The one book you need to read if you think you're an expert on the BTK killer
What if you found out your father was a serial killer?
This is the question at the heart of the book "A Serial Killer's Daughter" by Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the infamous BTK killer.
There are so many documentaries, movies, and books on the horrific crimes of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer who bound, tortured, and killed ten victims, including two children. However, he got away with his crime spree for over thirty years and had a wife, a son, and a daughter who had no idea that their father was another man entirely.
This book is told from Kerri Rawson's perspective, and it is a raw, genuine, honest look at the man who was her father... and how her world crashed down when the news broke. This book, however, doesn't focus on the man the media focused on. It focused on the man who was her father. It gives insight into how Dennis Rader was able to compartmentalize the two sides of his personality.
Kerri goes into great detail about her life with her father and family. She doesn't seem to sugarcoat anything and really takes the reader on her journey through growing up, through betrayal, through guilt, and through recovery. She gives you a very different vantage point of true crime, one that few really stop to think about.
It's impossible not to put yourself in Kerri's shoes as you read. She takes something almost none of us could ever understand and helps us understand just a little bit more. You feel for her as she struggles with reconciling the man who did evil things with the man she knew her whole life.
I admire her bravery for telling her tale and for showing the other side of her father, the one few of us recognize. It is easy to make serial killers out to be purely evil monsters, but she reminds us that the lines between good and evil are sometimes murky.
I clearly cannot speak from experience and do not claim to speak for the victims' families, but I did feel that Kerri did a good job at handling the delicate subject matter with raw honesty and with sensitivity. I could see how some might argue it glorified her father and mitigated what he did. However, I didn't get that sense at all. I felt like she admitted his faults and recognized the pain he caused while also expressing the truth--the man she knew was different from the man known as BTK.
In an unexpected way, the book also instills a sense of hope. Kerri reveals how she was able to find her way to light from the darkness. She is a true survivor and has a story that could instill hope in others dealing with betrayal, lies, secrets, and difficult times.
The writing is excellent and emotional. I recommend this book for anyone interested in true crime because you get to see a different side to the story and understand that a criminal's family, in many ways, falls under the victim category as well.
5 stars for this raw, powerful memoir.
BOOK REVIEW OF THE CHILLING THRILLER,"SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE"
For Rose Enright, enrolling in a prestigious New England boarding school is the opportunity of a lifetime. But for Rose’s vulnerable twin sister Bel, Odell Academy is a place of temptation and danger. When Bel falls in with a crowd of wild rich kids who pressure her into hazing Rose, the sisters’ relationship is shattered. Rose turns to her dorm mother, Sarah Donovan, for advice. But Bel turns to Sarah’s husband Heath, a charismatic and ambitious teacher. Is Heath trying to help Bel or take advantage of her? In a world of privilege, seduction, and manipulation, only one sister will live to tell the truth.
In an audiobook full of twists, turns, and dark secrets, Michele Campbell once again proves her skill at crafting intricately spun and completely compelling plots.
Michele Campbell's "She Was the Quiet One" features a haunting, rich setting perfect for a twisted thriller.
When twins Rose and Bel are sent to live with their wealthy grandmother after being orphaned, their lives take a turn down a twisted journey of secrets, betrayal, and deceit. Sent to a private school, their lives will take two different paths that will lead to all sorts of questions and horrifying events.
The book also follows Sarah and Heath, the new heads of the dorm at Odell Academy. The couple seems perfect from the outside--responsible, smart, kind--but they just may have secrets of their own.
I loved the setting of this story and how it really played up the events. I also really enjoyed reading from the different perspectives and trying to piece the story together. This story wasn't super shocking with tons of twists. However, the suspense and thrill of it comes from knowing that doom is lurking and wondering if family loyalty will overpower lust, secrets, and the need for power. I really liked Rose's character and felt for her throughout the story.
I felt that the ending was well-planned out and didn't feel rushed like in some thrillers. As a side note, I also really like the newer cover because it captures the eerie feel of the book perfectly. This book is heavy on developed characters and relationships while having an exciting, believable plot working against a complex setting.
I really enjoyed this book and will be reading more from the author.
SISTERS AND SECRETS: 'MY SISTER IS MISSING' IS THE INTENSE THRILLER YOU NEED NOW
"Maybe the saying means you can go home, you just shouldn't."
