Book Reviews · Fiction · Thriller

Book Review: ‘The Last to Know’ by Jo Furniss (pub 8/11)

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Thank you @amazonpublishing #lakeunionpublishing for my gifted copy of ‘The Last to Know’ by Jo Furniss! (pub day 8/11)

QOTD: Do you like to read books about creepy, old homes w/ an ominous past? I DO!

A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting & emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of ‘All the Little Children’.

American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, & the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore & present dangers.

Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House 20 yrs ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past. When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.

As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?

This was my first book by Jo Furniss & it will not be my last! ‘The Last to Know‘ is such a hauntingly atmospheric & well-written psychological suspense/thriller w/ some gothic mystery appeal. I love reading about creepy houses, add in a sinister, family backstory, some eerie elements & people, sprinkles of humor & a big dose of secrets & lies, & you get a gem like this!

The Last to Know‘ is flawlessly plotted, captivates from the get-go, holds your attention throughout, & keeps you guessing until the very end. This book did not disappoint & I look forward to reading more from Furniss in the near future! ‘The Last to Know’ is available now.

Click HERE to add ‘The Last to Know’ to your Goodreads lists.
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After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.

As a freelance journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.

Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor), Instagram (@jofurnissauthor) & Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website, www.jofurniss.com.



About ME · Book Reviews · Fiction · WomensFiction

Happy #ShelfieSunday and Book Review of ‘Daddy: Stories’ by Emma Cline

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Happy Shelfie Sunday & Thank you at @randomhouse for my gifted copy of ‘Daddy: Stories‘ by Emma Cline! (pub 9/1).

This pic features the left half of my window bench bookshelves that my husband built for my bday last yr. Scroll through my feed to see the other side of the room where my big bookshelf is, which he also built last year.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Girls comes an eagerly anticipated story collection exploring the dark corners of human experience.

An absentee father collects his son from boarding school after a shocking act of violence. A nanny to a celebrity family hides out in Laurel Canyon in the aftermath of a tabloid scandal. A young woman sells her underwear to strangers. A notorious guest arrives at a placid, not-quite rehab in the Southwest.

In ten remarkable stories, Emma Cline portrays moments when the ordinary is disturbed, when daily life buckles, revealing the perversity & violence pulsing under the surface. She explores characters navigating the edge, the limits of themselves & those around them: power dynamics in families, in relationships, the distance between their true & false selves. They want connection, but what they provoke is often closer to self-sabotage.

What are the costs of one’s choices? Of the moments when we act, or fail to act? These complexities are at the heart of ‘Daddy‘, Emma Cline’s sharp-eyed illumination of the contrary impulses that animate our inner lives.

I read Emma Cline’s previous novel, ‘The Girls‘, during the summer of 2016 when it released to very mixed reviews. I was pretty middle ground w/ that book, having not loved it, but also didn’t hate it. In my opinion, ‘Daddy’ is much more intriguing & thought-provoking. I love a well-written book of essays or short stories, preferably non-fiction, & this one had 10 pretty fascinating stories. Each story did leave me wanting more & to know more about the broken people depicted in the short stories.

Some stories were more engaging & provocative than others, but overall ‘Daddy’ is riveting, poignant, glazed in darkness & humor while also making the reader squirm w/ discomfort at times. Oh, & the copy in my pic is an early arc, thus the pale pink color. The actual book is more Mountain Dew yellow. ‘Daddy’ is available now wherever books are sold.

Click HERE to read more about & add ‘Daddy: Stories’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to read more about & add ‘The Girls’ to your Goodreads list.
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(PS: Don’t forget to head to Mom_Loves_Reading on Instagram & enter to win 1 of 3 copies of the psychological suspense novel by Hank Phillipi Ryan, ‘The First to Lie’. Giveaway ends tomorrow night! Click HERE to go to that giveaway post now.)

Emma Cline is an American writer and novelist, originally from California. She published her first novel, “The Girls”, in 2016, to positive reviews. The book was shortlisted for the John Leonard Award from the National Book Critics Circle and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.
Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, Tin House, Granta and The Paris Review.
In 2017 Cline was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists.

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Fiction · RomCom

Book review: ‘Loathe at First Sight’ by Suzanne Park

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Thank you @booksforwardpr @avonbooks for my gifted copy of ‘Loathe at First Sight‘ by Suzanne Park! (pub 8/18)

Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with challenges: an insufferable CEO; sexist male coworkers; & an infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—intern, Nolan MacKenzie, aka “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”

Just when Melody thinks she’s made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly Melody’s “joke” is her studio’s most high-profile project—& Melody’s running the show.

