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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate

What I Read Last Week: 


My Not So Perfect Life was a fun lighthearted read, even if it wasn’t my favorite from Kinsella. 

Sealskin was a gorgeous read.

Robbing the Dead was a great start to a new crime series.

Blink was a crazy addictive psychological thriller. 

Parker was a super fun sports romance and the cover isn’t bad either 😜

I See You was a fantastic psychological thriller. 
Currently Reading: 


I’m liking this one so far, has some supernatural stuff going on. I’ve been reading more books with paranormal elements and liking them, who knew?!

Up Next: 


So every single one of these is for a blog tour, crazy!! And I’m heading out of town for a girls weekend,we’re heading to a winery and I cannot wait. But when I committed to all of these tours, I didn’t realize it was the same week. Whoops. Don’t worry, I’ll have everything read and scheduled on time, I’ve actually read most of these already 😜 But if you’re wondering why half the books from my Monday post last week never showed up in review form, that’s why. I’ll get to them. Eventually.

What are you reading? 

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Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh @claremackint0sh @BerkleyPub


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Berkley Publishing 

Genre: Psychological Thriller 

Blurb: 

Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her… 

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com. 

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes–including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 

And now that man on the train–the one smiling at Zoe from across the car–could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move… 

Review: 

Mackintosh’ debut, I Let You Go was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so naturally I was so excited to read I See You but I was also slightly apprehensive. The overall plot, superb writing style and massive twist in ILYG was so stunning that I wondered if her sophomore novel would be as strong. I shouldn’t have worried one bit as ISY was brilliant and though it was different, it was just as engaging and addictive. 

Zoe is just an average woman living her life and I appreciated that she’s a middle aged woman and someone any of us could know or actually be. That’s what made this book so chilling, you can really envision this situation playing out in real life. When she first sees her picture in an ad in the paper she’s confused, but not overly concerned. As she begins to put the puzzle pieces together though she becomes paranoid and very worried. I can’t say I blame her, I would be too! We’ve all experienced the feeling of being watched before, but imagining how that would feel when you’re certain the person watching you has sinister motivations is so unnerving. When you add in that this is all happening during her generally uneventful daily commute, you have a claustrophobic environment that adds so much to the intensity. Zoe is surrounded by so many people, but that doesn’t make her safe, in fact many crimes are committed everyday without anyone even noticing, creepy stuff! 

Kelly is the police officer that helps Zoe and I warmed to her character just as much as I did to Zoe. She’s tenacious, determined and a total rule breaker, especially when she feels she’s doing the right thing. This is heavy on the police procedures, but it’s not dry or boring as Mackintosh’s knowledge of such things is apparent and interesting. (She’s a former officer herself) Besides being told from the two women’s point of view, there are terrifying passages from the person behind the website that add something very ominous to an already dark plot. 

I’ll stop with the plot details there, but if you’re already a fan of Mackintosh you’ll like this. As I said earlier, this is different but still very solid, edgy and dark AND she’s an extremely talented writer and storyteller. She crafts very well developed characters that are also wholly relatable making for a very gripping read. I was never able to pinpoint who the baddie was though at some point I was convinced every character was involved, and the ending was fantastic, throwing a sucker punch of a twist in the final page. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Berkley Pub and Abby at Crime by the Book for my review copy. 

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Review: Parker by Jillian Quinn @jquinnbooks


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: February 15, 2017

Publisher: Penn Publishing 

Genre: Sports Romance 

Blurb: 


Former collegiate athlete and successful sports agent, Charlotte “Coach” Coachman, is a straight shooter who has a very strict policy—no dating clients. The loves of her life are coaching little league basketball and managing the careers of her players, leaving no room for men. 


Coach hasn’t met an athlete she couldn’t handle and a deal she couldn’t close—until she meets Alex Parker—the NHL’s most notorious bad boy both on and off the ice. 


Alex is the best defenseman in the league, breaking records along with hearts. He’s made a name for himself as a womanizer, and after a scandal involving the owner’s granddaughter, Alex is traded to Philadelphia. Still reeling from the loss of his father, Alex is on a downward spiral, drowning himself in booze and women, until Coach takes him under her wing. 


She might be attracted to the sexy hockey star, and certainly not immune to his charms, but Coach can see that Alex needs her help, and coaching players is what she does best. Now that the lines are blurred and the passion between them is too strong to deny, Coach has to decide if Alex is worth making an exception to her rules.