My Sister is Missing is a tense thriller filled with realism, emotion, and twists. I found that I flew through this read because I had to know what happened.
The book follows Emily, who has recently returned to her hometown to visit her sister. Her sister has a secret, but before she can tell Emily what it is, she goes missing. Emily is left caring for her niece and nephew while trying to sort through what happened to her sister.
I loved the focus on the sisterly bond in this book, which I feel was woven expertly throughout the tale. I also loved the overall idea of returning home and dealing with issues from the past. Emily is not a perfect character, and it is because of her flaws that I found her very easy to relate to and like.
I found the plot to be exciting. It was perfectly paced and had a balance between focusing on emotional introspection in the first-person voice and action. I was extremely curious about how it would all play out, and the ending didn't disappoint. I loved the twists and turns and was very satisfied with the ending.
The book definitely had the feel of Sharp Objects meets Ruth Ware's In a Dark, Dark Wood, two of my favorite books. Lynch expertly weaves together a character, setting, and problem in a way that pulls the reader in and makes them root for the protagonist. Overall, this book was packed with emotion and realism, making it a standout in its genre.
I will definitely be reading more works from this talented author.
Check out more about this book on Goodreads.
Honest Review of Stuart James 'Turn the Other Way'
If you are looking for a horror read with twists, turns, secrets, and nightmarish scenes, Turn the Other Way by Stuart James it the perfect book for you to grab this summer.
The book focuses on two story lines, past and present, in which readers follow a doctor who has just been accused of a botched surgery and many other characters who are undergoing horrors in a town. The two story lines come together impeccably well to create a story that is simply horrifying.
I loved that the author was able to incorporate so many viewpoints of the tale. There were tons of characters and also different timelines happening. In some books, this gets overwhelming. However, James did an amazing job at developing all of the characters in a way that you could keep them all straight. The multiple viewpoints enhanced the eeriness of the tale and also led to a satisfying conclusion in which the characters' lives come full-circle and intertwine. I loved that there were tons of twists in the narrative as well. I had plenty of jaw-dropping realizations during my reading.
The main setting and conflict is very frightening and suspenseful. I would liken it to a Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel or a pay it forward concept with a very dark, sinister twist. Some of the characters made choices that you just knew were going to play out poorly. However, I found myself rooting for them and being on the edge of my seat wondering how it would all work out. The farmhouse setting was painted in a dark, menacing fashion that truly came through in the writing.
Overall, I flew through this book and was very happy with the way it ended. The author is gritty, raw, and dark in his writing. He is also extremely talented. I found his writing voice to be skilled and appealing. I would highly recommend this read if you love a dark thriller in the same vein as Stephen King.
Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
Everyone wants a perfect marriage... or do they?
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris follows the story of Jack and Grace, a married couple who has it all. Jack's a well-known and respected attorney, and Grace lives a life of luxury in their gorgeous mansion of a home. They attend beautiful, upscale dinner parties, and life just seems perfect. Jack is even super supportive of Grace's care of her sister, Millie, who has a disability.
Life is exactly what Grace dreamed of... or is it?
From early on in the book, it becomes clear that appearances are deceiving, and the couple has some dark secrets. As you read on, you realize that their life is actually the thing of nightmares instead of dreams.
I loved how the story was told from Grace's perspective both in the past and the present. The timelines carefully weave together, and the pacing was on point. It kept me reading on, and I often found I couldn't put my book down. I needed to get to the resolution and see how the author would wrap everything up.
The author did a great job at carefully plotting every detail so that the tale was scarily plausible. I felt great sympathy for the characters and, even at times, rage, which is a sign that I was highly invested in the story.
This book was subtly eerie in a way few thrillers can master. Although the plot was somewhat simplistic, the details really drove the story forward and the premise made the entire book bone-chilling in a unique way.
I absolutely loved B.A. Paris's writing voice and will be looking for more books from her.
An honest review of 'Baby Teeth' by Zoje Stage
Zoje Stage truly horrifies in her thriller, 'Baby Teeth.' I promise if you pick up this book, you'll not only fly through it, but you'll be left pondering it long after the book closes.
