• ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Lies, Lies, Lies Review & Blog Tour

    Book Details:

    LIES LIES LIES

    Author: Adele Parks

    ISBN: 9780778360889

    Publication Date: August 4, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA Books

     

    Book Summary:

    LIES LIES LIES Centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends… and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.

    Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

    Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it. 

    Review:

    This book follows a fairly typical formula for domestic thrillers. Secrets, lies, unreliable narration, and bombshell revelations.

    I enjoyed the book at the beginning. It was engaging and I was curious to see where it went. I like multi-POV plots and this one was done well. It allowed for good character development, even if they were flawed individuals.

    Now for the things that were not my favorite – first being the portrayal of Simon’s alcoholism. He had a severe problem and the author probably could have done a bit more research on the subject. When written well, addiction can draw a reader even further into the story. Here, it became a distraction to me. And Daisy – she ultimately came off weak which was disappointing when she started off as a strong character with a sense of humor and a solid identity.

    There were some good twists in this plot but after a few, they felt implausible and over the top. This of course is just my opinion – for die hard domestic thriller lovers, I suspect they will enjoy chain of events in this book.

    This was not my favorite Adele Parks book but this won’t stop me from reading her next book. We can’t love all the books and again, there will be plenty who do enjoy this book. It’s a quick read and a nice summer escape.

    About the Author:

    Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

    Social Links:

    Social Links:

    Author Website

    Twitter: @AdeleParks

    Instagram: @adele_parks

    Facebook: @OfficialAdeleParks

    Goodreads

    Purchase:

    Buy Links: 

    Harlequin 

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon

    Books-A-Million

    Powell’s

    Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for the gifted eBook in exchange for my honest review. This book is available for purchase tomorrow, August 4th.

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Black Swan of Paris: blog tour and excerpt

    THE BLACK SWAN OF PARIS

    Author: Karen Robards

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA

    BOOK SUMMARY: 

    For fans of The Alice Network and The Lost Girls of Paris comes a thrilling standalone by New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards about a celebrated singer in WWII occupied France who joins the Resistance to save her estranged family from being killed in a German prison.

    In Occupied France, the Resistance trembles on the brink of destruction. Its operatives, its secrets, its plans, all will be revealed. One of its leaders, wealthy aristocrat Baron Paul de Rocheford, has been killed in a raid and the surviving members of his cell, including his wife the elegant Baronness Lillian de Rocheford, have been arrested and transported to Germany for interrogation and, inevitably, execution.

    Captain Max Ryan, British SOE, is given the job of penetrating the impregnable German prison where the Baroness and the remnants of the cell are being held and tortured. If they can’t be rescued he must kill them before they can give up their secrets.

    Max is in Paris, currently living under a cover identity as a show business impresario whose star attraction is Genevieve Dumont. Young, beautiful Genevieve is the toast of Europe, an icon of the glittering entertainment world that the Nazis celebrate so that the arts can be seen to be thriving in the occupied territories under their rule.

    What no one knows about Genevieve is that she is Lillian and Paul de Rocheford’s younger daughter. Her feelings toward her family are bitter since they were estranged twelve years ago. But when she finds out from Max just what his new assignment entails, old, long-buried feelings are rekindled and she knows that no matter what she can’t allow her mother to be killed, not by the Nazis and not by Max. She secretly establishes contact with those in the Resistance who can help her. Through them she is able to contact her sister Emmy, and the sisters put aside their estrangement to work together to rescue their mother.

    It all hinges on a command performance that Genevieve is to give for a Gestapo General in the Bavarian town where her mother and the others are imprisoned. While Genevieve sings and the show goes on, a daring rescue is underway that involves terrible danger, heartbreaking choices, and the realization that some ties, like the love between a mother and her daughters and between sisters, are forever.

    EXCERPT:

    CHAPTER ONE

    May 15, 1944

    When the worst thing that could ever happen to you had already happened, nothing that came after really mattered. The resultant state of apathy was almost pleasant, as long as she didn’t allow herself to think about it—any of it—too much.

    She was Genevieve Dumont, a singer, a star. Her latest sold-out performance at one of Paris’s great theaters had ended in a five-minute standing ovation less than an hour before. She was acclaimed, admired, celebrated wherever she went. The Nazis loved her.

