REVIEW: THREE DAYS MISSING, BY KIMBERLY BELLE

 

When a child goes missing, two mothers’ lives collide in a shocking way in this suspenseful novel from the bestselling author of The Marriage Lie.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night. When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing–vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight class trip. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground, but she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance has earth-shattering consequences for Stef, as her path crosses with Kat. As the two mothers race against the clock, their desperate search for answers reveals how the greatest dangers lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.

 

My Thoughts: Kat Jenkins has been struggling as a single mom and trying to handle issues with her abusive ex-husband. Her genius son Ethan, 9 years old, is the one bright spot in her life. A school camping trip in the mountains looks like a great getaway for Ethan, so Kat gives permission.

But when Kat gets word from the police that her son is missing from the campsite, her world comes crashing down.

Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Sam Huntington and his wife Stef are caught up in the danger when their son Sammy, also on the camping trip, becomes a part of someone’s dangerous plan.

How will Kat and Stef find common ground and work together to find Ethan? What, if anything, will Sammy do to assist? I enjoyed the back and forth between Kat and Stef, as the layered story offered glimpses into the emotional and family conflicts, as well as the intensity that develops within a family in the spotlight.

A page turning book, Three Days Missing,  kept me caught up in the frightening events that would ultimately change all of their lives. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: HERE WE LIE, BY PAULA TREICK DEBOARD

 

Megan Mazeros and Lauren Mabrey are complete opposites on paper. Megan is a girl from a modest Midwest background, and Lauren is the daughter of a senator from an esteemed New England family. When they become roommates at a private women’s college, they forge a strong, albeit unlikely, friendship, sharing clothes, advice and their most intimate secrets.

The summer before senior year, Megan joins Lauren and her family on their private island off the coast of Maine. It should be a summer of relaxation, a last hurrah before graduation and the pressures of post-college life. Then late one night, something unspeakable happens, searing through the framework of their friendship and tearing them apart. Many years later, Megan publicly comes forward about what happened that fateful night, revealing a horrible truth and threatening to expose long-buried secrets.

My Thoughts: In the beginning of Here We Lie, a press conference is about to start. Lauren Mabrey manages to push her way into the room, where she waits for what is about to be divulged.

Flash back to the late 1990s, where we meet Megan Mazeros, living in Kansas, watching her father die very slowly of mesothelioma. She foregoes the beginning of college while helping out her family.

A year later, she moves to Connecticut to attend Keale College in Scofield. She doesn’t meet Lauren until later in the year, but despite the drastic differences between them, they become fast friends.

However, the friendship is never really equal, since Lauren’s life of privilege keeps her on a slightly elevated plane.

When something traumatic happens to Megan the summer before their final year of college, Lauren doesn’t even bother to listen. She blames Megan, and the rift between them is insurmountable.

Alternately narrated by Lauren and Megan, I could not put this story down. It brought out a timely reminder of power and privilege, and how there are always those who are considered more credible than others. I rooted for both girls as they struggled on their way to becoming women, as they each had their own obstacles. Lauren came from a world of privilege, but her family treated her as “less than.” Her desires and ambitions did not fit the family image.

Megan suffered on the other side of that divide, and it took many years to bring her into her own. An unforgettable story that could have been one of today’s headlines. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: FIRE & FURY, BY MICHAEL WOLFF

 

With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country—and the world—has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

This riveting and explosive account of Trump’s administration provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office, including:

— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

My Thoughts: Within the pages of Fire & Fury, the reader will find more than enough information to reinforce his or her view of the current administration.

To learn that the Trump camp had other plans besides winning, like creating their own media empire, seems totally plausible. But now that Trump is in, he has doubled down and cemented his position, longing for the attention and loyalty he believes that he deserves.

If he doesn’t like something, he tweets a rant; in fact, Twitter ranting is his go-to reaction to what he calls “fake news” or a “witch hunt.”

Around him, in the West Wing, chaos reigns. The rivalry between staff members reminds me of a huge dysfunctional family, and the enmity grows with each passing day. As the ongoing investigation into collusion and obstruction of justice continues, we watch daily for new information…and new rants from the Ranter in Chief.

