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JDCMustReadBooks

An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of  400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger.  Enjoy ARCs and new releases. 

 

 

 

HellBent

Hellbent (Evan Smoak) - Gregg Hurwitz

Series: Orphan X #3

By: Greg Hurwitz

ISBN: 1250119170

Publisher:  Minotaur Books

Publication Date: 1/30/2018 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars  

 

Evan Smoak, an unstoppable government assassin gone rogue returns in Gregg Hurwitz #1 international bestselling Orphan X series, HELLBENT – from revenge, bullets, and vodka his most emotional and personal yet; a riveting non-stop action thriller. 

Picking up from The Nowhere Man #2.0 Smoak is more than a legend. He is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. 

A dangerous past. Well-equipped and trained. Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and prepared as part of the Orphan Program. Evan was Orphan X. An expendable assassin who went where the U.S. Government would not and did what they could not.

Jack had fought for Evan to stay human even while teaching him to be a killer. He broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man. Eight years ago he had gone rogue. 

He helped the desperate with no place to turn. People suffering at the hands of unrepentant and vicious abusers. Now every incoming call comes to 1.855.2-Nowhere. Then it emerged through the receiver of the RoamZone. 

He always answers: “Do you need my help?”

 

 

A post shared by Judith D. Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 29, 2018 at 4:20am PST




This time, the voice on the other end was familiar. Jack Johns. Jack was the one who had plucked Evan from foster home to the inside the Department of Defense. He was the only father he had ever know. If he was calling this line, he must be in mortal danger. Indicating he must be up against what other might consider world-destroying trouble. An emotional call. 

Hurwitz cranks up the intensity, with Van Sciver, using all the assets to take out both Evan (Orphan X) and the target he is trying to protect. 

His top priority is to stamp out wayward Orphans. Anyone who has retired. Anyone who had not made the cut. Anyone who had tested questionable for compliance. The only Orphan who had ever gone rogue. The best way is to go after his handler. 

Jack gives Evan a final mission. 

Would a long-buried secret from Jack’s past lead him to Van Sciver? Hurting Jack Johns would hurt Orphan X. The Commandments. A girl. Joey. The package. Can she help? A sixteen- year-old?

Evan is determined to put a bullet through Van Sciver’s skull after his beloved father figure dies. Their history stretched back to three decades to a boys’ home in East Baltimore. Van Sciver held the keys to the kingdom and Evan was the fugitive. 

“Jack had taught Evan that the hard part wasn’t being a killer. It was staying human. He was superb at the former. And growing proficient at the latter. “

A superbly created series. Highly entertaining! Fans will delight. Will there be another upcoming book in the series? We can only hope. 

Read My Reviews:
Orphan X #1 
Buy a Bullet #1.5
Nowhere Man #2.0

A special thank you to St. Martins Press and #NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/29/Hellbent

Walking the Bones

Walking the Bones (Ryan DeMarco Mystery) - Randall Silvis

Ryan DeMarco Mystery #2

By: Randall Silvis 

ISBN: 9781492646914

Publisher: Sourcebooks 

Publication Date:  1/23/2018 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Blog Tour Jan 23

Book Giveaway Contest

Jan 15-Feb 1, 2018 

When long-buried secrets come back to the surface..

 

Ryan DeMarco returns following Two Days Gone landing on my Top Books of 2017 with a gripping follow-up from the acclaimed author, Randall Silvis — WALKING THE BONES. 

Join me Blog Tour Host Jan 23. Enter to Win Book Giveaway Contest Jan 15-Feb 1. 

The continuation of Ryan DeMarco leads Marco and his partner to an unsolved murder case of seven African American girls who went missing from 1998 and 2004. A story of things buried―memories, regrets, secrets, and bodies.

Dark hidden secrets are unraveled and exposed in this gripping psychological suspense crime mystery thriller (procedural) with a strong literary twist. The shocking conclusion will leave you gasping, with thoughts of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic Lolita. 

“The past is never past, she thought. Every second of their pasts lay gathered inside them. Every incident of their pasts had constructed their present, every cell interlocking, layer upon layer. The past is omnipresent." 

Picking up from Two Days Gone, Sergeant (49 yrs. old) Ryan DeMarco of the Pennsylvania State Police is still suffering from the loss of his best friend, Thomas Hutson, his son, Ryan Jr. and the demise of his marriage. Guilt-ridden, he continues to wrestle with his demons spending time at the cemetery. 

They were all gone. Only Jayme remained. He hopes he will not ruin her life. 

Currently, he is dating Jayme Matson (fellow Trooper), and she is quite concerned about his well-being. She has convinced Ryan to take a medical leave of absence for three months rather than retire. She decides to join him. They rent an RV and hit the road to visit her sick grandmother in Kentucky, her hometown. 

However, when they arrive, they become involved in a murder mystery. Seven young females reduced to bone. Seven skeletons found in a four by fourteen by ten-foot space between the walls of a local church. 

Each of the girls — are between fifteen to nineteen years of age. All light-skinned African American girls. Not a single Caucasian. Each cocooned in a clear plastic sheeting and sealed with silver duct tape. Each meticulously, obsessively cleaned and stripped. 

One per year from 1998 to 2004. A fetish for girls of color, or a hatred of them? Cause of death? 

"Sometimes the bones talk, and sometimes they hoard their secrets."

Who was the killer? It had to be someone who knew about the false wall in the church and how to access it. A regular visitor, the pastor, or someone well-known in the community? Later the church was torched. 

Flashing back and forth from Ryan’s childhood to the present –we learn more about his earlier childhood. The one which still haunts him. 

Between Ryan’s internal struggle, his grief and guilt, emotions, insecurities, disturbing dreams, regrets, his troubled ex-wife Laraine, and his current relationship with Jayne – he has his hands full. The tensions and drama run high. Will he screw up his second chance at happiness? 

“Unless you have chaos inside, you cannot give birth to a dancing star.”—Freidrich Nietzche 

Neither Ryan nor Jayne knows where their relationship may be going, but they are along for the rocky ride. (Mixed with a few family members and locals). Plus we learn about both their pasts.

In the midst of their personal affairs, they are drawn into this old mystery. 

From a senior amateur group of six concerned citizens (Da Vinci Cave Irregulars). Determined to solve this case and help in any way they can —to a registered pedophile, minister, Mennonite, a groundskeeper, a foreman, a tarot-car-reading librarian, a retired coroner, a reclusive chiropractor millionaire, among others.

They have folders for the players: Suspects: Chad McGintey (statutory rape), Lucas McGintey (drug possession), Aaron Henry (teacher), Virgil Helm (caretaker), Eli Royce (pastor & narcissist), and the victims. 

Each of the victims had circumstances and were reported missing in the Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. The all were between five feet and five four. Petite. The cause, date, time, and place of death were undetermined. Runaways. Had their families given up on them long before their bones ended up in Aberdeen? 

In addition to Ryan’s haunted past, afraid he was becoming his father—now the seven girls are starting to haunt him as well. Will the cemetery, a bear cage, or being trapped in the woods give him the answers they are desperately seeking?

"History never really says good-bye. History says, see you later.” — Eduardo Galeano

With rich, evocative language, a twisty plot, and well-developed characters, Silvis once again delivers an extraordinary piece of art. Not only is WALKING THE BONESa phenomenal suspense crime mystery, but it also possesses an intense character study. I loved Two Days Gone; however, the followup further delves into the heart and soul of DeMarco and his tormented childhood as well as adulthood. 

Both parts of the story (Ryan’s) and the (murder mystery) are equally as gripping. The secret behind the girl’s death was unpredictable and a clever twist. Silvis lyrical prose is spellbinding. Beautifully written, and profoundly moving, an emotional and haunting meditation of acceptance, love, trust, and survival. (an intriguing character). 

I enjoyed Jayme’s personality — a strong sassy and witty female counterpart to Ryan’s complicated, moody, emotional, deep, and grief-stricken side, at times. A delicate balance of humor. Enjoying Silvis’ writing and look forward to reading his backlist. 

Highly Recommend both Two Days Gone and WALKING THE BONES. For fans of intelligent well-plotted literary mystery suspense thrillers. Looking forward to seeing what is coming next!

Also, recommend Only the Rain. (2018) 

A special thank you to Sourcebooks and #NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Enter to win!

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 19, 2018 at 6:10am PST

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/09/07/Walking-Bones

The Promise Between Us

The Promise Between Us - Barbara Claypole White

By: Barbara Claypole White 

ISBN: 9781542048989

Publisher:  Lake Union 

Publication Date: 1/16/2018 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  5 Stars ++

 

Bestselling author, Barbara Claypole White returns following (2016) Echoes of Family and (2015) The Perfect Son with her best yet, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US. 

Heart-wrenching a profoundly moving, and insightful story of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and mental health. Relationships. Battling the monsters of the mind. Educating the family members and close friends. Deep understanding and empathy. 

Compelling, beautifully written, and emotionally-charged, you sympathize with each of the characters as they come alive on the pages. A story of shame, love, hope, and redemption. 

“Every thought is just a thought until you assign it meaning.” — Angie Alexander, founder of Friends with OCD 

Written passionately, from five viewpoints —meet Katie, Callum and Maisie MacDonald. Second wife, Lilah, and Callum’s best friend, Jake.

 

 

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 14, 2018 at 11:04pm PST




In Raleigh, NC after the birth of Katelyn (Katie) and Callum’s daughter Maisie, Katelyn begins experiencing harmful thoughts and images. As a mother, she is afraid she will hurt her child. She wants to protect her, and she doesn’t understand what is happening. She wants nothing more than to be a good mother. She worries about everything. Her daughter's safety. 

Katelyn has told no one of her private horror movies playing inside her head. Violent images. Not Cal, not the doctors. Images that play over and over. She is powerless. They may take her away from Maisie. She would lose her forever. She wants to protect her. They would lock her away and think she was crazy. 

She had told the doctor she was worried all the time and he said it was depression and PTSD. Easy fix, they say, “pills and think happy thoughts.” She knows nothing of postpartum OCD. 

Katelyn has a haunting past. According to the professional, adults never escape their childhoods. She saw her mother stab her father at the kitchen table. The dad ran off, and her mom prayed and drank, while she raised her baby sister, Delaney. She was only twelve years old. 

When she finally asks for help, her husband does not understand. He has his inner demons (which he has not shared with his wife). She senses her husband is terrified of her. 

Flash forward we hear from Callum (Professor) which is now raising ten-year-old daughter Maisie. He is newly married to Lilah which is pregnant. 

Jake (uncle J) has been a best friend of Callum’s since grade school and is single. He is a big part of their lives. We also learn later in the book; he also has secrets of the past. Why is he so engrossed in their lives?

