2017 Book 65: THE UNDATEABLE by Sarah Title

The Undateable (Librarians in Love #1) by Sarah Title 
ISBN: 9781420141832 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781420141849 (eBook)
ASIN: B01GBAG6MI (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Zebra Shout
Publication Date: February 28, 2016


One San Francisco librarian would rather check out a good romance than dare to experience it herself. Luckily, her own next chapter is full of surprises…

Melissa “Bernie” Bernard isn’t familiar with fame. After all, she works at a college library with hardly any visitors. But when a video of a marriage proposal in her stacks goes viral, it’s not the bride and groom who capture the Internet’s attention. It’s Bernie—caught rolling her eyes. Now, just as she’s ready to go into hiding and permanently bury her nose in a book, a handsome reporter appears with a proposal of his own…

If Colin Rodriguez doesn’t do something big to attract new readers, his boss will hire someone else to dole out dating advice. Determined to prove he’s an expert at romance—despite his own pitiful track record—he pitches a story: He will find dates for the undateable. Specifically, for the now-infamous, love‑hating librarian at Richmond College.

Even though Bernie doesn’t believe in happily-ever-afters, she’s not one to resist a good challenge. Yet with one disastrous date after another, she’s ready to give up. Until Colin proves he’ll do anything to find her the perfect match—even if it means putting himself up for the role…



Imagine living a quiet life as a college librarian. One day you go into work, a flash mob descends on your workplace, a co-worker is proposed to, and the only thing that comes out of this (other than the co-worker becoming engaged) is an internet meme featuring your face. That’s exactly what has happened to Melissa “Bernie” Bernard. Her quiet and somewhat reserved, and yes, somewhat stereotypical life as a librarian has been destroyed. She is now the butt of librarian jokes due to the viral “disapproving librarian” meme. If that’s not bad enough, her boss has made bookmarks and other promotional items featuring the meme to take advantage of the free publicity. The only thing left for Bernie is to take a few days off work. Happy to stay at home with her elderly neighbors and their adorable poodle, Starr, Bernie is then asked to take part in a makeover and dating project for a local online magazine. Colin Rodriguez is a journalist at women’s interest online magazine. His role is to provide the man’s point-of-view on all things female. Now Colin’s job might be on the line as the online magazine seems to want only one reporter and there’s a young journalist on staff vying for Colin’s job. Unbeknownst (great word) to most, Colin also operates an online advice blog as his alter-ego “Dear Maria.” Colin’s younger sister knows Bernie from college and before you know it, Bernie has committed to 30 dates in 30 days, a radical makeover (so long comfortable shoes), and a nosy journalist, Colin Rodriguez, tagging along documenting everything. Is it possible for Colin to find the perfect date for Bernie? Will this experience cause Bernie to turn her back on dating? Will Colin’s career be saved? Can Colin take his own advice when it comes to work, life, and love?

The Undateable is the first book in a new series, Librarians in Love, by Sarah Title. Bernie enjoys wearing comfortable clothing and shoes and doesn’t feel that women have to wear makeup in order to be considered attractive. Unfortunately, the online magazine doesn’t agree. Bernie is pushed outside of her comfort zone with a new wardrobe, new lingerie, new shoes (that she can’t walk in without falling), a new hairstyle, and makeup. You probably know this whole dating thing isn’t going to go well, but reading about the dates and the date prep is often laugh-out-loud hilarious. Both Bernie and Colin are at turning points in their lives and it’s fascinating reading about what happens next. (No, I’m not going to tell you what happens next. Read the book!) I enjoy reading romance as much as I enjoy reading mysteries and thrillers, and The Undateable was a fast-paced, engaging, and wholly enjoyable read. It’s also pretty cool that Ms. Title included her poodle Starr as a character in the novel (trust me, read the book!). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Ms. Title provides stories that are smart, sassy, and sexy. Her female characters are unapologetic (and rightfully so) in their desire to live their lives on their own terms. Her characters are easy to relate to, the stories are plausible, and the settings are the perfect complement to the storylines. Yes, the books have HEA endings, but isn’t that how romance stories are supposed to end?! If you’ve read any of Ms. Title’s previous stories, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Undateable to read as soon as possible. If you haven’t read any of Ms. Title’s previous stories what are you waiting for? Seriously, I’ve recommended them to you repeatedly. Go, grab a copy of The Undateable, and spend a few hours smiling, laughing, and falling in love with her characters and story. I look forward to reading more in the Librarians in Love series. 