Review: 

So, confession time for me. I’ve never read a sports themed romance in my life. (Sorry Jill!) But when my friend and fellow blogger Jillian Quinn told me she was releasing the first book in yet another new series for her, I couldn’t resist. I loved her debut, Corrupt Me and couldn’t wait to read another one of her hot and sexy romances! This one had a similar style to it, her writing really has a groove and flow to it that appeals to me and for a girl who doesn’t watch sports much less read about them, I was surprisingly interested in that aspect. 

When I read a romance, more than with any other genre, I want characters that speak to me on some level. In a thriller I can hate most or even all of the main players and still enjoy a book. But in a romance? I want a connection and I easily felt one with both Parker and Charlie. He’s a typical bad boy, but man does he have some serious charm. Did you guys see that cover?! I may have kept flipping back and forth just to get another glimpse of those abs. Besides having a pretty face I really liked that underneath his macho exterior he was a bit of a softie. His way with kids, especially fans was totally swoon worthy. Charlie was just an awesome character. She’s a bad ass sports agent who takes no prisoners, but she has her own issues and though she doesn’t show her softer side to just anyone, she’s got a vulnerability that made me feel for her. 

I’m a sucker for a storyline with people who shouldn’t or can’t be together and Quinn played this one perfectly. Charlie takes her job very seriously and her boss and father figure has a strict no dating policy between clients and agents, so no matter how badly she wants Parker, she can’t go there. The chemistry between these two was HOT and the sexual tension was heavy. Parker is so cocky and Charlie is so flirty with him, it was both adorable and sexy. With all that being said, there’s much more to this book than just sex scenes, the characters are well developed and I really felt like I knew AND liked them both by the end. This was such a fun read, I devoured it in a couple of hours and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book in this series. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy. 

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Review: Blink by K. L. Slater @KimLSlater @bookouture


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: February 16, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture 

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb: 

What if the person you love most in the world was in terrible danger … because of you?


Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace. 


But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.


Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter. 


A compelling, gripping thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister.


Review: 

I’m starting to think Slater’s books need to come with a warning label: Do not start reading this unless you’re prepared to sacrifice sleep and be so consumed that nothing will take your attention from it until you’ve turned the last page. I read this on Valentine’s Day and my poor husband fell asleep while waiting for me to finish reading 😂 whoops! 

I loved Slater’s debut, Safe With Me and I can safely say that I loved Blink even more! I also did a buddy read for the first time with Annie at The Misstery and Danielle at The Blonde Likes Books and it was SO fun. Even though we all finished at different times it was really great to be able to discuss theories and opinions with these two fabulous ladies, can’t wait to do this again! 

This is told partly in flashbacks from three years ago and partly in the present day and from multiple points of view, and this structure is flawlessly executed by the author. There’s a woman in a coma in the present day portions and she’s suffered a stroke and is now a victim of locked in syndrome where her body is physically unable to move, yet her mind works just fine. She can hear the doctors talking about the possibility of ending her life, yet she can’t let them know that she’s still very much aware. Can you even imagine?! Shudders. Toni is a single mom to Evie and narrates the flashbacks. Her husband Andrew died and she’s just trying to survive, even though she’s having a really hard time. There are several other perspectives but you’ll have to read those for yourself, you guys know I don’t do spoilers. 

This is relentlessly paced, there was no way that I was able to put this down until I figured out exactly what was really going on. Having read so many thrillers I was distrustful and suspicious of everyone, but every single character was so very twisted and untrustworthy that it was impossible to decipher who was really up to no good here. I was mislead so many times my head was spinning and by the time the big twist was revealed I was gobsmacked, what a truly killer turn things took. This was a cleverly crafted psychological thriller and I cannot wait to see what Slater comes up with next! She just signed a new four book deal with Bookouture and I couldn’t be more excited for her. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy. 

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Guest Post: Author Barbara Venkataraman

In celebration of Mystery Thriller Week I have a guest post from author Barbara Venkataraman about the plotting process, very interesting especially to a non writer like me! 

About the Books: 


Books 1-3 of the Jamie Quinn Mystery Series! Including:


“Death by Didgeridoo”-Winner of the Indie Book of the Day award. Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It’s up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it’s too late. It doesn’t help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn’t commit.


“The Case of the Killer Divorce”-Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.