Reading this book will not be an uplifting experience. But if we arm ourselves with knowledge of what is happening in Washington, we might be able to take action. I am familiar with protests, having been young during the Vietnam War. Having watched Nixon be investigated, with the threat of impeachment hovering, I can live through the experience again. Hopefully, sooner rather than later. A 5 star read.

***

REVIEW: FAIRY TALE INTERRUPTED, BY ROSEMARIE TERENZIO

Working Girl meets What Remains in this New York Times bestselling, behind-the-scenes story of an unlikely friendship between America’s favorite First Son, John F. Kennedy Jr. and his personal assistant, a blue-collar girl from the Bronx. Featured in the documentary I Am JFK Jr.!

From the moment RoseMarie Terenzio unleashed her Italian temper on the entitled nuisance commandeering her office in a downtown New York PR firm, an unlikely friendship bloomed between the blue-collar girl from the Bronx and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Many books have sought to capture John F. Kennedy Jr.’s life. None has been as intimate or as honest as Fairy Tale Interrupted. Recalling the adventure of working as his executive assistant for five years, RoseMarie portrays the man behind the icon—patient, protective, surprisingly goofy, occasionally thoughtless and self-involved, yet capable of extraordinary generosity and kindness.
She reveals how he dealt with dating, politics, and the paparazzi, and describes life behind the scenes at George magazine. Captured here are her memories of Carolyn Bessette, how she orchestrated the ultra-secretive planning of John and Carolyn’s wedding on Cumberland Island—and the heartbreak of their deaths on July 16, 1999, after which RoseMarie’s whole world came crashing down around her. Only now does she feel she can tell her story in a book that stands as “a fitting personal tribute to a unique boss . .

My Thoughts: As a fan of all things Kennedy, I relished the opportunity to look behind the scenes at the prince of that clan, and the one least known to me.

We all recall him saluting at his father’s funeral; we were there while his mother was trying to protect him and his sister from the paparazzi while they were growing up; and we watched while he started his magazine George, hoping to carve out his own niche. And then grieved as he and his wife and sister-in-law lost their lives in that fatal plane crash in 1999.

I did enjoy the author’s voice as she described the working relationship she had with John while serving as his assistant, and also the friendship that developed between her, John, and Carolyn, sometimes even mediating their disagreements.

I would have loved seeing some personal photos, and having a greater insider view of their personal world…but no one book can give us everything we want about the life of someone we admire and want to know more about. I liked the author’s writing style, which felt like a conversation between the reader and the author, so despite what was missing for me from Fairy Tale Interrupted, I give this book 3.5 stars.

***

 

REVIEW: THE CUTAWAY, BY CHRISTINA KOVAC

 

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

My Thoughts: The Cutaway was a gripping story that kept me fascinated throughout, beginning with the up close and personal look at how television news stories are developed, including the live shots and the video clips that bring a finished product to the viewers. The danger, the intensity, and the insider politics make the story even more compelling. Set in Washington, D.C., we also get an insider view of how corruption breeds within a system, including how funding PACs can be made up of “dark” money.

The characters were especially captivating, beginning with Virginia, whose skill kept me going. I also enjoyed her close familial-like ties with her staff, like Ben, the evening news anchor, who might have turned into a romantic connection. Then there were those like Isaiah, who had been around a long time, and who were loyal…but who could also be tempted to stray when their own careers seemed to be threatened.

Nick Mellay, the news director, was a weasel, IMO. Quick to think of his own needs above others, he turned Virginia’s job upside down, demoting her for his own reasons…carrying out his own selfish plan. Seeing him get a comeuppance was worth the read.

How will Virginia connect the dots when some of her sources have their own dark agendas? What will happen when she comes face-to-face with the killer? Will the story be worth all the drama? Many odd twists and turns finally bring a solution, but I didn’t guess the identity of the killer until she was right in front of me.

Definitely a 5 star read for me.

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