Tag Archives: Psychological Thriller

Review: Connected Underneath by Linda Legters

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About Connected Underneath

Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else’s business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn’t love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn’t have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son. Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of disaster.

Connected Underneath is a lyrical, scalpel-keen dissection of the ties that bind and of those that dissolve.

My Review

An emotional read exploring the dangers of harboring secrets, adoption and single parenting of a teen, relationships.

Theo and Seph are on the verge of a major collision. Theo desperate to mend rents in the relationship with his daughter as he achingly tries to figure out how along with what’s eating her alive, clawing at maintaining the thin tether of connection. Parents will be able to relate to Theo’s dilemma and conundrum. His pain, confusion and love for Seph is evident, I thoroughly empathized with his struggle. Natalie and Celeste frustrated me to no end, selfish troublemakers period. I felt for Seph, confused, wounded, lost. Interesting perspectives from protagonists, truly reveling their inner thoughts and feelings, no doubt all the characters are seriously flawed with yearnings for more as they flounder.

A glimpse into small town life full of suspense, moments of tenderness, leaving the reader with lots to contemplate, plenty avenues open for deep discussion. Understatedly moving story.

About Linda LegtersLinda-Legters-AP

Linda Legters was born in the far western reaches of New York State. She earned her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and her MFA from Vermont College. She lived in Boston and New York before settling in Connecticut to raise her three sons. She currently teaches at Norwalk Community College and at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.

Her short stories are about people from across the social spectrum and have appeared in literary journals such as Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review. She is passionate about art and music in addition to literature, and is at work on her second novel.

Find out more about Linda at her website.

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Publisher: Lethe Press (April 4, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, May, Review

Review: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

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About The Girl in the Red Coat

Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
Dagger Award finalist

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go
missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally
unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to
keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that
won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L.
Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s
impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget.

My Review

Engaging read from the start. I was flipping through pages to reach the end, to read more of Carmel as well as the final outcome.

Beth and Carmel are compelling characters, I was invested immediately. Beth’s anguish, guilt, her emotional rollercoaster tore at my heart. I cannot fathom grappling with a missing child, I would be shattered. I admired her strength and hope. Carmel, her courage, precociousness served as tools to her survival. I do wish her ‘specialness’ was handled differently. Both protagonists felt authentic as did their emotions.

The narrative left several unanswered questions, too many for my liking. Alternating from Beth to Carmel possessed depth although further ferreting would have been appreciated, at times it seemed as if vital pieces were missing. Not much of a thriller, the plot explores the emotional damage and turmoil spectrum mother and daughter endure. The plot ebbs and flows, the ending felt wildly rushed.

Well written magnetic read in need of a slight nudge with the potential for more, nonetheless worthy of your reading time.

About Kate HamerKate.Hamer_

KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.

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Publisher: Melville House (February 16, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, March, Review

Review & Interview: No Ordinary Life By Suzanne Redfearn

About No Ordinary Life

A story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Redfearn did a marvelous job exploring every scenario Faye faced with her daughter’s catapult in to stardom. Every trial faced seemed plausible and added multilayers to the narrative.

Characterization ruled this story. Faye, Molly, Chris along with the entire ensemble drove the narrative. A motley of personalities, motives, positions created an array of entertainment supporting the subject matter.

I was conflicted over Faye. I felt for her situation but her passiveness, stubbornness, helplessness and weakness was very unappealing. I understand why Redfearn took this direction with Faye, nevertheless I wasn’t a full on fan. Her choices left me shaking my head on more than once occasion, her stupidity floored me, needless to say Faye left me exasperated and frustrated. I prefer my female protagonists possessing strength, smarts and independence, none demonstrated by Faye.

I was very uncomfortable with Redfearn’s handling of Emily’s traumatic event. For something as supercharged as that incident it should have been addressed and resolved, as is it serves as a terrible message. A pet peeve of mine is introducing a heavy and fragile incident and leaving it messy and glossed over, wrong in so many ways.

Great glimpse into life of a child star and the machinations of Hollywood et al along with its impact on family, siblings and life in general. I enjoyed the book but the incident and improper handling of Emily’s tragic event marred my reading enjoyment.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Suzanne Redfearn. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Suzanne

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always starting, sitting in the chair and putting words on the page when I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I knew I wanted to write about a child star and the fascinating world of Hollywood, but I didn’t want to tell a train wreck story like the ones written about constantly in the tabloids, and I didn’t want to write a mommy dearest story. Faye introduced herself to me first, then I discovered Molly, and through them, I figured out I wanted to tell a story about a family, not an individual, to focus on what celebrity does – not just to the person who is famous but also to those around them.

How do you want readers to view Faye?

I hope they like her and sympathize with her. She is a young single mom doing the best she can and who finds herself in a dizzying world that would be difficult for anyone to navigate. She is presented with impossible choices, having to decide what is best for the family as a whole as well as weighing the welfare of each of her children against each other. She is also forced to choose between her compassion for others as opposed to her need to buffer her children from the insanity of the world in which they have found themselves. She evolves throughout the story, is forced to become stronger and more resilient. Hopefully the readers understand her transformation and identify with her journey.

Emily’s traumatic event, why did you handle it the way you did considering its seriousness?

It was important to drive the point home of how dangerous the world of celebrity can be. Access to excess doesn’t come without its hazards. Emily’s trauma is not made up. Unfortunately, many young stars and those around them suffer at the hands of their handlers, their fans, or as a result of not having anyone looking out for them and protecting them. One of the most disturbing parts of my research was discovering how many former child stars were sexually abused as kids.

What secret talent do you have?

It’s not much, but I can sing all the words to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Are We There Yet?

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a story about two moms on the run together from the police and their husbands. It’s a road trip story, which I have always wanted to write, and so far I am having a lot of fun with it.

Thank you, Raven Haired Girl, for the great questions!

About Suzanne RedfearnSuzanne Redfearn Headshot

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

 

Connect with Suzanne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review