THE WIFE

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Alafair Burke
  • Published Jan. 23, 2018
  • By Harper Books/Harper Audio

SYNOPSIS:

His scandal. Her secret.

When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look at the man she married. And when she is asked to defend Jason in court, she realizes that her loyalty to her husband could unearth old secrets.

Whew! It feels like forever since I read a 5 star novel in my adored psychological thriller genre. THE WIFE is everything I’m constantly on the lookout for in a book! However, this little gem wasn’t even in my sightline, mainly because of the boring cover and generic title. I know, I can be really shallow like that.  Also, in my defense, the blurb makes it sound a bit too chick-lit for me.  No, I was so wrong! IT IS A DETAILED PORTRAIT OF A SOCIOPATH.  Thanks to my amazing Goodreads friends for bringing THE WIFE to my attention.  It’s a very new book and I was still able to check it out from my local library on my beloved Overdrive App. Both written and audio versions were available, which shows me THE WIFE is still flying under the radar for a lot of readers. Quick, now’s your chance to read it free from your library, before it becomes a hot commodity!

I was starting to question my love for the unreliable narrator after so many alcoholic and agoraphobic narrators. Yawn. Yawn. OBVIOUSLY, they are unreliable! It’s so much more fun for the reader to figure out IF the narrator is trustworthy or not. Are we being lied to? Who can we believe? I love the simple mystery of figuring out which characters we can trust.  I was wrong about all my preconceived notions about THE WIFE.  And I have the highest regards for a book that surprises me.

In THE WIFE, Alafair Burke has created the perfect blend of a character driven suspense novel with some police investigation (just enough) and courtroom drama (again, just enough!). On top of that perfect combo, Burke is a gifted storyteller and creates tension in small ways. The story feels relevant and timely; seriously, this book feels like it was written this month, all the current events are spot-on accurate.

The plot is full of twists, but not huge IN YOUR FACE twists, again, just small enough that you read a sentence a couple of times to make sure you got it right! There are clues all throughout the book, but until those last few pages can you start piecing together your suspicions. Even then, watch out for the last sentence!

If you are into listening to your books, the audio version is OUTSTANDING. The actress is unbelievably talented, I felt like I was listening to my best friend tell me a juicy story.  I was constantly all “and then what happened?”

I don’t know where Alafair Burke has been my whole life, but I’m in love with her writing. (Okay, so I googled Ms. Burke and it appears she spent some time in my hometown of Portland, OR working as an assistant district attorney for Multnomah County. WHAAAT???)  She obviously knows of what she writes and personally, I think she should quit all her attorney/teaching jobs and just write books for me full time.  Just kidding…

I’m crazy about THE WIFE and chances are… you will be too! Check out that lofty GoodReads rating of 4.01!!

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THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT

FIVE STARS

  • Author: Chris Bojhalian
  • By: Doubleday
  • Publication Date: March 13, 2018

YES YES YES!! Last page turned. Cue the slow clap. This is a phenomenal character-driven mystery WITH A TWISTY, SATISFYING ENDING I will not soon forget.

I don’t know who said “the devil is in the details” but if that’s true, then Chris Bohjalian is the devil himself. The plot is intricate and complex with well-researched details and data providing clues for the reader in this story of international suspense.

Yes, much of the story is set in cushy locales and sumptuous hotels, but the pull of the novel lies in our high-flying party girl. Our flight attendant, Cassie, is a psychologically impaired young woman who single-handedly drinks more in an evening than I do in a year. She means well and does worry about her bad habits. She loves her friends and family and volunteers at the animal shelter whenever she is at home in NYC. Awww, a detail that deff pulled at my heartstrings. Cassie, with all her flaws, is a human being as real as any fictional character can possibly become. She is endearing, maddening, and most of all, REAL! I loved her.

I don’t want to give away any of the story line, because it goes in places you will not expect. And you will love that. What I can say is… this is the book I wanted The Woman in Cabin 10 to be. It is a very strong and convincing plot with thoroughly fleshed out characters. Ruth Ware is a swell writer, but (forgive me for saying!) she could stand to learn a thing or two from Bohjalian when it comes to structure and plot.

