Review: Fractured by Catherine McKenzie

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Lake Union

Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller 

Goodreads blurb:

Julie Prentice and her family move across the country to the idyllic Mount Adams district of Cincinnati, hoping to evade the stalker who’s been terrorizing them ever since the publication of her bestselling novel, The Murder Game. Since Julie doesn’t know anyone in her new town, when she meets her neighbor John Dunbar, their instant connection brings measured hope for a new beginning. But she never imagines that a simple, benign conversation with him could set her life spinning so far off course.

After a series of misunderstandings, Julie and her family become the target of increasingly unsettling harassment. Has Julie’s stalker found her, or are her neighbors out to get her, too? As tension in the neighborhood rises, new friends turn into enemies, and the results are deadly. 


Have you ever read a book by a new to you author then immediately felt the need to rush out and buy all their previous work? It has only happened to me a few times in the past, most notably with Karin Slaughter and Harlan Coben, but now I’m adding Catherine McKenzie to that list. I had really high hopes for Fractured based on the blurb alone and I’m so pleased to say that it exceeded my expectations.

Julie is a bestselling author trying to escape a stalker gone too far. Her and her family move to a picturesque new suburb in Cincinnati to try and find their fresh start. Julie finds that fitting into her neighborhoods social circle is more difficult than she anticipated and she really only connects with her neighbor, John.  This book uses one of my favorite storytelling approaches, that of flashing back from events in the past to present day and is narrated by both Julie and John. It begins at present day and slowly goes hour by hour through one day, while the past is revealed over the course of the previous year. It’s apparent right from the start that something awful has happened, but McKenzie withholds all pertinent information until the very end keeping the reader primarily in the dark. This approach usually works for me as I’m inherently nosy and it makes me desperate to know what really happened.

Though I’m sadly not a part of any book clubs I found myself thinking that Fractured would be a perfect selection for one. There are so many things a group could discuss, from the cast of characters that you love to hate, especially the queen bee of the neighborhood, Cindy, to the questions this book prompts, like is Julie likable or not? Is there really something off about her? Or is she truly just constantly thrust unwillingly into the role of the victim? The power of individual choices is also very much at play here, it could spawn a great discussion about whether or not these choices really have the power to impact people’s lives.

I was reminded of two books while reading this, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Both books nailed domestic suspense and I feel McKenzie did the same with this one. This book consumed me in the same manner as the other two and despite having a busy schedule I still managed to finish it in a day, I just had to know how it would all end and what event could possibly effect the lives of so many people. It was a page turning, tightly wound narrative dripping with tension. McKenzie is releasing The Murder Game writing as Julie Apple in November, isn’t that clever? I know after reading this I’m dying to get my hands on that one.

Overall rating: 5/5

Huge thanks to Kathleen Zrelack at Goldberg McDuffie Communications for my review copy.

Review: Vigilante by Kerry Wilkinson 

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: September 29, 2016

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Goodreads blurb: 

A killer behind bars is still killing… 

When the body of a man is discovered with multiple stab wounds, Detective Jessica Daniel thinks it could be another drug-related murder. But then two more victims are found with similar markings. Each of the men were hardened criminals but is that the only link?   


As Jessica is drawn into her most difficult case yet, dead bodies continue to pile up and the media go to town with headlines of a ‘Vigilante’ on the streets. 


Then forensics match blood from the killer to a man already behind bars: Donald McKenna. Serving life in prison, Donald is a dangerous individual with the perfect alibi. But Jessica is sure he’s lying – and that he’s not the only one. 


Can she catch a ruthless killer before he takes his next victim? And as Jessica inches nearer to the truth, can she protect those closest to her? 


The second novel in the bestselling Detective Jessica Daniel series is a chilling serial killer thriller full of twists and turns. 


This is the second book in a series and I rather liked the first one, if you missed it you can find my review of The Killer Inside here. While this one was an overall enjoyable read, I’m afraid there was a bit of a sophomore slump here and I can’t say I liked Vigilante as much as the first book.

