Get it today Tuesday: You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley @OakleyColleen @BerkleyPub

Get it today!!! You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley is out today!!

Brenda’s review

You Were There Too explores love, committed, connections, chances, fate and what-ifs. It’s a beautiful love story, and the more I think about it in more ways than one.

Our main characters here married couple Mia and Harrison experience challenges due to the heartache they experience as a couple. Each of them also has their conflicts within themselves. Mia has a secret and she literally meets the man of her dreams who is not Harrison. The man from her dreams has been dreaming of her too. The story takes an interesting and unique turn as they take on a journey to research their dream connection.

This is a story that I felt different about after I finished it then as I was reading it. It’s heart-wrenching and shocking sad and at first, it was not the way I wanted it to go, but the more I think about it, I see how well it all together in the end. I highly recommend for anyone who loves a love story!

About the book from Goodreads

Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.

Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too.

Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?

Evocative, distressing, & absolutely heart-wrenching!

YOU WERE THERE TOO by COLLEEN OAKLEY is a moving, intense, emotional, and an original love story that was quite the emotive and beautiful book to read. I was immediately intrigued and sucked into the narrative and absolutely loved the mysterious dream aspect to the storyline which had a slight supernatural vibe to it.

The tale is original and fresh! Something that I have definitely never read before. I was totally invested and all in the first half of the story and then the spark fizzled out for me a little bit and never really caught again. There was this niggling that I had with one aspect of the storyline that never really sat well with me, ultimately affecting me and my thoughts towards this one.

The story takes quite the unexpected and shocking turn that I never seen coming and threw me for a loop. After thinking about it I think this definitely worked and was quite clever but unfortunately my mind was already made up. I don’t think I have ever been as stubborn or unforgiving as I was with this one.

COLLEEN OAKLEY delivers quite the intriguing, raw, compelling, evocative, and well-written read here that definitely touched me in a deeply profound way. I think if a book can produce so many different emotions from we whether that be from deep affection to ruffling my feathers a little bit then the author has definitely produced one heck of a story whether I fully enjoyed it or not.

I read this one with my lovely friend and fellow Traveling Sister, Lindsay! Thanks so much for reading and discussing this one with me.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Intriguing, calming, tender, warmth, love, and a fitting representation to storyline.
Title: Clever, relevant, intriguing, and an effective and fitting representation to storyline. Love this title!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, easy to follow, evocative, entertaining, engaging and readable.
Plot: Unforgettable, heartfelt, intriguing, distressing, maddening, compelling, immersive, shocking, thought-provoking, steadily-paced, unpredictable, and entertaining.
Ending: I’m speechless, somewhat shaken, and a little bit perturbed about that ending!
Overall: This book was an unusual and intense read for me and even though I go into all my books blind the direction that this book took was nothing at all like what I expected. Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing for kindly sending us a copy of this book!

Not to be Missed Monday: The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin, Tullan Holmqvist @teresasorkin @tullanh

The Woman in the Park was one of the best and most exciting books we read in 2019 and it’s one I suggest you not miss! Sarah is one of the most compelling and convincing characters I have read in a thriller!

We are so delighted to have Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist join us in our Behind the Pages Goodreads group for an author Q & A on January 9, 2020. I have set up some questions for them about this intense, complex and cleverly written story and their writing process.

Join in sharing the love with us. To join before or view the Q & A after Jan 9 you can find the thread here

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/20944425-q-a-spoiler-free-teresa-sorkin-tullan-holmqvist-authors-of-the-woma

About the book from Goodreads

When Manhattanite Sarah Rock meets a mysterious and handsome stranger in the park, she is drawn to him. Sarah wants to get away from her daily routine, her cheating husband and his crazy mistress, her frequent sessions with her heartless therapist, and her moody children.

But nothing is as it seems. Her life begins to unravel when a woman from the park goes missing and Sarah becomes the prime suspect in the woman’s disappearance. Her lover is nowhere to be found, her husband is suspicious of her, and her therapist is talking to the police.

With no one to trust, Sarah must face her inner demons and uncover the truth to prove her innocence. A thriller that questions what is real-with its shocking twists, secrets, and lies―The Woman in the Park will leave readers breathless.