You think you’ve heard all the gossipy stories about the crazy things passengers do on planes? Wait until you read some of the nuggets Cassie has to share about things she has seen in her career! I also loved reading about the flight schedules, the day-to-day life, THE DETAILS of what it’s like to be a flight attendant. I found it riveting!!

An old-fashioned suspense thriller that reads as fast as an addictive domestic noir, it is simply terrific. All my writerly respect to the brilliant Mr. Bohjalian! You will not want to miss this one. UnknownBlogger’s note: I posted this review originally on GoodReads a few weeks before the book publication date. Chris Bohjalian saw the review and tweeted out my most treasured tweet ever……

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About the author:

Chris Bohjalian is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 20 books.  His work has been translated into over 30 languages and three times become movies.

Writers-Digest-CoverThe paperback of “The Sleepwalker” was just published.

He has a brand new novel arriving in March 2018, “The Flight Attendant.”

His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.

His awards include the Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts; the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia’s Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; a Best Lifestyle Column for “Idyll Banter” from the Vermont Press Association; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives,was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah’s Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.  He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for The Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.

Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College. He has been awarded Honorary Degrees as well from Amherst and Champlain College.

He lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer.

Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated are Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands and The Guest Room.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US

5 out of 5 stars!

  • Authors: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
  • Publication date: January 9, 2018
  • by St. Martins Press

Summary From Goodreads:

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

Discover the next blockbuster novel of suspense, and get ready for the read of your life.

My Thoughts (NO SPOILERS):

How ironic that this book is as fun to read and as twisty as Gone Girl, yet the description doesn’t even mention Gone Girl. What? Unheard of!

BY LAW: All domestic thrillers must state they are the next Gone Girl. 

This book is so good, I predict that future twisty books will be touting themselves as the next THE WIFE BETWEEN US.

YES! This book is that good! Clever. Dark. Filled with unreliable narrators, shocking plot twists, need I go on? Oh, you want a little more about the story, right?

The age-old plot is relatively simple: In the beginning, we get to know sweet, naive Nellie and her new relationship with the older and self-assured Richard. Nellie works as a preschool teacher in the city and loves her busy life and friends. But, someone is following Nellie. Making her jumpy, nervous and anxious. She has thoughts alluding to a secret in her past. All we know is she moved abruptly from her college town in Florida straight to NYC to start a new life.

I’m immediately suspicious.

And there is that pesky ex-wife of Richard’s. Nellie doesn’t know much about her, but is she the one calling her cell phone at all hours, spying on her from outside the window?

Nellie loves and feels safe with Richard. She proceeds to plan a wedding with him. Everything is going well and she is so in love with the thoughtful, protective Richard. Soon, she has quit her beloved job in order to move to a beautiful home in the suburbs with Richard.

Unfortunately, things go downhill for Nellie.

The clever construction of the story lies in the way it is told. I’m on tip-toes with this summary and I don’t dare say anything to ruin the fun for you. In fact, my advice is to not read any more reviews about this book.

100% of the fun is knowing there is a major twist, looking for it and then not seeing it until…. it hits you right on the old noodle! Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US is fast and addictive with all the dark elements I know my twisty-loving tribe lives for.  If you belong to this tribe, you must read this book as soon as possible!

Great deal today on Amazon The Wife Between Us: A Novel

 

 

NIGHT FILM

5 / 5 stars!

  • Author: Marisha Pessi
  • Kindle Edition, 640 pages/ Published August 20th 2013 by Random House
  • Audiobook, Unabridged / Published August 20th 2013 by Random House Audio  23 hours 9 min.  Narrated by Jake Weber.

After spending a whole day peeling back the Night Film tentacles from around my head, 51vWflKwGPL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_I can gratefully report that I’m almost back to my normal self after reading this one.

Let me correct the last part of that sentence. One does not simply read Night Film. Before you open this book, take a moment to prepare yourself.