Katie (former Katelyn) now a metal artist living in Durham, NC. She works with Ben, the star of the studio. He took her on as a project, years earlier when she became his intern. 

Her work takes her to a docent program in Raleigh, where she lived with Callum and her daughter. She is very nervous about returning to the area. Her anxiety level is high. 

A student. A talented fifth grader, Maisie. Her daughter. She believes her mother is dead. Katelyn now goes by the name of Katie Mack. She keeps quiet and enjoys interacting with the girl. Her precious daughter. However, immediately, she suspects her daughter has inherited her OCD. 

She has all the signs. She becomes concerned for her well-being. She knows what she will face and how she thinks. She will be the one to help her. However, how will she convince Cal, his new wife, and J she has Maisie's best interest at heart?

“OCD goes after what matters most." Tortures you with your worst-case scenario — Staying away from Raleigh was no different from dumping all the knives in the trash nine years earlier. Avoidance.

Katie still hears the voices inside her head. However, she has learned to deal with them differently. She knows she has OCD. OCD lies. It does not go away; however, it is up to her to manage them. 

A woman desperate, abandoned her daughter and family because she thought she, was a monster. Living with her dog in a tent for seventeen months with her dog until he died. She wanted to go home, but suicide seemed the only option. 

When that did not work, she knew she had to do something. Without the resources and money to get the help she needed. Self-directed therapy. She grew up with an unfit mother and knew she did not want that for Maisie.

She decided to tackle her fear. She had nothing to lose. Her first welding class. If she could control fire and make something beautiful of it, she could do so with her life. 

The author cleverly unravels the past and the horrific journey of Katie. From being alone, helpless, homeless, with no health insurance, or anywhere to turn. At one point she turned to suicide but was saved. With her sister’s help and her new career, she was making a life for herself. She continues to tell herself. 

“I control fire; I am strong. I’m a welder who works in a helmet decorated with Power Girl stickers.”

This time she will not leave. However, with this disease, stressful situations bring out the beast. She will help her daughter before it is too late. For nine years she had backed herself into a corner and played into the hands of OCD. Convinced herself staying away was the right thing to do. She had remained dead to both Cal and her daughter.

This time she will face her fears. She will be there for her daughter. Katie may be the one person who is instrumental in everyone facing their demons of the past. Understanding mental illness 

Riveting and thought-provoking! The author gets into the minds and hearts of each character. Each person plays an essential part in the overall storyline. (the twist with Cal and Jake) Thereby, providing further depth. Their history, tragedies, anxieties, fears (both past and present). TPBU is not a story just for women. Men play a big part and highly recommend to all readers and genders, and especially parents and grandparents. 

THE PROMISE BETWEEN US reminds me of the show (I love) This is Us. (well-received) And back for the next season. Especially this past week’s new episode with (Kevin) in therapy and the family is called in for a joint session. It is not pretty. The blame and addictions start rolling in. 

When reading, Jake strongly reminds me of Kevin in some ways. (actor, meltdown, obsessive, self-absorbed, etc.) Now in therapy. Randall is successful, has OCD, and childhood issues; Kate has an eating disorder. Jack, the dad, is an alcoholic. 

An excellent example of how those close to these persons cope and their troubled relationships. The Pearson family's generational story unfolds in this TV emotional drama. In moments of love, joy, triumph, and heartbreak; much like the MacDonalds in THE PROMISE BETWEEN US. 

An often misunderstood illness leads people to make desperate decisions, which change the course of their lives. A group of people trapped in a difficult situation with difficulties. A ripple effect on those they hold close.

Riveting, suspenseful and enlightening. Every person should read this book. You will learn something and be more sympathetic and understanding of others. The instant I finished reading, immediately called my son to discuss my grandson. 

On a personal note: I have a bit of OCD (not the voices, intrusive thoughts, or images); however, with perfectionism in work. A strong desire to have everything to carry out a certain way, home meticulously organized, disliking disruptions, and finding it difficult to stop until a task is complete. A total driven workaholic. 

This form of life causes internal and external stress and anxiety, which is not good for your health, especially your heart. Ironically my dad, myself, and my son have the heart issues, auto-immune problems, difficulties sleeping, highly creative, artistic, and Type A driven personalities. A week before my dad passed away at 84 he is worried about vacuuming the carpet and dusting the ceiling fans. 

You look at others and wonder how they can sit down and relax when something is not complete? Unthinkable. I inherited this from my dad, and have passed it down to my younger son (drives his wife nuts), and now my eight-year-old grandson (very artistic and a worrier). 

Often people without these tendencies say, "just get it over it." It will not go away, as the book reiterates. However, with the understanding of those around you, the education and proper help, it can be managed.

The author does an extraordinary job tackling the topic of mental illness with meticulous research and well-developed characters. 

 



The characters tell the story. (this must have been a bear to write). Hat's off to the author! An absorbing (inspiring) journey of one woman’s story of motherhood, love, and determination. Your heart will go out to Katie. She was the perfect person to reach out to Maisie. Often kids will shut down with their parents. If only every child had a "someone" to turn to for understanding. 

The title, THE PROMISE BETWEEN US, speaks volumes. More than one promise. More than one with mental illness in this story. Some only hide their illness. White skillfully demonstrates how everyone has a different form of the disease. Everyone handles it differently. 

When spiraling out of control, it can be devastating. From childhood to adulthood. OCD is an illness of the mind. When thoughts are not the problem, but how we deal with them. 

Written with intensity, and a mix of humor, a total package from the first page to the last. Not an ordinary family drama. It almost reads like domestic suspense. It is riveting, and readers will be turning the pages dying to discover the mystery behind Cal and Jake's personalities. 

Plus a former Piedmont Triad NC native, love, and support NC authors. 

The author is at the "top of her game." A perfect choice for book clubs with discussion question included the inspiration behind the book and additional resources for OCD.

Highly recommend! While all White's books I have read have been 5 stars; this one is on a higher level, a 5 Star + +. For fans of Jodi Picoult and Diane Chamberlain and of course, the TV series, This is Us. 

A special thank you to Lake Union and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. Have also pre-ordered the audiobook performed by Justine Eyre.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 

Advance Praise

 

“If you leave your newborn child because you have unstoppable thoughts of harming her, are you a good mother or a terrible one? This dilemma is at the heart of Barbara Claypole White’s novel, a wrenching story of how one woman’s OCD has a ripple effect on those around her—including the people she tried hardest to protect. This is an eye-opening and realistic exploration of mental illness—a topic that greatly deserves to be front and center.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things

 

“Barbara Claypole White does not merely write about people with mental illness—she inhabits them; she IS Katelyn, the young mother overcome with images of killing her new baby, the mother who leaves her baby to keep her safe…Later White IS that same child, Maisie, now beginning to struggle with OCD herself—and all Maisie’s worries, all her thoughts and the details of her pre-teen life are precisely, exactly right. Perfect. White knows how to tell a story, too, how to fully create each additional realistic and fascinating character, and also how to increase suspense as the family drama unfolds. This brilliant novel about obsessive compulsive disorder is compulsively readable.” —Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls

 

“In The Promise Between Us, bestselling author Barbara Claypole White explores survival, shame, and above all, compassion. With the deft hand of a true artist, she creates complex characters, whose lives have been ravaged by mental illness—when it goes unchecked and through its tumultuous effect on generations of women from one family. Readers will be drawn into Katie Mack’s world, they’ll root for her and her daughter, Maisie. The Promise Between Us redefines motherhood and sacrifice, delivering a heartfelt story with a powerful message.” —Laura Spinella, bestselling author of the Ghost Gifts trilogy and Unstrung

 

“Barbara Claypole White knocks it out of the park with her latest family saga, The Promise Between Us. In this riveting page-turner, Claypole White digs deep into the intricacies of her characters’ lives and the devastating effects of a mental illness when left unchecked. It can easily be classified as a story about motherhood, family, and sacrifice. But mostly, it’s a tale of love, redemption, and renewal. The Promise Between Us has something for everyone: suspense, romance, and even a hint of mystery. A fast-paced read that captivates from the first word until the last. A definite book club selection that I highly recommend.” —Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal and Amazon Kindle bestselling author of Everything We Keep

 

“In The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White masters the art of bringing a reader up close and personal to the influences and forces of a mental illness. In this powerhouse of a story, Katelyn MacDonald’s decision to give up the precious gift of raising her baby, Maisie, in order to protect her, makes for a compelling page-turner. This is an in-depth portrayal of what it means to live in a world where every single thought or action comes into question; it is a story for the times, a story filled with stark realities; but most important of all, it is a story about hope, healing, and the strength of a mother’s love.” —Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Education of Dixie Dupree

 

“With The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White gives us compelling characters and wonderfully complex relationships to shed important light on too little known, too little discussed challenges of mental illness.” —Laurie Frankel,bestselling author of This Is How It Always Is

 

“Some books make you stop and think, and compel you to examine your own perceptions, how you feel about an issue. The Promise Between Us is such a book. The complication at the heart of the story is riveting: suffering symptoms of postpartum OCD that could lead to her harming her newborn, a young mother does what would be unthinkable for most new mothers. She leaves her baby in order to protect her. Is it the right decision? As the consequences continue to ripple out over the next several years, lives are unraveled and rebuilt in ways that are surprising, sometimes painful, often joyful. Combining elements of suspense and romance with laugh-out-loud doses of wonderful humor for leavening, this is ultimately a story about the redemptive power of love. This is Barbara Claypole White at her finest.” —Barbara Taylor Sissel, author of The Truth We Bury

 

 

About the Author

 

 

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina, where she lives with her beloved OCD family. Her previous novels include The Unfinished Garden, The In-Between Hour, The Perfect Son, and Echoes of Family. She is also an OCD Advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity. To connect with Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com or follow her on Facebook. She’s always on Facebook.  Read More 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/01/The-Promise-Between-Us

Only the Rain

Only the Rain - Randall Silvis

By:  Randall Silvis

ISBN: 978-1542049948

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer 

Publication Date: 1/1/2018 

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

From the internationally acclaimed author and gifted storyteller, a master of complicated human souls— Randall Silvis bring readers his latest, ONLY THE RAIN —a gripping and emotional story of an ordinary man faced with a split second decision, leading to dire consequences. 

One which could change the course of his life and those near and dear to him. 

A short book (read in one sitting), A remarkable heart-rendering blending of literary, drama, mystery, suspense, and psychological thriller. Most importantly, as with all Randall Silvis’ books, THOUGHT-PROVOKING and INSIGHTFUL. 

The author's lyrical prose is "spellbinding" drawing you into the raw and emotional world of his characters. A given—numerous highlighted, bookmarked, pages and passages. 

Told in the form of email entries written from a man searching for answers to his good friend and Army buddy from Iraq, Spencer. (has been six years since he has seen him), the story unravels. 

