The Ultimate Revenge Novel and A Madhouse Gothic Thriller!

Fall is a fabulous time to snuggle down with your favorite blanket, furry sidekick, and frothy beverage. I happen to like my red velvet chair, my Havanese pooch Stevie Nicks, and a mug of hot matcha. I’m close to finishing my third novel 1 LAST BETRAYAL in the Angeline Porter Trilogy. Authors juggle many hats. Mine include teacher (of noir writing and plot twist classes and workshops), promoter (social media, newsletters, emails, author events–finally!. and advertisements), writing activist (networking, active member of four writing organizations, taking desperate phone calls, consultations about writing issues), and writer (watching webinars to increase my writing knowledge, working with my writing group affectionately known as the LitChix, writing and rewriting my novels and articles).

Of course, my favorite hat is writer. That’s why I started this gig. I’m loving the next novel and am writing a few of the last chapters. How do I take a break? Watching movies and streaming series of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime, with an occasional documentary.

The latest series I recommend are on Hulu:

“Only Murders in the Building” Comedy, Mystery

The British Series: “DCI Banks” Crime, Drama

The Australian Series: “City Homicide” Crime, Drama

The French/Swedish Series: “Midnight Sun” Thriller, Drama, Crime

I stay up about two hours after my husband goes to bed. When he goes to bed, he kisses me and says, “Enjoy your sex and death.”

I wonder sometimes if he ever worries when I pick up a knife or research poisons.

Oh, heck, it’s good to keep him on his toes.

Remember—Loving someone means never having to say, “Put down that meat cleaver.”

If you like dark humor, follow me on my FB author page. I often post dark humorous memes. For example, followers loved this one!


THE COLLECTIVE by Alison Gaylin

A Harrowing, Addictive, and Twisty Revenge Tale I Could Not Put Down

In Alison Gaylin’s thriller or what I call femme-noir, the author introduces us to Camille Gardner. Camille is still grieving the death of her fourteen-year-old daughter Emily who died five years before. The young man responsible for Emily’s death wins a humanitarian award, and at the ceremony, Camille loses it. She publicly accuses the Harris boy of Emily’s death. Camille is dragged out, and her breakdown makes the news and social media.

Enter—The Collective, a group on the dark web run by someone known only by her screen name .001. The Collective is known as Ağlayan Kaya, the weeping stone, and allows only women who have lost a loved one at the hands of another. Its mission is to exact justice on those rich enough or high enough in society to escape punishment. Camille is pulled into the group and to say anything more about the plot would spoil this harrowing, modern tale.

This is a revenge tale for the internet age. The Collective sets itself apart from other revenge tales because it starts with a sympathetic premise—justice—and follows a sympathetic main character. Wouldn’t we all like to see people who are guilty of crimes and who escaped their fate punished for their bad deeds, especially when it concerns the death of a child. Unfortunately, money can buy a lot of justice in our system, but revenge, or vigilante justice, can also be blind and, in this instance, dangerous.

Camille finds out just how dangerous. I could not stop reading as Camille discovers there is no pulling out or quitting the group. She also can trust no one. I could not put this book down. And to say the end was unpredictable or a surprise is an understatement. I actually gasped!

Besides a phenomenal, thought-provoking story, the writing is crisp, the concept stellar, the atmosphere spooky, and the characters fully fleshed out. I ached for Camille and understood her rage. I thought the ending was well earned and fell more into the noir category than thriller.

Thanks to #NetGalley, #AlisonGaylin, and #WilliamMorrow for this advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.  


NANNY NEEDED by Georgina Cross

Rebecca in an NYC Penthouse with Conditions

Twenty-six-year-old Sarah Larsen is in debt. She cared for her ill Aunt Clara, and now Sarah is hounded by bill collectors for all the medical and hospital costs. She feels guilty that Jonathan her partner helps her. They both work at the same restaurant, but what they make doesn’t touch the debt. Poor Sarah doesn’t know what to do until she finds a job posted in her building.

“Nanny needed. Discretion is of the utmost importance. Special conditions apply.”

How hard can a nanny job be? With a nanny job during the day and restaurant work at night, her financial woes could be over. All seems too good to be true when she answers the ad and is hired by the Bird family who live in a glamorous NYC penthouse. She immediately connects with Mrs. Bird. Even though the family seems eccentric, she’s happy, although Patty, the four-year-old she’ll soon be nanny for, is sick and Sarah spends most of her time with Mrs. Bird.

As the days go by and little Patty isn’t getting better, Sarah finds out that the former nannies left under mysterious circumstances. When she learns the Birds’ twenty-year, mind-blowing secret, she doesn’t go back out of fear. Unfortunately, she signed a contract, not only an NDA, but one that locks her into the job. She’s dragged back to the penthouse.

I won’t say more about the plot, only that it’s an over-the-top, melodramatic, Gothic page turner. Set aside any thoughts about believability because you have entered the Crazy Zone. The novel feels Gothic like reading Rebecca, the penthouse like a huge English estate. The twists and turns kept me on edge, and I kept wondering how this young woman was ever going to get out of this nightmare! I guessed one major twist near the end, but not the forehead-smacking ending.

Georgina Cross captures an almost timeless feel, and it felt great to let go, to let the crazy take over and not care if it made sense or was believable. It’s just fun sometimes to let go.

