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Review: The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

[ 1 ] November 26, 2014

the silent sister book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

When Riley MacPherson returns to her home town of New Bern, North Carolina after her father’s death she assumes it will only take a week or two to put her father’s affairs in order and sell her childhood home. However, as she meets with her father’s attorney for the reading of the will and begins the painful process of emptying his house, she discovers evidence and information that contradicts everything she believed about her family. At the center of the mysteries is the fact that her older sister, Lisa, whom Riley had always been told committed suicide when Riley was very young, might in fact be alive and living under a new identity. But this discovery brings up more questions than answers and as Riley sets out to unravel the mysteries surrounding her family she discovers the truth is something she could never have imagined.

Diane Chamberlain has become an author I search for whenever I go looking for an enjoyable book to read, one with complex characters and storylines unraveling to expose the mysteries hiding around every corner. The Silent Sister lives up to what I now expect from her excellent storytelling. I could not help but feel sorry for Riley as she continued to unravel the lies her life had been built on and protective of her as she had to deal with those around her using their knowledge of her family’s history for their own selfish reasons. Then there was her distant and angry brother, Danny, scarred from his own dealings with their family and his time serving in Iraq. For much of the novel it is hard to decide who is being honest with Riley and whom she can trust but once all the pieces fall into place I felt satisfied that Riley had learned the truth and would be able to move on with her life as it now stood.

Most of the novel is from Riley’s point of view but scattered throughout the middle is Lisa’s story, giving the reader a better understanding and justification for the events that took place. While I didn’t end up agreeing with all of Lisa’s actions by the last page I could understand her motives as well as the motives of her parents, giving a nice rounded feeling to the narrative. None of these characters are perfect and that is exactly what made them feel so real and relatable.

My only real issue with the story was the sporadic references to Riley’s recent breakup with her married boyfriend. I didn’t feel this had a place in the story and, while it doesn’t detract from it, it also doesn’t add any real depth or development to her character or her motivations. It just felt superfluous.

Diane Chamberlain is a prolific and much loved author and anyone who already enjoys her books will no doubt love this one as well. For those who haven’t discovered her yet this is a wonderful book to start with. Just be prepared to want to read all her other novels once you start!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Guest Post: Paul DeBlassie, author of The Unholy

[ 3 ] November 25, 2014

the unholy book coverToday, we’re shining the book spotlight on the psychological/paranormal novel, The Unholy thanks to Rebecca’s Writing Services. Paul DeBlassie is an International book awards winner and he shares his motivation to write about his experiences working with trauma survivors in a fiction novel rather than a self-help book.

by Paul DeBlassie

Writing The Unholy was motivated by my work treating survivors of the dark side of religion for over thirty years. The dark side of religion generates a shame-based spirituality, and when people experience the dark side of religion their unconscious minds are profoundly violated. Rather than writing a self-help book for people who have encountered the dark side of religion, I decided to write a novel because images and symbols in fiction affect the unconscious mind in ways that information in nonfiction does not; they move straight into the unconscious mind, while information in nonfiction self-help books stays on the level of the conscious mind. Only by accessing healing images and symbols at the level of the unconscious mind, such as through stories like The Unholy, do people who have been injured by the dark side of religion begin to heal. And as they heal, they are able to free themselves from the effects of a shame-based spirituality and instead embrace a soul-based spirituality.

The Unholy Excerpt

“Help me? Help yourself! Face what is yours to face,” Elizabeth hissed. She yanked the door open then forced it to slam behind her.

Claire stood still for a moment, feeling as if a tornado had swept through the room.

Elizabeth’s demand had left her shaken. She drew a deep breath, then went to her desk and picked up her tea, noticing her trembling hands.

Turning toward the window, Claire say a muscular orderly accompanying Elizabeth to the locked ward at the far end of the hospital compound. A flock of crows circled high overhead, seeming to follow the two receding figures. As they arrived at the outer doors of the locked unit, the orderly reached for his keys. The crows circled while the two crossed the threshold of the unit, Elizabeth suddenly pausing, turning and looking outside, her gaze riveted on the flock of birds.

All but two flew off, disappearing into the pinon-covered hills. The two that remained came to rest on the red brick wall adjacent to the locked unit, their black eyes boring into Elizabeth. She looked panicked then enraged and, shaking a finger at the creatures, yelled something. Her frantic gestures told Claire that she was screeching curses to ward off evil.

Claire took a step back from the window, from the impact of Elizabeth’s rage.

The orderly grabbed Elizabeth roughly by the arm and pulled her inside.

The crows waited, watched, and then flew away.

paul deblassie photoAbout Paul DeBlassie III

PAUL DeBLASSIE III, PhD, is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. A member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, he has for over thirty years treated survivors of the dark side of religion.

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Giveaway: Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler

[ 4 ] November 25, 2014

deadly odds book coverI have a copy of Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler to give away!

Open to US and Canada residents only

About the book

Bestselling author, Allen Wyler, (Dead End Deal, Deadly Errors, Dead Ringer, i) is back with a new breakout suspense thriller with a “techno edge”: Deadly Odds.

Twenty-three year old Arnold Gold is a Seattle-based odds-maker and local computer genius. Described as a “part-time hacker and full-time virgin” by his friends, the awkward young shut-in flies to Vegas to try and get lucky–in more ways than one. But his high stakes activity on the Net inadvertently thrusts him into a vortex of international terrorism.