Disclaimer: I received a free print copy of this book from the author for review purposes. 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.”


I enjoyed reading The Undateable by Sarah Title so much that I’m giving away one print copy. This is an international giveaway and the only limitation is that BookDepository must ship to your country (check to see if your country is listed here: http://bit.ly/2lPL3RC). This giveaway runs from 12:01 AM ET on February 28, 2017, through 12:00 AM ET on March 7, 2017. The winner will be announced within 12-24 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Please note that this prize is being sent via BookDepository and shipping times will vary. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.




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2016 Book 225: THE LIGHT OF PARIS by Eleanor Brown

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown 
ISBN: 9780399158919 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780399573736 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780735208179 (large print paperback)
ISBN: 9780451484819 (audiobook)
ASIN: B01839Q44A (Kindle version)
Publication Date: July 12, 2016 
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons


The miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.


Madeleine Bowers Spencer isn’t happy with her life or marriage. She’s unsure of what she wants in life, but she knows it isn’t this. The only thing she can think of is to return to her familial home and reassess life in The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown.

Madeleine has always felt that she was a disappointment to her mother. She didn’t want to be a society lady. She wanted to be an artist. Painting was an acceptable hobby but not a career goal according to her parents. So she put away her paints and tried her best to fit in. She even married an acceptable man just to make her mother happy. It is only after returning home while taking a “break” from her marriage that Madeleine discovers that she may not be anything like her mother, but she has a lot in common with her maternal grandmother, Margie. Reading through her grandmother’s journals, Madeleine finds that her grandmother often felt as if she didn’t fit in with polite society either, but all that changes when she gets to spend a wonderful summer in Paris. Margie gradually breaks out of her shell and lives the life she always wanted, even if it was only for summer. Can Madeleine truly follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and do the same?

The Light of Paris was a delightfully endearing and fast-paced read. The story is told in alternating voices of Madeleine in 1999 and Margie in 1924. I enjoyed the parallel stories of two women that tried their best to be something they weren’t just to please their families. Both Margie and Madeleine had dreams of who they wanted to be and both seemed to let those dreams die, Margie due to societal restrictions and Madeleine due to perceived restrictions. The Light of Paris is a story about self-discovery and awakening as much as it is about family, life, and love. If you enjoy reading stories about life, hope, and second chances, then you’ll definitely want to read The Light of Paris, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 


Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected proof/review copy of this book 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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2016 Book 204: FIRST COMES LOVE by Emily Giffin



First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
ISBN: 9780345546920 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780345546937 (ebook)
ASIN: B014NZ4SXW (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016 
Publisher: Ballantine Books


In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads. Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands. On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.  As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first. Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.


When we first meet the Garland family, they seem to be a happy family with three adult children and no major worries in the world. Then tragedy strikes and the family is torn apart rather than brought closer together. Sisters Josie and Meredith have taken totally different paths over the past fifteen years and both feel as if there is something missing in Emily Giffin’s latest, First Comes Love.

Josie Garland is the middle child and can’t live up to her eldest brother’s legacy of being super smart and kind. Her younger sister, Meredith, is making her own way in life by studying theater arts. When we meet Josie and Meredith, they are in their early twenties and still searching for their paths in lives. Their lives, indeed their entire family is turned upside down after the tragic death of their older brother in a car accident. Meredith graduates with a degree in Theater Arts but opts for law school. Josie graduates with a degree in education and becomes a first-grade teacher. Meredith winds up married to her brother’s best friend and the mother of a four-year-old. Josie is living with her best friend, her male best friend, and still single. As Josie gets closer to her 38th birthday, she decides to pursue motherhood even if it means being a single mother. Meredith is having her own mid-life crisis, and wonders if she made the right decision to marry her husband and if she should stay married. She doesn’t want more children and her husband wants at least two or three more. Both Josie and Meredith are dealing with a lot of stressors and sadly, they don’t have one another to turn to as they epitomize sibling rivalry even in their adult relationship. Just when it seems like their relationship might wind up getting better, a secret is revealed that might tear them apart forever.  

