Book Review: The Devil’s Picture Book by Arabella Seymour

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Genre: Suspense, Drama

My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Four women, friends from their school days, have grown apart with distance and time, until one of them puts in motion an ambitious plan for a reunion – at a country house health spa which – unknown to any of them – has a history of murder, intrigue and bad luck all it’s own.
There is Rhiannon, determined to find out who her real parents were; Alexa, desperate for time to herself away from her controlling husband; Alice, whose husband treats her with contempt; and tragic Sunny, whose promising new life has suddenly come crashing down in ruins when she discovers she has a terminal illness.
Across their path comes Andrea, the unhappy and neglected wife of ex SAS officer Roddy DeVille, tipped for New Year Honours glory, desperate to regain her fading beauty and his love along with it.
The women meet without realising that this reunion will change each of their lives in ways none of them could possibly have imagined.

Intriguing is the best word I can come up with for this book. It’s very intriguing. Almost from the first page I kept wanting to read more. It’s well written and a nice change of pace from the books I’ve mostly been reading now. It’s very intricate and complex with great characters, mostly. And I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

So why the mediocre rating?

Simply because practically all of the men in this novel sucked. The only one who didn’t was Lexi’s old boyfriend. And while I know this wasn’t a romance or anything, there couldn’t have been at least one marriage that was happy? There are more ways to complicate a woman’s life than to be stuck in a miserable marriage.

Granted, Riannon’s main problem wasn’t her marriage. It was finding out who her parents were. But in the end, her husband, Stephen, turns out to be selfish and mean as well. He starts out nice, but it’s later revealed that he actually believes a girl was asking to be raped because of her clothing and has no problem betraying his wife to save his job. Yeah, so great.

Lexi’s and Alice’s husbands are both controlling, just in different ways. Their storylines are actually so similar that I had a hard time of telling them apart, which really irritated me. Because, again, crappy husbands aren’t the only way to make women unhappy. On top of that, Alice gets conned by a man, confirming her husband’s claim that she’s naive.

Furthermore, the conspiracy with Roddy DeVille feels more like an afterthought than the main story. While a good portion of the story does revolve around Roddy and Andrea, the book could have held its own just fine without them.

And, speaking of afterthoughts, Sunny was barely in the story, despite being one of the main characters. Which is too bad, because she could have had an interesting, if tragic story.

So because of all that, this story is only a three star. However, if you want a well-written suspenseful drama, then I definitely recommend The Devil’s Picture Book.

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…And of the Son by John Skinner, Jr. (My Dad’s Book!)

Thomas “T.J.” James, Jr. finds himself wondering about that very thing. When his past and his present collide in a horrific set of circumstances, T.J. has to work out the details of the situation and finds himself in the middle of an investigation that brings his past nightmares back to life.

Hi, guys. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here, and you might be disappointed about how short this post is. But this is a really important post for me. My dad has just published his first book on Amazon. That’s right. It came out a little earlier today. I’m not doing a review of this book, because that would obviously be a potentially biased review. Also, I haven’t actually finished it yet… (ahem).

What I have read of it, I really liked. And I (and my dad) would love it if you guys checked it out. It does have strong content that isn’t suitable for all audiences, so reader discretion, everybody.  Here’s the Amazon link  if you want to check it out.

 

Introducing Hotel Holmes

  Hotel Holmes just went live on Booktrack! It is a short story that I submitted for the Booktrack  Halloween competition and it’s now available to read. I would love it if some of you wanted to hop on an read it when you have a few minutes to spare, and perhaps comment, so I know just how scary, or lame it really is. Thanks!

