The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

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Wow.  I just finished my first Kimberly Belle novel and let me say it was fabulous!  The Marriage Lie is twisty and deceitful with a superb ending.  I love a thriller and this was just what I was looking for.  Belle writes a novel that grabs you from chapter one and keeps you guessing literally until the last page.  It was fast paced and the perfect appetizer to launch us into our spring reads!

Belle author credit Sherri Innis

The Marriage Lie centers around Iris who is notified that her husband, Will, was involved in a plane crash and is dead.  The plane was heading to Seattle and there were no survivors.  But how could that be?  Iris was under the impression Will was heading to Florida for work?  Why would he lie?  Where was he going?  This tragic event catapults Iris to start piecing together the truth.  What she soon finds out is Will was not the person she thought he was and the people who she thinks she can trust aren’t all they are cracked up to be either.

I am so looking forward to Belle’s next novel after this gem.  The writing was crisp and the story flowed with thrills and chills.  As I said before, we are upon the spring/summer reads releases and as well all know they are the perfect companion to a sunny day or a rosy glass of rose’.  This book is nothing short of that.  Although we may still be in the doldrums of winter, grab a drink and get cozy as this is a wintery “beach-read” that will get you excited for all that is to come!

 

*Thanks to Mira books for sending a copy for review to Bliss, Beauty and Books.

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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The cover alone of The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis sold me.  It’s stunning.  But not only was the cover amazing the story was even better!  This was a wonderful debut book by Davis.  It had some glitz and glamour with a dash of mystery and murder.  Hello perfect read.  If you are looking for a cozy read this fall this book is IT!  Read on below for my thoughts as well as my “Bliss Chat” with Fiona.  She was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions about this wonderful book and fabulous setting of the Barbizon Hotel!

The book centers around Darby who is a new NYC resident in the 1950’s wanting to make a life for herself and lives at the Barbizon Hotel.  A women’s only residence, where the girls are trying to make a living and stand on their own two feet.  Starting off on the wrong foot, Darby befriends Esme, a risky maid who is a jazz singer by night.  Engulfed in the beauty and excitement of the city Darby is influenced by Esme to take chances she normally wouldn’t take.  Fast forward to Rose, prest day, who now lives in what was the Barbizon.  Fascinated by a woman whose face is covered and scarred she decides to investigate who she is and what her story is.  The woman is not one to talk so Rose has to piece together the puzzle by talking with other residents of the Barbizon.  The mystery starts to unfold and Davis captures the essence of this magical hotel all the while hooking the reader in a murder-mystery.

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Bliss Chat with Fiona Davis

1.The Barbizon is so glamorous and magical.  What drew you to this location for the book?

For decades, the Barbizon Hotel for Women was the go-to residence for cultured young ladies to live while they worked or studied in New York City. Many ex-guests went on to great fame, including Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford, Sylvia Plath, and Liza Minnelli, as well as writers like Eudora Welty and Joan Didion. When it went condo in 2005, a dozen or so of the long-time residents of the hotel still living there were moved into rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor. It occurred to me that the building would make a great setting for a novel, with an interesting mix of old-school glamour and modern luxury.

 2. What did you do in terms of research for the book?  Did you talk with anyone that resided there or worked there?

I read through old issues of women’s magazines from the early 1950s to get an idea of what life was like back then, and was drawn into the fashions, the expectations, and the political climate. I also interviewed a number of women who’d live in the hotel in the 50s and 60s to find out what it was like. I learned all kinds of gems, including the fact that although men weren’t allowed beyond the public areas (even the elevator operators were female), the guests snuck them up all the time.

3. I love that it was a murder mystery mixed with fabulous female characters.  What drew you to this idea?

I adore a great mystery – Agatha Christie hooked me as a kid and today I’m drawn to the suspenseful plots of authors like Clare Mackintosh and Tana French. So I made the modern-day heroine a journalist, who starts digging into a tragedy that involved one of the fourth-floor residents back in 1952. The interweaving of the clues and red herrings made my head spin at times, but I enjoyed every minute.

 4. I know you were an actress which is so fabulous!  Can you tell us a little more about that and did that life have a little inspiration in your book as so many actresses frequented The Barbizon?

I had a wonderful time in my twenties acting in New York City, as I was lucky enough to get involved with a theater company that put on masterful shows by playwrights like Jean Genet and Shakespeare. For the book, I wanted to describe what it’s like to step out on a stage in front of an audience. Instead of acting, I used the setting of a downtown jazz club and made my 1952 heroine, Darby, get up and sing. I think that was one of my favorite scenes to write and edit.

 5. As a writer, where is your favorite place to write?

I have a great home office, but when I need to avoid distractions, I head to the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. There’s something about the long walk across the plaza, past the Henry Moore sculpture, that settles my head and puts me in the right frame of mind to crank out a scene or two.

 6. Name 3 blissful things that you can’t live without.

A massage once a month, a glass of Chardonnay after a long day of writing, and a morning run in the park with my best friend.

 7. What is the first thing you do when you complete a book?

Road trip! I’m wrapping up the first draft of my next book, and plan on heading to Cape Cod for a fall weekend with friends. Can’t wait.

 8. What was the last book that you read?

I mentor a sixth-grader who introduced me to Newbery Medal-winner The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. It describes a fictional family in 1963, when a bomb in the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church killed four girls, and is an uncanny depiction of family dynamics, as well as heartbreaking.

 9. While on tour what is a must-have beauty product in your make-up bag?

Violets are Blue Facial Serum, which is great for transitioning from summer to fall; Fresh Sugar lip gloss in petal; and Kerastase V.I.P. Volume in Powder, which makes my baby-fine hair look way thicker than it actually is.

