Razorblade Tears @blacklionking73 @Flatironbooks @JanBelisle @absltmom

I posted the incorrect picture of the author. Many apologies to S A Cosby!

yaya_reads (Marialyce)

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Jan’s review

Ike is a black ex-con who is on the straight and narrow path, living respectably as the owner of a landscaping business. Buddy Lee is white, a racist ex-con who seeks escape in the bottle.

They have little in common except as fathers to their gay sons, Derek and Isaiah, who were married. Their sons were viciously murdered, execution style, leaving behind their 3-year-old daughter Arianna.

When the case grows cold, Ike and Buddy Lee band together to seek vengeance for their sons’ murder. It’s too late to atone for their homophobia and their failures as fathers, but they can avenge their sons’ deaths.

As they travel a path to learn what happened to their sons, they both embark on a journey of introspection and inner growth. They have many discussions about racism, sexuality, prejudice and regrets for the past. Witty dialogue and pithy one-liners balance the heavy…

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Razorblade Tears @blacklionking73 @Flatironbooks @JanBelisle @absltmom

Book Cover

Jan’s review

Ike is a black ex-con who is on the straight and narrow path, living respectably as the owner of a landscaping business. Buddy Lee is white, a racist ex-con who seeks escape in the bottle. 

They have little in common except as fathers to their gay sons, Derek and Isaiah, who were married. Their sons were viciously murdered, execution style, leaving behind their 3-year-old daughter Arianna. 

When the case grows cold, Ike and Buddy Lee band together to seek vengeance for their sons’ murder. It’s too late to atone for their homophobia and their failures as fathers, but they can avenge their sons’ deaths. 

As they travel a path to learn what happened to their sons, they both embark on a journey of introspection and inner growth. They have many discussions about racism, sexuality, prejudice and regrets for the past. Witty dialogue and pithy one-liners balance the heavy themes.

You will need a strong stomach for this one. The violence is graphic, often sickeningly so, and the body count is high. The  conversations between Buddy and Ike sometimes sound like a “woke” monologue, and many of the characters are stereotypical, but I appreciated that the author tackled prejudice and LGBQT themes in such a unique way. I loved Ike and Buddy Lee’s redemptive  journey from prejudice to love. Ike and Buddy Lee are anti-heroes whose methods can’t be condoned, but whose hearts are in the right places. Finally. 

*This was a buddy read with Marialyce, and while we both enjoyed the book we both viewed the telling of the story differently. Do check out her review! 

*The audiobook was flawlessly narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.

*I received a digital audio for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own. 

Marialyce’s review

It’s hard to go to a place where our senses are not bombarded with violent images. We find it in our movies, our games, our books, and in our lives on a daily basis.

In the book, Razorblade Tears, there is much violence. It’s an integral part of the story as two fathers brought together because of the murder of their sons are on a mission to find the people responsible. The sons, Issiah and Dereck, one black the other white are married to one another. The fathers, Ike and Buddy Lee, vow to find the killer/killers and vow to being their own type of justice to the people who so viciously murdered their sons. Both of these men know how to be killers themselves as they both had served time and were no neophytes in the world, they were willing to enter.

The themes of this book dealt with the learning curve the men went through, with initially no acceptance of their sons’ sexual choices. It also showed the dichotomy of one man, Ike, seeming to grow out of the environment that put him into prison to a successful business owner. The other father, Buddy Lee, didn’t follow the same trajectory. He crashed and burned so many times, become a drunk living in a rundown trailer. Some might refer to him as white trailer trash. They were people who never would have foreseen a union and friendship form between them and yet given the mission they are on, they found unity in their strength.

There is an enormous amount of violence, and the author does revel in its depiction. He also inserts much of the topics of today, homosexuality, transgenderism, and race. It is a sharp look at these topics and the writing he placed upon the pages of this book is shattering, gritty, and in your face. His book is a definite figurative punch to the gut.  I found I could just take so much and needed to put it aside for a while.

I have read the author’s Blacktop Wasteland which was powerful but this one often made me cringe at times with the amount of violence portrayed.

I did think it was of a high caliber because of the amazing writing, but can see why this book might not be for everyone. However, it is definitely a book of forgiveness, acceptance, and redemption.

