Book Showcase: THAT OTHER ME by Maha Gargash

That Other Me by Maha Gargash
ISBN: 9780062391384 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062391391 (ebook)
ASIN: B00X3N8SGE (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Harper Perennial

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Sand Fish, Maha Gargash’s second novel is set in mid-1990s Dubai and Cairo and tells the story of how secrets and betrayals consume three members—an authoritarian father, a rebellious abandoned daughter, and a vulnerable niece—of a prominent Emirati family.

Majed, the head of the eminent Naseemy family, is proud to have risen into the upper echelons of Emirati society. As one of the richest businessmen in Dubai, he’s used to being catered to and respected—never mind that he acquired his wealth by cheating his brother out of his own company and depriving his niece, Mariam, of her rights.

Not one to dwell on the past—he sent Mariam to school in Egypt, what more could she want from him?—Majed spends his days berating his wife and staff and cavorting with friends at a private apartment. But he’s suddenly plagued by nightmares that continue to haunt him during the day, and he feels his control further slipping away with the discovery that his niece and his daughter are defying his orders.

Mariam despises Majed, and although she blames him for her father’s death, hers is a strictly-organized, dutiful existence. But when she falls for a brash, mischievous fellow student named Adel, he might just prove to be her downfall.

Largely abandoned by Majed as the daughter of a second, secret marriage, the vivacious Dalal has a lot to prove. The runner-up on “Nights of Dubai,” an American Idol-type reality show for Arab talent, Dalal is committed to being a singer despite the fact that it’s a disreputable career. When her efforts to become a celebrity finally begin to pay off, she attracts the attention of her father, who is determined to subdue Dalal to protect the family name. As Majed increasingly exerts his control over both Dalal and Mariam, both girls resist, with explosive consequences.

An exhilarating look at the little-known Khaleeji (Gulf-Arab) culture, That Other Me explores the ways social mores contribute to the collapse of one family. 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 2


The stone flies high into the air. Then there’s a deafening crack at the second-story window and muffled squeals from inside the girls’ sakan, the dormitory of the Emirati college students in Cairo.

I had raised my fist high and thrown blindly. I had not expected my aim to be so perfect. All I wanted was to get Mariam’s attention so she would sneak out and meet me. I stand in place, stupefied. A girl—not Mariam—rushes to the window. She is in her nightgown, her head wrapped in a polka-dot head scarf. She would have spotted me had Azza not yanked me out of the glare of the streetlight. We squat down behind a dusty hedge as the window is pushed open.

Ehh! What’s going on down there?” That’s the voice of the abla, one of the matrons responsible for the sakan girls. I try to stay still, but Azza’s perfume, a sharp bouquet that is an insult to any flower, shoots up my nostrils. I sneeze, and that gets the matron hollering out into the night again. “I can hear you down there, you mangy hooligans. This is a respectable building with decent people living in it, you hear me? Show me your faces, you cowards.” She is a barrel of a woman, blocking my view of the group of girls now huddled tightly around her. “I’m going to call the police. I’m going to call them right now.”

I hear a girl suggest that it might be thieves. “Or murderers,” a silly one adds. The abla retreats and shoos the girls away. Once she slams shut the broken window we straighten up, and Azza clicks her tongue. “What you go through for your cousin,” she says. “What’s wrong with just showing up at the door and asking to see her?”

“It’s after nine,” I reply, brushing the dust off my jeans and silky purple blouse. “You know she can’t leave after nine.” I gaze at the entrance of the building. I’ll have to bribe the doorman. Not willing to part with my money so easily, I’d kept this as a last option. “They’re grown women in there,” I grumble, “and they treat them like children.” Suddenly I’m struck by the importance of this mission. “I will demand that they treat those students—so clever that they are studying law, medicine, engineering—with respect. ‘Stop treating them like prisoners!’ That’s what I’ll say. ‘Give them the freedom to come and go as they please, to have some fun!'”

