Book Showcase: THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell 
ISBN: 9781501124211 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501126307 (trade paperback – 11/22/2016 [cover image shown at right])
ISBN: 9781501124228 (ebook)
ASIN: B010MH1D6U (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 1, 2016 | November 22, 2016 
Publisher: Touchstone 

In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction. 


“A piquant paean to the Brontë sisters….Filled with gothic twists and leading [the reader] down pathways strewn with Brontë arcana.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Lowell crafts a first novel that is enthralling as it is heartbreaking. Brontë aficionados and fans of Soane Crosley’s The Clasp will love this title.”— Library Journal starred review

“The novel untangles scholars’ differing interpretations of the Brontë novels and the tantalizing hints the books offer readers about the Brontë sisters’ lives. Who, if anyone, was the real-life model for Mr. Rochester’s imprisoned, mentally ill wife? And was she really mad?”— Wall Street Journal

“For those who like their Brontë with a side of wry, turn to the hilarious The Madwoman Upstairs… Sam’s self-conscious quips are LOL hilarious and do Ms. Brontë proud.”
— USA Today

The Madwoman Upstairs had me hooked well into the wee hours; this book is absolutely addictive. Set in the most romantic parts of Britain, the story takes us on a clever present-day romp through the literary universe of the enigmatic Brontës and drills deeply into all their dangerous secrets. Catherine Lowell has such a unique, inspired turn of phrase that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud even as she lures you deeper and deeper into this delicious mystery that is destined to become the page-turner of the year.”
— Anne Fortier, Author of Juliet

“Catherine Lowell’s debut is a smart and funny literary mystery set among the dreaming spires of Oxford University. Lowell’s deft handling of her quirky characters and unpredictable plot twists make The Madwoman Upstairs a charming and memorable read.”
— Deborah Harkness, author of the All Souls Trilogy

“The storyline takes readers on a crazy ride of clues and reveals interesting facts about the Brontë family in the process. Lowell has hit it out of the ballpark with this novel.”
— RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

“A smart, clever and properly Gothic novel….Deftly, Lowell combines a rollicking treasure hunt with a wickedly dark story.”— Minneapolis Star-Tribune


Read an excerpt here.

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The Madwoman Upstairs

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The Madwoman Upstairs


2016 Book 464: THE MARRIAGE LIE by Kimberly Belle

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle 
ISBN: 9780778319764 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460396353 (ebook)
ASIN: B01EF02ZUS (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 27, 2016 
Publisher: Mira

Even the perfect marriage has its dark side… 

Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane. 

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core. 

Iris and Will Griffith had a whirlwind romance and, from all appearances, an idyllic marriage. Even after seven years of marriage, they seemed to still be head-over-heels in love with each other. Iris knows that Will loves her and thinks she knows everything about her husband and his past until that fateful day when he takes a plane and it subsequently crashes killing everyone aboard. The first question raised is why was Will on a plane to Seattle when he told her he was going to Orlando? This is followed by why did he lie to his assistant and say that he and Iris were on vacation in Mexico? What was in Seattle and why would Will be going there? The more questions Iris obtains answers to the more questions are raised until she finally realizes she didn’t really know her husband at all.

Initially, Iris is in a state of denial that her husband could be on the flight to Seattle. Then she’s in denial that he actually died in the crash. Her denial quickly becomes mass confusion when she’s faced with a past that Will had not only hidden but lied about his past. She doesn’t really know any of his friends or acquaintances except a few people from work until she meets a gym buddy at the memorial service, Corban Hayes. Just when Iris thinks she’s come to grips with Will’s past and demise, Will’s boss confronts her with the fact that Will had embezzled millions of dollars from their company. If that’s not bad enough, she’s receiving suspicious and taunting text messages. Will Iris be able to uncover the truth about Will before it’s too late?