This author is definitely one I would have on my must read list and do recommend this story most highly.

and here’s the author:

S. A. Cosby

S. A. Cosby is an Anthony Award-winning writer from southeastern Virginia. His the bestselling author of Blacktop Wasteland, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist, as well as Brotherhood of the Blade and My Darkest Prayer. When not writing, he is an avid hiker and chess player.

Golden Boy: A Murder Among the Manhattan Elite @hove99 @StMartinsPress #truecrime #mentalillness @JanBelisle @absltmom

Happy Publishing Day to….

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Jan and I were totally moved and involved in this tragic yet beautifully written story of a young man who seemed to have it all! Strong recommendations from the both of us to read this one!

Jan’s review

Tommy, with his movie-star good looks, lived a privileged life as a “Golden Boy” from a wealthy prominent family. He was afforded every possible opportunity for success, but inside his head, something went terribly awry. Crippling anxiety and paranoia took hold, along with irrational fears of his father and some of his classmates. He suffered from social anxiety and contamination fears consumed him. He believed friends were trying to steal his soul, and he had developed a set of rituals to protect himself. He had increasing difficulty in maintaining relationships and was known to be irrational and emotionally volatile.

Mental illness ran in the family, and Tommy’s parents were very concerned about his mental deterioration. They scheduled evaluations and treatments by multiple psychiatrists, none of whom agreed on a firm diagnosis, yet prescribed a laundry list of medications. At one time or another he was diagnosed as having OCD, anxiety disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and bipolar disease, among others. In response to abuses of the past, it is very difficult to commit an adult to a mental institution, even when the person clearly is very disturbed.  As an adult, his parents had no legal sway over him.  

“It’s bad enough having a mentally ill child on your hands,” explained Shelley. “It is worse to have an angry mentally ill child.”  The parents found themselves trying their best to support him in his endeavors, while attempting to keep his mental illness at bay.  Was he a privileged, entitled spoiled young man? Or was he severely mentally ill?  Sometimes I’m sure it was difficult for others to see the difference.

Despite multiple psychiatric evaluations and bizarre behavior in the courtroom he was deemed fit for trial, and much of the latter part of the book covers the courtroom trial. His mother, Shelley, stood by his side, never wavering that Tommy was mentally ill and needed help.

“Had our family had access to the kind of care for Tommy that he needed, this horror story would never have happened. (Shelly Gilbert, Tommy’s mother).

As an aside, I have personally seen the horrors of a family destroyed by an adult child with mental illness who was failed by the system and have enormous empathy for families who are suffering.

If a family such as the Gilbert’s, who had the money and access to the best medical care in the world, was unable to help their son, then what hope do any of us have? More than a simple true crime drama, this is an indictment on the current state of mental health care, as well as a thought-provoking story that highlights the cracks in our justice system.  

The author writes compellingly and with clarity, never inserting himself or his opinion into the story. I closed the cover of the book with a feeling of sadness for all involved. There are no winners here.

It was so clear that he needed help and the system failed him. To me, it’s inhumane and unconscionable, and it led to a tragic result that didn’t help anybody. We never gave him a chance.”~ Alex Spiro, attorney for Tommy Gilbert, Jr

*I received a copy of the book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

*This was an unintentional buddy read with my friend and reading buddy Marialyce. On her recommendation, I started it as she was finishing it, and we had many thought-provoking and fascinating discussions. This would make an excellent book club selection.

Marialyce’s review

Life is good for many, but it was especially good for Tommy Gilbert. Born into a family of wealth and prestige, he was educated in the best of schools, was able to enjoy his parents’ multiple residences in affluent areas, and seemed to have the world at his command. Added to all of that was the fact that Tommy was intensely handsome, a blond blue eyed Adonis. Yet something was wrong with Tommy.

His various oddities included thinking things and some people were contaminated, having the intense feeling that others were out to get him, and seeming to lack social graces. All of these personalities started to appear in his later teenage years. Tommy started a downward spiral into mental illness what some of his doctors described as psychosis and probably schizophrenia.

Seeing over the years a plethora of doctors, Tommy floundered refusing to take medication, being enabled by his parents for his lack of finding a job after graduating from Princeton and developing an overwhelmingly hatred of his father, Thomas Gilbert, Sr. The last of these traits led Tommy eventually to murdering his father, shooting him at point blank range in his parents’ apartment in Manhattan.

Because of the social strata his family traveled within, the case became one of noteworthy proportions. Tommy’s mother stayed a staunch supporter of her son, yet years of what seemed like turning a somewhat cloudy eye to her child’s failings, made for an interesting piece of what entitlement can do.

