The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a eerie story, told from the view of Ailsa Calder.  Ailsa has just inherited a house after her mother passes away, one that she hasn’t been back to for several years.

Once arriving, her plan is to sell the house and be back to her boyfriend in a timely manner, only to find out that she is the inherit of only half of the house.  The other half belongs to her father, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace 27 years ago.

Returning to her childhood home, she is also joined by her half sister whom she hasn’t really spent time with since Ailsa left for college.  Even with her sister there with her in the house, which has a name….The Manse….Ailsa cannot shake the odd feeling bubbling up inside.   It’s almost as if the house itself is watching her.  It also doesn’t help when other odd events start to happen, such as the fact that no animals will set foot in the gates of The Manse.

Ailsa soon meets her neighbors and a few other locals, whose parents were also friends with her father and mother.  Stories begin to emerge from the past that make Ailsa think she shouldn’t have come back at all.  Ailsa starts to realize that the house is trying to tell her something….something about her father.

I thought this was a great story that kept me turning the pages, wanting to find out what was going to happen next!  There were some elements of the story that I wish the author would have gave more light upon a tad more, such as the reasoning told of the house’s history as well as the part about ‘time’.  I won’t say anymore as it will give too much away!  Still a great book for anyone who loves a good eerie mystery!

Readers be prepared, The Manse has been waiting for Ailsa to arrive after all these years and it’s ready to show her the truth, even if it costs Ailsa everything.

 

*Giveaway on Goodreads* 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/291355-the-missing-years

Expected publication: April 23rd 2019 

 

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The Night Visitors by Carol Goodman

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I really enjoy Carol Goodman’s writing!  The first book I read of her’s was fantastic, you can check out my review for that book by clicking here “River Road”.  Her style of writing is easy to follow and her stories keep you turning the pages and not wanting to put the book down!

In her newest release, “The Night Visitors”, we are introduced to Mattie.  Mattie is a social worker who lives by her self in her family’s home that is nestled in the woods.  One night she gets a phone call that a woman and child are arriving on a bus soon and they need her assistance.   Mattie doesn’t think much of the situation as she is always eager to help whenever she can and heads to the bus stop.  She is especially eager to help cases like these, victims of domestic violence.

Soon arrives Alice and Oren on the bus.  Mattie had planned to take them to a nearby safe house, but when they arrive she can’t seem to bring it to herself to take them there.  The boy, Oren reminds her of her own little brother who died when he was almost the same age as Oren is now.  Although Mattie is somewhat breaking their code of conduct and rules by offering them to stay at her own house, Alice and Oren also have a secret…….There’s a snow storm on the horizon as everyone gets settled in at Mattie’s house and soon another kind of storm is about to unleash, one that may be deadly…….

There are several twists and turns in the story that will keep you glued to these pages.  I look forward to reading more from Carol Goodman!  I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for a thriller/mystery.  Carol’s stories get right into the excitement and mystery right away and I love that!  The only reason I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars is, I wish it was a tad longer or a few parts a little more dwelled upon, but it was still an excellent story!

 

 

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I have enjoyed every book I’ve read by Jennifer McMahon so far and was excited to get the chance to read her newest book “The Invited”!  It too did not disappoint! The other books I have read by her are “The Night Sister” and “The Winter People” – click on the titles to find my reviews for them!

This is a chilling ghost story with a unique twist!  Helen and Nate wanting a change, decide to leave the comforts of their lives behind.  They find land in the woods of Vermont where they are determined to build a dream home from scratch.  They do have to live in a rundown trailer that sits on the land until they get their new house built.

Helen is a former history teacher and wanted to find a place that had a story, in which they did.  She soon becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who used to lived and unfortunately died tragically on the land they bought to build their new home.

While looking into the dark past of Hattie, Helen begins to collect odds and end pieces of materials for their home.  She finds old wooden beams, mantles and bricks – all just happened to be linked to Hattie and her descendants.  Three generations of women who all have died in suspicious circumstances.

In most stories we read, a family moves into an already haunted house.  In this unique story, a haunted house is being built piece by haunted piece.  Nate and Helen start to experience unusual things. Helen soon realizes that she has opened up a doorway to their new home for something else entirely.