When Nolan is assigned to Melody’s team, she’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she realizes he’s smart & sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he’s her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it’s time to pump the brakes, even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up & find a man.

With her project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a devastating trolling scandal. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work & in love?

So, this book is not really what it appears to be from the blurb or cover. It’s about 15% funny, rom-com about a Korean woman in the gaming  industry w/ a charming enemies-to-lovers story woven in.

The other 85% is more “let’s get the reader fired up w/ some real, hard hitting, serious issues” such as: toxic work environment, racism, harassment, discrimination, humiliation by co-workers, stalking, online trolls who threaten violence, cyberbullying & misogyny. (The photo comment above & below from the publisher are somewhat misleading. Smart- yes! Hilarious- here & there, maybe.)

I enjoyed ‘Loathe at First Sight’, but it did make me angry & triggered memories from the past where I, too, dealt w/ several of the above issues. I am not a gamer (wait, does Words w/ Friends count?), so learning about the industry was fun. Overall I thought the book was well-written, insightful, & very thought-provoking & I really rooted for Melody & her fight against the patriarchy in a male dominated work place.

Also featured in my Instagram post (pictured at top of blog post) is Park’s other 2020 new release, ‘The Perfect Escape‘, which published in April from Sourcebooks Fire.

The Perfect Escape‘ is a hysterical comedy about a teen boy who teams up with his crush to enter a survivalist competition, only to discover that love is its own battlefield.

Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

A great pick for readers who want:

  • comedy books for teens
  • books for teen boys
  • multicultural books for teens

Editorial reviews for ‘Loathe at First Sight’:

Loathe at First Sight bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.” (Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient)

“Hilarious and poignant, Park’s debut sparkles as a great addition to the new voices of the rom com renaissance.”

(Roselle Lim, author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune)

“Park gives us the story that only she could create. It’s hilarious, smart, and the rom-com we need!” (Alexa Martin, ALA Award-winning author of Intercepted)

“Park has created a wholly original, smart, fierce heroine (with a hilarious inner voice) who takes on an industry hell-bent on underestimating her…Just like the “entertaining, fresh, snarky” video game she conjures in her novel, Suzanne Park has written a fast and fun debut, putting females in the lead.” (Amy Poeppel, author of Musical Chairs and Small Admissions)

“A smart, funny workplace romance set in the world of video game design.” (Popsugar)

“[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Park’s first book for adults is a funny and feminist geek novel… Readers into both gaming and women’s fiction will scramble for this fast-paced charmer.” (Booklist)

“Melody’s characterization and voice shine throughout. Smart, punchy, and memorable.” (Library Journal)

Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. As a comedienne, she was selected to appear on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco.

Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA from UCLA. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Loathe at First Sight is her adult debut. (‘The Perfect Escape’ is her YA debut.)

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Click HERE to find either book & others at a local independent bookstore near you using BookStoreLink.

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Book Reviews · Fiction · MurderinoMonday · Paranormal · Thriller

Book Review for ‘The Hollow Ones’ by Guillermo Del Toro/Chuck Hogan

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Thank you @grandcentralpub for my gifted copy of ‘The Hollow Ones‘ by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan! (pub 8/4).

From the authors who brought you ‘The Strain‘ Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, & darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, & literary horror. ‘The Hollow Ones is a chilling, hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro & bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

A horrific crime that defies explanation, a rookie FBI agent in uncharted territory, & an extraordinary hero for the ages: an investigation spirals out of control in this heart-pounding thriller.

Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself — it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI & her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the NY office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named Hugo Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, & who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity’s best & only defense against unspeakable evil.

First off, it’s pronounced ‘Gee-AIR-mo’ (Gee like GHEE butter, not like Gee wiz.) Del Toro is a well-known Hollywood film maker (click HERE for his IMDB page) & if you haven’t heard, he is bringing a remake of ‘The Witches’ (by Roald Dahl, 1983) to the big screen (Oct ’20, unless delayed). ‘The Strain‘ TV adaptation gave me nightmares, ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark‘ gave me even more nightmares, but I STILL could not wait to get my hands on this book!