Tommy exhibited many very troubling incidents before his final act of murder, and the author documents them all plus Tommy’s interactions with family, friends, and women.

This book encourages lots of thoughts about the state of mental health in this country, including the laws that can’t force anyone into mental facilities unless they agree to it. It also focuses well on the question of what constitutes mental competency in a courtroom trial.

It’s a sad story where there are no winners, where by the end we are not quite sure that justice has been served, and what we wonder if anything could have saved Tommy.

Definitely a strong recommendation for well done, clear, intriguing, and and concise story.
Thanks to John Glatt, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this fascinating true crime story due out July 20, 2021

and here’s the author:

John Glatt

English-born John Glatt is the author of Golden Boy Lost and Found, Secrets in the Cellar, Playing with Fire, and many other bestselling books of true crime. He has more than 30 years of experience as an investigative journalist in England and America. Glatt left school at 16 and worked a variety of jobs—including tea boy and messenger—before joining a small weekly newspaper. He freelanced at several English newspapers, then in 1981 moved to New York, where he joined the staff for News Limited and freelanced for publications including Newsweek and the New York Post. His first book, a biography of Bill Graham, was published in 1981, and he published For I Have Sinned, his first book of true crime, in 1998. He has appeared on television and radio programs all over the world, including ABC- 20/20Dateline NBC, Fox News, Current Affair, BBC World, and A&E Biography. He and his wife Gail divide their time between New York City, the Catskill Mountains and London.

Tommy Gilbert and his father, Thomas, Senior
The Gilberts

Survive the Night @riley_sager @DuttonBooks #mysterythriller #suspense @JanBelisle @absltmom

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Jan and I enjoyed ourselves wanting to throttle Charlie a few times, but overall, we did applaud her eventual bravado. We both had to admit that Riley Sager pulled a really brilliant trick out if his hat, and had a saying good job there Riley. Even our master detective skills didn’t see that one coming!

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Jan’s review

If you are in the mood for an homage to campy B-movie thrillers where the pages practically turn themselves, then this is the book for you.

A serial murderer, dubbed The Campus Killer, is still on the loose, and his latest victim was Charlie’s best friend, Maddy. Charlie (named for a Hitchcock heroine) is too guilt and grief-stricken to stay in school, and decides to visit her grandmother. She accepts a ride to Ohio with Josh, a complete stranger. While a murderer is on loose. This is Big Mistake #1.  One of many made by Charlie, but think of a horror movie where you cover your eyes and yell at the heroine and you get the idea. Stupid maybe, but fun nonetheless.

The trip is a 6-hour drive at night along long empty stretches of road and before long Charlie finds inconsistencies in Josh’s story and begins to not only doubt who he really is, but suspect he is the Campus Killer. The problem? Charlie often lives in a fantasy world where she zones out and sees old movies playing in her mind. So, who is the unreliable narrator? Charlie or Josh – or both? The author keeps us guessing as Charlie debates her next move and finds herself in more than a few binds and missed opportunities for escape.

Trapped in a car with a possible murderer, Charlie has nowhere to go and no way to call for help.  I loved the pre-cellphone/internet early 90s vibe, where Charlie has to become a bad-ass and use skills she didn’t know she possessed in order to survive the night. I also loved the nod to all the great movies and music of the past. 

This was a buddy read with Marialyce, and we both had fun playing armchair detective, even though we failed once again. Set your critical hat aside and just go along for the ride with Charlie and Josh. The motives of one of the characters was unconvincing and the final reveal of the killer was a stretch, but as an homage, I didn’t take it too seriously.  The epilogue was perfection, a rarity! There is a cinematic feel to the book that would make a terrific movie. 

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Marialyce’s review

If you want to meet possibly the most foolish protagonist ever, then you must read Survive The Night, by Riley Sager. This was one of those books where one wants to jump into the page and slap this character silly for the amount of stupidity, she displays in her choices.


Charlie Jordan is in a bad state, having lost her roommate best friend, Maddy, to a serial killer as well as her parents previously in a tragic accident. Granted she wants to escape the very place where the serial killer has been striking, aka, The Campus Killer. So, without a thought seeming to flow in her head, Charlie accepts a ride out of one hell into another.


