I am embarrassed to say that 𝘑𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘱𝘭𝘦 is my FIRST Mary Kubica book 🤦♀️. She hit the nail on the head with her latest domestic thriller, which leaves me deeply wondering…Why on earth haven’t I read her before? Here is the scoop…All I need you to know is that Kubica’s book is the perfect ending to a long week. It’s unpredictable, highly entertaining, and doesn’t require a lot of work from the reader. I zipped along the twisty path she paved, casually tripping on the strategically placed obstacles along the way. I am a big fan of her characters and, of course, fell for their polished exteriors while squealing with glee as they, bit by bit, began to unravel. I happily soaked up the buried secrets, feelings of guilt, and layered lies as they seeped from the pages. I loved how Kubica rejuvenated the typical “unaccounted” for female character with a missing husband for a pleasant change (Hallelujah). All in all, Kubica’s tale is a yummy popcorn thriller that I devoured with great delight. It relieved me from a tiresome reading slump and has me eager to conquer her entire backlist. 𝘑𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘊𝘰𝘶𝘱𝘭𝘦 hit bookstores everywhere on JANUARY 10th! Go grab a copy! SYNOPSIS: “ Jake Hayes is missing. This much is certain. At first, his wife, Nina, thinks he is blowing off steam at a friend’s house after their heated fight the night before. But then, a day goes by. Two days. Five. And Jake is still nowhere to be found. Lily Scott, Nina’s friend and coworker thinks she may have been the last to see Jake before he went missing. After Lily confesses everything to her husband, Christian, the two decide that nobody can find out what happened leading up to Jake’s disappearance, especially not Nina. But Nina is out there looking for her husband, and she won’t stop until the truth is discovered.”
EEEEKKKKKK…I FINALLY read 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘔𝘳𝘴. 𝘗𝘢𝘳rish by Liv Constantine, and I do not even understand… how or why I’ve waited this long to do so. Nevertheless, Constantine’s book is a juicy thriller chock-full of over-the-top wealth (I love this), style at its finest, and a delicious dose of manipulation…if I do say so myself. The premise of this book may appear straightforward at first glance, but I can 100% assure you that it is not. Amber Patterson is tired of being a run-of-the-mill gal who is anything but memorable. Everything changes when she meets Daphne Parrish. To Amber, Daphne has IT ALL—the successful husband, a lavish lifestyle, and everything and everyone at her fingertips. Amber finds a way to befriend Daphne and neatly tucks herself into her sumptuous life. And that, my friends…is when all the thrilling shenanigans begin! The pacing of Constantine’s book was outstanding. I could not stop turning the pages. The first half of the book is told from Amber’s perspective, then shifts halfway through to a second narrator. This surprised me in the BEST POSSIBLE WAY. The two perspectives created mystery and intrigue that had my mind bending every which way and THE ENDING…CHEF’S KISS! The phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side,” takes on a whole new meaning between the pages of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘔𝘳𝘴. 𝘗𝘢𝘳rish! All I have to say is SATISFACTION GUARANTEED!
*I received an advance copy of Just The Nicest Couple from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!
*Book links provided in today’s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!
You are here again, and I am not mad about it. Monday holidays always throw me off and completely mess with my head. I basically had no clue what the date was or what day it was ALL WEEK. It all worked out because I began tackling my house. My goal for the next full year is to GET RID OF STUFF and to be more mindful of what we purchase and bring into our home moving forward. If it does not serve my family or me… it’s gone. I do not want to stare at odds and ends around the house. I do not want closets overflowing with all of our “things.” I do not want a basement bursting at the seams with crap we threw down there to avoid dealing with. I do not want my digital life to be so abundant that it needs to be stored in some imaginary cloud that I don’t know how to access. I want to feel lighter. I want my head to be clear. I want to be organized. I want an uncluttered life. This will take a lot of time, but I am determined! I also have three teenage boys, so please pray for me 😂😂. If you are looking for a great book on minimizing all the garbage in your life…check out LOVE PEOPLE USE THINGS.
