Thursday, January 6, 2022

Tell-Tale Heart : "Nora Goes Off Script" by Annabel Monaghan


 I have read a string of great books, recently. Books I absolutely loved! But Annabel Monaghan's Nora Goes Off Script is perhaps my favorite of them. The author made me fall in love with her characters (Leo!!)  and the story around them and made me want to visit and hang out and be besties with them, too!

Nora Hamilton is living in the country on and old farm that has a unique feature, an old stone building with a fires place and a view of the woods that you can see straight through when the door is left open. It is here that Nora, a scriptwriter for a romance TV channel, does her writing.

She is now a single mom of two kids. Her husband blew through his trust fund and used up most of the money she earned on his failed ideas and business plans. Then, he has the audacity to dump HER! Then, she realizes she is relieved he's gone!

So, she does what any writer might do in her circumstances. She writes a script dealing with that disaster of a marriage and sells it, not to the Romance Channel, but to Hollywood! And then, not long after, a film crew shows up complete with maybe the two most famous actors in Hollywood or on the planet! Leo Vance and Naomi Sanchez will be playing Nora and her ex! Can her life get any crazier?

 We shall see! Because what follows is one of the funniest, heartbreaking-ist and endearing stories you will read next year (as it isn't released until June! Put that release date on your calendar!)! A BIG thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC! I'll be recommending this one a lot! 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Blended Family: "The Unplanned Life" of Josie Hale by Stephanie Eding

 

Josie thought she had her happy ending. Until she found her husband with his assistant at the Veterinary clinic where they worked. This was after they tried to make a go of their marriage one more time! So she packed up, quit her job and left Chicago to head back to the small Illinois town where she grew up and  her parents' home. So she never got to tell him the big news. That she was now pregnant. Instead, she's jobless, living with her parents, and feeling pretty pathetic.

To cheer herself up, she goes to the county fair, craving a corn dog, while also trying to keep a low profile from the home town friends she grew up with. No sooner does she park herself on a bench to eat when she is recognized by the last two people she expected to see, her old best friend, Kevin, and her high school crush, Ben.

Joining her table for lunch and catching up, she confesses all that happened to her and what a loser she feels like. Turns out, Ben had an equally sad past few years and Kevin is working for his dad at the family insurance company. The two friends are living in the house Ben bought for his own failed marriage. Kevin comes up with a plan, a pact whereby they would strive to improve their lives in a year. He calls it the "Corn Dog Pact".
Going back to her parents, and thinking things can't get much worse, she finds out they are selling their house and moving into a small condo. There would be no room for her to live, too. She was essentially homeless! 

Meeting up again, a short while later, with Kevin and Ben, they  make a proposal, that Josie move in with them.
Can this be a solution? Or will it bring more problems? Josie is a spunky, funny and smart young woman. And Kevin and Ben are both the kind of guy any girl would love to move in with! Unless they are jobless,and 3 months pregnant.
This is such an engaging read with characters you will love and root for and cheer on as you follow their stories. I loved this one so much I was sad to finish it, as who wouldn't want to hang with those three? Highly recommended, but be warned... it will leave you craving a corn dog, even if you never had one! Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!



Saturday, January 1, 2022

Off the Map: "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This is the first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia that I've read and it is SO good! This is the kind of grab you and read till the very end even if it means staying up ALL night kind of book I love!
Our heroine, Noemi Taboada, is young woman used to a sophisticated lifestyle with many men falling for her as she makes the rounds of parties and dances as well as studying anthropology at college. She’s beautiful and smart and when her father tasks her with trying to find out what ails her beloved recently married cousin, she sets off on an unforgettable journey!
 
Noemi is everything you want in a star character. She's beautiful, and uses that and her ability at socializing and small talk to her advantage when faced with some unusual characters and disturbing circumstances. She's also smart, tough and loyal to her ill cousin. Be prepared for mystery, creepy goings on and an unexpected love story.

It’s a popular book and recently optioned for a Hulu series. Though I can’t imagine the TV version will do as good a job of recreating this story as the author did in print (and your imagination does when reading!)! Trust me when I say there are scenes when you will yell "What the heck?!" How they'll film that, I don't know. But don't wait for the series, read it first!



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Paradise Lost: "Of Love and Abuse" by Kayla Lowe

 

Spoiler alerts for anyone who hasn't read the first three volumes of Kayla Lowe's Tainted Love series!

Sara and Bruce are married! The beautiful young woman had fallen for the online man who intrigued her and won her heart when he played the Phantom to her Christine in messages that kept her from being the good, freshman student that she started out as, in book one. When the man she thought was her soulmate shows up in person, she finds he is 30 years older than her, and that is only the first of the deceits he used to win her heart.

Once she defies her concerned and caring parents by moving in with Bruce and then moving to Florida, far from home, she feels there is no turning back.

Now, they are husband and wife. Sara is trying to earn and save money, first with part time jobs outside their home and then with online writing and editing at which she excels. They finally have enough money to move to a beachside apartment. It's further from his friends with whom he spent most of his days drinking and smoking.

