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Murders & Mysteries & Madness…Oh My

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (William Morrow)

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer)

May 12, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

MURDER! Is it madness, or maybe, just maybe, a curated act that offers on a silver platter, a mystery to be solved? Today I am talking about Peter Swanson’s latest book, Eight Perfect Murders, and John Marrs’ new book, What Lies Between Us. While Swanson’s book pays tribute to eight brilliant fictional murder mystery novels, Marrs’ book takes a deep dive into a strained (ok…demented) mother-daughter relationship…murder included! Though they are two completely different reads, they both invite you on a rollercoaster of a ride that will surely make your heart skip a beat. Beware…sharp and twisty turns ahead!

Let’s start with Eight Perfect Murders. According to Swanson’s protagonist, Malcolm Kershaw, it is quite possible to commit the perfect murder.  In fact, Kershaw published a blog post for his bookstore a few years ago citing eight works of fiction that in his opinion, showcase the most seamless and unsolvable murder mysteries to date. The title of his post, “Eight Perfect Murders”, included Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History. Lo and behold, his blog post comes back to haunt him when the FBI contacts him about a string of recent murders and their possible links to the eight books he wrote about.  As Malcolm shares his reasonings with the FBI, he also plays the part of a sleuth behind their back, only to discover more than he bargained for. Is it truly possible to mimic a murder found between the pages of a book?  Plan on relishing this literary dream.  Swanson’s bookish tale is the perfect bedtime story for every crime fiction lover out there. While a local bookstore and the smell of old books set an atmospheric backdrop for the inner bibliophile in you, literary deaths are brewing on every page of Swanson’s book.  He does a phenomenal job intertwining fictional works from the past with present-day crime.  The pages are oozing with secrets, lies, and memories from a time long ago. Sink deep into your couch for this one.  You won’t move until you finish!

Switching gears ever so slightly, John Marrs’ new book, What Lies Between Us takes a strenuous mother-daughter relationship to the next level. Maggie has always protected her daughter Nina, no matter the cost.  From birth, through a very trying adolescence, Maggie has done everything in her power to shield her daughter from the cruel and unusual world she lives in.  So why…why, is Maggie chained up in the attic bedroom of her adult daughter’s home?  This my friend, is a question I cannot answer.  How could I, without spoiling the biggest psychological thriller out there. I will tell you this…Marrs’ book is absolutely bonkers!  And I mean that as a compliment. I was hot glued to my seat reading the pages of this book faster than I could turn them. Maggie and her daughter Nina not only narrate the story in alternating chapters but using dual timelines. The past and the present from both narrators slowly merge together offering an ending that will blow your mind.  Their individual stories are oh so twisted and completely insane. I had to actually pick my jaw up off the floor several times during this book. There is absolutely no getting off this ride until the very end.  Buckle up!  You will need to read this in one sitting!

Enjoy these two crazy gems!  

Until Next time Mr. H.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. If you have not read or are planning on reading any of the eight books mentioned in Swanson’s book and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, be forewarned.  There are major spoilers.  

P.P.S.  I Love you Mom!

Click on the book pics below to purchase!

 

***The chick featured in the photograph is Eleanor. She was a week old when this picture was taken. She is a White Crested Black Polish Bantam. ❤️❤️❤️

My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa book cover

By Kate Elizabeth Russell

Instagram Chat Group

(William Morrow)

April 20, 2020

Dear Readers,

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Some of you have read it. Some of you are currently reading it. Some of you are contemplating reading it. Some of you have never even heard of this debut novel.  

If anyone is interested, I am hosting a Discussion Group with my friend Katie from Texas about this heartbreaking novel.  If you would like to read this book or have already read it and need a place to talk, I invite you to hop on Instagram and DM me to be added to one of the chat groups.  You do not need to have a public account to join. The groups are currently being formed and an open discussion will be held now through the end of May. It is a safe space to help us all process this complicated, brilliantly crafted story.  

