Author Chit Chat: John Marrs (What Lies Between Us)

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Words cannot express how excited I am to have John Marrs on my blog today! After reading three of his brilliant novels, he’s hands down one of my favorite writers. One of my top thrillers this year was What Lies Between Us. The dark quality behind this twisted plot stands out like no other. I highly recommend you pick up any novel by John Marrs, he will never disappoint you! Thank you John for taking the time out of your busy schedule to partake in my interview feature.

1) What inspired you to write What Lies Between Us?

My last two books included a police procedural followed by a high-concept thriller, so this time, I wanted to write something very character-led and that encompassed a long period in two people’s lives. I wanted to come up with a dark, claustrophobic story with plenty of twists and turns and that kept readers on their toes. Some have compared this to a cross between Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects and Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Olyphant Is Completely Fine. I find that very flattering.

2) When you first saw the cover for What Lies Between Us, what were your initial thoughts?

You normally receive a variety of cover concepts sent to you by your publisher and you tell them what you like and what you don’t like. I loved the vibe of this immediately. Earlier versions had no brickwork and it was my idea to have figures in the top and bottom windows and a window that lay between them. I’ve learned to be vocal about what I like. In the end, it’s my name going on the cover so I have to be confident that it looks good.

3) If you could re-name your book title, what would you choose?

The working title was The Woman Upstairs and that remained right up until we were in the editing stages. Then suddenly What Lies Between Us came to my mind and it worked perfectly. I think it’s my favourite of all my book titles. I actually prefer the original title of The One though. It was called A Thousand Small Explosions when it was self published and then became The One when a mainstream publisher approached me to take it on.

4) If you could hang out with one of your fictional characters, who would it be and why?

None of them – they’re all mad! Possibly Laura in The Good Samaritan. She’s a very, very dark character, possibly my darkest to date and it would be interesting to be around her, albeit briefly. You wouldn’t want to get sucked into her world for long though. Oh and Joe Russell in Her Last Move. He was a good guy.

5) Out of all the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

It depends on when you catch me. At the moment, it’s What Lies Between Us because it’s still new and interesting to me, but on other days, it might be my debut, When You Disappeared. Welcome To Wherever You Are is still my only book that is self-published, so I have a soft spot for that one.

6) Do you have any quirks or rituals during the writing phase of a novel?

When I’m writing, it’s always in silence. I can’t do background music. I always print the book out to do my edits, makes notes in coloured pens I buy from a shop called Muji and when I make the on-screen corrections, that’s when I’ll listen to my own playlists on Apple Music.

7) Last but not least, do you have anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I welcome all readers – existing ones who have been there from the start and brand new ones who have only just hopped on board the crazy train. Without you, I wouldn’t be getting to spend all day living in my own imagination and trying to find ways to twist and turn you and lull you into a false sense of security. I am grateful to every last one of you.

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Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N 
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. What Lies Between Us is his seventh book.

Follow him on his Website, Twitter and Instagram

Blog Tour Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

Mayhem_blogtourbanner_on sale now.pngMayhem by Estelle Laure
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Book Summary:  The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Book Review: When Mayhem’s stepfather abusively crosses the line, she and her mother Roxy escape to her hometown of Santa Monica, California. After running away many years ago, Roxy is now back to the one place she never wanted to see again. Roxy’s sister and foster kids introduce Mayhem to the shadowy world shielded from her since birth. The revelation of supernatural family secrets and the search for a deadly kidnapper will lead Mayhem to dangerous territory. How will she make sense of all these unexplained events and handle the truth behind her calling?

MAYHEM is an appealing 80’s themed novel that accurately tackles domestic abuse and showcases a revamped version of The Lost Boys. Estelle did a remarkable job in depicting parts of the cult classic, The Lost Boys, while giving the narrative a feministic flair. Mayhem was an empathetic character that longed to be accepted by her peers. I appreciated her protective stance with Roxy and the ability to adapt to new situations. If the roles were reversed, I don’t think I’d be able to withstand the changes as smoothly.

The foster kids were another aspect of the novel that brought an exciting element to the mix. Each personality shined with significantly different traits. By far, Jason was my favorite; there is something about a quiet, guarded persona that pulls me right in.

All in all, I thought MAYHEM was an easy read that flowed naturally with a suspenseful undertone. My only criticism is that the scenes surrounding the murderer on the loose felt a bit rushed. Ideally, I would have liked this part of the novel to have extended just a bit longer. Besides that, I thought it was a fun Summer read, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by Estelle!

Content Warning: Light moments of domestic abuse, rape, and discussed suicide.

My Rating:🌟🌟🌟🌟

Thank you Wednesday Books for including me in this blog tour and providing me a gifted copy of Mayhem for review.

!! Check out my Bookstagram post here !!

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About The Author:

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Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Twitter: @starlaure
Instagram: @estellelaurebooks
Website: https://estellelaure.com/
Buy The Book: Wednesday Books / Amazon / B&N

A Note from Estelle:

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run. I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it. I guess that’s what I tried to do here.

I wanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass. Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also terrifying.

