Book Review: Little Black Lies

little-black-lies

 

 

 

 

In the halls of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Zoe Goldman is a resident in training, dedicated to helping troubled patients. However, she has plenty of baggage of her own. When her newest patient arrives – a beautiful sociopath who murdered her mother – Zoe becomes obsessed with questions about her own mother’s death. But the truth remains tauntingly out of reach, locked away within her nightmares of an uncontrollable fire. And as her adoptive mother loses her memory to dementia, the time to find the answers is running out.

As Zoe digs deeper, she realizes that the danger is not just in her dreams but is now close at hand. And she has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most. Because what she can’t remember just might kill her.

Little Black Lies is about madness and memory – and the dangerous, little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

thoughts

 

 

 

A stellar read by Sandra Block! Psychiatrist Dr. Zoe Goldman is a memorable character with a hidden mystery. She’s wrapped up in a dire search for her birth mother, whom she never knew, but in the end discovers a lot more than expected. This is a wonderfully written intriguing mystery that’ll keep you turning pages into the night.

Setting. I loved the setting of this book for many reasons. I used to work in different medical settings with the same type of patients seen in this book. So this gave me a familiar feeling.

Plot. The plot was smooth, evenly paced and interwoven with the skill of a seamstress. That’s about all I can say without spoilers!!

I’m really looking forward to the next two books. The Girl without a name, and The Secret Room

 

 

 

the-girl-without-a-name

 

 

 

 

the-secret-room

 

 

 

 

Thanks!!!

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

 

Book Review: Davenport House Book 1

davenport-house-1

 

 

 

Goodreads Description

Davenport House is the first book in a family saga following the wealthy Davenports and their servants in 1915 America.

Mary Davenport is a 22-year-old idealist who worries that the world in the Progressive Era is leaving her behind. She lives isolated in the Pennsylvania countryside with her affluent and secretive family. When her father dies suddenly, Mary becomes pained with grief and increasingly suspicious of those around her.

A humble servant girl has the chance of a lifetime to become a lady’s companion. Costly dresses, exquisite rooms, and fine dinners are pleasant distractions from what is really happening in the house.

 

 

 

My thoughts

 

 

thoughts

 

 

 

 

Page Turner!

This book was a delight to read! It quickly became a page turner as I got used to the characters and sought for answers.

 

Mystery

I really loved that this was a historical mystery set in the progressive era.  Mary’s father died, or was he murdered? The Family saga begins at this point sending poor Mary on a wild goose chase. Very entertaining!

 

Characters

Loved every character. Family drama and secrets made it even more intriguing. I found myself sucked into the story through Mary’s experience, her servant girl and the household. Marie Silk does a great job this. This was a strong point throughout the book. Character interaction and dialogue was superb.

 

 

Can’t wait to finish the second book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

premium-quality-100

 

 

 

 

Marie Silk

Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

Book Review: Midnight Obsession by Melinda Leigh

midnight-obsession

 

 

 

Wall Street Journal’s Bestselling Author Melinda Leigh releases her latest masterpiece, Midnight Obsession. She’s also one of our awesome authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week celebration. Don’t miss out!

 

 

 

melinda-leigh-sitting-photo

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK TRAILER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

 

In Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s edgy new thriller, Louisa Hancock thought she was safe…but there’s a new killer in town.

When a mysterious package lands on Louisa Hancock’s doorstep, the Philadelphia museum curator can hardly anticipate the nightmare that’s about to envelop her. The package is addressed to her father—an expert in Viking culture—and inside is a ninth-century sword, a chilling thank-you note, and photos of two dead bodies in a tableau evoking a Nordic funeral. The gruesome images match a recent crime scene. But before the police can investigate the killer’s connection to Louisa’s father, Ward Hancock vanishes.

Sports bar owner Conor Sullivan wants nothing more than to spend his life with Louisa. Devoted and protective, he refuses to leave her side after her father’s disappearance. When a troubled young boxer he’s been coaching is suspected of the murders, Conor is pulled in even deeper. Desperate, Louisa and Conor take it upon themselves to find her father, but soon another ritualistic slaying makes it clear there’s a Viking-obsessed serial killer on the loose. And he has a new target: Louisa.