Josh Baxter, is a young man looking to share a ride to Ohio and he finds Charlie a willing passenger. As the journey continues, we learn more about both Charlie, a film buff who often inserts herself into the movies she has seen, often drifting away into a state of “nirvana” and Josh, who seems a bit odd. Charlie accepts him until things start to pile up on so called Josh and then the game of wits ensues.. The great awakening happens when Josh’s a wallet falls into her lap on the journey and she learns that Josh isn’t really Josh.

It all a game of cat and mouse and poor Charlie finds herself trapped with a cunning cat who she has pegged as “The Campus Killer”. With its share of twists and turns, things turn around in the “what’s happening” lottery and Mr Sager succeeds, as always, in pulling a few surprises out of his bag of tricks. Charlie is manipulated by many things, but she is constantly figuring and plotting to see that Josh gets his just deserts. After making the dumbest moves imaginable, Charlie starts to turn it around to become one smart cookie.  The question is will Charlie turn into victim number five of this killer or can her escapes into movie land help her to reach her final destination?


I had a hard time initially getting over the fact that Charlie made such a poor choices and carried so much guilt that it interfered with good judgement. Then again, we all do make stupid choices with the hope that we learn from them. Hopefully, Charlie stays alive long enough to learn from hers.


This was a fine story one that neatly tied up everything at the end, but once again the reader needed a bit of taping into the “unbelievable” factor. Took me a bit of time to get into the Sager groove with this story. However, I did and wow did it hit me right between my “Nancy Drew” eyes!

and here’s the author:

Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries.

Riley’s next three books, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His upcoming thriller SURVIVE THE NIGHT will be published this summer.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

BLOG TOUR: Those I Have Lost @sharon_mass @bookouture #blogtour #WW 2 #Ceylon #Srilanka @absltmom

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My review

The tragedy of loss is once again written of in the book, Those I Have Lost. The time is the 1940’s where we encounter Rosie, a young girl living in India, who has just lost her beloved mother. As much as her father loves her, he is unable to care for Rosie and when her mother’s wishes are revealed., Rosie is sent to her mother’s best friend, Silvia, to live in Sri Lanka. Th family also has two boys and for a time Rosie lives an idyllic life. However, the time of war is drawing close.

Rosie’s life intertwines with those of the boys, Victor and Andrew, the family who loves her, and the house staff, befriending a young native girl, Usha. It is just past the time of the Raj and the attitudes of the remaining British is one that looks askance towards the natives. All interactions between them are frowned upon and the thought of romance is forbidden. As the war in the Pacific drifts closer to home, the years have gone by and the boys have grown. Eventually, they all go off and join the service, Victor in the air force, while Andrew goes to practice medicine onboard a ship.

Tragedy occurs and Rosie does all she can to cope when a young man brought home on leave by one of the boys, comes across her path, and the lure of romance and love beckons. Rosie is besotted by a chance encounter and as she grows into maturity she once again learns about love and loss.

I truly enjoyed this book as the author gave us such vivid pictures of the country, the attitudes of the British, and the characters. Each place was lovingly described with its lush beautiful scenery. Each character was equally flushed out and their personalities were understood, be they good or bad. The mixture of the times and the war in the Pacific was one I so relished learning about. It made me reflect on the fact that the war was felt in so many other places that I knew little about but the cruelty of war is always apparent no matter where one comes from.

Truly enjoyable and truly one I would recommend to those who enjoy war stories and romance flawlessly told, in a place where war could destroy what seemed like a paradise on earth.

Thank you to Sharon Mass for creating this gorgeous story, Bookouture, and NetGalley for a copy of this book due out July 9, 2021.

and here’s the author:

Sharon Maas

Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1951, and a sense of adventure has followed her around the world. In 1971 she spent a year backpacking around South America, followed by a few months with pioneering friends in the Guyana rainforest, followed by an overland trip to India, followed by a year in a Hindu Ashram.

She settled in Germany where she married, studied, worked, and raised children.

Officially retired, she continues to write from her new home in Ireland.

Her first novel was published by HarperCollins in 1999, followed by two more in 2001 and 2002. At present she has 10 published works with the digital publisher Bookouture.

She has one self-published work, a retelling of the magnificent Indian epic Mahabharata: a project of love which took her over 30 years to “get right”, written under the pen name S. Aruna.