The book is unique in the fact that the villain is a young child, Hanna. It becomes clear to the reader from the beginning that there is something severely wrong with seven-year-old Hanna--and her mother, Suzette, is aware of this fact, too. The book is told from both Suzette and Hanna's voices and highlights a very tenuous mother-daughter relationship that surges into something terrifying.
I like that this book focused on a child as the main antagonist because it really added to the eerie feeling. Suzette and the reader both struggle with the fact that Hanna is truly plotting and evil because she is a child. We like to think of children as innocent, and we like to think that with the proper nurturing environment, children learn right from wrong. This book flips those notions on their head and makes us reconsider the nature vs. nurture argument in a thrilling way.
I could not put this book down because I needed to see how the author would resolve this horrifying situation. I could feel Suzette's guilt, anger, and pain building as my own did. There were times I was seriously angry at the characters, which in my opinion is a sign of quality writing.
This book was tense and horrifying in a way few other books in this genre are. I admired the author's ability to write about touchy subjects in a deep and meaningful way while also focusing on the horror of the situation.
This book will give you chills and make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about parenting, children, and the evil that lurks within.
Do you love dark, eerie thrillers like Baby Teeth? Click here to get a free excerpt of the dark, eerie thriller, The Widow Next Door, a USA TODAY and International bestseller about the evil that lurks within us all.
Want to learn more about my writing and The Widow Next Door? Be sure to check out my interview over on Manybooks.net . Thank you so much for featuring me.
Check out the interview here.
Honest Review of K.L. Slater's 'Finding Grace'
This morning, my daughter sat right here, munching her breakfast, too excited to finish it. Now, she is missing.
The day after her ninth birthday, Lucie and Blake Sullivan agree, for the very first time, to let their daughter, Grace, make the four-minute walk back home alone from a friend’s house just down the street.
They joke with friends about hiding behind bushes to ensure she is safe. But the joke turns sour when Grace does not appear.
Despite the best efforts of the police and local community, Grace seems to have vanished into thin air. With hope fading fast, Lucie knows she can rely on her husband to support her through such dark times. That is until the day she makes a shocking discovery, hidden in Blake’s desk, and suddenly she begins to doubt everything she knew about the man she married.
But Lucie harbours a terrible secret of her own. One that she has never shared with anyone, even Blake …
And as the search for Grace reaches fever pitch, Lucie receives a terrifying message. If she is ever to see Grace again, Lucie has no choice but to face the past she tried hard to bury forever. And she must do it alone.
Finding Grace is a book about secrets, motherhood, and a parent's worst fear--a missing child.
From the first page, this book gripped me and had me flying through the pages. I loved the protagonist, Lucie, because she felt down-to-earth and genuine. Slater did an amazing job at building her character and making readers like her while also leaving us with just a hint of doubt about her intentions. I loved trying to figure out if I could trust her. The first-person narration in the majority of the book allowed me to explore the protagonist's mental state and her trustworthiness in a way that made the book even more engaging.
The book begins with Grace, Lucie and Blake's nine-year-old daughter, disappearing. The book takes readers on a journey through who can be trusted, what happened to Grace, and how the past can come back to haunt us.
Woven through the present-day tale is the story of Lucie from her days in university. I loved how her secrets are woven into the story, adding layers of intrigue and mystery.
There were several twist and turns in the story, which I really enjoyed. Overall, I felt like the writing was excellent and the ending was satisfying. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a strong domestic thriller full of secrets and lies.
I will definitely be looking for more of K.L. Slater's works.
5-stars for this exciting read.
Is Urban Decay's Game of Thrones Collection worth it?
Winter is officially here....at least for you Game of Thrones fans.
With the launch of Season 8, Urban Decay jumped in on the fun and released a brand-new Game of Thrones collection that fans went wild for. I hopped on the website an hour after the line dropped, and almost everything sold out. However, as of Saturday, Ulta and Sephora had the items in store. At my stores, again, almost everything flew off the shelves. I did manage, however, to snag four items from the collection:
The items in the collection are far from budget-friendly. But the main question is: Are they worth it?
I'm not a makeup expert. I'm just an every day, working professional who loves to experiment with new products. Read on to find out my honest review of these four products and whether or not you should shell out your hard-earned cash to look like Khaleesi.
Urban Decay Game of Thrones Eyeshadow Palette
At $65, I felt quite a bit of guilt over this palette. There is a cool throne pop-up feature, but I was more concerned about the shades. Would I be able to pull them off for day looks?