I found First Comes Love to be a fast-paced and engrossing read. I was intrigued by the relationship between Josie and Meredith, as they both seemed to constantly find fault with one another no matter the situation. The relationship between these two sisters was probably more realistic than not, as not all siblings like each other even if they do love one another. As someone that has had to deal with the death of a sibling in adulthood, I was interested to see how the evolution/devolution of the family would play out. I liked both Josie and Meredith, especially Josie’s extroverted nature compared to Meredith’s introverted nature. Although Josie and Meredith don’t seem to get along due to their entrenched sibling rivalry, jealousy seems to be at the heart of their problems with each other. First Comes Loves spans only a few months in the adult lives of Josie and Meredith, but there’s a lot crammed into those few months. Ms. Giffin has crafted a story that provides tragedy, turmoil, drama, hints of romance, and a sense of hopefulness throughout it all. If you want to read a realistic story about siblings and family that has a hopeful ever after thread woven throughout, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of First Comes Love. I recommend waiting until you have the weekend to binge read this book because you won’t want to put it down.


Disclaimer: I received a print advanced reader copy of this book 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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2016 Book 199: FIELD OF GRAVES by J.T. Ellison

Field of Graves by J.T. Ellison 
ISBN: 9780778318927 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781459294165 (ebook)
ASIN: B016UEJGM2 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: June 14, 2016 
Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA


All of Nashville is on edge with a serial killer on the loose. A madman is trying to create his own end-of-days apocalypse and the cops trying to catch him are almost as damaged as the killer. Field of Graves reveals the origins of some of J.T. Ellison’s most famous creations: the haunted Lieutenant Taylor Jackson; her blunt, exceptional best friend, medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens; and troubled FBI profiler Dr. John Baldwin. Together, they race the clock and their own demons to find the killer before he claims yet another victim. This dark, thrilling and utterly compelling novel will have readers on the edge of their seats, and Ellison’s fans will be delighted with the revelations about their favorite characters. 


I became hooked on the Taylor Jackson series after reading All The Pretty Girls back in 2007. Taylor Jackson is a kick-ass cop with a host of personal problems. It’s been fascinating to watch her journey as a police officer, not to mention follow her romance with Dr. John Baldwin. I won’t even get into all of the drama with Taylor’s BFF, Samantha Owens… Guess you can tell that I really enjoy this series (Thank you, Ms. Ellison, for crafting such amazing characters and storylines). Needless to say, when I found out there was going to be a prequel released, providing us with more of the backstories for Taylor, John, and Samantha I was beyond delighted. After reading Field of Graves, I’m even more enamored with this series. Yes, there is murder, mayhem, and mystery involved, but we also get to see a more fragile side to both Taylor and John, as well witness the beginning of their romantic relationship. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Taylor Jackson series, start with Field of Graves and you’ll be hooked. If you’re already a fan of the series, then this is one book you want won’t to miss. 


Download a suspense fiction sampler that includes a chapter from Field of Graves.


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book 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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2016 Book #63: TRY NOT TO BREATHE by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
ISBN: 9781101885864 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101885871 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780399567605 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00ZNE44F0 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 23, 2016  
Publisher: Ballantine Books


Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.   



Alex Dale is a down-on-her-luck freelance journalist searching for a story. While researching an article about patients in a long-term care facility, she comes across Amy Stevenson. Amy was brutally attacked fifteen years and left for dead; she’s now in a vegetative state. Alex decides that Amy’s story might be just the ticket to get her back in the journalism game in Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon.