Ok…on with all the good stuff from the week!
Have a wonderful weekend!
SHHH…CAN’T YOU SEE I’M READING
I am in the middle of reading The Chain by Adrian McKinty for the #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS October book. It is a super fast read with short chapters to gobble up. So far, the pacing is quick, and the storyline is holding my interest. Fingers crossed, it continues in this direction. If you are on Instagram, CLICK HERE for more information on how to join our online discussion this month. I am also FINALLY reading Zibby Owens’ memoir, Bookends. I am a big fan of Zibby, her passion for great books and authors, and all her contributions to the literary world. I also enjoy writing for her publication…ZIBBY MAG (formerly MOMS DON’T HAVE TIME TO) and being a part of the ZIBBY MAG writing community. Read my funny piece about “getting it on” in the middle of the day…RIGHT HERE!
I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I’M WEARING HEADPHONES
I am currently reading/listening to the final book in the Beartown Trilogy. Backman is hands down…one of my favorite authors. I received an advanced copy of The Winners last spring, and guess what? I couldn’t read it. I stared at it every day but did not want to read it because reading it would be the end, and I could not face the end of this story. I am sure the publishers were thrilled with this 😂. Anyway, I am s-l-o-w-l-y alternating between listening and physically reading this book. I am savoring EVERY moment, EVERY character, and EVERY sentence 🥲.
On an entirely different note, I listened to a fantastic episode from Jen Hatmaker’s For The Love Podcast titled THE MOST EMPOWERING THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX & YOUR BODY WITH EMILY NAGOSKI. I highly recommend this episode, but listen with headphones on 😂. It’s empowering, educational, truthful, eye-opening, and just plain fun! I am now interested in checking out Emily Nagoski’s best-selling book, Come As You Are. I mean, why not make sure we are doing everything and anything to have the most incredible sex ever. I’ll keep you posted.
NETFLIX & CHILL
So last week, I shared that I listen to Caroline Kepnes’ book, YOU. I just finished binge-watching season one of the NETFLIX version,and it did not disappoint. It followed the book mostly, with a few changes here and there. I am a big fan of Penn Badgley (Hello Dan from Gossip Girl). I am not allowing myself to watch the next season until I read the second book, Hidden Bodies. However, from what I gathered, you could probably just cut to the chase and watch the series and call it good if you do not feel like reading the books. There are only so many hours in a day.
Another show I must recommend that I caught up on this summer is PHYSICAL on AppleTV. One of my besties recommended this, and I’ve been hooked. In my opinion, this show is underrated and needs more attention because it is the absolute bomb! The 80s vibe is out of this world, and the characters are entirely nuts, 100% unreliable, and will drive you CRAZY! Despite their awfulness, though, you will fall in love with them. The show tackles eating disorders, sexual abuse, and so much more with the 80s mindset and diet culture front and center. If you are sensitive to this subject matter, then take a pass. If not, have at it. It’s a hoot! There are two seasons, and the episodes are under 30 minutes. For this one, you will probably want to dust off your old exercise videos, High-Top Reeboks, and VCRs!
WHAT THE HELL AM I MAKING THESE PEOPLE FOR DINNER TONIGHT?
Today I am sharing a SLAM-DUNK RECIPE. It’s another dump-all-the-ingredients-in-the-crockpot situation and is a real crowd-pleaser. So this Instant Pot Short Rib Black Bean Chili can be made in an instant pot or a crockpot. I did the ladder, and it rocked! The short ribs give this chili a little “something-something” that separates it from your run-of-the-mill ground beef versions. At the end of the cook cycle, the short ribs shred effortlessly with the back of a fork. Chef’s Kiss! I highly recommend this for game day or busy week nights!
I WRITE THE SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SING
I am sorry to say that I am still not writing any songs. However, I am waiting to hear back on a few more pieces I submitted for publication while writing many other fun things. In the meantime, I loved this piece by Fridrik Backman in the New York Times. And if you need a bit more Backman in your life, check out what I had to say about one of his leading ladies RIGHT HERE!
