Find Out What Popular Book Clubs Have Chosen For Their Selections This Month.

When deciding what to read next in your bookclub, you might want to see what books celebrities and bookstores are talking about.  Here are some “official” recommendations from Barnes & Noble, Oprah, Reese and Jenna.

Barnes & Noble Book Club

Lisa Jewell

The November book club choice from Barnes & Noble is The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.

I always enjoy a Lisa Jewell book – she keeps you engrossed and guessing.  The last one I read was I Found You. about a missing husband, an unidentified stranger and a charming teenager.  Plenty of mystery to keep you engaged!


Oprah’s Book Club

Oprah and Olive, Again

Oprah’s latest pick is Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout.  See Oprah making the announcement on CBS This Morning HERE.

If you need a refresher on the cranky, honest main character before you tackle the new Strout book, check out the Pulitzer Prize Winner, Olive Kitteridge .

Olive Kitteridge

You can also see the television mini series with Frances McDormand on HBO.

Reese’s Book Club – Hello Sunshine

Reese Witherspoon

Sticking with an author she loves who creates compelling characters, Reese chose The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes for this month’s pick.

If you haven’t already indulged yourself, Jojo Moyes’s  Me Before You love story trilogy is perfect for those snowy days to come, and warrants a warm blanket and a huge box of tissues!

The movie is also great; CLICK HERE for the trailer!

Read With Jenna

Jenna Bush Hager

Jenna Bush chooses some interesting books that aren’t as obvious as the other celebrity choices. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is about a woman who takes care of two kids who have a special ability.  The reviews have been very good and readers are surprised at how much they are liking this one.

I have enjoyed some recent picks by Jenna.  I loved A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum and Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok.  I just started listening to the audio version of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

Book Clubs

Choosing a book for your group to read can be challenging.   I always like to pick something that has some meat…enough to discuss beyond the plot and writing style.  Whether it be a setting, character relationships or social issues.  Discussing the book and beyond can be informative as well as a bonding experience for participants in the group discussion, as long as everyone is willing to offer up their personal insights and opinions.  All of these books have much to talk about and make great choices!

The Dirty World of NY Crime and Sex Trafficking Investigated By TV Producer Ethan Benson is Exposed in Live To The Network By Jeffrey L. Diamond

Live to the Network cover art

My Review:

Jarring, thrilling and heart pounding, Live to the Network by Jeffrey L. Diamond is an addictive, dark mystery; compelling storytelling with a pace that leaves you breathless.  Ethan Benson, a tv producer at The Weekly Reporter, assists the police force by taking on a forgotten case of gut wrenching, seemingly related murders of several young girls, to generate more public attention.  He devotes himself to shedding light on the monstrous offenses, and in turn becomes obsessed with finding the killer.  Danger increases as each new clue he discovers gets him closer to solving the murders, and at the same time he is battling his own demons, causing his personal life to fall apart.

Author Jeffrey Diamond knows first hand what goes on behind the scenes in television broadcast news.  With forty years of experience under his belt, he offers up a vivid, frightening look at sex trafficking and inappropriate relationships between the law enforcement and the mafia, through the eyes of alcoholic producer Ethan Benson.

Live to the Network is a wild and thrilling criminal mystery ride.  For fans of Law and Order SVUCriminal Minds and Silence of the Lambs, this is the perfect combination of heinous crimes, sly detective work and difficult personal journeys.  Available soon!  Pre-order your copy today!

 

Summary

Jeffrey L. Diamond

Q &A with Author Jeffrey L. Diamond

Q:  As a journalist, producer I imagine you have had some incredible experiences. What was the most exciting story you worked on?