Thanks to #NetGalley #GeorginaCross and #Ballantine


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Please “like” this post and follow my blog. I won’t swamp you. In the future, I will be adding unusual and what I consider interesting details to the review.

Have a lovely, light-filled holiday season!

 

Valerie J. Brooks

I’m the author of the psychological femmes noir thrillers Revenge in 3 Parts, the first in the Angeline Porter Trilogy, and Tainted Times 2 the second in the trilogy. I live in the McKenzie River Valley of Oregon with my husband Dan and our Havanese pooch Stevie Nicks.

CLICK HERE to sign up for my newsletter and keep up to date on my reviews, publications, and behind-the-scene stories of interest–like how I work with a cover artist, how I get my info about the FBI, what I’m going to do for the next novel, photos of my research, and some of my tricks and secrets for plotting twists and suspense. I’ll be launching a number of new projects soon that I’m sure you’ll want to know about.

Also, follow me on social media. I love my friends and fans!

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Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Secret?

A Review of THE PERFECT SECRET by Steena Holmes by Valerie J. Brooks

Starla Bishop has trouble staying out of jail. Her poor mother tries to remind Starla of why she lands there every time. Somehow her habit of conning people overtakes her common sense.

But now she wants to turn her life around. She has a job, a real job. She’s met a man who is interested in her. She’s finally feeling valued. This time she has a real chance.

Or does she?

Stevie and I love a good thriller

Steena Holmes latest psychological suspense novel The Perfect Secret twists and turns, rises and drops like a roller coaster. I can’t give too much away as I don’t do spoilers, but you can count on being upset or frustrated when someone or something interrupts your reading time.

Before you dive back into the U.S. reopening and summer calling you to the great outdoors, give yourself a treat, cuddle up with your favorite blanket, settle in with your favorite snack, and read The Perfect Secret. But buckle up for a crazy ride. 

Does Starla really believe she’s met the man who proclaims he loves her and is her fairy god-father? Who in this story is really in love with whom? What is going on in that shed? Can you really trust a car salesman—or his ex-wife who is married to her research of plants and is Starla’s boss? Pay close attention readers. The game gets very complicated. What’s right under your nose or feet isn’t what you think it is.


Steena Holmes

With 2 million copies of her titles sold world wide, Steena Holmes was named in the Top 20 Women Authors to read in 2015 by Good Housekeeping. She continues to write books that deal with issues that touch parents heart, whether it is through her contemporary fiction or psychological suspense novels.

To find out more about her books and her love for traveling, you can visit her website at http://www.steenaholmes.com


Valerie J. Brooks

I’m the author of the psychological femme-noir thriller Revenge in 3 Parts the first in the Angeline Porter Trilogy. The second in the trilogy Tainted Times 2 will be available Sept. 1, 2020. I live in the McKenzie River Valley of Oregon with my husband Dan and our Havanese pooch Stevie Nicks.

CLICK HERE to sign up for my newsletter and keep up to date on my reviews, publications, and behind-the-scene stories of interest–like how I work with a cover artist, how I get my info about the FBI, what I’m going to do for the next novel, photos of my research, and some of my tricks and secrets for plotting twists and suspense. I’ll be launching a number of new projects soon that I’m sure you’ll want to know about.

Also, follow me on social media. I love my friends and fans!

FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM PINTEREST LINKEDIN GOBSMACKED WRITER

Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

Behind Every Lie

Christina McDonald follows up her novel The Night Olivia Fell with the suspenseful Behind Every Lie and proves that she can dig deep into the human psyche and give us another emotionally charged story about family secrets, lies, and survival.

In one of the alternating points of view, we witness a terrifying mother’s experience—the loss of a child. While the two mothers chat downstairs, one of their daughters plunges from a second-story window to her death. To give more away would demand spoilers, and I won’t do that to readers.

But the novel doesn’t begin there. At the start of the story, one of the narrators, Kat, awakens after being hit by lightning. She is covered in blood and believes she killed her mother.

How those two threads weave together is the strength of this novel. McDonald takes us in and out of possibilities leading up to a conclusion that makes perfect sense and will be guessed by a few devout “thriller” readers.

The story shows us how one decision can carry through many lifetimes, decisions that seemed right and necessary at the time, and even seemed the only way out for these two women. I felt the emotional impact of what faced these women and can relate to the choices they made. The tension builds as the decisions lead to even more danger. Not all is what it seems.

The novel is well-plotted and twisty, and in Hitchcockian style, we know more than Eva does from Kat’s storyline, giving us an inside track to what Eva is up against.

View More: http://portraitsbyjustyna.pass.us/legg

I love how McDonald uses the Japanese repair method of kintsugi, the act of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer. Kintsugi shows off the scars of the mended broken pieces instead of trying to hide them, a wonderful way of making an analogy to Eva’s many physical scars and her broken psyche.

I gave this novel four stars because, although McDonald can write some beautiful and appropriate descriptions for the tone of the scenes, she also creates analogies that stop me from reading. They can be awkward and melodramatic, and because I can’t quote from and an advanced reader copy, I can’t give you examples. Also, she doesn’t need to tell us how a character feels after showing us with body language and dialogue. This may sound picky, but I wish she’d trust the reader more with this.

Thank you to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this advanced copy of Behind Every Lie.