“But what if they don’t want any of that?” Azza asks. “Maybe they’re just here to study and leave with degrees. Don’t forget, you’re talking about Emirati girls.”

“Young women,” I correct her. “Seventeen years old, like me. Nineteen, like my cousin Mariam. And older, too.”

“But they’re Emiratis.”

“And what am I?”

“Well . . . yes . . . But your mother is Egyptian, thank God.” She raises her arms to the sky. “You’ve got that Egyptian mischief in you.” She starts giggling for no reason. I give her a nasty look, which she ignores. I turn my back to her and start walking away.

“Sometimes I think you do things without thinking,” she persists as she hurries after me.

“Sometimes you make the stupidest comments. Now will you stop it?” I swing around to face her. There’s just a ribbon of moon on this January night, but I know she can see my glower. She may have brought the car, her father’s battered maroon Fiat, but she knows that she is in the company of future promise. Yes, that’s how I visualize myself, ever since I found out today that I have a confirmed appointment to meet with the famous composer Sherif Nasr. “Look,” I tell her. “All I want is for Mariam to be with me right now, to celebrate my good news.”

She points at the doorman. “But what about him?”

“Leave him to me,” I say. “Just go and get the car and meet me a few buildings down, at the corner of the street.”

“But how will you get past him?”

“Just go, pretty one,” I say, even though she’s the opposite of pretty, and I march to the entrance of the sakan.

From That Other Me by Maha Gargash. Copyright © 2016 by Maha Gargash. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Meet the author:

Maha Gargash was born in Dubai. She has a Bachelors degree in Radio/Television from the George Washington University in Washington D.C. and a Masters from Goldsmiths’ College in London. In 1985, she joined Dubai Television to pursue her interest in documentaries. It was a field that provided extensive travel opportunities and opened many doors. Through her programmes, which focus mainly on traditional Arab societies, she became involved in research and scriptwriting, which evolved into her first novel, The Sand Fish (Oct/Nov 2009).

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That Other Me: A Novel

Book Showcase: DARK MONEY by Larry Thompson

Dark Money by Larry ThompsonDark Money by Larry Thompson cover

Dark Money
by Larry Thompson
on Tour January 25- February 29, 2016


Jackson Bryant, the millionaire plaintiff lawyer who turned to pro bono work in Dead Peasants, is caught up in the collision of money and politics when he receives a call from his old army buddy Walt Frazier. Walt needs his assistance in evaluating security for Texas Governor Rob Lardner at a Halloween costume fundraiser thrown by one of the nation’s richest Republican billionaires at his mansion in Fort Worth.

Miriam Van Zandt is the best marksman among The Alamo Defenders, an anti-government militia group in West Texas. She attends the fundraiser dressed as a cat burglar–wounds the governor and murders the host’s brother, another Republican billionaire. She is shot in the leg but manages to escape.

Jack is appointed special prosecutor and must call on the Texas DPS SWAT team to track Van Zandt and attack The Alamo Defenders’ compound in a lonely part of West Texas. Van Zandt’s father, founder of the Defenders, is killed in the attack and Miriam is left in a coma. The authorities declare victory and close the case-but Jack knows better. The person behind the Halloween massacre has yet to be caught. When Walt and the protective detail are sued by the fundraiser host and the widow of the dead man, Jack follows the dark money of political contributions from the Cayman Islands to Washington to Eastern Europe, New York and New Orleans to track the real killer and absolve his friend and the Protective Detail of responsibility for the massacre.

Dark Money is a thriller, a mystery and an expose of the corruption of money in politics caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. 

Dark Money Details:

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller
Published by:   Story Merchant Books
Publication Date: December 8th 2015   
Number of Pages:  430
ISBN: 0996990801 (ISBN13: 9780996990806)  
Series: A Jackson Bryant Legal Thriller, 2
Purchase Links: Amazon  Goodreads

Read an excerpt of Dark Money:

The convoy of three troop trucks made its way through the northeastern part of Saudi Arabia on their way to join up with other American troops in Dhahran. Jack Bryant, a lawyer from Texas who was called up from his practice in Beaumont, was riding shotgun in the front truck. He was a sergeant and the senior NCO in the convoy. They passed through several villages deserted or nearly so out of fear of the rapidly moving Iraq army. The convoy approached another village, apparently abandoned, when Jack raised his hand.