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My Stop On The Blog Tour For: America’s Promise: An emotional and heart-wrenching novel about the American Revolutionary War (America’s Daughter Trilogy Book 3) by Celeste De Blasis @bookouture #blogtour @absltmom

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My review

In this the third and final installment of Celeste De Blasis series, America’s Daughter, we once again witness the tragedy of war. However, this war does come to an end and it’s time for this fledgling nation to sprout its wings and try to fly.

Addie and he twin brother are back, and as the soldiers celebrate their shocking victory over the most powerful nation, at that time, we watch as each character tries to regain a life. There of course are many tragedies, many families split part by their allegiances, and of course many who are grateful that their loved ones are returning home. Many of the Loyalists are returning to England, while some to the Caribbean and to Canada. Abbie and Ad’s half-brother, Darius, is leaving America and wondering where he will fit in. Many of those who stay realize that they will never see people they cared for again.

Meanwhile Addie pregnant by a dark-haired Scottish soldier, Ian, returns home to her aunts’ home in Virginia. She loves her soldier, but fears because not only is he a soldier of the enemy but also, she is now a fallen woman. She is happily welcomed into her aunts’ home and gives birth to a daughter. Will she ever see Ian again, will he ever meet his daughter she wonders?

As the time after the war, continues, there is much agitation from the soldiers. They haven’t been paid, their clothes are ragged, and they are starving. These are intrepid men and women who gave so much for the freedom they so desired.

George Washington is exhausted. He and his wife, Martha, want nothing more than to return to their home in Mt Vernon, but the staunch and brave Washington will not desert the people who served him so well. So much was asked of this man, and the winning of the war and the country’s future seemed to rest on his most capable shoulders. He was admired and loved by the people and Ms De Blasis gives Washington his just deserts in the book.

The book was both interesting and made one appreciate so the sacrifices made by so many so we all could be free. As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, it is most imperative that we never forget the lives lost, the people who were maimed, and the utter sacrifices so many made so that we could be free.

Thank you to Bookouture, and Net Galley for a copy of not only this story, but also the two that preceded it due out July 8, 2021.

and here’s the author:

Celeste De Blasis

Millions of readers have fallen under the spell of the lush, enthralling and bestselling novels by Celeste De Blasis. Tales of adventure and romance set against the sweep of history—all are storytelling at its finest. After graduating from Pomona College, Celeste devoted her life to impeccable research and spellbinding writing. A native Californian, Celeste grew up on the historic Kemper Campbell Ranch in the Mojave Desert, where she lived until her death in 2001

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BLOG TOUR: The Shut-Away Sisters : A gripping and utterly heartbreaking historical novel by Suzanne Goldring @SuzanneGoldring @bookouture @absltmom

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My review

War and its after effects are not something we like to think about. Lives are lost, husbands, wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, fathers leaving families bereft and facing deprivation. Hearts are broken, and many struggle to find their way ahead. Perhaps among the many affected, we don’t give enough thought to those who are left behind, those whose lives are shattered, those who never recover.

In this story, The Shut-Away Sisters, the author tries to capture the loss and the very lives that survivors led. They were certainly not the ones that were planed, but the lives and choices they were given. Both Florrie, a girl of fifteen, and her sister Edith, were impacted by the war’s aftermath. Florrie was left the responsibility of her family, since she lost her beloved mother to the Spanish flu. Edith, went through her young life convinced that her Frank was coming home to her. She was besotted and traveled, over the years down the road to solitude and writing poetry, never really venturing into the world, more or less living in seclusion. Florrie willingly gave up her life for she was the daughter who recognized responsibility and the care that her family needed and ultimately required. Florrie was a selfless individual; one whose duty was to family always and forever.

The book introduces us to Kate, a great niece of Florrie and Edith’s. In her time frame, it is 1999, and she has just discovered her boyfriend, Dave, has been philandering, and realizes that she needs to get away from him and the flat she shared with him. Her father comes to her rescue as he is inheriting the house the sisters lived in and sends Kate for both solace and to get things in order. Kate finds many things that interest her and meets a man who is able to help her categorize the old items held within the house. As Kate gets deeper into the contents of the house and its belongings, her curiosity is peeked and she wants to know more about those reclusive aunts and their lives.

