type-writer

Sisters Danielle and Susie don’t get along. Danielle is the dramatic one, the younger sister always wanting attention. Susie is the older one, a writer for a local publication and the one who feels most responsible for her family. So when Danielle meets up with Susie to talk about how her husband Simon is controlling her, no one could guess at how it would end up.

Simon is older than Danielle, and a very successful banker. But he starts to put her down, separates her from her friends, convinces her to stay at home instead of pursuing the acting that she loves.

Then Danielle is in a car accident. She was unharmed, fortunately, but she immediately blamed Simon for doing something to her brakes. When the police questioned Susie about it, she told them that her sister was overly dramatic and that Simon would never do that. He just wasn’t the “killing type.”

As the months go by, Danielle and Simon divorce, and then he inexplicably takes up with Susie. Is he really in love with her, or is he just using her to get back at Danielle? And when he turns his controlling ways on her, how will Susie react? Will she go quietly like Danielle, or will she write herself a different ending?

Jane Corry’s short story The Killing Type is a quick treat for anyone wanting an introduction to her twisty tales or just for a fast piece to read on a quick commute. With her signature twistiness, complex characters, and lovely writing style, Corry takes on the competition that comes from two sisters who grew up in each other’s shadows. With lots of surprises in this short piece, The Killing Type is filled with all the best of Jane Corry’s style in a concise, free (!) tale of the relationships that make us and break us.

Also includes an excerpt from her novel The Dead Ex.

exes and ohhhhhhhs

Vicki is a trained aromatherapist. She is trained to help people with their stressors, with their challenges, with their fears. She is careful, reasoned, always thinking through what she is doing, being mindful of the chances she might be taking. She works for herself, out of her own home, so that she can always stay in control. Control is important, when you have the kinds of secrets that Vicki has.

But you know what you can’t control? When the police come knocking on the door, telling you that your ex-husband has been missing. That he went missing after witnesses saw you harassing him on the streets of London. The sudden arrival of two police officers at Vicki’s house sends her carefully controlled life into a dangerous spiral, and she finds herself taking chances that could bring her sanity or even her life to the brink.

Scarlet is only 8 years old, but she is old enough to help her mother out. She has learned how to play the game, so that the strange men who come up to her and push her on the swings with their packages for her mother can trust her to offer them some of her potato chips and to carry the package back to her mother safely. She’s proud of how much she helps her mom with the game and helps her out at home when she’s not feeling well, so when the police show up and take her away, she is inconsolable.

After the first foster home, where the older kids puts Scarlet’s naivete and drug dealing “game” skills to work stealing DVDs, Scarlet finds herself in a genuinely caring family where she can grow up relatively in peace. But growing up away from her mother is still heart-breaking, and she never forgets.

Jane Corry’s The Dead Ex is a masterful chess game of a novel, a slow unveiling of the stories of four vastly different women and how they ultimately intersect. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this story, there is another huge revelation, a sudden right turn, and you’re left with more questions than answers. But the ride is definitely worth it, as you find yourself putting the last pieces into place and finding out how all the disparate stories come together as one. It’s another twisty novel from Jane Corry, where she takes you on a crazy journey from famine to feast, from prison to a mansion, from isolation to family, and everywhere in between.

Galleys for The Dead Ex were provided by Pamela Dorman Books through Edelweiss, with many thanks.

curiouser and curiouser

Hollywood producer Brian Grazer wants to know things, so he asks a lot of questions. He asks them of the people who know the things. He banks on his curiosity in order to fuel his passions, to create more success in business, to be a better husband and father, and to build human connections with those around him. And he recommends we all do the same

Using the idea of curiosity as a road to a better life, Grazer, along with co-author Charles Fishman, encourages us all to live life with gusto, with bravery, and with a burning inquisitiveness to find out what drives others, what makes life worth living, and what makes us all so incredibly human. He gives us a peek into the “curiosity conversations” he’s had with political leaders, artists, scientists, and survivors, sharing his own inspiration for the movies and television series that he’s made and that we all love.

Also woven in are stories of Hollywood from his early days as a producer (love those!) and stories of his grandmother, the kind of grandmother that every kid deserves (a little jealous, really). And though there is some repetition of the stories, the overall entertainment value (and educational/inspirational value) of Brian Grazer’s A Curious Mind is well worth the journey.

I grabbed the audiobook on this one, and narrator Norbert Leo Butz is the ideal reader for this book. Aside from giggling every time I think of his name (seriously, I’m only like 8 years old on the inside), he read this book perfectly. There was not a wrong note throughout. And Grazer himself reads the introduction as a bonus.

I’m a big fan of Grazer’s movie work and of Imagine Entertainment in general, so I was excited to read this book to see what I might learn about the inside of the Hollywood machine. But what I ended up learning was so much more, so much richer, that I fell in love with this book and the ideas within. Be smart. Be motivated. Be curious, and live a bigger life than you previously imagined!

