Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke keep us guessing with their new psychological thriller, The Two Lila Bennetts…author Q & A included.

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My Review:

Lila Bennett’s life is not run of the mill.  She is a young, upwardly mobile criminal defense lawyer, has had the challenging experience of defending the guilty on more than one occasion, and has stepped on some toes along the way to achieve her success.  Questions regarding her moral and ethical decisions plague her psyche when it comes to her job and her past personal life choices, and to add to her confusion, conflicting emotions when it comes to her best friend’s husband has lead her to make some recent choices that could jeopardize her own marriage.

Lila’s life could go in two different directions…and in The Two Lila Bennetts, and in Sliding Doors fashion, they do!  In one case, Lila leaves her office at night, gets captured and held hostage by a masked assailant in an undisclosed location, while being forced to repent for her bad choices.  In another case she is being followed and emotionally tortured with hints and clues about her checkered past as they slowly become public.

Authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke take us on an emotional and thrilling ride, following through with Lila’s parallel lives; we are faced with unexpected twists and turns every step of the way as the anticipation builds.  Lila must re-evaluate her choices and figure out who is out to get her before it is too late…and even if she does, can she return to her life as it once was?

For an edge of your seat escape you don’t want to put down, grab a copy of The Two Lila Bennetts!

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Q & A with Liz and Lisa

Q:  You have said that writing Girls’ Night Out Together practically ended your partnership and The Two Lila Bennetts brought you back together.  Can you explain?

The edit of GNO was very challenging and we found ourselves at an impasse. For so many years we had been on cruise control, not really discussing the particulars of how we do things. And that worked until we were pushed to the limit with that edit. (We rewrote a large portion of the book FOUR times!)

But ultimately, hitting rock bottom was the best thing that could have happened. It gave us an opportunity to start fresh and understand each other and our work processes better. Lila was a joy to write and edit, and it felt like a fresh start.

Q:  I am curious about your process…how did you split up the writing?  Did one of you write Lila captured and the other write Lila free?

A:  One of the lessons we learned from Girls’ Night Out was that we both need to be fully invested in every narrative and/or timeline. So because of that, we would alternate which one of us would begin a free or captured chapter. Then we would pass the chapter back and forth, editing until we were both happy.

Q:  I love how there were hints of a double life when Lila free had unexplained soreness and dejavu.  Did you add those references in the edit stage or right from the beginning?

A:  They were there from the beginning! We thought it was important for Lila to subconsciously be aware of both lives.

Q:  Who came up with the “Sliding Door” concept?  (I never saw the movie but it is now on my list!)

A:  Liz’s fourteen-year-old daughter! We were creatively depleted after the GNO edit and she tossed out taking the Sliding Doors concept (we’d forced her to watch the movie!), and creating a suspense novel. That’s why we dedicated the book to her.

Q:  Without giving anything away, did you stick with a plan for each of your characters or did things change during the writing process?  

A:  We changed the kidnapper in edits. Both our agent and editor thought it was too obvious, and they were right!

Q:  Being a lawyer that defends guilty people is defiantly a challenge and can wear on you morally.  How did you come up with the idea for your title character?

A:  We wanted Lila to have a career that had a lot of moral gray area to give her room to make questionable choices. She’s at a point in her life where she’s questioning many things, including her choice of career.

Q:  Even though Lila wronged people in her life, she was still likable and I rooted for her until the end.  How do you create a balance of good and evil but keep your heroine intact?

A:  It’s really tough! The most important thing is to create interesting protagonists and to show the reader why they are the way they are. With Lila, she had made many bad choices, but that didn’t mean she was a terrible person, and it also gave room for growth in her arc.

Q:  If this book were to become a movie, who would you want to play Lila, Ethan, Sam and Carrie? 

A:  For Lila–Krysten Ritter Carrie-Kate Hudson Ethan-Mark Ruffalo and Jay Hernandez for Sam

Q:  What books do you have on your nightstand and what do you recommend?

A:  Liz is reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean and Lisa just finished Ask Again, Yes. We have so many books on our TBR!  Some include: This is Not How It Ends by Rochelle Weinstein, Love at First Like by Hannah Orenstein and Breathe In, Cash Out by Madeline Henry

Q:  Can you tell me a little about your next book?