A:  I worked for over forty years as a writer, producer, and director in television news and produced hundreds of stories, ranging from investigative reports on consumer fraud to      high impact interviews, political profiles, human interest, entertainment, breaking news,   and dozens and dozens of crime stories. Picking one that was the most exciting or the most memorable is nigh on impossible. But there was one story I produced over thirty years ago that haunts me to this day. It was a profile of the serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas, who I met in an old rural jail in Texas. At the time, Lucas had been convicted of at least a dozen murders, and the authorities had linked him to well over a hundred more. I spent two days with Lucas, filming him in his jail cell, walking to and from the interview location—guarded by half a dozen Texas Rangers toting long guns—and chained to a chair in a conference room while my crew of ten shot the interview. Lucas was a small, unassuming man, who on the surface, appeared calm, almost meek, but underneath this placid exterior, was a violent and unstable killer who exploded without warning during the interview, rocking back and forth against his chains, screaming obscenities, and then withdrawing back into himself. During the two days I was with him, I never knew what to expect or how he’d react to my camera crew or what I’d capture on film as his personality swung from one extreme to the next. I can truly say that Henry Lee Lucas was the most frightening human being I have ever met. He was pure, unadulterated evil. When writing my second novel, Live to Tape, I modeled my killer, Rufus Wellington, on Henry Lee Lucas—trying to portray the personality of my character on the way Lucas made me feel when I was producing my television news story about this infamous serial killer. 

Q:  Ethan Benson has a drive to investigate cases and be in the line of fire when it comes to discovery. How much of you is in your hero?

A:  There are definitely parts of me in my character, Ethan Benson. He is a producer and a reporter in television news. I was a producer and a reporter in television news. He is an investigative journalist. I was an investigative journalist. He works with camera crews, production personnel, and anchormen. I worked with camera crews, production personnel, and anchormen. He covered the crime beat for The Weekly Reporter. And I covered the crime beat for the ABC Newsmagazine 20/20. But Ethan’s personality, the essence of who he is, is drawn—not only from me—but from the many people I worked with during my long career in production. I have tried in my books to create a hero who is not only one of the best at what he does—at solving crimes—but who is also troubled, insecure, and flawed as a human being. He is deeply sensitive and insecure, and at times, buries his fears and his demons in a bottle of Scotch. For me, one of the goals of my Ethan Benson series is not only to weave a good tale in each of my murder mysteries, but to also develop my character as he copes    with life’s uncertainties and with his own fragile ego, showing my readers how he handles the roadblocks in his life and changes from one book to the next.

Q:  Live to the Network includes a lot of violence against young women; what lead you to write about crimes investigated by the Special Victims Unit?

A:  Live to the Network, like all of my Ethan Benson Thrillers, is drawn from my personal experiences working as a journalist in television news. During my career, I produced many stories about young women and young girls, who were abused mentally, physically, and sexually by violent predators lurking in the shadows. Most of these stories, especially in the larger urban areas like Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and New York, fell under the jurisdiction of the Special Victims Units, where the cops are specifically trained to investigate the most horrific crimes committed against women, children, and the elderly. When writing Live to the Network, I tried to incorporate in my storyline the many firsthand experiences I had working alongside SVU detectives—studying their crime scene photos, reading their police reports, going with them to the scene of the crimes, and interviewing, not only the killers, but the families of the victims. All of these experiences have left me with vivid and troubling memories, and when writing this book, I tried to bring these memories to life—as horrific as they may be—so my readers would understand that there is unspeakable evil in our society that leaves a permanent mark on everybody it touches. So it is this sense of evil that I have tried to capture, not only in Live to the Network, but also in my two other Ethan Benson Thrillers, Live to Air and Live to Tape.   

Q:  How did you come up with the idea of the priest in Argentina, the Chinese mob in NYC, and the corruption in the police department? What is the process for developing a good story that seamlessly connects characters and locations?