From our Hot Diggity Dang and Holy Shooty ball’s review

“That was no walk in the park but a sprint right to that final reveal that had left me cheering for just how brilliantly written The Woman in the Park is.”
“Such an awesome and unexpected treasure of a book that was so darn entertaining and thrilling to read. I was immediately hooked and obsessed with what I was reading and couldn’t put this book down. It really consumed my thoughts and I loved how this book tapped into all of my emotions—which even got a little under my skin.”

Thank you Teresa Sorkin & Tullan Holmqvist for our signed copies. It’s going on our favorites shelve!!

Blog Tour – Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison #blogtour @HarlequinBooks @thrillerchick

Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison Blog Tour

Hello everyone and thank you so much for stopping by! Today is our stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Mystery/Thriller Blog Tour for Good Girls Lie by J. T. Ellison. We are so excited and it is our absolute pleasure to share our individual reviews with you. Thanks so much to Justine for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.

Today we are sharing Brenda’s & Norma’s review with you!

The Traveling Sisters ~ Brenda, Norma & Lindsay! xoxo

J. T. ELLISON – About the author

J. T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville’s premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.


Follow J. T. Ellison / Social Links

About the book

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

Brenda’s Review

Good Girls Lie but not here in this in this elite all-girls boarding school where honor is a code??? Well, appearance is everything, but things are not always as they appear. There are a few secrets hidden in the dark corner and behind closed doors in this school and not everyone seems to following that code.

Good Girls Lie is a simple and easy read with a little dark to it. With a story that centres around teens, I was a bit worried about the teen drama however I thought the drama was kept low here between the Goode girls. There is some cattiness, games, and competition here between them, but I thought just enough to create some conflict between them that added to the suspense and tension to the story.

The setting is interesting and I seemed to find myself drawn to stories where the setting is characters themselves. With this school, it also harbored some secrets here with our characters making it even more exciting.

The story does start off with a dark scene that is a little chilling to catch your attention and the mystery starts to form there. You don’t need too many detective skills here to pick up on the clues and figure out what is going on, making this a fun and easy read.

Norma’s Review

Menacing, edgy, & an engrossing page-turner!

GOOD GIRLS LIE by J.T. ELLISON is a riveting, spooky, dark, gritty, and twisty thriller that has quite the seductive and intriguing storyline. It opens up with a brutally chilling scene when one of the students is found dead and then it has us going back in time to learn the events of what happened leading up to this horrific tragedy. This is probably one of my favourite tactics, it definitely caught my attention, freaked me out a little bit and kept my interest piqued right to the very end.

J.T. ELLISON delivers a quick, clever, taut, well-written story here that has an absolutely fantastic creepy atmospheric setting to it that was both haunting and suspenseful. The Goode School is a prestigious all-girls boarding school that was a character all in itself that I was thoroughly entertained by. I loved all the spooky, claustrophobic, creepy, and gothic vibes that surrounded it.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was totally engaged the whole time I was reading this or surprised by the twists but there were definitely parts to the story that I found quite appealing and immersive. The way that the story was told through alternating perspectives was another tactic that definitely appealed to me.

I like to go in completely blind and see if I can figure out the direction and the storyline all by myself. Sometimes I must admit that there are a few books where I’ve been a few chapters in that I had no clue where the story was headed, needing to read the synopsis. I didn’t have a problem figuring this one out or knowing where it was headed. Even though I thought it was a little bit predictable, I wasn’t disappointed at all with the reveals.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: This cover immediately appealed and intrigued me and definitely enticed me to want to read this book. I think it is an extremely fitting representation to storyline.
Title: An intriguing, relevant, and totally effective representation to storyline. I loved how it played so fittingly into storyline. Goode girls don’t lie…hahaha we will see about that!!!
Writing/Prose: Easy to follow, intense, entertaining, suspenseful, magnetic, engaging and compulsively readable.
Plot: Dark, twisted, disturbing, atmospheric, creepy, interesting, fast-paced, twisty, and entertaining.
Ending: I wouldn’t say that the ending was all that surprising but the Epilogue was downright fantastic, exciting, and utterly creepy!
Overall: 3.5 Stars! I do love me some drama and angst in my thrillers and throw in lots of juicy secrets along with a spooky and eerie setting then I’m one happy camper! If that appeals to you as well then I think you are going to absolutely love this one!! Would recommend!

Thank you so much to Harlequin / MIRA for kindly sending us a copy of this book!

Harlequin Books were kind enough to allow us to share an excerpt of this fabulous book with all of you…..