A:  We’re switching things up a bit next summer with a dark love story! It’s called How To Save a Life, and it’s about a man named Dom that must figure out how to save the love of his life when she re-enters his life after a ten-year absence. Think Russian Doll meets One Day in December.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Authors

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have co-authored six books:

THE TWO LILA BENNETTS, about a woman whose life is split into two. Literally. (Out July 23rd)

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT, about three estranged friends who go to Mexico and one of them disappears. (Lake Union, July 24th, 2018)

THE GOOD WIDOW, about a wife who learns that nothing is as it seems: not her marriage, her husband…or his death is out now. (Lake Union.)

THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY, about three best friends who get the chance to re-live the year that dramatically changed the course of their lives, is out now. (Atria Books.)

THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS, about a woman who discovers she can literally rewrite her fate on Facebook, is out now. (Atria Books.)

YOUR PERFECT LIFE, about two childhood best friends who wake up the morning after their 20th high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies is out now. (Atria Books.) (less)

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A gripping, unsettling, thriller…The Whisper Man by Alex North will have you looking over your shoulder!

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My Review:

The Silence of the Lambs meets The Shining in this gripping, unsettling thriller that is sure to creep you out!

If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.

Tom Kennedy and his young son, Jake move to Featherbank, a small, charming village for a fresh start, but their new location is not as warm and welcoming as they had hoped.  Years ago there had been multiple child abductions and murders in town, and now another boy has disappeared.  Amidst the fear and suspicions, Jake is talking to himself, Tom has a strange visitor at their new house, and unusual voices are being heard.  The boy and his father are struggling to connect with each other after a terrible loss in their family, and at the same time they are battling unseen demons and losing their grip on reality.

This is a fast paced, hair-raising, psychological thriller that also deals with loss, grief and father-son relationships.  If you love to get spooked, check out The Whisper Man, available August 20th.

Q & A with Author Alex North

Q: What was the initial idea that became The Whisper Man? 

A: I wanted to write about fathers and sons. Very specifically, I wanted to write about a widowed father struggling to connect with his grieving son. But I knew that I wanted it to be a crime novel with spooky elements, and I’ve long been a fan of the forums and threads you find online where people list creepy things little kids have come out with. Like saying “that’s where I used to live” when the family is driving past a graveyard, or talking about the man with the long neck in the closet and then the parents discover someone hung themselves in the house years earlier. 

When we moved into our new house, there was a day when my son, who was about four at the time, talked about playing with “the boy in the floor.” That stuck with me, and I eventually decided that Jake in the book would have imaginary friends and some of them would be quite frightening. The story developed from there. 

Q: Describe the writing process— how long did it take you, and what was your writing routine like as you worked on the book? 

A: The book probably took about a year to write, although I’d been thinking about it and planning it a little before then. My routine was – and is – pretty standard. In terms of time, I take my son to school, then head to the gym for an hour. Depending on the weather, I sit in a park and read for another hour or so, then head to a bar or a café and write until it’s time to pick my son up again. In the beginning, I was writing cautiously, a few hundred words a day, but it certainly accelerated as I went along. Towards the end, I was writing and rewriting tens of thousands of words a day and not sleeping all that much. But that suits me fine. I was always the kind of kid that did all his revisions the night before the exam. 

Q: The story offers a very honest portrait of how difficult it can sometimes be for a father to connect with his son. What was it like to write about such a sensitive subject, and how much did you draw from your experience as a father or from people you know? 

A: I don’t think you can help but draw from your own experience. Even if you’re using your imagination, you’re still going to be influenced by everything you’ve seen and read and done. The book’s entirely fictional, in that nothing in it really happened – or at least not the way it does in the story – but it’s inevitable that real life creeps in a little, because I wanted the book to feel honest. 

I’m not sure how sensitive that particular subject is. You have two characters who love each other and want to connect but aren’t sure how, and I think that to some degree that’s probably the norm rather than being unusual. Especially when it comes to children and parents. As a parent, you are suddenly handed this incredible responsibility. There’s a sense that your child is an extension of you, and that it’s your job to guide them based on your own knowledge and experience. But of course, as they grow older, they become much more of a person in their own right, and you have to hold yourself back more and more. They’re not you. In the book, Tom has to fight against his best intentions for Jake and, as he puts it, “just let him be him.” I think that’s pretty key, but also easier said than done sometimes. 

Q: Jake accidentally reads something his father is writing and is disturbed by it. Have you ever been in this situation in real life? Is it something you think about, as a novelist and as a father? 