The story flips back and forth between 1999 and the beginning of World War 1, 1915. It is the one part of the book that is a tad disjointed. The rest of the book builds upon the admiration that the reader develops for Florrie and Kate. They were strong women who did what they had to even though it wasn’t always in their best interests. The story was interesting particularly in the beginning as there was more action that piqued one’s interest as to why the sisters remained as detached from the world as they did. This was a fine World War 1 story that made one think that the repercussions of war go on long after the last bullet is fired, the last cannon exploded, and the last person gives up their life in the cause of freedom.

Thank you to Suzanne Goldring, Bookouture, and NetGalley for a copy of the book due out June 29, 2021.

and here’s the author:

Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specializing in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She writes in a thatched cottage in Hampshire and a cottage by the sea in North Cornwall.

The Maidens @Alexmichaelides #celedon #mysterythriller @JanBelisle @absltmom

Bravo to the author in making this story one that brought out the Nancy Drew gene in Jan and I. However, our “Nancy Drew” gene was lacking this time as we hadn’t a clue to the surprising twist that occurred at the end. A definite recommended read for this one. What an intriguing story the author has woven!

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Jan’s review

Mixed reviews along with a terrible cover, kept my expectations low, but I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Mariana, a psychologist, is still in mourning over her husband’s untimely death. She’s truly all alone in the world, having also lost her parents and sister. Zoe, the niece she took in after her sister’s death, is all she has left.

When Zoe calls with news her friend’s murder, Mariana travels to Cambridge, where Zoe is a student. A professional colleague of Mariana’s draws her into the investigation, and it doesn’t take long for all suspicions to be focused on Professor Fosca, the creepy but magnetic professor who is beloved by his students and has a secret society comprised of seven girls, the “maidens”. Mariana is convinced of his guilt and will stop at nothing to prove it.

I enjoyed the mystery but what the author pulled off so well was the atmosphere of Cambridge, as well as Mariana’s character with her troubled past and struggles with grief. I enjoyed the nod to a Greek tragedy, but it wasn’t overdone and there’s no need to be well versed in Greek mythology (I’m not!).

Red herrings abound, and I turned my suspicious eye on nearly every character at different parts of the story. Even if the reveal wasn’t a complete surprise there was still a twist that took me completely by surprise This was a fun book to play armchair detective with Marialyce, my friend and reading buddy. I dare say we weren’t very good at it with this one, but it was fun speculating!

·      I received both the digital e-book as well as the audiobook via NetGalley. I ended up preferring the audio, narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith And Louise Brealey . 

Marialyce’s Review

I loved this book. I so enjoyed the feeling of being “in the dark” for the bulk of the story and while Alex Michaelides gave some very causal winks to the Greek mythology, you didn’t need to be a mythology scholar to see the analogies.

I do seem to be on a bit of a Greek mythology binge after having read Ariadne and Olympus Texas. I loved the way these authors were able to make the book seem reflective of the ancients, but was so current.

In The Maidens, we meet varied characters, with I the setting of Cambridge, a place that itself carries an abundance of legend and lore. The characters were all directly tied to this institution and the way the author describes the locations, one could imagine being present.

However, all of that aside, I so enjoyed being led down the path to believing Edward Fosca was close to be the devil incarnate holding sway over many beautiful, rich, talented women that you just HAD to believe he was the dastardly murderer. Mariana, step mother to the student Zoe is convinced that Dr Fosca is “the one” wantonly stabbing young girls twenty-two times and killing them.

Mariana becomes totally involved as her adopted daughter; Zoe, a student at Cambridge, and could be Fosca’s next victim. After losing her beloved husband, Sebastian, Mariana is at odds with herself, slightly off kilter, and missing him with such an intense longing. This situation has thrown her into turmoil and she wishes Sebastian was there as a helpmate but alas he is gone but never forgotten.

Hunting, investigating, becoming deeply involved, Mariana is onto Fosca, or so she thinks. The mystery continues as another young woman is murdered and Mariana is hot on the trail. Is Fosca the one who is weaving this rite of murder or is there something else going on? As Fosca continues with his Secret rites, we witness the total power he exerts of his “maidens”. The maidens have been enslaved by him and they treat him as a god, which is what he expects. Charismatic, charming, suave, and handsome he is the ideal male, but is he?

It is the males in this story that seem to hold sway, just like in ancient mythology, the men were the powerful gods and rulers while women were their subservient.

How this all churns out is a mystical, magical arena of good versus evil, of sane versus deranged, and of deceit making a life thought to be lived irrelevant.

and here’s the author

Alex Michaelides

Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel and was the biggest-selling debut in the world in 2019. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and sold in a record-breaking forty-nine countries. Alex lives in London.