“Thing is, there’s just too much I have to tell somebody, and nobody else I can tell it to.”

Back from Iraq, Russell Blystone is an average guy. A former soldier still haunted with dreams and nightmares from the war. The horrific experiences continue to make him feel helpless and guilty. He continues to fight his demons even back home, attempting to live a regular life.

“Personally, I’ve come to believe that theories are of small value when it comes to actually living your life, to making all the hard decisions you have to make and then dealing with the consequences of those decisions.”

Russell now has a family. A wife (Cindy), and two daughters (Dani and Emma). Another baby on the way. He has a secret. He must tell someone. The computer is his only outlet and email communication (even though he may not send).

He is too ashamed to tell his wife and his Pops. Pops and Gee, the grandparents who raised him after his mother died. Gee passed on a year ago, and now Pops is living at Brookside Manor, an independent living facility. They are very close. 

He got himself into this mess, and he has to get out. 

Pops is strong, funny, witty, wise, and caring. (loved his character). He has a smile that lights up a room. Russell cannot tell Pops what he has done. Russell loves his Pops and respects him. (enjoyed the interaction with other residents). 

Pops and Gee would be ashamed of him. However, if he cannot figure a way out of this, he may have no other choice but to tell Pops. Pops, also a veteran from the Vietnam War understands the horrors of war. However, will he be so understanding of his most recent actions?

Cindy, Russell’s wife (a bank teller) has not had a comfortable life. A drug dealing abusive low-life dad (Donnie) and mother, Janice. She managed to escape. However, he continues to try to worm his way back into their lives. They keep their children away from him. 

Here is where the nightmare began: 

Russell and Cindy finally have their home and trying to live a healthy family life. He has just lost his job at the plant which is being shut down. He does not want to tell his wife yet since she worries so much. 

Due to her past and the current pregnancy, he wants to try and find another job before he causes her more stress. He wants her to feel safe and secure. He still has a few weeks to wrap up the situation before the Chinese take over. 

In the blink of an eye, his life would go from secure and hopeful to being one step away from homeless. Without health insurance, the mortgage, utilities, taxes, and a family of four to feed. 

With Cindy's bank job, the income would be of little help without his salary. He is stressed. He cannot let his family down. With minimal jobs in the area, he must keep this a secret until he lands another job. 

It is raining one day, and he is on his motorcycle. Due to the traffic, he takes a different route. He passes a worn down house when he sees a woman dancing naked in the rain with Gregg Allman music playing loudly in the background. 

She seems to have fallen, and a pit bull is chained nearby. Out in the middle of nowhere. He must make a decision. To keep going on the slippery road, or turn around and stop to help the girl. 

At first, he decides to keep going, but then again he thinks she needs help. He turns around. He helps someone who does not want help.

Always spells TROUBLE. 

The girl seems to be strung out on drugs. When he stops and carries her inside, she is wet and muddy and appears to be alone. He tells her she needs to get in the shower. She is in the other room, and when he pulls back the shower curtain, he sees four cardboard boxes with duct tape. He lifts off the lid and sees bundles of cash.

A drugged woman trying to seduce him, and cash. Fear, panic, excitement. Should he leave it, or take it. Most likely the money was from drug dealing. Who would know if he grabbed it? Just one box. The money would help him pay the bills until he found another job. It would save his family. 

This one impulsive decision would haunt him. He was no better than a typical thief. Shame. Grief. Fear. Disgust. The war before and the battle waging within him now. A strong need to feel loved and safe. Thinking about the same decisions he made during the battles in Iraq. 

Why did he take the money and what was he going to do with it? His daughter gets sick, and he has to use the money to pay the hospital bill. Now what?

Then the worst happens. His boot prints. The drug dealers. He needs more than Spence. He needs his Pop. He has to tell him. To help figure a way out. A strategy. Pop's storage unit. 

Now the drug dealers are on his trail, and his low life father in law Donnie is involved. In a race against time, he has placed his family, his Pops, and himself in the middle of impending danger. A race against time. 

What is his exit strategy? He needs to be the kind of husband and father Pops had been. What about plans A, B, and C. The Domino Catastrophe Theory. The dominoes do not stop falling.

An ordinary man struggling, trying to do the right thing during childhood, college, adulthood, the army, marriage, and parenthood. Stealing the money involved his entire family in one way or another. He lost his job and when he saw the money he thought this was the answer.

Secrets and lies always have a way of snowballing. The day of reckoning. The McClain brothers are an extension of Iraq. As if the same war. 

“Is it possible to hate something you did and to hate yourself for doing it, yet still be glad you did it?”

With gut-wrenching intensity, action-packed ONLY THE RAIN draws you into a realistic world of one man’s choices and consequences. Crossing ethical lines in order to save his family. A man, struggling with his inner demons. 

What makes this story so absorbing (in addition to the correspondence to Spence), his friend— is the heartwarming and intricate relationship between Pops and Russell.

Life. “You gain, you lose. You win you fail. You spin, you die." 

“Spin and die, To live a butterfly again.”

 

 

 

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 10, 2018 at 3:26pm PST

 



I adore Randall Silvis’ writing style. In addition to the digital copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Eric G. Dove for an engaging performance. 

I became an instant fan of the author when I first read (Ryan Marcus Mystery Series #1) Two Days Gone. (fabulous). Top Books of 2017! 

Be sure and add to your reading list, Walking the Bones, coming Jan 23, 2018. A second book in the series. Another 5 star! Blog Tour Host, Jan 23. Enter a book giveaway contest starting Jan 15-Feb 1. Working on my review now. Top Books of 2018.

"...[a] deeply satisfying sequel....this solid procedural offers heart-pounding moments of suspense. Silvis smoothly blends moments of exquisite beauty into a sea of darker emotion to create a moving story heavy with the theme of the 'past is never past.'" - Publishers Weekly Starred Review Walking the Bones. 

If you enjoy sophisticated and intelligent thrillers with a literary flair, highly recommend this author. There is another author who is one of my favorites ,T. Greenwood. These two authors have a remarkable talent for storytelling. Both authors have a rare gift of making you fall magically in love with their words. Also, check out her upcoming book (Aug 2018) Rust & Stardust

If you enjoyed ONLY THE RAIN, recommend James Hankins’Shady Cross and Dennis Lehane's Since We Fell. (currently reading/listening) narrated Julia Whelan (one of my favorite narrators). 

JDCMustReadBooks 

If you missed this Kindle First read during Dec, you should grab it now. In e-book, hardcover, and audio formats. Highly Recommend.

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/15/Only-the-Rain

The English Wife

The English Wife - Lauren Willig

By:  Lauren Willig

ISBN: 9781250056276

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 1/9/2018 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig brings the glitz, glamour, and scandal of the Gilded Age to life in her latest THE ENGLISH WIFE – Rich in history, a mix of a gothic murder mystery, and romantic suspense. 

A portrayal of culture, class, and privilege at the turn of the twentieth century mingled with dark secrets and numerous twists and turns.

Headlines New York, 1899. "Knickerbocker murders wife and kills himself. Murder and suicide on the Hudson."

Janie Van Duyvil and brother Bayard, and cousin Anne were best friends. Bay takes a trip to London and comes home with a new wife, Annabelle. Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York. The perfect couple. 

Then Janie and Anne find Bay at the glamorous Twelfth Night dinner party with a knife stuck in his chest. 

 



Annabelle, the wife, is nowhere to be found. A final dying word "George." Annabelle has gone missing. Could it be a stranger or someone else? What secrets were they hiding?

Janie (an outsider in this prominent family) becomes obsessed with finding the truth about her brother and the mysterious death. Who was this strange and mysterious woman? Was she an imposter? Her past. Who murdered her brother? 

With the help of a reporter, Burke — Janie begins to investigate and dig for clues. However, not sure who she can trust. Is there something between them? What about the secrets of her own family?

From London to New York, with dual timelines and a multitude of characters, Willig creates a compelling, dark, scandalous and atmospheric tale of mystery and intrigue— with hidden secrets, keeping readers guessing to the end. 

Multi-layered, compelling, and skillfully written, THE ENGLISH WIFE is highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, romantic suspense, and mystery with a Gothic twist.

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/10/01/The-English-Wife

Look for Me

Look for Me (D. D. Warren) - Lisa Gardner

Detective D.D. Warren #9

By: Lisa Gardner

ISBN: 1524742058

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date:  2/6/2018

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Crime thriller queen Lisa Gardner returns following Right Behind You, (2017) landing on my Top Books of 2017 with her latest twisty suspense thriller —LOOK FOR ME. 

Two favorite characters, Detective D. D. Warren and Flora Dane work together to solve a crime. A brutal family murder with one remaining girl missing. 

The last time we caught up with D. D. Warren and Flora Dane (2016) Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren, #8). 

Flora Dane, a former kidnapping victim, turned survivor— held in a coffin box by a sadistic monster for 472 days — on a mission to save other victims from predators, holding on to an obsession of REVENGE, or something else?

In LOOK FOR ME, Boston Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren returns with crime scene expert husband, Alex and five-year-old son, Jack. D. D.’s family outing to find a dog for Jack gets sidetracked with a brutal crime. 

A family of five. Two adults, three kids, and two dogs (Blaze and Rosie). Shots were fired. A brutal murder. The responding officers found four bodies. The oldest daughter, a sixteen-year-old female, and two dogs are still unaccounted for. 

The girl’s name Roxanna Baez, Hispanic with two elderly Brittany spaniels and both reported blind. 

D D’s job was to access and strategize. However, has the girl escaped, been kidnapped, victim or murderer? Or was she just not home at the time? 

Juanita Baez and Charlie were the parents. Lola – age thirteen, Manny age nine. Did the father murder the wife and kids and shoot himself? However, the way the shots were fired, they had to rule out the guy as a suicide. 

The mom had a history of DUIs over five years earlier; however, the father had a clean record. No drugs, alcohol, or any high-risk lifestyle. An ordinary family. A family of secrets? Was the daughter the perpetrator? 

They had to find her. 

 



Flora Dane is a survivor. It has been a year, and now she is teaching others how to live again. Abduction at the hands of Jacob Ness, a serial rapist, and murderer. Flora is a fighter. She had gone from victim to vigilante. 

Mixed with personal and troubling narratives from Roxanna about the perfect family. She was writing after a teacher posed the question about family. 

“A perfect family has to be made. Mistakes. Regret. Repair. You have to work at it.”

We also meet other survivors from trauma and the support group. Flora teaches them that bad people do not want to deal with the powerful. They prey on the weak. Sarah recalls this girl coming to discuss help for a friend.

Gardner skillfully weaves an intricate tale of a family sent away to live at Mother Del’s (abuse, neglect, rape, assault) before coming back to live with their mother and Charlie. Until the mom cleaned up her act. What went on while they were away?