The Hollow Ones‘ is a gripping suspense/thriller/mystery with some unsettling, supernatural elements. It’s a well-developed story for as short as it is & hits the ground running with it’s fast-pace. Spell-binding, creepy, suspenseful & entertaining, ‘The Hollow Ones‘ didn’t give me the sleepless nights like the above mentioned adaptations, but I enjoyed it. If you liked the Denzel Washington movie ‘Fallen‘ (1998), you will love this!

Click HERE to add ‘The Hollow Ones’ to your Goodreads TBR.
Click HERE to read more about ‘The Strain’ book series.
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Click HERE to look for ‘The Hollow Ones’ & any other books at a local indie bookstore near you using BookStoreLink.
Click HERE to get ‘The Hollow Ones’ on audiobook with Libro.fm. (Use my code MOMLOVESREADING to get a 2-for-1 deal. Remember, Libro.fm supports indie bookstores with our audiobook purchases. Read more about Libro.fm HERE.

What others are saying about ‘THE HOLLOW ONES’:

“A transporting, pageturning thriller that rips open a brand new universe, filling it with suspense. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan have a dark vision to share — and they’ve created quite a duo in Hugo Blackwood and Odessa Hardwicke, a Sherlockian partnership for the ages.”―Brad Meltzer, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Escape Artist

“If one could combine the world-conjuring magic of C. S. Lewis with the dark energy of Thomas Harris, one would be at least part of the way to understanding what makes THE HOLLOW ONES so special. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan have yet another twisted masterpiece on their hands. An enduring new series combining horror, suspense, and fable.”―Stephen Chbosky, NYT bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Imaginary Friend

“A welcome gift to disciples of Lovecraft-ian fiction. Odessa Hardewick is cast in the mold of Clarice Starling. . . Inventive and macabre.”―Kirkus

“Fans of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Pendergast books will be enthralled.”―Publishers Weekly

Guillermo del Toro was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1964. He is the director of the films Cronos, Mimic, The Devil’s Backbone, Blade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II, Pacific Rim, and Pan’s Labyrinth, which garnered enormous critical praise worldwide and won three Academy Awards, and The Shape of the Water, which won the 2018 Oscar Award for Best Picture.

Chuck Hogan is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Devils in Exile and Prince of Thieves, which won the 2005 Hammett Award, was named one of the ten best novels of the year by Stephen King, and was the basis of the motion picture The Town.

BeachReads · Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: ‘A Star is Bored’ by Byron Lane (pub 7/28)

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Thank you @henryholtbooks for my gifted copy of ‘A Star is Bored‘ by Byron Lane! (pub 7/28)

A hilariously heartfelt novel about living life at full force, & discovering family when you least expect it, influenced in part by the author’s time as Carrie Fisher’s beloved assistant.

Charlie Besson is about to have an insane job interview. His car is idling, like his life, outside the Hollywood mansion of Kathi Kannon. THE Kathi Kannon, star of stage & screen & People magazine’s worst dressed list. She needs an assistant. He needs a hero.

Kathi is an icon, bestselling author, & an award winning actress, most known for her role as Priestess Talara in the iconic blockbuster sci-fi film. She’s also known for another role: crazy Hollywood royalty. Admittedly so. Famously so. Fabulously so.

Charlie gets the job, & embarks on an odyssey filled with late night shopping sprees, last minute trips to see the aurora borealis, & an initiation to that most sacred of Hollywood tribes: the personal assistant. But Kathi becomes much more than a boss, & as their friendship grows, Charlie must make a choice. Will he always be on the sidelines of life, assisting the great forces that be, or can he step into his own leading role?

Laugh-out-loud funny, & searingly poignant, Byron Lane’s ‘A Star is Bored‘ is a novel that, like the star at its center, is enchanting & joyous, heartbreaking & hopeful.

I adored Carrie Fisher, not only as an actress, but as an author, way back to her early novels, ‘Postcards From the Edge’ (’87) & ‘Surrender the Pink’ (’90). So to read a (fiction) book authored by someone who was her personal assistant for 3 yrs was intriguing, to say the least. You can 100% picture Fisher as ‘Kathi’ even though Lane has stated that the story is a work of fiction.

At times this book was absolutely heartbreaking, but mostly it was laugh-out-loud hilarious! (And the books depiction of mental health struggles was very realistic & not exploitative. ‘A Star is Bored‘ is quirky, engaging, heartfelt, & amusing…anything but boring. I highly recommend this fun book which is available now!

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Click HERE to add ‘A Star is Born‘ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to find this & any other books at an independent bookstore using BookStoreLink.