The premise was promising, I was interested in the idea of a killer who was already locked up. How is that even possible?! It’s up to Jessica Daniel to unravel the mystery. I was happy to revisit her character as I was a fan of hers after being introduced to her in the first book. She’s the same old gutsy and ambitious girl who I loved and she has her work cut out for her again. This case is full of dead ends and improbable scenarios, but all physical evidence points to Dennis McKenna being the killer. But how can he possibly be guilty when he’s currently serving a life sentence behind bars?

I think my biggest problem here was that once things started to fall into place and Jess was able to fit puzzle pieces together the explanation was really far fetched. It wasn’t even a few moments where the reader has to suspend disbelief, (I actually have no problem doing that) it kept reminding me of outlandish soap opera storylines where things are explained by someone coming back from the dead or something similar. No, that’s not exactly what happened here, but it’s not too far off, but as usual I don’t want to give away major plot points.

The saving grace for me was Jess. I really like her as a lead character and I can’t help myself  from rooting for her even when she’s behaving badly. It’s her compassionate side that really wins me over, she truly cares about her victims families and they are the driving force behind her desire to bring killers to justice. Despite my disappointment with this one, I’m still looking forward to reading more of this series. It’s a massive hit in the UK so I’m confident that it only gets better.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Bookouture for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Top 5 Wednesday 

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly post that is hosted by Sam from Thoughts On Tomes and there is also a Goodreads group where you can find more information. This weeks topic is characters you wouldn’t want to trade places with.

This weeks topic is: 

September 28: Gateway Books to Your Favorite Genre 

–What books do you think are good to introduce people to your favorite genre? If you have more than one favorite genre, feel free to split it up to cover both. 

Though I read several different genres I’m going to stick with Mystery/Thriller since it’s my go to. Some may be psychological thrillers or domestic suspense, but they all fall under the umbrella of Mystery/Thriller. I’m also going to add the blurb for each of my picks so you can get a little taste of what it’s about. I’m focusing more on books released within the past few years because it’s already really hard for me to choose just fine books!

Gateway books to my favorite genre: 

Goodreads blurb: 

#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today. 

This was my first Karin Slaughter book and I became an instant fan. I immediately went and read all of her previous work, and though I love her series, I think this one is a fantastic way to experience Slaughter’s work for the first time. I love her gritty and violent writing style and she always packs a punch with her twists.

Goodreads blurb: 

The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.

Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them. 

I am a huge Harlan Coben fan and have liked, if not loved every single one of his books. The twists and turns in this one are nonstop all the way up to the end.

Goodreads blurb: 

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . . 

Apart from the blurb I don’t want to reveal too much, but this one had one of my favorite twists ever. Totally gasp worthy.

Goodreads blurb: 

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 

I don’t think my list would be complete without this one. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve at least heard of this, if not read it for yourself. Often imitated, never duplicated, Gone Girl is hyped for a reason.

Goodreads blurb: 

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it…

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless. 

I devoured this book and still count it as one of my top reads of the past few years. It has everything I look for in a psychological thriller and I can’t say enough good things about it.
Have you read any of these? Do you agree or disagree with my picks? What books would you recommend in your preferred genre?

Blog Tour/Review: Dark Water by Sara Bailey

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: October 3, 2016

Publisher: Nightingale Editions

Genre: Women’s Fiction 

Goodreads blurb: 

Friendship doesn’t die, it waits…

A haunting and lyrical novel, Dark Water is a psychologically intense portrait of adolescent yearning and obsession.

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Her best friend, the charismatic Anastasia, disappeared after a swimming incident. But what really happened that night by the wrecks? 


Let me start by saying that I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Dark Water today! From the moment I read the blurb and saw this strikingly beautiful cover, I just knew that I had to read this book. Though its categorized as women’s fiction, it is much more than that. There is bits of different genres as well, including suspense, psychological thriller and even a tiny bit of romance. Though it is dark at times, I could even see this as being appropriate for mature YA readers.