 10. Are you looking forward to any books that are coming out in 2016/17?

You bet: Zadie Smith’s Swing Time (out in November), Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (December) Jamie Brenner’s The Forever Summer (April 2017)

 

 

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Another great thriller to end the summer 😦  So sad but excited for the fall ~ cozy sweaters, warm drinks and of course fantastic reads.  I am hoping to get back in the swing of things in the next few weeks!  I am not getting the reading I did before Finn but I am still carving time out each day if I can.  I know this will help to keep me on track once I have a little more free time or at least be able to keep my eyelids open “time”.  I finished a few weeks back, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, which I had to read as I kept reading it was creepy, thrilling and unputdownable.  It was ALL of the above.  A must read for all thrill seekers.

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The story centers around a couple, Jack and Grace, who at first seem to be the perfect couple in love.  Good looks, money and pure bliss.  As the story develops the reader starts to see a darker side of Jack, a side that is completely unexpected.  I do not want to give a lot away but few things come to mind- controlling, prisoner, threats, mind games and murder.  Sound good?  This story had twists and turns that kept a chill in my spine and the pages turning.  I promise once you start you can’t stop.  Perfect book for the upcoming Halloween season!

The After Party by Anton DiSclafani

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Wow.  I just wrapped up reading The After Party by Anton DiSclafani and it was intense.  Not in a mysterious sense but more heavy content with well developed characters and relationships.  It was my first read of DiSclafani’s and I can say she is a literary vision who writes with elegance yet complexity.  This was not what I expected it at all. Yes it had the glamour of old, oil Texas but it was more. It was about an all consuming friendship between two different women.  Love, obsession, friendship and parenthood are all things that happen at The After Party.

The After Party circles around Joan and Cece.  Joan and Cece grew up with one another and have been best friends since they met.  Joan is from wealth and is gorgeous.  Cece isn’t as confident and has been in Joan’s shadow for years- a place she is content to be.  Joan is a mysterious girl who marches to be the beat of her own drum and inspires to make it in Hollywood.  Cece is always there for whatever Joan needs, putting Joan’s best interest in front of her own.  Going through death of parents, first loves and life changes they never lost touch.  As they both approach adulthood, Cece and Joan start to pursue different interests.  Joan wants to be a free-spirit and take in all life has to offer.  Cece is thinking of settling down and being a mother.  Against Cece wishes Joan starts to get tangled into the wrong circle and she can’t stand that Cece is always there being a second mother to her.  Cece has always watched out for Joan, even when it means abandoning her own family, and can’t help herself when it comes to telling Joan what is wrong and right.  As their relationship takes a turn rocky road, dark secrets start to come out and they find out what it takes to make their relationship last…or not.

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After reading The After Party you will need an after dinner drink, in the best way.  It will leave you thinking and the characters of Joan and Cece will stay with you for a while.  DiSclafani is a master storyteller who takes the reader deep within the pages and into the characters worlds.  I am looking forward to more of what she has to offer and I can promise you The After Party will leave you excited for more too!

*Thanks to Riverhead books for sending a review copy.

Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

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Since it’s -6 in Boston I found it fitting to read a novel about surviving in the wild with snow, coyotes and cougars.  This novel was Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets.  Set in the snowy mountains of Colorado, Breaking Wild is part suspense and part drama.  A fast-paced thriller centering around two women who are both figuring out survival in the wild.  Les Becquet paints the most beautiful and raw setting of wilderness and the strength it takes to withstand its power.

Amy Raye is out on a hunting trip with a few friends and decides she wants to pursue one last hunt solo.  She sets out into the wild with enough equipment and food for what she thinks will be a few days.  Pru is a camp ranger with a rescue dog who prides her self on knowing the area and all the danger it entails.  When Amy does not make it back to camp, Pru gets the call from a good friend Colm and together the two with a group of rescuers set out to find Amy.  Amy starts to realize that she is lost and what she thought would be an easy trip is now a day to day survival of the fittest.  As the story unfolds the reader starts to learn about Amy’s past and what could potentially have her running.  Pru starts to question has Amy succumb to the dangers of the wild or did she want to make herself disappear?  As the days start to pass the likelihood of Amy surviving the woods lessens but Pru has a gut instinct and knows there has to be some trace of Amy out there.  Will Amy be found alive or is she gone for good?

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What I loved about this book was the alternating chapters of Amy and Pru’s point of view.  While they both are completely different women they are both “lost’ in some way yet both extremely strong which was really empowering.  Les Becquet’s detailed writing is so real that you actually can feel the cold of the wilderness and the mystery it encapsulates on every page.  Her experience living on a Colorado ranch is imminent and really the setting is its own character in itself.  If you are looking for a great suspense novel this is it!

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

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I am a huge fan of suspense and mystery and couldn’t wait to receive a copy of The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford.  This was Crawford’s debut novel and what a ride she takes the reader on.  The story centers on Dana Cantrell who is bipolar and suffers manic episodes.  Her neighbor and friend, Celia, has been murdered and the police are at odds as to who the killer is.  Dana is convinced it is her due to her illness and the fact that she was the last person to see Celia alive.  As she starts to reveal different clues about her husband, Peter, and constant interrogation from the lead cop on the case, Jack, she slowly starts to question her sanity.

This book grips you from the first page thanks to Crawford’s thrilling and descriptive narrative.  Just like Dana, I was questioning every character, their alibi and motive right until the last pages.  It was fast paced read with a deep plot.  The perfect read as long as you have a few hours to spare as you won’t want to put it down.  This being Crawford’s debut, I would say she is just getting started.  Can’t wait for her next book!

Author Susan Crawford

“The Pocket Wife” Red Lip ~ inspired but the chic cover

Scarlet Beautycounter Lip Sheer– The perfect universal red lipstick.

*I received a copy of this book for review purposes.