MY BODY’S A TEMPLE…BLAH, BLAH, BLAH
My body IS a temple, and I lifted weights this week to honor it four times. I will say that lifting weights makes me feel fantastic, and I enjoy doing it. Right now, I have a membership with BEACHBODY. There are tons of workout programs to choose from that are either single workouts or specific programs that last for a particular duration (i.e., 6 wks/5 days a week, etc.). I love the variety of programs, recipes, and nutritional plans they have and highly recommend this if you want to work out at home. They also have accountability coaches and private social media communities for inspiration and support if that’s your jam. This currently seems to work for me, so I am just going with it. I am severely lacking in the cardio arena, so that is my mission for next week. I must add that I do not work for BEACHBODY or am an affiliate for them. I’m just a happy customer sharing.
FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE
Friday I’m in love. Yes, I named this blurb after The Cure’s song. They are, after all, my favorite band ever! So what am I in love with this week? TEA! That’s right, good old fashion hot tea to sip on during the day because it is getting COLD here in Maine. One fun fact about me is that I am a collector of teas. I am a sucker for a new flavor, gorgeous packaging, and if it comes in a quaint tin can…I’m buying it! I own more tea than I can drink, and I love it! My latest find is CARMEL APPLE by The Republic of Tea. It is caffeine free and tastes like a cozy fall day in a mug. If I feel wild, I add a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk to elevate my tea-drinking experience. Can you say DELICIOUS? I sometimes find seasonal flavors like this one at TARGET or WHOLE FOODS. It is hit or miss. If your stores do not sell this flavor, you can always grab it RIGHT HERE!
*Book links provided in today’s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!
I am so excited to announce that I will be going LIVE on Instagram with author Ashley Winstead tonight at 8 pm EST. We will be discussing her new book, The Last Housewife, which comes out on August 16th, and a bunch of other fun things. I hope to see you all there. If you happen to miss it…It will be saved to my Instagram account and can be watched later. In the meantime, here is what I said about all three of her books.
I’m not going to lie… the potency of some of the scenes is mind-blowing and carries significant weight throughout the story. Survival and redemption ring true, but so does emotional and physical trauma. Winstead’s book was BANANAS… in the BEST possible way. Here’s the scoop… Her writing is RAZOR-SHARP, and her attention to detail is veritable. She led me into a dark sadistic world filled with power and humiliation beyond anything my imagination could ever even try and muster up on its own. I loved how Winstead brilliantly weaved in themes from some of the foundational thinkers of our time. Rigorous thoughts and pieces of writing from Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, and good old Dante were no doubt examined and creatively incorporated into this psychosexual tale, and I was obsessed with every second of it! Because The Last Housewife is graphic in nature, it may not be a good-fit read for sensitive readers. Winstead offers trigger warnings for her story in the actual Book and on her website. Please DM me for specific content warnings if you are in need.
While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death—delivered, of all ways, by her favorite true-crime podcast crusader—she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.
Recruiting the help of the podcast host, Shay goes back to the place she vowed never to return to in search of answers. As she follows the threads of her friend’s life, she’s pulled into a dark, seductive world, where wealth and privilege shield brutal philosophies that feel all too familiar. When Shay’s obsession with uncovering the truth becomes so consuming she can no longer separate her desire for justice from darker desires newly reawakened, she must confront the depths of her own complicity and conditioning. But in a world built for men to rule it—both inside the cult and outside of it—is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?
𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘖𝘯𝘤𝘦…a ROMANTIC COMEDY Yes, you heard me correctly. Winstead shifted from four-wheel driving up a steep hill in a blizzard to effortlessly cruising in a convertible down a long, windy country road. What does this jumble of words mean, you ask? It implies that 𝐀𝐬𝐡𝐥𝐞𝐲 𝗪𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐬. 𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘖𝘯𝘤𝘦 is a ginormous departure from her other work, and it is literally “swoon-worthy,”… a phrase that thriller readers may not be well-versed in. 𝐋𝐞𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐁𝐞𝐧 𝐋𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐝-𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐞𝐬-𝐭𝐨-𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐬. Heartbreak, trust issues, politics, green energy, and laugh-out-loud scenes line the pages of 𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘖𝘯𝘤𝘦. Let’s not forget the serious banter and chemistry between our two potential “love-birds” that left my cheeks on the rosy side. With fantastic rhythm and a wicked fresh storyline, 𝘍𝘰𝘰𝘭 𝘔𝘦 𝘖𝘯𝘤𝘦 deserves a place on your shelf.
“Lee Stone is a twenty-first-century woman: she kicks butt at her job as a communications director at a women-run electric car company (that’s better than Tesla, thank you), and after work she is “Stoner,” drinking guys under the table and never letting any of them get too comfortable in her bed… That’s because Lee’s learned one big lesson: never trust love. Four major heartbreaks set her straight, from her father cheating on her mom all the way to Ben Laderman in grad school–who wasn’t actually cheating, but she could have sworn he was, so she reciprocated in kind. Then Ben shows up five years later, working as a policy expert for the most liberal governor in Texas history, just as Lee is trying to get a clean energy bill rolling. Things get complicated–and competitive–as Lee and Ben are forced to work together. Tension builds just as old sparks reignite, fanning the flames for a romantic dustup the size of Texas.”
WOW! I could not put this thriller down to save my life. This one kept me guessing literally to the very end. My heart was racing, and my mind was bending with every page I read. All of the characters had significant issues, and I trusted no one. This book is dark academia at its finest! Can you say SPECTACULAR!
“Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to her southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent. Not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather Shelby’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year.
But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.”
Today I am sharing two books that couldn’t be more different from one another. On tap is a psychological thriller that will knock your socks off and a slow-burn historical mystery with a few dead bodies floating around. Let’s take a peek at these spring 2022 releases, shall we?
Cleopatra’s Dagger was a delight to read. Lawrence immediately transported me to New York City circa 1880. Her writing is rich in detail and showcases a feminist journalist way ahead of her time. A serial killer, mysterious dead bodies, and an Egyptian flair fill the pages of this book. I went into this novel anticipating gruesome details and an unsettling storyline; however, I found her writing more intriguing than disturbing. There were twists along the way that kept me guessing and a “whodunnit vibe” present throughout the book. I believe that historical fiction and mystery lovers will equally enjoy this slow-burn historical mystery.
“New York, 1880. Elizabeth van den Broek is the only female reporter at the Herald, the city’s most popular newspaper. Then she and her bohemian friend Carlotta Ackerman find a woman’s body wrapped like a mummy in a freshly dug hole in Central Park–the intended site of an obelisk called Cleopatra’s Needle. The macabre discovery takes Elizabeth away from the society pages to follow an investigation into New York City’s darkest shadows.
When more bodies turn up, each tied to Egyptian lore, Elizabeth is onto a headline-making scoop more sinister than she could have imagined. Her reporting has readers spellbound, and each new clue implicates New York’s richest and most powerful citizens. And a serial killer is watching every headline.
Now a madman with an indecipherable motive is coming after Elizabeth and everyone she loves. She wants a good story? She may have to die to get it.”
An Honest Lie is my second Tarryn Fisher book, and what can I say…I am a fan. This novel is a story of survival, redemption, and everything in-between. It is written in two different timelines with a horrific cult as the backdrop. I adored the complexity of Fisher’s characters and was captivated by each messy layer that was slowly unpeeled. I was pulled in many directions, which kept me briskly turning the pages to see what happened next. One minute I was lingering in sadness, and the next minute I felt like I was on an over-the-top roller coaster ride. Most importantly, though, Fisher kept me wildly entertained while I basked in the sun poolside over spring break.
“Lorraine–“Rainy”–lives at the top of Tiger Mountain. Remote, moody, cloistered in pine trees and fog, it’s a sanctuary, a new life. She can hide from the disturbing past she wants to forget.