“Stop. I saw a glint of metal in a balcony about a hundred yards ahead on the right, and then it disappeared. I’m getting out my side and will use the door as a shield. Open your door as quietly as possible. Go back to the men and tell them to maintain complete silence. I don’t even want to hear the click of a cigarette lighter until I signal.”

Seconds turned into minutes. Jack continued to focus on the balcony. After twenty minutes the driver was thinking that his sergeant must have been imagining something when a head slowly surfaced above the wall on the balcony. Jack waited until he could see the mouth and fired one round, striking the Iraq sniper directly between the eyes. The enemy soldier dropped from sight.

Bryant climbed back into his seat and told his driver they could now move out.

“You sure, Sarge? Could be you only wounded him.”

“Trust me. I don’t miss from this distance. He’s dead. Let’s get going. I hope we’ll still have a little light when we get to the barracks.”

Author Bio:

Larry D. Thompson | Author

Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels.

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2015 Book 26: THE EX by Alafair Burke

The Ex by Alafair Burke 
ISBN: 9780062390486 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062390509 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062444882 (audio)
ASIN: B00X3N8S96 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 26, 2016 
Publisher: Harper

Twenty years ago she ruined his life.

Now she has the chance to save it.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder three years earlier—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him? 

Olivia Randall has few regrets in life, but she does regret the way her relationship with Jack Harris ended twenty years ago. When she receives a frantic phone call from Jack’s daughter, Olivia does what she thinks is right and heads to the police department to help out her former fiancé in Alafair Burke’s latest thriller, The Ex.

Olivia Randall met Jack Harris in college. Their relationship went from being friends to lovers and eventually they became engaged. Unfortunately, Olivia wasn’t quite ready to settle down and took advantage of Jack’s kindness during the last year of their engagement. The end came after Jack discovered proof of one of Olivia’s liaisons in their apartment. The engagement was over and Jack moved on. Then Jack’s wife was murdered in a mass shooting at Penn Station. The general opinion was the father of the shooter should have been responsible for his son’s actions since it was known the teenage boy had mental health issues and the father supported the boy’s access to guns. Now that father has been found shot to death in a spot where Jack had been waiting for a date. The police feel they have the right man, but Olivia feels differently. Over the course of her investigation into Jack, his marriage, his wife’s murder, and his life after, she uncovers one too many secrets that lead her to change her belief in Jack’s innocence. Olivia begins to feel as if she never really knew Jack and fears she’s being manipulated. Can she find answers to her burning questions about Jack and his past? 

I found The Ex to be an intriguing and engrossing fast-paced read. Ms. Burke has crafted a scenario that is not only wholly believable but tragically realistic. Olivia is a forty-something lawyer struggling with her guilt over past behavior. Jack is a forty-something author struggling to forgive Olivia and keep secrets. Buckley, Jack’s teenage daughter, is overwhelmed with guilt over her mother’s death (read the book to find out why) and wants to keep her father out of prison. The Ex is part legal thriller, part psychological thriller, part suspense thriller, and one darn good read. I enjoyed all of the characters and found most of them to be deeply flawed but likable. Just when you think you might have things figured out, Ms. Burke throws in a nice twist (or two) to keep you guessing. I can always count on Ms. Burke for a well-crafted and well-written story. If you enjoy suspense thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, or are just looking for something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Ex.

Watch the book trailer:

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Ex


2016 Book 25: THE GOLDEN SON by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 
ISBN: 9780062391452 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062391476 (ebook)
ASIN: B00X3N8SIM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 26, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow

Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain they inhabit and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable—but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.

Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country’s alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.

At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village.