“Peril in the Park”-There’s big trouble in the park system. Someone is making life difficult for Jamie Quinn’s boyfriend, Kip Simons, the new director of Broward County parks. Was it the angry supervisor passed over for promotion? The disgruntled employee Kip recently fired? Or someone with a bigger ax to grind? If Jamie can’t figure it out soon, she may be looking for a new boyfriend because there’s a dead guy in the park and Kip has gone missing! With the help of her favorite P.I., Duke Broussard, Jamie must race the clock to find Kip before it’s too late.

Goodreads|Amazon

About the Author: 


Award-winning author, Barbara Venkataraman, is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.


She is the author of: The Jamie Quinn mysteries; “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person”, “The Fight for Magicallus,” a children’s fantasy; a humorous short story entitled, “If You’d Just Listened to Me in the First Place”; and two books of humorous essays: “I’m Not Talking about You, Of Course” and “A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities,” which are part of the “Quirky Essays for Quirky People” series. Both books of humorous essays won the prestigious “Indie Book of the Day” award.


Coming soon, “Jeopardy in July”–the next Jamie Quinn mystery!

Author Website
Guest Post: 

NOTHING TO SNEEZE ABOUT

Remember the last time you sneezed? There was that little itch that sent your nose into high alert. This could be the big one, you think, a real head-bobber, or it could be a tiny little nothing sneeze. Or it could be a false alarm. You just never know what to expect. There’s the build-up, then the sneeze and, finally, the feeling of relief. And then it’s over, or at least you hope so. I always sneeze three times in a row, but that’s just my thing, a little author trivia.

So, how is a sneeze like reading a mystery? Well, I’m glad you asked. Like a sneeze, the plot of a mystery starts out slowly, the tension gradually builds while the reader wonders, is something about to happen? Is this a clue? Is this a major plot development? Or is it a fake-out? For every build-up of tension in a mystery, there must be a release afterwards, a resolution to the problem and then a period of low-tension. In most books, this pattern will happen many times before the final resolution (the big sneeze!) which signals the end of the story.

Without conflict, there is no story, of course, so the writer wants to keep putting the characters in dangerous or stressful situations. A good writer keeps the reader on edge by dangling the prize in front of the protagonist and then snatching it away at the last minute, or by throwing roadblocks in the way. The author has to be subtle about it, so the obstacles vary constantly. Maybe the protagonist loses faith in herself, or is physically detained. Maybe someone she cares about has a crisis and she has to stop what she’s doing to offer help. Or maybe she’s sent on a wild goose chase or follows the wrong lead. She may wind up in physical danger, or some other kind of trouble.  

Here’s an example of a best-selling mystery plot. The novel begins with the murder of a beautiful prosecutor in her apartment. The protagonist, also a prosecutor, was her co-worker, and is assigned the case. Nobody knows that the victim was the protagonist’s former lover (raising the stakes). The protagonist’s boss is up for re-election and the murder of one of his people is embarrassing. If he loses the election, the protagonist loses his job (raising the stakes some more). The election is lost and suddenly the protagonist finds himself accused of the murder. There’s lots of evidence to implicate him: calls made from his home to hers the night of the murder, a glass with his fingerprints on it, carpet fibers, etc. The courtroom drama raises the tension even further; taking many turns along the way. But the expert testimony proves unreliable. The protagonist learns the judge had a relationship with the victim and also that the judge, the victim and his former boss all took bribes from suspects. A crucial piece of evidence for the prosecution disappears and the judge dismisses the case for lack of evidence.

But the reader still doesn’t know who killed the prosecutor! Was it the protagonist? He’s the narrator, but is he reliable? Yes, he is, and he figures out who murdered his former lover…dun dun dun! It was his angry, betrayed wife who tried to frame him. Recognize the plot? It’s Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow.

The challenge for the mystery writer is how to build the tension to a crescendo and timing is everything. Think about that horror movie trick where the girl (and the audience) is terrified because we know something bad is about to happen. We’re on the edge of our seats, our hearts are racing, and, suddenly, something scary jumps out at the girl–and it’s just a cat. Everyone lets down their guard, shakes off the nervous tension and–WHAM–the bad guy/monster/psycho/alien then attacks the girl. That twist worked great the first time we saw it, but now we’ve come to expect it.