Alex is a thirty-year-old alcoholic. She’s lost her job, her husband, and all of her friends. The best Alex can hope for is writing an investigative article about Amy Stevenson with an eye on solving this cold case. In an effort to gain insight into this cold case, Alex contacts her ex-husband, a police officer, to obtain information from the police files. Alex begins to dig into Amy’s past and attempts to befriend Amy’s former boyfriend, her stepfather, her biological father, and her girlfriends. Her digging reveals that Amy may not have been raped but involved in a flirtation with someone other than her boyfriend, a flirtation that devolved into a physical attack after consensual sex. While Alex digs into the story and sits with Amy, Amy’s ex-boyfriend, Jacob, is dealing with a host of personal problems. Jacob is now married and his wife is expecting their first child. He’s never told her about his first girlfriend or the fact that he visits the hospital and sits with the long-term care patients. As a result of his lack of disclosure, his wife thinks he’s having an affair and kicks him out of their home. While Jacob deals with his personal issues, Alex thinks she’s managing her issues. She thinks that she can manage her addiction by limiting her drinking until after noon each day. She’s become incontinent and suffers from blackouts, insomnia, and paranoia. It isn’t until her doctor tells her that if she continues she’ll be dead within a year that she realizes she must make some changes. Will she have time to continue her investigation before her health problems become irreversible? Can Jacob confide the truth to his wife before it’s too late for his marriage? Is it possible that Alex and Jacob can finally discover the identity of Amy’s attacker?

Before I go any further, I have to say this, Read This Book! Yes, I know I routinely tell you to read books. What can I say other than I’ve been fortunate to read a host of excellent books this year and Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon definitely falls into that category. No, I’m not going to compare this to other hot mystery-suspense or psychological suspense reads that have come out over the past few years. I will say that Ms. Seddon has crafted a hauntingly beautiful story about two women that are suffering long-term adverse effects of poor decisions that I enjoyed from the first word to the very last. Amy’s decision was to cheat on her boyfriend and trust someone based on his looks alone. (Amy was young and is by no means responsible for her attack. The older guy is wholly responsible for his actions toward Amy.) Alex’s decision was to continue drinking after losing everything that was important in her life. I enjoyed the different perspectives gained as the story is told by Amy, Jacob, and Alex. I can’t tell you any more without spoiling the story, but if you enjoy psychological suspense reads then you’ll definitely want to add Try Not to Breathe to your TBR list. Even if you’re not sure about psychological suspense reads, you’ll still want to add Try Not to Breathe to your TBR list. Make sure you have a few hours to read because this story is going to suck you in. 


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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2016 Book #64: THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton
ISBN: 9781101990261 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101990469 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780147525178 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00Z8VT8AE (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016  
Publisher: New American Library


When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen… But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore. There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.  Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.  The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…   



In 2006, a young toddler girl, Bella, disappeared from her front yard. The police investigation zeroed in on several suspects, including Glen Taylor. Now it’s 2010 and Glen has died, reporters and the police are trying to get Glen’s wife, Jean, to talk about what she knows in The Widow by Fiona Barton.

Jean met Glen Taylor when she was only seventeen years of age. She married him at age nineteen and fell into a life where Glen molded her into his version of the ideal, subservient wife. When Glen is questioned in a child abduction case and then arrested, Jean stands by her husband. Initially, she believes him when he says the pornographic material accidentally made its way onto his computer. He then confesses to being addicted to pornography. Throughout the arrest, trial and years after, Jean has stood by her man and protected his secrets. Now that Glen is dead, it might be time to release those secrets. Enter Kate Waters, a reporter determined to learn as much as she can about the wife of the man many assumed to be a pedophile and a child murderer. Kate appears to befriend Jean in an effort to get her to reveal all. Everyone wants to know why she stayed in a marriage with such a monster. People want to know if she knew what her husband did and if so, why she didn’t turn him in. Can Kate get Glen’s widow to talk and if so, will she finally be able to tell the world what happened to that missing child?