You are about to enter into a multi-media, multi-sensory whole body experience. It is not unlike having a black magic spell cast upon your coconut. You will know nothing but Night Film. Think of nothing but Night Film. If you do sleep, your dreams will be the creepy, dark type. You start to feel you are being watched. You will dig out your long lost pepper spray and start carrying it with you on walks. You will find yourself googling Stanislas Cordova. Was he actually given the 1980 Oscar for Best Director by the lovely Goldie Hawn?

YES! YOU KNOW IT’S FICTIONAL, BUT YOUR MIND WON’T ACCEPT THE FACT. It is presented in such a realistic manner with authentic photos, videos, and articles from Vanity Fair,  The Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and The New York Times. There are police reports, artifacts, and interview transcriptions to help with your investigation. It’s one thing to read about a haunting photo, but to have that photo to study for yourself? Genius.

PLOT SUMMARY: The daughter of a reclusive horror-film director Stanislas Cordova is found dead, and fallen journalist Scott McGrath falls into a maddening wormhole of trying to uncover the truth behind the girl’s murder. Night Film gets darker and more twisted the deeper McGrath ventures into Cordova’s world—the man hasn’t been seen in public in 30 years, and his films are so horrifying that it’s believed the person who created them must be seriously disturbed as well.

The book is bone-chilling scary, but not in an obvious slasher way. The author creates and instills just enough fear to make your imagination run away with a suitcase and never come back. This is a major theme of Night Film: the power of imagination and the human mind which seeks to bridge the gap between the two. When faced with the unknown, we tend to look for answers in religion or just plain old superstitions. Can our fears all be explained in concrete, provable terms? Does evil always have to have a reason to exist? Pessl doesn’t give us all the answers and that’s why every person that reads Night Film will take away something different. I love that.

A genre-bending book, I have no idea how it could be classified justly. I would recommend it first and foremost just for the murder investigation at the heart of the plot. From the prologue until the bitter end, discovering what really happened to Ashley Cordova will keep you turning the pages all night. Now, add in the multi-media presentation because that greatly enhances the story and experience. This technique is unique without being gimmicky, and is truly original. Next, sprinkle in some Stephen King horror elements and just a touch of the supernatural–voila!  You have Night Film.

This is not a perfect book, much as I want all my favorites to be. It is a bit too long and the ending is not as satisfying as it could be. But, these minor points are easily overcome by Pessl’s fabulous writing style. She reminds me of my two spirit animals, Gillian Flynn and Tana French, writing in a fluid, descriptive manner. Her characters are fleshed out, the plot is addictive and the mood she sets? Wow. Dark, haunting, sobering.

I began this book on audio. I quickly realized I needed to see written words, since this is a complex GIANT novel. It was only then that I understood how much I would have missed by sticking only with audio! I hadn’t read a ton of reviews and I didn’t even know about the multi-media part of the book. Trust me! This is where the magic happens! You feel like you are right there on the case with Scott McGrath, studying clues and helping to solve the twisted Cordova mystery.

The Kindle multi-media version is amazing and when coupled with the astonishingly good audio, well, you can understand why I had to recover a day when I finished.  If you are open to a bit of horror in your psychologically twisty mysteries, this is the book for you. I can’t recommend it enough!

PESSL1-RESIZE-206x300If you’re here, perhaps you know the basics. I’m a New York Times bestselling author. My first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times. My second book, Night Film, was named a best book by NPR, Cosmopolitan and Bookpage, and is currently in development with Chernin Entertainment at 20th Century Fox. My books have been published in over twenty-five languages.

I grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and currently live with my family in New York City. I attended Northwestern University, where I majored in Film, then transferred to Barnard College where I majored in English Literature with a minor in Playwriting.

After graduating I was hired by PricewaterhouseCoopers as a financial consultant. In my tiny cubicle on the fifty-second floor of the Fox News Building, when my boss believed I was hard at work on PowerPoint presentations, I was actually searching the company database for cool character names for the new novel I was writing called The Anatomy of Butterflies, later retitled, Memoir of an American Girl. Two years later, after moving to London, I finished the book, which came to be known as Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

My favorite part of this job is the creation—building a universe from scratch, populating the planet with characters, landmarks, and hidden tunnels. I used to plot out my books meticulously but now I start with an evocative premise and see where it leads. I’m often asked to explain what my novels are about, but I find it difficult to answer. Writing is a meditation, a brutal trek through the wilderness, and a magic trick all at once.