“Where are these perfect families? Can there even be such a thing? One where everything goes so right where no one ever hurts each other? Or is there just me and my family and all of the lessons we’re still learning the hard way?”

After protecting her siblings, from all the abuse while in foster care, Roxanna could not possibly hurt her family? No longer foster kids after three years, they were reunited family in a real house with two dogs. A family ripped apart and brought back together. 

What happened to this family? Motive? In one moment. That’s all it took. Destroyed. Over, Finished. Done. 

Someone is protecting a friend. 

Wow, this was one complex, intense, emotional, multi-layered and twisty roller coaster ride! Gardner keeps you guessing while exploring the dark evil within the foster care system. 

I enjoyed catching with DD and hubby as they try and balance work and family life. Flora, a vigilante, is kick ass and hilarious. (thanks for bringing her back). Two different women. Both with their own demons. 

“Revenge must be revenge, or it isn’t sweet.”

Highly recommend; however, while I always enjoy Lisa Gardner’s books, this one was not as strong as last year’s Right Behind You, in my opinion. 

A special thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/07/01/Look-For-Me

The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn

By: A. J. Finn

ISBN: 0062678418

Publisher: William Morrow 

Publication Date: 1/2/2018 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating:  5 Stars + +

 

A.J. Finn’s most talked about (highly anticipated) psychological thriller THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, most definitely lives up to the hype! 

A B S O R B I N G. 

Just when you think you have attained your answers and you have reached the top of the mountain— think again. The climb has only begun. It is just gaining speed. 

From here on out, it is non-stop action, suspense —unputdownable. There are many more twists to follow before reaching the explosive ending— making this an "engrossing"5 stars “must read” and Top Thrillers of 2018. 

Audiobook Not sure I have ever been this immersed in an audiobook previously. Cannot stress enough, Ann Marie Lee (narrator) rocks! Her performance is award-winning. I was hanging on every word. 

Generally, with audio, I am distracted by other work and continuously rewinding. Not the case with THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. Listen to Clip
 



BTW, I purchased the Kindle format, hardcover (which has not arrived from Amazon), and the audiobook. 

Anna, age 38 agoraphobic, cat owner, fond of wine drinking wine and pill popping to ease her fears. She likes old classic black-and-white movie classics — and she spies on her neighbors. 

“Everything goes down better with a glass of smooth merlot.” 

When Anna views the woman in the window: "I noticed she liked a drink in the morning, as do I." 

The narrator: again, off-the-charts bloody-good. The author: So many delicious witty one-liners. 

Anna is a child psychologist and often advises a few patients by email. “The doctor is in.” 

She does not venture into the outside world; however, she does have phone conversations with her husband (ex) and her eight-year-old daughter.

Readers are unsure what happened to her family and why she is in this state. However, she is in constant contact with her husband and daughter even though they live apart. We suspect something dreadful, painful, and tragic occurred. 

She resides in a beautiful large home in Manhattan and has a handsome tenant, who is a carpenter. He lives in her basement.

Her latest highlight a new form of entertainment happens to be her new neighbors. They do not seem to have any window dressing, and she enjoys observing. (spying). Trying to figure out their life from her eyes. 

Ethan Russell, the son (age sixteen) lives across the street. He is a pleasant enough young man, and Anna seems to connect with him. She also meets the parents: Paul and Jane (from the window). 

Then one night, after watching her usual noir films, she witnesses a crime. She is frantic! She sees a woman murdered. She immediately calls the police. 

However, she is not a credible witness. After all, she comes across as crazy, paranoid, unstable. Pretty much an alcoholic buzzed out on pills, and an agoraphobic. 

She is beyond puzzled and begins her own investigation. The wife is OK and alive, says the cops. However, the wife is not the one she saw that night. Therefore, Anna thinks she is an imposter. 

However, what is the motive? What happened to the woman in the window?

She immediately begins suspecting everyone. She becomes obsessed. Picking up clues any way she can. The also has a feeling Ethan is scared of his parents and offers him friendship.

Cleverly, the author unravels the reasoning behind Anna becoming an alcoholic and an agoraphobic. However, again, this is NOT the end. Do not let your guard down. Keep your spy hat in place.

Anna continues to watch her Hitchcockian movies (the titles relate to parts of her investigation) and speaks to her family. Slowly she begins suspecting she is not crazy like everyone thinks she is. 

However, she needs to seek solid answers before she gets the police involved again. She must find clues and confront the problem. It is not paranoia or is it? 

The cops think with the constant viewing of late night crime movies, in combination with her alcohol and medication she sees things that are not there. 

However, Anna is more than determined to find answers to prove to herself and everyone there is something more sinister at play. In doing so, then she may be able to face her demons to begin to live a somewhat healthy life.

What a fantastic book! 
 


Brilliantly written and plotted, psychologically rich, characters well-drawn, highly emotional —From love, loss, to complete madness. Anna is a woman you can sympathize with, no matter your gender or age. I listened/read in one sitting. 

Once you reach the 50-75% mark, you will understand why the movie rights. As mentioned in my review of THE WIVES BETWEEN US, (another huge hit 5 Stars ++) with film rights; why these two books will be on the bestseller list for some time to come: 

Readers are getting the “best” of the literary world (expertise) with the two author's background in journalism, and the publishing world, plus Pekkannen is a well established best-selling author. These guys know what they are doing and do it well. What a way to kick off 2018! 

Back to TWITW: I enjoyed the second half of the book, more than the first part. The first part is a slow-burning set up for the fast-paced, intense second half. 

If you have read, The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre Top Books of 2017 you will note some similarities when reading between the lines of the main character. (both of course with different outcomes). Fans of each- will enjoy the other. 

Both involve an unreliable narrator, with a mystery surrounding husband and child, and agoraphobic. Ironically, A. J. Finn’s THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW also reminds me strongly of A. R. Torre (Alessandra Torre)’s Deanna Madden Series (minus the erotica, UPS man, and internet sex); however, the box cutter, agoraphobic, family tragic past, and a strong pull to save someone beyond the reaches of her home, while putting herself in harm’s way.

Highly Recommend for fans of well-written strong, and intelligent psychological suspense thrillers. Heavy on the old movie classics, literary flair, and less on the blood and gore, which works for me. Enthralling, and all-consuming are words which quickly come to mind. 

To summarize, Finn brilliantly explores the mind of Anna. Her anxiety, fears, insanity, depression, mental illness, paranoia, panic attacks, agoraphobia; love, loss, grief, and guilt —hitting all cylinders. 

The next Gone Girl? I would say "Yes," to that question. Looking forward to the small/or big screen and can imagine its cast of stars. I loved Anna! I hope we see more of her in future books. View Book Trailer 

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 
 

 Praise
 
 
“Astounding. Thrilling. Lovely and amazing....Finn has created a noir for the new millennium, packed with mesmerizing characters, stunning twists, beautiful writing and a narrator with whom I’d love to split a bottle of pinot. Maybe two bottles—I’ve got a lot of questions for her.” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn)

The Woman in the Window is one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.” (Stephen King)

“Twisted to the power of max. Hitchcockian suspense with a 21st century twist.” (Bestselling author Val McDermid)

The Woman in the Window is a tour de force. A twisting, twisted odyssey inside one woman’s mind, her illusions, delusions, reality. It left my own mind reeling and my heart pounding. An absolutely gripping thriller.” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny )

“Compelling, wrenching, and gasp-for-breath exciting―I was blown away.” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill)

“A dark, twisty confection with an irresistible film noir premise. Hitchcock would have snapped up the rights in a heartbeat.” (New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware)

The Woman in the Window is the most riveting thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl. A. J. Finn is a bold new talent with the touch of a master.” (New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen)

“Finn’s debut lives up to the hype. . . . A riveting and mature first novel that stands out in a crowded genre.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Gripping, compelling, and utterly intriguing.” (Liz Nugent, author of the 2017 BEA “Buzz Book” Unraveling Oliver)

The Woman in the Window reads like a classic Hitchcock movie in novel form, in fact I was half expecting a cameo. Dripping with suspense. Creaking with menace. Beautifully written. There’s a lot of buzz around this book and every single bit of it is totally justified.” (Simon Toyne, bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy)
 
 
 
 

About the Author

 

 

A J Finn is the pseudonym of Daniel Mallory, currently a senior publishing executive at William Morrow/ HarperCollins. An Oxford graduate and former book critic, he lives in New York City. His debut novel, The Woman in the Window, is currently in development as a major motion picture at Fox.

 

More . . . A. J. Finn has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Times Literary Supplement. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window, has been sold in thirty-eight territories worldwide.  A native of New York, Finn lived in England for ten years before returning to New York City.   Read More 

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/01/The-Woman-in-the-Window

The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

By:  C. J. Tudor 

ISBN: 9781524760984

Publisher:  Crown Publishing

Publication Date:  1/9/2018

Format:  Other

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Cleverly plotted, C. J. Tudor amps up the terror in her frightening, highly creative debut thriller— THE CHALK MAN. Revolving around Eddie Adams in 1986 with his four 12-year-old best mates in the picturesque English town of Anderbury. 

A coming-of-age tragedy, weaving past and present, a haunting look at childhood friendships and secrets. When the past— will not stay buried. 

The gang: Eddie Adams (nickname Eddie Munster from The Addams Family), Fat Gav, Metal Mickey (braces) Hoppo (David Hopkins), and Nicky. Nicky was the only girl. However, she was one of the guys. 

Every kid wants to find a dead body. What could be more exciting? Right?

They wanted to find something bad that day. They did indeed. 

Where did the problem start? Was it when Fat Gav got the bucket of chalks for his birthday? Or was it when they started drawing the chalk figures or when they started to appear on their own? The accident, or when they found the first body?

The Chalk Man gave Eddie the idea for the drawings. He could leave secret messages for friends. However, it led them to something sinister. A body of a young girl. 

Which came first?. The chalk men or the killing? A chalk man to lead the way. Just like before. Once again. Who is the Chalk Man?

More than thirty years ago and the past will not stay buried. Now Ed receives a letter. Two pieces of chalk and a drawing of a stick figure. 

History begins to repeat itself. Ed soon realizes the game was never over. 

The message is apparent. A stick figure with a noose around its neck. 

“Karma. What you sow, you reap. You do bad things, and they’ll come back eventually and bite you on the backside.”

 

 



In 2016, Mickey returns to the small village with plans to write a book about the girl’s murder with the approaching 30th anniversary of the killing.

“Time to face the Chalk Man.” 

. . . “It’s time to take a ride back down memory lane. Except this route is dark overgrown with tangled knots of lies and secrets, and full of hidden potholes. And along the way, there are chalk men.”