A: No, I’m incredibly protective of my writing until it’s done. I write in public places,
but I always want my back to a wall, as I don’t want someone looking over my shoulder and reading part of some terrible first draft. It’s important for me to keep it to myself until it’s as good as possible. So, my son is never going to see anything I’ve been writing on a screen; I’m way too careful for that. 

He’s a voracious reader, though, so maybe he’ll read one of my books when he’s older. That’s a bridge I’ll have to cross when I come to it. He’s only eight right now, so it’s a few years until I need to worry about it! 

Q: Rights have now sold in over 23 territories and counting, and film rights have been optioned by the directors behind “Avengers: Infinity War.” What has it been like to see this reaction to The Whisper Man? 

A: It’s been amazing. As I was writing the book, I just wanted to finish it – to get it done – and I had no real expectations about rights or film adaptations. I think if you imagine that kind of thing while you’re writing, you’re setting yourself up for massive disappointment down the line. Better to have much lower expectations and end up being surprised! And I’ve been not just surprised, but slightly humbled. For various reasons, it’s a personal book for me, and I’m enormously pleased that people have connected with it the way they have. 

Q: Are you at work on another book? 

A: I’m writing something at the moment, but I’m superstitious about talking about work in progress. For one thing, a part of me feels that if you talk about a story too much, you rob yourself of the need to write it down; and for another, it will probably change completely by the time I’m done with it. At the moment, it’s another spooky psychological thriller, this time about a violent murder and an impossible disappearance from years earlier. But I’ll have to finish writing it to find out for sure. 

Q &A courtesy of DAVID ADAMS/Celadon Books

The Whisper Man will be available August 20, 2019.  If you enjoy psychological thrillers, check out some great ones by Clare Machintosh!

About the Author:

Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

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

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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

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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.

There is a Murderer Lurking Amongst Family and Friends in The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine!

The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine

My Review:

Can you forgive and repair old friendships and have them be as strong as they used to be?  In this Agatha Christie-like murder mystery where everyone is a suspect, Kate wants to know who killed her mother, Lily, and who is sending her threatening notes.  Her old best friend Blaire returns to her life after being estranged, ready to help, but does she have her own agenda?  And is Kate’s husband, Simon having an affair?  Is her dad keeping a secret?  Is the nanny being honest?  Set in the world of old money and generational wealth of Baltimore,  Kate has suffered more than one tragic loss and her family and friends support her, yet one of them could be a murderer.  Filled with lots of twists and turns, this whodunnit keeps you on your toes!  The Last Time I Saw You‘s author, Liv Constantine is the master of deception and lies, with this fast paced psychological suspense, perfect for a day on the beach!

I was fortunate enough to attend a book talk with the authors and learned about them and their writing process.

Lynne Constantine and Jennifer Blankfein

Liv Constantine is the pen name for Lynne and Valerie Constantine, the dynamic duo sisters who write together over FaceTime; one lives in Maryland, the other in Connecticut.  They figured out the secret to success with their huge best seller, The Last Mrs. Parrish, and are back with a new psychological thriller that will keep you flipping through the pages, called The Last Time I Saw You.  Lynne and Val started working together 20 years ago in person and enjoy having each other as writing partners. They split the writing pretty evenly but both have their own strengths, as Val is best at setting and scene and Lynne is the pro on writing dialog.  They come up with the story line and characters together and luckily, they rarely disagree.

The theme of The Last Time I Saw You is friendship, and it is dedicated to the Tuesday ladies, the special group friends who spent time with their mom and aunt, always elegantly dressed with nice shoes, fancy hair and makeup.

After a big splash in the book world with Mrs. Parrish, there was considerable pressure to follow suit.  This sophomore book took them one and a half years to write, and according to the authors, it was like pulling teeth all the way!  Revisions were plentiful as their publisher told them they needed one more twist in the plot, and then the decision to change who the murderer was in the third draft led to some rewriting.  Lucky for us, the book is complete and out in the world!  FYI, their third book, about a wife stalker, only took four months to write and is in edits now!

When asked about the attention received for The Last Mrs. Parrish, Lynne and Val told a few stories.

Lynne and Valerie Constantine author talk

(Lynne, sorry about this photo with your eyes closed licking your lips…you must be thinking about Patrick Dempsey!)

When The Last Mrs. Parrish was chosen for the People Magazine pick, the sisters were ecstatic and ventured out to CVS to buy up a bunch of copies.  Unfortunately  Harvey Weinstein was on the cover and they got a lot of strange looks from observers!