I began reading The Marriage Lie while sitting in a hospital surgery waiting room during a relative’s recent procedure. The only reason I put this book down was because the procedure ended (it went well) and my relative was discharged from the hospital (kind of difficult, not to mention tacky, to continue reading during the discharge, etc.). I picked up the book a few hours later and didn’t set it aside again until the final page. Ms. Belle took this reader on one heck of a ride with this story. There were so many twists and turns I thought I might need motion sickness meds (not really, but you get the point). I can only liken this story to a reverse nesting doll where instead of dolls getting smaller the lies being revealed actually get larger and more confusing. Just when you think it can’t get any more confusing, yes — you guessed it, but Ms. Belle takes that confusion and neatly wraps it up with a surprise ending (no, I’m not going to tell you what happened, read the book!). The Marriage Lie is an amazing read and one that I found to be fast-paced and enjoyable from beginning to end. As a former Atlanta resident, it was nice to revisit some of the places I knew and loved. I may never be able to think of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens quite the same way again, but I’m glad she took such a unique spot and incorporated it into the story. The Marriage Lie provides phantom bad guys (not to mention real bad guys) and that made it even more realistic for me, especially in this high-tech and connected world we live in today. If you enjoy reading suspense thrillers or just want a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then grab a copy of The Marriage Lie to read. I enjoyed The Marriage Lie so much that I’ve added Ms. Belle’s previous titles to my TBR list. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes 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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Book Showcase: SMALL ADMISSIONS by Amy Poeppel

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
ISBN: 9781501122521 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501122545 (eBook)
ASIN: B01CO34E8Y (Kindle version)
Publication Date: December 27, 2016 
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books / Atria

For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love.

Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.

Read an excerpt:

For one whole year, we worried about Kate. We worried to her face and worried behind her back, credited her with being tough, while judging her for being pathetic. Some days we thought she was suicidal; others she seemed homicidal, or as if she had the potential, anyway, not that any of us would blame her. We didn’t know how to help. Her sister, Angela, thought she needed therapy, antidepressants, and time to heal. She prescribed hard work and weekend hobbies, like kayaking or photography. Vicki thought she needed to quit wallowing; why not enjoy life as a single woman, celebrate her independence, go out and get laid? The guy who lived below her thought she should turn her music down and leave the apartment from time to time instead of stomping around over his head all day long. The lady at the liquor store suspected she drank too much. I didn’t know what to think. We all agreed she needed to get her ass off the couch and get a life. She needed to stop wearing sweatpants and put on a little mascara, for Christ’s sake. And would it kill her to go on a date? We were tired of the whole thing. Sure, life had thrown a huge piece of shit in her face, but…

Actually, there was no but. Life had thrown an enormous piece of shit in Kate’s face.

Whenever the topic of Kate came up, faces got twitchy; eyes got shifty. Our friends would glance at each other and look at me with a mixture of blame and embarrassment, making it clear what they all thought but couldn’t say, at least not around me. I could imagine them whispering, after I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room:

She must feel like it’s her fault.

It was her fault.

Well, she certainly is partly to blame.

Apart from him, it was all her fault.

I know! I mean, if only she had…

I wonder if she feels responsible?

Yes, bitches. I feel responsible.

To me Kate was something like a figure skater, skilled and balanced one second and then, bam, she’s splayed out all over the ice the next. Music still playing, and she can’t even get up to finish the damn routine.

But before her fall, it was a different story. Skilled and balanced. I remember Kate sitting cross-legged on her bed in our dorm room, laptop open, wearing glasses and retainers, reading an assignment she’d written out loud to us:

Day 1. Sundown. I enter a community living structure after the tribe’s evening repast. I am in the midst of seven female natives, and while I believe them to be a peaceful people, I approach them cautiously, watching from a safe distance. I see them communicating with each other, using language and gestures, drinking an amber-colored beverage out of red, plastic cups, and listening to music that causes them to jerk their heads in unison. I come closer to observe their rituals and seat myself on a contraption that hosts a variety of food particles in its fibers. When I insert my hand under the cushion, I discover a handful of blackened popcorn kernels, a pair of unwashed male undergarments, and two small copper medallions. The women in the tribe see the items in my hand and begin shrieking, gesticulating, and backing away from me. I fear I have insulted these gentle humanoids by unearthing their relics from the sofa, but they are forgiving. One offers me a large vessel, into which I respectfully lower the clothing and kernels. When I start to put in the copper medallions, the female makes a gift of them to me. I will bring them home to share with my people.

Kate looked up, ready for our critique.

“I don’t get it,” Vicki said. She was sitting up in her bed with a Town & Country magazine open across her lap.

“What?” Kate asked.

“If they’re pennies,” Vicki asked, “why can’t you just say pennies?”

“I like it,” I said.

“Thank you, Chloe,” Kate answered. She was hunched over, reading through her fictional field notes again.

“I didn’t say I don’t like it,” Vicki said. “I just don’t get the point.”

“Can you tell I’m from another planet?” Kate asked.

“Totally,” I assured her.

“It’s inconsistent, if you want me to be honest,” Vicki answered.

“How would an alien know what popcorn is?”

“You’re absolutely right,” Kate said, holding down the delete button.