A:  Research. Research. Research. For me, that’s the first and most important step in            writing a novel. Each of my books always begins the same way—with a vague idea, a       kernel of thought, a memory of a story I produced as a journalist that simply pops into         my head at the most unexpected of times, and once this idea crystallizes into a possible subject for one of my novels, I begin to fill in the blanks by reading everything I can put my hands on to help me understand and then develop the storyline. In Live to the Network, which focuses on the underbelly of human trafficking and the sex trade industry, I spent months doing research into the ins and outs of this problem—reading dozens of books and newspaper and magazine articles, talking to the experts in the field, surveying locations where the problem is most acute—to give me a solid foundation in the facts before I sat down at my computer and began to write. Then it was simply imagination. Imagination. Imagination. Whatever I dreamed up to make my story interesting, compelling, and a good read. The priest in Argentina came from a trip I took to Salta, Argentina and a morning I spent at its most famous cathedral. The Chinese mob came from the time I spent visiting my son who lived near Chinatown in lower Manhattan. And the corruption in the New York City police department, well, that came from the dozens of newspaper stories I read on a daily basis. The end process is taking all of these elements and writing a good story, creating tension in each chapter, and weaving in the characters, and the way I do this is something I really can’t explain. It’s just what I do.    

Q:  Ethan Benson is a drunk, and he may not always have his priorities straight, but I was always rooting for him. How do you create a character that is flawed and pathetic in some ways, but still is likeable and heroic?

A:  People ask me all the time how I created my hero, Ethan Benson, and why I created             him with flaws and imperfections. That, in essence, has been and always will be my       biggest challenge. Heroes in murder mysteries are always good at what they do. Detectives are good at looking for clues and catching the bad guys. Attorneys are good at analyzing      the facts and prosecuting the villains or defending their clients. And private detectives are good at earning their money and working on the periphery of whatever cases they are investigating. Ethan is a producer and a reporter and one of the best at digging into the facts and unraveling the inconsistencies as he draws his own conclusions and solves the mysteries hidden in each of his stories. But Ethan’s private life is plagued by problems. His marriage is falling apart, he questions his own self-worth, and his ego is fragile. That’s why he drinks. That’s why he buries himself in a bottle of Scotch. The challenge in all of my books is to show the reader how he uses his talents as an investigative reporter as a counterweight to his failures as a human being and to develop in my writing how he copes with both halves of his personality and changes as a human being from one book to the next. I think that’s what makes Ethan Benson interesting as a character, that’s what makes him likeable, and that’s why my readers root for him to get his life back on track.

Q:  Your writing is extremely visual and Live to the Network could easily be on screen. If you could choose an actor to play Ethan Benson, who would it be?

A:  The answer to that is simple—Kevin Bacon. Each of the characters he plays is flawed as a human being but one of the best at what he does. Case in point is his role as a corrupt FBI agent on City on a Hill or his role as an emotionally and physically scarred FBI agent on The Following. In both of these television series, he brilliantly balances the good and bad of his characters. I could see him playing Ethan Benson and bringing just the right touch as an actor to my hero.

Q:  This is your third Ethan Benson thriller. Live to Air and Live to Tape are the first two? What is next for you?

A:  I plan on continuing to write my Ethan Benson Thrillers. I have already completed a draft of my next novel, All Cameras Live, in which my hero investigates a series of fires set by an arsonist/murderer in the Springfield area of Massachusetts, and I’m currently researching my fifth book in the series about a female serial killer who terrorizes the Florida Keys that I hope to begin writing soon.

Q: What books have you read lately that you would recommend?

A:  I read all the time, and if you like murder mysteries, I’d highly recommend the latest Harry Hole novel, The Knife, by Jo Nesbo. I just finished it, and it’s great. If you like fantasies, pick up a copy of the first three books in the new Terry Brooks series, The Fall of Shannara, or anything written by Joe Hill. My personal favorite—NOS4A2. I’m just about to begin A Good Man in Africa—the first of fourteen standalone novels written by British author, William Boyd, and published in 1981. I’ll let you know what I think as soon as I finish the book! 

Q:  How do you write about a psychopath?  
Jeffrey L. Diamond

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Diamond is an award-winning journalist with forty years of experience in television news. He began his career in the early 1970’s at ABC News, where he produced hundreds of stories ranging from several minutes in length to a full hour of programming for Special Events, Weekend News, and World News Tonight, before moving to the weekly newsmagazine, 20/20. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING.