When they were notified that Reese Witherspoon chose Mrs. Parrish for her book club, over the phone, they screamed with delight but were then told they had to keep it quiet for close to three weeks.   They lied to one of their husbands who was in the room at the time, making up some story about how someone was going to write an article about them.  He thought they were a bit dramatic but they stuck to their story.  Ultimately Lynne and Val were thrilled when Witherspoon announced her pick of The Last Mrs. Parrish and they had the pleasure of connecting with Reese on Instagram.

The most recent, exciting news is that Amazon is developing a series based on Mrs. Parrish, but mums the word on details as of now!

Goodreads Summary

Val and Lynne Constantine

About the Authors:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and international bestselling authors and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine, co-authors of the Reese Witherspoon book club pick, THE LAST MRS. PARRISH. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. Their next book, THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU, was released on May 7, 2019.

Visit them at www.livconstantine.com

Reading, Writing and Pretty Revenge with Author Emily Liebert: women’s fiction with a healthy dose of psychological suspense is sure to grab you!

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My Review:

You will surely be hooked from the get go when you dive in to Emily Liebert’s upcoming emotional thriller, Pretty Revenge!  Eighteen years ago, Kerrie’s life was turned upside down.  Hurt by the betrayal and disappointment she once felt, and having never fully recovered, she is stuck in a bad relationship with no job and feeling disappointed.   After coming across the person she blames for her sad life on tv, old memories rise to the surface and retaliation becomes her goal.  She takes a job and reestablishes her life in the city with the sole purpose of revenge.

Jordana is a sophisticated New Yorker who seems to have it all.  She is a sought after wedding expert with a handsome, wealthy, successful husband and a beautiful apartment in the best part of town.  With dark secrets, she is running from her past while keeping herself busy with wedding plans for her wealthy clients.  When the job demands become overwhelming, she hires a much needed assistant who is agreeable to everything she is asked to do and seems to be extremely competent.   Focused on the details of expensive weddings and client management, the two women seem to develop a solid working relationship; but are they truly who they say they are, and how well do they really know each other?

With women and secrets, lies and deceit, friendships and forgiveness, Pretty Revenge delivers a suspenseful dose of crazy you won’t want to miss!  From her bestselling women’s novels focused on complex female relationships to this psychologically thrilling suspense, where we see a slightly darker side of those relationships…Liebert’s new spin is a huge success!  Easy to read with humorous, witty language, the novel’s impending dread constantly builds as it brings us to the truth, and appealing to my pollyanna side, we are lead to believe everything will tie up in a bow after the last page – perfect for a weekend away!  A most enjoyable read – available July 2019 – preorder a copy so you can have your own Pretty Revenge this summer!

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Q and A with Emily Liebert

You have been greatly successful with your women’s fiction novels, what made you decide to try psychological suspense this time?

EL: Writing women’s fiction novels was fun and fulfilling, but—ultimately—I wanted something edgier to sink my teeth into. I started reading a lot of psychological suspense and became motivated to challenge myself to try something new and bigger. With that said, I think both PRETTY REVENGE and the novel I’m writing now still have a women’s fiction element to them. I’m not going too far to the dark side, at least not yet! I also moved publishing houses to Simon & Schuster for these next two books, which I hope will be a major relaunch for me.

Are your characters in Pretty Revenge based on anyone you know?  Do you think people you know have recreated themselves and are hiding big secrets?

EL: I rarely base my characters directly on people I know, but there are always circumstances and stories from my life or from my friends’ lives that meander their way in. I don’t believe I know anyone who’s hidden his/her past life and is pretending to be someone else. I do, however, believe that everyone has at least one secret, some bigger than others.

The cheating husband of the woman who appears to have it all is not a new idea…why do you think we love to read about those types?

EL: Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I think people relate to them. They see their own lives reflected in the characters and plot. I always say, even if it’s not a revolutionary idea, there’s a fresh spin on it.

I was a fan of Kerrie’s from the get go but I felt compassion toward Jordana as her real life was revealed.  Who did you root for in Pretty Revenge, Jordana or Kerrie?

EL: As the author of the book and the creator of the characters, I have to say I was rooting for both of them in different ways. You think Kerrie is the underdog at first and you understand why she wants revenge. But then, my hope, is that people will realize how broken and vulnerable Jordana is too.

Your writing is very witty and fun to read.  Do you add descriptive phrases and detail afterward or does it just come out on the page as we see it?

