#BlogTour: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a solid Halloween themed, Urban Legend backed mystery/ drama. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Halloween-Themed Mystery/Drama With An Urban Legend – And A Punisher Scene. In the early 2000s, pre-MCU version of The Punisher – the one with Thomas Jane as Frank Castle/ The Punisher and also featuring John Travolta and Will Patton – I’ve always LOVED the scene in the finale where Castle tells Travolta’s character “I made you kill your wife. I made you kill your best friend. And now I’ve killed you.”. This book actually has elements that played out there within it as well, and this book actually works the drama and even action in those sequences much better than even that movie pulled off. (Though in its defense, in that movie the scene in question is just a plot point in service of the actual story, and here the story ultimately revolves around this scene.) To my mind, all of the above is obscure enough that I haven’t actually gone into spoiler territory here, so let’s move on.

This is a tale where several characters are at play, but we only ever really hear from three of them – the newbie, the Queen Bee of the resident Mean Girls (in this particular case, the mothers who effectively run the school’s PTA board), and a mysterious “other”… who seems intent on killing someone on Halloween night. It mostly takes place in the leadup to that night, where we see that not all is as it seems on Ivy Lane, and that, in the words of Tony Stark (when referencing Nick Fury in The Avengers), her “secrets have secrets”. Which goes for most every “her” here, particularly the three we actually hear from.

Arguably the one knock here is that male characters are almost non-existent and pretty damn one dimensional, but eh, this is fairly common across the genre, particularly when written by females. Finding an author that actually does opposite-sex characters well in this genre is a bit difficult at times, so it is more easily excused – for better or worse- as simply the way things (currently) are when this occurs.

Beyond this quibble though, this is a strong enough book, and spooky/ creepy enough that it absolutely fits right in with the Halloween vibe and its release is thus perfectly timed in mid-October. Definetly not a classic “monster tale”, but if you prefer your monsters of the more human variety… this may be up your alley. (Though to be fair, there is nothing *overly* horrific here. Though there are absolutely some very bad people here.) Very much recommended.

Below the jump, an excerpt (that if I remember correctly is the entire prologue) followed by the “publisher details” – including basic publishing data, book description, author bio, author web/ social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski”

#BlogTour: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

For this blog tour we’re looking at a solid book about two sisters painfully separated years ago who have a chance to rebuild their relationship over the course of one epic summer. For this blog tour we’re looking at When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen.

Here’s what I had to say on Goodreads:

Epic Summer Revisited. This was a strong look at sisters separated by forces beyond their control and the hurts and insecurities that this brought about. Long time fans of Ellingsen’s will see her particular style of drama and storytelling play out well here, and it is also a great introduction to this author and her stylings. Told with a single perspective, this is also a book that will work well for those readers that don’t like multiple POVs in a book. Ultimately a satisfying read that could prove cathartic for siblings separated by distance or other issues. Very much recommended.

Below the jump, the publisher details – including the book description, author bio, and social and purchase links! ๐Ÿ™‚
Continue reading “#BlogTour: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen”

#BookReview: Between You And Me by Carol Mason

Domestic Drama With A Touch Of Loss Lake. This is an engaging, real, and honestly a bit depressing look at the trials and travails of your first marriage being your partner’s second marriage and coming into a situation where they already had a family with another person while you’re still growing and working to establish yourself outside of the marriage as well. In that vein, Mason was startlingly real, including all of the various messy issues that can come up and even showing how finding a place to find support or even just vent can be crucial. The ties to Lake Union stablemate Amber Cowie’s Loss Lake… well, in the title of my review of that book, I proclaimed “Screw You (In The Best Possible Ways), Amber Cowie” – which I still chuckle at and produced a few good laughs by those in the know. And if you do know why I wrote that, know that you’ll be saying the same thing to Ms. Mason for similar (though to be clear, not identical) reasons. And that’s all I’m saying about that. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I suggest you go read *both* books. ๐Ÿ˜€

Seriously, this tale was excellently done on a topic and with particulars that I’d never seen done quite this way before, and that is always something I seek out and love to find. Mason executed everything beautifully, and you’ll find yourself constantly reading to see what comes next. You just may want something a bit more bubble gum for your *next* read. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of Between You And Me by Carol Mason was originally written on June 13, 2021.

#BookReview: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Strong Story. Strong Storytelling. Don’t Understand The Hype. Let me be extremely clear on this: This was a very strong story of a family’s rise and fall across two generations, told in both past and “present” (with the “present” being nearly 40 years ago from the time of publication) and executed very well in both. The use of a full 24 hour timestamp as a narrative structure was great, as it really drove home that the story was counting down to some cataclysmic event. Truly, there is absolutely no doubt here – this is a great story superbly told.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t share my *other* overriding thought about this book, and that is simple: I truly don’t get the hype. I stand behind everything I said in the last paragraph 100%. But this was book 56 on the year for me and I’ve read over 250 since the COVID-related lockdowns began 53 weeks ago. And *many* of them were equally strong, and some quite similar in genre and tone. So I simply do not understand how this review will be number 990 on Goodreads – over two full months before this book publishers – while others languish in obscurity, seemingly struggling to get even double digit reviews even though they are at least as strong and good as this one. And again, I cannot emphasize this enough: This isn’t saying in any way that this book isn’t an excellent tale excellently told. My sole point is simply that there are *so many others* that could and arguably should receive the same amounts of attention and love, yet do not. And I truly don’t understand how this happens. I mean, I know *how* it happens- massive marketing campaigns. I just don’t understand the *why* of it and why *not* those others. Something that will likely always elude me.

Anyway, read this book. It deserves it. And maybe follow me wherever you find this review, and maybe you’ll find some equally deserving books you weren’t aware of. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid was originally written on March 23, 2021.

#BookReview: The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer

If you liked Steena Holmes’ THE PATIENT or Kerry Lonsdale’s EVERYTHING series (all excellent books that you should absolutely read if you haven’t yet)…

You’re *definitely* going to like this one. Palmer takes a similar base idea and puts a spin on it that neither Holmes nor Lonsdale did. This is somewhat of a slow burn, but the mystery is compelling throughout. And then that last 10% of the book (well, from roughly 90% – roughly 98%) is some explosive courtroom stuff straight out of John Grisham’s best works.

And if you were already a fan of Palmer… this may be his best one yet. Seriously. ๐Ÿ˜€

This review of The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer was originally written on December 4, 2020.