This was a fast read for me as the story stayed suspenseful almost through the entire thing.  It kept you wondering what was going to happen next to the characters.  I highly recommend you check out this author and her books, they are all well worth the read!

Expected publication: April 30th 2019

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I loved the style this book was written in!  I felt like I was walking the streets back in 1921 along with the characters, I’ve not read a style like this before.  The author was perfect in her words for the time period!

The Paragon Hotel is a new historical thriller told from the shoes of Alice James, who considers herself “Nobody”.  When we first meet her, she is on train fleeing for her life with a bullet wound.  The story never really looses it’s thrill even from the start we are thrown into her whirlwind life that she is desperately trying to escape.

Alice is trying to get as far away from New York as she possibly can, hoping to make it somewhere without dying from her wounds first.  She has her eyes set on Oregon. On the train she meets a colored porter man named Max.  While in and out of consciousness, Max gets her off the train in hopes of getting her help.  He leads her to the Paragon Hotel.

The Paragon Hotel is an unlikely sanctuary for a young white woman as this turns out to be the only all-colored hotel in the city and it’s occupants aren’t too keen on her arrival.  Here her new story begins.  Although trouble seems to follow her wherever she goes, soon after her arrival a young colored boy goes missing from the Hotel.

Weaving from past to present, Alice “Nobody” James tells her story of how she ended up with a bullet though her, who she is now and who she wants to be.  Ending up in a tangled web at the Paragon Hotel, weaves a story unlike any other.

The ending was the only part I didn’t care for, out of the entire book!  It wasn’t what I was expecting.  I was hoping for more, maybe of her past to come back into the picture, I’m not sure.  The ending was certainly unexpected for the whole story that was told, but I would recommend this book for the story leading up to the end was grand!

 

A Hundred Fires in Cuba by John Thorndike + Interview

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I would first like to thank the author, John Thorndike for the opportunity to review his book A Hundred Fires in Cuba!

John takes us to Cuba in the 1950’s into the mind of Claire, a photojournalist who finds herself in a love triangle between a Cuban business man and the father of her child, Camilo Cienfuegos, who also happens to be one of Castro’s head commanders.  Claire met Camilo while he was in New York working as a cook and fell instantly in love.  Not long after, Camilo is deported back to Cuba and Claire never hears from him again.  Her fear is that he has died in Fidel’s invasion of the island.  Claire also discovers she is pregnant with the child of a man she thinks she will never see again.

Claire marries a wealthy Cuban businessman and moves to Havana with her two-year-old daughter, only to discover that her first love is not only still alive, he’s now head of the Cuban Army.  She cannot believe it.  Soon Claire finds herself right in the middle of the chaos and danger, in hopes of finding him.  As the story unfolds, you will find that love never dies, even in the darkest of times.   It was interesting to read about a side of history that I may not typically be familiar with, and John Thorndike’s account of Clare and Camilo is all too real and heartbreaking at times.

This story has just enough depth to it, that I almost had to read it in one sitting but unfortunately sleep got the best of me.  It has a pinch of romance but not like what you find in other stories.  It’s a well rounded, interesting and enjoyable read.

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John Thorndike

Tell us a little about yourself?

John: My first real job, after the Peace Corps, was farming. I started out raising chickens on a backcountry farm in Chile, then moved to Athens, Ohio and grew vegetables, which I sold at the local supermarket and farmers’ market. My house still sits beside a field that once held 2500 tomato plants, along with peppers, squash and a dozen other crops. I loved farming, but the profit was slim. Today, the organic vegetables I grew would bring a better price, but in the late seventies I actually took down my Organic Produce sign, because it made people suspicious. Full of bugs, some of them thought. Eventually I left farming behind and started building houses. I still own several of these, and rent them out.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

John:  I always wrote. I started in high school and wrote in college. (A few years ago I stumbled across a couple of my early short stories: rather embarrassing.) I wrote during the winters when I had a break from my crops, and found more free time as my son grew up: I was a single father from the time he was three. When he turned thirteen we moved to Colorado, and I stayed out West for a dozen years, first in Boulder, then in Santa Fe, NM. In those years I wrote full-time.

Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

John: My first novel, Anna Delaney’s Child, is a book about loss. My mother died early, at 57, and year after year I missed her. Then, a woman I was in love with left me, and those two miseries drove me to start a book about the worst loss I could imagine, the death of one’s child. It’s something that all parents fear, I’m sure. I made the boy in the novel nine, the same age my son was when I started making notes for the book. After a while, of course, the story went off on its own path, quite independent of my mother, my lover or my son. This is what books do, and one reason we write them.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

John: I don’t think I have a genre. I’ve published two memoirs and three novels, and the most recent of these, A Hundred Fires in Cuba, is historical fiction. “Literary fiction” might be my category—but are books in any genre non-literary? That sounds insulting, and I resist such labels. Like most authors, I write the story I want to tell, as well as I can. It’s true that I don’t toss off a book. Each one takes years, mainly because I keep rewriting until I can read every paragraph, every sentence without a hitch. Perhaps that’s my genre: Books Endlessly Revised.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

John: For my current book, the opening. But as often happens, that kept changing. The beginning was first set in the kitchen of the Waldorf Astoria, where Clare and Camilo meet. Though my first impulse with a manuscript is to follow a strict chronology, I don’t stay with that long. I want to come in at a moment when the tension rises, and I was drawn to the day that Clare—now married to someone else, because she believes that Camilo has died—sits alone in her husband’s car outside Havana, listening to a broadcast from Fidel Castro’s rebel station. That’s when she learns that Camilo, her first love and the father of her child, is not only still alive, he’s one of Fidel’s top comandantes. From that moment, her life must change.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

John: The division between these two seems thin to me. After all, isn’t our imagination founded on what we’ve experienced? Novels are a stew of things we’ve known and things we’ve made up. Memoirs are the same, because our memory is never exact. When I quote a conversation from thirty years ago I do my best, but I doubt that I’m recalling the words precisely. There are memoirs—I’m thinking of Mary Karr—seen from the eyes of a five-year-old, and surely that leads to a mix of fact and fiction. We try to evoke the essence of a scene, of a character, but the line between real life and imagination seems increasingly blurred to me.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

John: Justine, by Lawrence Durrell. My mother gave me a Faber & Faber paperback of the book—the first volume of Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet—when I was nineteen, complete with her penciled notes in the margin. It was a way of confiding in me, of letting me see something of her passionate nature—which in her life with my father was pretty much kept under a cloak. The heart of Justine is an affair, set in Egypt in the nineteen thirties and forties. I read the book, and the others in the quartet, eight or nine times. I read it again last year. I think my mother wanted to show me that there’s a world beneath the daily one we live in, a world of emotion and obsession, of strange dreamers, misfits and powerful women, of people for whom sex and love are more vital than anything else.

Do you ever experience writers block?

John: Not for long. On the other hand, I have to overcome a kind of block every time I sit down to write. How hard it can be to get started in the morning—or afternoon, or at night, whenever I begin. It helps if I write every day. If I take Sunday off, it’s harder on Monday. If I take a month or two off, it can take me days to get the flywheel turning again. Then I’m fine. Almost always, I begin by reading what I wrote the day before, or the week before. Or I turn back to the beginning. I’ll go over the start of a book fifty times before I’m done. If I’m stumped, if I don’t know what comes next, I go back to the first paragraph, and slowly the flywheel starts to move. Those first few revolutions are the most difficult, but then I start to cruise. Soon the words are pouring out as I shotgun whole paragraphs, coming up with material I’ll be correcting later, over and over. I no longer fight any of this, it’s just my way.

Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

John: Yes, but he died three years ago. James Salter’s Light Years is the book of books for me. I’ve kept a copy between my mattress and headboard for twenty years. That’s another way I get the flywheel turning: I pick up Salter’s book, sometimes at random, and read a page or a chapter. As Richard Ford says, “Sentence for sentence, Salter is the master.” Light Years is written with a nostalgia that steadily grips me. “Her life was like a single, well-spent hour…. The days were cut from a quarry that would never be emptied.” Of course they will be emptied, and people will die—but not as long as I reread the book. I did try to meet Salter. My editor wrote his wife, and a friend of my father’s was close to him, but no go. He lived part of the year on Long Island, and died in Sag Harbor at 90, in the gym, working out. My mother owned a house in Sag Harbor—bought in 1961 for $8,000!—and it’s there my next book will be set. Meanwhile, I read Light Years the way I eat and drink and breathe: endlessly.

Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

John: The new one, A Hundred Fires in Cuba, is out now. Here’s the description from the back cover: “In the spring of 1956, a young American photographer falls in love with a Cuban line cook at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. They have a ten-week affair which ends when Immigration arrests and deports him, and by then Clare Miller is pregnant. Few Americans know the name Camilo Cienfuegos. All Cubans do. In real life he was the most charismatic of Fidel Castro’s commanders—until his small plane vanished only months after Fidel came to power. In A Hundred Fires in Cuba, Clare must choose between the stable Cuban businessman she has married and her first love, Camilo. Though a true revolutionary, Camilo likes to dance and drink. He likes women, and too many women like him. His courage is legendary, but when he comes to visit Clare he’s afraid of his own daughter and her moods. Clare worries that he’ll never make a good parent, but she cannot resist him.”

If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?

John: Hey, I got it published! People liked it, I started going to writers’ colonies, gave up most of my magazine articles, buckled down to the next one. No, that all worked out fine.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

John: Only, I’m afraid, the same clichés you’ve read many times. But here’s the one I try to follow myself: Write the book you want to, the one that’s closest to your heart. Follow your true focus. Shakespeare’s Polonius gave us the greatest clichéd advice of all, because it’s the most vital: to thine own self be true.

Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

John: Aren’t books great? Don’t we love to read? We have ebooks now, and audibles, but they’re still books. My father read endlessly, my mother as well, my brother, my son—and now my grandchildren, who both love to climb into a book. Sure, they play some video games, but they’re fully engaged with books. Everyone in my family has always had it: a simple taste for reading.

The Saint of Wolves and Butchers by Alex Grecian

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

With in just the first few pages I was already getting an eerie feeling in my stomach!  This story is based in Kansas, in a town that’s literally less than an hour away from where I live!  I even have a friend who lives in the TOWN in this story, talk about goosebumps.

The Saint of Wolves and Butchers is a story about Travis Roan and his dog bear who travel all around the world ‘hunting’ evildoers, bringing them to justice.  Travis and Bear have been called to a town in Kansas, following the trail of a man called Rudolph Bormann, a Nazi doctor and concentration camp administration who is secretly living in the US under the name of Rudy Goodman in the 1950’s.  One day in a cafe, a woman recognizes him, which is where Travis’s story starts.

Although once in Kansas, Travis learns that Rudy has friends in high places that will go to any length to protect him.  He also discovers that Rudy is still continuing his diabolical work at a church where the followers believe he has God-like powers.  Caught between these two is Kansas State Trooper Skottie Foster, she plans to do whatever it takes to help Travis, even if it means losing her job, putting her and her family in a danger she never could of imagined.

This is an interesting story placed in an unlikely town in Kansas, where a secret has been hidden for years that is now being uncovered.  It’s pretty fast paced to where you won’t want to put the book down, there really never was any down time in the story!  I’m really going to have to check out more books from this author, he seems pretty keened into making readers want to jump out of their skin! Alex Grecian weaves together a strong tale of past and present to bring historical fiction into a modern mystery!

 

Published April 17th 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Now this was a whirl wind of a ride!  For fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, you will want to dive into this book as soon as you can get your hands on it.  The story is twisted, thrilling and you won’t know what hit you in it’s completely unexpected ending.

Kay Donovan is the main character, who attends

 

an all girls academy called Bates.  Unlike all the other girls at the school, she is solely relying on her athletic ability and good grades to keep her at Bates where everyone else’s families are wealthy.  She’s the star soccer player who has gorgeous friends and are all high up on the popularity totem pole.

Everything seems picturesque until Kay and her friends discover the body of a girl in the lake next to Bates Academy. Then….Kay’s life she’s built begins to topple into chaos when the dead girl sends her an e-mail including a password coded link to a scavenger hunt website that implicated suspect after suspect in the case against who killed the girl they found in the lake.  It gets worse when Kay finds herself in the cross hairs of the murder investigation.

Will Kay let herself be backed into a corner and accused of a crime that she didn’t commit or will she do whatever it takes to keep herself from becoming the next victim to uncover the real murder?  Kay may have skeletons in her closet, but you will have to find out for yourself what secrets she hides as well as play the game along with her to uncover the truth behind everything……

Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler. This is her first novel.

Here’s the People Like Us tumblr: https://jessicalanefinalproject.tumblr.com/