The Widow is a fast-paced and captivating read. Jean comes across as an unwitting victim of her husband and now she’s a victim of journalists . . . or is she? The more I read, the more questions I had about Jean, Glen, and the missing child. Jean comes across as a sympathetic character and it was easy to feel for her. Glen is highly skilled at manipulating his wife and the truth. He’s a man that is never at fault for any of his actions, and there’s always someone else to blame. This story delves into some dark areas, such as child pornography, pornography, and pedophilia without being gruesome or providing graphic details. The Widow is much more than a behind-the-scenes look at a dysfunctional marriage, it is a taut psychological suspense-thriller that provides enough twists and turns that the reader is never quite sure where or how the story is going to end. I enjoyed the gradual build of tension within the story. This story is told alternating between the past and the present, and I especially enjoyed how the author went back to the year of the crime and gradually moved forward to the present. Did I enjoy reading The Widow? Yes, so much so that even though I was dealing with another migraine episode I couldn’t wait to get back to this book. I didn’t read it one sitting simply because of the migrainus interruptus and that was the only reason I set this book down. Yes, you guessed it, I encourage you to grab a copy of The Widow to read. Reader be warned, if you start reading this in the evening you’ll probably end up reading all night.  

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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2016 Book 57: GIRL IN THE DARK by Marion Pauw

Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw
ISBN: 9780062424792 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062424815 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781511358408 (Audio MP3-CD)
ASIN: B00Y889ZLK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


An award-winning, internationally bestselling author makes her American debut with this taut, riveting domestic drama—a twisting tale of psychological suspense about a long-lost brother convicted of a horrifying crime and a sister’s fight to clear his name

A  single mother and lawyer, Iris has a demanding boss, a young son with behavior issues, and a judgmental, aloof mother. Just a few years ago, Iris was confident and in control. But every day since Aaron’s birth, she’s condemned herself for being a failure—a bad parent who cannot cope with a difficult child. Though she loves her son fiercely, she despairs over his intense outbursts, which are becoming increasingly harder to control.

One thing that keeps Aaron calm is the large aquarium in Iris’s mother’s home. Iris has never understood why Agatha, usually so detached, would keep an oversize tank filled with exotic tropical fish, and of course, her mother won’t say—until an incident involving one of the fish leads Iris to make a shocking discovery.

She has an older brother. His name is Ray.

Why did her mother hide Ray’s existence from her? Did her late father know? And why does Agatha still refuse to say anything about Ray?

Curious about this sibling she has never known, Iris begins to search for long-buried truths. What she learns surprises—and horrifies—her. Her older brother is autistic—and in a hospital for the criminally insane for brutally murdering his neighbor and her little girl.

When she meets Ray, she meets a man who looks heartbreakingly like her own son. A man who is devoted to his tropical fish and who loves baking bread. A man whose naïveté unnerves her. There is no question that Ray is odd and obsessive, unable to communicate like the rest of us. But is he really a killer—”The Monster Next Door,” as the media dubbed him—a beast who committed a brutal murder because of a broken heart?  

Told in the alternating voices of Ray and Iris, Girl in the Dark is a compulsive, page-turning thriller about lies, murder, and the tenacity of a family determined to stay together, even as they are pulled apart at the most vulnerable seams.   



Iris Kastelein is a single mother and a lawyer. Iris loves her mother and is grateful that she helps her with her young son. Iris knows that mother is secretive, but she has no idea that the secret her mother has kept all these years is an older half-brother. Now she must uncover the secrets of her brother’s life and murder conviction in Girl in the Dark by Marion Pauw.

Iris wouldn’t classify her mother as unloving because she obviously shows her love to her grandson. Even though she’s been supportive of Iris throughout the years, Iris knows that she doesn’t really understand her mother and the rationale for her aloof manner. It isn’t until she’s house-sitting while her mother is on vacation that Iris uncovers one of her mother’s secrets, an older child that she gave up to the state. Iris’s new sibling is 15 years older and has been convicted of murdering his neighbor and her young daughter. He’s been institutionalized, first in prison and then in a mental facility since the crime occurred. Iris is determined, despite her mother’s objections, to meet her brother Ray and then look into appealing his conviction. Iris must also contend with a fractious client accused of molesting a minor on film, a boss that expects her to keep her client happy at all costs, and the ongoing issues with her seemingly out-of-control three-year-old son, Aaron. 