THE CHALK MAN is a gripping exploration of the dark places within the human mind and an impressive debut. Filled with horror. Frightening, compelling, taut, creepy and chilling! A shocking spine-tingling conclusion. 

If you grew up in the 80’s (in my case, raising my kids in the 80’s), a sharp reminder of films (books) Stephen King’s Stand By Me and Harlan Coben’s The Five. Two memorable films.

Not sure after reading, you will ever be able to pick up a piece of chalk without thinking of THE CHALK MAN. 

A special thank you to Crown Publishing and #NetGalley for an early reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 UK Version

 

 

Advance Praise

 

“Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT…[the] first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.”
—Kirkus 
 
“[A] promising debut…with the nightmarish inevitability of the Grimmest of tales…her storytelling prowess is undeniable.”
Publishers Weekly 
 
“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.” 
Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow
 
“CJ Tudor has written an utterly original novel—a thriller in which the suspense comes not simply from what happens, but from that dark place within the human mind from which all the greatest mysteries and terrors emerge.  This one will hold you in its grip to the last page.” 
Joyce Maynard, New York Times bestselling author of Under the Influence and To Die For
 
“Utterly Hypnotic. The Chalk Man is a dream novel, a book of nightmares: haunted and haunting, shot through with shadow and light - a story to quicken the pulse and freeze the blood. A dark star is born.” 
A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
 
“What a great book. A twisty thriller and downright creepy ending. Five stars.”
—Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes
 
 “Imaginative, with an intriguing premise that straddles two fascinating worlds.  It’s a frenetic ride that’s deep and alluring, oozing with suspense. A rollicking good time.”
—Steve Berry, New York Times Bestselling author of The 14th Colony            
         
“C.J. Tudor knows the twelve-year-old who still lives in all of us, that kid who chills himself to the bone with an intuition of what lurks in the woods, or in his own closet, and The Chalk Man walks the haunted bridge between then and now—between sheer childhood terrors and a true crime so grisly and personal it’s cold hand never leaves the back of your neck.  Suburban adolescents on bikes, squeamish love, nascent sexuality meets adult-world obsession and lust and violence...and through it all runs an affecting story of friendship, loss, and the inescapable frailties of mind and body.” 
Tim Johnston, New York Times Bestselling author of Descent

 

“The Chalk Man is coming and there's nothing you can do to stop him. Tense, skilful storytelling and plenty of horror.”

— Ali Land, Sunday Times bestselling author of Good Me, Bad Me

 

“In The Chalk Man, C.J. Tudor brilliantly weaves past and present into a haunting, vividly imagined tale. Much more than a murder mystery, it is a sharp, terrifying exploration of the bonds and limitations of childhood friendships and of secrets that refuse to remain buried. I fell in love with the guiding voice of this novel, the thoughtful and solitary Eddie. Prepare to be surprised again and again, even until the final page.”

 Michelle Richmond, author of The Marriage Pact

 
“A cleverly constructed, artfully told tale of secrets, lies, and warped passions — featuring a troubled protagonist, a terrible murder that wasn’t what it seemed to be, and a raging monster at the heart of it all.” 
—John Verdon, internationally bestselling author of Think of a Number and the Nero Award-winning Peter Pan Must Die
 
“C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man is a stunning debut, a riveting thriller about the powerful grip of the past and the unbreakable bonds of childhood friendship. The ending of this smasher will completely throw you for a loop. Don’t miss a word of it!” 
David Bell, bestselling author of Bring Her Home and Somebody I Used to Know
 
“The Chalk Man is an intricate and surprising book that will reward the reader who approaches it with the attention it deserves.” 
Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of The Old Man
 

“It’s been a while since I’ve read such an impressive debut. The pace was perfectly judged, the characters superbly drawn and there’s a creeping sense of unease that starts with the prologue and grows throughout the book. And then that ending! It feels so fresh and deserves to be a huge success.”  
James Oswald, bestselling author of the Inspector McLean series

 

“What an amazing debut! Such an ingenious, original idea. I was engrossed from the very first page. I loved how the 1986 and present day storylines weaved so skillfully together to create that unforgettable and unexpected ending. Compelling, taut and so very, very chilling. This book will haunt you!” 
Claire Douglas, bestselling author of Last Seen Alive

 

“C.J. Tudor bursts onto the scene with a page-turning thriller that draws simple but terrifying lines about evil and the haunting nature of childhood. Flip open the first page and you’ll curl up all night.”

 Julia Heaberlin, Sunday Times bestselling author of Black-Eyed Susans

 

 

About the Author 

 

 

C. J. Tudor lives in Nottingham, England with her partner and three-year-old daughter.
 
Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.
 
THE CHALK MAN is her first novel. Follow on Twitter

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/07/The-Chalk-Man

Just Between Us

Just Between Us - Rebecca Drake

By: Rebecca Drake

ISBN:  9781250167200

Publisher: St.  Martin's Press

Publication Date: 1/9/2018

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Rebecca Drake returns following Only Ever You with her latest twisty and intense domestic suspense/psychological thriller JUST BETWEEN US. In the theme of Big Little Lies, a story of four suburban mothers who become immersed in a deadly crime. 

Friends and bystanders get more than they bargained for by helping out a friend in need. 

“You never really know what happens in someone else’s marriage.” 

Set in suburban, Pittsburgh, PA readers are introduced to four women: Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather. Between their children and husbands, and their busy lives, they love their favorite coffee shop on Friday mornings. Told from four different POVs.

Julie is a multi-million dollar producer–a successful real estate agent married to Brian a VP of business development for a significant medical device firm. She believes in staying positive. Very social, an extrovert and a great organizer. Red-hair and energic. Obsessed with fitness, yoga, and healthy diet.

Sarah is little harder to like (by Alison). A former lawyer, with other hidden issues. Prickly at times. Alison envied the relationship between Julie and Sarah. They had a friendship before she came along. Sarah is beautiful, biracial and wears lots of brightly colored scarves and jewelry. Sarah did not have the patience for whining. She is very can-do and opinionated. She is married to Eric, a teacher and they pinch pennies with a family of five. 

Heather, a former model married to a famous plastic surgeon Viktor. Son Daniel. They have the glamorous life and a large home and staff. She now is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), like Sarah, with of course— a much more substantial household income. 

Alison is an IT consultant, and the women think she has an overactive imagination. She is tall and introverted. (She is the most intriguing). My pick. She had little interest in the country-club life or team sports. She comes across a little desperate, lonely, and needy to the others. She and Michael had moved to Pittsburgh because of Michael’s job transfer. No one knew her unfortunate past. The women think she is negative at times. Often her personality rubs Sarah the wrong way. 

Julie and Alison had kept their careers. Sarah and Heather had not. There was a big difference between the disposal income of course between Heather and Sarah. 

Each of the women has their juicy dark secrets. (Heather, in particular). 

Alison is the first to be suspicious of Heather and her bruises. When comforted, she brushes it off. The other women do not seem to suspect a problem with the handsome and charming doctor. Even the broken dishes in the house. Could it have been something sexual she does not want to discuss? 

Should they mind their own business or try and help? Julie thought Alison was wrong. Is Alison too overly cautious due to her family history? 

Even though Heather denies it at first; however, she ultimately confesses. (think Big Little Lies Celeste and Perry Wright). (things do not play out the same.) She pretends all is ok in their household. From the exterior, they looked like the perfect family. 

The friends begin their own sleuthing and investigating into Viktor’s past. His former wife died. However, was it accidental? They slowly discover secrets Heather has not shared until it is too late. Things get complicated. The women fear for her safety and her young son. 

“The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told.” Suddenly that is all you can think about.

Then the call comes. Someone is dead. 

Self-defense? A crime scene. How involved will they become? There are secrets in every marriage. This is "only" the beginning of the unraveling. 

Nothing, or no one is as they appear. 

“There are no monsters, just deeply flawed people, all of us given that power to choose, some of us making choices to damaging that they ruin the lives of those they claim to love.” 

Drake cranks up the intensity and the adrenaline. She expertly weaves a web of deceit and lies and keeps the reader guessing what will come next. 

You feel the fear and hysteria from each of the women. The mistrust. In the blink of an eye, things change, and everyone is making impulsive decisions which lead to consequences.

At 40-45% into the book, you wonder what could be coming next? Plenty! It is just getting started. 

 



Someone is watching. Were they not careful enough? A letter. Photos. Blackmail. Video Things get very complicated. 

Action-packed, the hidden secrets behind the façade of ordinary women, across social classes and moral lines. How far would you go to protect a friend? Friendships tested. Betrayal. 

Had they been duped? Will they turn on one another? Who can be trusted? Excusing behaviors. 

“Brushing way the inconsistencies in character. Finding plausibility in the implausible because we want to believe the person we love is incapable of ugliness.” 

The lies we tell ourselves and others. Lines are not always clear between good and evil. Perpetrator and victim. 

On a serious note, a peek inside of domestic abuse and violence. It is not always wrapped, in a clear package. 

“We hurt those that we love; we make choices that we can’t undo, we throw ourselves headlong into battles in the name of rescuing people who never asked to be saved.”

With all this sleuthing, not sure how they could find the time for their families. However, I was dying to know what happens. Hooked from page one to the grand finale. 

JUST BETWEEN US, will keep you reading past your bedtime to learn the secrets held close. I enjoyed the different POVs from the women. The drama was balanced nicely with suspense and humor. Some clever twists and turns you are not expecting. Unpredictable. 

I am glad the author chose to end the book with Alison speaking. Very fitting. Underneath the drama, a cautionary tale. The novel is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. 

For fans of Desperate Housewives, and twisty domestic suspense thrillers. A few come to mind:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen, Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

A special thank you to St. Martin's Griffin and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Advance Praise

 

A twisty, domestic thriller [...] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed." ― Publisher's Weekly

 

"Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit [...] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers." ―Booklist

 

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is suspense at its best--a riveting, fast-paced psychological thriller that brilliantly explores the limits of friendship and the secrets we keep from one another." ― New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

 

"Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won't be able to put it down." ― J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me

 

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a stunner - a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?" ― Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter

 

"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don't miss it!" ― David Bell, author of Bring Her Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Photo Credit: Joseph Mertz

 

REBECCA DRAKE is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir.

 

A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program.

 

Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children. Read More  

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/17/Just-Between-Us

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

By:  Greer HendricksSarah Pekkanen

ISBN: 9781250130921

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 01/09/2018

Format: Hardcover

My Rating:  5 Stars + + +

 

OMG! THE WIFE BETWEEN US by creative, talented duo, Sarah Pekkanen, (journalist and author of seven previous novels—all of which Hendricks edited) and Greer Hendricks (a former Simon & Schuster editor -authorial debut), is worthy of all the "hype" surrounding the most-anticipated psychological suspense thriller novel of 2018, and "then some." 