Welcome to Hotel Holmes. Here you might find the hotel staff acting slightly odd, but take no notice. Instead take notice of the metallic smell coming from the bedcovers that are the color of dried blood, the children in the hallway playing with swords, and think about why your window might be bolted shut. But do not think, under any circumstances, that you will come out alive.

http://www.booktrack.com/#!/bookshelf?booktrackId=a5c72e2a1a264fcc97c7ea5f13597c65

A Big Ball of Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey…. Stuff (The Here and Now)

For Prenna, having the cute, nice and very smart and funny guy at her school like her isn’t a good thing. In fact, it could be her death sentence for both her and the boy. After all, she is from the future and is most likely carrying diseases that no one has immunity to, and as long as she is in the strict community of time travelers who track her every move, she has to watch her back to make sure she doesn’t disappear like others in her community who fall a little out of line. But when she receives information that could change the future from the hellish place she left to a place better, she knows she has to act, and hopefully save the boy she loves.

Definitely a good book. I liked all of the main characters as well as the plot. I also found it really relevant to what’s going on today, and what could happen if we keep destroying the environment. However, like most time travel stories, I get super confused easily. While this book kept the time-wimey stuff (my apologies, Stephen Moffat) to a minimum, some things still didn’t make sense to me. How did her father get that drawing when Ethan hadn’t given it to him? Are we supposed to infer that Anthony Balthos gave him the drawing? This was particularly frustrating because I really wanted Prenna’s dad to pull some sort of miraculous resurrection but instead there’s an incomplete explanation for the mystery of the drawing. And how did Anthony get the drawing in the first place? In the future he came from none of that had happened, so Prenna didn’t come back in time. There were a few others, but these were the most confusing. It’s hard for me to follow different and intersecting realities at once, so if someone can explain how this makes sense, then please, leave a comment ;-).

All in all, a fun read. Does it make the top ten books I’ve read this year? Probably not. This might not be in the top ten I’ve reviewed on here. But it’s definitely worth reading, for both the action-packed plot and the forbidden romance between Ethan and Prenna.

http://www.indiebound.org/book/

(Netgalley Review) When Technology Comes Back to Bite Us in the Butt


http://www.indiebound.org/book/

 

For Anana, it’s perfectly normal for her to use her Meme for everything, and to have it read her thoughts. In a world where technology has taken over, taxi drivers, doctors, and schools have been nearly obliterated and print books have gone the way of the dinosaurs. However, for her father,  one of the editors of the last dictionary still in print, it’s terrible.  Always wary of memes, Doug refuses to use them, even though they control everything. Still preferring print books to “limns” on memes, and willing to use pen and paper in public despite the stares from people unused to seeing such old school technology, he hates everything about memes, and especially the  popular program called the Word Exchange, which provides words and definitions and two cents each. He’s convinced that the program will hurt language and spread a virus and after he disappears, his daughter Anana realizes that her father’s predictions are becoming true.

I loved this book. The concept was very interesting and I thought it was a very smart and well-written book with great characters. Me being pretty wary of technology myself (even though I still use Kindle and I spend an unhealthy amount of time on my phone) I thought it was a good cautionary tale about what can happen if we use technology without thinking about the consequences. The only problems I would have with this book is that it wanders quite a bit, especially when it’s from Bart’s point of view. However, I am writing this review based off an advanced reading copy so this might have changed. Aside from that, I thought it was well put-together and it’s definitely worth reading.

 

The Traitor’s Emblem

Mysteries, tribulations, and secrets enshroud Nazi Germany citizens and for Paul Reiner, perhaps, more than most. Growing up with his mother as a servant in his aunt’s house, he deals with the abuse taken from his aunt, uncle, and younger cousin, as well as the kids at school, who hate him because his father was branded as a traitor. But when his older cousin tells him that Paul’s father was murdered in his aunt and uncle’s house, and he defends a noble Jewish girl from his younger cousin’s advances, Paul’s world is turned upside down, and he finds himself in trouble as he fights to find his father’s murderer, hold onto the girl he is in love with, and survive from day to day. It is the story of how he obtains the Traitor’s Emblem, the metal made for the Nazi who betrayed the Freemasons.

I liked this book a lot. I thought it was well put-together and very intriguing. Even when I knew I had work to do, I couldn’t help reading a few pages at every chance I got. I like how not everything is in black and white. There are even times when it’s possible to sympathize with Jurgen, Paul’s younger cousin, who later becomes a Nazi. It was suspenseful and intriguing, and I loved seeing the characters progress over the years as the events unfold. I’d recommend this book to anyone with a love for history, mysteries, and thrillers.