Then things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend. On a visit home, Anil rekindles a friendship with the woman who seems to understand him better than anyone else. But their relationship is complicated by a fateful decision made years earlier.

As the two old friends discover each other again, they must also weigh the choice between responsibility and freedom, and between loyalty and love. 

Anil has been looking forward to his medical training in America but comes to realize that his training is going to be much harder than he had imagined. He begins to enjoy many of the freedoms offered and even has a girlfriend for the first time in his life. While Anil is enjoying all that America has to offer, including racism and prejudice, his childhood friend is dealing with the worst that marriage has to offer back home in India. Both Anil and Leena must deal with massive disappointments in The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda.

Anil has always been the favored son, primarily because he is the eldest, and because he showed such promise in school. Although his family is held in high regard in rural India, outside of his village, Anil is just another intelligent and educated Indian male. Anil knows that he has to live up to his parent’s expectations and he strives to be the best he can be. His struggle to succeed hits a wall during his internship and residency training in America. He begins to second-guess his decisions and constantly worry that he might say or do the wrong thing. The one good thing he’s experienced in America is his friendships with his roommates and his relationship with his girlfriend, Amber. Anil’s life takes a dramatic turn after his father’s death. He becomes the person responsible for arbitrating disputes in his family’s rural area, even doing so by phone. Anil struggles with the responsibilities of being an arbiter and a resident. While Anil is dealing with life in America, Leena is dealing with married life in India. Her husband’s family showed themselves to be wealthy and respectable people. After her marriage, Leena learns that the family lives in a home that requires numerous repairs and all they wanted was a live-in servant. She works around the clock preparing food, cleaning the house, and washing clothes. Her in-laws begin to extort money and more from Leena’s parents when they speak of their dissatisfaction with Leena’s abilities. Cutoff from her family and treated horribly from her in-laws, Leena begins to wonder if she can endure and survive. Tragedy strikes for both Leena and Anil and they must make decisions that will have repercussions for themselves, their friends, and their families.

I found The Golden Son to be a fast-paced and wholly enjoyable read. Yes, there are some tragic events that take place in the story, but the overall story is about becoming not only self-aware but self-assured. I enjoyed the parallel stories of Leena and Anil, as well as how the stories intersect with their childhood friendship, Leena’s friendship with Anil’s sister, and the fact that both families are from the same village. There’s another intersection that occurs due to money and advice, but you’ll need to read the story to learn about this one. Ms. Gowda has an amazing ability to craft characters and stories that pull this reader in, to the point where I become invested and want to learn more about the characters and what happens next. The Golden Son vividly portrays the struggle of an immigrant to America, as well as the struggle to continue to adhere to familial and cultural values and mores. If you enjoy reading stories about love, loyalty, and family then you’ll definitely want to read The Golden Son. If you’ve read Secret Daughter then you’ll want to add The Golden Son to your TBR list. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Gowda then I strongly urge you to read both Secret Daughter and The Golden Son. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Gowda in the future.

Watch the book trailer:

Read an excerpt here.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Golden Son: A Novel

Author Q&A: Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis – A NORTH SHORE STORY

A North Shore Story by Dean Economos and Alyssa Machinis
ISBN: 9780996978002 (ebook)
ASIN: B017N3U6UK (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 19, 2016

For the teenagers of Chicago’s North Shore, everyone has something to hide.

In a daring attempt to impress the elusive Sophia, Michael makes the biggest decision of his life, stealing over a hundred thousand dollars from St. Theodore Community Church.

That same night, Nichole’s insecurities are finally forgotten with a drug she soon won’t be able to control.

When Michael makes his getaway, he sees his friend Joseph cheat on his girlfriend with the priest’s daughter and knock over a candle that sets the church ablaze.

As the consequences of that night unfold, Joseph is blamed for the fire and the missing money. Can the teenagers of the North Shore confess their vices to help their friend? Or will their greed, infidelity, and jealousy change all their lives forever?

Q&A with the authors:

Dean Economos

Give us some background, what did you do before writing this book?