EL: I love this question, and I get asked often about the humor in my writing. That is me! I’m funny (if I do say so myself). Also, I think you have to be able to laugh in life, even when it may not seem like the right moment. A big bucket list item for me would be to do standup comedy just once. I imagine it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not sure I’d be able to go through with it, but stay tuned!

When you are starting a new book, do you develop your characters first, assigning them a past, present and future, or do you write the storyline and their details develop along with the plot?

EL: There’s always a nugget of an idea to begin with and maybe one character who I assign to that. Then, as I start fleshing out the idea, I’ll establish who the 2-3 main characters are and begin defining their personalities. After that, I’d say the storyline and the characters’ pasts/presents/futures unravel together.

What 3 books have you read lately that you recommend and what is on your nightstand right now?

EL: Three books I’ve loved recently are advanced copies of The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and The Night Before by Wendy Walker (both pub in May), and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. On my nightstand are an advanced copy of Jane Green’s The Friends We Keep and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Emily Liebert is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of five books.

PRETTY REVENGE, her forthcoming novel, will release on July 2, 2019.

Her first book Facebook Fairytales is available across the globe.

In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, You Knew Me When (Penguin), which published on September 3, 2013. Her second novel, When We Fall, published on September 2, 2014. Those Secrets We Keep, her third novel, released on June 2, 2015, and her fourth novel, Some Women, came out on April 5, 2016, all with Penguin Random House.

Emily is featured often in the press, by outlets such as: Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Anderson Cooper, FOX News, Good Day New York, The Couch, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, InStyle, OK!, Nylon, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s World, WWD, Woman’s Day, The New York Post, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, and The Huffington Post.

She has also served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, appearing on TV and radio stations nationwide.

 

The blind leading the blind at a NYC psychiatric institution makes for unmatched psychological suspense in The Blind by A.F. Brady.

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My Review:

Therapists are supposed to have it together but in The Blind, Dr. Samantha James is not on solid ground.  Her love hate relationship with alcohol, abusive boyfriend and struggle with anxiety, are self destructive and cloud her judgement, while and at the same time she has fooled her colleagues and is the shining star therapist at the Manhattan psychiatric institution where she takes on all the most difficult patients.

When her boss is overloaded and reaches out for help, Sam goes the extra mile to help out with paperwork.  Things come to a head when she reads her own psych evaluation and she is faced with her personal demons that could impact her career.  At the same time, she is finally having a break through with Richard, her most difficult and mysterious patient who up until now has refused to talk.  Lines become blurred when this doctor – patient relationship method of communicating strays from tradition, secrets are unleashed, and the question becomes, “who is helping whom”?

The Blind is “on the edge of your seat” reading, the linear timeline is fast moving and easy to follow with character and background information slowly revealed amidst many shocking snippets of Sam’s crazy days and nights during a five month time span. Upsetting episodes of domestic violence, disturbing alcohol related binges and purges, tension filled sexual encounters and tender moments of friendship are peppered with Sam’s emotional instability and her continual struggles to hide reality, all under the illusion of a perfect life…wonderfully addictive!

I loved this book and can’t wait to read Alex Brady’s new novel, Once A Liar.

The main character, Dr. Samantha James has Borderline Personality Disorder and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 4 million people are diagnosed with BPD with around 75% of them, women.

Mental illnesses are not talked about as much as they could be, so enjoy this SHORT VIDEO with information about BPD.

One more thing….

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I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Alex (A.F.) Brady speak on a panel with Lynne Constantine, one of the sisters who wrote The Last Mrs. Parrish and the upcoming novel, The Last Time I Saw You, and Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night and her upcoming novel, The Night Before, moderated by comedian and life coach, Lisa Lampanelli.  According to the smart and witty Alex Brady, author and psychotherapist, it is POSSIBLE the characters she writes about MAY deal with similar issues and illnesses as her real life patients.  She enjoys the writing process, gets little sleep when working on a plot twist and has a wonderfully helpful husband who picks up the slack with their two little ones when she needs to put in the time to concentrate on her novels.  Alex appreciates a good, rugged cocktail, but be forewarned…you will be taking your chances if you offer her a Malibu Bay Breeze!

Goodreads Summary

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A.F. Brady is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and two Masters degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is a life-long New Yorker, and resides in Manhattan with her husband and their family. The Blind is her first novel.  Her most recent book, Once A Liar was released in Jan. 2019.

