‘The Winter People’ by Jennifer McMahon

jmcm twpSTORY: The New York Times bestselling author of Promise Not to Tell returns with a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

REVIEW: Sara Harrison Shea lived in West Hall, Vermont.  In 1908, she was savagely murdered.  She was only 31.  The story goes that she was married and the mother of two deceased children.  The loss of her children affected her deeply.  Her son passed away when he was a baby.  However, when at age 9, her daughter, Gertie, was found dead at the bottom of a well, her sanity was pushed over the edge.  People say that Sara’s ghost is still with us.

Ruthie Washburne now lives in Sara’s house with her Mom and her little sister.  Her father passed away recently and her Mom has always been very strict with her.  Her parents have preferred to live their lives in a  private way and have even eschewed many modern necessities such as the internet.  While Ruthie doesn’t believe the ghost stories about Sara, she is very wary of the thick woods behind the house.  When one day her mother vanishes, she and her sister, aided by her boyfriend, begin a search for her. They find a diary of Sara’s and other items in the house that takes them deeper into a story that opens a world of fear that terrifies Ruthie.

The tale of Sara reaches out even further to touch the lives of Katherine and Gary.  They had lost their young son to leukemia a few years back and are grief stricken.  Gary seems to be the one having the most difficult time with the loss.  When one day he fails to return home, Katherine finds that he has been killed in an auto accident in an an area unknown to her – West Hall, Vermont.  Katherine is determined to uncover the mystery of why he was there.

All of these lives weave together to find all the pieces of Sara’s diary and uncover the truth that has been hidden for such a long time.

This story was magnificent.  It switches back and forth from present day to 1908 as the reader learns new clues that solves this mystery in an edge-of-the-seat way.  I highly recommend it!

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.

 

‘Chilled’ by Kendra Elliot

BOOK BLURB: As a forensic nurse on a search and rescue team, Brynn Nealey braves a dangerous blizzard to find the survivors of a plane crash in the Cascade Mountains. Joining her is Alex Kinton, a former US marshal with self-destructive tendencies. Alex lies his way onto Brynn’s team to find the man who killed his brother—and then administer his own brand of vigilante justice. But once the team members reach the plane’s wreckage, they discover everyone aboard has perished…except for the man Alex is hunting. Alex will do whatever it takes to track his target through the vast, snowy wilderness.

As the temperatures drop, however, so do Alex’s defenses. His contact with the sharp, kindhearted Brynn makes his lust for vengeance difficult to reconcile with his growing feelings for a woman who risks her life to help others. What will happen to Alex’s savage instincts when he finally has the opportunity to confront his brother’s killer?

EXCERPT:

“Alex Kinton pulled his SUV to a lurching stop, choosing the smallest puddle to park in, and then sat and absorbed the gloomy tableau before him. Wet, foggy, cold, and wet. A close-knit circle of red parkas turned his way. Even from fifty feet away he could see and feel the tension in the postures.

He wasn’t welcome.

He didn’t blame them, but he also didn’t care.

He had a plane to get to.

Alex forced himself to open the door and step into the bitterly cold air. Christ. Fucking weather. No turning back. He ran a restless hand through his hair and pulled up his hood as goose bumps spread across his arms.

One of the red parkas stepped out from the circle as Alex worked his way across the mud and muck. His lungs contracted at the stabbing chill in the wet air. It smelled like snow. That fresh-scrubbed, icy smell that came before the skies let loose with the white stuff. Had to be close to freezing. He couldn’t stop a full body shudder and shiver and hoped the onlookers hadn’t noticed. Why hadn’t the crash happened in the middle of August? When it was hot enough to wear shorts?

The man in the parka approached, holding out a hand in greeting, but his brown eyes were cautious. The dark man looked to be in his fifties, an air of natural leadership emanating from him.

“Alex Kinton?”

Alex nodded. “You must be Collins. The boss said you’d have a pack and equipment ready for me?”

Collins’s chin jerked at the curt tone, and Alex levelly met his gaze. He didn’t have the time or patience for how-do-you-do chitchat. His stomach abruptly cramped, reminding him he’d skipped breakfast. The gut pain coordinated with his growing headache from ignoring his medication last night and this morning. He’d wanted a clear head to meet the plane so he’d deliberately left the small orange pill bottle on the shelf.

Now he had a clear, pounding head.