This is such a hauntingly eerie atmospheric novel. Set in Orkney, Bailey writes of a place full of rugged and bold beauty. From the first page, she managed to make me feel like I was heading to Orkney right alongside Helena. Her descriptions are absolutely breathtaking and I was reminded of Tracy Buchanan who I love. She has a similar writing style, especially her use of stunning imagery and elegant prose that makes the reader totally transfixed.

Helena begrudgingly heads back home when her father falls ill. She adores her dad, but she knows the minute she steps foot back home she will be overwhelmed by memories of her best friend, Anastasia. She was lost at sea after a swimming incident and Helena has been tormented by the loss ever since it happened. Throughout the book, there are a series of flashbacks that take you back to when Helena and Anastasia were teenagers. These scenes are full of teenage angst, mostly surrounding boys. Bailey did a phenomenal job at capturing the feelings and emotions that teenagers have, especially as their town is small and tight knit, so naturally everyone is involved in each other’s business. To teenagers, this is the absolute worst and with people like Gloria living near them, they don’t stand a a chance at keeping real secrets. I rather liked Gloria, she was such a lovable busybody.

This isn’t my usual preferred lightening quick suspenseful and action packed sort of read. Rather it is far slower, but don’t let that put you off. Bailey diligently plotted this book and the wait was well worth it for the ending. She had me totally enraptured up to the final page. It was a simply perfect and well executed ending.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Nightingale Editions for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: October 4, 2016

Publisher: Seventh Street Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Goodreads blurb:

Detective Max Rupert is convinced that Jennavieve Pruitt was killed by her husband, Ben. Max’s friend, attorney Boady Sanden, is equally convinced that Ben, his client, is innocent. The case is pushing their friendship to the breaking point and forcing each to confront personal demons. 

Max is still struggling with the death of his wife four years earlier and the Pruitt case stirs up old memories. Boady hasn’t taken on a defense case since the death of an innocent client, a man Boady believes he could have saved but didn’t. Now he is back in court, determined to redeem himself for having failed in the past. 

Vividly told from two opposing perspectives, the story of Jennavieve Pruitt’s death disrupts many lives and the truth remains a mystery till the very end. 


Part police procedural and part legal thriller, The Heavens May Fall is also shrouded in mystery. Max Rupert is a detective who gets assigned to the murder of Jennavieve Pruitt. Initially, all signs point to her husband, Ben being the culprit. Boady Sanden is Rupert’s longtime friend, but when Ben begs him to represent him their friendship is strained. Loyalties are tested and past transgressions threaten to surface.

This story is told from both Max and Boady’s point of view. This was particularly riveting as you are able to see both sides of the story in terms of the murder case. Obviously, Max’s side is police procedural while Boady’s is the legal side, but showing flip sides of the same coin encouraged the reader to guess, and second guess themselves repeatedly. I swear I’ve never flip flopped more! There were moments where I was totally convinced that Ben was guilty as sin immediately followed by hesitancy that maybe he was innocent after all. So is he a killer or is he blameless? You’ll have to read and see for yourself…

Max and Boady are both rich and complicated characters who are struggling with personal turmoil. Max’s wife died four years ago and he is overwhelmingly haunted by his loss. Boady quit practicing law and switched to teaching it after losing a critical case and he has never quite come to terms with the outcome. Will this be the case that rights the wrongs of the past? Or will it break these two men for the final time?

It’s apparent that Eskens has a background in law as he incorporated what could be very dry and frankly, boring legal jargon into the story frequently. But I was far from bored as he was able to explain these dense terms in a way that was easy to fully understand and this added something notable to the book. 