If she’s allowed to.
When Rainy reluctantly agrees to a girls’ weekend in Vegas, she’s prepared for an exhausting parade of shots and slot machines. But after a wild night, her friend Braithe doesn’t come back to the hotel room.
And then Rainy gets the text message, sent from Braithe’s phone: someone has her. But Rainy is who they really want, and Rainy knows why.
What follows is a twisted, shocking journey on the knife-edge of life and death. If she wants to save Braithe–and herself–the only way is to step back into the past.”
Britney King is BACK. I know you recognize her because I write to you often about her books. Words can not express how excited I get when I hear that she (my favorite author of psychological thrillers) has a new book coming out. When I received an early copy of King’s latest creation The Secretary, I immediately cleared my Friday night plans (I have so many these days 😂😂). I rushed through dinner with my family, passed all driving duties over to my husband, locked up my chickens and ducks, then quickly landed in my cozy bed with all my snuggly blankets and a piping hot mug of tea. Some may call this boring or uneventful, but this forty-something-year-old dreams of nights like these. I read The Secretary late into the night and finished it up first thing in the morning. Can you say absolute BLISS?
I will proceed with caution as I share the synopsis of this story with you. Psychological thrillers are tough to summarize and I NEVER want to give anything away. Gillian is about to start a new job as a secretary at an uber-powerful company. Her life is a bit blah at the moment with no clear direction so this job feels like the perfect remedy for all her problems. Gillian is drawn to her new boss Ellis and his mysterious ways. Despite feeling uneasy about her role at the company, she is very much drawn to this powerful man and finds herself abandoning her friends and family for her boss and new “job”. Things are not right from the start though and Gillian quickly gets tangled up in sleepovers, “company policy”, and covering up a murder leaving her not only terror-struck but questioning everything. What happened to the secretary before her and what is going to happen to her? Does she really have what it takes to be a part of his world?
King is a master at setting the reading tone for all her books. The tension booms in The Secretary from the first page to the very last and her unsettling office environment is the PERFECT backdrop. What I love about King the most is that she doesn’t bore me with unnecessary details. She cuts immediately to chase offering me all the red flags and mystery I could ever dream of. I furiously flipped the pages of this book soaking up Gillian’s naiveness and Ellis’ impenetrable vibe (think Christian Grey…but just for a split second and minus the red room). I am always intrigued by stories with the powerful male boss and an innocent young woman who works for him. It could be construed as a common trope with the man at the helm, but not in this case. King is very strategic with who has the power and when so be sure to pay careful attention. As always, she sprinkled in just enough evil to make me squirm, but not turn away. And let’s not forget the ending…NAILED IT!
Set aside your weekend plans and binge-read King’s latest psychological wonder. It’s an absolute treat!
Until next time!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Be sure to check out what I had to say about some of King’s previous books below.
All I have to say is that 2022 is HOT with fabulous books. In two days, A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham will be hitting bookstores everywhere and I CAN’T WAIT for everyone to get their hands on this GEM! Willingham’s debut “thrilling” novel unfolds one suspenseful page at a time leaving her readers gasping for more. Let me share with you why this story is a “must-read”. Here we go.
When Chloe Davis was twelve years old, her father was arrested for murdering six teenage girls in their small Louisiana town. Her one and only father who she loved and adored was a SERIAL KILLER. Fast forward 20 years and Chloe is working as a psychologist, planning her wedding, and trying desperately to move on from the evil that haunts her. As the twentieth anniversary of her father’s summer killing spree grows closer, local teenage girls once again go missing. As Chloe becomes immersed in these new cases, she revisits her childhood summer when her family’s life was forever changed, while trying to figure out who is killing all of these girls.
Is this a coincidence or is there a copycat killer lurking around her?
Let me share with you one more time that this is a DEBUT NOVEL and it is PHENOMENAL! If this is how Stacy Willingham rolls, I am here for ALL of her tales! On a side note, I listened to this book on audio, and narrator Karissa Vacker was spectacular. Her voice was serene to listen to even during the darkest moments.
