She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell #michelecampbell #stmartinspress #siblingrivalry #twins #suspense @absltmom

Take two kids in competition for their parents' love and attention. Add to that the envy that one child feels for the accomplishments of the other; the resentment that each child feels for the privileges of the other; the personal frustrations that they don't dare let out on anyone else but a brother or sister, and it's not hard to understand why in families across the land, the sibling relationship contains enough emotional dynamite to set off rounds of daily explosions. - Adele Faber

If you have grown up with siblings, you are probably acutely aware of the rivalry that oftentimes occurs in a family. There is always that competition, be it for parent’s accolades, a school’s praise, or even being judged on attractiveness. It crops up in one’s daily life that look for and need for acceptance, for love, for knowing out of all the rest, you are the best. Such was the need for twins Rose and Bel Enright in the book She Was the Quiet One Having read and enjoyed Ms Campbell’s other book It’s Always the Husband, I was looking forward to a exciting read.

Bel and Rose Enright are twins, but that was probably where the similarities end. They are both totally at different ends of the spectrum and when the girls are sent to an exclusive boarding school by am aloof grandparent, trouble is on the horizon. Bel finds herself caught up in the “it” girls group at school. They are callous, insensitive, and totally focused on themselves. Yet, they are the ones who think themselves as exceptional, the darlings of the school, the risk takers, the ones all others aspire to be and Bel is to become one of them.

Poor Rose, she is indeed the quiet one, the one where school is important, where she longs to be popular yet, knows she will never be. She is the loner, the forgotten one, the one so looking for acceptance for her place in the sun.

Then there is Sarah, the wife of a very ambitious man, mother of two children, who is about to have her world turned upside down as she slowly discovers the dark underbelly of the school she and her husband are such a part of. Who is the man she married and how are situations at school spiraling out of control and resulting in the ultimate horror they are now experiencing?

This book again points out that we really so often do not know the people who are the closest to us. Do we ever really know another, and what if that other is the one we married or the one who we shared our mother’s body with for nine months? Is deception part of our DNA?

This book was a quick read, one possessing quite a few twists with an ending that held quite a surprise. It was somewhat predictable, but easily one that held this reader’s interest. This was surely a novel where “The only quiet woman is a dead one.” (Sylvia Platt) Recommended to those who liked a book possessing artifice and intrigue.

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She has had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.


The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk #4) by Dean Koontz #deankoontz #bantam #janehawkseries #suspense #netgalley @absltmom

The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk, #4)  This has become for me a seriously addicting series. Although it is what might be considered a long book, the pages fly by and one is totally immersed in Jane Hawk’s quest to undo evil and protect her beloved son, Travis.

In this book, the fourth of the series, Jane is once again battling the evil members of the Arcadian group who through the ability of nanotechnology are able to infiltrate one’s brain literally doing away with free will and putting the recipients in the total power of the Arcadians. This diabolical group has infiltrated all levels of government, business, having successfully succeeded in painting our heroine Jane appear as a serial killer. Of course Jane is on every wanted list imaginable, and the Arcadians’s goal is to stop her and find her son in order to do so.

Jane is a masterful character. She is astute, cunning, and has all the makings of a terrific female lead character. She is searching for the leader of this organization who is able to enslave people with just an injection. You find yourself cheering Jane on as she battles, with the help of a few wonderful friends, this evil organization. There are some topnotch additions to the series with the characters of Bernie Riggowitz, the Auschwitz survivor, Cornell Jasperson, app inventor with a touch of autism and Luther Tillman, ex-cop and freedom fighter.

If you enjoy a book that combines a touch of humor, horror, suspense, and reading into the middle of the night, this series comes highly recommended. So looking forward to the next in the series. Until then, this reader will be pulling for Jane and waiting for her to cut the head off the snake who is leader the Arcadians.

Thank you to Dean Koontz, Berkley, and NetGalley for providing me with many hours of riveting reading.

  Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce #ajpearce #scribner #ww2 #londonblitz @absltmom

Sometimes no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you are going to love a particular book, it just does not happen the way you planned. Such was the case with Dear Mrs. Bird  I was so  looking forward to reading this book for it had all the elements of a story I would adore. I love books about the trials and difficulties many experienced during the war, as well as a view of London at that time. Typically, this book should have fulfilled my desire for a wonderful read and yet it fell somewhat short for me.

There were parts of it that I so enjoyed, the descriptions of the devastation of the London blitz were fascinating, as well as often touching at one’s heartstrings. However, much of it seemed a bit repetitious and the characters did seem slightly one dimensional, although at times I did enjoy Emmy’s plucky nature.

Emmy Lake wanted to be a wartime journalist. She is young a, mere twenty three, and has her heart set on a goal. She acquirers a position at a run down magazine thinking she was on her was to the career of her dreams. However, that was not to be as she becomes a part time helper to Mrs Bird, a cantankerous woman, who writes a kind of advice column where one can only ask proper questions. Emmy ensnares herself into reading the letters and eventually becomes Mrs Bird. Of course the inevitable happens and as she, her best friend, Bunty, and William, Bunty’s fiance, encounter the ravages of war. A horrible event befalls the characters and Emmy blames herself for the tragedy. This was a weak point in the narrative as one could easily see that Emmy bore no responsibility for what occurred.

Be that as it may, and with the reservations I had about the connection that the author was able to make, I did like the book. I realize that this was a debut book for this author and I think as she gains experience, she will turn into an excellent historical fiction writer if she chooses to pursue this genre. This was definitely a lighthearted look at a very serious heavy topic. Recommended for those who like a book with likeable characters and is quick to read.

Thank you once again to my local library for having a copy of this amusing story available to this reader.    Historical Photos: ww2 blitz   Opinions on london blitz


A.J. Pearce  AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 women’s magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives and writes in the south of England.


Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton #chanelcleeton #berkley #cuba #romance @absltmom

Next Year in Havana  “To be in exile is to have the things you love most in the world – the air you breath, the earth you walk upon – taken from you. They exist on the other side of a wall – there and not – unaltered by time and circumstance, preserved in a perfect memory in a land of dreams.”

4 wonderfully amazing stars of Havana and Cuba and its people

I have always had fascination with the island of Cuba. I was a young girl during the Cuban missile crisis and although I was only a child, I did recognize the fear that was felt during those eleven days. It was all that was on TV and although my parents didn’t allow much TV watching, the messages that were given frightened the people and of course that fear transported itself onto the children. Only ninety miles away from the mainland of the US, with missiles pointed in our direction, it was the stuff of nightmares.

With all this in mind, I was quite anxious to tackle this book. I was not disappointed as it gave a fine look into the people who formerly lived and still live in Cuba during the escalation of tensions during the Baptista reign that led up to the takeover by Castro. This books follows the lives of two women, the men they loved, the environment created by conflict, and the struggles that took them away from their beloved Cuba, and finally back to it years later. Elisa, living in Cuba, in the fifties, a wealthy young woman, witnessed the turmoil, the poverty, and the ways in which her family had escaped from the tragedy that occurred, escapes to Miami, going others who escaped from the conflict that was ensuing. Marisol, granddaughter of Elisa, fueled by a desire to bring her grandmother’s ashes back to Cuba, returns to a land that had been run by the dictator, Castro. She witnesses the land that her grandmother and others so loved and hoped one day to return to. She also finds out some secrets her grandmother held and those secrets make a huge impact on her life. These two women were decades apart and yet, their stories and life ran parallel to the land they loved and the men they fell in love with.

Both women meet men whom they fall in love with. While Elisa’s  love is destined to be left on the island when she and her family leave, Marisol’s seems to be able to flourish baring the problems which many experienced trying to escape the dictatorship of Castro even after his death.

Learning a lot about the Cuban people and their love of their country, as well as the lack of freedom in their lives, this book enabled me to see well how freedom is a gift, a prize given to us, not ever to be taken for granted. I recommend this book to those who love an emotional story filled with a background of history and tradition, while also wishing all Cuban Americans their dream that next year in Havana becomes a reality.

