An Anonymous Girl

I don’t know about you, but I have the day after Christmas holiday hangover of not wanting to do much of anything except sitting around and drink coffee and read. By itself, that’s a bad idea; however, I’ve read a dozen books all of which now need reviews written for them. Would anyone like to volunteer for me, please? No? Oh, okay then…. On the first day after Christmas I wrote about An Anonymous Girl…..

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanan, authors of the best-selling hit book “The Wife Between Us,” are back and the hype their book is receiving is well deserved!

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In a world where morality is an ever changing gauge, a fluid point on which no two people agree, making ones way through relationships – familial, friendship, romantic liaisons – can be tricky at best. So, when Jessica, a make up consultant in need of money, overhears a client talking about a morality study at the local university that pays a handsome fee in return, she maneuvers her way into the study, a move that will alter her life forever.

This is a smart, expertly written psychological thriller that weaves a web of deceit so intricate that you will caught into it before you realize the first strand has been laid down for you. The characters are deftly written, I disliked them and loved them at varying times and all at once – is that is even possible – until the very last line of the book.

While I wasn’t a fan of The Wife Between Us, I found An Anonymous Girl to be extremely entertaining, very thrilling, a marvelous cat and mouse game and the ending was sheer perfection. The only reason I didn’t give it a full five stars is because there were scenarios that were just too over the top that they were unbelievable. That doesn’t always bother me, after all this is fiction, but it didn’t always work in this work. The book was, however, an excellent read and I highly recommend it!

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Forget You Know Me @jessicastrawser

When a video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see, the secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

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I have read and loved both of Jessica Strawser’s previous novels and knew that I would enjoy reading Forget You Know Me as well. I wasn’t wrong! From the first chapter to the end, the book had me hooked and greedily wanting more! While many erroneously believe that this is a thriller, the thing I’ve learned about Strawser is that, while the suspense is there, it is not the focal point of the story – the characters are where the interest lies and what makes you furiously read to the end. This is definitely a women’s fiction/general fiction, literary novel.

The story begins with two childhood friends making a video call. Their friendship, once forged of steel, is now weakening as both women deal with their own, very different adult lives. Neither wants to give up on what they had when they were younger, but neither do they know how to re-connect. It is during this video call, the call that they both hope will strengthen their friendship once more, that Liza sees a masked intruder in her friend’s home while her friend, Molly, is away from her computer to tend to her child. As Liza frantically calls 911, Molly is upstairs, unaware that anything has happened. When she returns, the laptop is closed and the police are banging on her door. Liza, terrified because her friend will not return her calls, hops in the car and drives from Chicago to Ohio to check on her friend, who, upon her arrival slams the door in her face. ??? Not what Liza expected at all. The story continues to unfold from each friend’s perspective. We learn about their fears, worries, trials and tribulations, marital problems, health problems – you know, all of the things that we all deal with every single day. Yet, somehow, Strawser makes their story so incredibly compelling that the reader becomes invested in their lives and the outcome of this harrowing event.

I will admit that there are some minor flaws in the storyline and some very nit-picking details that had me scratching my head at times. There also were many occasions that I wanted to reach into the book and slap all of the characters for being so stubborn and uncommunicative because, ultimately, all of their problems revolved around miscues, assumptions and miscommunication. Don’t people just talk to one another any more? Well, that is the question that this book will have you asking yourself. Ultimately, this is a book about friendships that come and go, old and new. It is about commitment and what it takes to make any type of relationship work. Most importantly, it is about bonds that we forge – human to human – what it takes to nurture them, strengthen them and when to know to break them for our own well-being. Forget You Know me is a strong, character driven tale in which Strawser deftly guides you along as you explore these characters’ lives, their quirks, pain and joy.

Forget You Know Me has repeatedly been listed as a “must-read” book for this winter and I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree. Strawser is an author that I know I can count on for a very good, well written, beautifully told story.

Immense thanks and gratitude to #Netgalley, @JessicaStrawser and @StMartinsPress for my advanced copy of this amazing book.

Dear Santa @NancyNaigle

Happy Publication Day to @NancyNaigle and her endearing holiday tale, #DearSanta!

It’s Two for Tuesday and I’m thrilled that it’s also exactly TEN WEEKS until Christmas so that I can share with you another wonderful Christmas book, perfect for this season!

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We all have written that proverbial “Dear Santa” letter at least sometime in our lives. It’s a letter where children pour out their hearts to Santa and ask, okay beg, for all of their wishes to come true on Christmas morning. In Dear Santa, a very adult Angela, through the encouragement of her adorable niece, writes such a letter using an online app. It is Angela’s last hope for her failing business.

Angela’s only goal in life was to successfully run her family’s business, a Christmas store set in an old lighthouse that had been in her family for three generations. She was raised by the side of her grandmother, Grace, who had carried on the business started by her mother, Mackey. Yep, that’s right, Mackey. (I have to tell you that I never have read a book that included a female Mackey who has the same spelling as mine, so already you know that I am hooked on this story, right?) However, Angela’s rather old fashioned values of not connecting to social media, rarely used advertising and her staunch ideas about selling high end merchandise rather than affordable kitsch, have led to the downfall of her business. The final nail in the store’s coffin comes when a chain store marketing cheap goods, a lot of flair and advertising and hoopla, move in across the street from her. In her angst, Angela agrees to write to “Santa” for help. Little does she realize that the “Santa” on the other side of the app is the owner of the new mega-store. The result is classic romance: enemies by day, confidants by night via the “Dear Santa” app.