“It’s so stupid.”

“You’re a freshman,” Vicki told her. “You’re supposed to be stupid.”

“She didn’t say she was stupid,” I corrected. “She didn’t mean to say that you’re stupid, Kate.”

“It’s no good; I’m starting over again,” Kate said, closing her laptop and getting ready to go. “I’ll work in the Student Center, so I don’t keep you up.”

“We’ll hear you anyway when you come in at two o’clock,” Vicki said.

“She’ll tiptoe,” I suggested.

We had only been roommates for two months, and we had already fallen into our roles. Kate was the bookiest of us. She spent more time in the library and less time in the shower than anyone I’d ever met. Not that she smelled bad or anything. She just couldn’t be bothered. She was a scholar in the making, bingeing on nineteenth-century novels whenever she had spare time, the more passion, suspense, and drama, the better.

“You know you’re wearing pajamas,” Vicki called after her, as Kate walked out of the room.

Vicki was smart and driven in a different way. She was exceedingly practical, registered for classes only if she found them real-world applicable and down-the-road lucrative. “When would I ever use that?” she asked when I suggested we all take a history class on serfdom in the Middle Ages. She signed up for stats instead. I had to check a map when I first met her to wrap my head around where she came from: a flyover state that she had no intention of returning to. One time I walked into our dorm room to find Vicki looking through Kate’s dresser drawers. Without thinking, I apologized to her.

And who was I? Among other things, my role in our clique was keeper of the peace. I held us together. For four years I bridged the gap, and it wasn’t easy. I was the one who made sure we were always assigned to the same dorm, with rooms on the same hall. I was the one who made plans (Friday-night cocktails and weekend getaways) and posed us in pictures, dressed up or dressed down, with me almost always in the middle. I cleared up misunderstandings and found common ground: in our sophomore year, Kate and Vicki got into a fight about gun control (Vicki’s libertarian principles clashing with Kate’s progressive sensibilities), and I spent an anxiety-filled week negotiating a truce, apologizing to one on behalf of the other, failing a sociology test in the process.

After we graduated from Wellesley, we decided to move to New York as individuals—still as a trio in spirit, but not as roommates. I figured it was for the best, knowing that our friendships would be far less complicated without the petty problems that stem from too much togetherness. I was relieved to move forward into something simple and more adult. 

And then Kate had her disastrous triple toe loop ass-on-ice wipeout and suddenly I found myself reentangled, back in the middle of a big mess.

Copyright © Amy Poeppel 2016


“Trenchant, funny, and observant…as a prose artist Ms. Poeppel leaves nothing to be desired, except this desire: that she write more and more, and as well as she does in this, her assured debut.”– Hilton Als, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of White Girls and The Women 

“Poeppel gives an in-depth look at the admissions process, with a side of secrets, bombshells, heartbreak, and hope . . . perfect for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.”– Booklist

“A witty and captivating page-turner punctuated with quirky characters and laugh-out-loud moments that are sure to appeal.”– Library Journal

“Fans of Primates of Park Avenue and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep will get a kick out of this novel, which is also a story about how women help one another get back on their feet.”– Refinery 29, Top Reads Out in December

“An excellent debut.”– Publishers Weekly

“In this absorbing story, Amy Poeppel brings her razor-sharp observations of the postures and pretenses found in our culture, in our cities,and especially in the world of admissions. Amy’s gift for dialogue, shown through the sidesplitting banter between our appealing, young heroine and the parents and children she interviews, will delight readers. Amy Poeppel displays a well of insight, forgiveness and wit that not only marks a talented writer, but the launch of what promises to be a marvelous career.”– Diane Meier, author of The Seasons of Chances and Ritual and Style in a Changing Culture 

“As Jean Hanff Korelitz did for college in her novel Admission, Amy Poeppel artfully and hilariously describes the gamesmanship in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of New York City’s private school admissions offices with spot-on dialogue and genuine insight. As the novel unfolds, the reader finds that Small Admissions lead to bigger, more important truths in the lives of the characters populating this hilarious book; I couldn’t put it down.”– David Harman, Headmaster, Poly Prep Country Day School

Small Admissions is quick-witted and razor-sharp. With a chorus of varied and absurd voices, you’ll laugh at everyone involved while secretly fearing that you see yourself in the mix. Amy Poeppel manages to tell a story both poignant and hilarious, hinting that this wry and absorbing debut is the beginning of an exciting career.”– Taylor Jenkins Reid, Author of Maybe in Another Life