Iris soon learns that her brother Ray was sent away at an early age, but had a decent life as a baker and owner of a saltwater aquarium, the very same aquarium now in her mother’s home. Although Ray seems prone to violent outbursts, he also seems quite gentle and incapable of subterfuge or true violence towards another person. The more Iris digs into Ray’s case, the more confused she becomes, as there is little physical evidence and Ray’s comments can be viewed as declarations of guilt and innocence. Both Iris and Ray seem to be struggling with their ability to connect to others and one another. Iris struggles with her ability to be a good parent to her son, as well as her ability to be a good daughter to her mother. Ray struggles to relate to everyone and only wants to be a part of a family. Once Iris understands that Ray is on the autistic spectrum, it helps to explain his past and present behavior. Is this enough for an appeal? Unfortunately, the more questions Iris answers the more questions are raised? How far is too far when it comes to helping family? Will Iris be able to decide whether some secrets should never be uncovered?

I found Girl in the Dark to initially be a somewhat confusing read, primarily because it was told in alternating voices of Iris and Ray and there didn’t seem to be any connection between these two characters. (Of course, the migraine headache I was dealing with that day might have had a lot to do with the confusion.) Once their connection was revealed, the confusion seemed to dissipate and the story seemed to move much quicker. Even with the minor confusion at the beginning of the story, I found this to be a fast-paced and quick read. I liked both Iris and Ray, but can’t say the same for their mother. Ms. Pauw has crafted a story that builds on the intrigue and takes several interesting twists and turns before arriving at the conclusion. No, I won’t tell you what happens . . . read the story for yourself! What I will say is that if you enjoy psychological suspense, stories about dysfunctional families, or twisted endings, then you’ll definitely want to read Girl in the Dark. Did I enjoy reading Girl in the Dark? Yes, so much so that I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Pauw in the future.

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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 Girl in the Dark: A Novel

Girl in the Dark: A Novel

Girl in the Dark: A Novel

2016 Book 46: THE QUALITY OF SILENCE by Rosamund Lupton

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton 
ISBN: 9781101903674 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781101903681 (ebook)
ASIN: B00XST7IEG (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: Crown Publishing 


On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours, they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze 

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby’s father.

Traveling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.  



Imagine you’ve married your college sweetheart. You have a beautiful daughter and she is incredibly smart. You’re an astrophysicist and your husband is a wildlife biologist and film-maker. Now imagine your husband has left the United Kingdom to film in northern Alaska. You and your daughter have traveled thousands of miles to spend the winter holidays in Alaska with him. You arrive only to be told that your husband is dead in a freak accident. This is the foundation for The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton.

Yasmin had a troubled childhood, but channeled her frustrations into her school work and has become an astrophysicist. She dated Matt in college, and even though she never truly believed he loved or saw her for who she truly is, she married him. Their daughter, Ruby, is deaf and an extremely intelligent child that is mainstreamed into the regular school system at Yasmin’s insistence. Yasmin doesn’t want her daughter to ever feel like an outsider without a voice and strongly encourages Ruby to use her verbal skills. Ruby is quite insistent that by using sign language she is actually using her voice, just not the voice her mother wants her to use. Matt wants Ruby to be happy and fully supports her use of sign language. Yasmin, Matt, and Ruby are quite the happy family until Matt goes off to Alaska and appears to fall for a woman there. Yasmin is incensed and hurt. She also knows that she has to confront Matt face-to-face, not on a phone or via Skype. After arriving in Alaska, Yasmin is told that Matt is dead. Neither Yasmin nor Ruby is willing to accept this proclamation. Yasmin only recourse is to head north and find Matt. She tries to find transportation to take them to northern Alaska and ultimately persuades an independent trucker to give them a ride north. When the trucker suffers a stroke, Yasmin commandeers his truck to continue their trek. She has to fight the elements, namely a massive storm coming in and below freezing temperatures, as well as driving in unfamiliar territory and a massive vehicle for the first time. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears that someone is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure Yasmin and Ruby don’t make it to their destination. Can Yasmin and Ruby beat the clock, the weather, and their nemesis to make it north? Will they ever find out what has happened to Matt?