I went to college at Loyola University Chicago and received my undergrad in Biology and a minor in Biostatistics. I then went on to receive my M.B.A. from Loyola’s Quinlan School of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

What were the events that inspired the book?

The book was inspired by different experiences growing up. Those key events and experiences were then intertwined with the more current events of our church’s media coverage.

Some parts of your book are things you actually experienced, they must have stuck with you for you to want to write about them years later. Did you always know you wanted to tell these stories?

I kind of had a premonition growing up that these events would be shared. My friends and I would always say we should’ve had a show like Laguna Beach or something of that nature. So, in a way, I did think these stories would be told in one way or another, I just didn’t think I’d be the one to tell them.

Like other stories of turmoil, we are drawn to A North Shore Story because we can relate to the characters. Can you elaborate on what is relatable about the internal struggles of the book’s characters?

What makes these characters extremely relatable to readers are the confidence and relationship problems each one of them goes through, whether it be friendship or romantic. Some characters go through other internal struggles such as underage drinking, drug use, and sexual peer pressure. I think that everyone at one time or another has been in one of these circumstances.

What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Since this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was supposed to have a template or well-thought out plan before writing anything. Instead, I jumped into it head-first and developed the story as I wrote. I feel that doing it this way allowed myself to be more creative and not stick to a “script” per se. I was even surprised at what I was able to create.

What inspired you to write this story so many years later?

What originally got my gears turning was the media’s coverage of our former priest and his embezzlement of church funds. I then started to think about our time growing up at our church and the events that our friends and I experienced. After pinpointing key events, I began formulating the plotline which now makes up A North Shore Story.

You know some of these characters in your waking life. Who was the most exciting to write? How have they changed because of what happened?

The most exciting character to write about was definitely Kate. Kate, and the girl who she’s based off of, has a very exciting personality and a distinct attitude. When our friend read the story, she loved how she was portrayed in the storyline. I think that she, along with the rest of our friends, have changed in that we’ve learned how to tackle the problems that Kate and the rest of the group are dealing with right now.

Tell us more about your personal part in the stories. Are you in the book? How did you change your story for the fiction rendition?

I am in the book. With my character, and with all the characters, I left elements of real life in the story and in the personality, but overall the fundamental qualities of each character are unique from their real life counterparts.

What strengths did you and Alyssa bring to the table to help one another write the book?

I felt more connected to writing the actual story. I was able to figure out and connect the different subplots of the book, while Alyssa is very familiar with novels and creative writing. With those skills, she helped make the book come alive.

Do you anticipate a sequel?

I’ve thrown ideas around in my head and I’ve talked about it with Alyssa. We’re open to it but haven’t started writing anything yet.

Alyssa Machinis

Tell us about your background, what have you done since the events that occurred that inspired A North Shore Story?

Well, I went to college at the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in Advertising and minors in both Business and Communications. Now I work at an advertising-technology company as a Digital Strategist.

Is your side of the story depicted in the book? If so, did you change the reality for the fiction version?

My side of the story is depicted in the book, but it’s pretty separated from reality. The biggest and only consistency between my character and I are our driven personalities.

What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

The most difficult part of writing the book was helping it come alive. The content was there, and the story was strong, but fostering the story from a passive standpoint into an active point of view was a challenge.

What do you think the most important lesson from the book is?

The most important lesson from the book is to be confident in who you are. Don’t worry about what other people think because the fear of judgment can turn you into a person you don’t want to be.

What part of this story do you think appeals to young adult readers most?

I think what appeals to young adults about A North Shore Story are the pop culture references mixed with struggles that I think a majority of teens have experienced or encountered at some point in their lives.

What clique or group you were in while in high school? Can you tell us an event that happened to you and your friends that almost made it into A North Shore Story but isn’t included?

I was definitely in the choir group throughout high school. There weren’t many events that didn’t make it into A North Shore Story, but we almost wrote in a choir sub-plot. However, we switched it to fashion as the story developed.

What were some of your favorite books in high school, when the story takes place?