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

AdobeStock_56385589.jpeg

 

 

 

 

You won’t find any dull moments in this one. Melinda Leigh does an excellent job of building suspense, action, and mystery to keep the pages turning!

When I first began this book I knew it was going to be a great read. I could feel it in my gut. Gotta love those guts, eh? YES. I was right!

The tension, pacing, characters, plot, romance, antagonist were perfect. Conner Sullivan is every woman’s dream of a gentlemen who is hell-bent on protecting the love of his life, Louisa Hancock.

Louisa is a vulnerable yet strong individual who is no pushover despite her circumstances. I can’t say more without spoilers.

Louisa’s father is an renowned Viking culture expert who has a demented secret admirer. It all begins when Louis starts receiving strange packages at her doorstep. Her father’s life is at stake and possibly her own…You’ll never guess who the killer really is until the very end! And the ending is exquisite to the last drop! A must read!

 

 

 

 

 

thumbs-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH MELINDA LEIGH

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

Introducing Audio Forensics

listen to music (+clipping path, xxl)

 

 

I’m happy to announce a brand new series deemed Audio Forensics! It will exclusively be about audiobooks and everything related to them. News, reviews, interviews from the latest and the greatest. Some will go here and others will go to my other site at Mystery Thriller Week. I’ll mix it up and try to keep things interesting. It should be epic fun! There’s more interesting things I’d love to say about Audio Forensics but I’m much too pooped to say more. Another day I promise!

If you would like to do a guest post in relation to this drop me a line in the comment section. The more the merrier.

The growth of audiobooks has been steadily booming the last several years and bound to only get better. Time to give them some lovin’.  I listen to about two per week so this will be a nice outlet for what I’ve experienced.

 

 

So, on that note let us introduce my favorite audiobook of 2016. And the winner is….

 

Drumroll….

 

 

 

 

drumroll

 

 

 

 

 

CRYPTIC LINES

 

 

 

cryptic-lines-audiobook

 

 

 

Written by Richard Storry

Narrated by Jake Urry

Length: 4 hrs and 13 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date: 03-16-16

Publisher: Richard Alan Storry

 

 

 

Goodreads

Set in a sprawling gothic mansion in a remote coastal location, somewhere in the British Isles, the elderly recluse Lord Alfred Willoughby is deciding what is to become of his vast fortune after his death. Whilst his head is telling him to leave nothing at all to his wastrel son, Matthew, his heart is speaking differently. After much deliberation, in a last-ditch attempt to try and show to his son the importance of applying himself to a task and staying with it to the end, he devises a series of enigmatic puzzles cunningly concealed within the lines of a poem – the cryptic lines. If he completes the task successfully and solves the puzzles he will inherit the entire estate; but if he fails he will receive nothing. However, from Lord Alfred’s Will it emerges that Matthew is not the only interested party. The mysterious old house holds many secrets, and nothing is as it first appears

 

 

 

 

My rating

 

 

 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

Performance: Narrated by Jake Urry

 

Jake had the perfect voice to go along with this story. Absolutely perfect. He has that creepy, eerie, mysteriousness to his of voice that really brings out the story to the fullest degree. His performance was off the charts in my estimation.

 

 

Story: by Richard Storry

 

This story was amazing! I honestly didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, but was pleasantly surprised. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire book. That’s probably what I enjoy most about it. The SUSPENSE was brilliant. The plot twists toward the end are even better. This one had it all. Out of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to this year, this one resonated with me the most.

 

 

 

Listen to an audio sample: Cryptic Lines

 

Have fun! Thanks for ridin’ the train folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

train-old-fashioned

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up for a challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge  (Join the Goodreads group here)

 

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

waving-by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

 

 

 

small-great-things-2

 

 

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345544951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345544957
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches

 

 

 

According to  Goodreads

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

 

 

 

MY RATING

 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

 

First I wanted to thank Jodi Picoult for taking the time to write such a tremendous book. Jodi, if I ever get the chance to meet you I’ll give you a double high five. This great book is no small thing!

 

 

 

high-fives

 

 

 

MY IMPRESSION

 

First it took me awhile to get use to the multiple point of views, but once that happened it became the strength of the story. I commend the author for taking head on things that most people try to avoid. Racism. Prejudice. Bias. I certainly try to avoid these topics like the plague instead of facing them.

