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

Entertainment Lately – Horse Races

Wonderful Wednesday my friends! I try to keep these Wednesday’s to book reviews or movie reviews. Today I am changing it up and just telling you about something we recently did and it was so very fun.

Yep we went to the horse races! We live near Kentucky and there is a track that has races for a little over a week a year.

My boys matched on accident. They are so stinking cute and they love each other. It’s pretty awesome watching them bond!

My horse didn’t win. Not a single race. But well it was a blast. Here’s some more pics and a selfie!

Here’s my suggestion to you…try something new. I’m sure you can find something in a town near you. It doesn’t take much effort and you could find a really great activity to do as a family!

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

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

Thursday Story-Telling The Intervention Chapter 8

Britney was still sitting at her boss’ desk when the room suddenly became darker and began to fill with smoke. She couldn’t see anything. She was very afraid and started to wonder if this was it. Was she finally dying? Had she been floating long enough?

“Britney” she heard someone whisper her name. Who was calling her?

“Britney!”

She suddenly recognized the voice. It was her mother. “Mom! Where are you? I can’t see you.”
“I am here Brit. I need you to just listen, OK?”

“OK” her voice was shaking and she knew that she must be dead. Her mother was hear to take her with her.

“Brit you are hearing me, because you are finally able to listen now. I have been trying to reach you for quite sometime, young lady. You have been headed down a bad path. I know that you have been having problems with Anthony, and you don’t feel like you can go forward and you certainly can’t go backwards. It was time for me to step in. I didn’t want it to be this way, but your head is too full with the fighting, worrying about work, and other things that aren’t important that you couldn’t hear me. I didn’t want to have to get your attention this way but it was necessary.”

“The car accident? That was you? Mom, you wouldn’t put my life in danger.”

“No honey, the car accident was not me. That was you not paying attention; the coma was my doing. I can not let you wake up until I have told you what you need to know.”

“I am not dead?”

“No, it is not your time. You have a lot of work left to do. Part of that work has to be done with a very special person by your side.”

“Who? Who is going to be by my side?”

“Anthony.”

“What? Mom we fight all the time. I love him but I don’t think that we are going to stay together. I can’t continue this way and I know that he can’t either.”

“Well honey he can’t, but you have to fix it. You two are going to have children that are meant to do great things in this world. It is very important that you fix this. You love him and you can get through this.”

“But we drive each other crazy. I wouldn’t want to bring children into that. How could they possibly end up great? They would end up more messed up then me and Anthony individually.”

“We all have our struggles and we all have our special qualities that make us unique. No one is perfect and we have to love each other for our hearts not for our annoying habits. You have to remember it is OK to not like everything about each other. You just have to remember that you love each other. You are not messed up either, but apart you would be.”

“I do love him. I do want to fix things. Can you tell me what happened? Can you tell me where it went wrong? What can I do to make it better?”

“I can’t give you all the answers. I have already told you more than I should have. But I can tell you this, the next time you get mad at him or one of his little habits makes you want to yell at him, just remember how you feel at this exact moment knowing that you can’t hold him and let him know how much you love him. Remember what it is like knowing that you can’t have his arms around you and know that you are going to be safe. Is that something you could truly live without?”

“No, I don’t think that I could. I couldn’t stand to be away from him for another minute. I want to be with him, I want to be with him right now actually.” Tears started to fall down Britney’s face. She could feel them. She had to be waking up. She had to be.

“Britney, you won’t always hear me and you won’t be able to see me, but I love you and I will always be with you in your hear. If you are really quiet, you will hear me. I will help you through this. Make sure that you pray a lot and keep Anthony close and remember that a career that brings personal accomplishment will never equal the feeling in your heart that comes from your family and those that love you, regardless of your title at work.”

“I will Mom. I will. I love you so much. Can’t I see you before you? Can’t I have a hug? Just one last time.”

“I am sorry Brit. I can’t. I am not able, but believe me, honey I am here for you I promise.”

“But I am not ready for you to go. I need to know more. I need your help. Will he forgive me for everything?”

“When you wake up, you will know how to fix it. I am sure of it.”

The smoke began to clear and Britney was floating around the corridors of the office building. She went to her desk and sat in her chair. It was strange, she couldn’t really feel the chair as she had felt Kathy’s but she was sitting in it. She looked at the pictures on her desk. She saw pictures of her friends and their kids. She found almost too many pictures of Anthony and her, they were so happy in all of them. She knew that her mother had been right, and she was going to fix things with him. She was going to make it better as she looked at the pictures of them together on vacations and during holidays, she knew that she could fix it. She knew that whatever was supposed to come of them and their children, it would happen.

Author Interview – Michele Campbell

I recently reviewed It’s Always the Husband, author Michele Campbell. You can check out that review here. Michele was kind enough to join our book club for some discussion about the book as well as some personal questions. She also was kind enough to let me share that interview with you all here.

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RGR (RealGirlReview) – Where is your favorite place to work/write?

MC (Michele Campbell) – I write in a home office or else in libraries. I need to be free of distractions. I like silence, good light, a desk and an officey sort of chair. I’m not one to write in coffee shops, in bed or lounging on the sofa.

RGR – What is your favorite vacation/relax place?

MC –  I love to travel and see the world. I prefer going to new places over returning to a favorite. My last trip was to England and Scotland.

RGR – Who is your favorite character from literature?

MC – Lily Bart from The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. She’s a tragic figure because she was too independent for the times she lived in.

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

MC – I send myself notes via email constantly then print them out every morning to update the WIP that day.

RGR – This has been my first of your novels to read, is your style consistent with suspense? Do you have a favorite style?

MC –  I’d say my style is relatively consistent with standard suspense novels except probably more character driven than most.

RGR – Your next novel is coming up, do you have a book signing tour scheduled? If so, where will we be able to meet you in person and get a signed book?

MC –  I tour virtually all the time for all my books. I do chats like this or book club skypes several times per week and am very accessible on line. IRL, I do larger marquee events when I’m asked. For example, last weekend I appeared at PopSugar Playground which was heavily featured on all my social media if you’d like to see photos. I’m on Facebook and Instagram as Michele Campbell Books, and those who would like signed copies should follow me there bc I do lots of giveaways.

RGR (Question from a bookclub member) – I really enjoyed the character development in this book, I often wonder where the profiles come from. Do you have a particular source for inspiration?

MC – Life plus imagination. I observe people in the real world, take bits and pieces as inspiration, and recombine. The characters grow and develop on their own once the writing process begins. They come to life, and I learn about them as I go.

RGR (Question from a bookclub member) – I read this book earlier this year and loved it. But it’s not as fresh in my mind as it is the other readers in this group.
What advice would you give to a young (12 1/2) aspiring writer?

MC – How exciting!! Twelve and a half is a perfect age to start writing seriously. Here’s my advice. Read all the time and read widely. Practice writing. Keep a journal. Write stories. Enter writing contests if your school offers them. Join the school paper or literary magazine. If your school doesn’t offer these opportunities, talk to a teacher about starting them. Junior high and high school are where real writers are born!

Michele was very kind to give us so much of her time. I am including a link to her website below. I hope that you will check her out. I am also including a link to a teaser video for her next book to be released. I hope that you will all check it out.

Michele Campbell Website

Teaser for A Stranger on the Beach

Love and

Becky