I loved the Harry Potter series and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. He writes excellent mystery novels, and J.K. Rowling is a genius.

Who is your favorite author? What were a few books that inspired your writing?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite author (I read a lot). However, I do think that J.K. Rowling’s writing style was very influential on my own. It’s also comforting to know that she had humble beginnings just like Dean and I have now.

Do you think you’ll write another book?

Like Dean mentioned, we’ve talked about it a little bit. However, as of now we have not made any strides toward writing another book.

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A North Shore Story

2016 Book 20: TOUGH JUSTICE – EXPOSED by Carla Cassidy

Tough Justice: Exposed (Tough Justice #1) by Carla Cassidy
ISBN: 9781460393628 (ebook)
ASIN: B013OMLKIQ (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 12, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Special Releases

A new job. A new case. A new criminal?

Special Agent Lara Grant will do anything to get her mark – until her last undercover case, infiltrating the notorious Moretti crime ring, forced her to get close to the top. Way. Too. Close…

Now starting a new job in New York City, all Lara wants is to leave the ghosts of her past behind. Until a dramatic sniper attack leaves Lara’s face – and real name – all over the media. In the blink of an eye, her cover is blown, her identity exposed.

Then a woman’s body is found, branded with the ritual Moretti tattoo. Someone knows who Lara is…and exactly how to make her pay…

Part 1 of 8 in a chilling, high-octane FBI thriller TOUGH JUSTICE from NYT bestselling author Carla Cassidy and Tyler Anne Snell, Carol Ericson and Gail Barrett.


Lara Grant spent several years in deep undercover to bring down the Moretti syndicate. Her undercover work was so successful that she then had to spend a year in a safe house to protect her life. She’s just returned to work in the FBI when she’s called out to talk to a man on a ledge. A man that asked for her by name. A man she doesn’t know. After talking this criminal off the ledge, she escorts him from the building only to have him killed in front of her by a sniper. Now the entire world, including the Moretti’s, know that Lara is back at work. Lara begins work with her team of FBI agents to try and determine what link, if any, the deceased has to the Moretti syndicate. The more they dig, the more questions are raised. When an innocent jogger is found murdered in the park, it becomes clear that these crimes are linked; not only to the Moretti’s but to Lara. Can the FBI determine who is behind these crimes before another crime occurs? Is Lara a target?

Tough Justice: Exposed was an incredibly quick read, not just because of its length, but also because it is a fast-paced read. The reader gradually gets to know Lara as the investigations begin, and she is just as enigmatic as the crimes being committed. If you enjoy fast-paced suspense thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to add Tough Justice: Exposed to your reading list. Tough Justice: Exposed is the first book in the Tough Justice series. Each book will be written by a different author, but will feature the same characters and storyline. I look forward to reading the next seven installments and finding out what happens next.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Tough Justice: Exposed (Part 1 of 8)

2016 Book 14: THE KINDNESS OF ENEMIES by Leila Aboulela

The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela 
ISBN: 9780802124487 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101984888 (ebook)
ASIN: B0163BZ1NA (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Grove Press

It’s 2010 and Natasha, a half Russian, half Sudanese professor of history, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the 19th century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil’s priceless sword, the Imam’s story comes vividly to life. As Natasha’s relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid—that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy.

Told with Aboulela’s inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world.


Natasha Wilson is a history professor at a university in Scotland with an interest in 19th-century Russian history, specifically the anti-Russian resistance movement. One of her students, Oz Raja, is reportedly a descendant of one of the most popular leaders of this movement. Befriending this student and his mother sets Natasha on an amazing adventure of self-discovery and reconnecting with her past in The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela.