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Why all the fuss about this book???? In short, it is the story of a fifteen-year-old girl and her relationship with her 42-year-old HIgh School teacher. It is a book that shines a light on things that are strenuous to acknowledge.  It is a book that is easier to just not read. It is a book that has my mind twisted every which way. It is a book that never leaves me, even when my reading time is through. It is a book that makes me feel terribly uncomfortable yet completely captivated.  It is a book that makes my stomach turn and my mind wander. It is a book filled with power. It is a book that is so beautifully written that my heart is aching. It is a book that I NEED TO TALK ABOUT NOW!

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*** Warning*** This book is NOT for everyone.   Trigger warnings are abundant… sexual assault, pedophiles, grooming, strong sexual content, suicide, and emotional trauma, just to name a few.  Take care of you!

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Be sure to use our handy dandy #mydarkvanessachat and tag us if you like!  We would love to hear from you.

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Synopsis…

“2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?”

Look forward to chatting with everyone!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Check out my Instagram page

https://www.instagram.com/dearmrhemingway/

Click on the book pic below to purchase!

Guest Writer ~ Kate Quinn

Guest Writer Graphic for Kate Quinn

Author Edition

 

Guest Writer, Author Kate Quinn

January 8, 2020

Dear Fellow Book Lovers,
Today is a great day. Kicking off the GUEST WRITER~AUTHOR EDITION is none other than the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Historical Fiction, KATE QUINN.  Yes, you heard me correctly, Kate Quinn has written a letter to Mr. Hemingway. Of course, you already know that Kate Quinn is the author of The Alice Network (A Reese’s Book Club pic for July 2017) and most recently, The Huntress.  Did you also know that she has written four books in the Empress of Rome series, two books in the Italian Renaissance series, and a host of other publications?  With more books in the works, this author is on fire. I hope you enjoy her post today! I thank Kate from the bottom of my heart for participating in this project.

Happy Reading!

Kelly

P.S.  Rumor has it that Kate Quinn is a ROCKIN good singer! Check out all of Kate’s fabulousness over on her Website…
http://www.katequinnauthor.com
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Dear Mr. Hemingway,
You never forget your first, do you? The book that hooks you forever.
I was ten. My librarian mother put a hefty tome into my hands: “Jubilee Trail,” by Gwen Bristow. “Historical fiction set in early California,” she said. Being a California girl, I was intrigued enough to curl up on the sofa and start reading. I fell through the pages into a new world: this was my first adult historical novel, the book that converted me into a passionate, lifelong lover of stories set in the past.

Everything in it spoke to me. I loved learning about pre-Gold Rush California’s three-tiered society, where proud Spanish rancheros existed side by side with Yankee traders and Mexican citizens, and US statehood was just a glimmer on the horizon. My guide to this new world is Bristow’s heroine Garnet, an adventurous New York society girl who dreams of more than dull, polite city life. She marries Oliver, a handsome trader who sweeps her on a headlong journey to California, and I loved the idea that a book could start with a marriage rather than ending with one—that a girl’s life didn’t end once she became a wife. I loved the best friend Garnet picks up along her journey: Florinda, a beautiful blunt-spoken showgirl fleeing murder charges and perhaps something even more sinister, stealing every scene she appears in. Their friendship is the rock that sustains Garnet when she reaches California and realizes the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding from her, and I learned something I’d carry into adulthood: that female friendships are every bit as important as romantic relationships, and deserved to be showcased.

Moreover, a woman’s journey to independence is every bit as important as the simpler question of “Who does she fall in love with?” Garnet grows from an adventurous girl to steel-spined heroine as she battles through motherhood and widowhood, poverty and luxury, frontier shoot-outs, and deadly family feuds. It’s a journey that had my ten-year-old self cheering, and still does whenever I reread “Jubilee Trail.” Something about the combination of flawed and interesting women, meticulously researched history, and a writing style as clear as a pane of glass have stuck with me over the years. It wasn’t long after reading “Jubilee Trail” that I began writing my own books…and to this day, I think my own heroines have something of Bristow’s Garnet in them. Nina in “The Huntress” has her ferocity when backed into a corner, Eve in “The Alice Network” has her flinty endurance—and all my heroines have her capacity for friendship.