From the stunning front cover, the first page—to the explosive, shocking conclusion. MIND-BENDING! Unreliable Narrator. 

The authors cleverly unravel the characters' intimate secrets and deception, until the raw truth revealed. Divided into Prologue, Part One, Two, Three, and the Epilogue. Do not miss a thing. The summary is spot-on. Do not assume anything. Get ready for a wild roller-coaster ride.

The truth between the lies. 

Between the wives, there is a man named Richard. A charming, good-looking, successful hedge fund manager. We soon realize this man is not as he seems. You suspect he is a controlling, abusive, narcissist and a psycho, through the eyes of one woman. This woman must be the angry ex-wife.

Vanessa was married to Richard. We are not sure what happened to their marriage. She has lost all her material possessions and works as a sales associate at Saks on the designer-label third floor. She depends on commissions. 

Richard got the house in Westchester and the Manhattan apartment. The cars, stocks, savings. She never put up a fight. She entered the marriage with nothing. She had not borne him children. She had been deceitful. She had not been a good wife. 

She is thankful she has a few suitcases filled with more exceptional clothing from her former lifestyle since she needs to look the part. She resides with her aunt bohemian artist, Charlotte. Her husband died years before. She had accepted a small lump sum payment she would use to help her aunt. 

Vanessa is hiding something from her past in Florida. (sounds like South Florida- Miami- important for us Floridians). A mysterious past which led her to New York. 

"My husband kept me off-balance for years. He tried to erase me." The bride and groom cake topper. 

Currently, Vanessa is stalking a younger woman. Does this younger version of her former self-remind her of how her life began the downward spiral. The one, leaving her now single. Now her old friends, come into the store, and she waits on them. They pity her. 

 



Richard had kicked her out of the Westchester house. However was she happy, or sad about this decision? Who had controlled the demise of this marriage? Was she relieved to escape this man? Fortunate to be alive? 

She envisions him in the Mercedes with his new younger woman. The woman he left her for. It started before their divorce. She now drinks and takes pills to dull the pain. 

The other woman is Nellie. Vanessa has to stop her before she marries Richard. When she discovered they were engaged, she almost flipped. However, there is more here than meets the eye. 

Vanessa comes across as off balance; however, there are two sides to a coin. She and Richard were unsuccessful in their attempts to have a baby, even with fertility drugs.

Readers learn about another younger woman’s relationship and how she met Richard. A young preschool teacher on a flight. Richard the caring and charming man sweeps her off her feet. Richard wants children. 

Vanessa wonders if the new bride has plans to quit work and devote herself to Richard as she had done. She is obsessed. 

There is also Maureen, Richard’s older sister. After his parents died when he was a teen, Maureen raised him. Does she know how crazy her brother is? 

“But as long as he is with her – the woman who blithely stepped up to become the new Mrs. Richard Thompson while I pretended to be oblivious – I will never have peace.”

Nellie loves her pre-school teaching job and works nights as a waitress with a fun-loving roommate Sam. She is unsure she wants to get married. Unsure she wants to leave the city life for the suburbs and a man who seems controlling, but he loves her, right?

Again, ASSUME nothing . . . Does Venessa want to protect her replacement from Richard, warn her, or is she just jealous? Don’t shoot the messenger. 

Intense, twisty, mind-blowing suspense. THE WIFE BETWEEN US is like a game of cat-and-mouse. Which person is manipulating the other? A tug of war. However, no one has the real facts. The reveal is brilliant. 

The fun part is trying to figure out this triangle. The secrets and motives from Florida and all the missing pieces – worth the wait! As twisty, riveting, spellbinding, and addictive as Gone Girl or The Girl on the TrainI liked it better. 

Sarah Pekkanen (one of my all-time favorite authors-have read all her books) and her talented editor for many years Greer Hendricks (impressive bio) — what a remarkable team!. Can only imagine the fun these two have writing together. No wonder TWBU has been picked up for the next blockbuster movie. I want a front row seat. 

Plus, think of all the deliciously good books to come in the future.Hear they are busy working on their second book (not a sequel). 

Firstly, when you view the cover and its title you think, “the wife between us.” Who could this person be? Could it be a husband and a soon to be bride with an ex-wife or a current wife between the couple? Or, could it be a wife- to- be, and an ex-wife #1 with the ex-wife #2 between them? Or all sorts of wild scenarios. Will there be a wife #3 and why don’t they all meet to compare notes? 

Trust me; there is nothing predictable here. Cleverly crafted (the editor/author), highly creative minds have outsmarted the reader.

When you get to this point in the book, you will question: “What in the heck? What did I miss? Rewinding the pages. However, you did not miss anything. Hang on; the plot soon to be revealed. Do not put the book down. No way you can. Unputdownable.

The secrets and lies of dating, marriage, divorce. Don’t settle for sloppy seconds. For fans of B.A. Paris Behind Closed Doors. Another book I am looking forward to reading: The Woman in the Window, Readers are receiving the "best" of the literary world's experience.

A special thank you (a big huge & kiss), to Goodreads giveaway and St. Martin's Press for an advanced digital reading copy. I have pre-ordered the audiobook (this should be fantastic, performed by Julia Whelan (I adore), Listen to Clip and pre-ordered the hardcover for my library!

 

 



What a way to start 2018! Have a feeling this is going to be a year for the thriller novels turned movie. 

‘Girl on the Train’ Team Takes on ‘The Wife Between Us’ Hollywood Reporter 

Looking forward to Sarah Pekkanen's The Ever After: A Novel Coming June 5, 2018, enthralling domestic drama, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies.

JDCMustReadBooks 

BTW, I was wife #2, saved wife #1, and did I want to protect wife#3? Heck No. Figure it out on your own. Good riddance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/22/The-Wife-Between-Us

Here We Lie

Here We Lie - Paula Treick DeBoard

By:  Paula Treick DeBoard

ISBN: 0778330265

Publisher: Park Row Books 

Publication Date:  1/30/2018 

Format: Paperback

My Rating: 5 Stars 

 

Buy the Book

 

From the critically acclaimed author, of The Drowning GirlsThe Fragile World, and The Mourning Hours (all five glowing stars-review links below), Paula Treick DeBoard follows with her latest riveting suspense, coming Jan 2018— HERE WE LIE. 

Rich in character, a look inside the secret lives of two different unlikely friends from two different social classes. A world of privilege and secrets. The lies and secrets they tell themselves, and to one another —with devastating consequences. 

Ripped from today’s headlines: Scandal, power, cover-ups, and deadly secrets. Messy, complicated and imperfect lives. 

Told in alternating first-person perspectives, moving between past and present. Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey. Each views the world differently— from diverse backgrounds.

As the book opens it is 2016. A press conference. Someone is about to spill a lie. Age thirty-five. Female. A lie kept silent for fourteen years is about to be exposed to the world. 

“Fourteen years was a long time. It was long enough to forget, forgive, move on.” A long time to keep a secret. 

Megan is from Kansas. She lived for years watching her dad die each day slowly from asbestos fibers (a poor man’s cancer) from the mesothelioma with his job. She holds a secret. Her father’s dying wish.

“Something had to die so something else could live.”

With the life insurance money, Megan can attend a college of choice in combination with a scholarship and her good grades. She wants nothing more than to escape this town and her past. Her mom has moved on to Gerry, her boss at the accounting firm. 

She decides on Keale College in Scofield, Connecticut— a unscale private girls-only school. She realizes that wealth lives here and people of privilege. People different than herself.

She meets a regular local boy named Joe on her first day. Soon after that, her roommates commits suicide, assigning her another roommate.

Lauren Mabrey is the wild child with continued reckless behavior from a wealthy family. From the elite, boarding schools, and old money pedigree. The cars, wealth, homes, status, power, and the best education. She is the daughter of a U.S. senator from Connecticut. Lauren has a poor GPA; however, with her parent’s money, she can pretty much do as she pleases. 

She also feels like an outsider in her only family and goes against the traditional values, causing disarray in her family. Often she wanted to be regular so as not to have to live up to the expectations. 

A bit rebellious, she encounters some problems with drugs before she goes off to college, which lands the guy in jail, and ultimately ended up dead in a prison yard. This event haunts her. However, her parents manage to keep this out of the news. Her mom warns her they cannot continue to bail her out. 

Lauren loves photography and takes her talent a little too far. Her family dismisses it. After an encounter with her current roommate, Erin she is assigned a new one.

Lauren and Megan become best friends in their freshman year 1999-2000. Lauren is everything Megan is not. Lauren sees Megan as normal. Due to her family environment, she finds herself attracted to Megan, Joe, Marcus, and others she meets, unlike her status.

However, Megan distorts her life offering shocking lies about her family. She exaggerated about how poor her family was and how many boyfriends she had. She wants to be someone else, someone different from the dull girl she is. To feel better about herself. Both girls are insecure in their ways. 

Lauren loves Megan’s wit, and the two develop a friendship based on lies. Telling each other their best and worst truths and lies. As time moves on, they also become jealous and angry with one another. 

Megan meets Lauren’s family and becomes exposed to a different way of life. Their home, a job, and a private summer island off the coast of Maine. This trip was to be their last vacation before senior year. 

However, one night something happens which changes the course of their lives. A house of money. To cover up the dirty deeds of its family members. 

Dreams of Harvard are no longer in view. Shattered by one night. Worse than her father dying. A choice to make. A decision. Who would believe her—a girl from nowhere? The Mabrey's had the kind of power that could buy justice—that could shape truth. 

The lies she had told. She could not put herself through it. She would remain silent. One girl all alone. Dreams shattered. Another one left clueless about the events unfolding around her. Where was the trust in one another?

Many years later when the girls have their separate lives and families of their own, someone comes forward with rape and sexual assault. A political scandal. If someone had come forward earlier, could it have saved others down the road? 

The silence broken, shattering lives and the ugly truth revealed. Allegations, investigation, and a trial. The what ifs.

What a fabulous story— highly relatable to the events which surround us today. Even though fictional, unfortunately, it is all too real for many women who experience sexual assault at the hands of famous figures such as politicians and celebrities. The victims often are viewed in a negative light; therefore they remain silent. 

An avid fan of the author, for years—her books continually land on my top books of the year. Unique and compelling, her stories possess a common thread. Thought-provoking, she writes of powerful bonds of friendships, family, and betrayal. 

Paula’s writing is superb! The dual timelines and alternating perspectives keep the reader engrossed in the lives of the two young women at different ages. From college years to the present, the author gives a glimpse of the gap and how words and actions have consequences resulting in hurt and resentment. A convincing look at lies and how they come back to haunt (no matter the age). 

From teenagers to young women with families of their own to their true selves. In addition to the topic of friendship, a strong focus on daughter/father and daughter/mother relationships. 