Small Great Things employs a heavy theme throughout the book. Jodi makes no attempt to skate around the subjects at hand. Honestly, at first I thought it was a little bit over the top; but then I thought about the interaction between Kennedy McQuarrie and Ruth Jefferson. Kennedy a defense lawyer, did not think it was appropriate, necessary, or wise to bring race into the courtroom. Eventually she fully embraces the matter of race in her own life, both personally and professionally. This helped me to embrace the story more on a thematic level. It’ll never be easy to discuss matters of race, but I’m glad somebody did!

I will always reserve a place in my heart for the great story of Ruth, Kennedy, Edison and Turk Bauer. The embody the real life struggles, challenges, and transformation that we all need.

I greatly appreciate Jodi’s ability to capture the reality of each character and reveal them on the page. Weaving together so many elements is not easy for an author.

 

  • Kennedy McQuarrie– I enjoyed such a classy, witty, gritty, determined and compassionate lawyer. The kind of arc that she went through in the story was quite compelling.
  • Ruth Jefferson– Ruth was special. Such a hardworking individual in so many areas getting caught in the midst of an impossible dilemma. I could sense her pain, frustration and fears. Her transformation also is notable. Really when I consider Ruth, I have to consider Kennedy because they both had such a huge impact on one another.
  • Edison– He was a sweet kid who loved his mother. A bond between a mother and son that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
  • Adisa– She was hilarious! What a potent character. Captured beautifully.
  • Turk Bauer– It was good to see how he developed with all of his experiences good and bad. His trans formative arc was very touching.
  • Brit Bauer– What an intense character! Loved her too. Too bad she suffered such an ending though.

 

Each character is symbolic of something deeply rooted in our society. But love overcomes all things. 

 

 

 

love-heart-762564_960_720

 

 

 

Love suffers long. Love is kind; it is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not puffed up- 1 Cor. 13:4

 

“…does not take account of evil- 1 Cor. 13:5

 

“It covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.-1 Cor.13:7

*All verses are taken from the New Testament Recovery version Bible*

 

 

 

“With love, everybody wins.”-Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

tic-tac-toe-1777815_960_720

 

 

 

 

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.-Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

THANKS JODI PICOULT FOR BEING WONDER WOMAN!

 

 

 

wonder-woman-1016324_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Unlocking Worlds a Reading Companion by Sally Allen

 

WELCOME BACK TO FORENSIC LENSES

 

 

Featuring Sally Allen author of UNLOCKING WORLDS a reading companion for book lovers

 

 

 

unlocking-worlds

 

 

 

  • File Size: 1760 KB
  • Digital Length: 172 pages, Paperback 248 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Griffins Wharf (November 11, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 11, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017VOU7NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME SALLY!

 

 

 

unnamed

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what life is like through the eyes of another? To see what they see, know what they know, experience as they do? Do you yearn to participate in another’s inner life journey as they learn to navigate through it? Well, today we have an excellent resource in talented author and book lover, Sally Allen. Her book Unlocking Worlds, does exactly that. Unlock worlds in book after book with amazing protagonists, heroes and supporting cast. I’ve already added several (and counting) of these books to my Goodreads account. Which seems to be growing like kudzu on steroids at the moment.

I love books, and I also yearn to experience the the world view through the eyes of voracious readers, bookworms and book lovers. To get a taste of what they appreciate and how books have shaped them over the years. Whoohoo! Fun stuff! Unlocking Worlds will introduce you to the familiar and uncharted territories of lands waiting to be explored. To boldy go where no man has gone before…(sounds like Star Trek).

 

Now we get to enjoy an interview with Sally! Yippee!! Take it away Sally…

 

 

 

 

 

Who affected your reading habits as a child?

My family was my strongest influence. My parents restricted screen time (meaning I wasn’t allowed anywhere near screens from Monday through Friday), and my parents and older siblings were all readers. So from house rules to house habits, I learned to turn to books for entertainment. And I did!

We do the same thing at our house and our kids hate this. My childhood was quite the opposite with unrestricted screen time, yikes!  Wish I could’ve read more books back then. 

 

 

 

book-759873_960_720

 

 

 

 

Which stories, characters, or themes became part of your core values?

