Book Review – The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

Wonderful Wednesday friends! I have been going non-stop for the last week it has been very rewarding though. Sometimes those busy times are the best times, am I right?

I want to tell you about the book I just finished listening to. Have I told you all how much I love audio books? They are truly amazing and make my commute not terrible. The latest book I listened to was The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. This book brings to mind the old school Hitchcock thrillers we have all come to know and love.

Here is the summary from Amazon.

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble―and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock—an unforgettable thriller that Gillian Flynn calls “amazing.”

My review:

This story had so many twists. I loved the way the author revealed the story. It is clear as the story starts that Anna is not in a good place. The way that unfolds is a great ride.

I did not anticipate the ending at all. This was a surprise for me because usually I always guess the ending.

The general plot of the story was not new. This did not feel like anything new and exciting. It was told well but I couldn’t help feeling it had been told before.

Overall, I’m going to give this one a 📚📚📚 out of 5. If you are a super thriller fan go for it. If you are looking for something original perhaps you should pass.

What are you reading my friends?

Love and 📚,

Becky

Book Review – A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

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This Wednesday, we are talking about A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Here is the summary from Amazon.

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes.  Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

My review:

This story took me on twists and turns like I didn’t expect. As you start to sympathize with a character, you learn something new and no longer even like the character. Then, something else happens you are sympathetic to them again. I have to hand it to the author is so difficult to write characters that are likeable and unlikeable all at the same time. The flow of the story did feel very natural. As you are learning things along with Karen, there is some memory sequence but for the most part it is all unfolding in order for the reader along with the characters in the story.

You will enjoy the take on this one if you enjoy mystery novels that are pretty quick reads. I did feel like I just wanted to keep turning the page. This is one of those stories that makes me glad I like to read!

I am going to say that this one was a 📚📚📚📚📚 out of 5, for me! I enjoyed every twist and turn. I didn’t feel like the author took too many over the top liberties which I appreciate. I highly recommend this one!

Love and 📚,

Becky

Book Review – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Wonderful Wednesday friends,

I haven’t done a book review in a while, so I thought it was time. I have done a lot of traveling for work lately and this has resulted in many books being read as well as many books being listened to via audio book. One of those books that I have to tell you all about is today’s review – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.

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Here is a summary provided by Amazon:

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

My review:

This story completely sucked me in from the very first second. This was one of those stories that I chose to listen to, and I can tell you I couldn’t stop listening. I was listening on the way to and from work. I was listening as I was cooking dinner. I was listening as I mowed the lawn. Needless to say, this book was amazing. Some of my favorite things were the fact that Michelle shares all of the story. She takes us on the journey of her investigation from day one. She doesn’t miss anything about the story. I appreciate that she really wants us to understand her passion for the investigation.

The story in itself is very compelling. I won’t lie friends, serial killers are fascinating. There is just something about understanding the mind of someone that has the capacity to commit such crimes. I think that Michelle was very honest about her addiction to this case. She recognized the obsession and she didn’t deny it. The way that she gained the trust of former investigators and others, just shows that her commitment was real. People can recognize someone that just wants the story and someone that actually cares about the story. I don’t want to give any spoilers about the story or quote any favorite lines. I will tell you this, if you are interested in True Crime at all and have not read this book yet, you need to. I will also say that Michelle was a force to be reckoned with and I am sure that not only her family but the world is less bright without her.

Listening to the story and how she puts forth her heart into the story, made me wish I knew her. I would have wanted to be her friend. I am also certain that I am definitely not cool enough to have held her attention for more than a minute. Here is my wish for all of my readers, let your curiosity thrive. Go forth and get the answers my friends. Never stop trying and if you have a dream, fight with all you got for it.

This story and this author get a 📚📚📚📚📚 out of 5. Read it friends or listen to it. The voice actor that reads the story does an excellent job of injecting Michelle’s emotion into the words. You are sucked in to the story like she is telling you directly about her journey.

Love and 📚,

Becky

Book Review – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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Wonderful Wednesday reader friends! I hope that you are all having a fantastic week. I have been reading a lot lately and I will be spending a lot of time updating you all on some great reads over the next few weeks.

This week we are talking about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Have you heard about this book? Perhaps you have heard about or even seen the movie of the same name. It is currently on Netflix.

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My thoughts:

This story captured me in the first sentences. The style is a series of correspondence that takes you on a journey with the characters. I found it a very intriguing take on life after World War II. How each of the characters was affected by the horrible war, is told in such a unique and interesting way. Juliet is such a likable character. She leads this cast of unique individuals on a stunning journey of growth and love. Each of the different members of the Potato Peel Society brings their own special flair to the story. I can not tell you all how much I have loved this story. By use of the correspondence as the way to tell the story, everything flowed so easily. Each of these characters is searching for their own love and security. I found myself dreaming about writing letters more often as I read this story. Maybe this little blog is my way of writing a letter to each of you. Does that count? Now I need to find myself a pen pal.

Overall, this was an amazing read. Full of laughter, drama, tragedy and of course, love. I am giving this for sure ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ out of 5. If you would like to purchase the book here is a link on Amazon.