15 Books to Add to Your Reading List This Fall

Fall Reading List

It’s time to stock up on some of the latest and greatest novels out this fall!  From Africa to Argentina, England to Dominican Republic, Soviet Russia to New York, my fall reading list spans the globe and covers a variety of engrossing topics, including immigration, families, sex trafficking, abduction, slavery, spies and friendship.

Be sure not to miss the new books released from the authors of past favorites like Olive Kitteridge, The Girl With the Pearl Earring and Me Before You.   And it is never too late to pick up the latest by Alice Hoffman, author of more than 30 works of fiction, many in the genre of magic realism, or Hank Phillippi Ryan, award winning investigative reporter, 36 time EMMY winner and author of 11 suspense novels.

Set aside some time for reading – According to the New York Post, more than a quarter of US adults have not read a book in the past year.  Let’s bring up the average!

Here are 15 books on my reading list; what’s on yours?

 

Out of Darkness, Shining Light

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: “This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of Bwana Daudi, the Doctor, David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land.” So begins Petina Gappah’s powerful novel of exploration and adventure in nineteenth-century Africa—the captivating story of the loyal men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone’s body, his papers and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor’s sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, a rigidly pious freed slave, this is a story that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization—the hypocrisy at the core of the human heart—while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love.

Red At The Bone

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads:  Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child….Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

The Water Dancer

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: In his boldly imagined first novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, brings home the most intimate evil of enslavement: the cleaving and separation of families. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer is a propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.

Olive, Again

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

The Dutch House

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are. Filled with suspense, you may read it quickly to find out what happens, but what happens to Danny and Maeve will stay with you for a very long time.

The World That We Knew

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: What does it mean to lose your mother? What makes a family? How is it possible to survive cruelty and continue to love? In a life that is as unreal as a fairytale, Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew takes us on a journey of loss and resistance, good and evil, the fantastical and the mortal, to a place where all roads lead past the angel of death and love is never-ending.

The Murder List

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Law student Rachel North will tell you, without hesitation, what she knows to be true. She’s smart, she’s a hard worker, she does the right thing, she’s successfully married to a faithful and devoted husband, a lion of Boston’s defense bar, and her internship with the Boston DA’s office is her ticket to a successful future.
Problem is–she’s wrong.  And in this cat and mouse game–the battle for justice becomes a battle for survival.

The Third Daughter

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a remarkable story, inspired by little-known true events, about the thousands of young Jewish women who were trafficked into prostitution at the turn of the 20th century, and whose subjugation helped build Buenos Aires.

Dominicana

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

The Secrets We Kept

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice—inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

Ducks, Newburyport

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: LATTICING one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?

A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel.

A Single Thread

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: 1932. After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé, Violet Speedwell has become a “surplus woman,” one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men. Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring for her grieving, embittered mother. After countless meals of boiled eggs and dry toast, she saves enough to move out of her mother’s place and into the town of Winchester, home to one of England’s grandest cathedrals. There, Violet is drawn into a society of broderers–women who embroider kneelers for the Cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers.

Violet finds support and community in the group, fulfillment in the work they create, and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda. But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon, Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren’t expected to grow. Told in Chevalier’s glorious prose, A Single Thread is a timeless story of friendship, love, and a woman crafting her own life.

Celestial Bodies

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Celestial Bodies is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present. Elegantly structured and taut, Celestial Bodies is a coiled spring of a novel, telling of Oman’s coming-of-age through the prism of one family’s losses and loves.

Girl

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Girl , Edna O’Brien’s hotly anticipated new novel, envisages the lives of the Boko Haram girls in a masterpiece of violence and tenderness.
I was a girl once, but not anymore.  So begins Girl, Edna O’Brien’s harrowing portrayal of the young women abducted by Boko Haram. Set in the deep countryside of northeast Nigeria, this is a brutal story of incarceration, horror, and hunger; a hair-raising escape into the manifold terrors of the forest; and a descent into the labyrinthine bureaucracy and hostility awaiting a victim who returns home with a child blighted by enemy blood. From one of the century’s greatest living authors, Girl is an unforgettable story of one victim’s astonishing survival, and her unflinching faith in the redemption of the human heart.