Willingham’s book captivated me because it satiated all my serial killer needs minus all the graphic gore. I loved getting a glimpse into what the collapse of Chloe’s family life was like when her father was sent to prison for murder. That may sound bizarre to some, but how a family rebounds (if that is even a possibility) from such horrors is beyond extraordinary to me and A Flicker in the Dark portrayed the aftermath of this fictional family in an exceptional way. The story bounced back and forth between the present-day and Chloe’s memories which made the suspense all the more intriguing. Willingham subtly peppered the pages with mini clues that threw me off track more than one time. I caught myself MANY times with my jaw dropped to the floor muttering, “Wait, what?”. All in all, Willingham’s story is the ultimate tale to be untwisted. With an outstanding cast of characters, a stellar storyline, and a monstrous ending that satisfies, A Flicker in the Dark is the ultimate read!
Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a brand new year. Clean slate, endless possibilities, and of course…new books. Today I am sharing one book that came out in September 2021 and two that were published TODAY! Three books for the price of one letter to you is not too shabby. Let’s see what I’ve got, shall we!
“Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.”
The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan is officially out today and has been named Book of the Week by PEOPLE magazine and Read With Jenna’s January pick. This dystopian tale explores strong themes relating to motherhood, parenting, race, gender, and then some. It is unsettling and a wee bit anxiety-provoking, so if you are a parent, your need to hug your children will be powerful. Because my feelings on this book are truly all over the place, I believe this to be an excellent selection to discuss and process with other readers. Whether you love it or hate it, Chan’s book is most definitely…SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT!
“Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging.
When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.
Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?”
Another book that is out TODAY is No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib. This fictional story revolves around U.S. President Trump’s real-life Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (AKA… “Muslim Ban”) in 2017. This story takes a deep dive into the repercussions of this order. Zgheib’s writing is stunning, and her prose triggers a feeling of longing that lingers with you after the last page is turned. Her main characters Sama and Hadi alternate perspectives throughout the story offering the most intimate look at families divided by borders and the fearfulness and risks they endure all for the chance at freedom and a safe place to call home. This gorgeous book weighs in around 300 pages, so not only is it an eye-opening read but a quick one too. I can not recommend this book enough!
“This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.
All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…
You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.
In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think… “
My last recommendation is The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. It is a tricky book to summarize, so do not put all of your stock in the synopsis above. Ward’s book is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle, a complete “mind f*ck” if you will. My brain entered an inescapable nightmare that not only broke my heart but tampered with my soul. My head was spinning with equal parts terror and fascination, as I frantically turned the pages. The Last House on Needless Street is storytelling at its finest but please be forewarned, its heaviness is difficult to shake. Trigger warnings are abundant including child abuse, child abduction, mental illness, trauma, serial killers, and a whole lot in-between. Ward ends her book with a note to the reader that I felt was very helpful in understanding the ins and outs of the story. It is a must-read AFTER you have read the book. It contains major spoilers, so no cheating!
Enjoy all the books you can ever imagine this new year!
Your Biggest Fan!
P.S. Are you hungry? If so, be sure to check out some of my most recent cookbook recommendations RIGHT HERE!
***I received an advance reader copy of The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan and No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!
So here I am, standing over two dead bodies, surveying the blood splatter, wondering if I’ll ever be able to find wallpaper this pretty again. It’s like two paths diverged in a wood. I know this isn’t a Robert Frost poem, but bear with me, it’s my favorite, and at this moment, my mind is going to strange places.
July 22, 2021
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
Today is a GREAT DAY! One of my favorite/go to authors has a new book out and I had the pleasure of getting an early peek at it. Passerby (Out Today), by the lovely Britney King was my perfect Saturday night read. King never fails to thrill me with her suspenseful tales and her latest did not disappoint. Small town living and dead bodies wrapped in a bit of southern charm is what’s on tap today my literary friend. Grab an ice coffee and your sunnies….the heat is on!