I know I’m not the only one who had a scary childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying to access forgiveness. Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

-Estelle Laure

Author Chit Chat: Jennifer Hillier (Little Secrets)

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Thank you Jennifer Hillier for taking the time out to partake in my author feature! I am a huge fan of her novels, Little Secrets and Jar of Hearts. Jennifer is a pro a creating a highly addictive plot with heart stopping twists you won’t see coming. If you haven’t read Little Secrets yet, you must get your hands on it ASAP!

1) What inspired you to write Little Secrets?

I’m most inspired to write about what scares me, and as a mother to a five-year-old son (who was four at the time I wrote the book, the same age as Marin’s son, Sebastian), the thing that scares me the most now is losing him. However, I didn’t want to focus the story on Sebastian’s kidnapping, or the investigation – I wanted to explore how his disappearance affected Marin, and how she coped with not knowing where her child was. This meant I had to imagine it happening to me – which, let me just say, is a mental and emotional journey I’ll never want to take again. But I find that when I allow myself to imagine worst-case scenarios, it deludes me into thinking I can somehow prevent them from actually happening in real life. And if they do, then hey, I’m prepared because I’ve thought them through already!

2) When you first saw the cover for Little Secrets, what were your initial thoughts?

The cover that’s on the book right now is the second one the publisher sent me. The first one was great, but I felt that it didn’t quite capture the intensity of the emotion in the book. So the publisher came up with this one, and I love it – it really fits Marin, and the story.

3) If you could re-name your book title, what would you choose?

I am terrible with titles! Seriously terrible, so I honestly don’t know. We went through dozens of possible titles before settling on Little Secrets, and of course now I can’t imagine it being called anything else. But the working title I had was “She & Her” (yes, it was awful), and the title I submitted the finished draft under was “The Darkest Dark” (which I think was slightly better, but still wasn’t right).

4) If you could hang out with one of your fictional characters, who would it be and why?

I’d hang out with Sal, at his janky bar, and watch football. He makes a great amaretto sour and really delicious garlic fries that I hopefully wouldn’t have to pay for.

5) Out of all the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?

It’s like choosing between children! I feel guilty for picking just one, so I’ll pick two. Little Secrets, because there’s so much of myself in it, and Jar of Hearts, which was just a really fun book for me to write.

6) Do you have any quirks or rituals during the writing phase of a novel?

Oh, I have so many. I need to write in the same spot every day. I need coffee. I need complete silence. I’m also very secretive – I don’t like to show anyone any pages, or discuss any part of the story until it’s finished. That last one isn’t always helpful, though – I need to learn it’s okay to ask for feedback if I’m stuck on something. Even now, six books later, I have a hard time asking for help. Early on in my career, I got too much feedback on a first draft that wasn’t yet complete, and it destroyed my confidence in what I was working on. I’d like to get past that, and try to remember that my editor is there to help me get to the finish line, not tear my work (and me) apart.

7) Last but not least, do you have anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

Just that I hope everyone is well and safe during this strange time. And that I hope people are finding comfort, distraction, and entertainment in great books.

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Buy the Book: Amazon / B&N / Books A Million

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi there, I’m Jennifer Hillier. I write about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. My newest psychological thriller, Little Secrets, is now available from Minotaur Books. I’m also the author of Jar of Hearts (Minotaur), CreepFreakThe Butcher, and Wonderland (Gallery Books).

I was in born in Toronto, but I spent eight years in the Seattle area, which is where all my novels are set. I’m a Seahawks fan but I married a Packers guy. We have a young son who looks most like me when he’s crying. My favorite author is Stephen King (but whose isn’t?). I’m afraid of the dark and can’t sleep unless I’ve checked the locks on the doors several times. I love writing when it’s raining, sleeping when it’s sunny, and reading after everyone else has gone to bed. I cherish my family (those who read, and those who don’t), and my friends (those who write, and those who don’t).

I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Crime Writers of Canada. I’m also a regular columnist at The Thrill Begins, where I talk a lot about my writing journey and dispense advice you may or may not find helpful.

You can also find me on Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but hopefully not every day.

Book Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

image1.jpegThe Swap by Robyn Harding
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Gallery/Scott Press

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
(Photo Credit: Me)

Book Summary: Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

Book Review: Obsession is a hell of a drug. Awakening someone’s desire could be a dangerous game, if not played right. The moment teenage Low comes in contact with the strikingly beautiful Freya; she is spellbound. Low’s mission is to become Freya’s primary friend, except when Jaime walks in, resentment starts to fester. One drunken night, Freya and Jaime swap husbands, leaving in its wake a whirlwind of deceit. With the wrong decision and a weakened structure, how will these lives be changed forever?⠀⠀
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Written in multiple POV’s, Robyn Harding did an outstanding job in building well-thought-out roles with an erotically driven plot. Still, even with the dynamic storyline, I found myself disassociating with everyone’s fixation over Freya. Her narcissistic personality was evident from the start, yet nobody wanted to see it. It takes a seasoned author to write unlikeable characters, but still manage to keep the suspense moving.⠀⠀
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Low, I have to say, was an unusually entertaining part of the narrative. At times, I felt terrible for how people dismissed her, and in other scenes, she was creepy and insane. I enjoyed Low as a whole and the rollercoaster of emotions that she bestowed along the way.⠀⠀
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THE SWAP was a complex domestic thriller with an easy-to-read premise. I recommend you pick this one up if you’re looking for a crafty novel with one surprising ending.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

!! Check out my Bookstagram post here !!