The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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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

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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:

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Origin by Dan Brown

 

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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.

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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

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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

Sybil’s List October 2017

 

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Every Tuesday new books are released and my reading pile is continually growing (See all photos in this post!).  I follow lots of book websites and Facebook pages along with many published lists to decide what I want to read and review.

 

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Sybil Steinberg, former book reviewer and contributing editor at Publisher’s Weekly presents her picks twice a year at the Westport Library in Westport, CT, one of the most highly ranked libraries in the nation.

Sybil Steinberg’s book picks presented this month at the Westport Library.

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Here is a bit more about Sybil…

How do you decide what to read next?

The Address by Fiona Davis plus author interview!

 

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My Review:

Last year, author Fiona Davis published her wonderful debut, The Dollhouse, rich in history about the Barbizon Hotel in NYC. Keeping with iconic Manhattan landmarks, her fabulous new release, The Address is set in alternating timelines; in the late 1800s during the building of the Dakota, the architecturally stunning residence on the upper west side of Manhattan, Sara, a housekeeper at a fancy London hotel meets Theo, the talented NYC architect, takes a job at the newly built Dakota, and craziness ensues. Their budding relationship remains hidden from his wife and children as they bond, it turns passionate and a crime is committed. In 1985, fresh out of rehab and penniless, designer Bailey, a descendant of the wealthy Dakota architect, without genetic proof, is not in line for the healthy inheritance.  Her cousin, Melinda, set to take over the family riches, hires her to orchestrate the renovation of the building and Bailey learns of her architect relative’s murder by a crazy lady named Sara.  And so the two compelling stories come together with rich historic detail and wonderfully creative characters, revealing the secrets from inside the unique and wonderful Dakota.
I had a chance to connect with the lovely Fiona Davis and ask her a few questions about her new and successful career as an author.

 
What has been the high point in your writing journey from the release of The Dollhouse to now?  From your first public book talk to a People Magazine feature, you have accomplished so much in such a short time!
I have to say, the first book talk for The Dollhouse seemed so scary! It was at a library in Westport, CT and there were more people than I expected to show up for a debut author. My knees were definitely knocking. But I loved every minute of it, especially answering questions after the reading. Now I adore doing Q&As and book talks, and I think those are my high points. The readers are so knowledgeable and inquisitive and their support has been amazing.

What are you reading now and what do you recommend for the summer?

I’m currently reading Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta, and next up is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I’d recommend Eve Chase’s The Wildling Sisters, Jamie Brenner’s The Forever Summer as great vacation/beach reads.

Can you tell me a little about what you are working on now?

The next book is a similar structure, two times periods with a connecting mystery, set in Grand Central Terminal, and I’m having such a good time researching and writing it. I won’t give away too much, but I will say I’ve learned some really surprising things about the building that I can’t wait to share with readers.

Are you developing a “formula” or pattern you use for writing? 

I do love setting books in architectural landmarks and using dual time periods, so I definitely have a trend going on there. Once the Grand Central book is done, I’ll start thinking about other locales and possibly structures, but so far I’ve been having the time of my life. The pattern for each book, even though it’s similar, is incredibly challenging and rewarding.

I am now officially excited for the new book, I loved The Dollhouse, and I highly recommend the Fiona Davis’ new release.  With two connected stories, old New York, ornate architecture, an illicit affair, an illegitimate child, an insane asylum, and the beautiful Dakota on the upper west side, The Address is a perfect mix of history and mystery, fast pace and fun.

As seen on Goodreads:

After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages–for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City–and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich–and often tragic–as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden–and the woman who killed him–on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives –and lies–of the beating hearts within.

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About the Author:

Fiona Davis is the author of The Dollhouse and The Address. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a masters at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction. Visit her at www.fionadavis.net, facebook.com/FionaDavisAuthor/ and on Instagram and Twitter @fionajdavis.

Indulge in Books the Way You Would in a Well Balanced Meal!

 

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Story originally published on Booktrib.com.

Recently someone asked me about my reading choices; do I stick to one topic or do I switch it up at all? I hadn’t thought about it much before but after reviewing my recent reads, I concluded that I am a true genre hopper. I go from fiction to memoir to historical fiction, thriller, essays and nonfiction. Like a well-balanced meal, I do indulge in a bit of everything.