The two that first come to mind I read (and reread often) as a child: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The All-of- a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. Both embodied the values my family instilled in me – community, family, empathy, and compassion – though in very different ways. They’re books I still think of, draw inspiration from, and enjoy rereading to this day.

These are very good values!  

 

 

 

quality-65060_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

How did your reading affect you in high school?

Reading was how I would relax and unwind. I remember spending countless hours lying on the floor of my room reading and rereading my favorite contemporary novels. High school was also when I first fell in love with classic literature Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and learned to embrace a broader range of literary genres and styles.

I often hear these as sources of inspiration, especially Austen.

 

 

 

 

 

young-woman-635249_960_720

 

 

 

 

What did you appreciate about literature throughout college?

I most appreciated building on the close reading skills introduced in high school and learning how to research and discover more about the story behind a book. These highlighted how much we don’t understand and how much we have to learn. They taught me to have patience, to listen, and not to rush the judgment. Incidentally, all excellent life skills as well!

Reading is one thing, but learning the nuts and bolts behind it is another. Gleaning solid virtues such as patience, listening and understanding are excellent.

 

 

TRUE BEAUTY IS FOUND IN VIRTUE 

Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies -Proverbs 31:10 

 

 

 

What was your goal in writing this particular book?

I wanted to share a way of reading for personal pleasure and enrichment. Reading preferences can be incredibly personal, driven by what we’re trying to figure out and by our personal experiences and preoccupations. I wanted to honor that and to show how books of all kinds can bring us both pleasure and growth, depending on how we approach them and why we’re drawn to them. I hope that readers will discover both books they’ve read and not read and that my book will inspire reflection and conversation.

Yes I’ve definitely appreciated reading your book and I’ve added many to Goodreads account already. Personally I believe we could benefit more from reflecting and conversing about what we’ve read and experienced. 

 

 

 

still-life-1037378_960_720

 

 

 

Tell us about your fascination with “aspects of wonder” from “Criticism” by Matthew Goulish. 

I encourage everyone to find and read Goulish’s beautiful essay! There is so much to treasure in and learn from it. What captured my imagination about “aspects of wonder” is the idea of being transported by beauty. In a way, it seems like it should be obvious that engaging with art is about transcendent moments. But that’s not always what happens in practice.

I’ll have to do some more digging to find it. Thanks for the reference!

 

 

…”it takes a keen mind and an open heart to recognize and value beauty.” I really enjoyed this quote and Ghoulish’s view of the critic changing, and not the work of art.

Thank you! Goulish’s view reminds me of the saying (I believe it’s Carl Jung’s), “You are what you do.” How we approach and engage with art can mirror how we approach and engage with the world around us. If we enter into an art experience with an openness and sense of possibility, it can change what we allow ourselves to get out of it. And that approach to books can translate into how we approach the world around us as well. So how we read matters a great deal.

I find this very fascinating. How we approach and engage with art mirroring how we engage with the world around us. EPIC!

 

 

 

 

watercolor-portrait-1050714_960_720

 

 

 

How do you feel about the current 5 star rating system for books?

I am not a fan. Reading is such a rich, transformative, dimensional experience. To reduce a book to five stars has a way of draining the complexity, life, and beauty out of it for me.

Wow. I love your statement on this. It provides a totally different mindset when it comes to books. 

 

 

 

knowledge-1052011_960_720

 

 

 

If you had to choose another time period in which to live in, which would you choose?

So many of the books I love were written in the 19th century. I’m also fascinated by ancient Greek literature and by all that we can’t know about that time. It would be interesting to visit and experience everyday life in either of these times. Though I must admit, I’m quite happy to read about the past from my comfortable perch in the 21st century!

Hah! True enough. Greek is pretty fascinating, love the language. The 19th century sounds cool…but I’d rather read about it. 

 

 

 

How does reading shape and transform us?

Reading allows us to see the world through another set of eyes and from another position in space and time. It introduces us to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. Research is beginning to help us understand how reading experiences can rewire our brains. Having felt changed by my experience of books – Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth come to mind – I can believe it!

I’m very intrigued how reading affects our brain development and experience. Recent books have touched on this using cognitive science. It’s affects are amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

road-sign-1280254_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

Tell us about your favorite literary Mom.