Dark Net Hacking has resulted in murder, and now it will take every last bit of Arnold’s genius intellect and legendary hacking skill to stay one step ahead of the murderous terrorists, the FBI, the local cops and his lawyer. Gold’s only chance to save himself is to find a bomb hidden somewhere in Vegas, and somehow prevent the explosion that will turn Sin City into the scene of the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11.

Wyler’s wild new thriller is as horrifyingly plausible as it is darkly funny and enjoyable. Deadly Odds is not only a page-turner, it’s a terrific character-driven story about a young man who lives life through a computer and discovers its dark side. Edgy, twitchy and filled with enough tech savvy detail to keep both the techno-thriller and classic suspense fan enthralled, Deadly Odds is a new generation’s thrill ride.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth

[ 2 ] November 25, 2014

weirdo book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

Weirdo was a completely appropriate title for this book. The weirdo was supposed to be the main character, Corinne Woodrow, but I found the real weirdo to be the author of the book who thought the story made any sense at all and who made it at least 200 pages too long.

Corinne was convicted of the ritualistic murder of one of her classmates. Many years later, Sean Ward – former detective with the Metropolitan Police – reopens the case. He does not believe that Corinne acted alone. DNA testing showed that there was at least one other person at the scene and he is intent on proving her innocence. Corinne refuses to talk about the case and who may or may not have been there with her.

Weirdo jumps around different times and events so as to completely confuse you as to whether things are happening in real time or in the past. There are so many characters involved that it is almost impossible to keep track of who is currently fighting with who, what they are fighting about and the whole storyline altogether. Teenagers come with a lot of drama, but I honestly could not keep up with the antics in this story.

Typical of this sort of book, Sean Ward receives conflicting information from the police, classmates and everyone he talks to and he knows that they are holding information back from him, but can do nothing but try to find the truth between the cracks. Weirdo reads exactly like every TV crime series you can tune into without the “personalization” of the characters. Weirdo was half chaos and half a completely transparent storyline.

I would not recommend Weirdo to anyone who is not stuck somewhere with absolutely nothing to do except read this book. The climax of what really happened came so far into the book that it was almost the ending and it was the absolute most ridiculous event I’ve ever read. This book was nowhere near ready for publication and over half of it should have been cut completely out.

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Claire McKinneyPR, LLC. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: 50 Children by Steven Pressman

[ 2 ] November 24, 2014

50 children book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany is an unflinching and heart-stopping look into an unbelievable mission undertaken to make the seemingly impossible possible. Gil and Eleanor Kraus, a normal upper-class Jewish couple living in Philadelphia in 1939, ventured out of their comfortable existence into the terror of Nazi occupied Vienna and Berlin, pushing through every possible obstacle and danger put before them, to legally bring the largest group of children without their parents into an America who didn’t seem overly concerned with their dire plight. Because of their bravery and unselfishness these 50 children – and many of their family members who were able to obtain American visas after the children arrived in America – lived a full life while many others like them unable to escape the Nazi death machine that soon followed would not. This is an unbelievable story made all the more poignant because it is completely true.

While so many of us know the general history behind the Nazi’s plan to rid Europe of their Jewish population some might be surprised by the fact that, at least in 1939, Germany was allowing the Jewish people to leave Europe and the difficulty, sadly enough, was in finding a country that would allow them a place to escape to. I, for one, had no idea that there were strict immigration laws that restricted the number of individuals that could immigrate into the United States every year, that there was a large population of Americans with strong anti-Semitic leaning influencing those making the rules in government and that the government did very little to assist organizations and individuals working to rescue those being persecuted by Hitler and his regime. This was absolutely horrifying to me and really helped to underscore the hard work and determination that went into this astronomical project. The fact that Gil Kraus refused to back down under the weight of this task is beyond admirable.

50 Children is a fully encompassing portrait of not only the logistical and political hoops the participants went through but the emotional and physical toll it took on all parties involved. Mixed in with Krauses’ story is the story of many of the children as well, told from their perspective and detailing what their life was life before, during and after the rescue. I think reading their words as well as the side notes and extensive afterword regarding the fates of many of the children and those that assisted the Krauses during this journey really brought the hope, fear and sorrow home and made me feel for each of the people involved, some of which did not survive the Holocaust that would soon occur.

Steven Pressman, the writer of 50 Children, also wrote, directed and produced the documentary 50 Children for HBO. I was able to watch this documentary and if you are at all able to watch it after reading 50 Children I urge you to do so. Interviewing many of the survivors and well as the Krauses’ son and granddaughter the story is brought to life like only a documentary can do and I was struck to the core at the bravery of not only the Krauses but the parents of the children who they rescued. As the mother of a nine year old I cried hearing their story and seeing their pictures before me and could not even imagine how I would react to the situation if it was placed upon my shoulders.

50 Children is a must read for anyone who hungers for the truth of what happened in the early days of WWII and wants to read a true story of determination and survival against all odds. Highly recommended.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Christmas Toy Giveaway

[ 27 ] November 24, 2014

christmas toys

It’s my favorite time of the year and I’ve decided to play Santa once again (see the Christmas Book Giveaway here). I love nothing more than picking out gifts for kids so this giveaway will be all about them!

Here’s how this giveaway will work:

  • Comment on this post and tell me your child’s age (or grandchild, niece/nephew, etc.) and what type of toys they currently enjoy
  • Commenting will open up additional Rafflecopter entries – the more you enter, the higher your chances of winning
  • One lucky reader will receive a surprise package of 3 toys personally selected by me – just in time for Christmas!

Open to US residents only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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