33 Books for Vacation 2019

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Many authors I enjoy have recently released new books or have a new one being published this year.  Below are the beautiful covers with links to reviews and summaries so you can choose some books for the next snow day, a long ski weekend or a coveted beach getaway.  Catch up with the authors’ earlier novels this winter and order the new ones so you have a great stack for the summer!

The Best Books to Take on Vacation!

If you enjoyed the addictive psychological thriller The Wife Between Us,

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you will love the latest bestseller An Anonymous Girl by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks.

 

If you enjoyed the Brooklyn Jewish family saga The Two-Family House,

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you will love to read about Jewish sisters, secrets and the Springfield Armory in The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman.

 

If you loved reading about the internet, addiction and crime in The Truth About Thea,

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you will love the new political thriller, Why We Lie, by Amy Impellizzeri, available March 2019.

 

If you loved these beach read favorites, The Forever Summer and The Husband Hour,

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you won’t want to miss reading about the glamorous Hamptons in Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner, available May 2019.

 

If you immersed yourself in old New York and read about the Barbizon Hotel, The Dakota, and Grand Central Terminal, in The Dollhouse, The Address and The Masterpiece,

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you will want to read about the theater district, 1950s New York and the Chelsea Hotel in The Chelsea Girls: A Novel by Fiona Davis, available July 2019.

 

If you enjoy reading about family and tragedy set in Apartheid era South Africa and loved Hum If You Don’t Know the Words,

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you will definitely want to read about love, family bonds and three South African women in If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais, available July 2019.

 

If you enjoyed reading about tragedy and love in How to Walk Away

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you will want to add to your list Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, available August 2019.

 

If you cried your eyes out and loved The Memory of Us and Before the Rain Falls,

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you won’t want to miss The Way of Beauty and the newest novel, The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio, available March 2019.

 

If you enjoyed learning about a real World War ll heroine in Lilac Girls ,

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you will love learning about the Women of World War l in Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, available April 2019.

 

If you were overflowing with emotion after reading The Orphan’s Tale,

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you will surely want to read about World War ll spies in The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff.

 

If you were moved and impacted the story of racism and police violence in The Hate U Give,

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you will want read about hip-hop and the struggle to achieve dreams in On the Come Up by Angie Thomas.

 

If you loved reading about a love letter and World War ll Austria in The Lost Letter,

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you will want to read about a family secret and World War ll in In Another Time by Jillian Cantor, available March 2019.

 

If you adored learning about the all women spy ring from World War l in The Alice Network, 

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you will want to follow the journalist and pilot as they search for the Nazi war criminal in The Huntress by Kate Quinn.

 

If you enjoyed reading about the woman who made the final meals for death row prisoners in The Last Suppers

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you will want to add to your list this story of three generations of women and a dark secret in Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulencak.

So many books, so little time.  What will you take on your next vacation?

 

 

 

In need of a distraction? Look no further…These addictive psychological thrillers keep you hooked right up to the end!

 

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My Review:  Authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are superstars when it comes to psychological thrillers.  Last year they came out with The Wife Between Us which has you working hard to figure out what is going to happen next, and with unexpected plot twists,  the authors rewards you with continual surprises and unanticipated shocks.  A bitter ex-wife, a younger, prettier replacement…you think you know what’s going on.  But you don’t!  Little tidbits feed your knowledge of what you believe could be the truth but you will be fooled.  Skillfully written with all loose ends tied up by the conclusion, this is impressive writing by the author duo and so much fun to read.

 An Anonymous Girl, their recent bestseller, currently headed to the big screen, delivers continual suspense and gives you much to think about.  A doctor conducting a study on morals and ethics is looking for women volunteers to participate.  The questions are simple but get increasingly more challenging and unpredictable.  Relationships become murky when overcome with jealousy and deceit.  What is real?  And who can be trusted?

Manipulative and oh, so addictive, these two fantastic thrillers are not to be missed!  I read each book in less than 24 hours, one after the other!  All you need is a weekend of no plans – you must cuddle up with these gems and your favorite stress eating snacks (gummy bears and licorice😜)…and dive right in…you will be on the edge of your seat!

Check out this Video interview; Sara Haines of GMA talks with Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen about their writing process and how they work together.

Goodreads Summary

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About the Authors:

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen are the co-authors of the blockbuster New York Times bestseller, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, as well as the forthcoming, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. AN ANONYMOUS GIRL has been optioned for a television series by eOne, with Sarah and Greer executive producing. THE WIFE BETWEEN US has been optioned for film by Amblin Entertainment, with Sarah and Greer screenwriting the adaptation.

 

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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