The first one I thought of is Marmee from Little Women because she’s such a steady, comforting presence. But I also adore Miranda’s mom in When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. She’s quirky, gives great advice, challenges Miranda to think harder and be kinder, and she is 100 percent devoted as a parent.

Moms are the BEST! Like you said, steady and a comforting presence. That’s a mom. I’ll have to add these books to my ever-growing TBR list.

 

 

 

 

 

minion-moms

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite father figure?

My favorite literary father figure is Joe Gargery from Great Expectations. He’s kind, loving, patient, loyal, forgiving. My favorite literary dad is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. He never talks down to his children, and he embodies empathy, even when it is most difficult (and therefore most valuable).

Splendid. Empathy can be rather challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it.

 

 

If you had to pick a protagonist to marry who would it be?

I love Hamish Macbeth from M. C. Beaton’s murder mystery series. He has the right priorities: the desire for a peaceful life (somewhat ironic, since he’s constantly having to solve murders!) and deep care for his community. Another favorite is Obinze from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. He’s patient, loyal, and an empathetic listener, (and he’s a reader!).

This was a fun one! Hamish Macbeth and Obinze. By the way, thanks for recommending Americanah. It sounds like a very moving story. 

 

 

 

i-beg-your-pardon-927744_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

If you had to pick a hero for president, who are your top 3 choices?

I agree with Albus Dumbledore that those who want power are probably the least to be trusted with it. So my choices would lean towards those who have neither expressed a desire for power nor pursued it. My three picks will stick with the Harry Potter theme: Kingsley Shacklebolt’s focus, discretion, and principles put him at the top of my list. I would also vote for Hermione Granger, who is highly rational, clever, and has a strong sense of justice. Finally, Mr. Weasley seems happy to sacrifice prestige for doing the right thing. He would get my vote.

Great picks! Love your philosophy on this. Sounds like it would make a great book, or perhaps fan fiction?

 

 

 

 

white-house-754766_960_720

 

 

 

 

If you were a damsel in distress, who would you call on to rescue you?

Hopefully, I would be able to rescue myself. 🙂 But in a pinch, Hermione would be a good person to have in my corner.

Being rescued is more fun 🙂  I’m noticing a pattern here. If Hermione would become president, then rescued you, that would be a blockbuster.

 

 

 

 

superman-1070457_960_720

 

 

 

Do you have any other books in the works?

I’ve been working on an idea for a book on classic literature. It’s still in the beginning stages, so we’ll see where it takes me.

Stay tuned!

Absolutely. A book on the classics sounds great. 

 

 

THANKS SALLY!

 

 

 

Sally Allen is an award-winning author who holds a PhD in English Education from New York University, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and an MA in English Language and Literature. She has taught writing and literature at New York University and Fairfield University, and is the recipient of New York University’s Willy Gorrissen Award for Dedication and Skill in the Academic Development of Student Writing. Currently, Allen is a faculty member at Post University where she teaches literature, writing, and communications. She is the founder of Books, Ink at HamletHub, a website dedicated to Connecticut books news, where her writing has earned her three Connecticut Press Club awards.

Unlocking Worlds (Griffins Wharf, 2015) can be purchased from Amazon

and other booksellers nationwide. More information about Sally Allen can be

found at www.sallyallenbooks.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

Book Review: Saving Phoebe Murrow by Author Herta Feely

 

 

BOOK REVIEW AND CHARACTER Q&A WITH ISABEL WINTHROP

 

 

 

 

pheebs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Fiction, Adult Fiction

Paperback 425 pages, Kindle edtion 416 pages

Published September 2nd, 2016

Publisher: Upper Hand Press LLC

ISBN13   9781785770326

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS:

 

A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Kimberly McCreight (Reconstructing Amelia) and Liane Moriarity (Big Little Lies) will make you question how you and your family spend time online. With Saving Phoebe Murrow, acclaimed writer and longtime children’s activist Herta Feely introduces readers to Isabel Murrow: a suburban mother precariously balancing her busy career as a D.C. lawyer and her family, who she would do anything to protect. In a world of bullies and temptations, all Isabel wants is to keep her thirteen-year-old daughter, Phoebe, safe. But with her hectic schedule, Isabel fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger her daughter faces by flirting with a mysterious boy online. A cyber-bulling incident aimed at Phoebe, with horrific consequences, finally pushes Isabel to the edge. Smartly paced and equal parts shocking and sadly familiar, Saving Phoebe Murrow is a riveting addition to the contemporary women’s fiction landscape that will resonate with parents, teens, and anyone compelled by timely and beautifully crafted stories

