• Writing

    The Book vs. The Author

    You read the blurb, you see a few reviews on Instagram or Goodreads, and you settle in to read your new book.

    But what happens when the talented individual behind the writing turns out to be a terrible human?

    A.J. Finn

    I recently had the opportunity to participate in an advanced screening of the trailer for The Woman in The Window by the infamous A.J. Finn.

    Included with this opportunity was a live Q&A with some of the actors. And they are heavy hitters – Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason-Leigh… you get the point. It should be an excellent adaptation of a great book.

    But there’s just one problem: the author has done terrible things. A.J. Finn appears to have lied about so many things in his personal life that he can’t even keep those straight. And I have no doubt that he has a serious mental illness, or two.

    His behavior is frequently blamed on his mental health. And while it’s another extreme, the violence so prevalent in our society is also blamed on mental illness.

    More on mental health in a moment because it shouldn’t be the scapegoat here.

    J.K. Rowling

    Unless you live under a rock, you are aware that Rowling has made multiple problematic and transphobic statements. When confronted, she doubled down.

    She made a conscious choice to take that stance. It cannot be blamed on mental health – she is simply an intolerant, transphobic, narrow-minded person.

    So what about the books?

    Do we look past the problematic authors in favor of the art? Or do we throw our Harry Potter books in the trash?

    For centuries reader have devoured books by authors without knowing much much about their backgrounds. There was even a time when a reader didn’t even know the gender of the author.

    The art prevailed.

    At least until a later time when truly problematic behaviors were unearthed.

    So what’s next?

    J.K. Rowling is making a conscious choice to be transphobic. She has been given opportunities to make things right – because really, there’s no room for hate – and she has chosen otherwise.

    Books in the trash.

    A.J. Finn has major personal issues, serious mental health issues, and a terrible reputation that is bypassed because of talent.

    Art prevails.

    I’m aware that there are other questions about his work but there’s too much to cover here. The New York Times has an excellent article that dissects every part of his story.

    Mental Health

    In America, we love to blame mental health on bad decisions, tragic events, and horrific behavior. But that’s all we do because it’s the easy target.

    Do we make mental healthcare accessible to everyone?

    Absolutely not.

    It’s a mechanism of sensationalism in both fiction and real life.

    So why would we want to tackle the issue head on?

    It runs the media, it sells books and tickets to movies, and quite honestly it’s a sick fascination.

    The book vs. the author

    If an author’s words and actions are harmful to a group of people – I’m out.

    If an author’s words and actions are harmful and self-destructive towards themselves, then you can bet that I will be advocating for access to mental healthcare.

    That makes far more sense instead of making it a sensational headline and a reason to blame bad behavior.

    Sorry to the media and the rubberneckers – focus your efforts on access to care instead of questioning if a book should be published or movie should be made.

    Let the art prevail and create access to mental health care for all.

  • Book Reviews

    The Shadow Box: book review

    The Shadow Box

    Author: Luanne Rice

    Publisher: Amazon Publishing

    Date Published: 2/1/21

    Pages: 367

    Genre: Domestic Thriller

    Synopsis

    After artist Claire Beaudry Chase is attacked and left for dead in her home on the Connecticut coast, she doesn’t know who she can trust. But her well-connected husband, Griffin–who is running for governor–is her prime suspect.

    Just before the attack, Claire was preparing for an exhibit of her shadow boxes, one of which clearly accuses Griffin of a violent crime committed twenty-five years ago. If the public were to find out who her husband is, his political career would be over. Claire’s certain her husband and his powerful supporters would kill her to stop the truth from getting out.

    When one of Claire’s acquaintances is murdered, the authorities suspect the homicide is linked to the attack on Claire. As the dual investigations unfold, Claire must decide how much she’s willing to lose to take down her husband and the corrupt group of elites who will do anything to protect Griffin’s interests and their own.

    Review

    This was my second Luanne Rice book. The Shadow Box had a lot of potential with multiple storylines and complex characters. There were several heart-racing moments that kept me engaged most of the time.

    However, the thrilling moments crossed over into contrived and far-fetched a few too many times for me and the plot began to feel like a made for TV movie. I’m not a fan of those so this was a deal breaker for me.

    The writing was fine but the characters were nothing special. I usually love multi-POV plots but this one felt very formulaic. When done well, multiple POV’s can add depth to the plot and characters but here, it felt more like a way to dress us book lacking substance.

    This wasn’t a DNF for me and in the end I found it to be a solid read but nothing to get overly excited or rave about. I loved the first Luanne Rice book that I read and despite feeling pretty neutral about The Shadow Box, this one won’t be my last by her either.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Amazon Publishing for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Connect with Luanne

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Poet: Book Review & Blog Tour

    The Poet

    Author: Lisa Renee Jones

    Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages

    Publisher: Entangled: Amara (March 9, 2021)

    Genre: Crime/mystery

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

    Synopsis:

    “The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.” -Jean Cocteau

    Some call him friend or boss.
    Some call him husband or dad.
    Some call him son, even a favorite son.

    But the only title that matters to him is the one the media has given him: The Poet.