 If you’re interested, you can find the book here:

<a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781439198797?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;

Hijack in Abstract: Interview with Larissa Reinhart

hijack button (2)It all started with a late night call from her uncle for a wanted criminal sketch of a hijacker. It wasn’t long, however, before things got really complicated for Cherry Tucker. First she has to deal with her arch nemesis trying to turn the town against her with some nude paintings she had made. (Luckily her ex-husband, the model in the painting, didn’t mind copies of this painting being put all over town). Then the man who gave her the description of the hijacker ends up dead, with his mother and son depending on him. Now she has to get the town to respect (or at least tolerate) her and solve the hijacking case.

This was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this month. It’s fast-paced, hilarious, and intriguing. I love Cherry’s attitude and the situations she finds herself in.  I’d recommend this book to any mystery lover.

Now here’s an interview with Larissa Reinhart. Thanks, Larissa!

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Growing up in a small town, Larissa Reinhart couldn’t wait to move to an exotic city far from corn fields. After moving around the US and Japan, now she loves to write about rough hewn characters that live near corn fields, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. HIJACK IN ABSTRACT is the third in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series from Henery Press, following STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist. QUICK SKETCH, a Cherry Tucker prequel to PORTRAIT, is in the mystery anthology THE HEARTACHE MOTEL (December 2013). She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her websitelarissareinhart.com or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.

What got you interested in writing?

Thanks so much for having me on Ink and Paper! I’m so thrilled to be here.

I’ve always been interested in writing and can’t remember when I didn’t cobble stories. However, there’s a twenty year gap in my creative writing phase that began when I graduated from college and ended about four years ago when I started writing stories again. During those twenty years, I mainly wrote lesson plans, newsletters, and sample essays. I snuck in an occasional poem for my amusement, but had pretty much given writing up as a creative pursuit. However, during those twenty years I read intensively. All genres of fiction. And that’s what helped me when I finally had that perfect storm of time/space/writing epiphany.

What’s your usual writing routine like?

I have elementary aged children, so I get them to school by 7:30 a.m. and I try to write until I pick them up at 2:30. After 2:30, I’m helping with homework, driving them to activities, and after dinner, I collapse. On the weekends, I also try to focus on my family and stay off the computer. Facebook is my downfall during my writing period, so when I’m on deadline I have to turn off my internet connection.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of writing?

I love beginning a story. There’s so much potential, like starting a new school year with interesting classes and fresh supplies. I feel sucked into this creative pulse that drives me to write. But everything slows in the middle, and sometimes I feel like I’m wandering around in a fog. The characters don’t always act like I think they should, and I’ll follow their rabbit trails to see if they work, which sometimes means retracing my steps and starting over. That can get frustrating. I get consumed by the story in the middle. But when everything starts to fall into place, it’s exhilarating again and I tend to write the ending quickly. And then I begin the revision process. Which can be both frustrating and fun, too.

If you could have a dinner party with six famous people who have influenced you in some way, who would they be?

First, let’s determine that this deal is catered. I’m not inviting famous people to eat my cooking. Too much pressure. I’d probably invite my childhood literary idols, C.S. Lewis and Madeline L’Engle. If my old library still has those copies, my fingerprints are probably permanently imbeded in a Wrinkle In Time and The Dawntreader.

Next, Mae West. I wanted to be Mae West and never succeeded, but an imprint of her lives on in my female characters. I watched a lot of old movies as a kid.

Lorne Michaels, since Saturday Night Live honed my sense of humor over the years. Which shows you what I was doing on Saturday nights.

The creator of Square Pegs (am dating myself), who taught me to revel in my nerdiness.

And lastly, whoever came up with spellcheck, because I owe that person a major debt of gratitude. I probably owe that dude more than dinner.

Do you have a favorite secondary character in Hijack?