I was shocked to find out that these shades are super wearable for day looks. I'm a teacher by day, and I found that even the White Walker section and the Lannister reds worked for day without scaring away my co-workers and students. There are some really fun shades you can use to play up your look and have some fun, but even the muted colors add a pop of excitement to your typical beauty routine.
Honestly, I have been wearing these shades almost every single day since I bought the palette. I use the four sections. A video on Youtube is what sold this palette to me because to be honest, I was lost at first.
Check out Makeup.Just.For.Fun and her easy-to-follow steps for making this palette not only work, but work super well!
Mother of Dragons Highlighter Palette
Mother of Dragons is my favorite character...so I was super pumped about this $36 palette.
I'm not one for highlighting....and after buying this one, I'm not certain it was worth the investment. The pink color and the gold color, however, are really pretty on my pale skin. You can see the effect in the photo above. I'm not sure I'll be able to use the darkest shade, so I'm not sure this was completely worth it. Still, if you're a highlighting queen, you might want to give this super shimmery palette a try.
The other downfall? It was really tough to find a good Youtube tutorial to help me out with the looks.
Dragon Blood Lip & Cheek Tint
I love a bold lip, so I was super excited for this bright red lip stain that comes in a blood vial.
However, this was my least favorite item from the collection. It goes on basically clear. I was hoping for a vibrant red. At $26, I feel like it really wasn't worth it. And as far as a cheek stain, I can't imagine it blending in and looking good.
I'd pass on this item if you're all about noticeable lips.
Longclaw Eyeshadow Brush
This eyeshadow brush ($28) is really just a fun piece. It doesn't offer any added benefits than looking super cute. I do feel a bit badass using it, I'll admit.
It does help, however, with holding the brush at the right point (Did you know you should hold it at the end for blendable looks? Holding it near the bristles gives you more control, but also harsher lines).
I wouldn't say this is a must-have unless you've got extra money to splurge with.
I still have a few items from the collection I want to grab, but for now, my favorite is definitely the palette. That would be the item I would recommend investing in because I think you can get a lot of use out of it. Plus, some of the transformer shades could actually be used as highlighters, so you sort of get two in one.
Have you tried the collection? Drop me a comment and let me know what your favorites are, and which items you wish you would've passed on.
Also, be sure to join me on Facebook and Instagram to keep the conversation going.
USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author Achieved
When I'm teary at 5:50AM on a Thursday, it's usually because we're out of coffee or because I'm just too tired and can't imagine another day of work.
This morning, though, things were different....and I have all of you to thank.
This morning, when my alarm's infernal blaring startled me awake and reached for my phone, I was greeted with the best kind of surprise: one of my wildest dreams came true.
I hit the USA TODAY Bestsellers list with my debut thriller, The Widow Next Door.
It's currently sitting at 101 on this week's list, and I am still in shock. Let me explain why.
About five years ago, I was driving around town in my husband's truck chatting about wild dreams and what ifs. My biggest what if at the time? What if my book I had just sent to publishers actually got published? What if I got to see my name on a book cover?
It felt ludicrous. I remember laughing and telling my husband it would never happen.
And then it did.
Over and over these past four years I've been in publishing, I've been shocked and surprises. I've cried several times...sometimes because the road has been bumpy and hard. Sometimes they were happy tears.
And sometimes they are just tears of unrelenting shock that dreams, in fact, do come true.
There were many times I thought about quitting, thought about giving up on this crazy dream. There were many times I thought my head needed to get out of the clouds or the stars or just back to earth where big dreams don't come true.
So, if you're still reading this, I say to you: Don't give up. Don't quit. Don't let the feelings of short-term failure cloud your ability to see what amazing surprises or triumphs could be waiting for you just up the road.
This journey has shown me that even those wild, crazy, ludicrous-feeling dreams can come true. I hope this gives you the courage and confidence to chase yours.
Thanks to everyone for your love and support. Thank you to Avon Books/HarperCollins for believing in the widow's story. A special thank-you to Katie Loughnane, my amazing editor who first believed in the story. Thank you to Jenny for always being my confidence boost from the beginning, to my husband who always cheers me on and was so instrumental in this process, and to my friends at the Author Transformation Alliance.
In short, I just want to say: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Stay Safe and Be True,