    A name he earned from the written words he leaves behind after he kills that are as dark and mysterious as the reason he chooses his victims.

    One word, two, three, a story in a poem, a secret that only Detective Samantha Jazz can solve. Because he’s writing this story for her.

    She just doesn’t know it yet.

    Review:

    If you love books about books & writing and books about serial killers, then this book is for you!

    This fast-paced police procedural/mystery was an excellent read. The premise was well researched and the poetry added an extra layer of intrigue for the reader.

    The characters were interesting and a bit of a mystery on their own. Samantha, the detective, did come off a bit flat to me and I’m hoping that is due to this book being the first in a series – I will definitely read the next one to find out more!

    The writing was well done and while I guessed who the killer was, I still enjoyed the twists and turns and the procedures the police employed to solve the mystery.

    This was my first book by this author and will not be my last. I’m always thrilled to find new-to-me authors and even more excited to find a new series to read.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Entangled for the gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    This book is now available from your local bookseller!

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

     Entangled Publishing

    About Lisa Renee Jones

    New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones is the author of the highly acclaimed INSIDE OUT series. Suzanne Todd (Alice in Wonderland) on the INSIDE OUT series: Lisa has created a beautiful, complicated, and sensual world that is filled with intrigue and suspense. Sara’s character is strong, flawed, complex, and sexy – a modern girl we all can identify with.

    In addition to the success of Lisa’s INSIDE OUT series, Lisa has published many successful titles. The TALL, DARK AND DEADLY series and THE SECRET LIFE OF AMY BENSEN series, both spent several months on a combination of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling lists. Lisa’s other bestselling series include: DIRTY RICH and WHITE LIES.

    Prior to publishing Lisa owned multi-state staffing agency that was recognized many times by The Austin Business Journal and also praised by the Dallas Women’s Magazine. In 1998 Lisa was listed as the #7 growing women owned business in Entrepreneur Magazine.

    Connect with Lisa

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    To win a copy of this book, please check out my giveaway on Instagram!

  • Book Reviews,  Uncategorized

    Hadley & Grace: book review

    Title: Hadley & Grace

    Author:Suzanne Redfearn

    Publisher:Lake Union Publishing

    Date: February 1st, 2021

    Pages: 347

    Genre: Women’s Fiction

    Synopsis

    Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

    Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

    Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

    A powerful story of self-discovery, Hadley and Grace is the heart-racing tale of two women facing insurmountable odds, racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them, and discovering new kinds of love and family along the way.

    Review

    What a wild ride! If you enjoy multiple POV, character-driven books then this one is for you.

    Hadley and Grace were flawed characters that you just couldn’t  help but love. They were both flawed but their love for their kids and their quest for better lives made the book for me.

    The writing was sharp and at times witty, even in tense situations. This felt like a dramatic comedy which isn’t something I read enough of.

    Billed as another Thelma & Louise, it didn’t quite get there for me but I was still on the edge of my seat the entire time.

    My only criticism would be a few implausible details that were important to the story. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me but it was a small annoyance.

    All in all, Hadley & Grace is a page-turning escape with two strong female character you will grow to love.

    Content warning: This book does contain domestic violence but there is no graphic violence. The bulk of the story is focused on the escape rather than the past.

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Lake Union Publishing for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

     

    Connect with Suzanne

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

     
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  • Book Reviews

    And Then She Vanished: Review

    And Then She Vanished

    Hardcover: 350 Pages

    Publisher: Blackstone Publishing (February 2, 2021)

    He only looked away for a second.

    Still haunted by the disappearance of his little sister Amy over twenty years ago, Joseph Bridgeman’s life has fallen apart. When a friend talks him into seeing hypnotherapist Alexia Finch to help with his insomnia, Joseph accidentally discovers he can time travel. His first trip only takes him back a few minutes, but his new-found ability gives him something he hasn’t felt for the longest time: hope.

    Joseph sets out to travel back to the night Amy went missing and save her. But after several failed attempts, he discovers the farther back he travels, the less time he gets to stay there. And the clock is ticking.

    With the help of Alexia, Joseph embarks on a desperate race against the past to save his sister. Can he master his new skill and solve the mystery of Amy’s disappearance before it’s too late?

    Review

    I have always loved a good time travel plot! So, that combined with a solid mystery made this book completely captivating for me.

    This is the first book in the series and I’m so excited that there’s more to come. The characters were so well developed and there are so many directions that the next books can go.

    The writing was excellent – the grief Joe felt was palpable and his search for hope was compelling. I won’t spoil anything but I couldn’t put this book down. The twists were as unique as the premise – definitely not your typical missing person plot line.

    If you love mysteries, time travel, and creative plots then this book is for you! This was my first book by Nick Jones and it will not be my last.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

     

    About Nick Jones

    Nick Jones was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and now lives in the Cotswolds, England. In a previous life, he ran his own media company and was a 2nd Dan black belt in Karate. These days he can be found in his writing room, working on his latest mind-bending ideas, surrounded by notes and scribbling on a large white board. He loves movies, kindness, gin, and vinyl.

    Connect with Nick

    Website


    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Blackstone Publishing for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

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