While I was able to see a few minor plot twists coming, the ending more than made up for that. The final chapters were completely unexpected and ultimately satisfying. Full of taut writing, flawed heroes and an impressive plot, The Heavens May Fall will be on my must read list for all.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to Seventh Street Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway: Homicide in the House by Colleen Shogan

As part of the celebration for #30Authors Colleen Shogan is giving away one copy of the latest book in her Washington Whodunit series, Homicide in the House to one of my lucky readers! (US only)


Kit Marshall has bounced back from her first brush with the law, when she was suspected of murdering her senator boss. Now she is working for a freshman congresswoman, Maeve Dixon, a young Gulf War veteran representing North Carolina. It’s February, and Kit is feeling out of sorts. A government shutdown has just been announced, wreaking havoc on the Hill, and Dan, Dixon’s chief of staff and Kit’s supervisor, is an inexperienced lightweight flying blind. Then there’s Kit’s distracted live-in boyfriend, Doug, who doesn’t seem any closer to popping the question. Kit’s best friend Meg is up to her eyeballs with her new beau and oversight committee job, and Clarence the beagle mix will certainly not win Capitol Canine if Meg has to campaign for him all by herself. Bad as things are now, they are about to get much worse. Early one morning Representative Dixon is caught standing over the corpse of Jack Drysdale, the Speaker of the House’s top staffer, a man she argued with in front of the press the day before. The murder weapon was the Speaker’s gavel. This item was entrusted to Dixon at the time, leading the police to believe they’ve found their killer. To save her job, Kit must clear her boss’s name, and quickly. Dixon’s career may be over if the police declare her a suspect or an anonymous blogger known as Hill Rat breaks the story. Solving this murder will test Kit’s courage and all her fledgling powers of deduction as she roams a spooky, sparsely populated Capitol Hill looking for clues and sounding out suspects. Book 2 of the Washington Whodunit series, which began with Stabbing in the Senate. 

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#30Authors: Colleen Shogan Review

#30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit 30 Authors at The Book Wheel or follow along on Twitter @30Authors

Reviewing Author: Colleen Shogan

Release date: June 7, 2016

Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction


​As a Library of Congress employee, six months ago I perused the initial slate of scheduled authors for the 2016 National Book Festival. I shook my head in confusion. Former NBA basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had written a novel – and it was about Mycroft Holmes, the older brother of Sherlock Holmes? Real life had become stranger than fiction. Undeterred, I bought a copy of the book and settled in.


​I read a fair amount of crime fiction. Successful writers such as Laura Lippman, Linda Fairstein, and Lisa Scottoline consistently deliver engaging storylines, complicated characters, and descriptive settings. I didn’t know what to expect with Mycroft Holmes, Jabbar’s first fiction effort. I found myself pleasantly surprised, increasingly enjoying the plot as it unfolded. Many mystery writers struggle with pacing. It can be challenging to keep readers interested as the story progresses to the dreaded middle chapters, where crime fiction often “dies.” Instead of losing steam, Mycroft Holmes kicked into high gear. For that reason, it’s my dark horse pick of 2016.


​Set in 1870, the novel follows Mycroft as he navigates a harrowing adventure early in his career. This is the Mycroft before the Diogenes Club; he’s spry, physically vigorous, and social. A young aide to a British cabinet member, Mycroft falls in love with a woman named Georgiana, who is originally from Trinidad. One day, she unexpectedly informs Mycroft she must return to her native land because children are being murdered, drained of their blood on the beach. Intrigued, Mycroft leaves Britain with his best friend Douglas to follow Georgiana surreptitiously and solve the mystery. A rationalist who could put his younger brother to shame, Mycroft discards the conventional explanation that mysticism and the occult are responsible for the string of disturbing deaths.


​Soon after Mycroft and Douglas set sail, they quickly discover their intervening presence is not appreciated in Trinidad. Their lives are repeatedly threatened as they weave together pieces of the story. The complicating issue of race plays a key role, with Douglas posing as Holmes’ valet to reflect the prevailing view of the time period that a black man could not otherwise serve as a proper traveling companion for a distinguished English gentleman. Mycroft’s quest to reunite with Georgiana generates unexpected twists and turns. The result is a complex resolution confirming Holmes’ prediction of rationality, but far exceeding his appetite for evil. “Though the greater part of Holmes was consumed with suffering, a niggling part was still analyzing.”


​Fans of the Sherlock Holmes canon will enjoy this book, as well as readers who appreciate historical fiction. Woven throughout the novel is backstory about the British empire and Trinidad. Nothing is pedantic about the historical elements. Instead, Jabbar and Waterhouse integrate this information seamlessly.