​In my Jamie Quinn mystery series, Jamie is a reluctant family lawyer who keeps finding herself involved in murder cases. In Death by Didgeridoo, her disabled cousin is accused of murdering his music teacher; in The Case of the Killer Divorce, Jamie’s client is accused of murdering her husband, and in Peril in the Park, Jamie and her boyfriend are in danger from an evil jester who has already murdered one person. The tension rises and falls in each book while Jamie tries to figure out what’s really going on, while, at the same time, there are mysteries to solve in her personal life. Because these books are part of a series, the tension isn’t completely resolved at the end of each book. Certain story lines continue through to the next book and, in fact, each book ends with the first chapter of the next book as a teaser.

Now, I think you understand how a good mystery can be just like a sneeze. And who doesn’t like a good sneeze? It can be energizing and unexpected. But, at all costs, you want to avoid books which don’t have tension; the kind that go on and on, the ones you wish would hurry up and end already. They are like having the hiccups and nobody wants those!

​​

Thanks to Barbara for joining me today! 

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Blog Tour: Robbing the Dead by Tana Collins @Bloodhoundbook


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: February 14, 2017

Publisher: Bloodhound Books 

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Blurb: 

In a small Scottish university town, what links a spate of horrible murders, a targeted bomb explosion and a lecturer’s disappearance? Is a terror group involved? If so, who is pulling the strings? And what does something that happened over forty years ago have to do with it? 


Having recently returned to Castletown in the hope of winning back his estranged wife, DCI Jim Carruthers finds himself up to his eyes in the investigation.


Struggling with a very different personal problem, DS Andrea Fetcher assists Jim in the hunt for the murderous perpetrators. To prevent further violence they must find the answers quickly. But will Jim’s old adversary, terror expert McGhee, be a help or a hindrance?


The first in a new series featuring DCI Jim Carruthers. 

Review: 

Happy Wednesday everyone, made it to hump day! I’m so pleased to welcome you to my stop on the Robbing the Dead blog tour.


There are two cases running simultaneously here; first a young man is found beaten to death, then there is a car bombing at a local university. I always love when a book has so much going on, it really captures my interest and maintains it throughout. Though Jim and Andie struggle to tie the cases together initially, it’s soon apparent that there are connections, though they’re tenuous at best. They definitely have a large amount to deal with as the bombing may be linked to a terrorist group and there may even be links to a historical case. As if that isn’t enough to keep them occupied, there are members of the team who are being sloppy and making some pretty heavy mistakes. 

I love sinking my teeth into a new series and I’m especially happy if the protagonist is one that I take to straightaway. Both Jim and Andie were easy for me to warm to and I really liked the way they worked together, they had a burgeoning partnership that I’m eager to see more of. They both also had interesting personal backgrounds that humanized them and made me think there will be tons to explore as the series continues. I’m already a fan of this series and as Collins as a debut writer and am anxious for the next book to be released. I think this will appeal to crime fiction fans in general, but with political undertones I also think straight up thriller fans will also be intrigued by this one as it maintained a steady pace and had some great action scenes. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Bloodhound Books for my review copy. 

About the Author: 


Tana Collins is a Yorkshire born crime writer who was brought up in rural East Sussex.


She did a Social Science Degree at the Polytechnic of North London in the mid 80s where she wrote her final year dissertation on the right to free speech before studying for an MA in Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario and an MPhil at St Andrews.


It was Peter Robinson’s DCI Banks series that got her obsessively reading crime fiction and seeing an exhibition on the life of Ian Fleming that strangely motivated her to start writing all things crime. A few days later she woke up in the middle of the night with a title, within a couple of hours she had an opening scene, by breakfast a setting and by lunch time a lead detective. ‘Robbing The Dead’ was born and ten arduous years later finally completed. ‘Care to Die’ was written as the follow up and ‘Mark of the Devil’ as the third in the Inspector Carruthers series.


For the last 20 years Tana has been living in Scotland working as a Massage Therapist and more recently as a Stress Management Consultant. Her novels are all set in the East Neuk of Fife which is an area of Scotland close to her heart.

Blog Tour: Sealskin by Su Bristow @SuBristow @OrendaBooks


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: May 1, 2017

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Folklore

Blurb:

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. 

Review: 

Happy Valentines Day and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sealskin! This was a truly gorgeous story, and while it was not normally the type of book I would be drawn to, I’m so delighted that Karen at Orenda Books put this on my radar.