The Giver of Stars

Order a Copy Here

As stated in Goodreads: Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling–the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

Author Sally Hepworth dives in to family relationships in The Mother-In-Law.

The Mother In Law by Sally Hepworth

My Review:

I always enjoy books by Sally Hepworth and listening to The Mother-In-Law  was addictive and so much fun! The mother-in-law relationship has the reputation for being tense and strained, and in this latest book by Hepworth it appears to be the case.  Chapters alternate narrators and time periods, between Lucy, the daughter-in-law, and Diana the mother-in-law, and from past to present.  Diana had not envisioned her son’s wife to be anything like Lucy, so she kept their relationship distant.  Lucy craved Diana’a acceptance, yet was unable to make any great strides towards a closeness over the years, despite her attempts.  We learn about Lucy’s early marriage to her husband and the growing of their family as they welcome 3 children.  We also learn about Diana’s youth and upbringing, and her early marriage to Tom, leading up to her later years.  Then there is a murder, a suicide note, a cancer diagnosis, and family members with deceptive behaviors. Each chapter reveals some crucial piece of information that has us working hard to try and figure out whodunnit!

Even though The Mother-In-Law is a quick read and a fun murder mystery, Sally Hepworth is not shy about bringing up serious issues including ALS, infertility, breast cancer, infidelity and euthanasia, and she dives deep when it comes to family relationships and loyalty.  She is a master when it comes to writing dialog, and keeps the story fast moving and engaging.  So if you need a break from the rat race and want to pick up a well written novel about people, family secrets and murder…this one is for you!

Goodreads Summary

Author Sally Hepworth

About the Author:

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of five novels, most recently The Mother In Law (2019). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

Secrets and Suspense Abound In Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce

43015889._SY475_.jpg

My Review:

Twists and turns kept me glued to the pages of Finding Mrs. Ford, this fun and mysterious debut from Deborah Goodrich Royce, the actress who played Silver Kane, sister to Erica Kane in All My Children.

Summertime, late 1970s, Detroit…Susan and Annie meet at their mundane jobs at a clothing store and become fast friends.   The girls are saving up for college and Annie, the spitfire, decides they both will quit and go to work at a disco to make more money, so Susan goes along with it.  Dangerous and powerful men run the disco and Annie gets caught up with one of the bosses and becomes involved in drugs, while Susan continually tries to keep away from trouble and controversy.  Feeling disappointed in how the girls’ friendship has dissipated, Susan becomes distracted by her thoughts about a handsome and mysterious Chaldean man she meets at the disco.  And then a tragic accident changes everything.

Now it is present day in Watch Hill Rhode Island, and Susan is the widow of  wealthy, respectable Jack, and she and her stepson, Jack Jr are partners in the family business. Then Susan’s past begins to haunt her when the FBI knocks on her door….

Secrets and suspense abound in Finding Mrs. Ford, a true page turner!  Lies from the past are uncovered in this thrilling and entertaining debut – incredibly well written and so visual at times it will catch your breath; this book would make a wonderful movie!

 

Q & A With Author Deborah Goodrich Royce

Q:  Finding Mrs Ford has many wonderful characters who seem to experiment with different identities.  How did you come up with this idea of personal reinvention and what was the writing process for character development?

A:  That is an excellent question and you have hit the nail on the head with it! One of the most important themes of this book is, in fact, identity. Who are we really and are we the same person throughout the entirety of our lives? Can we change? Can we reinvent ourselves to adapt to different social situations. One of the earliest titles of the books had to do with the concept of “slumming”—going into social situations that are perceived to be beneath us, and “social climbing”—entering social situations that are seemingly above us. Mrs. Ford is a woman who has traveled a great distance geographically—yes—but even more so in other ways.

