 

 

I complained in my review for the last book that I thought Tom and Phil's relationship took a backseat. That was not the case here. The case Phil's working on effects them both personally and even brings out some secrets Phil has been hiding about himself. It really tests their relationship, bringing up old concerns, but doesn't go into melodrama territory. 

 

The case is again well-done. Marianne, the new bartender at the Dyke, is running from her abusive ex-boyfriend, and Phil's asked to dig up dirt on him. The ex is a Douche-with-a-capital-D and annoyingly wily when it comes to the law. 

And I can't believe Tom fell for Grant's line about being misunderstood. Com'n Tom, that's Abuser Manipulation 101.

(spoiler show)

This has some good and creepy twists to it and definitely doesn't end up anywhere I thought it would.

 

On the personal front, Tom's still trying to sort out how he feels about a family secret coming out in the previous book,

about his mother having an affair and his father not being his biological father,

(spoiler show)

so there are family tensions to deal with but again it avoids from going into melodramatic territory. I enjoyed seeing more of Cherry and Greg, and of course Gary and Darren are always a hoot. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to Arthur and Merlin too. They're just the coolest cats, if maybe a bit too quick with their affections. :D

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