 

 

 

 

MY RATING 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

This was a stellar read about the teenage tragedies that exists throughout our society. Gripping, riveting, and deeply disturbing on many levels. This one will stick with you for quite a while. Author Herta Feely does a excellent job of capturing the fragile relationships, peer pressure, and split-second decisions that our young people have to make in order to navigate the world. Front and center is Phoebe’s loving mother and stout attorney, Isabel Winthrop.

 

 

 

CHARACTERS:  5 stars  The Characters were all too real.

PLOT: 5 stars     Masterful and wrought with emotional intensity.

STORY EFFECT:  5 stars  A very powerful story with a lingering effect.

 

Notes:  The depth of each character is amazing. From adolescents, parents, friends, antagonists it was captured perfectly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HI HERTA!

 

 

 

herta-feely-bw

 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO:

 

Herta Feely is a writer, full-time editor, and the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? Awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue, she has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. Feely is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. She has two grown sons and lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats.

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A with Isabel Winthrop, mother of Phoebe Murrow in Herta Feely’s new novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow

 

 

*If you had to do one thing over in life what would it be?

I would have taken a year off from work when I learned about the extent of Phoebe’s problems – the bullying and the cutting. And then I would have made a point of getting to know my daughter’s friends, Jessie and Emma. Not doing that was a mistake on my part. Definitely. And I believe if I’d done that, what happened to Phoebe in the fall of her freshman year would never have happened.

Well, you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20. I certainly enjoyed meeting Jessie and Emma!

 

 

 

 

arrow-1538695_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

*If you had a chance to do it over again would you homeschool Phoebe, or take your chances in public/private school?

I don’t happen to believe in homeschooling, nor do I think I would be any good at it. But don’t get me wrong, my hat’s off to people who are capable teachers and can provide a solid education to their children by homeschooling. It’s just not for me. I know my limits.

And yes, I would stick with private and/or public school. In the end, I believe you cannot protect your children from life. They will have to go out into the world at some point, as flawed as it sometimes is, and as dangerous as it can be. It’s also a wonderful place…the world, and you just have to help your children navigate the difficult parts.

I bet you could have pulled it off though, Izzy. Your’re fully capable, methodical, determined and very considerate in your way of doing things. 

Your’re right, we can’t protect our children from life. We have to help them navigate through the storm and focus on the beauty in life. But after the storm is over and gone, there’s always the sweetest calm.

 

 

 

 

norman-79860_960_720

 

 

 

 

*If you could impart a missing virtue into Phoebe what would it be?

I don’t believe Phoebe has any missing virtues. She is a bit over-sensitive, but that’s far better than being insensitive. She is a wonderful human being.

Well said. Over-sensitive, yes. She’s only 13! There’s so many things going on in your head at that age. 

 

 

 

*If you could add a missing virtue to yourself as a parent what would it be?

I’ve learned a lot about being more open-minded and less judgmental. I assumed that Phoebe’s close friends were a bad influence on her, but I think that was wrong. I made those assumptions without really knowing either Jessie or Emma very well. So before judging other people it’s important to actually know them!

Well, you had good reason to be judgmental from the beginning considering what happened. Being open-minded is always a plus, but it’s hard not having a knee-jerk reaction under those circumstances.

 

 

 

 

direction-1033278_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

*If you were a friend Phoebe’s age, how would you protect her?

It’s difficult to protect someone else at that age, except to be a good and loving friend, there in good times and bad. Maybe in Phoebe’s case, it would have been helpful for her friends to stand up to the children who bullied her in eighth grade (which, I believe, Jessie did as much as possible), and then in ninth grade to counteract the cyber-bullying by writing Facebook posts that are supportive of Phoebe. Even to call Phoebe and suggest she get off of Facebook/the Internet. Or to contact an adult and ask them to intervene. But that’s a lot to ask of 13- and 14-year- old girls and boys.

Having supportive friends in times of trial is certainly a big help. But I suppose that’s asking a lot from a 13 or 14 year old!