Talk to you again soon, Mr. H!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kate

P.S.  Click on the books below to purchase!
Jubilee Trail
The Alice Network
The Huntress

Jackson & Marais ~ Authors To Love

Book Covers for Never Have I Ever and If you want to make God Laugh

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson & If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

July 15, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I have said it before and I will say it again…summer reading is simply the best. Let’s face it, time seems endless on a sweltering hot day. What makes this summer feel so exceptional is that all of the new release books are over the top marvelous. The authors are strong, their writing is spot on and the stories are unique. Today I am going to share two new books I just recently finished for this July that are completely disparate. The first one is a heartfelt drama that takes place in South Africa by Bianca Marais. The second one is a contemporary American thriller by Joshilyn Jackson. If you have never read anything by these authors before, then now is a great time to start. Both of these books are perfect for reading on a sandy beach, poolside, or with the windows open on a warm summer night. So without further ado, let me share with you these two ladies’ latest creations.

Joshilyn Jackson’s Never Have I Ever is her ninth novel.  Let me be clear……her books rock!.  Here is the set up. Amy Whey is hosting book club for all of her suburban neighbors.  Her evening of cocktails with the ladies and some casual book talk about their latest read turns extremely bizarre when a new neighbor shows up to the party with an agenda that does not include discussing House of Mirth.  Roux is the new girl in town renting a house in the neighborhood with her teenage son.  Even though she doesn’t know anyone at Amy’s house, she takes it upon herself to make herself at home and hijack the party with her uproarious behavior and a game of “Never Have I Ever”.  Before Amy knows it, her predictable book club has turned into an intoxicated mess with secrets oozing out of everyone’s mouth. Once the neighborhood crew is gone, Roux reveals her true self to Amy.  She unexpectedly drags up Amy’s dark and secretive past, blackmailing her and threatening to ruin her perfectly happy life with her husband, step-daughter and infant son. Amy needs to decide if she should pay her the money to keep her past a secret or find another way around it.  Without giving too much a way, Jackson’s book is a flawless cat and mouse suspense offering readers the exact amount of thrill to keep the pages constantly turning. Family love and friendship with a side of skeletons in the closet equal a tremendous read. This fast paced novel comes out July 30th, so pre-order it NOW!!!!!!

Shifting gears a bit now.  My next July read for you is Bianca Marais’ new book, If You Want To Make God Laugh (This comes out TOMORROW).  Be prepared for a whole different experience with this highly emotional book.  Marais’ story is set in South Africa post Apartheid during the 1990’s. With Nelson Mandela about to be elected and the AIDS epidemic on the rise, the backdrop of Marais’ story is intense.  Her book follows three different characters in alternating chapters. Zodwa is a seventeen year old black girl living in poverty. Not only is she eight months pregnant and caring for her dying mother, but she also is carrying a very unsettling secret.  Ruth and Delilah are two estranged middle-aged sisters who reunite unexpectedly at their family’s old home. Delilah is a former nun whose past continues to haunt her. Ruth, in the process of a divorce, is trying to figure out her new life. While the sisters are sorting out the details of their family home and individual baggage, they are surprised one evening when a newborn black baby is left on their doorstep.  The story gradually unfolds with Marais delicately revealing how each of these three women’s lives are connected and eventually come together. She tackles many sensitive subjects including corruption in the church, racism, AIDS, and homophobia, while shining light on the political atmosphere of South Africa at that time. Be prepared to have your heart strings pulled in all different directions while reading this book.  The characters will absolutely melt your heart and water your eyes. For an added bonus, fans of Marais’ Hum If You Don’t Know The Words will be surprised at the cameo appearances in her story. I hope you enjoy this read.  It is truly a beautiful story.

Well my friends, be sure to put these two delights on your TBR list for this summer.  Be on the look out for more wonderful summer reads in the weeks to come.

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!!!!

Until next time Mr. H.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Thank you to William Morrow and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for giving me the opportunity to read these two books in advance in exchange for an honest review.  It was an absolute pleasure!!!!!!

Click here to purchase Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Click here to purchase If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

What Do You See When You Look Out Your Window???

The Woman in the Window book cover

September 25, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Can you see your neighbors when you look out your window? I can, but it is not particularly entertaining. They mow their lawns, start their grills, play with their dogs, and shoot hoops with their kids. Imagine if one day when you glanced out your window, you saw someone being murdered in your neighbor’s house! Keep that thought in mind while I set you up for your next big read.