It seems like anytime I begin a review of an Orenda book I say that it will be difficult for me to review because I’ve never read anything like it before and this is no exception. What a spectacular read this was, I have honestly never encountered a book quite like it and am just blown away by the gentle beauty of the story.

I had never heard of the legend of the Selkie before but as soon as I began reading, I was immediately entranced by the descriptions of these stunning creatures. Donald is a young man that lives on the coast of Scotland and he leads an isolated and lonely life with his mother, Bridie. He’s always been an outsider in his tight knit community and has never felt like he’s truly belonged. After a fateful night where he makes a foolish and risky decision, he learns some hard lessons, but he also may find his place in the world at the same time and discover the power of forgiveness, acceptance and pure love.

I’m hesitant to discuss much more of the plot, this is one of those very special books that needs to be read with an open mind and no prior knowledge of what’s to come. Bristow is an incredibly talented writer, she had me under her spell from page one and my interest never wavered until I turned the final page. There are some deep messages here, many of which are very timely even though it evokes a time period of long ago. The power of forgiveness and the healing it provides is one of the most prevalent themes and it also explores prejudices, love and family bonds. The characterization is superb, Donald evolves in such a profound manner by the time the story ends, and Mairhi is such a moving character, especially since she never utters a single word. Set in the rugged and unforgiving coast of Scotland, the awe inspiring beauty and harsh atmosphere heightens the intensity of the plot and provides an unforgettable landscape that will take your breath away. I can’t say enough about how profoundly this book effected me and Bristow has told a sensational story that will stay with me forever.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the lovely Karen at Orenda Books for my review copy.

About the Author: 


Su Bristow is a consultant medical herbalist by day. She’s the author of two books on herbal medicine: The Herbal Medicine Chest and The Herb Handbook; and two on relationship skills: The Courage to Love and Falling in Love, Staying in Love, co-written with psychotherapist, Malcolm Stern. Her published fiction includes ‘Troll Steps’ (in the anthology, Barcelona to Bihar), and ‘Changes’ which came second in the 2010 CreativeWritingMatters flash fiction competition. Her forthcoming novel, Sealskin, is set in the Hebrides, and it’s a reworking of the Scottish legend of the selkies, or seals who can turn into people. It won the Exeter Novel Prize 2013. Her writing has been described as ‘magical realism; Angela Carter meets Eowyn Ivey’.



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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate

What I Read Last Week: 


I was on the blog tour for Don’t Look Behind You and I loved book two in this series! 


Another blog tour, The Boy Inside was a really different kind of crime read.


I adored Forever Is The Worst Long Time, a total tear jerker. 


Friend Zone was a cute NA romance. 

Lucidity was a really fresh thriller with fantastic characters. My giveaway for three copies is still open, enter here


Revenge was another hit from Nigel May, a total beach read with juicy scandals galore. 

The Devil Crept In was a departure from my usual type of read but I really liked it! 
Currently Reading: 


I also just finished a super secret book that was awesome and I can’t wait to share my thoughts about it with you guys in a couple of months! I know, I’m a tease! 😜

Up Next: 


These are all on my TBR for immediate read and I doubt I’ll finish them all but I’ll give it a try! 

What are you currently reading? What’s coming up next for you? 

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Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella 


Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: February 7, 2017

Publisher: The Dial Press

Genre: Chick Lit 

Blurb: 

Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.


Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.


Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.


Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image. 

Review: 

I’ve been a huge Sophie Kinsella fan since her Shopaholic series and Becky Bloomwood is one of my favorite chick lit characters of all time, so naturally I’m always excited when she releases a new book. Though this wasn’t her best book, I still enjoyed it as it provided a much needed escape from reality. 

Katie is a fairly typical character that I’ve come to expect in a Kinsella book, she’s an average woman with plenty of quirks who manages to get herself into awkward situations that are always good for a laugh. She’s got a charm about her that makes her endearing even when she’s behaving inappropriately. She’s trying to live the life she’s always dreamed of but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Her boss Demeter is a nightmare, think shades of the Devil Wears Prada and her flat in London is nowhere near as glam as she had hoped it would be. 

I admire Kinsella’s characterization, I can usually connect with her protagonists and Katie was no exception. This was a bit formulaic and predictable as far as plot, but that didn’t keep me from being pretty engaged in Katie’s life. It was a light read and sometimes I need a break from all the thinking that comes from reading so many thrillers. The constant guessing and trying to work out the plot twists can be really fun but also tiring, so it was nice to be able to just lose myself in a book and relax. 