I am going to watch the movie and share my review of that as well very soon. Also, I need to seriously find a pen pal!

Love and 📖,

Becky

Book Review – The Murder House James Patterson and David Ellis

The Murder House

Wonderful Wednesday Reader Friends,

So here is a little secret, I don’t always “read” these books. I have a decent commute every day (around 45 minutes each way) so I will often listen to audio books. I do not subscribe to Audible or anything like that, I use an app called OverDrive. This app is connected to my local library and I can “check-out” books to read through my Kindle or audio books to listen to through the OverDrive app on my cell phone, hands free of course people. I know this app is available via iTunes, not sure about other services like GooglePlay, etc.

Sometimes, I start to listen to a book and a stop for whatever reason. Maybe I didn’t get through it and the borrowing period ended, there is always a reason something didn’t get done. Anyway, as I started to listen to this story, it was very familiar. I was about a chapter in and realized I had started this before. I didn’t however, remember enough to make me want to stop listening and I am so glad that I didn’t. I never finished because the ending was a complete surprise to me.

The book I am talking about is of course The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis.

Summary (via James Patterson’s website)

Detective Jenna Murphy comes to the Hamptons to solve a murder-but what she finds is more deadly than she could ever imagine.

Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, former New York City cop Jenna Murphy hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself, as Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion’s history is much darker than even the town’s most salacious gossips could have imagined.

As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth-before the Murder House claims another victim. Full of the twists and turns that have made James Patterson the world’s #1 bestselling writer, The Murder House is a chilling, page-turning story of murder, money, and revenge.

My take:

This story starts off from the very first sentence with action. You are pulled along for the ride whether you want to be or not. If I were reading this book physically, I have no doubt it would be a page turner. I know that I struggled to stop the audio when I would get to the office each morning or when I got home each evening. The characters are all flawed enough to be very believable. One character that we are introduced to, rather quickly is Noah Walker. The ups and downs of this character are enough to be a novel in itself. Jenna is one of those characters that you feel for, but at the same time you have moments where you want to grab her by the shoulders and shake her.

I enjoyed this story from start to finish. The town in the Hamptons is as much a character as the people in the story. You learn about the area and how it affects the comings and goings of all of the characters. I think that with this one James Patterson has outdone himself. I was very impressed by the speed of the action as well. For a novel that is 451 pages, you truly get 451 pages of interest. There did not appear to be a lull to me. Also, while I will not give spoilers, I will say that the ending left me satisfied. There were no holes that were left to annoy me when I  finished. It was a good wrapped up story.

I am going to give this read 🥐🥐🥐🥐🥐 out of 5 croissants. This is a grab a cup of coffee with a croissant, that turns into a glass of tea with your lunch, and a glass of wine after dinner kind of read. You won’t be able to put it down.

Sadly, I don’t have an author interview to go along with this review. I do have some things in the works though, so please keep checking back with me friends!

Love and 📚,

Becky

Author Interview – Mike Wells

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Wonderful Wednesday my brainy amazing readers! I am so excited to share this interview with you all. I came across Mike Wells on Twitter many many years ago.  He went to Vanderbilt, always a Nashville connection my friends. Most importantly he was just wonderful. So friendly and real, I will admit I geek out a little bit when an author or actor or anyone I admire really responds to a message I send.

Here is a link to his Twitter so that you can also enjoy his wit and banter! He was giving away a free copy of his book and well I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I went for it. I read some of his stuff and well just really loved it.

I thought I should finally share this goodness with all of my friends. You can find my review for Book One of the Lust, Money & Murder series here. Yes, you can look forward to more reviews. I really love this guys stuff. As I mentioned before, he is so kind and quiet responsive so it only slightly surprised me when he honored me with taking some time to answer my questions about him, his life, and his books. Here it is:

RGR – Where is your favorite place to write?

Mike Wells (MW) – My favorite place to write is outside by the sea—it’s very relaxing and inspiring.  But there are other factors that are more important, such as being comfortable.  If it’s too cold, hot, windy, or there are too many flies and mosquitoes, etc., it’s better to be indoors.  With two young kids (8 months and 2.5 years), I pretty much have to snatch any time I can find and this forces me to write anywhere and everywhere.  I have a large phone and wireless keyboard which I do a lot of my writing on, highly portable.

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RGR – Who is your favorite character from literature (your creation or other)?

MW – If I named one of my own I would feel like I was shamelessly promoting my own work in this interview, which I actually have no problem doing, but I’ll say Hannibal Lecter.  Most of my favorite characters are villains, not heroes.  I love Hannibal because he’s erudite and sophisticated yet so disgusting at the same time.  Also, he has a black sense of humor.

RGR – Where is your favorite place to take a holiday?

MW – I live on the beach year round, so my favorite place to take a holiday is a big city like London or New York.  I love to go to those two cities in particular because I enjoy Broadway and West End plays. I love seeing top notch actors perform on stage, especially my favorite movie actors. I’ve seen Damian Lewis, Elizabeth Moss, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito, Rob Lowe, David Suchet, Kiera Knightly, John Goodman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and more in various plays.  I believe writers can learn a lot about how to create good drama just from observing these pros in their element.