I’m in awe of fearless people who build companies and outsiders who design worlds, anyone who isn’t afraid to break the mold or stand alone. People who never stop seeking the truth to the mysteries of their lives with courage, humor, and a healthy respect for murk.

A few artists who influence my work are Agatha Christie, John Hughes, Mark Twain, David Lynch, Shel Silverstein, and Truman Capote.

I love anyone who takes time out of their hectic lives to read, so I look forward to meeting you in bookstores around the world.

taken from her website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Amanda Robson talks OBSESSION with Jewels

Jewels:  Congratulations on your fabulous book dealing with disturbed, impetuous characters! It is my favorite read of the summer!

Amanda Robson:  Thank you for your very kind words. I was thrilled to read your review.

J:  OBSESSION goes deep into marital relationships as well as mental illnesses. How long did you research the various issues before starting to write? 

AR:  I have been listening to friend’s problems over the years and empathising. Also, a very close friend of mine has just retired as a Relate counsellor, so all in all it has been a long term observational interest rather than anything I had to research specifically.

J:    How long did it take to write the book?

AR:  I had been writing a piece of historical fiction for many years which took a lot of research and re- drafting. I just missed getting it published and was so disappointed. The idea of Obsession suddenly popped into my head and so I decided to go for it and change genre. Writing a psychological thriller came to me much more naturally than historical fiction.  Obsession only took me six months.

J:   I find it fascinating that you previously co-authored a medical book on cyanide poisoning. When did you realize you wanted to write fiction?

AR:   I wanted to write fiction from being a teenager. I always loved writing poetry too. But because of my early scientific career and bringing up my children, writing a novel never got a look in. A few pieces of poetry for private consumption was the best I could do. It wasn’t until my children were late teenagers that I really felt I had the time. When I saw their lives moving forwards and mine stagnating, I realized this was the time to take control and do what I had always wanted to do.  

J:  I read that you wanted to be an actress in another life. Who would you like to see act in the role of Carly if OBSESSION was made into a movie (fingers crossed!)?

AR:  I would love Scarlett Johansson to play Carly, as she is so interesting and versatile. Scarlett Johanssan has a very expressive face, which is exactly how I imagine Carly.  

J:   Yes! I 100% agree! Scarlett Johansson would be absolutely perfect as the gorgeous, blonde, funny and intense Carly!

J:  I saw that one of your favorite contemporary authors is Chimamanda Ngozi. I loved AMERICANAH! Which of her books is your favorite and why?

AR:  Americanah is my favourite too.  It is so sharply and evocatively written, and the main character is so well drawn. I think it is a book of importance, challenging the West’s attitudes to race in a very haunting way.  The way Ngozi describes in detail the thoughts and feelings of a few characters, so that I can imagine their situation, rather than being bulldozed by statistics, works for me in a very powerful way.   

J:  Were you influenced by any other current authors in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre?

AR:  Definitely. I loved Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Didn’t everybody?

J:  Yes, I certainly did! Both books are in my TWISTER HALL OF FAME!

J:   Without spoiling the ending for readers, OBSESSION does have a quite shocking one. How many various endings did you imagine for the book? Or was it always going to be the final product?

AR:  I did have another ending. But I changed it so that the reader could have more empathy with one of the characters. Guess which one?

J:   Hahaha! Yes I think I know which character you mean. And the ending definitely works! It is realistic, plausible and shocking. The best kind of plot twist.

J:  Please tell me you are working on a new book! If so, can you say anything about it yet?

AR:  I have just finished the second edit of my next book Guilt. It is another domestic thriller, in which two sisters get into a bad situation with the same man.

J:  I can’t wait to read GUILT, Amanda! Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to visit with me. Congratulations on OBSESSION!

Available on Amazon Now! Obsession: The bestselling psychological thriller perfect for summer reading

amanda-robson-profile

Amanda Robson, author of OBSESSION. See my review of OBSESSION here.