I found The Quality of Silence to be a fast-paced, engrossing, and enjoyable read. There were parts of the story that strained credulity, such as Yasmin being able to drive a tractor trailer with a massive load in unfamiliar territory during the middle of a snowstorm in frigid temperatures. But once I let that go (people can do amazing things in trying situations), I was able to fully enjoy the story. There are good guys, not-so-good guys, and really bad guys in this story. Unfortunately, the bad guys seem to be wearing gray hats most of the time so it is unclear who’s bad and who’s not (one of the many things that I liked about the story). Ruby is probably my favorite character. She’s quite comfortable with her deafness and proud that she’s different. One of her differences is her synesthesia or ability to see and taste words. Ruby provides us with brief definitions of words based on what words see and taste like to her and these are interspersed throughout the story. Ms. Lupton provides some wonderful assistive devices for Ruby and these come in quite handy over the course of the story (read it and you’ll understand). The Quality of Silence is a taut psychological thriller that provides as many twists and turns as the road leading Yasmin and Ruby to northern Alaska. The wintry environs of Alaska provide a beautiful if somewhat hostile background for the story and is just as important as the primary characters. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers or are seeking something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Quality of Silence.



Read an excerpt from The Quality of Silence here.

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 Quality of Silence

The Quality of Silence

2016 Book 42: NO ORDINARY LIFE by Suzanne Redfearn

No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn
ISBN: 9781455533909 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781455533893 (ebook)
ASIN: B014E0E9WQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 2, 2016 
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing


Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood. Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know who to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives. 



Faye Martin is a single-mom to three children. Her husband walked out and hasn’t been seen for several months. She struggles to do what is right and provide for her family, but her back is against the wall when her son’s school calls in social services. After relocating to LA, her youngest daughter becomes a viral video sensation and Hollywood comes knocking and rocks her family’s world in No Ordinary Life by Suzanne Redfearn.

Faye became pregnant and a wife at age 19. Her husband, Sean, is a long-haul trucker that spent more time on the road than at home. Now that he’s gone, she has to work and juggle doing everything possible for her children. After her youngest, four-year-old Molly, becomes an internet sensation, is signed to appear in a national television advertisement and then to act in a nationally-syndicated television show, she thinks things will be easier. Unfortunately, Faye finds out that life is harder than ever before. She is caught between the Hollywood moneymaking machine and making the right choices for her young child. Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, her estranged husband reappears with his hand out for a share of the money. A stroke of luck on the set one day means that she now has two children in show business, her youngest daughter and her eight-year-old son. Her time is spent dragging them to appearances, rehearsals, and filming, and her twelve-year-old daughter is getting lost in the shuffle. Now she is dealing with deranged fans, her greedy ex-husband, her increasingly wild tween daughter, and the production team for the television show. Can she stand up for her children without jeopardizing their careers? Can she make the right choices for everyone without hurting anyone?