At the age of fourteen, Natasha Hussein was adopted by her stepfather and went from being a Sudanese immigrant to a Scottish resident named Natasha Wilson. Born and raised in Khartoum, Sudan by her Christian Georgian mother and nominally-Muslim Sudanese father, Natasha never felt truly comfortable in Sudan or with her father. After her parents divorce and her mother’s second marriage, Natasha did her best to fit in. In 2010, she is a college professor that has published several well-received articles and is respected by her peers. She’s not quite sure why, but she’s drawn to one of her students, Oz (Osama) Raja, a disenfranchised Muslim. Their connection grows due to one of Oz’s forefathers, the renowned Imam Shamil. After visiting Oz and his mother, Malak, Natasha has the opportunity to see Imam Shamil’s sword and other items. Although Natasha and Malak are concerned about Oz’s curiosity about jihad and his perceived persecution of Muslims, neither takes it seriously until Oz is arrested after downloading suspicious materials. In a post-9/11 world, a little suspicion goes a long way and Natasha is perceived to be tainted by her visit to the Raja home and receiving an email from Oz about a possible research project for a dissertation. As Natasha attempts to rebound from these suspicions, she must also contend with phone calls from Sudan about her estranged father’s failing health. Is it possible Natasha and Malak missed signs of Oz’s radicalization? Is Oz, in fact, being radicalized or simply curious? Are Muslims being unfairly targeted in a post-9/11 world? Can Natasha reconnect with her father and Sudanese heritage? 

After reading The Kindness of Enemies, I had to take a day just to think about it and what I could say about this book. Did I enjoy this book? The answer is a resounding YES! However, The Kindness of Enemies wasn’t a book that I could simply finish reading and then set aside. There are stories within stories within stories in this book. There’s Natasha’s story, past and present; Oz and Malak’s story, present; and, then there’s the story of Imam Shamil. I was astonished to learn that Imam Shamil was a real leader in the anti-Russia movement in the 19th century. It was fascinating to read about his life, albeit a fictionalized version of his life, and that of his family. I enjoyed the blend of contemporary and historical fiction and the parallels found between the 19th-century and 21st-century storylines (trust me, there are a few…read it for yourself to discover just how many there are). The majority of the characters are all flawed and realistically portrayed. They all have their doubts and fears. This is not a story about being right or wrong or even having the right set of beliefs or not, it is about humans struggling to find their place in the world, do the right thing, and the perception of those struggles and behaviors by others. I get to read a lot of books, some good, some not so good, and The Kindness of Enemies is one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure to read this year and one that I strongly encourage you to read. I don’t normally post a star-rating with my reviews, but I give this book five stars (yes, I really enjoyed it that much). 

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Kindness of Enemies

2016 Book 11: ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell

Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell 
ISBN: 9781476755953 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781501132544 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781476755977 (ebook)
ASIN: B00UDCNJLC (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.


Living in rural community can be a blessing and a curse due to long community memories. Dove Carnahan grew up in Buchanan, Pennsylvania as the eldest of three illegitimate children. Her illegitimacy was overlooked, if not “forgiven,” when her mother was murdered. Now Dove is working as the sheriff in her hometown and must deal with another murder that has the town buzzing in Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell.

It’s usually hard to keep secrets in a small community, but the Truly family has more than their fair share of secrets. Sheriff Dove Carnahan is forced to try to delve into these secrets while she investigates the brutal murder of 17-year-old Camio Truly. Dove is not a novice law enforcement officer, but she’s only been involved in three murder investigations over a 25-year span. She has no choice but to accept the assistance of the regional state police investigator, Nolan Greeley, who just happens to be her married occasional lover. If dealing with a secretive and insular family like the Trulys wasn’t bad enough, Dove also has to contend with the release of the man found guilty of her mother’s murder and he’s accusing Dove and her sister Neely of lying about his guilt. Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, her estranged brother Champ returns after a 27-year absence with his nine-year-old son in tow. Dove has no choice but to deal with her past, her family’s past, as well as the Truly’s family past. What is the truth behind her mother’s murder? Why did her brother stay away and incommunicado for so many years? Can Dove solve the murder of Camio Truly without destroying the Truly family?