Dear Santa is a classic holiday romance with the couple hating each other and then, through a series of holiday “miracles” realizing how much they love each other. In this case, the story line reminded me a bit of the sweet movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I loved that movie and I absolutely adored this book! The writing is very well done, never too over-the-top and the characters are beautifully developed. Because I own a small business in a small town and see how my fellow townspeople struggle to walk the fine line between quality, quantity, nostalgia and the ever changing way that we do business in the 21st century, this book – Angela specifically – truly resonated with me. I could feel her heartbreak as well as her hope. Admittedly, I didn’t care for Angela’s sister or even Geoff, the mega store owner, at least until about mid-way of the book, but again, that was part of the story and the strong emotions that I felt were the result of very good writing on Naigle’s part.

You already know that I love holiday tales and, if you’re like me and holiday reading is your thing, then I am sure you will love this book as much as I did.

You can find the book today at your local retailers, Amazon and, hopefully, your local library! Enjoy!

My thanks to #Netgalley, #StMartinsPress – about whom I never can praise highly enough – and @NancyNaigle for my copy of this endearing book!

I Do Not Trust You #Blogtour #LauraJBurns #MelindaMetz

I am beyond excited to be a stop on this blog tour – it is my first! I’m quite sure that I will not do this properly so forgive me in advance if it is not like all of the others. The MAIN THING is that you know about this terrific new book and this fabulous writing team! 

Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight.  Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. Together they criss-cross the globe from the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt in their search for elusive relic. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she traveling with a friend or enemy?
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I Do Not Trust You is an adventure tale that will conjure up comparisons to Lara Croft and Indiana Jones in their younger days. “M” and Ash are on a mission to find a secret Egyptian relic before a zealous group who believe the relic can bring about power for their cause. Both “M” and Ash have their own reasons for wanting the relic. M’s father, whom she has believed to be dead for over a year, is allegedly being held captive while he translates the ancient text on a hieroglyphic map. Ash, a member of the “Eye.” an Egyptian religious order sworn to protect the relic, must find it before the zealots. While this sounds a bit confusing, all is explained beautifully in I Do Not Trust You, along with some amazing historical, geographical and mythological facts.

The story is simply told and I was never quite sure if this book was meant for younger readers, young adult or adult. It was entertaining regardless of the intended audience. As a history and literature grad, this book was exactly what I enjoy reading. Unfortunately it is being sold as an “adventure” novel and there wasn’t quite enough action for that to ring true. It is, however, a great mystery based on some incredible Egyptian myths. I also felt that the character development is what drove the book, rather than the suspense. I say this because there are those who expect their “thriller” novels to be very tense with a lot of fast paced action. You won’t find that here. Instead, it is a great, steady read with conversational wit and humor. I truly enjoyed reading it. Four Mythological Stars for I Do Not Trust You.

The Two Headed Team:

I had the pleasure of getting to know the authors a little bit and to ask them a few questions. They are amazing women with an impressive combined CV that never ends!

LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

  1. Writing generally is considered a solitary sport, how did the two of you come together and do you find there are challenges writing as a duo?

We consider ourselves lucky that we can write together, since it’s more fun to play doubles than a solitary sport! We first met when we were both editors at the same company. We each edited a different Fear Street series by R.L. Stine. Melinda worked on the middle grade books, Ghosts of Fear Street, and Laura worked on the YA Fear Street books. One of our jobs was to come up with plot ideas, and that’s a hard thing to do by yourself. Sitting alone in a room and thinking up concepts just doesn’t work as well as bouncing ideas back and forth. We quickly began coming up with all our plots together, even though we weren’t working on the same series. And we just kept doing it! We liked all the same books and movies and TV shows, which meant we had all the same pop-culture reference points, so we could use a sort of shorthand with each other.

In terms of challenges, we aren’t the best writing partners to ask, because we don’t really have any. We began writing together for television and moved on to doing books as a team. A lot of writers talk about how difficult it is to adapt to another writer’s style or to argue over plots. We don’t have that problem. We often joke that we share a brain because it’s so easy for us to write in the same voice.

2. When creating a character for your book, do you already know who they are or do they develop as you are writing the story?

We are planners (as opposed to pantsers) so we don’t write a thing until we know who the characters are and what the plot is. Character is generally our starting point, although sometimes we have a plot-driven idea and work out the characters second. We always figure out their backstories, their personalities and how they’re going to sound, and their goals. We decide on what the main characters need from one another and how their relationships are going to work. Of course, characters do develop a bit as we write. If one of us makes a discovery about them–say, a running conflict they have with one of their parents–we let the other know and it gets worked in as we both write.

3. I Do Not Trust You takes the young readers on a world-wide quest. Do you both travel extensively or did this require a huge amount of research?

We’ve both traveled some, but nothing like what our characters M and Ash do! Sadly, we don’t have M’s ability to speak several languages or Ash’s access to the cash his group has accumulated over centuries. So we researched our locations online and just wished we could be there in person. However, since there really aren’t ancient Egyptian artifacts buried at all of these sites (we assume), many details are imaginary as well!

Thank you to #LauraJBurns and #MelindaMetz for their insight and for this incredible book! My thanks also to Brittani at St. Martin’s Press for this opportunity and to #St.MartinsPress, a publishing company on whom you can trust for great reads.