 

 

*What is the most challenging quality of Phoebe? 

Her emotional volatility. She is a bit too sensitive and reactive to other people’s opinions. But I’m sure she’ll outgrow this once she establishes a firmer sense of herself. This comes with maturity. It also comes from us, her parents, by helping her through this period in her life.

It’s tough being a teenager. Especially managing your own reactions to peers who should be your support group. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

help-153094_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*What do you cherish most about her?

I cherish Phoebe’s basic goodness. She is a loyal friend; she’s smart and kind and considerate. What more could anyone want?

She’s a sweet kid.

 

 

*What from your past has affected your parenting style?

(Isabel arches her brow at the interviewer.) You need to ask? It’s the same for most people, I believe. One’s own parents’ behaviors and parenting styles often influence us, their children. So my father was rigid and uncompromising and so was I. But now I see what that cost me. What that cost us. Phoebe. And I’ll never be that way again. I don’t mean that I will compromise my values, no, but I will listen more closely and try to understand what my children are going through before deciding what’s best in the way of limits, consequences and so on. I’ll even listen to my husband. No doubt there will still be disagreements, but I won’t rush to judgment or to decision so quickly.

I can totally relate to this, Iz. My mother was the rigid disciplinarian type. I know it all too well. But two heads are better than one. Talk it over with Ron, he’s the more easy going type. Tell him I said hello and let’s hook up for coffee sometime. 

 

 

 

 

family-1613592_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

*What frustrates you most about other parents?

I can’t help it, but parents who allow their children to do whatever they want without any consequences, well, that drives me crazy. They are trying to be their children’s best friends, and that means they are abdicating their role as parents. You may not believe this, but I’ve actually heard girls say that they wish their parents were stricter and not just let them do everything they ask. Sometimes kids need to be able to say, “No, sorry, my parents won’t let me do that.” They actually want limits, it’s a great way for them to be able to say no but place the blame elsewhere.

YES. This is so true. Children on one had test the limits, but they also want them apparently. Sounds ironic doesn’t it? But it matches my experience. Sometimes I feel bad being the “policeman” all the time but they appreciate and respect the boundaries that are set. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sign-161176_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

*If you could encourage other parents, what would you say?

Learn from my mistakes. I was too rigid in upholding rules and not listening closely enough to what my daughter was trying to tell me.

This is such a hard lesson for a parent. It’s almost a science; knowing when to be compassionate and pliable, or when to apply rigidity. I’ve often made the same mistake as you, Izzy.  

Raising children is the most wonderful and difficult experience  we’ll ever have. As they grow up we may not realize that we need to grow along with them. They have their own little personalities and needs….And we need to listen to them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sound-159915_960_720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PURCHASE INFORMATION + LINKS

Saving Phoebe Murrow [Upper Hand Press, September 2 2016] is available in paperback and e-book formats via all online and select brick-and- mortar book retailers.

Get your copy today on Amazon

 

 

 

Connect with Herta on Facebook, Twitter,

Goodreads and her website: www.hertafeely.com

 

 

 

herta-feely-headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES:

 

Twitter: @hertafeely

Facebook: Saving Phoebe Murrow

Goodreads: Herta Feely

Website: www.hertafeely.com

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Herta and Smith Publicity, INC. for a great blog tour!

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “A Thousand Nights Book Review!” on YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Television Tuesday

 

 

 

 

tv-md

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson

 

 

 

51qDwTeWiAL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

Have you read or heard of it? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

Book Review: Your Book, Your Brand by Dana Kaye

 

 

I’ve been waiting for a book like this!

 

 

51Z0ikveO4L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Writing your book is just the beginning of a long journey. Especially in today’s new age of mass publishing. There’s probably more writers in the market today than ever before. Which makes it even more critical to be educated on what to do after your book is published. In order to be successful authors we need more than just knowledge of publishing. We need to continually learn how to effectively market and promote our books. So whether you’re self-published or traditional, this book is for you.

Dana Kaye does a wonderful job laying out this comprehensive guide. From developing your campaign, content strategy, pitching, media, it’s all there. Want to be your own publicist or hire one from the outside? Look no further. This book is a step by step guide for anyone looking for practical advice from a seasoned professional.

Goodreads

Amazon

 

Benjamin Thomas