I can’t pick a favorite from my regular cast (one of their feelings would get hurt), but I had a side character in Hijack named Zach whom I loved. He’s lives in a cowboy hat and toothpick and hangs out a trucker bar called The Gearjammer. He’s younger than Cherry and likes to think himself a Don Juan. Once he gets his trucker license, he’ll probably have a girl at every truck stop. He was fun to write and grew into a bigger character than I originally thought. That seems to happen with these incidental characters.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I loved The Gearjammer scenes. It’s a rough bar with interesting characters and great place to build action scenes.

If you could put Cherry in a fight- either a debate or an all-out brawl- with another fictional character, who would you match her up against?

Cherry’s more likely to brawl than debate, so let’s put her in a cage match with Mrs. Danvers fromRebecca. Cherry’d enjoy taking Danvers down.

Your prequel to the Cherry Tucker series is coming out early December in the anthology The Heartache Motel. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I wrote Heartache Motel with Terri L. Austin and LynDee Walker. We had so much fun taking our characters to Memphis and creating this  seedy motel for them to stay in. In all the stories, there are drag queens, Elvis impersonators, crimes, and a little heartache. And, of course, our series’ characters. Rose Strickland is with her Diner crew tracking down a murderer and thieves. Nichelle Clarke’s Graceland stopover turns into a big heist story for the reporter. And Todd and Cherry’s caper is a prequel to Portrait of a Dead Guy. They’re on their way to Vegas (haven’t gotten hitched and annulled yet), and make a stop at the Heartache to help Todd’s cousin who’s gotten scammed in a dirty poker game. Lots of mischeif and mayhem. Plenty of hijinx, too. And at Christmas!

You’ve traveled all over the world, to Japan, Thailand, and China. What’s your most memorable experience?

China is where we adopted our daughters, so those were particularly special trips. We had two completely different experiences, too. Which makes sense since our daughters are completely different. Imagine  Oscar and Felix as babies. But much cuter. Both trips began in Beijing and ended in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. We took the girls to Hong Kong when we were living in Japan, but I hope we can take them to China to see their birth country someday. They love to travel as much as their mom and dad.

Describe your perfect day. 

A day where I get to eat anything I want and my jeans don’t feel tight.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Usually while I’m driving my children to activities and doing laundry. Total lifestyles of the rich and famous. In my head.

Thanks, again, Larissa! It’s a pleasure to have you on Ink and Paper.

Connect with Larissa!

Website: larissareinhart.com

Blog: larissareinhart.blogspot.com

Facebook page: facebook.com/RisWrites

Goodreads author page: goodreads.com/author/show/5806614.Larissa_Reinhart

Twitter: twitter.com/RisWrites

Publisher: henerypress.com

https://www.facebook.com/LittleReadHens

Amazon: amazon.com/author/larissareinhart

email: reinhartlarissa@gmail.com

HIJACK IN ABSTRACT:

Amazon Paperback   B&N Paperback

HEARTACHE MOTEL:

Amazon Kindle          B&N Nook      Kobo

Amazon Paperback   B&N Paperback

PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY:

Amazon Kindle     B&N Nook     Kobo

Amazon Paperback     B&N Paperback

STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW:

Amazon Kindle  B&N Nook              Kobo

Amazon Paperback    Barnes&Noble Paperback

<a id=”rc-9d173921″ href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d173921/” rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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http://www.clpblogtours.com/2013/09/hijack-in-abstract-by-larissa-reinhart.html

And make sure to check out the rest of her tour. Here’s the schedule.

November 4 – Mary Castillo – Q&A

November 5 – The Book Bag – Review & Excerpt

November 6 – Ink and Paper – Q&A & Excerpt

November 8 – Shelf Pleasure – Q&A

November 11 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review

November 12 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Q&A & Excerpt

November 14 – Tlassy – Review

November 15 – Musings and Ramblings – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

November 18 – Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries and More – Excerpt

November 19 – Chick Lit Plus – Review

November 22- Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A  & Excerpt

November 25 – Everything Books and Authors – Excerpt

 

Get Hijack in Abstract here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781938383724?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;