Collins nodded slowly, his gaze plainly assessing. As if he’d decided something his eyes suddenly cooled and his lips thinned. “I’ll get you a pack. This is the team that’s going in. Jim’s in charge.” Collins tilted his head at the four remaining men, turned his back, and strode to his truck.

Alex let his spine relax a millimeter. Collins had recognized the persona Alex had presented. A soldier reporting for duty. No opinion on the task ahead, a simple acceptance of what was thrown on his plate. Locked, loaded, and ready for action.

He turned toward the others, sucking a deep breath to fill his lungs. Wondering which red parka was Jim, Alex solidly met each man’s eyes. Whoops. The last person was a woman. Her mouth twitched and her dark eyes danced in amusement and confidence at his obvious surprise.

Alex froze. His vision tunneled on her face, and her eyes widened a fraction. Their eye contact splintered his carefully constructed wall of indifference. For a split second Alex didn’t feel the cold, his concern about the missing plane evaporated and his mind became refreshingly clear. She bit her lip and glanced away, breaking the connection.

Alex’s brain slammed back to the task at hand and the muddy woods.

With her height, hood, and bulky parka she’d blended neatly with the men. A big gray and white dog sat at her feet, studying him with a keen blue gaze, its tail happily wagging. Alex’s gaze went back to the other men, and he blinked at the hostility that’d crept into their faces as he’d stared at the woman. He stiffened.

At least the dog didn’t seem to mind his presence. “

FEATURED AUTHOR: Kendra Elliot

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Interview & Giveaway with Jeri Cafesin, author of ‘REVERB’

Recently Jeri contacted me through my RR@H email and wondered if I wouldn’t mind reading her novel ‘REVERB’. I had so much on my ‘plate’ that I thought maybe I should check this book on Amazon before I commit to something. Its blurb was intriguing enough but what really hooked me was the first sentence of the book, so I told her that I’d be happy to do it. To say that this book is well-written is just not quite enough. I’m going to say that it is brilliant. It’s deep. It’s unique. You can find my review of it here.

We’re honored to have Jeri with us today so grab a cup of chai, coffee or any beverage that you like, sit back, relax and let’s find out more about Jeri and her work.

b2b: Welcome to b2b Jeri Cafesin (by the way how do you pronounce your name)? In order for me to remember its spelling I’ve separated it in two words: café & sin. Is that the correct way of pronouncing it?

JC: You got it. Cafe (but I don’t know how to get the little dash over the e), and Sin. But the name is not referring to a place to eat, or sin, which I don’t believe in anyway. Indifference to suffering and willful ignorance are the greatest evils by far. Sin is a religious construct.

The name is a pseudonym, made up from my maiden name when I first started writing. Wanted to keep fine writing separate from my copy writing.

b2b: Got it. I also agree with you on the indifference. Well said! Before I begin this interview, I want to thank you for stopping by, and just to give you a heads up: This is my first interview here or anywhere else, so good luck to both of us!

JC: This is my third. The link to my very first interview is on my Bio page because I kept trying to come up with content, think of something to say about myself, and couldn’t come up with anything beyond the obvious—that I’m a writer and a mom and a wife (the writer and the wife always after the mom).

The writer part of me has spent my lifetime watching and interviewing others, trying to make myself as anonymous as possible, fade into the background. It’s…interesting, being on the other end of that when I do a reading or even an online interview like this.

b2b: I think every mom out there will relate to your answer. Once you become a mother, everything else is secondary.

I have to tell you that the title of your novel ‘REVERB’ had me stumped. I had no clue about what the word meant, so I ran it by my husband and so he’d explained it to me. Tell us how did you come up with it and why that word?

JC: Reverb is a fairly common word with musicians but means several things. Short for reverberation, it’s an electronic effect added to music, but it’s also something else. My son plays electric guitar and he gets feedback, the music he’s playing loops in the amp and comes back at him distorted. This is also considered ‘reverb.’ James Whren, the protagonist of the novel, learns what we put out there, what we give is what we get back.

b2b: How true. I love that metaphor.

Some authors write at certain times of day or week. What’s your typical writing schedule and what gets your creative juices flowing? If you have any tips to help other aspiring new authors out there, feel free to share!