Small Admissions is a hilarious romp through absurdities of Manhattan prep school life. Its characters are larger than life, it’s point of view delightfully farcical. You’ll read it in a snap and then wish for more.”– Jennifer Miller, the author of The Year of the Gadfly 

“Funny and incisive… Amy Poeppel’s rollicking debut skewers the crazy world of Manhattan private schools, the extreme sport of contemporary parenting, and the ridiculous seriousness with which we embark on our adult lives. There’s more here too: a thoughtful excavation of how we deal with rejections, big and small. I loved reading this book.”– Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is The Ocean From Here

“A rare book that actually makes you laugh out loud. Small Admissions offers a peek into the world of New York City private school admissions, but the deadly insights hardly stop there. Family, friendships, meetings(!)—Poeppel tells gleaming, hilarious truths about them all.”– Charity Shumway, author of Ten Girls to Watch

“This was quirky, funny and completely original. I loved it!”– Katie Fforde, author of A Vintage Wedding

“Charming, refreshing, and brilliantly funny, Amy Poeppel’s novel is a delightful surprise.”– Elizabeth Brundage, author of All Things Cease to Appear

“Delightful.”– RT Book Reviews

“Every once in a while, you just come across a book that is so good you want to shout it out to other readers . . . . Poeppel has found the perfect balance between humorous and insightful in the scenarios she writes about. In addition, the characters are wonderful–so multi-faceted and varied.”– Heroes and Heartbreakers, Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of November 2016

“There are hilariously dysfunctional parents, kids whose folks don’t have a clue what they can do and what they can’t, and in the midst of it all, relationships among Kate’s nearest and dearest become unstuck and reconfigured in ways that mirror those Kate works with, and even Kate herself. I can’t tell you any more, because it would ruin it for you, but this snarky romp is not to be missed. It’s cunning, wickedly bold humor at its finest.”– Seattle Book Mama

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Small Admissions: A Novel

Small Admissions: A Novel

Small Admissions


2016 Book 423: SIZE MATTERS by Cathryn Novak

Size Matters by Cathryn Novak
ISBN: 9781631521034 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631521041 (ebook)
ASIN: B01MAW0F3F (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 22, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press

John Frederick is a man of considerable substance, in every sense of the word. Rich, intelligent, reclusive, and very large, John Frederick lives to eat. His everyday needs are tended to by Mrs. Floyd, his house manager, and by a never-ending parade of personal chefs. 

Enter Lexie Alexander, the latest applicant for that once-again vacant position. A young woman of magical sensibilities, fresh out of culinary school and still recovering from a recent personal tragedy, Lexie lives to cook. As time passes, a love of food, musical comedy, and tea begins to weave a connection between John Frederick and his new chef but then a major medical crisis completely turns life at Frederick House upside down, threatening the bond John Frederick and Lexie have forged. 

Size Matters is the story of how people interact with each other and with the world, and what happens when the structure of a person’s life, their self-image, and all their familiar coping mechanisms are shattered.

Lexie Alexander has just finished culinary school and is still mourning the loss of her mother. Lexie knows she’s not ready for the hustle-and-bustle of a gourmet kitchen and is looking forward to working as a personal chef. John Frederick is an obviously wealthy man that is extremely obese, addicted to food, and beyond reclusive. He doesn’t understand why it is so difficult to hire and keep a personal chef. So begins the food-based relationship between two lost souls trying to connect, one by lovingly preparing food and the other by eating food in Cathryn Novak’s debut, Size Matters.

I found Size Matters to be a quick and easy read that goes beyond cooking and eating food. Both Lexie and John are searching for something and think they’ve found it in food, Lexie by cooking it and John by eating it. John becomes less reclusive and actually begins to interact face-to-face with Lexie, and they find that have much more in common than just food, such as love for musical theater and a quirky sense of humor. Just when it seems like their relationship is verging on something else, tragedy strikes (no, no one dies). I could tell you what happens next, but if I did you’d have no reason to read the book. What I can say is that if you enjoy light-hearted and quick reads, stories with interesting characters, or simply stories that provide a touch of romance along with some angst and drama then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Size Matters to read.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book for review purposes 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.”

December 6, 2016 – Size Matters by Cathryn Novak

Course Title: Food & Relationships Studies

Department: Culinary Fiction

Description: Lexie Alexander is the personal chef to John Frederick. He’s rich, intelligent, reclusive, very large, and lives to eat. But when a major medical crisis turns the household upside down it threatens the special bonds they’ve formed with each other.