Q:  I enjoyed Susan’s attraction to Sammy and their budding romance.  What is the significance of Sammy’s Chaldean ethnicity?

I have always been intrigued by the Chalean people and their place in both the Middle East and in Detroit. I met several Chaldeans when I was around the age of Susan and Annie in 1979. At that point, like Susan, I was not familiar with them. Simultaneously, I was taking a course on Middle Eastern history in college. When I asked my professor about the Chaldeans, she was surprised that I had heard of them. I had to explain to her that they were quite present in Detroit. So, that definitely played into how Sammy came to be a Chaldean.

On top of that, at the moment I began writing the book, ISIS was all over the news. They were taking over Mosul and gruesomely killing Chaldeans, Yazidis, and many other locals. The dovetailing of my natural interest in this group of people with their emergence on the world scene in such a horrible way made for an interesting back story for the character of Sammy Fakhouri.

Q:  Did you ever have a friend like Annie who pushed you out of your comfort zone to try something new – and how did it work out?

A:  Another great question. The short answer is yes. But I would modify it to say that Annie is based on several women I have known over the years. I have a natural reserve, so I am fascinated by people, like Annie, who suck so much air out of the room. I was also much more impressionable when I was young. I had the tendency to second guess my own instincts and to defer to what others wanted. If you have ever read the book, The Lovely Bones, in which a teenage girl completely ignores her gut feeling and ends up following a man into a fatal setting, well, that book stunned me to my core. I could have been that girl! And I suspect that many girls are like that. I was a good girl (like so many young women)—a pleaser—who often did not listen to the small internal voice that knew what to do. And NOT do. Fortunately for me, the consequences were never as extreme as they were for Susan or for the character in The Lovely Bones.

Q:  Finding Mrs Ford takes place in 1970s Detroit and 2014 Rhode Island. Did you write the book in the order it is presented to the reader or did you write chronologically?

A:  I wrote the book in the order that it is read, which goes back and forth between the two time periods. However, I outlined it chronologically before I wrote it. And then I went back and ripped it apart and outlined it again—just to make sure that there were no mistakes!

Q:  Did you know how the book was going to end when you began?

A:  Before I started writing, I knew what I thought would be the ending, but now turns out to be the middle of the book. I see the structure of Finding Mrs. Ford as being similar to a roller coaster ride. There is that jolt at the beginning, when the car is let loose on the tracks. Then there is the steady chugging upwards to get to the very top. And then the car careens down the other side. That exact moment was originally meant to be the end of the book. But, I ended up giving the rider one more round of it. As I see it now, that first version would have been too short a ride on the roller coaster!

Q:  Often when I was reading, (ex. the scene that took place in the back room of the disco, the scene when the girls were frantically driving away)  I felt like I was watching on the big screen!  How has your career influence this story?

A: I am completely in thrall to and heavily influenced by film. In fact, In fact, I had to do some revisions to make the book LESS cinematic. I had to be careful to not let the reader peek around any corners that the heroine could not peek around. I used a technique of Hitchcock a couple times—specifically in those back room scenes—in which you, the reader, are fully aware that something bad might be about to happen, but something ELSE pulls your attention momentarily. It heightens the jolt when the big thing hits you. For example, when Susan first goes into the store room, the lights are oddly off, which is unsettling. But then she bumps her toe on something. Her—and your—attention is pulled to that object, which turns out to only be a box of ketchup. You start to breathe again, and it is just then that the big thing happens.

Q:  Can you tell us about your theater restoration projects?

A:  My husband, Chuck, and I restored the Avon Theatre—a gorgeous 1939 cinema in Stamford, Connecticut. We run it as a not-for-profit independent cinema where we show first run films and curate lots of series. We have a French film series in conjunction with the Alliance Française of Greenwich, an Indian Film series, and both a cult classics and a documentary series. The one I am most proud of is our newest series called The Black Lens. In it, we take a look at the African American story as seen through the prism of film. What does it mean to be of African descent in our country and how is that story told in movies? We show documentaries and feature films and our moderator, Harriette Cole, interviews the filmmakers. In October we are going to show the new documentary on Toni Morrison.