    She was not quite twenty-five years old. Beautiful when, like now, she was dolled up in all her after-show finery. Not in want, not unhappy.

    In this time of fear and mass starvation, of worldwide deaths on a scale never seen before in the whole course of human history, that made her lucky. She knew it. 

    Whom she had been before, what had almost destroyed her—that life belonged to someone else. Most of the time, she didn’t even remember it herself.

    She refused to remember it.

    A siren screamed to life just meters behind the car she was traveling in. Startled, she sat upright in the back seat, heart lurching as she looked around.

    Do they know? Are they after us?

    A small knot of fans had been waiting outside the stage door as she’d left. One of them had thrust a program at her, requesting an autograph for Francoise. She’d signed—May your heart always sing, Genevieve Dumont—as previously instructed. What it meant she didn’t know. What she did know was that it meant something: it was a prearranged encounter, and the coded message she’d scribbled down was intended for the Resistance.

    And now, mere minutes later, here were the Milice, the despised French police who had long since thrown in their lot with the Nazis, on their tail.

    Even as icy jets of fear spurted through her, a pair of police cars followed by a military truck flew by. Running without lights, they appeared as no more than hulking black shapes whose passage rattled the big Citroën that up until then had been alone on the road. A split second later, her driver—his name was Otto Cordier; he worked for Max, her manager—slammed on the brakes. The car jerked to a stop.

    “Sacre bleu!” Flying forward, she barely stopped herself from smacking into the back of the front seat by throwing her arms out in front of her. “What’s happening?”

    “A raid, I think.” Peering out through the windshield, Otto clutched the steering wheel with both hands. He was an old man, short and wiry with white hair. She could read tension in every line of his body. In front of the car, washed by the pale moonlight that painted the scene in ghostly shades of gray, the cavalcade that had passed them was now blocking the road. A screech of brakes and the throwing of a shadow across the nearest building had her casting a quick look over her shoulder. Another military truck shuddered to a halt, filling the road behind them, stopping it up like a cork in a bottle. Men—German soldiers along with officers of the Milice—spilled out of the stopped vehicles. The ones behind swarmed past the Citroën, and all rushed toward what Genevieve tentatively identified as an apartment building. Six stories tall, it squatted, dark and silent, in its own walled garden.

    “Oh, no,” she said. Her fear for herself and Otto subsided, but sympathy for the targets of the raid made her chest feel tight. People who were taken away by the Nazis in the middle of the night seldom came back.

    The officers banged on the front door. “Open up! Police!”

    It was just after 10:00 p.m. Until the siren had ripped it apart, the silence blanketing the city had been close to absolute. Thanks to the strictly enforced blackout, the streets were as dark and mysterious as the nearby Seine. It had rained earlier in the day, and before the siren the big Citroën had been the noisiest thing around, splashing through puddles as they headed back to the Ritz, where she was staying for the duration of her Paris run.

    “If they keep arresting people, soon there will be no one left.” Genevieve’s gaze locked on a contingent of soldiers spreading out around the building, apparently looking for another way in—or for exits they could block. One rattled a gate of tall iron spikes that led into the brick-walled garden. It didn’t open, and he moved on, disappearing around the side of the building. She was able to follow the soldiers’ movements by the torches they carried. Fitted with slotted covers intended to direct their light downward so as to make them invisible to the Allied air-raid pilots whose increasingly frequent forays over Paris aroused both joy and dread in the city’s war-weary citizens, the torches’ bobbing looked like the erratic flitting of fireflies in the dark.

    Excerpted from The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Robards. Published by MIRA Books.

    BIO: 

    Karen Robards is the New York Times, USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of more than fifty novels and one novella. She is the winner of six Silver Pen awards and numerous other awards.

    SOCIAL:

    Author Website: http://karenrobards.com/

    TWITTER: @TheKarenRobards

    FB: @AuthorKarenRobards

     

    BUY LINKS:

    Harlequin 

    Indiebound

    Amazon

    Barnes & Noble 

    Books-A-Million

    Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an eCopy of this book in exchange for my promotion and forthcoming review.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    No One Saw: Review & Blog Tour

    NO ONE SAW

    Author: Beverly Long

    Publication Date: June 30, 2020

    Publisher: MIRA Books

    Book Summary:

    Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW, a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

    Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

    With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

    Review:

    This might be one of my favorite police procedurals of the year. This is my second A.L. McKittridge book and I’m hooked. He and his partner, Rena, are interesting and relatable, both personally and professionally.