Highly charged topics: enjoyed how she tied female friendship, sexual assault, political scandal and moral complexities together in one dynamic story. HERE WE LIE is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions (Reader’s Guide Included).

An added bonus—a insightful Q&A with the author! Highly recommend. A "read-in-one-sitting" kind of book. 

JDCMustReadBooks 

A special thank you to the author for the lovely print copy and Park Row and NetGalley for the digital advanced reading copy. 

The Drowning Girls 
Top Books of 2016 

The Fragile World 
Top Books of 2014 

The Mourning Hours

 

 

 

 

A post shared by Judith D Collins (@judithdcollins) on Jan 11, 2018 at 1:35am PST


 

 

 

Praise

 

"With this story of two very different young women, DeBoard portrays the lies that people tell to find acceptance and the terrible acts that powerful people casually commit... While the rape looms in the future as a foregone conclusion, DeBoard only slowly reveals the details, so the final revelations are all the more powerful." –Publishers Weekly

 

"With each chapter shifting perspective between Lauren and Megan, DeBoard lets each woman's story reflect and distort the other's, deftly angling the mirror of truth... A wrenching tale of broken friendship and shattered dreams." –Kirkus Reviews

 

"A nuanced and complex look at the long-standing consequences of privilege and toxic masculinity. At its heart, Here We Lie examines the seemingly unbreakable bonds of both friendship and family, and the lengths one will go to take care of their own. Compulsively readable!"-Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

 

"With Here We Lie, Paula Treick de Board spins a mesmerizing tale of two former best friends and one shocking secret. Suspenseful and evocative, with pitch-perfect prose and pacing, Here We Lie is a story that resonates long after the last word. An engrossing read." -Kimberly Belle, bestselling author of The Marriage Lie

 

From her riveting first chapter, DeBoard casts a line back in time and reels an unlikely college friendship ever closer to the novel's inevitable conclusion. An absorbing exploration of how we attain personal power and the consequences of wielding it." -Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling

 

"Set against a backdrop of college life, politics, and sexual assault, Paul Treick DeBoard explores the exquisite joy of discovering the perfect friendship--then the acute pain of disentangling when that friendship sours. Here We Lie takes you a remarkable journey of two girls who learn, together and alone, to decide who they will ultimately be-it is at once observant, devastating, and thoroughly satisfying."-Emily Carpenter, author of The Weight of Lies and Burying the Honeysuckle Girls

 

 

 

 

About the Author 

 

 

Paula is a reader, writer, drinker of strong coffee and an all-around slave to public education. She wrote her first novel when she was nine years old, in the back seat of an orange 1977 Chevy Caprice station wagon with wood paneling. It was exactly as good as you might expect a novel written by a nine-year-old to be.
 
In the intervening years, Paula majored in English, taught junior high and high school English and earned an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Southern Maine.
 
These days, she splits her time between teaching (at the University of California, Merced), chatting about writing whenever she has a chance, and staring at a laptop screen for uninterrupted hours. Her novels include The Drowning Girls, The Fragile World and The Mourning Hours. 
 
Her heart—and her remaining spare time—belongs to Will and their four-legged brood. Read More  

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/06/01/Here-We-Lie

Waking Kylie

Waking Kylie (Kindle Single) - Alafair Burke

By: Alafair Burke

ISBN:   B075WSDZPJ

Publisher: Harper Collins

Novella 

Publication Date: 12/12/2017

Format: Kindle

My Rating:  5 Stars

 

Alafair Burke returns following Edgar-nominated The Ex, with a twisty "attention grabber" short thriller novella WAKING KYLIE – which features an excerpt from her upcoming highly anticipated novel, The Wife.

Diane Light is the deputy district attorney and had been with the office for nearly eighteen years. Currently, she is back in the courtroom in front of Judge Stone. They are here due to a little girl Kylie, who’s father biological father Kyle Chance seeks to get his daughter returned. 

The State moved to terminate parents rights ten months earlier after the police learned the parents had permitted the child to be sexually abused in exchange for drugs. She was less than two years old when this occurred.

The client claimed he was getting clean and he happened to be estranged from the wife when this occurred. She was placed with a foster mother. Kylie was not an easy child to place. She had experienced trauma. Plus she had been born drug-affected.

Undernourished and suffered from PTSD. Now the foster mother, Janice has been killed by a drunk driver. 

Diane must keep this little girl from going back to her biological father— Even if she takes her in herself. She could be an excellent mother to the little girl. She cannot allow this precious little girl to go back to this monster. Even though the courts primarily blame it on the mother. 

She had asked for a transfer out of the major-crimes until (a coveted position) to the family court. This way she could remain in Kylie's life. Who else would protect her?

Her husband, Greg had left her for another woman, who now had his own family. She formerly was fat; currently, slim. She did not have any children. She was forty-four. She could not comprehend how it could be in Kylie’s best interest to live with a man (now a janitor), who sold her a two-year-old to support his heroin habit?

If she can only get "Matt the Cat" (a disgusting street informant) to catch Kyle — dealing drugs before their next court date. He kept his ears and eyes open for information that he could trade for a get out of jail free card. 

How far will Diane so go to make sure he never sees this innocent little girl again? 

I adore novellas, and this evil twisty one was perfect to set the stage for THE WIFE. I have pre-ordered and anxiously awaiting Jan 23, 2018. (Narrated by Xe Sands)! Listen to Clip. 

THE WIFE is about a caterer (a single woman with a son), who marries her prince charming. Now a famous author and consultant he is accused of sexual harassment. One of the girls goes missing. However, the case may now bring secrets from the wife's past to light. 

I am enjoying all the upcoming new releases in the domestic suspense/thriller genre focused on the wife (secrets of marriages). With Burke, there is always a tantalizing story to be told. Can’t wait. In the meantime, visit with Kylie and get a peek at THE WIFE.

“[A] page-turner.... Classic domestic-thriller elements—the too-perfect couple, the unreliable narrator, the troubled past—are given a good workout in this satisfying round of ‘Who’s the Psycho?’”— The Wife Kirkus Reviews

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/12/06/Waking-Kylie

Killman Creek

Killman Creek - Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake Series #2

By: Rachel Caine

ISBN:  1542046416

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication Date: 12/12/2017 

Format:  Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Rachel Caine returns following Stillhouse Lake with the highly anticipated follow-up, KILLMAN CREEK — a woman, is trying to save herself and her children from her monster sadistic ex-husband serial killer, Melvin Royal. 

"I am twelve days out from rescuing my children from a murderer. I am exhausted, sore, and plagued with headaches. I am heartsick and tired and anxious and most of all —most of all —I am angry. I need to be angry. Being angry will keep us all alive."

This time around we hear from multiple POV: Gwen, Lanny, Sam, and Connor. The fallout of everything that has occurred and to come from each perspective. 

Lance Graham is dead. A partner was a killer. Her husband had turned a cop into a murderer. He had abducted her children. 

Connor nor Lanny will talk about it. They have been traumatized. There is psychological damage. She is unsure how it will play out in the future. She will get them the care they need. She has to make them whole again.

Melvin Royal wants to keep them guessing. He has escaped. Melvin is free to stalk and kill more women. He will murder again. He will want to go out in a grandstanding manner. The FBI is after him as well as the police. No one is safe. Especially his family. 

He is coming for her. He always has a plan. 

Gina has a new identity. The woman who was known as Gina Royal, wife of the horrible serial killer is gone. She is now Gwen. She is not taking any more shit.

Her kids are brave and had been forced to face the ugly truths about their dad. She has to find someone she can trust to look after her kids and keep them safe. Her mom is not a fighter. 

She turns to Javier Esparza and Kezia Claremont to guard her kids. Javier is a retired marine and runs a gun range. Kezia is a police officer - tough, smart, and capable. She has to trust them.

Gwen and Sam must find him. They both have baggage. She is the ex-wife of a serial killer, under threat from Melvin's groupies, his allies, and the internet vigilantes. His followers. 

Sam is the brother of her ex-husband's victim (his last victim), she found strung up in her garage. Tortured and murdered for sadistic pleasure.

Even though Sam had stalked her in the first book, he knows she is not guilty. They must work together. They have one common goal. To take down Melvin Royal.

Gwen Proctor is ready for him. She has left the weak Gina behind. It comes down to Mr. and Mrs. Royal.

As Sam and Gwen are on the run putting themselves in the middle of danger, the kids are worried they may never see their mother again. 

The day all their lives changed. Their dad became a monster. He had taken a piece of their lives and made it part of something awful. 

 



The intensity heats up in this installment. Mel is one sick and sadistic serial killer. The constant impending danger. No one is safe from this monster until someone stops him. 

They are survivors. 

This riveting series must be turned into a film or at least Amazon Video series. Even though this book was not quite as exciting as the first, it was a superb followup.

Now we have to wait until Oct 2, 2018— for the third (3 of 3) Stillhouse Lake Series Wolfhunter River. As I mentioned in my first review, this series reminds me of Joe Carroll in The Following. 

Loved the ending, the covers, and the soundtrack selections by the author. If you adore good well-written crime thrillers, this series is for you!

A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer for an advanced reading copy. Also purchased the audiobook narrated by Emily Sutton-Smith, Lauren Ezzo, Will Ropp, and Dan John Miller for a suspenseful and chilling performance.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/08/03/Killman-Creek

The Road to Bittersweet

The Road to Bittersweet - Donna Everhart

By:  Donna Everhart

ISBN:  9781496709493

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date:  12/26/2017

Format: Paperback 

My Rating:  4 Stars 

 

Donna Everhart takes readers to Stampers Creek, 1940 North Carolina along the Tuckasegee River with the Stampers family. THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET —a gritty Southern tale of despair, family, and hope. A perfect and fitting title for this coming-of-age journey through life's ups and downs from childhood to womanhood. 

"It takes courage to find your way." 

In the Appalachian mountains, near Cashiers, NC, we meet Wallis Ann. Fourteen-years-old and wise beyond her years. She takes most of the burden caring for her sister, Laci. Her sister is two years older, yet she will never be able to read or write or solve problems. They all wondered what she must be thinking. There was also the younger brother, Seph; only three-years-old. 

Laci is "savant." Gifted. A person affected with a mental disability (such as autism or mental retardation) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music).In this case, music. The family played music, known as The Stamper Family. From the piano, banjo, fiddle, among others. 

There is a devastating flood after the waters broke over the dam. The worst this area had ever seen. Torrential rains. This event scared Wallis more than anything she had ever experienced. They are swept away by the strong currents. 

After losing everything, the Papa takes them to his brother, Hardy in South Carolina. They are on the road trying to survive by singing for money to have enough to eat. 