I personally find thrillers tricky to talk about without spoiling all the juicy surprises. Because of this, I am sharing just the basic storyline and will tell you why it worked for me. Jester Falls is the quintessential small town where you went to kindergarten with the local police officer and there is a life long feud between two of the big families in town. Ruth Channing was born and raised here with her brothers and runs the Magnolia House, the most popular bed and breakfast around. One of her brothers comes home with a random girlfriend that he quickly decides to marry. Ruth is on to her though. After some digging around, she discovers that her sister-in-law, to be, has been lying about her name and her past. To make matters worse, mysterious murders are happening under foot leaving Ruth suspicious and concerned for her family’s well being and the livelihood of The Magnolia House.
It sounds lovely. But it wasn’t all fun and games. It takes an incredible amount of strength to hold a person under the water against their will. Thankfully, not nearly as much to entice them to get sloppy drunk. If you can imagine that, the rest is easy.
Now let me share with you the really good stuff. The story is narrated by Ruth and the anonymous Passerby. Let me just add real quick that I LOVE an undisclosed narrator. Talk about fast paced and keeping me guessing !!! King immediately presents two dead bodies and someone struggling with what to do about it right out of the gate. What I quickly learned was that King was teasing me with a scene that happens later on in the book, hooking me and reeling me in to the finish line. The characters in Passerby weren’t exactly loveable, but instead hardened and even layered for that matter (side-effect of small town living). As I was trying to figure out who was responsible for the different murders, I can honestly say, I was STUMPED! King threw me of course every step of the way and having that secret narrator made the journey way more fun. In case you are wondering, yes there are murders and a few dead bodies, but the story is not overly graphic. Passerby moves at a speedy pace, so plan on reading this in as close to one sitting as possible. I promise, it’s easy to do.
Enjoy this stellar read!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. See what I had to say about some of Britney King’s other books.
Ahhhhh, the moment the world has been waiting for is less than a week away. Alex Michaelides, author of the best selling book, The Silent Patient is back with summer’s most anticipated read. The Maidens comes out June 15th and it does not disappoint. Don’t get too comfy basking in the sun reading this thriller. Plan on having to remove your sun soaked body from your beach chair to pick your jaw up off the ground when you finish. Need I say more?
So here is the set up. Mariana is a newly widowed group therapist. One evening she learns that her niece Zoe’s close friend is brutally murdered at Cambridge University, where the girls attend school. Mariana, once a student there, heads on over to comfort her niece and get to the bottom of things. She is convinced that Professor Edward Fosca is the murderer. This bewitching professor of Greek Mythology may be well loved by fellow teachers and students alike, but there is a mysterious air to him that just doesn’t sit well with Mariana. For one, he has an ongoing obsession with Persephone (the goddess of death) and two, he has a gaggle of girls that make up a secret society called The Maidens that worship and learn from him privately. The first girl murdered is a member of this underground group and soon after, another member is murdered as well. Coincidence??? Mariana’s connections at the university coupled with her therapy skills, allow her to dig deep into this case, but not without ruffling a whole bunch of feathers. As she explores the death’s of these women, Zoe’s relationship with them and Professor Fosca’s love of Greek tragedy, Mariana believes she is getting closer to the truth. Is the Professor guilty of all these murders?
OK, so the premise of the story seems rather simple, but do not be fooled. Finding out who killed these university women and why is what we are trying to discover. Beware though, the road to that realization will mock you every step of the way. Michaelides did a brilliant job misleading me on every page. He not only directed me down many deceiving paths, but peppered in some back stories and even a few side characters that muddied up the water and kept things beguiling. Here is the thing. Dark and moody campus novels with a few dead bodies are 100% my jam. Bring on the academic vibes, distorted passion and exclusive secret societies…I am in! I loved Michaelides intricate details on Greek mythology and the psychology element he infuses into his tale. He has mastered having a therapist in his story once again. If you have read The Silent Patient, then you will appreciate the subtle nod he gives to it in this story. Always fun in my opinion.