    This book is fast-paced and can be read in a long evening, like I did, if you can’t put it down without knowing what happened.

    I sometimes shy away from books about missing children but when told through the lens of a police procedural, the mission and tactics for finding the child dominate the plot and help me as a reader to feel like I’m reading a book with a purpose, not just a story about a child being harmed.

    The writing was paced nicely and nothing felt rushed, which is another reason good crime procedurals are some of my favorite books to read – the investigation is kept at the forefront. The characters, while some were not likable, were well developed and interesting.

    And most importantly (for me), I thought I had the crime solved but I did not. I love books that make the reader guess and without reaching, come to a plausible conclusion of who committed the crime.

    If you enjoy police procedural novels, this series is a must.

    Thanks to MIRA Books and NetGalley for the gifted ebook in exchange for my honest review.

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Buy Links: 

    Harlequin 

    Barnes & Noble

    Amazon

    Powell’s

    Books-A-Million

    Author Bio: 

    Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

     

    Social Links:

    Author Website

    Twitter: @BevLongBooks

    Instagram: #BeverlyLong

    Facebook: @BeverlyLongAuthor

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Tea by the Sea: blog tour & giveaway

    Author: Donna Hemans

    Publisher: Red Hen Press

    Publish date: June 9th, 2020

    Pages: 252

    Purchase Links:  Red Hen Press, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

    Synopsis:

    A seventeen-year-old taken from her mother at birth, an Episcopal priest with a daughter
    whose face he cannot bear to see, a mother weary of searching for her lost child: Tea by the
    Sea is their story—that of a family uniting and unraveling. To find the daughter taken
    from her, Plum Valentine must find the child’s father who walked out of a hospital with
    the day-old baby girl without explanation. Seventeen years later, weary of her unfruitful
    search, Plum sees an article in a community newspaper with a photo of the man for
    whom she has spent half her life searching. He has become an Episcopal priest. Her plan:
    confront him and walk away with the daughter he took from her. From Brooklyn to the
    island of Jamaica, Tea by the Sea traces Plum’s circuitous route to finding her daughter and
    how Plum’s and the priest’s love came apart.

    ADVANCE PRAISE

    “The forbidden love story of Plum and Lenworth comes alive in this heart-rending novel,
    Tea by the Sea. Hemans has a stunning ability to give words to that elusive feeling of
    emptiness, and the longing for redemption is palpable. In Hemans’s deft hands, regrets
    are explored with precision and compassion so that the reader finds herself unable to turn
    against even characters who have committed the most wretched betrayals. Tea by the Sea is like the story told in a grandmother’s kitchen with the odors of fried dumplings and
    saltfish wafting into mouths that are set agape at the heady twists and turns delivered in an
    urgent and beautiful prose.”

    —Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of ’Til the Well Runs Dry

    Thoughts:

    This book is the perfect way to honor and celebrate Caribbean Heritage Month. Having been there myself several times, It captures the atmosphere of Jamaica perfectly. The writing is beautiful and the connection between mother and child, even when they are separated, is palpable. I will be thinking about this book for quite some time.

    About the author:

    Jamaican-born Donna Hemans is the author of the novel River Woman, winner of the
    2003-4 Towson University Prize for Literature. Tea by the Sea, for which she won the
    Lignum Vitae Una Marson Award for Adult Literature, is her second novel. Her short
    fiction has appeared in the Caribbean Writer, Crab Orchard Review, Witness, and the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad, among others. She received her undergraduate degree from Fordham University and an MFA from American University. She lives in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    The giveaway!

    Head over to my Instagram to enter. I love that part of of prize is a special tea blend created by the author just for this tour!

    Thank you to Over The River PR and Red Hen Press for the gifted copy in exchange for my promotion and honest review of this book.

     

  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Stranger In The Lake: Review & Author Q&A

    𝑺𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆𝒓 𝒊𝒏 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑳𝒂𝒌𝒆

    Author: Kimberly Belle

    Publisher: Park Row

    Publish Date: June 9th, 2020

    Pages: 352

    Genre: Domestic thriller

     

     

    𝐒𝐮𝗺𝗺𝐚𝐫𝐲: When Charlotte married the wealthy widower Paul, it caused a ripple of gossip in their small lakeside town. They have a charmed life together, despite the cruel whispers about her humble past and his first marriage. But everything starts to unravel when she discovers a young woman’s body floating in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife tragically drowned.