The Butterfly Garden by Sophie Anderson @Msophieanderson @bookouture #familysecrets #loss #renewal @absltmom

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My review

At times, many times in fact, a broken heart is split apart because of a secret and keeping that secret encompasses one’s life and the type of pain that never leaves one.

For Erin, a young woman tarnished in her small town because of her affair with a married man, as she returns to Cornwall she, for a time, flounders at her parents’ home. She knows she is the subject of much gossip and while her heart is breaking, she realizes that the married man she loves, a painter, is never going to leave his wife and family. Erin needs something to do, to occupy her mind which is troubled, she takes up with Maggie, a reclusive cantankerous older woman, who is also carrying a secret that has plagued her for over thirty years.

Erin decides to stay at Maggie’s even if the reception is quite cool initially. She decides she will assist Maggie is completing her novel, sure to be her last as Maggie is dying. She finds through Maggie’s writing that she has a son, Lucas, who left so many years before, cutting off all contact with Maggie and she with him. Erin develops and attachment to Maggie and as she witnesses Maggie’s decline, she promises to seek out Lucas and persuade him to see his mother one last time. Tracking Lucas through social media, she finds him living in Costa Rica, and as a promise to Maggie she travels there to speak to Lucas.

Lucas, himself bears a secret that shatters his life and while Erin cajoles and begs him to come to Cornwall, Lucas is adamantly against it. As Erin scurries home, she wonders will she be in time to bid her friend goodbye before she passes? Will she finally be privy to a secret that her own parents have held from her? Can family ever be forgiven hen the hurt that accompanies the secrets might never fully heal?

This emotional story underlines the fact that a family secret can be the driving force as to why loving relationships fall apart. There are many sad happenings in the story, which are both heart breaking and ever so tragic. The story is nicely woven between the events of Cornwall and the beaches and beauty of Costa Rico. …and of course, there are the butterflies which bind mother and son with invisible wings.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it to those who enjoy a family drama that can be realistic and well written.

Thank you to Sophie Anderson, Bookouture, and Netgalley for a copy of this story due out June 21, 2021.

and here’s the author:

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Sophie Anderson enjoyed a career in TV production in London before working with her husband to set up an online software business where she wrote the marketing content. But neither scratched that creative itch to tell a story, so she enrolled on a writing course and wrote her first novel The Butterfly Garden. She lives in Sussex with her husband, four children, a cocker spaniel and two cats.

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Ariadne @jennysaint @Flatironbooks #greekgods #women #mythology @absltmom

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My review

I have always been fascinated with the gods of both Greek and Roman legends. They supposedly had it all, from beauty and riches to the ability to toy with mere mortals, they seemed to relish their exalted position in the universe. I was happy to see that a number of authors are also exploring the way in which the gods are presented and the book Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, writes of the interactions of the gods and their mortals here on earth.

It’s truly a fascinating look at how the gods held dominion over the earth and did not well tolerate the humans who tried to go against their grand schemes, even if the human element suffered immeasurable loss. Ariadne was one caught up in the web as well as her sister, Phaedra, who are caught up in the web. When the young and charming prince of Athens, Theseus arrives in their father’s kingdom, he is on a mission, that to destroy the dreaded Minotaur, (brother to Ariadne and Phaedra), an eater of human flesh. The sisters fall under his spell and Ariadne falls in love with him. As tribute to the kingdom of Crete, twelve souls of Athens are required each year, to be offered to the Minotaur as blood sacrifice. Theseus is there to put an end to this.

To accomplish his task, he enlists the help of both Ariadne and Phaedra with consequences neither of the girls are aware of until it is too late. Left on an island, condemned to a certain death, Ariadne is saved by Dionysus, (another Olympian god), a man she falls in love with. Meanwhile back in Crete, Phaedra is carried away by Theseus, to be his wife unknowing of what really happened to her sister.

The girls well know that one does not attract the eyes of the gods without there being repercussions and the book is ever so adept at showing how women were under the thumb of both the divine and the human males they came in contact with.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book and as a debut book, I was very impressed. Once again using the background of Greek mythology, we see a scenario where women are downtrodden and kept under the rule of their male oppressors.

and here’ the author:

Jennifer Saint

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorshire, England, with her husband and two children.