Here is the scoop, Michaelides set the bar as high as it can go for his future novels with his 5 star debut, The Silent Patient. I truly believe his sophomore novel reached that bar and will be loved this summer by all the book lovers looking for a solid, high quality read. Remember though, comparison is the thief of joy so LET IT BE!
Reading The Maidens is the perfect escape from the daily grind. That is what we are looking for this summer, am I right? It’s a sand between your toes, cocktail in your hand entertaining summer book. I am not going to lie, it felt so amazing to stimulate my brain with a dark thriller instead of obsessing over work, laundry and what to feed my family next. Any chance to sit in my beach chair for an extended period of time is an absolute win for me. I literally remained seated (miracle) until the very end (remember, I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when I finished). I mean how perfect does that sound? Go grab yourself a copy on pub day or if you are feeling spontaneous…..pre-order it today from your local indie bookstore. My job is done here. Happy Reading!
“When Ali steps up to the podium, she adjusts the mic. She starts her talk with a question. How many of you have ever been seduced? What was it about that time in your life that felt exciting?
Ali knows the answer, of course, even if the audience can’t quite put their finger on it.
It was the uncertainty. The highs and lows. The push and pull. Attraction without polarity cannot be sustained. Once the excitement is gone, you might as well just be friends.”
April 1, 2021
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
You should know by now that my love of psychological thrillers is a real thing. I will always adore your writing, but every now and then I need to read a book that really messes with my brain. A mind bending story with sharp turns and more twists than a pretzel is what I crave more often than not. My go to author for this kind of fun is Britney King. Any one of her books paired with a fabulous glass of pinot noir is my perfect Friday night. Her latest book, Kill me Tomorrow is out TODAY, and let me tell you something….it did not disappoint. Let’s take a look!
“Don’t focus on what you fear. You know where all the walls are. If you look at what you’re afraid of, you’ll literally steer into it.”
Ali is our leading lady of this story. She is a well known sex therapist who practices what she preaches. She is not afraid to put herself out there on a dating website with her gorgeous looks, complex past and mysterious baggage. Her moodiness and habit of abruptly disappearing leave her men drooling for more. Next we have Ethan who is a former FBI agent turned Private Investigator. He is hired to investigate a possible suicide, but lands on a string of murders all with a common thread. All of the dead gentlemen were on the same dating website as Ali. Ethan needs the money from this gig to provide for his kids who live with his ex-wife. He goes undercover on the dating website and lands a date with Ali, one of his suspects. As the two get to know one another (lots of “sexual healing” going on guys), the plot truly thickens. Ethan has his own theories about all of these murders, but in order to prove them right, he needs to stay alive. Easier said than done in a Britney King book. A perplexing sex goddess, secrets galore and a potential serial killer keep this story moving at a tremendous pace. At what cost will this mystery be solved?
“My cheek pressed against the cold tile. I think, so this is how it ends. There’s a rattling in my chest, the kind you hear stories about. It tells me I don’t have long.”
I can only leave you with a taste of this story in order to not give ANYTHING away. What I can tell you for sure is that King writes multifaceted characters who lack reliability and have killer charm. PERFECTION! There are three POVs in Kill Me Tomorrow: Ali, Ethan and the killer. Mystery narrators in thrillers are my absolute weakness. They add an extra layer of creepiness and “whodunit” to the story keeping me guessing until the very end. King’s latest creation is sensual, ominous and down right binge worthy. I personally found this book (and her last book Savage Row) not as graphic as some of her previous books… just throwing that out there to curious readers. The best part about King’s book is that you can try and guess your way through this story all you want, but she will stump you in the end!
Cheers to this thrilling tale!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. Kill Me Tomorrow has a PLAYLIST. Check it out over on SPOTIFY! How cool is that!!!
P.P.S. Here is where you can find the lovely Britney King. Go say HI to her. She would love to hear from you!