    At first, it seems like a horrific coincidence, but the stranger in the lake is no stranger. Charlotte saw Paul talking to her the day before, even though Paul tells the police he’s never met the woman. His lie exposes cracks in their fragile new marriage, cracks Charlotte is determined to keep from breaking them in two.

    As Charlotte uncovers dark mysteries about the man she married, she doesn’t know what to trust—her heart, which knows Paul to be a good man, or her growing suspicion that there’s something he’s hiding in the water. 

    Review:

    𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝗺𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝗼𝐧𝐬: This book felt more like a mystery than a thriller. It did not have the wild twists and turns thrillers are known for. I still enjoyed it and like the flashes of the former lives of the characters. It added an extra layer to the story which helped the overall plot along. 

    𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬: Charlotte’s background made her the most relatable character for me and made the story more believable. I enjoyed her growth as the story progressed. Paul felt a bit flat to me – millionaire, with secrets. Nothing new there, really. 

    𝐌𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝗼𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: This was an enjoyable read; perfect for reading this summer by the lake. I figured out the “twist” early on but I wasn’t disappointed by that. There was still plenty to consider and for me this book turned towards Charlotte’s past, her family, and the stark differences between the marginalized and the wealthy in their community.

    Thanks to Park Row Books for my gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

    𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ✂️✂️✂️.5/5

    Q&A with Kimberly Belle 

    Q: Please give your elevator pitch for Stranger in the Lake.

    A: Stranger in the Lake is a story about Charlotte, a rags-to-riches newlywed whose shiny new life takes a disastrous turn when a stranger’s body washes up under the dock of her Appalachian lake home—in the exact same spot where her husband’s first wife drowned. 

    Q: Which came first: the characters or plot line?

    A: Plot, always. My stores are very plot driven, and they always begin in my head with a what-if scenario. What if a woman marries way, way up and then her brand new husband is accused of murder? What if it looks like he’s guilty? How much of a role would her newfound wealth—and her fear of losing it—play in her decision to stick by him? That was basically where I began building the plot for Stranger in the Lake. Character came much later, after I’d thought through all the plot points and had them mapped out into an outline. Only at that point in the process do I really start thinking about what kind of person is best dropped into that situation, someone with plenty of blind spots and issues to work through, problems the plot will really shine a spotlight on. For Charlotte, it’s money and everything that comes along with it—security, status in the community, respect. She will have to untangle all these internal issues before her story can be resolved. 

    Q: Why do you love Charlotte and why should readers root for her?

    A: I love Charlotte because she is a survivor. She was born into the worst possible family, an absent father and an emotionally abusive mother who left her home with a baby for long periods of time, but instead of turning bitter or following in their footsteps, she emerged stronger. She figured out a way to grow into a smart and kind and loving and trusting—maybe too trusting–person. She wants so much more out of life than what her parents offered, and she’s not afraid to work for it.  

    Q: What’s the “story behind the story” for Stranger in the Lake?

    A: I’ve wanted to write a lake story for a while now. There’s just something about a big body of water–the dark swirling currents, the beautiful but remote setting… It’s the perfect place to set a suspenseful story because you just know something bad is going to happen there.

    At the same time, I spend a good deal of family time in the Highlands/Cashiers area of North Carolina. It’s a place of stunning beauty, but where there’s a huge gulf between rich and poor. Wealthy outsiders have come in and completely transformed the area, carving out golf courses and building shops and restaurants and million dollar homes on the lake…and then you have the people who have lived there for generations—the ones flipping the burgers and scrubbing the toilets. This polarity makes for some very interesting dynamics, because when there’s money involved, when people have too much or their basic needs aren’t being met, morals can become questionable. This is something I really dug into for this story. 

    Q: Last summer when I interviewed you for Dear Wife, you mentioned a project you were working on, and I believe it was Stranger in the Lake:

    ” I’m currently finishing up a story about a newlywed woman who discovers a woman’s body under their lakeside home dock. The police show up, and in the stress of the moment, she follows her husband’s lead and lies about ever having met the woman. It’s not a big lie, and she doesn’t really think much of it at the time, but soon that one little lie turns into an avalanche. As the police close in on the woman’s killer, she uncovers dangerous truths about her husband and her marriage, as well as dark secrets that have been simmering below the lake’s currents for years. No title yet, but coming sometime in 2020.”