1

THE HANGING

The girl’s body dangles from the tall iron gates guarding the school’s entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she’ll never see the achievement. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges. The last tendrils of dawn’s fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground. 

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty, wet hair, dark from the rains. 

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn’t even clear she attends the school, despite wearing The Goode School robes. 

But she does. 

The fingerprints will prove it. Of course, there are a few people who know exactly who is hanging from the school’s gates. Know who, and know why. But they will never tell. As word spreads of the apparent suicide, The Goode School’s all-female student body begin to gather, paying silent, terrified homage to their fallen compatriot. The gates are closed and locked—as they always are overnight—buttressed on either side by an ivy-covered, ten-foot-high, redbrick wall, but it tapers off into a knee-wall near the back entrance to the school parking lot, and so is escapable by foot. The girls of Goode silently filter out from the dorms, around the end of Old West Hall and Old East Hall to Front Street—the main street of Marchburg, the small Virginia town housing the elite prep school—and take up their positions in front of the gate in a wedge of crying, scared, worried young women who glance over shoulders looking for the one who is missing from their ranks. To reassure themselves this isn’t their friend, their sister, their roommate. 

Another girl joins them, but no one notices she comes from the opposite direction, from town. She was not behind the redbrick wall. 

Whispers rise from the small crowd, nothing loud enough to be overheard but forming a single question. 

Who is it? Who? 

A solitary siren pierces the morning air, the sound bleeding upward from the bottom of the hill, a rising crescendo. Someone has called the sheriff. 

Goode perches like a gargoyle above the city’s small downtown, huddles behind its ivy-covered brick wall. The campus is flanked by two blocks of restaurants, bars, and necessary shops. The school’s buildings are tied together with trolleys—enclosed glass-and-wood bridges that make it easy for the girls to move from building to building in climate-controlled comfort. It is quiet, dignified, isolated. As are the girls who attend the school; serious, studious. Good. Goode girls are always good. They go on to great things. 

The headmistress, or dean, as she prefers to call herself, Ford Julianne Westhaven, great-granddaughter several times removed from the founder of The Goode School, arrives in a flurry, her driver, Rumi, braking the family Bentley with a screech one hundred feet away from the gates. The crowd in the street blocks the car and, for a moment, the sight of the dangling girl. No one stops to think about why the dean might be off campus this early in the morning. Not yet, anyway. 

Dean Westhaven rushes out of the back of the dove-gray car and runs to the crowd, her face white, lips pressed firmly together, eyes roving. It is a look all the girls at Goode recognize and shrink from. 

The dean’s irritability is legendary, outweighed only by her kindness. It is said she alone approves every application to the school, that she chooses the Goode girls by hand for their intelligence, their character. Her say is final. Absolute. But for all her goodness, her compassion, her kindness, Dean Westhaven has a temper. 

She begins to gather the girls into groups, small knots of natural blondes and brunettes and redheads, no fantastical dye allowed. Some shiver in oversize school sweatshirts and running shorts, some are still in their pajamas. The dean is looking for the chick missing from her flock. She casts occasional glances over her shoulder at the grim scene behind her. She, too, is unsure of the identity of the body, or so it seems. Perhaps she simply doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth. 

The siren grows to an earsplitting shriek and dies midrange, a soprano newly castrated. The deputies from the sheriff’s office have arrived, the sheriff hot on their heels. Within moments, they cordon off the gates, move the students back, away, away. One approaches the body, cataloging; another begins taking discreet photographs, a macabre paparazzi. 

They speak to Dean Westhaven, who quietly, breathlessly, admits she hasn’t approached the body and has no idea who it might be. 

She is lying, though. She knows. Of course, she knows. It was inevitable. 

The sheriff, six sturdy feet of muscle and sinew, approaches the gate and takes a few shots with his iPhone. He reaches for the foot of the dead girl and slowly, slowly turns her around. 

The eerie morning silence is broken by the words, soft and gasping, murmurs moving sinuously through the crowd of girls, their feet shuffling in the morning chill, the fog’s tendrils disappearing from around the posts. 

They say her name, an unbroken chain of accusation and misery. 

Ash. 

Ash.

Ash.

2

THE LIES

There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet. My truth is your lie, and my lie is your truth, and there is a vast expanse between them. 

Take, for example, Ash Carlisle. 

