Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"You were not made to be small."
This book came into my life at the perfect time. I was feeling unmotivated and lacking enthusiasm. Rachel Hollis's book helped me change my attitude and get re-motivated to chase all of my dreams.
I'm not usually one for self-help books, but Rachel Hollis approaches self-help in a light, conversational way. It doesn't feel like she's lecturing you or on a soap box. To me, it felt like she was just providing real stories about herself and giving lessons she learned along the way. As an overachiever and a writer, I totally related to many of her chapters, especially the chapter about "No" and the chapter about writing.
There were so many great quotes that I actually have on my mirror now to keep me inspired. Rachel helped me cut through the distractions and self-doubt that had been pervading my mind in order to achieve my goals. This book really was what I needed to re-start my passion for my dreams.
I highly recommend this book to anyone feeling uninspired or down about their dreams. It really is eye-opening, and she has chapters that would speak to any woman in any walk of life.
Thank you, Rachel, for helping me remember why I was chasing my dreams and that "no" isn't an acceptable answer when it comes to dream chasing.
~USA Today Bestselling Author, L.A. Detwiler
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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This disturbing, horrifying read is one that will stick with me for a long time.
I flew through the pages from the very beginning. The distinct voice of the narrator, a simple yet engaging syntax, and a chilling idea sucked me into this book.
I loved that it focused on a husband and wife "team." They were both eerie in their own right--but combined, they were a couple I won't soon forget. This is one of those books where you find yourself sometimes rooting for the villain, which is horrifying in its own right. I loved that the author took a seemingly normal family and let us see into the far-from-normal aspects of their lives.
The plot was believable and chilling. I found the ending to be a bit rushed, but I still liked it a lot. I felt like it was realistic but also creepy in its own right. This is a great book for anyone who likes serial killer stories, dark novels, and female villains. I highly recommend this dark thriller and can't wait to read the author's next book.
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Atwood's The Testaments will make you see Gilead in a new light
That can't be the ending....
This was my stunned reaction to The Handmaid's Tale back in my senior year of high school. I was devastated that I would never get to see how June's story would end. Was she betrayed? Did she find a better life? The questions have haunted me for years, just like the chilling world Atwood created.
So when The Testaments released last week, I was thrilled to be able to get some answers and see more of Gilead. There is always a fear going into a sequel that it won't hold up to the first novel, but Atwood has had so many decades to think about her sequel. I should have known, too, that the amazingly talented writer wouldn't disappoint.
I flew through The Testaments as fast as possible, once again enveloped by the chilling, haunting world of female depravity that is Gilead. However, The Testaments goes deeper into Gilead and gives new perspectives of the world. The book focuses on the Aunts instead of the Handmaids, which gives a new view of power, lies, and deception in the corrupt, failing world.
I'm amazed by Atwood's attention to detail in her world building. Every question is truly answered, and every intricacy is handled with expert prose. This book gives a deeper look into the inner workings of the society and also at how it began.
Told from three different perspectives in testimony/diary format, the book weaves together three influential women in Gilead. I won't tell you who they are because I don't want to spoil anything. Just know that they have strong voices, intriguing stories, and plenty of secrets to divulge.
This book isn't filled with crazy twists or even a lot of action. It is told instead of shown, but I found that fitting for this eerie world. The distant feel of the narrator's added to the creepy quality of the world and underscored how Gilead is falling in this book.
I know many readers are wondering: Will we see June in this sequel? I won't give anything away, but I will say two things:
1. She is not a focus in this story. This is the story of other women.
2. You will see references to her....
I will say I was very disappointed in the final chapter. It did not leave me on a cliffhanger, which I appreciated (I can't wait another 10+ years to get more answers like last time...). However, the last chapter was stiff and dull, at least in my opinion. I understand Atwood's point in the final chapter. I just would have liked to have seen a more poignant end to this heartbreaking, powerful, and haunting story.
Overall, The Testaments is definitely worth the read for anyone who is a fan of The Handmaid's Tale. It didn't ruin the future seasons of the show on Hulu, either. If anything, I'm even more excited to see them.
Have you read the book? Drop me a comment below or head over to my Facebook and connect with me. I'd love to hear from you!
Love thrillers with crazy twists? You need to read 'Sometimes I Lie'
"A lot of people think I have a dream job, but nightmares are dreams too."
Wow, wow, wow! 'Sometimes I lie' is an intense, dark thriller that just takes you down a rabbit hole of confusion, despair, secrets, and amazing twists! Just when you think you figured this book out, it hits again.
The book is told from the perspective of Amber who is in a coma and cannot respond. She is trying to figure out what happened to her and the secrets her loved ones are keeping, especially her husband and sister. The book then flashes back to the week before Amber was in a coma as well as Diary entries from childhood.
The book is packed with all sorts of amazing, jaw-dropping twists and turns. The one took me a while to wrap my head around....because it fooled me entirely! I love that this book is good, but just keeps getting better and better as you learn that nothing is what you thought it was.