JC: When the kids are in school (YEA! Can’t wait for them to go back there!!!), I get them out of the house by 8:00 in the morning, and after going through email and a quick bit of social networking, FB and Twitter…etc., I write. I don’t stop until I have to pick them up for school around 2:30 most days. Lunch is some dry toast or nuts so I don’t have to take time to eat. Story and characters still linger in my head when I’m dealing with the kids and household things that need to get done, but I’m done with writing for the day. Usually read at night (what I want to after reading with the kids). Reading helps me see structure, what I want to emulate, what I don’t. Reading a lot helps me be a better writer.

b2b: I honestly enjoyed every aspect of this book. What inspired it and who did you envision as James?

JC: Glad you enjoyed the read! (You wrote the word ‘brilliant,’ about Reverb above, and I’m hoping you mean it in the British sense where everything is just brilliant. ;) This morning my daughter told DH and I between giggles she likes to pretend she’s a rock star inside her head. Unknown to her, I did too, hence James Whren.

 

 

 

 

b2b:  How cute! When I said ‘brilliant’ I meant “having or showing great intelligence, talent, and quality”. All of the above definitely apply to your novel.

Some authors give too much space to their secondary characters that often times they take over the story. Some do just the opposite. In my opinion you’ve achieved a wonderful balance and gave us just the right amount. Enough to wonder who they are and want more of them. Tell us more about them and if any (Kate in particular) would be having their own story?

JC: Very good. :) Ah, Kate. She’s the lead in my first novel Disconnected, which I’m now on the 4th year of rewriting (with 13 years between the first draft and this one). In Reverb, Kate finally came off the page and told me her story, with a satisfying and liberating ending [for women] at that!

b2b: Now that makes me happy to hear. I thought she had a lot of spunk! Looking forward to her story.

Cover Art in my humble opinion is really very important and that guy on the cover of ‘REVERB’ looks so familiar. He reminded me of Seth Gabel, the actor from ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ series. Who is the Dude on the cover and how much input are you allowed during this process?

JC: Ouch. Sore subject for me. Publisher wanted the current cover. I didn’t. Providing a photograph of a man on the book cover robs the prose of creating an image of masculine beauty. Though we know James is often perceived as beautiful, at least physically, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in Reverb should be the construct of the reader.

I executed several other book covers, my latest I’m looking to get enough comments on to submit to my publisher in hopes of using it instead of the current guy. Read the novel, and if you agree the cover is not what it should be, follow the link to newest book cover and leave a quick comment. I don’t think she’ll believe me with anything less than 50 in favor of the new cover.

b2b: I actually like both!

Do you let someone read your work during your writing process? Who and why? Or do you wait ‘till it’s finished, then you let someone read it…and who?

JC: I work with writing groups, in person and online like Zoetrope, Urbis L.A., where [mostly] writers read and critique other writers. I read it aloud, again and again. When I finish I usually have my husband read it first. He’s anal about spelling and grammatical structure, and, of course, I’m, well, not, so he helps me clean up. He’s my first editor, before the book editor from the publishing house. Professional, or friends that read a lot, it’s important for me to get the readers view and take-away of the story to make sure I’m telling the characters stories instead of my own.

b2b: Jeri, have you been writing for long and what else is out there for us to read from you? I think we’d like to know more about your journey into the publishing world. How hard is it to break through?

JC: “Break through.” We all have a different measure of that, to be sure. What’s yours?…To be read? By how many? 500, 5,000, 10,000,000? Mine is to make a living on fine writing alone (novels, essays and such); not a huge sum (even minimum annual wage would be good), but provide me with enough to justify quitting my ‘real’ job in advertising.

My journey in making up stories began as far back as I can remember with my stuffed dog, Checkers. At breakfast I used to make up elaborate tales of going in the night to Disneyland with my foot long blue and white checkered fabric mutt; or maybe sneaking out for a midnight surf off Malibu, with Checkers hanging ten off the front of my board.

I started keeping diaries when I was five. Switched to journals, you know those spiral binders we used for school. I loved having them everywhere, by the bed, in the bathroom, the car, with a pen stuck down the center of the metal spiral, and I wrote in them all the time. Now I can hardly hand-write anymore. I’ve been typing into a computer for so long I’ve become clumsy with a pen. I generally think as fast as I type, but when I have to use a pen I really have to focus on my hand movements to write now.

b2b: Well now you got me thinking. Am I a writer? In writing this Blog would I be considered as such?! I wouldn’t mind 10,000,000 people reading my blog! LOL!!