Ms. O’Dell has packed quite a lot of action and chills in Angels Burning. Some of the topics include pedophilia, rape, incest, and murder. The characters in this story include good people, not-so-good people, and very bad people, as well as people that are a mixture of good, not-so-good, and bad. Dysfunctional families are the more the norm than not, and the Carnahan family is just as dysfunctional as the Trulys, yet both seem to think that although they have issues it’s not as bad as the other family. It might be easy to think that Angels Burning is a dark story, but it isn’t. Ms. O’Dell has provided realistic characters in a realistic environment dealing with all-too-realistic scenarios, and yes, some of these scenarios are dark. The characters are all flawed and they all seem to know it, but most are striving to make the best of their bad situations. Did I enjoy reading Angels Burning? Yes! I found Angels Burning to be an engrossing read that captured my attention from the first page to the very last. If you enjoy reading realistic psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to read Angels Burning. If you’ve never read a psychological thriller, then put Angels Burning on your to-be-read list, it will not disappoint.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Angels Burning

2016 Book #7: THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE by Lisa Gardner

Three Truths and a Lie (Detective D.D. Warren #7.5) by Lisa Gardner 
ISBN: 9781101984888 (ebook)
ASIN: B015X7GRII (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Dutton

Boston Detective D.D. Warren faces her most brutal adversaries yet—a class of jaded thriller writers—in New York Times Bestselling Author Lisa Gardner’s exclusive e-Book short story

In Lisa Gardner’s second short story, after the New York Times bestseller The 7th Month, Detective D.D. Warren takes on her most intimidating assignment yet: a fifty-minute class meant to educate a horde of bloodthirsty thriller writers on the ways of actual police work. Yet sometimes life really does imitate fiction, as D.D. takes the writers through the reality of one of her most twisted cases—a case that involves a seedy motel room, drugs, prostitution . . . and a severed leg. With Gardner’s trademark suspense, sharp observations, and thrilling storytelling, Three Truths and a Lie is a fascinating chapter in D.D.’s storied career. Includes an early look at Lisa Gardner’s next novel of suspense, Find Her, coming February 9, 2016.


Fictional detective meets real fiction authors and more in the latest addition to the D.D. Warren series by author Lisa Gardner, Three Truths And A Lie. The story starts off with D.D. stressing about meeting a group of fiction writers to discuss the daily routine of a homicide detective at a Writers’ Police Academy in Wisconsin. Rather than delivering her original speech, D.D. opts to use the “three truths and a lie” game by telling the writers about a gory murder at a no-star hotel. The audience, filled with mystery, suspense, and thriller writers, must determine what the lie is in order to win. Will they guess correctly? Will you? Of course, you’ll need to read Three  Truths And A Lie for yourself to see if you can outwit this fictional detective. If you don’t want to guess the lie, simply grab a copy of Three Truths And A Lie to read because it is a fast, often humorous, and engaging read. I’m looking forward to Ms. Gardner’s next D.D. Warren installment, Find Her, coming soon.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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3 Truths and a Lie: A Detective D. D. Warren Story

Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore

Do you love your local bookstore? Then you’ll definitely want to nominate your bookstore to win a grant in the “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore” campaign by independent publisher Sourcebooks. The “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore Campaign” is inspired by the phenomenal support booksellers have given The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, which was selected as the #1 Indie Next Great Read for January 2016. 

“Bookstores are the heart and soul of their community and have enormous impact on readers’ lives,” said Dominique Raccah, founder and CEO of Sourcebooks. “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend inspired us to create a campaign that will not only give back to a few deserving bookstores, but hopefully highlight all the many wonderful bookstores that service communities across the country.”

Anyone can nominate their favorite bookstore at Sourcebooks will award the winning bookstore with a $3,000 prize; two additional bookstores will each receive a $637 prize (the population of Bivald’s fictional Broken Wheel, Iowa). In addition to bookstores receiving prizes, weekly giveaways for those who nominate will be held throughout the campaign. Voting began January 4 and runs until February 19 when the winning bookstores will be announced.

Sourcebooks is also giving away copies of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Enter below for your chance to win!

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