Six feet tall, glowing skin, a sheaf of blond hair in a ponytail. She wears black jeans with rips in the knees and a loose greenand-white plaid button-down with white Adidas Stan Smiths; casual, efficient travel clothes. A waiter delivers a fresh cup of tea to her nest in the British Airways first-class lounge, and when she smiles her thanks, he nearly drops his tray—so pure and happy is that smile. The smile of an innocent. 

Or not so innocent? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Soon. 

She’s perfected that smile, by the way. Practiced it. Stood in the dingy bathroom of the flat on Broad Street and watched herself in the mirror, lips pulling back from her teeth over and over and over again until it becomes natural, until her eyes sparkle and deep dimples appear in her cheeks. It is a full-toothed smile, her teeth straight and blindingly white, and when combined with the china-blue eyes and naturally streaked blond hair, it is devastating. 

Isn’t this what a sociopath does? Work on their camouflage? What better disguise is there than an open, thankful, gracious smile? It’s an exceptionally dangerous tool, in the right hands. 

And how does a young sociopath end up flying first class, you might ask? You’ll be assuming her family comes from money, naturally, but let me assure you, this isn’t the case. Not at all. Not really. Not anymore. 

No, the dean of the school sent the ticket.

Why? 

Because Ash Carlisle leads a charmed life, and somehow managed to hoodwink the dean into not only paying her way but paying for her studies this first term, as well. A full scholarship, based on her exemplary intellect, prodigy piano playing, and sudden, extraordinary need. Such a shame she lost her parents so unexpectedly. 

Yes, Ash is smart. Smart and beautiful and talented, and capable of murder. Don’t think for a moment she’s not. Don’t let her fool you. 

Sipping the tea, she types and thinks, stops to chew on a nail, then reads it again. The essay she is obsessing over gained her access to the prestigious, elite school she is shipping off to. The challenges ahead—transferring to a new school, especially one as impossible to get into as The Goode School—frighten her, excite her, make her more determined than ever to get away from Oxford, from her past. 

A new life. A new beginning. A new chapter for Ash. 

But can you ever escape your past? 

Ash sets down the tea, and I can tell she is worrying again about fitting in. Marchburg, Virginia—population five hundred on a normal summer day, which expands to seven hundred once the students arrive for term—is a long way from Oxford, England. She worries about fitting in with the daughters of the DC elite—daughters of senators and congressmen and ambassadors and reporters and the just plain filthy rich. She can rely on her looks—she knows how pretty she is, isn’t vain about it, exactly, but knows she’s more than acceptable on the looks scale—and on her intelligence, her exceptional smarts. Some would say cunning, but I think this is a disservice to her. She’s both booksmart and street-smart, the rarest of combinations. Despite her concerns, if she sticks to the story, she will fit in with no issues. 

The only strike against her, of course, is me, but no one knows about me. 

No one can ever know about me.

Good Girls Lie

  • Author: J.T. Ellison
  • ISBN: 9780778330776
  • Publication Date: 12/30/19
  • Publisher: MIRA Books

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If you would like to read a copy of this book for yourself, it is available to order from the following retailers:

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Brenda’s review

I have a special interest in mental health and it’s one area of our health I am most sensitive to. Anorexia nervosa is a psychological disorder that I haven’t explored that much of or understand that well. I thought Yara Zgheib did such a great job taking us into the mind of our main character Anna as she reclaims her life in the life-threatening stage of anorexia.

I was deeply moved by this haunting, raw and honestly written story. I feared and rooted for Anna and the girls. I started to see how Anna viewed food and I could feel Anna’s anxiety and terror towards food.

The treatment at times seemed harsh and I became angry at their approach, then reminded myself just how terrifying anorexia is as it affects physical health as well, making it even more life-threatening. I felt a lot of the focus was more on the physical side of their health and would of like to see more into the psychological side of the disorder. It did get me thinking more about just how terrifying it is, though.

The girls at 17 Swann Street deeply moved me with the support and courage they had while supporting each other when faced with the anxiety and terror of eating those 6 meals a day. Yara Zgheib highlights this through her compassionate writing and complex characters and it warmed my heart. We also see the support and understanding of Anna’s husband, as well. I loved how I could see that yet still see just how terrified he was at losing the love of his life.

After reading this one, Yara Zgheib gave me so much to think about and left me wanting to learn more about this disorder. As heartbreaking this subject is, the story is also heartwarming and full of hope. I highly recommend it, especially if you have an interest in mental health.