While they turn their new place into a home with Sara shopping for second hand, and affordable furnishings and decorations, she is also finding he is trying more and more to make her spend time with him, whether at the beach or drinking. Something she never would have thought to find herself doing, but is becoming a worrisome habit as part of their marriage. Even though her parents and Bruce come to a sort of peaceful understanding so they can visit and so Sara can in turn come home occasionally, he still gets in black rages about her calling them. Can they work things out and have the happy marriage Sara hopes for... or has it all been a terrible decision that she has to live with. Are there darker days  to come or will there be a happy ending? You will have to read this series to find out!

Powerfully written and intensely realistic, Ms. Lowe has created a character you care about in Sara, and Bruce has a magnetism that seems to be able to win her over despite common sense and  her parents fear for her safety. I can't wait to see what happens in volume 5! Highly recommended!




Join the Club: "The Final Girl Support Group" by Grady Hendrix

 

Lynette is a "Final Girl". She survived something terrible that happened when she was a teen. Something, or rather, someone, so horrible, that she is lucky to be alive. She lost her parents, her little sister and her boyfriend.  All in one night. Her Monster is behind bars. She should feel safe now, shouldn't she?

She is a member of the Final Girl Support Group. Along with 5 other Final Girls. Each a survivor of  some horrendous event which took out others, but somehow, they managed to make it out alive. There are movies based on their experiences, and documentaries and online forums that discuss the crimes and the killers, some of them are fan groups of the various murderers.

Besides her attendance at the support group, Lynette lives alone, with just a house plant as a companion. She is wary and paranoid and  always ready to make a quick getaway if she has to. Then something happens that might force her into action. What that something is and what follows is something you will have to find out for yourself.

This is a suspenseful and darkly funny story. I loved Grady Hendrix's previous book, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires and I'm looking forward to reading his older titles as he is great at capturing the various characters that occupy his fictional worlds. Highly recommended!



Thursday, June 24, 2021

Invisible Man: "Wrong Alibi" by Christine Dodd

 This was the first Christina Dodd book I've read and it had me from the first sentence!  I listened to it on audiobook through hoopla and it was grippingly narrated by Vanessa Johansson. A good narrator makes or breaks an audiobook and Ms. Johansson definitely made this a listen to the end experience from the start!

It is set in Alaska, a place I have always found fascinating as a setting for a story, and begins with Petie, a young woman caretaking at a fishing camp in the wilderness, she is dealing with a wild winter storm and a power outage, but is self sufficient enough to be able to get things working again.  How she came to be living such a solitary existence unfolds as we learn that not long before she had been a resident of a juvenile detention home in California, and her name had been Evie Jones. Abandoned by her mother and sister, her caseworker helps her find a job.

This job turns out to be working for a seemingly well-off man who wants an assistant to help him with his business in a house filled with antiquities in a small town in Alaska. This man, Donald White, meets her at the airport and has her drive his fancy jaguar despite the fact that she only just got her license. 

As she cleans and prepares food and does computer work for Mr. White, he also makes some odd requests of her, that she deposit large sums of money in a bank account in town that is listed under her name. He explains that he is saving money to help the former owner of the house who is being help prisoner by a rebel gang in a foreign country. He tells her the man's wife sold him the house took her son and went to live with relatives until her husband's release. He also tells her he'll be away at times and that she never look in the basement because she might get injured going down the stairs leading to it.

What happens next will hook you into reading, or listening to the very end, as Evie/Petie finds herself framed for a double murder and the story takes off from there and is filled with some surprising twists and turns and reveals! If you love a good thriller filled with great characters, a unique setting and that wraps everything up perfectly, then this book is for you! 





Friday, June 18, 2021

Hit Girl: "Finlay Donovan is Killing It" by Elle Cosimano

 

Not many books make me laugh out loud, but Elle Cosimano's Finlay Donovan is Killing It is such an enjoyable read I started telling everyone I know to get a copy!  It's funny, suspenseful, and has some hot guys thrown in for good measure! Right from the first couple of sentences Finlay has us on her side. A single mom of two young kids, Finlay, an author of police thrillers, is trying to make ends meet after her husband dumped her for the realtor who sold them the house she's now living in. It's not the career she'd hoped for and doesn't brings in much beyond a meager advance. Her ex, Steve and Theresa (the realtor) are doing fantastically while Finlay has to keep asking her ex to help bail her out of her financial problems. He's also fired her nanny, Veronica, someone she depended on.

Arranging to meet her agent at a local Panera, and throwing on dark glasses and a wig-scarf, so the manager won't recognize her and kick her out for previous troublemaking, she hopes Sylvia might be able to get some more money out of her publisher. Frustrated by her recent writing, and worried about it becoming too formulaic, they discuss contracts, characters and killings before Sylvia takes off to meet with another client, Finlay returns to her table to find a mysterious note under her plate. A note that says :
$50,000 cash.
Harris Mickler
and an address and a phone number.

There must be some kind of mistake. That kind of money could turn things around for her. But was this some kind of joke? I don't want to give away any further details because it is so much fun following Finlay as she tries to navigate a new reality and that this might just be the first of a series is more good news, because this is the kind of book you just don't want to end!
5 Stars! Thank you to NetGalley for the DRC!