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Size Matters: A Novel

Size Matters: A Novel




2016 Book 373: AN ADDRESS IN AMSTERDAM by Mary Dingee Fillmore

An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore 
ISBN: 9781631521331 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781631521348 (ebook)
ASIN: B01LYJWNH6 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 4, 2016 
Publisher: She Writes Press

Rachel Klein hopes she can ignore the Nazis when they roll into Amsterdam in May 1940. She’s falling in love, and her city has been the safest place in the world for Jewish people since the Spanish Inquisition. But when Rachel’s Gentile boyfriend is forced to disappear rather than face arrest, she realizes that everything is changing, and so must she so, although she is often tired and scared, she delivers papers for the underground under the Nazis noses. But after eighteen months of ever increasing danger, she pushes her parents to go into hiding with her. The dank basement where they take refuge seems like the last place where Rachel would meet a new man but she does. An Address in Amsterdam shows that, even in the most hopeless situation, an ordinary young woman can make the choice to act with courage and even love.

Spring 1940 and Rachel Klein’s thoughts are on the Nazi occupation and the plight of the Jews in the Netherlands, her family in Germany, and love. Rachel sees how Amsterdam is quickly changing and is willing to do whatever she can to protect as many people as possible in An Address in Amsterdam by Mary Dingee Fillmore.

For eighteen years, Rachel has been an ideal and dutiful daughter, never causing her parents any worry. Now that Rachel is growing older, she’s forming her own opinions and is very concerned about what she sees happening to her Jewish friends and neighbors. She’s also very worried about what might happen to her own family in Amsterdam. Rachel’s mother Rose wanted the family to leave and go to London and stay with an elderly aunt, but Rachel’s father, Jacob a dedicated physician, feels that the Dutch will never allow the Nazis’ to more than a physical presence. As Rachel sees more and more hatred aimed at the Jewish population, and her lover Michiel is forced to leave or face arrest or worse, she joins the underground movement as a courier delivering messages, newspapers, and even forged documents. Rachel learns that not all of the Dutch are willing to blindly follow the Nazis and put their lives not to mention the lives of their loved ones on the line by helping to hide and protect Jewish families and other members of the underground movement. When things begin to get really bad in Amsterdam, Rachel talks her parents into hiding, but will it be enough to protect them from the Nazis?

I found An Address in Amsterdam to be an engrossing read. The beginning of the story read a bit slow, but after the first 40-50 pages, the story picked up steam and I kept turning page after page just to see what would happen next. Ms. Fillmore provides a dramatic story of acts of heroism, courage, and love in the face of adversity. Rachel comes across as a typical teen at times filled with teen angst and drama, and then she is seen as the unbelievably courageous and heroic woman willing to do what she can in the face of fear and unknown horrors. This is not just the story of one girl and the underground movement, but rather the story of one girl, one family, one love, and the Dutch gentiles working to help and protect Dutch Jews in a time of unspeakable acts of bigotry, hatred, and horrors. It was impossible to read An Address in Amsterdam and not be touched by the ugliness directed towards the Jewish population. However, Ms. Fillmore has taken a story about a group of people that we know doesn’t end well at all and imbued it with a sense of hope that things will get better and that love will help these people make it through. Do things end well for Rachel and her family? You’ll have to read the story to find out. If you enjoy reading historical fiction then I recommend you grab a copy of An Address in Amsterdam to read. 

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via BookSparks. 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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2016 Book 262: Review of BEHIND CLOSED DOORS by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

ISBN: 9781250121004 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250121011 (ebook)
ASIN: B01CXO4VRI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 9, 2016 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Jack Angel appears to be the perfect gentleman and husband. He adores his wife and is protective of his new sister-in-law. He’s an attorney that fights in court on behalf of battered women. Grace Angel appears to the be the perfect wife, loving and nurturing and never more than a few steps away from her husband’s side. Is theirs the perfect marriage or can looks be deceiving in Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.

Jack and Grace have a whirlwind romance and before you know it, Grace has quit her job, sold her house, and is ready to be a full-time wife. Jack was the perfect gentleman and lover during their courtship and is quite accepting of the fact that Grace’s younger sister, Millie, will be moving in with them when she finishes at school. Grace knows many men aren’t so accepting of having a younger sibling, much less one with Down’s Syndrome, move into their homes after marriage, so this is just one more thing to admire about Jack. Grace quickly learns that Jack is not the man he pretends to be on the day of her wedding and during her honeymoon. Every attempt she makes to deflect Jack results in her being seen as deranged or psychotic. As a result, Grace does the only thing she can do in this situation and that’s bide her time and pray that things will change for the better before Millie comes to live with them. Just how far is Grace willing to go in an effort to protect Millie from Jack?