Click on Booktrib.com to see what’s on my table!

 

Sybil’s List of Books Not To Be Missed!

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I love a good booklist to peek my interest and inspire me to read more. Westport, Connecticut resident Sybil Steinberg, contributing editor and former book review section editor for Publishers Weekly puts together a list of her favorites several times a year and recently she presented her July 2017 picks to a standing room only crowd at the Westport Library. I had a chance to catch up with Sybil and ask her a few questions.

To see the interview and her book recommendations click on Booktrib.com.

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

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My Review:

Nothing wrong with a quick departure from reality as you become wholeheartedly absorbed in the suspense of The Good Widow.  Jacks answers her front door to find two police officers telling her the shocking news that her husband is dead.    She knew he was on a business trip in Kansas…or was he?  The plot thickens when they tell her he was in an accident in Maui, Hawaii.  With another woman.  And so it begins…the unravelling of the truth behind their rocky marriage, the mother in law, fertility issues and unmet expectations.  Then there’s a visit from Nick, the fiancé of the woman Jacks’ husband had been traveling with. Nick, equally distraught due to the loss of his wife to be, wants to take a trip to Maui with Jacks to retrace the couple’s steps and learn the truth.  And so they go.  They discover unexpected details about their dead partners’ secret vacation, and as the two grieving travelers spend time together things between them get complicated.   Will they be able to gain closure, forgive their loved one and move on with their lives?  What really happened in Hawaii? Are they truly who they say they are?

Fenton and Steinke do a great job building suspense, with more questions developing as each new detail rises to the surface.  The flawed, yet likable characters kept me engaged and I thought I had it all figured out a few times before I finally saw the light; an enjoyable quick read while basking in the summer sun!

As seen on Goodreads:

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

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About the authors:

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for 25 years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

 

The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter

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My review:

How well do you really know someone?  After reading The Weight of Lies you may ask yourself that question!  Meg Ashley, daughter of Frances Ashley, the cult classic horror novelist, is fed up with the neglect and lack of interest her mother has had in her for so many years.  For revenge, she agrees to write a tell-all book, the truth about her mom, the famous author, and about her troubled childhood as she prepares to rid her life completely of her self centered mother.  While conducting research and digging into the past, Meg begins to uncover some information that has to do with a murder her mother had written about in her best-seller, Kitten, several decades ago.  The fictional novel was based on a real murder and actual people, and the cult followers had their theories about who committed the crime in real life.  Arriving on Bonny Island, where the murder took place, Meg meets some of the people who appeared as characters in her mother’s book, and while digging deeper she begins to uncover information that leads her to believe she had been told some lies about her younger years.  As Meg is trying to understand crucial details about her own past she is also learning particulars about the murder.  Everybody is telling lies and Meg is unsure of who to trust, if anyone.  When she receives warnings to back off she knew she was getting close to solving the murder mystery and learning the truth about her past but she was in danger.

The Weight of Lies keeps you on the edge of your seat, guessing every step of the way!

As seen in Goodreads:

In this gripping, atmospheric family drama, a young woman investigates the forty­-year­-old murder that inspired her mother’s bestselling novel, and uncovers devastating truths—and dangerous lies.

Reformed party girl Meg Ashley leads a life of privilege, thanks to a bestselling horror novel her mother wrote decades ago. But Meg knows that the glow of their very public life hides a darker reality of lies, manipulation, and the heartbreak of her own solitary childhood. Desperate to break free of her mother, Meg accepts a proposal to write a scandalous, tell-all memoir.

Digging into the past—and her mother’s cult classic—draws Meg to Bonny Island, Georgia, and an unusual woman said to be the inspiration for the book. At first island life seems idyllic, but as Meg starts to ask tough questions, disturbing revelations come to light…including some about her mother.

Soon Meg’s search leads her to question the facts of a decades-old murder. She’s warned to leave it alone, but as the lies pile up, Meg knows she’s getting close to finding a murderer. When her own life is threatened, Meg realizes the darkness found in her mother’s book is nothing compared to the chilling truth that lurks off the page.

14681795-1.jpgAbout the author:

EMILY CARPENTER, a former actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Georgia with her family. BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS, her first novel was published in 2016. THE WEIGHT OF LIES is her second novel.  You can visit Emily online at emilycarpenterauthor.com.