​The writing is particularly strong. It’s a simplistic style, enabling the reader to move swiftly through the novel without stumbling. Mycroft’s musings are noteworthy, such as “The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.” That revelation, which occurs midway through the novel, serves both as clever foreshadowing and insightful prophecy. It’s a lesson both Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes will remember keenly as they navigate future adventures.



Reviewed by: Colleen J. Shogan, author of the Washington Whodunit mystery series, most recently Homicide in the House (Camel Press, 2016).



Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first mystery, Stabbing in the Senate, one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at Yale, George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as the Deputy Director of the Congressional Research Service. She is currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress who works on great outreach initiatives such as the National Book Festival. Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. Stabbing in the Senate won the Next Generation Indie Award in 2016 for “Best Mystery.”


About Mycroft Holmes


Don’t forget to check out the giveaway for a copy of Colleen’s latest book in her Washington Whodunit series. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 

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: 

This was a fantastic read, can’t recommend it enough if you like suspenseful psychological thrillers.

Another fantastic read, this one was entirely different than what I expected but so so great.

This one was not great for me.

The audiobook of this one was fast paced and exciting, such a fun one to listen to.

This one fell flat for me. 
I also had my first DNF in a long time. I couldn’t get into this one no matter how hard I tried.

Kind of a mixed bag last week, a few stellar reads followed by a few flops. Overall I would count it as a win.

I also had my first Saturday Shoutout series with a Q & A from Claire Seeber.

What I’m Currently Reading:

My prediction is that this will be fantastic. 

Up Next: 

Doubtful I’ll get through all of these this week but these are all coming up within the next week or two.
How was your week last week? What are you currently reading?

Q & A: Paula Garner 

I’m thrilled to have Paula Garner, the author of one of my favorite reads of the year, Phantom Limbs here today! If you missed my review, you can find it here. Not only is she a supremely talented writer, she’s also one of the sweetest authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of chatting with. 

Q & A: 

1. You captured the voice of a teenage boy with Otis so beautifully. What’s your secret? Are there teenagers in your own life that helped inspire you?

I don’t have a secret for capturing voice apart from thinking a lot about people and paying a lot of attention to how they act/sound/feel. And yes, it probably didn’t hurt that I had two teenage boys around during the drafting of this book—one of whom was a competitive swimmer!


2. Dara lost part of her arm in a tragic accident. Where did you get the idea to develop a character that is an amputee?

Dara is the only character in the novel who showed up in my head unbidden, clear, and fully formed— every cynical, vulnerable, harsh, one-armed, beautiful, fierce, fragile bit of her. It took time to figure out everyone else, but Dara was there from the start in her entirety. I have no idea why. She is such a gift. She will always possess a piece of my heart.


3. Swimming plays a huge role in PL, do you have personal experience or connections with the sport?

Yes! It was the only sport I knew anything about. I spent a lot of time at my son’s high school swim meets during the writing of Phantom Limbs, so it was just a part of my world. Like Otis, my son was never an athlete until he was suddenly a swimmer, and when you’re a swimmer, it’s consuming. As the saying goes, eat, sleep, swim, repeat.  

4. What books are you most looking forward to in the last half of 2016?

First and foremost, OF FIRE AND STARS by Audrey Coulthurst, my brilliant CP and friend, and my co-author of STARWORLD (Fall ’18). But there are so many other amazing books coming out this year of every genre—too many to list! Check it out:

5. Name 5 authors you admire or who inspire you.

As a kid, I was captivated by authors like Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, and Paul Zindel. As an older teen, The Heart is Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers completely blew me away and cemented my desire to be an author, although it also was so astonishing that it set an impossibly high bar. In more recent years, unforgettable books I’ve read include Nicole Krauss’s History of Love, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, and Helen Humphrey’s The Lost Garden. YA writers I think are amazing include Kerry Kletter, Jeff Zentner, and Jandy Nelson, among many others.