Suspense and thrill-seekers are going to enjoy A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window.  Without giving too much away, Anna Fox is a child psychologist living alone in her New York City brownstone (not counting her tenant who rents out her basement).  She suffers from extreme agoraphobia and hasn’t left her home in TEN MONTHS. She spends her days washing down her prescribed medications with a bottle or two of wine, watching old movies, and casually spying on her neighbors through her window (I mean, what else is she going to do?).  One night, while peeking out of her window, Anna sees someone stabbed inside her neighbor’s house. What should she do? How can she help (remember, she doesn’t leave her house)? Who should she call? Was this real or just a figment of her drunk imagination? Will anyone believe her? Can she trust her own memory?  Beware, the atmosphere of this story is thick with anxiety.

Anna’s daily struggle with mental illness doesn’t leave much to the imagination.  With each page read, however, there is a strong desire to want to know how this all came about.  Anna keeps herself and readers guessing whether her memories are real or imagined. This isn’t hard for her to do while under the influence of a concoction of pills and wine throughout the majority of the book.  The story starts off at a leisurely pace. Once you get the lay of the land, it starts to unravel into quite the suspenseful and gripping read. Do not be alarmed if your head is spinning and you feel like your mind is playing tricks on you while reading.  It is merely a reflection of how magnificent a writer A.J. Finn really is. My final warning…plan on staying up until the wee hours of the night with this little gem. It will not disappoint.

Until Next time Sir!

Your Biggest Fan,

 Kelly

P.S.  I kid you not, this is being adapted for the big screen starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman.

*click here to buy book*

Wicked Fast Reads

Sunburn by Laura Lippman & Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Sunburn book cover
Book cover of Ghosted

September 11, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

The number of books on my ever-growing “To Be Read” list can seem completely overwhelming at times.  There is nothing more satisfying than gobbling up a few super-fast reads while enjoying my morning cup of Joe or a cocktail on my front porch on a warm fall evening. I am not always looking for a book that is a literary work of art, just quick, entertaining, and a little bit mysterious to keep me on my toes.

Well today Mr. H., I am sharing two really fun reads with all my friends. Both books are way more intriguing than any synopsis could ever provide. Because of this, I am not telling you a whole lot about each book, just a little sip to wet your whistle. I certainly do not want to be a book spoiler!

My first book is Sunburn by Laura Lippman. Why in the world would a young mother up and leave her husband and young daughter in the middle of their family beach vacation?  Too much sunburn perhaps????? So the mystery begins of why Polly disappeared during her vacation and what happens next. I will tell you that Lippman’s story is an absolute seductive treat.  The characters are all mysterious with secrets I was dying to know. A suspenseful read that keeps you guessing and a hint of dark small-town charm will keep you whipping through the pages. The book cover is pretty cool too! READ IT !

My second book is Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. Here is how this book sets up.  Sarah meets a man named Eddie by chance, and the two of them fall madly in love in the week that they spend together.   Eddie then leaves on an already planned vacation with promises of calling Sarah and maybe getting something more serious started when he returns.  Well, lo and behold, Eddie doesn’t call EVER! He disappears…”Ghosted”. The storyline starts off a little cheesy, but hang in there. The mystery starts to slowly unravel with plenty of twists and turns that totally caught me off guard.  Walsh was super clever with how she laid out the clues throughout the book. The overall story turned out to be completely unexpected and a very pleasant surprise.

Enjoy these two delightful reads this weekend!

Till next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  My early autumn night Cocktail (while it is still seasonably warm) on my front porch has been a slightly modified version of the famous Moscow Mule.  This lighter version was concocted by my one of my girlfriends. She refers to it as a Moscow Mule Light. I simply refer to it as My Mule!

Enjoy!!

8-10 oz glass of choice

Fill your glass with TONS of ice

Pour in one big shot of vodka (your choice)

Squeeze an entire lime into the glass (really SQUEEZE it)

Finish off with a splash or two of good ginger beer (I personally use one that is crafted in Maine)

Throw a lime slice in to make it PRETTY!!!!!!!

Bottoms up!

*Click here to buy Sunburn by Laura Lippman*

*Click here to buy Ghosted by Rosie Walsh*

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