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recently finished: The Dead Ex, from Jane Corry, and I’m just about done with The Au Pair, which is by Emma Rous and is amazing. Beautifully written with a fascinating story. I can’t wait to talk about this one!

currently reading: Eric Idle’s Sortabiography Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. I’ve been listening to it in my car, driving to and from work while avoiding the worst of the snowy and icy spots in the road, and his life story is bananas! I can’t recommend this one enough, especially the audio version.

up next: Such Good Work by Johannes Lichtman about a writing teacher looking for a fresh start and finding himself in the middle of a refugee crisis. And Who Killed the Fonz? About, you know, the Fonz. Ayyyyyyyyy!

the charm of clumsiness

This is Whoopsie, a moose who finds himself falling down a lot. He doesn’t think much of himself. He thinks he’s just clumsy and makes more trouble for others than he’s worth. But his friend Bird knows the truth, that he has value just as himself.

With cleverness, charm, and a compelling message, author Andrew Cangelose and illustrator Josh Shipley have put together another adorable picture book in the vein of This is a Taco! Again, they find a way to teach children (and remind me and other adults) that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved.

This Is a Whoopsie! is filled with fetching illustrations and delightful characters as well as a funny, memorable story that is a great reminder for kids of all ages that we all have something special to offer the world, the perfect lesson for readers of picture books. Keep an eye on this series. It just keeps getting better.

Galleys for This Is a Whoopsie! were provided by Diamond Book Distributors through NetGalley, with many thanks.

when anxiety eats you alive

Anna was a dancer. She lived in Paris, she loved deeply, she breathed in life, and she ate with gusto. But as the years went by, things changed. She was injured and could no longer dance. She fell in love with and married Matthias, but when his job moved them from France to America, she struggled with loneliness. Although she was close to her father and sister, she still mourned the loss of her brother and mother, both taken from her when she was way too young.

As her anxiety grew, she fought it by controlling what she could—she controlled what she ate. And when that consumed her, she found herself at 17 Swann Street, in a bedroom of colors so strong she called it the Van Gogh room.

As Anna meets the other girls in the house, she learns more about her enemy anorexia and her allies in the fight against it. Her denial, her stubbornness, her determination, her mistakes, her disordered thinking, her new friends, her abandoned dreams, and her family all mix together in this story of one woman’s fight to save her own life against a deadly disease.

Yara Zgheib’s moving story of a houseful of women in an inpatient treatment center is both heart-rending and heart-warming as they stand together to try to live. The Girls of 17 Swann Street is so moving and intimate, it almost reads like a memoir, as the desolation and anxiety that Anna know all too well follow her day by day, moment by moment, through her journey to self-acceptance. Anyone wanting a better understanding of disordered eating, of living with anxiety, or of the strength of the human spirit to survive will not find a better book to read than The Girls on 17 Swann Street.

Very highly recommended for anyone who won’t be triggered by the subject matter.

Galleys for The Girls at 17 Swann Street were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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recently finished: nothing. But I’m set to finish a couple in a day or so. One is The Girls at 17 Swann Street. It’s about a group of women living at an inpatient treatment center for eating disorders. It’s beautifully written and completely heart-wrenching, and I recommend it highly. Especially if you know someone who has struggled with anorexia, it gets you inside that mindset like nothing I’ve ever read or seen before.

currently reading: The Dead Ex, by Jane Corry, who also wrote My Husband’s Wife and Blood Sisters. She is British and writes gripping psychological fiction that I absolutely adore. I can’t wait to see where this one goes!

up next: The Silent Patient, a new thriller that everyone is talking about these days. It’s the premiere book for new imprint Celadon Books, and the editors say that it’s the perfect book to introduce them. If this is the quality of the books coming from Celadon, sign me up! It’s going to be amazing.

the makeup of morality

Jess is a makeup artist, working hard in New York City to earn enough money to keep herself afloat. So when the chance arises to make a little extra money in a psychological survey, Jess grabs the opportunity and runs with it. But becoming a research subject in a project on morality means that Jess starts to question all her choices.

Meanwhile, the doctor creating the project, Dr. Shields, has her eye on Jessica for a special project of her own. But this exploration of ethics and humanity, of the choices we make when we think no one is watching, could reveal secrets that could destroy a life. As Jess reveals her secrets and her vulnerabilities, how far will the experiment push her before she breaks?

Told from alternating viewpoints, An Anonymous Girl is the story of what could happen to any of us if our lies, our choices, and our secrets were studied and possibly revealed. Written in the stunning slow burn twistiness of The Wife Between Us, authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen return to explore the relationships we have with ourselves, with the choices we make, and with the ripples that those choices cause, the pain or happiness that can last for years and years from a choice we made in an instant.

An Anonymous Girl is a fantastic novel of psychological suspense. There are twists and turns that you cannot see coming, that change everything you think you know about where the story is going and knock you for a loop. It’s a book people are going to be talking about for a long time. Join in that conversation as soon as you possibly can. Buy this book!!