 



The momma depended on Wallis Ann for so much of Laci's care, and Laci experienced guilt from some of the events happening in the story. Wallis Ann feels somewhat invisible at times due to her sister's disability. 

Along the way, there are more struggles, and challenges striving for survival amid life's storms. Burdens to carry. Hearts broken. Dreams unfulfilled. Guilt-ridden. Betrayal. 

Heartstrings are pulled especially with Wallis Ann. She is brave, and resilient while suffering from hardships, hopelessness, and other situations and emotions she encounters. Deeply emotional a mix of Southern fiction/Gothic, coming-of-age, historical, and literary fiction. 

 


“Windows give you a view. Otherwise you can't see nothing, no matter how hard you try. It ain't much different in how we look at our world from inside ourselves."

I enjoyed the theme of water which is apparent throughout the novel from the river, the flood, the waterfalls and symbolic in many ways to the peaceful trickle of water sliding over the rocks. On a side note: My favorite places in the NC mountains are the Highlands and Cashiers. Beautiful waterfalls and scenic mountains. I miss my log cabin in Big Canoe, GA. 

The characters are well-drawn (as the secondary ones) and the times researched, drawing you into their world of survival and vivid settings. 

"We're going to keep on having hope until there's no possibility of having it anymore. That's all we can do."

Descriptive storytelling, a well-written emotional Southern coming-of-age novel of family, heartbreak, love, loss, and acceptance. 

For fans of Southern historical fiction and authors: Leah Weiss, Kim Michele Richardson, Wiley Cash, Emilie Richards, Diane Chamberlain, and David Joy. 

A special thank you to Kensington for an advanced reading copy and the introduction to this talented North Carolina author. Look forward to reading more.

JDCMustReadBooks

  

About the Author

 

Donna Everhart is a USA Today bestselling author of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, an Amazon Best Book/Debut Spotlight, Indie Next Pick for November 2016 and longlisted for the Southern Book Prize,
(formerly the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize)

 

Her next novel, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, January 2018, is a Publisher’s Lunch Buzz Book for Fall/Winter 2017-2018 and a 2018 Southern
Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Trio pick.

 

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, she has lived close to her hometown for most of her life. For several years she worked for high tech companies, specializing in project management and product introduction. She carries a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She lives in Dunn, North Carolina with her husband, Blaine,
and a tiny, heart-stealing Yorkshire terrier, named Mister.

 

She is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and Women’s
Fiction Writers Association. Read More 

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/11/03/The-Road-to-Bittersweet

The Last Suppers

The Last Suppers - Mandy Mikulencak

By: Mandy Mikulencak

ISBN: 9781496710031

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: 12/26/2017 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

Featured Friday Read

“A gorgeous novel that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places.” —Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

 

A beautifully written story, both absorbing and haunting, Mandy Mikulencak delivers a breakout book, THE LAST SUPPERS —a heartbreaking tale of secrets, racism, inequality, the death penalty, and prisoner rights. 

A courageous young woman becomes obsessed with the preparation of the last meals for death row inmates, and a lover haunted by his related past. 

However, there is a mystery to be unraveled about her own father’s murder and secrets of the past. A strong need for justice. 

Part Southern, historical, mystery, and suspense. From the 1920s-1960s, a young woman Ginny works at the fictional Greenmount Penitentiary in Louisiana. Her father was a guard at the same prison years ago and murdered when she was six-years-old.

Ginny Polk currently resides with Roscoe (Warden Simms), who also works at the prison as a warden. He is old enough to be her father. 

Her father, Joe (a heavy drinker) and Roscoe were best friends for years. He promised her father he would take care of her and her mother, Miriam. Roscoe and Ginny keep their relationship a secret inside the prison. Warden and cook. 

Executions were hard on Ginny. The cruelty and darkness of the prison often overwhelmed her and gave her panic attacks and nightmares. Her mom, Miriam forced her to attend the execution of the man who murdered her dad, when she was only eight-years-old. 

His name was Silas Barnes. She recalled his wife and son. She also remembered the horrors of his claim of innocence until the very end. She is haunted by the family he left behind. She always suspected something was not right. 

Dot, an African woman, also works in the kitchen with Ginny. She is like a mother to her. (loved her). She has always been there for her to pick up the pieces. 

On a side note: Love the show "Queen Sugar." If there is a movie based on this book, would love to see Dot played by Tina Lifford or one of the strong leading ladies. Ginny played by Jessica Elise De Gouw, and Roscoe by Christopher Meloni from "Underground." Love this show and hope it comes back for another season. 

No one can understand why Ginny is so concerned about the death row prisoners, and their last meal. Her madness started the day she was forced to witness the execution of her father’s killer. 

Ginny is now almost thirty years old. She is unsure she loves Roscoe, but she has feelings for him. She knew she did not want to raise children in this compound. 

Currently, Ginny is concerned about the next execution in less than a week. Samuel LeBoux. He will be her nineteenth execution she has witnessed. 

She wants to ensure he has his last meal. She would seek out the prisoner, the family, and try to determine their most memorable dish. Ginny would do her best to replicate it, even using her own money. 

Some thought a man only hours from dying would not be able to enjoy a meal. He has done horrible things. Does he deserve such a right?

Ginny feels differently. It was not the act of eating. It was something memorable the prisoner may have treasured from his past. 

Memory and loss, more than hunger and pleasure. She believed it was a sign of respect to offer them a last meal. A prisoner is a human no matter the crimes they have committed. Ginny wanted to do something special for them. 

She has fond memories of her dad enjoying a tasty dessert. Even after his death, she would learn how to make a new dessert each week. 

Haunted by the families who watched their loved ones die. Her grandmother always said a person’s soul drifted up from his body at the moment of death and some could see it. She still watches. 

“Their fear and anger usually surpassed that of the death row inmate’s emotions, and it was a horrible thing to witness.” 

The executions. The electric chairs. The families. "Ginny always wondered if taking one life for another— meant justice served?" 

She volunteered to witness every execution and take down the prisoners’ last words, although all she had to do was drop off a tray of food and leave. 

Ginny’s scrapbook of these men included the recipe of the dish he requested as his last supper and the words he uttered seconds before dying in the electric chair. 

From rape, murder, and robbery and unspeakable crimes. However, the men had a family. Wives, mothers, children, and friends. What torture did they undergo inside the prison walls?

Roscoe and Ginny’s relationship becomes strained since the board visited often and Roscoe was under a lot of pressure trying to protect inmates. 

Roscoe thought Ginny was trying to make up for something as if she believed the family of her dad’s murderer blamed her. 

He does not want her getting to close to this current execution. What is he hiding? Roscoe has his demons from the past. Those secrets he has been forced to keep quiet. 

Ginny still has nightmares about the family. The worst was the guilt of the family—Taking a father away from his son. She begged his forgiveness. 

Only once in all the years had anyone screamed out he was innocent. It was Silas, her dad’s murderer. He did not receive "the last supper. " This incident still haunts her. Why does she remember now? She feels their utter despair. 

 



Joe hadn’t died at the prison, but rather just outside of Baton Rouge. However, Miriam blamed the penitentiary. What was the real reason he died that night? 

The secrets of the past surface as Ginny becomes involved with Samuel’s last meal. The real truth about that night so long ago is slowly revealed and the events leading up to the murder. 

No matter how many suppers she cooked, she could never undo the pain his family endured. The devastating and lasting memory of Silas Barnes’ death. Was he innocent?

Ginny soon uncovers a shameful part of her daddy’s past. The ugly truths intertwined with Dot’s family history. From the Klan, rape, racial injustice, coverups, and murder. She must make the wrongs, rights. 

Filled with sympathy and compassion, as a reader your heart goes out to Ginny. Secrets, truth, lies, heartbreak, mercy, despair, hope and, redemption. 

She finds comfort in food. Food is an ongoing theme throughout the book, as well as the stories of different inmates and their requests for last meals. A sharing of cooking secrets with the writing of a cookbook. 

Mikulencak deftly unravels a compelling story of heartache, courage, mercy, and love. The author has put her heart into this novel and reflective throughout. Well-researched, an astounding job with the highly-charged subject material and character-development. Darkness and light. Even though historic, we are faced with similar destructive issues today, decades later. 

For fans of Diane Chamberlain, Heather Gudenkauf, Karen White, Vanessa Lafaye, Mary Marcus, Amy Conner, and Kim Richardson. THE LAST SUPPERS is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. (guide included as well as featured recipes). 

Thought-provoking fiction that exposes the dark side of our racial past and present and our ongoing corruption within our distressing prison and justice system, yet today. 

Highly recommend! 

A special thank you to Kensington/John Scognamiglio Imprint for an advanced reading copy. It was a pleasure meeting this talented author. Look forward to more.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/11/07/The-Last-Suppers

Must Read Books Coming January 2018

 

#HappyNewYear 
Look What's Coming

2018 in Books

Pre-Order Now! 

J A N U A R Y   2 0 1 8  

 

January Starts out with a Bang! 

Click on Titles to read more.  

 

 

 

Only the Rain

Randall Silvis

Jan 1

 

 

The Woman in the Window 

A. J. Finn 

Jan 2

 

 

The Spring Girls

A Modern-Day Retelling of
Little Women
Anna Todd

Jan 2

 

 

The Wife Between Us

 Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

Jan 9

 

 

The Immortalists 

Chloe Benjamin 

Jan 9

 

Just Between Us

Rebecca Drake 

Jan 9

 

 

The Chalk Man

C.J Tudor 

Jan 9

 

 

The Perfect Nanny 

Leila Slimani 

Jan 9

 

 

The English Wife

Lauren Willig

Jan 9

 

 

Between Me and You

Allison Winn Scotch

Jan 9

 

 

The Girls in the Picture

Melanie Benjamin 

Jan 16

 

 

Everything Here is Beautiful

Mira T. Lee 

Jan 16

 

 

The Promise Between Us

 Barbara Claypole White 

Jan 16 

 

 

Watch Me

Jody Gehrman

Jan 23

 

The Wife

Alafair Burke

Jan 23

 

Walking the Bones

Ryan DeMarco Mystery #2
 Randall Silvis 

Jan 23 

 

 

Keep Her Safe 

K. A. Tucker

Jan 23

 

Here We Lie

 Paula Treick DeBoard

Jan 30

 

Still Me

JoJo Moyes

Jan 30

 

Hell Bent

 Orphan X #3
 Greg Hurwitz

Jan 30

  

 
 
 

 

 

 On My Radar for 2018 thus far.

 

H A P P Y  R E A D I N G! 

 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

 

Check Back, More Titles to follow. 

 

 

Blog Tour

Book Giveaway Contest

Jan 15-Feb 1

 

WALKING THE BONES

Randall Silvis 

 

 

JDCMustReadBooks

 

Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/2018-must-read-books