Additionally, Chuck is hard at work raising the final money to restore the United Theatre in Westerly, Rhode Island (while I am off on my book tour!). The United will be a multi-purpose cultural center that features live theatre, music, art and cinema. What I can tell you about the Avon and the soon-to-be-restored United, is that a theatre is an economic engine for a Main Street setting. People stroll at night, they patronize the restaurants, they engage socially and culturally with others. It is pretty wonderful.

Q:  What have you read lately that you recommend?

A:  I loved The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar and had a more complicated relationship with The Snakes by Sadie Jones.

Q:  I know you lived in Paris for a time. Will you ever have France as a setting in a future book? What are you working on now?

A:  Ooohh…France would be an excellent setting for one of my stories. But Ruby Falls, the book I am working on now, starts in a pitch black cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee, quickly jumps to the Catacombs in Rome, and then plays out for the rest of the book in the Hollywood Hills. That book is more gothic. Think The Woman in White meets Rebecca.

 

If you enjoyed The Last Mrs. Parrish and The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert, you will enjoy the face paced, gripping, thrilling and suspenseful Finding Mrs. Ford.

The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are also addictive psychological thrillers to throw in your beach bag!

Goodread Summary

18660958.jpg

About the Author:

Deborah Goodrich Royce graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake Erie College in 1980 with a BA in modern foreign languages (French and Italian) and a minor in dance. In 2008, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the same institution.

Deborah was an actress in film and television for ten years. Her big break came with the leading role of Silver Kane, sister of the legendary Erica Kane, on the long running ABC soap opera, All My Children. Deborah went on to star in feature films such as Remote Control, April Fool’s Day, and Just One of the Guys, television movies such as Return to Peyton Place, The Deliberate Stranger with Mark Harmon, and Liberace, and television series such as St. Elsewhere, Beverly Hills 90210, and 21 Jump Street.

After the birth of her daughters, Deborah moved to Paris in 1992 and worked as a reader for Le Studio Canal Plus. On her return to the US, she transitioned to Miramax Films as their story editor. At Miramax, she worked on the development of such films as Emma, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Walking and Talking by Nicole Holofcener, and early versions of Chicago and A Wrinkle in Time. With writing partner, Mitch Giannunzio, she won a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Council in 2002 to develop and workshop their original screenplay, Susan Taft Has Run Amok.

In 2004, Deborah and her husband, Chuck Royce (small cap investment pioneer), restored and reopened the Avon Theatre Film Center, a 1939 landmark in Stamford, CT. The not-for-profit Avon is dedicated to independent, classic, foreign, and documentary films, and hosts an ongoing series of visiting film luminaries. Directors and writers such as Robert Altman, Peter Bogdonavich and Nora Ephron, and actors such as Jane Fonda, Chloe Sevigny, Emma Roberts, and Richard Gere, have all come to the Avon to show their films and talk about their work. The late Gene Wilder, who frequently appeared at the Avon, was an early and avid encourager of Deborah’s writing.

Deborah serves on multiple boards, including the national council of the American Film Institute, the executive board of the Greenwich International Film Festival, and the governing boards of the New York Botanical Garden, the Greenwich Historical Society, and the PRASAD Project.

Deborah and Chuck have restored several hotels (Ocean House—one of only 13 triple Forbes five-star properties in the world—the Weekapaug Inn, and the Deer Mountain Inn), a bookstore (The Savoy in Westerly, RI), and have completed numerous Main Street revitalization projects in Tannersville, New York and Westerly, Rhode Island. They are currently about to break ground on the renovation of the United Theatre arts complex in Westerly.
She and her husband have a tribe of children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and animals.

Finding Mrs. Ford is her first novel.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

40389527.jpg

My Review:

If you are looking for an addictive quick read with brief chapters, interesting characters and psychological suspense, The Woman In the Window is for you!