RGR – Do you have any interesting rituals associated with your writing process?

MW – Definitely.  The quality of my writing depends highly on the T-shirt I happen to be wearing when I’m sitting at the screen.  For example, if I’m writing action scenes, I wear my AC/DC T-shirt.  If I’m writing tense, frightening scenes, I wear my NOTHING CAN SCARE ME – I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS shirt.  If I’m doing heavy research or writing technical explanations, I wear my SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT- WANTED DEAD-AND-ALIVE shirt.  You get the idea.

(This might be my favorite question and answer, of any interview!)

RGR – You write suspense and with a suspenseful undertone to all of your work (my opinion), what is next in store for you?

MW – My main focus will be to continue to develop the Lust, Money & Murder series because that’s the most popular series I have, and keeping my readers happy is my number one priority.  I’m working on the fourteenth LM&M book right now and see no end to the series in sight. It’s somewhat of a challenge to keep from repeating myself, but I don’t really seem to have that much trouble with it.  If ideas for future books feel repetitive to me, I just discard them and come up with more. I will definitely continue on with other series (Wild Child and Baby Talk, for example) but those have to take a back seat for financial reasons—I’m a professional author and I make my living writing books.

RGR – Part of the first book (Lust) is based in Bulgaria. Have you been there? Why did you choose that location? Where did you learn Russian to use in the books?

MW – I chose to set that part of the book in Sofia, Bulgaria for several reasons.  First, I visited the country once and its better to write about a setting from first-hand experience.  Second, I wanted a remote-seeming place (to Western readers) that would probably be seen as an undesirable European location for a government job post, compared to a more “glamorous” place like Paris or Rome. Third, those glamorous locations are grossly overused in international thrillers, almost cliches — I wanted to choose a less known location that readers could learn something about and perhaps be pleasantly surprised, as Elaine was. The posting there was intended as punishment for her, yet it turned out to be a delightful, relaxed place where she also met the love of her life. About the Russian language bits used in my books, I speak basic conversational Russian because I studied it at one point for work. My wife is fluent (bi-lingual in English and Russian), so she checks everything I’m not sure about, which is most of it!

I want to thank Mike for taking the time to answer all of my questions. He is really just the best. His novels are something that anyone into suspense or strong female characters, should absolutely read. I would highly recommend that you check out his website here.  He is great about keeping up his website and making sure you know the latest and greatest that is going on with him and his next fabulous book.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I do. Also, if you think of any questions, you would like me to ask, please let me know!

Love in Reading,

Becky

Book Review – Lust, Money & Murder

New Design LM&M Books 1, 2 & 3 with Amazon

Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells

Summary provided by Amazon:

Born in the worst suburb in Pittsburgh, Elaine Brogan is bright, beautiful and bold. When her father is falsely arrested for passing counterfeit $100 bills, Elaine vows to become a Secret Service agent and track down the man responsible. After barely surviving the arduous Secret Service Training Academy in Laurel, Maryland, she is transferred to bleak and blustery Great Falls, Montana. But things do not go as planned, and Elaine soon finds herself betrayed and thrown into an adventure that takes her halfway around the world, from dark and mysterious Sofia, Bulgaria, to Moscow Russia, and finally, to Milan, Italy. In the end, will Elaine find the love and happiness she truly seeks…or will she turn to a life of obscene wealth, power and corruption?

Book 1 – Lust

Elaine Brogan is quite the character. She is introduced to us as a precocious child. She is the light of her father’s life and it is very clear by everything he does. Elaine’s journey takes her so many places. One of the things I have enjoyed most (at least in the first book), is the fact that we get to experience so many different places through Elaine’s eyes. It always impresses me when a male author can capture such a strong female spirit. Mike Wells does this in spades.

The first book ends in Sofia, Bulgaria. I am excited to go to the next locations Russia and Italy. Through the story, you find yourself cheering for Elaine in so many different respects. Not only do we want her to find love, get her revenge and finally live her life, but she is just a real person that is likeable. I think one of the things about this agent going after the bad guy story that I really enjoy is that although she may have some talents as far as her job is concerned, Elaine comes across as a very real person. She is average in every way other than her skills. The ability to make her relate-able helps to push the story forward.

Nick LaGrange is introduced around the time we get to Bulgaria. In the description it describes Sofia, Bulgaria as dark and mysterious but I am applying that description to Nick. How is he going to play in Elaine’s life? What secrets is he keeping? The best part of Mike Well’s writing is that he keeps it interesting and keeps you on edge, just waiting for the next line, the next chapter and the next book. I plan to continue to read this series. I will do a follow-up review for Book 2.

In the meantime, if I have interested you in checking out this book, please feel free to take advantage of the deals on Amazon. Click here to order your own copy.

Also, please check back next week, when we have an interview with the author. Mr. Mike Wells has honored us with his time. Here is a link to his website as well. Check out all the other great books that Mr. Wells has to offer. He is quickly making himself a king of suspense.

Overall, the first part of this book is a ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️out of 5 cappuccinos. Check it out, you guys! Really, get a cup of your favorite coffee and curl up to enjoy this tale of Lust, Money & Murder!

Love and 📚,

Becky