Galleys for An Anonymous Girl were provided by St. Martin’s Press, with many thanks. However, I was not able to read them early, as my cat threw up on them, and I had to wait until the book was released to buy myself the Kindle version. Totally worth it!

betwist and between

Vanessa is an ex-wife. Her husband is now about to marry a beautiful, younger woman, and Vanessa is alone. She had a large house, designer clothes, days of leisure. Now she has a bedroom at her aunt’s and a job selling designer clothes to other women. As the chapters go back and forth between young Nellie and older (and wiser) Vanessa, we get a picture of how the relationships looked to outsiders.

But things aren’t always what they seem.

The end of part one of The Wife Between Us is just the first big twist in this novel full of surprises. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s going on, the ground beneath you shifts, and you find yourself in a completely different story than the one you thought you were reading. But realize this—it will happen again. And again. And again. You have to read all the way to the end to find out what the true story is.

Authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen take you for a very twisty ride in this first novel together, setting the stage for so many exciting possibilities for those of us who adore a good psychological thriller. And this is a very good psychological thriller.

I got an early copy of this, but because of drama in my life, I struggled to find the time to get to it. So I bought the audio version after it was released and started listening. It’s narrated by Julia Whelan, who is one of my favorite audiobook narrators, and I couldn’t stop listening. I got sucked in quickly and stayed there, until I couldn’t take it anymore and finished the story myself, since I can read faster than I listen.

I hate it when people call books “unputdownable.” But this one was. I can’t recommend this one enough. Start reading it now, and if you can put it down and walk away, go ahead. I couldn’t.

Galleys for The Wife Between Us were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks, but I bought the audio myself, thanks to Audible.

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recently finished: Nothing. But I’ve been reading An Anonymous Woman, by the writing team who brought us The Wife Between Us. I just have a little over an hour left, so that will definitely be the next one I finish. It’s so hard to put this down!

currently reading: I just started listening to Eric Idle’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. He reads it himself, making the experience so much richer. I’m only a few chapters in, but I already highly recommend this to all fans of Monty Python.

up next: Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig. If you follow him on Twitter, then you know that he is an advocate for good mental health. This is his answer to the anxiety we’re all feeling these days, and I can’t wait to read it because I really need it!

film flam

Lady Hardcastle and her maid Flo are back for another adventure in the British countryside. When a group of moviemakers come to their small village, Lady Hardcastle opens her home to the three actors and the film’s director to help them feel welcome. And when a small but determined group of protesters show up to voice their displeasure with the film, The Witch’s Downfall, Lady Hardcastle and Flo worry that their entertaining group may be annoyed. But they had no idea someone would be so unhappy with the actors that they would turn to murder.

Book 4 in the Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book series, A Picture of Murder, is yet another charming historical cozy by T.E. Kinsey. While these stories may lean toward the lightweight, the warm friendship between the lady and her maid brings a sweetness to the crime, and their intelligence and experience keep them safe from harm as they solve the mystery.

A Picture of Murder is another fetching installment in a very entertaining series, and it’s perfect for a snowy day, a big cup of hot tea, and something sweet to much on.

Galleys for A Picture of Murder were provided by Amazon Publishing UK through NetGalley, with many thanks.

bump this one up your list

While Ellery Hathaway is not currently on the police force (a questionable shooting has her sidelined, hopefully only temporarily), she still wants to know all the answers. So when a fellow crime victim in her group therapy session asks Ellery for help, she can’t help herself.

As a teenager, Ellery was kidnapped and held in a closet by a notorious and brutal serial killer. She was the only one of his victims who lived, saved by FBI profiler Reed Markham. Now, although it’s been many years since she was rescued, and her killer is on Death Row, she is still haunted by the psychopaths and creeps who get off on her pain. And she’s still haunted by her scars.

So when her new friend asks Ellery for help finding the man who raped her, Ellery can’t say no. But since she’s off the force, she needs an insider’s help, so she turns once again to her friend FBI agent Markham. This new investigation will test her skill as an investigator and she’ll once again risk her life for the truth, but she’ll also be forced to deal with the prison that crime victims find themselves in at the hands of others.

While it’s not easy to read a book where the main character is imprisoned by her memories and her fears, it’s encouraging to see author Joanna Shaffhausen tackle the difficult topic head-on, with honesty and grace. I can’t want to read the next installment, to see where Ellery goes next.

No Mercy is the follow-up to last year’s The Vanishing Season, a story of a young police woman who thought she saw a dangerous pattern of people disappearing, and her investigation almost ended her career and her life. Do you need to read The Vanishing Season to enjoy No Mercy? Absolutely not. It’s a great stand-alone and can be read as such. But will you want to spend more time with these amazing characters? Absolutely, so read them both anyway.

I highly recommend No Mercy. It’s a great mystery, a great thriller, and a fantastic story with smart, interesting characters you want to spend time with.

Galleys for No Mercy were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.