Dr. Anna Fox is trapped in her home.  Not literally…she is agoraphobic, presumably triggered by a tragic event.  Her child psychologist medical practice has ended due to her being unable to leave her house, so she spends much of her time on the computer watching horror movies, consulting lonely people with problems in chat groups and playing chess.  When she is not online she spies on her neighbors, peering through her camera lens and out the window.  Throughout her waking hours Anna consumes wine like water and pops pills for her ailments.

The story consists of Anna and her neighbors; amongst them are Ethan, a homeschooled teenage boy who seems lonely and depressed, Alistair, Ethan’s father who believes Anna is delusional, and Jane, Ethan’s mother who pays Anna a visit to play chess and drink wine.  We meet, Anna’s support system; Dr. Fielding and physical therapist Nina, both who make house calls, and Anna’s ex-husband Ed and their young daughter Olivia.  Anna also has an elusive, odd tenant, David, who lives in her basement.

The story is told my Anna, and her suspicions about the neighbors grow when she hears screams and sees something devastating our her window, but when the authorities are called in, proof is unattainable and Anna’s fear to leave the safe haven of her home is only one of the setbacks.  Her state of mind is questionable and nobody’s stories line up, but the truth lies amongst the chaos.  Manipulation and illusions drive this twisted mystery and kept me second guessing right up until the end.

This was a true page turner with multiple surprises, mysterious characters, and eye opening reveals that caused me to reevaluate what I thought I knew every step of the way.  A most enjoyable read, narrated by a woman, and written by a man.  The Woman in the Window has been compared to Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Rear Window, and it will be hitting the big screen starring Amy Adams as Anna, releasing in 2019.

Goodreads Summary

7992137.jpg
About the Author:

A.J. Finn, pseudonym for Daniel Mallory, has written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement(UK). A native of New York, Finn lived in England for ten years as a book editor before returning to New York City.

Here is my photo of author A.J. Finn at the East Hampton Library Author Night this past summer:

IMG_4034 2.jpg

Origin by Dan Brown

 

32283133.jpg

My Review:

Perfectly written for the big screen, Dan Brown definitely knows how to keep a plot moving! He feeds the reader information, just enough to peek your interest, and to create mysteries and questions.  In each chapter he adds more fuel to the fire and slowly reveals clues to bring you closer to the reveal.   Origin, this thought provoking, action packed mystery left me breathless at the end of every chapter.  Brown takes us to Spain on what feels like a wild goose chase as we follow his beloved character Langdon from Bilbao to Barcelona.  His futurist friend, Edmond, had made a huge discovery that would answer the defining questions; Where did we come from, and where are we going…, impacting religion and science in a history making way.  But during the big announcement, in front of millions of people all around the world, something went wrong.  With the answer to these burning questions of humanity and the unknown discovery lying in the balance, Langdon is in a race against time to find out what happened to his friend and what the revelation was.

Although, for me the earth shattering discovery that effects all of mankind was the least impressive part of this novel, Dan Brown does bring to light the question about how we were created, the possibility that we came from God vs. Science.  He also indicates the idea that religion holds us back, and that technology has the power to take over man, or even to merge with humanity to become a new species.  Because we can’t go back in time we may never really know where we came from, but we can see where we are going short term and with cell phones, computers, Alexa and robocalls, it is clear that technology has a big part in our future. I highly recommend this one.

As Seen on Goodreads:

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

630-1.jpg

About the Author:

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine, whose editors credited him with “keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.”

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing.

Brown is currently at work on a new book as well as the Columbia Pictures film version of his most recent novel.

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

34964995.jpg

My Review:

Suspense/thriller Author Rebecca Drake takes us to a suburban town where four close friends each hide dirty secrets that are slowly revealed as the fast paced story in Just Between Us unfolds.  This domestic drama, similar in some ways to Big Little Lies, showcases their perfect, small town existence, but behind the public facade, there is darkness.

Three friends believe the other is in an abusive marriage and when the husband is found dead,
Continue reading