    Thinking back to what you told me then, what was the book like then verse how it turned out? Anything that surprises you or that really changed or that stayed the same that you were sure would stay the same?

    A: I don’t remember how far I was into writing the story when I answered that question, but it must have been far because that’s pretty much exactly what happens in this story…and exactly the core of the original premise for Stranger in the Lake. A wife who lies for her brand new husband in the heat of the moment, then has to figure out if she did it because she loves and trusts and believes in him, or if it’s maybe a little bit because she doesn’t want to let go of the shiny new life he’s given her. Money complicates things. It muddies emotions and blurs moral boundaries. This is the kernel of the idea that began Stranger in the Lake

    Q: The narration of Dear Wife was so unique, what can you say about the narration/structure of Stranger in the Lake that isn’t going to spoil anything?

    A: Stranger in the Lake is told largely through Charlotte’s point of view, with occasional snippets of a story many years in the past. This makes the structure much more straightforward than Dear Wife, and when I began I thought it would be an easier story to tell. Fewer heads for me to crack open for the reader, fewer viewpoints for me to keep string together just so. But once I started writing, I discovered sticking to one point of view made telling the story more difficult. Everything every other character thinks has to be filtered through Charlotte, through her reactions and internalizations. For this and a bunch of other reasons, Stranger in the Lake took me longer to write than Dear Wife. 

    Q: Which character in the novel is most like you and why?

    A: This is a tough one! I’d like to think I have Charlotte’s tough skin and that I share her sense of loyalty, but I’m not sure I could have survived everything she has. My research taught me that far more people follow in their parents’ tragic footsteps than break the cycle like Charlotte did, and I can’t say for certain which side of the equation I would have fallen on. I do also share Paul’s drive, his innate desire to create beautiful things, but I think (hope?) that’s where the similarities between us end. I guess that’s the answer here, that like most authors I put little pieces of myself into every character—the good, the bad, the ugly.  My characters are the best and the worst of me.

    Q: How can everyone find you online during promotional rounds for Stranger in the Lake, since the traditional type of tours won’t be possible?

    A: A little pandemic can’t keep this author down! I have lots of online events planned, chats with bloggers and fellow authors and bookstores I’d planned to visit before this thing hit, and lots more in the works. The most up-to-date list is at www.kimberlybellebooks.com/events—and make sure to check back often. I am adding more every day.

    Q: What was your last 5 star read?

    A: I have a couple recent ones. I tore through the paperback of Heather Gudenkauf’s This Is How I Lied, and I just listened to Kimberly McCreight’s The Good Marriage. Both were absolutely fabulous! And Heather and I will be doing a joint virtual event on my release day, June 9th. Details are on the events page of my website.

    Q: What is one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

    A: Just one? Hmm, I guess if I have to choose, it would be to trust the creative process. Every story is different, from the idea to the structure to the ease with which the words move from my head to my laptop to finished product. With every new story, I have an a-ha moment when I realize all the methodologies and processes I’ve used in the past won’t work with this one. I have to let all those “rules” go and let the story lead the way. Getting to The End is the hardest thing in the world, but also the most satisfying. There is no better feeling than to hold a finished copy of your book in your hand. It makes all those sleepless nights worth it.

    Q: Do you have any specific writing rituals?

    A: When I’m writing, I have a hard time sitting still—kind of strange for a job that requires many hours in a chair with a laptop. But it is a laptop so I move around a lot, floating around the house from my office to the kitchen to the living room to the outdoor patio. I change spots depending on my mood or the way the sun is shining through the window. Sometimes figuring out how to untangle a plot knot is as simple as a change of scenery. 

    Q: What can you tell us about your next project?

    A: I am currently working on a story about a home invasion. It’s a premise that has always terrified me, and it hits awfully close to home as it happens a lot here in Atlanta. I even know a family that survived one. I’ve pulled in a few details of their experience for this story, then mixed in plenty more from my imagination. No title yet, but out sometime in 2021.

    About the Author:

    Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including the forthcoming Stranger in the Lake (June 2020). Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

    Social Links:

    Author website

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