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Thanks to The Dial Press for my review copy. 

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Blog Tour: Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile @Sandy_Vaile

Welcome to my stop on the Combating Fear blog tour and a happy publication day to Sandy! I have a fabulous guest post from the author AND a giveaway for your chance to win a copy of the book.


Blurb: 

How far would you go to save a child that wasn’t yours?

Mild-mannered kindergarten teacher, Neve Botticelli, leads a double life. At home with her paranoid father, she is a combat trained survivalist who lives off-the-grid.

When self-made billionaire, Micah Kincaid, storms into town in search of his four-year-old son, Rowan, he’s pushy, entitled, and stands for everything Neve despises.

But something far more sinister than a cheating estranged wife, is lurking in rural Turners Gully, and it has its sights set on little Rowan’s inheritance. It turns out there is one thing Micah and Neve can agree on, and that’s keeping Rowan safe.

As they work together to free Rowan, they glimpse beneath one another’s guises, and realise that falling in love could be even more dangerous than hunting deadly criminals.

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Guest Post 

Hi, I’m Sandy Vaile, a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there’s a courageous heroine and a dead body. When I’m not devising horrible things to do to fictional characters, I write procedures for high-risk industrial activities, mentor new writers through the Novelist’s Circle critiquing group, judge romance writing competitions, present literary craft workshops, and write the odd articles and blog.

I’ve been looking forward to dropping by for a chat with Amy, and to give you some insight into how I came to be here.

I imagine you can all relate to being side-tracked from your dreams by everyday life. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. All through high school the plan was to become a journalist, but I moved out of home when I was 16 y.o., and then work, marriage and children all happened to divert me from writing. For more than a decade child-rearing magazines were the extent of my reading, and correspondence with pen pals the extent of my writing.

I was middle-aged when a friend insisted I read the Harry Potter series. I so loved the complex plot and diverse characters, that my inner creative being was awakened. The smouldering tinder only ignited further with each book I read, until I was desperate to write again.

Now, you many have guessed I’m not one to do things by half, so I didn’t bother starting with short stories or diary entries. No, I decided I was going to write a whole novel! Nothing to it, right?

So, I drew on my life experiences to come up with a few characters that stirred my curiosity, and formed the idea of a conflict. I wrote 60,000 words in the first six weeks. Now that’s enthusiasm! Unfortunately, the family eventually wanted to be fed and have clean clothes to wear, so I had to slow up a teeny bit.

It didn’t deter my focus though, because I’d already figured out one vital thing. The most important difference between a published and unpublished author is that one actually finished the book. So that was my first goal.

That first book represented a huge learning curve for me, because I’d left pesky little things like grammar and literary devices behind in high school, and had to learn them all over again. But learn them I did, and finish that book in nine months I did. It took another year before I felt it was polished enough to submit to publishers. Unfortunately, that manuscript remains in the figurative bottom drawer.

Now, this is the part of my journey where I learnt to embrace rejection, because there was a lot of it, but thankfully I was also tossed a few scraps of positive feedback along the way, and that’s all it took to keep me motivated.

When I saw an advertisement by Crimson Romance (a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster) for stories with gritty heroines who break stereotypes, I knew I had what they were looking for. And that’s how my first book, “Inheriting Fear” got picked up and sent into the wide world.

Now you are helping me celebrate the release of my second romantic suspense book, “Combatting Fear”, and I have to pinch myself now and again, just to make sure this high is real. (Ouch! Okay, it is.)

I’d love to hear about your literary challenges and loves.

Leave a comment on this blog and get 1 entry to win the “Combatting Fear” eBook. Subscribe to my newsletter and get 3 more entries.

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About the Author:


I’m Sandy and my motto in life is…
I’ll try anything once

To that end, I take every opportunity that presents and have a wealth of life experiences to draw on when writing.
These include riding a motorbike, skydiving, hot air ballooning, getting tattoos, swimming with sharks and turtles, and having the privilege to carry the Olympic flame.
The common denominator in my stories is courageous, gritty heroines who don’t especially need the strong heroes who sweep them off their feet, but when they do find Mr. Right, they’re not afraid to hold on tight.
My love of adventure and action sports started early, with 3-day eventing horses and cross-country running. Living in Papua New Guinea as a child meant lots of water sports, outdoor living and learning the local Pigeon English.

Connect with Sandy: 

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