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,
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,
Are you a fan of eerie, twisty thrillers?
Thank you so much for joining me here! For those of you new to the space, I am a thriller author with Avon Books/HarperCollins UK and a high school teacher in Pennsylvania. My debut novel, The Widow Next Door, released in ebook format in November and in paperback on January 24th. It's a slow-burning, super eerie novel about the secrets we harbour and the evil in us all. It's been rocking the Amazon UK charts in horror since it's release, and I'm so thankful that the widow's story is reaching so many new readers.
The Widow Next Door will always hold a special place in my writer heart because it's the book that showed me who I really am as a writer. However, I'm also super excited about book two that will be releasing later this year. It's another eerie, twisty tale full of dark reality, secrets, and a whole lot of deaths. It challenged me as a writer in new ways, and I can't wait to tell you all more about it in the coming months.
Dark realism. Emotion so deep, you'll feel like you're there. Harsh truths others shy away from.
These are my goals with my thriller writing. These are my focal points.
Thanks again for joining me to talk all things creepy and real. I'd love to learn more about you! Tell me a little bit about you in the comments and feel free to list your favorite thriller. I'd love to hear from you.
Also be sure to connect with me on Facebook, where I share a whole lot about my author journey.
Stay Safe and Be True,
5 Reasons I Absolutely Love and Recommend 'Bird Box'
Two words that, when put together these days, can stir either unstoppable praise or sniveling, complaining, and disgust.
Love it or hate it, the Netflix original has taken the world by storm. But is it worth your time?
I watched Bird Box over winter break (I'm a teacher by day), and I'll say this: I didn't regret one second of that time. I know that there are plenty of critics who have called Bird Box boring, bland, overdone, and unoriginal. However, for the two hours I watched, I was sold on the brilliance of the story line. Check out my Top 5 reasons I adored this film and will be checking out the book. Then, tell me in the comments what side you are on: #probirdbox or #antibirdbox.
1. The beginning had me hooked with questions
In the first few minutes of the movie, so many questions arose. Who are the children? Why do they have to be quiet? Where are they going? And what in the living hell are they doing with a box of birds?
I was hooked from the first few minutes, the tension and suspense of the scene set well. The movie technically begins in medias res, with us trying to figure out how the heck Sandra's character ended up in this position on the river. I loved that the movie played with chronology to keep you guessing. I also loved the whole setup of one adult being in charge of two children alone. It added to the terror.
2. Sandra Bullock was a kick-ass protagonist
I'll go ahead and say it: I'm not Sandra Bullock's biggest fan.
I have never been crazy about the movies she's been in. I'm not sure what it is. But this movie changed my mind. She did an amazing job at playing a kick-ass woman who found the will to survive in an apocalyptic world.
I also really appreciated that Malorie wasn't painted as the typical woman. Pregnant at the very beginning of the story, she does not actually want to be a mother. The movie says a lot about mothering and the mothering instinct. It is her lack of a desire to be a mother and her somewhat cold nature towards the idea of children that allows the movie to unfold as it does.
I found her character to be realistic and easy to relate to. She is not the perfect hero in an apocalyptic world. She shows us that sometimes life puts you in a predicament and you have no choice but to rise to the challenge. I appreciated that.
3. It had the feel of A Quiet Place but with less plot holes
This may be an unpopular opinion, but I was not a fan of A Quiet Place. The premise was amazing, but I was just left with too many questions. Also, I felt there were way too many plot holes and issues with the story and details.
Bird Box certainly had that silent, tense feeling of A Quiet Place. The idea of living in a world without one of your sense is terrifying, and I liked putting myself in the characters' shoes and thinking about how hard life would be. However, Bird Box did a much better job at explaining all of the plot holes. Any time I thought of a specific question, the movie answered. I really felt like every detail went together, and the entire conflict made sense. Nothing felt out of the realm of possibility, which is something I look for in horror/thriller.
The story did a good job, in short, of helping me suspend disbelief along with the characters.
4. I love that the flashbacks answered so many questions
I liked that the movie chose to use so many flashbacks. I thought it was interesting to piece together Malorie's story through the flashbacks. They were perfectly spaced so the movie wasn't boring (despite what some critics are saying). I thought the flashbacks also helped take some of the edge of and give me a second to breathe...which was needed as the movie went on.
It also made Malorie feel more human. You understand exactly who she was and what she lost in this new world....and also what she gained.
5. The ending was well-planned
This will be spoiler-free, so feel free to read on even if you haven't yet watched.
I thought the ending of the movie made complete sense and gave a satisfying ending to this dark, twisted tale. I hadn't really thought about the ending and didn't expect what happened.
Some critics argue the ending was weak, but I disagree. If you haven't seen the movie, be sure to check it out on Netflix and then let me know what you thought in the comments.
L.A. Detwiler is a thriller author with Avon Books, a division of HarperCollins UK. Her debut novel, The Widow Next Door, is available wherever books are sold. To learn more about her, visit her on Facebook.
A year ago, I was getting ready to turn 30...and not quite sure what the new year had in store for me. In fact, I was terrified to make the shift out of my 20s.
I had accomplished a lot of big dreams (getting my books published, writing stories that reached all sorts of readers). Still, looking at 30 was terrifying. Where would life go? And what was next?
One year ago, I was also feeling a little lost in the writing world. I'd told the stories I wanted to tell in romance. I was in a rut, and I wasn't sure why I was feeling frustrated. I knew I wanted to write something different, something plot-heavy. I just wasn't sure if I could.
My husband encouraged me to chase those crazy dreams. He helped me talk through my fears. He helped me find my thriller writing voice. I'm so thankful he did because now, in a few short days, the story that started as a pipe dream will be in the hands of readers everywhere with a publisher beyond my wildest dreams.
Last year, if you would have told me my debut thriller would be releasing with Avon Books, HarperCollins, I would have never believed you. I would have never believed that my 30th year would take me to new dreams, ones I never even dared to dream for myself.
Most of all, I would have never believed that the creepy widow who was haunting my thoughts would be in a book called The Widow Next Door, releasing worldwide on Monday.
So much can change in a year, yet some things stay the same. My love for the man who pushes me when I'm too afraid to chase my goals, who supports me and pulls me up when I fall down, who teaches me to dream big, is still as strong as ever.
Thank you to everyone who has held my hand, listened to my fears, and pre-ordered The Widow Next Door as I step into this big, new venture. Thank you to all of those who gave the creepy widow from Bristol Lane a chance. And thank you to my husband, my biggest cheerleader. I love you, forever.
Stay Safe and Be True,
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door