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy @CeladonBooks

I am kicking off the new year here with our first review of the year for You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy, one of the most eye-opening, powerful and important books I have read in 2019. It’s an easy, fast read with a lot packed into it. This was a Traveling Sister group read and one of the most valuable discussions we have had. Pub date is January 7, 2020 and I can’t recommend this one enough!!

Brenda’s review

The World is just too noisy for me with everyone talking and no one listening so I jumped at the chance to read and discuss this one with some members of our group. We highlighted paragraph after paragraph and wanted to share how powerful each was for us. I now want to highlight all of them, but then you would be reading most of the book. lol We opened our minds to what we are missing and to the skills needed to be a good listener. We shared our own truths about listening and, in turn, learned something about ourselves and each other. We started to become more aware of our own listening skills and started practicing listening and we could see how satisfying it is to listen.

Kate Murphy starts with the core here as to why it matters we are listening with addressing that people get lonely from lack of listening. Not only from the distractions of our devices and social media influence but also with feeling lonely even with people because we are not practicing the skill of listening. She offers up some powerful, eye-opening and valuable information here and follows through with some suggestions that will make a difference. She offers up reasons we are not listening that I wasn’t aware of and the importance of freeing up our minds from distractions that are going on around us and in our minds. She shows us that listening is also gathering more from others than just the words said. In a positive way, she provokes some questions “Are we really connecting and contributing to others or just waiting for our turn to talk? “Does what others say matter to you and is it important that you see what they are saying?”

Kate Murphy also addresses when to make the call to stop listening when the world becomes too noisy and you just don’t have the capacity to listen to the noise or negativity. Life is just hard enough as it is.

I highly recommend reading this one! Let’s listen up, Friends and make a difference! It matters to the mental health crisis!

Lindsay’s review

Informative. Eye-opening. Thought-provoking.

This was a well researched, enlightening read that made me sit and ponder many points. I love books that make me think! The author presents her research in an easy, well organized manner with chapters breaking down her theories. I liked how the information was presented.

I found the beginning chapters more interesting than the latter chapters which felt a bit drawn out. However, there were countless ideas and theories presented throughout the book that I will keep with me long after I write this review.

I will end with a couple quotes that stood out for me (these are quotes from an Advanced Readers Copy which may change prior to publication):

“Hearing is passive. Listening is active.”

“Understanding is the goal of listening, and it takes effort.”

“To listen does not mean, or even imply, that you agree with someone. It simply means you accept the legitimacy of the other person’s point of view and that you might have something to learn from it.”

Debra’s review

This is an easily readable, enjoyable and thought-provoking book. I know some may look at the name and think “What? A book about listening or not listening. How can that be interesting?” Well, it is. Working in a field that is all about listening, I found that this book reinforced, most of what I already knew and had been taught in graduate school, but it was also an eye-opener for me in that I did not always utilize the skills I had been taught in my professional life in my personal life. People not only want to be heard but they need to be heard! Who doesn’t want a captive audience? That is why people may tell bartenders more about themselves than they tell those closest to them in their lives – because they have an active listener. Work, distractions, social media, technology, etc. all can get in the way of listening and lead to loneliness. Then there is silence – what a powerful tool that is. I enjoyed the sections about other cultures and how they view silence both professionally and personally.

There is a lot of food for thought in this book and lots to discuss. Hopefully, we will all come away as better listeners or at least become more aware of how we are listening to others. I enjoyed how this book was written. It does not come off as academic as some nonfiction books do. This is an easy book to read and I dare you not to pick up your highlighter while reading this book. There is a lot of passage that stood out for me and I found myself making note of them.

From Paige’s review

This is one of the most impactful books I have read all year. The message of true listening in You’re Not Listening serves to emphatically renovate the way we interact with each other. Kate Murphy’s words can revolutionize your conversations and relationships in a meaningful and powerful way. But, only if you listen.

There was so much that resonated with me, and I highlighted quite a lot. My favorite chapters were “Addicted to Distractions” about the endless distractions that interfere with meaningful social interactions, “Supporting, Not Shifting the Conversation” about how we often direct the attention away from the person talking and direct it towards ourselves, and “Improvisational Listening” about collaborating with others.

Thank you to Celadon Books for providing the Traveling Sisters in this group copies to read together!!