I found Behind Closed Doors to be a fast-paced read that kept me on tenterhooks from the beginning to the very end. Jack is quite skilled at manipulating not only Grace but his circle of friends and acquaintances as well. The more that is revealed about Jack and Grace’s relationship, the more we realize that Jack epitomizes the psycho in this psychological thriller. I’ve read books with plenty of bad guys and books with plenty of evil guys, and Jack is probably in the top ten on both lists. Ms. Paris provides a nice little twist at the end of the story that was somewhat unexpected but pleasing nonetheless (no, I’m not going to tell you what the twist is…read the book!). The story is presented from Grace’s perspective from both the past and the present. This story contains some hot-button topics such as emotional, mental, and physical abuse, not to mention murder. The abuse isn’t presented in graphic detail, but it isn’t exactly glossed over either. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to add Behind Closed Doors to your reading list. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Paris in the future.

Read an excerpt here.

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. 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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PrintBehind Closed Doors: The most emotional and intriguing psychological suspense thriller you can't put down
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UKBehind Closed Doors

2016 Book 335: THE KEPT WOMAN by Karin Slaughter

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter 
ISBN: 9780062430212 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062430236 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781504733175 (audiobook)
ASIN: B019WVPSUO (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 20, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow

Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.

Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them. 

The author of the acclaimed standalone Pretty Girls returns with this long-awaited new novel in her bestselling Will Trent series—an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges the Georgia detective into the darkest depths of a case that just might destroy him.

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn’t belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished…and who will die soon if she isn’t found. 

Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.

But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.

Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a searing novel of love, loss, and redemption. A seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller, it marks Karin Slaughter’s triumphant return to her most popular series, sure to please new and diehard fans alike. 

Will Trent is an agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). He finally is in a relationship with a good woman, has a good relationship with his GBI partner, and is dealing with the strange supervisory/surrogate-mother deal with his boss. The only problem Will continues to have is his estranged wife, Angie Polaski…well, that and a rape case that seemed to disintegrate before his eyes in Karin Slaughter’s latest, The Kept Woman.

Will Trent has overcome many obstacles in his life. He was abused as a child and foster-child. He married at a young age to a woman that was and continues to be a bully and emotionally abusive towards him and everyone else. He has a good career and has learned to cope with his untreated dyslexia. He has a stable relationship with a mature and loving woman, Sara Linton. The only major obstacles to his happiness are finding and divorcing his estranged wife and getting the rape charges to stick against a prominent and wealthy Atlanta professional athlete. Just when Will doesn’t think his life could get any better, or worse, he’s called to a crime scene with a dead retired police officer and evidence that his estranged wife has been seriously injured, if not murdered, at the same location. Now Will, his GBI partner Faith Mitchell, his lover and newly-hired GBI pathologist Sara Linton, and his boss, Amanda Wagner, must all work around the clock to uncover why the retired police officer was murdered and where is Angie. Will they be able to find her before it’s too late or is this just another game that Angie’s playing to mess with Will’s head?

I found The Kept Woman to be a rather fast-paced and engrossing read. The only reason I put this book down was due to rapidly worsening migraine headache. Ms. Slaughter has the ability to pull me into each of stories from the first page and keep my attention to the last line on the last page. Did I like The Kept Woman? YES! This story has a lot of dark themes: physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, child prostitution, drug abuse, prostitution, rape, incest, marital abuse, dirty police officers, and murder. Added into this mix is the elite world of professional athletes and their ability to get anything covered up with the right amount of money. There are plenty of bad guys in this story, Angie Polaski, a group of professional athletes, some bad/dirty police officers, and everyone professionally associated with the professional athletes and cover-ups of their misdeeds. The Kept Woman provides stories within stories within stories and they all seemed to be tied to events in the past, some over 30 years in the making. I could go on and on about this book but I’ll simply end with Read This Book! Seriously, if you enjoy reading mystery thrillers or psychological thrillers then this is definitely a book you’ll want to read. Although this is the eighth book (tenth if you count the novellas) in the Will Trent series, it is possible to read this book and not feel as if you’ve missed out on the backstory and at the same time make you want to go back and read all of the previous books. I look forward to the next installment in this series, but while I’m waiting I’ll just have to reread the entire Will Trent series. (Yes, this series is just that good.)

Disclaimer: I received a free 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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