I found No Ordinary Life to be a rather quick, enjoyable, and easy read. Although I found the scenarios interesting and fell in love with the precocious Molly and her endearing brother Tom, I didn’t really like Faye, Sean or almost any of the other characters. I felt for Faye and her situation, but it seemed as if she made bad decision after bad decision and never really learned from her mistakes. It was easy to understand that she had been pulled into an environment that was completely foreign to her, but rather than seeking assistance she just continued to struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel that Faye is a bad mother, just a woman prone to making the wrong choices for the right reasons. Perhaps Faye is a little too flawed and realistic and the epitome of living a life with the notion that the “grass is always greener.” No Ordinary Life provides a fascinating glimpse, albeit fictionalized, into the life of a celebrity family. In this era of instant gratification, it isn’t possible to hide from adoring fans or the media when out in public and that can be daunting for adults, much less for children. Ms. Redfearn has crafted an engaging story that highlights the pitfalls of being a child celebrity and the hassles of being the family of a celebrity, as well as providing a bit of romance, a touch of greed, envy, petty jealousies, plenty of family drama, and more. If you enjoy reading about the behind-the-scenes life of being a celebrity, then No Ordinary Life is the perfect choice for you. Trust me, you’ll adore Molly and Tom, as well as all the drama in front of and behind the cameras.

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.”




Enter to win a print copy of No Ordinary Life courtesy of the publisher, Grand Central Publishing (thank you Grand Central Publishing) using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway runs from 12:01 AM ET on February 10, 2016 through 11:59 PM ET on February 17, 2016. The winner will be announced on February 18, 2016. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.


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No Ordinary Life

No Ordinary Life

2016 Book 40: THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson 
ISBN: 9780062105684 (hardback)
ISBN: 9780062105707 (ebook)
ASIN: B00RTL4HWA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with Southern Oral Tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.

These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter. “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”

Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.

The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.  


Paula Vauss was born in a juvenile detention center to her teenaged mother, Karen “Kai” Vauss. To say that Paula and Kai had a strange relationship is a major understatement. As an adult, Paula’s relationship with her mother consists of sending a monthly check to her mother’s postal box. Paula’s life is thrown upside down when her last check is returned with a somewhat twisted karmic message in The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson.

Paula Jane Vauss was named Kali Jai by her mother, but her maternal grandparents changed her name when completing her birth certificate. Paula knows her mother is a tad bit strange, but she has no idea about her paternity other than providing her skin color and somewhat distinctive eye-shape. Growing up with Kai was different, in that Paula never knew what their last names would be or what story her mother would create for their backstory. Paula doesn’t hate her mother, but she’s quite sure her mother is glad she’s no longer an active part of her life. In an effort to pay off the guilt she feels for one childish act of anger, Paula has spent most of her adult life sending her mother money. After receiving a note with her last check stating that her mother is dying and no longer requires her money, Paula is somewhat relieved. That relief quickly turns to worry and, in turn, causes months of anxiety and panic attacks. The panic attacks lessen somewhat when she is confronted with a half-sibling she never knew about, a brother born while her mother was in prison and given up for adoption. Just as she’s getting used to the idea of one half-sibling, she uncovers information that she may have another half-sibling. Where is this youngest sibling and where and when did Kai actually die? Can the lone wolf, diva lawyer become a loving and caring older sister? Does she even want to?

If you follow most of my reviews, you know that I generally read a book in one day and sometimes in one sitting. Well, I flew through The Opposite of Everyone in one sitting over a span of just a few hours (yes, it was just that good). Ms. Jackson has a unique way of storytelling that grabbed this reader after only a few pages into the book and I reluctantly put it down only after reading the last page. I enjoyed the way Paula’s story was told, with what can only be described as flashbacks to provide the backstory. Paula is a kick-ass diva lawyer and even that is spotlighted with a few cases throughout the story. She has a sort of, kind of, almost, maybe, not-quite love affair going on with her private investigator, Zachary Birdwine. All of the characters are distinctive, eccentric, and wholly believable, as well as relatable. Mixed into this tale of one woman’s family and a search for love and forgiveness are the Hindu myths of Kali, Ganesh, and Hanuman. You wouldn’t think a Southern fiction story mixed with Hindu myths would work, but Ms. Jackson doesn’t just make it work, she has it make perfect sense. If you enjoy stories with quirky, flawed characters or are simply looking to read a great story, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Opposite of Everyone. Did I enjoy The Opposite of Everyone? Yes, I did and I’ll have to wait a few weeks before I read it again (told you, it is that good).
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 Opposite of Everyone