This book, overall, is about family loyalty, the bond of sisters, and how secrets can tear us apart. I thought the first person perspective from someone in a coma was eerie in its own right. The book definitely gets darker as you read, so be prepared. I also thought that the main character had a strong, clear voice and development.
This book really blew my mind. I will be looking for more books from Alice Feeney, for sure.
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.
What secrets are the elderly in your life hiding?
When you look at the elderly, what do you see?
Someone fragile and frail with wrinkled, shaking hands?
Someone with a longer list of things they can't do than a list of what they can?
Someone near death, harmless, and washed up?
In many cultures, the elderly are revered and respected...but I would argue that in American culture, the elderly are often overlooked, forgotten, and discounted.
I think often about how frustrating that must be. Because behind those fading eyes and those shaking hands, there is a person with a history that they haven't necessarily forgotten. Behind that elderly person's eyes are stories, regrets, memories, fears, sorrows, rejections, and guilt. There is a lifetime of living....and a lifetime of choices.
When I started writing first romance and then thriller, I was drawn to this idea. I tend to write stories centered around emotions. I want to dig into the gritty, raw feelings of life, even if they're hard to face. No, especially if they're hard to face.
Aging provides a perfect backdrop to all sorts of heavy emotions.
I think the second reason I wanted to write about the elderly in my thrillers is because it just seemed like an exciting idea. I know, I know....it seems like a terrible match to write a thriller about someone who is aged. Aren't thrillers supposed to feature the young, vibrant, sexy leads?
For me, the answer was: not necessarily.
I started thinking about the fact that darkness lurks in everyone, and that regrets and guilt probably play the loudest near the ends of our lives. Thus, I started imagining characters whose bodies perhaps were declining but their sinister minds were still intact. What would it be like to be a villain with malicious plots and desires....but a failing body? How would it feel to be trapped by physical limitations? And most of all, what secrets are harbored behind those eyes we assume are nothing but innocent?
An aged person often becomes a different persona in our minds. We look at an aged person with unassuming viewpoints. We stereotype them in our heads. Elderly equals calm, frail, and sweet. Elderly equals slowing down and innocent. The elderly are paragons of morality in our minds.
But I wanted to ask the question: Are they really? What secret desires, guilt, and frustrations could be lurking in an overlooked and misjudged group of the population? What sinister capabilities could they still be hiding?
And, above all, how would the fact that no one would suspect an elderly person of something evil and malevolent play into the story?
These were the reasons I wrote my debut novel, The Widow Next Door, the way I did. I've had some reviewers comment that the tale was too depressing because of the age of the protagonist. Others found it boring to follow an elderly woman's point of view in a thriller. I get that. It's not typical. It's not expected, and it may not even be desired by some.
But I also know this is the story I felt compelled to tell because it was the story that spoke to me. The widow isn't the typical thriller protagonist--and I'm more than okay with that. Because I think the tale she tells can open our eyes to the way we look at aging and to the way we look at our own physical demise.
Her story forces us to tap into our darkest, deepest versions of ourselves and ask: When I'm older, what regrets will haunt me? And what parts of my true self will perhaps unearth themselves?
It's a question terrifying in its own right, and its a question I was happy to explore.
What do you think? Do you think the elderly can house dark secrets? Do you think a thriller can feature an elderly protagonist? Let me know in the comments.
Stay Safe and Be True,
L. A. Detwiler is an English teacher and a thriller author with Avon Books, HarperCollins UK. Her debut novel, The Widow Next Door, is available now. Be sure to click the button below to connect with her on Facebook and learn more about her upcoming novels, appearances, and more.
Where thriller book ideas come from
So many people ask where my ideas come from. For The Widow Next Door, the answer is: in our whirlpool tub.
I know. I know. Sorry for the imagery. But my husband and I were relaxing one weekend in our huge whirlpool tub (in all honesty, it's what sold me on our house). I was talking about how I loved the romance genre but wanted to step outside of it and write something different.
With romance, I typically started with characters and the story came from there. I wanted to write something more complex, more plot-centered, and more twisted. I wanted to write a book with layers of meaning that could be unpacked with each read through.
I've always been fascinated by the elderly in my writing because there's just so much complexity there. It's an emotionally heavy time of life, and I usually explore that in my romances in some aspect. My husband, however, threw out the idea to explore the elderly in a horror/thriller.
The main idea was simple: an old, lonely woman looking out a window. However, the tale quickly took me on a very dark, very twisted path as I explored her character, her regrets, and the secrets she harbored.
I learned that day to never underestimate your abilities....and that sometimes the bathtub can lead to new paths in life.
So it is true what they say--writing inspiration can happen anywhere. You just have to have your eyes open...and sometimes, you just have to leave the hot water on for a while.
Stay Safe and Be True,
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door