Thank you once again to my local library which always has a plethora of great books to read.

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

I am Fidel Castro and we have come to liberate Cuba. - Fidel Castro

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica #marykubica #harlequinhanoversquarepress #insomnia #infertility #netgalley @absltmom

In this well written drama, Mary Kubica confronts two issues that have plagued women, that of infertility and that of insomnia. Statistics say that 12.1% of women suffer with infertility problems while 6.7% are actually infertile. Sixty million people suffer from some level of sleep disorder. While there is medical treatment for infertility, it can cost in upwards of one hundred thousand dollars. Insurance will cover some of the costs but most insurances have a maximum amount that they will cover. For women who so want a child, and will try anything to conceive, they and their partner encounter an enormous amount of debt trying to become pregnant.

In the book   When the Lights Go Out,  Ms Kubica introduces us to Eden, a young girl happily married to her spouse who decide to have a child. However, they experience much difficulty and explore all options, acquiring massive debt and eventually wrecking their marriage. Years later, Eden’s daughter, Jessie Sloane, confronts her own problems. She is an insomniac, her mother is dying of cancer, and after Eden’s death, Jessie needs to find out about herself. She tries to enroll in college but then finds out her social security number belonged to a three year old child who had died. Jessie embarks on a mission to find out who she is, but her insomnia plagues her, opening her up to chronic sleeplessness, memory issues, and hallucinations. She is on a road to paranoia.

Told in two concurrent voices, that of Eden’s and Jessie, this story confronts the issue of family love, the overwhelming desire for a child, and finding oneself among the chaos of life and its many problems. It is a sensitive story, one that is written about so well, by the author. At times, the two unreliable narrators of this story relate things that seem murky and at times some of the details are slightly unrealistic. However, I do recommend this book as a worthwhile read and one many will enjoy as you ponder the issues these two women faced.

Thank you to Mary Kubica, Herlequin-Hanover Square Press and NetGalley for providing an ARC of this thought-provoking novel.

Thank you also to the Traveling Sisters group on Goodreads who read along with me. We had quite a discussion about this book and as always, it made the story ever more intriguing.

Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, including THE GOOD GIRL. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children.

Visit Mary at

A Unique Pain » light breaks forth

The Astronaut’s Son by Tom Seigel #tomseigel #woodhullpress #moonlanding #neilarmstrong #netgalley @absltmom

Thirty-five years ago, Neil Armstrong placed his foot down on the surface of the moon saying the words that history has passed down to us “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a tremendous achievement for America in the race for space that started years before. Brought about by brilliant scientist, people of courage, ability, and intellect, this achievement set America in the premier position in space exploration. However, there are some who believe that this was all fake, a fraud set up by the government, one pulled off flawlessly having the world believe it veracity. 

The Astronaut's Son  Jonathan Stein is a successful owner of a private aerospace company. He is about to accomplish a dream, a dream that has father once had but was unfulfilled by his untimely death. That dream was to go to the moon. As Johnathan prepares for his journey, troubles appear, a possible heart issue, and then the hypothetical revelation that his father had not died naturally but from a malevolent cover up posted by an online theorist.

As Jonathan investigates further and tries to make contact with the reclusive Neil Armstrong, the clues keep piling up. Investigating, he sees quite a perverse connection to the Nazi scientists who were working at NASA and brings into focus the anti Semite view that the agency seemed to foster. He digs deeper becoming an obsessive investigator into his father’s untimely demise. Could this ultimately been a plan carried out to deny Stein’s father a path to glory? Was his Jewishness the key to his death? What if anything did Armstrong have to do with this? During his life, Jonathan had tried numerous times to make contact with Armstrong and yet this man, the man who would one day walk upon the surface of the moon, remains to this very day, a man mysterious and private.

This was an intriguing story, made more so over the controversy surrounding the upcoming movie based on this feat. It was a fascinating thriller that made one wonder, anxious to read and find along with Jonathan the truth. This book’s approach was fascinating, considering the fact that there was actually Nazi scientists who worked at NASA. Recommended to those who like a well done literary thriller.