What others are saying about ‘A Star is Bored’:

“Wildly funny and irreverent… Lane’s writing lifts the novel far above its gossamer Hollywood setting, suffusing [the novel] with a complex sensitivity.”
― The New York Times Book Review

“The fun summer read so many of us are craving.”
― USA Today

“A sweet goodbye and an ode to friendship… it delights”
― NY Post

“Ingenious and very droll… Lane turns out to be such a good writer, so funny and rapier sharp…He’s made a fascinating character out of his perennially bored star, a pill-popping, foul-mouthed creature at once cynical and sentimental, self-loving and self-hating, with a lust for life and a self-destructive streak as wide as Santa Monica Boulevard… [Lane] gives us the best of both worlds, savage satire leavened with compassion…This reader was rarely bored.”
― L.A. Times

“With prose in turns incandescent and uproariously funny, as well as poignantly tender and sweet, Lane’s novel is a love letter, not only to Carrie Fisher, but also to the ridiculous, bizarre and oft-magical world of Hollywood.”
― Variety

“Carrie Fisher’s spirit animates this funny, dishy, and deeply affectionate roman à clef by her former personal assistant. The force is with him.”
People “Must-Reads for Summer”

“Lane debuts with a fizzy roman à clef about a celebrity assistant, playfully alluding to his experience working for the late actor Carrie Fisher. Lane begins with Charlie Besson’s job interview…an assistant to Kathi Kannon, famous for playing the beloved Priestess Talara in the science fiction epic Nova Quest. Lane brings wit and tenderness to Kathi’s mostly acerbic personality, and her attachment to Charlie is potent and palpable… Lane’s affecting tale would show how the real Charlie found his own superpower―as a novelist.”
― Publishers Weekly

“Aside from being laugh out loud funny, brazen, charming and exquisitely observed, ASIB is romantic, soulful and filled with tender sweetness. For those of us who knew Carrie and Byron it all brings back chokingly funny and necessarily sad memories of a uniquely beautiful and deranged ménage, but it will make every reader feel at home and a part of it too.”
― Stephen Fry

“I’m in love with this hearty story of a hilarious Hollywood friendship. It’s fierce and funny and will warm your heart in these often frigid times. This is some queer chicken noodle soup for my soul, honey.”
― Jonathan Van Ness, New York Times bestselling author of Over the Top

“I didn’t go into this expecting a love story, but the one here between a Hollywood assistant and his famous, hilarious and deeply lonely boss came very close to breaking my heart.”
― Julia Claiborne Johnson, bestselling author of Be Frank With Me

“Byron Lane has written a book that will touch you on so many levels. I was prepared for the laughs, but didn’t expect the poignant story of a relationship both difficult and wonderful at the same time. A terrific read.”
― Laurie Gelman, bestselling author of Class Mom and You’ve Been Volunteered

“A Star is Bored is an absolute knockout. Riotously funny and wickedly tender. The pitch-perfect absurdity and sharp heartbreak of this story come to life so vividly that the last page left me aching. Completely outrageous and positively lovely.”
― Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six

Byron Lane is an author, playwright, & screenwriter. His debut novel, A STAR IS BORED, is about a celebrity assistant struggling to manage his eccentric & hilarious movie star boss, inspired in part by Lane’s time as assistant to beloved actress Carrie Fisher. The novel has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, OK Magazine, & People Magazine which hails: “Funny, dishy, deeply affectionate… the force is with him.”

Lane also wrote and co-stars in the play TILDA SWINTON ANSWERS AN AD ON CRAIGSLIST, a comedy hit having sold out runs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Edinburgh Fringe. It’s been critically praised by The Guardian, British Theatre, & Broadway World which says, “Hysterical… Lane has written a brilliant tour de force.”

Lane wrote & co-stars in LAST WILL & TESTICLE, an award-winning web series about his testicular cancer diagnosis which screened at festivals around the world, was called “fearless” by Cosmopolitan Magazine, & named “New York Television Festival Pilots to Put on Your Radar” by NBC Out. He wrote & co-stars in a feature film called HERPES BOY, starring Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, which won Best Comedy at Comic Con & an Audience Award from Austin Film Festival. And he wrote & produced a trailer for a series called GAY DIVORCE which was a finalist in Project Greenlight’s See Yourself contest.
​​
Lane is a regional Emmy Award winner from his time as a TV News journalist. He’s originally from New Orleans & lives in Los Angeles with his boyfriend, best-selling author Steven Rowley, and their rescue dog, Tilda.