6. Anything you can share about upcoming projects?

In my next YA contemporary, Relative Strangers (Candlewick, Spring ’18), a tender-hearted teen who feels extraneous in her friendships and family discovers that part of her early childhood was spent in foster care. She sets out to find the family that cared for her, but when she meets her former foster brother, she develops romantic feelings for him that jeopardize the newfound sense of belonging she’s always longed for.

Later in 2018 my third book will come out, a YA contemporary co-authored with Audrey Coulthurst. Starworld is about two very different high school girls with painful home lives who fall into an intense text-message-based friendship built around an imaginary world, only to have that safe place compromised as their real lives unravel and one falls in love with the other.


7. What is the best compliment, or the one that meant the most to you that you’ve received about your work?

I have been deeply moved by so many comments and reviews—I don’t know where to start. I will say that some of the most touching and meaningful compliments have come from people I don’t even know. It is an amazing privilege and honor to touch readers I may never talk to or meet.

Phantom Limbs is out tomorrow! You can order your copy at the following retailers:

Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Book Depository
About the Author: 

Paula Garner spends most of her time making narratives, despite being surrounded by an alarming TBR pile and a very bad cat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, comes out from Candlewick in 2016. Paula is represented by Molly Jaffa of Folio Lit, and lives in the Chicago area with her family.


Review: Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery 

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website

Release date: July 12, 2016

Publisher: HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit

Goodreads blurb:

With Joy, Love and a Little Trepidation, Courtney, Sienna and Rachel Invite You to the Most Emotional Wedding of the Year… Their Mother’s 


~ The Misfit ~ 

As the awkward one, Courtney Watson may not be as together as her sisters, but she excels at one thing—keeping secrets, including her white-hot affair with a sexy music producer. Planning Mom’s wedding exposes her startling hidden life, changing her family’s view of her—and how she views herself—forever. 


~ The Free Spirit ~ 

When Sienna’s boyfriend proposes—in front of her mom and sisters, for crying out loud—he takes her by surprise. She already has two broken engagements under her belt. Should she say “I do” even if she’s not sure she does? 


~ The Cynic ~ 

Rachel thought love would last forever…right up until her divorce. As Mom’s wedding day draws near and her ex begs for a second chance, she’s forced to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths about why her marriage failed, and decide if she’ll let pride stand in the way of her own happily-ever-after.


I’ve never read one of Susan Mallery’s books before though I’ve seen them everywhere. They usually seem too romancey for me, I like my romances to have more humor and fun. But when I saw Daughters of the Bride on Netgalley it caught my eye. I liked the concept of three grown women helping their mother with her wedding and I love a good story about sisters. This one was just ok for me, there wasn’t enough substance for me to really enjoy it.

Maggie is the mother and at first I assumed that she would have a larger presence in the story, but I’m really glad she didn’t. Her husband died when they were young and left her in a bad way financially. While her story is sad, she wasn’t a very good mother to the girls, especially Courtney. On top of that, she’s a total bridezilla which is just never a good look for anyone. Rachel is the oldest and has been divorced for two years. Her character was alright but she loved to play the role of the martyr too much for my liking. Sienna is the middle child and she gets engaged to her boyfriend, David. It’s clear the two aren’t meant to be and I grew bored waiting for her to realize this. I did really like her job, she fundraises for a thrift shop that supports abused women trying to leave their awful situations. Seeing her at work brought a warmth to an otherwise cold character. My favorite hands down was Courtney. She suffered the most under her mothers neglectful manner when they were kids as she had a learning disability that was undiagnosed for far too long. Her family treats her like crap and I really wanted her to succeed to prove them wrong in thinking she’s a loser.

The love stories were all predicable and formulaic, there just wasn’t enough going on to make me enthusiastic about this book. It started off really slow too and took me awhile to even muster up a vague interest in the characters lives. Thank god for Courtney, she’s the only one who kept me reading. It was a cute enough book and if you want something really light and fluffy then this is for you. I was just too annoyed by the majority of the characters to fully immerse myself in the story. 

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thanks to HQN for my copy in exchange for an honest review.