This book is to be published on September 18, 2018

Thank you to Tom Seigel, Woodhull Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book. It was quite a riveting read.

Tom Seigel Tom Seigel has served as both Deputy Chief and Chief of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force in Brooklyn, prosecuting members and associates of La Cosa Nostra. After twenty years as a litigator, Tom earned an MFA in fiction writing. The Astronaut’s Son is his debut novel. See more at



Returning by Yael Shahar #yaelshahar #kasvapressllc #theholocaut #auschwitz #survivor #netgalley @absltmom

God must have been on leave during the Holocaust. (Simon Wiesenthal)

This was one of the most significant memoirs that I have ever read. It transcends the words written to put you, the reader, into the heart, mind, and soul of Alex, a man destined to survive the unendurable, to lack the ability to forgive himself, and to look for help through the religion that seemed to have abandoned him. This is a story of Alex, a man who will tell you his story, tell you his unbearable pain, and find in himself the way to see himself as a survivor no matter how the Nazis tried to take his very soul. This is the man of

It is so very hard for one to imagine being a survivor, being the one person who came through while millions of others perished. One bears the guilt, the knowledge of events so horrendous that reading of them turns one’s heart and mind towards revulsion over the fact that men and women did this to other men and women simply to follow an ideology that was racist in its most heinous degree. We have to keep reminding ourselves that what Alex relates eventually, through the help of a Jewish teacher, is not some bizarre piece of fiction, it was reality. It was Alex’s reality and his reality is the fact that each and everyday, Alex lived every second in a nightmare world worse than any that could be conceived by anyone.
This was a story of Alex’s search for forgiveness. He was a part of the Sonderkommando, forced to work in the most abhorrent condition, that of watching his fellow Jews, men, women, children, and infants condemned to the gas chambers. Hearing their screams, cleaning up the chamber after the destruction of the gas, Alex witnessed daily the role of evil that men succumbed to. He saw cruelty that was unimaginable, death that was inevitable, and life that was so devalued wondering where in this hell was God? How could God have let this carnage happen?
Alex loses everything, family, love, self respect, and the will to find God in his survival. He consoled himself for a time with the concept that he was alive to tell the story, to relate the atrocities, to be a bearer of the souls that were extinguished. However, for Alex and those like him, their survival took a horrendous toil. How could he possibly find his way once again in the world after the way he lived and what he bore witness to at seventeen years old during his time at Auschwitz?
“The fact that good people can be forced to do wrong doesn’t make them less good. But it also doesn’t make the wrong less wrong.”
It was an extremely difficult story to read, oftentimes requiring me to put aside the story as I thought of the heinousness of what Alex related. I can never understand how we, who consider ourselves members of the human could ever have let this happen. This continues to be is unfathomable, that ability to do unto others what was done to these people.
I recommend this memoir most highly. Reading this memoir is a journey through the hell that meet Alex and others everyday. It is a reminder to all that barbarity, wickedness, and monstrosities existed and still do to this very day.
Thank you to Yael Shofar, who has written a story that was passionately related, yet agonizing to read. Thank you also to Kasva Press LLC, and NetGalley for a copy of this emotionally heartrending story.
“It’s true that the hatred is still there. But it doesn’t change anything. Our obligations are the same—to live and sanctify all life with our own. To participate in the world the best we know how, leaving it a better place than we found it. To raise families and teach our children to value life. What more can we do? Should we refuse to live because of the threat of death hanging over us? We’ve always been under sentence of death. Every generation that lives out its days in peace is a victory. Every day we live is a victory.”
  After an adventurous and unattributable career in security and intelligence, Yael Shahar now divides her time between writing about Jewish philosophy and learning Talmud with anyone who will sit still long enough.

A dynamic and sought-after public speaker, Yael has lectured worldwide on subjects related to non-conventional and techno-terrorism, threat assessment, and asymmetric conflict. Her research into the internet as an enabler of networked political and social change led her to a deeper study of Jewish society over the ages. She is currently working on her next book, a whimsical dip into the Sea of Talmud with her one-eyed cat as a study partner.