It is very difficult for me to choose my favorite author or a book, how about you? Are you willing to fess-up?

JC: Hard to choose with so much great writing out there. Favorite author is hard for me because I was taught not to fall for the artist but the art. So a few favorite books, this minute, off the top, which if you asked tomorrow the answers would be different: The Martian Chronicles, The Fountainhead, The Magus, The Collector, Crime and Punishment, Knockemstiff, Childhood’s End, The Godfather, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The End of the Affair, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…

b2b: Those are some great books! I only read one of those, but now I’ll be checking the other ones you mentioned.

What do you like to read and what’s on your TBR now?

JC: DH and kids buy me books for every present worthy occasion. Usually contemporary commercial fiction. Just finished Stranger on the Planet, and I’m just beginning Matched, and after that is Attachments and The Other Life.

b2b: Now, that ends up our ‘professional’ portion of this interview. Are you ready to get personal? Or are you going to chicken out on me?

JC: Humm…

b2b: …I take that to be a yes so, let’s get Personal:

Tell us a bit about yourself, something personal that you’d like us to know…anything that makes you comfortable…or not…like how many times did you fall in love?

JC: Never fell in love, except for with my kids, from the day they were born, but I’m taking it you mean adult love. Worked at love twice in my life, (maybe three times but I knew it was a mistake from the beginning), and I’m married to my second journey into love. Everyday we prove to one another we’re here for each other and I’m more in love with my husband. I’m a firm believer Love is an action. The word itself is meaningless unless shown.

b2b: Once more, very well put. Saying the words and not backing it with an ‘action’ is meaningless.

Jeri, you’ve been so gracious today. Thank you for sharing with us. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having you here and I wish you all the luck. You have an awesome talent, please keep at it.

JC: Thanks for having me on bookworm2bookworm!! Questions? Leave a comment here or on my site with your email and I’ll get back to you…

 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Jeri will be giving away 1 signed printed copy of her ‘REVERB’ novel

& two PDF forms of it.

All you need to do is:

Become a b2b subscriber.

Post a comment or question

(here or on JC’s website, with your email address).

If uncomfortable with that, send me or Jeri an email.

Tweet or share the post.

“REVERB” by J. Cafesin

STORY: James Whren is brilliant, beautiful and taken—with himself, or more precisely his genius for creating music.

On the eve of his brother’s funeral, his father turns his life upside down, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one real to save him.

His odyssey to freedom takes him beyond the looking glass, to the view from friends and lovers.

Humbled and alone, James escapes to the Greek island of Corfu. But instead of solace there, loneliness almost consumes him.

Until Elisabeth and her son Cameron.

REVIEW: I’ll not ruin my review of this book with any spoilers, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about it. I want you to experience it as I did. I want you to feel what I felt reading it. I will admit that it had me at the edge of my chair, couch or on my feet! And if you’re a ‘nail biter’, be ready to lose a few of those as well!

From the first sentence I just knew that I was in for a ride. This is not just a very well written story. This is a clever story. Every sentence of it has depth including the dialogue. The author took me straight into not just James’ head, but into his heart. I couldn’t help but feel what he felt, and every word he spoke. Ms. J. Cafesin has built the complex character of James with such meticulous care and gave him breath so that he became real to me.

The dialogue is sharp, too real and altogether refreshing. The story as well as the plot are a tad predictable, however in no way does it take away from the suspense or the excitement of it. Make no mistake; this is one hundred percent character driven story that will have you tied up in knots. Add to that a bunch of wonderful secondary characters like Kate ‘the pot smoking’ chick that gets into a car accident with our hero; Martin and John, his Gay friends; Julia and Stephen, the ‘ex’ and his Accountant; Howard ‘Harvard’ Miller, his father’s best friend and secretary-director. And of course Edward Whren, a father whose love for his sons either went too deep or not deep enough. We see James through their eyes and our love and compassion for this man just keeps growing.

Once the author introduces Elizabeth and her infant son Cameron into the story this thriller becomes a genuine love story. The relationship is built slowly and once again with such care that it feels real and not forced. Their falling in love is gradual and the reader feels the build up, so when they finally admit it to each other, I felt joy and was grinning from ear to ear.

Can you tell I liked this book?! If you like contemporary romance or a psychological thriller you just can’t miss this one. It is THAT good!