Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

  • Title:  Poison
  • Author:  Galt Niederhoffer
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  November 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids, a cat, and a yard, they are living the modern family dream. A recent move to Portland, Maine is the perfect fresh start – a fixer-upper Victorian, new jobs for Cass and Ryan, a good school for the kids, and the shimmering bay in sight. But trouble begins imperceptibly, first with the white lies told in every marital bedroom.

Was he really “stuck at the office”?

Did he delete a text?

The lies seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a swirl of denials, explanations, and confusion. The tables are turned.

Is he lying? Or am I losing my mind?

With life-and-death consequences, Poison is a chilling reminder that the ties that bind can also be instruments of torture. And that breaking trust is the most toxic betrayal of all. (publisher)

My take:  When widowed mother of two young children and former award-winning investigative reporter Cass meets Ryan he seems an answer to her prayers. After a whirlwind ‘courtship’ they marry and their son is born several months later. After a few concerning occurrences they move to Maine for a fresh beginning. Life is great. Until it isn’t. Cass has suspicions that something has flipped in their marriage.  Cass will find out just who (if anyone) she can trust and where she’ll get help for her dire situation. I thought the author did a good job building drama and even suspense. She makes her point of the challenges women face in the legal/criminal system. Most of the novel I wasn’t certain Cass was a reliable narrator – not because of what her husband said but because of her self-doubt. That bothered me but I’m guessing it’s not unusual for abused women to feel that way. Recommended to fans of psychological thrillers.


 

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Spotlight on: Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

I’m pleased to shine the Bookfan Spotlight on POISON by Galt Niederhoffer. Today is publication day and I can’t wait to read it!

Description:

Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids, a cat, and a yard, they are living the modern family dream. A recent move to Portland, Maine is the perfect fresh start – a fixer-upper Victorian, new jobs for Cass and Ryan, a good school for the kids, and the shimmering bay in sight. But trouble begins imperceptibly, first with the white lies told in every marital bedroom.

Was he really “stuck at the office”?

Did he delete a text?

The lies seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a swirl of denials, explanations, and confusion. The tables are turned.

Is he lying? Or am I losing my mind?

With life-and-death consequences, Poison is a chilling reminder that the ties that bind can also be instruments of torture. And that breaking trust is the most toxic betrayal of all.


About the author:

Galt Niederhoffer is a writer and producer. She has written several novels, including The Romantics and A Taxonomy of Barnacles, and has produced more than thirty indie films, twelve of which were selections and award-winners at the Sundance Film Festival. Niederhoffer has also been published in Vogue, New York magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in New York City with her three children.


Praise for POISON:

“The novel is ominous from Page 1, and with its slow-burn peril – both psychological and physical…the suspense is sustained until the very end.” – Kirkus reviews

“This gripping, insightful work dissects a marriage in which Cass, a wife and mother of three, believes she is under attack from her perfect-to-the-outside-world husband. Throughout the novel, Cass’ racing thoughts, tormenting self-doubt, and fear for her family’s safety lay bare the torture of being gaslighted by a lying narcissist. Readers will be gripped by the did-he, didn’t-he plot: the mental gymnastics portrayed on the page are so spot-on that it is difficult to imagine that the novel isn’t autobiographical.” – Booklist

“[E]ngrossing…this is a chilling and entertaining novel. ” – Publisher’s Weekly

“It will grab you…unsettle you…make you question the things you hold dear – family, marriage, and sanity. And it won’t let go until the very end.” – Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street

“With gripping, nuanced style, Galt Niederhoffer has written a novel – think of Gone Girl – that delivers an unbelievable reality, with twisty, turn-y, modern-day noir panache. Poison is both entertainment and a warning – and that is saying a lot.” – Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us

“Haunting.” – Lucinda Rosenfeld, author of Class 


 

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

  • Title:  The Stolen Marriage
  • Author:  Diane Chamberlain
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever.

It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love―and the life―she was meant to have? (publisher)

My take:  The Stolen Marriage is the story of Tess DeMello and how the life she’d dreamed of changed in the course of one night. She was about to get her RN degree and then marry the man she’d loved her whole life. When those plans go awry, she ends up in North Carolina and married to a virtual stranger. His family (as well as the entire town) are dismayed by her appearance and are far from welcoming. Tess relies on her inherent good nature and will do her best in her new life as wife and soon-to-be mother. Diane Chamberlain’s 1940s war era story is well-crafted combining the polio epidemic as well as social/racial issues of the day resulting in a good, multi-layered novel.  I was completely immersed, learned a lot about pre-polio vaccine years, and recommend it to fans of the author and historical fiction. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Chamberlain’s novels – The Stolen Marriage was my first.


 

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

  • Title:  Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
  • Author:  Ruth Emmie Lang
  • Genre:  Fantasy; Magical Realism
  • Pages:  352
  • Publication date:  November 7, 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places, jeopardizing not only his own life, but the life of Mary, the woman he loves.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell: great storms that evaporate into thin air; fireflies that make phosphorescent honey; a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door. (publisher)

My take:  When I began reading Ruth Emmie Lang’s debut novel I felt a bit lost and unsure if I was the intended audience. But not one who gives up on a book easily, I kept reading. And I’m so happy I did. It’s about a boy who lived in a forest with wolves and his journey through life. It’s about the people (and the animals) he meets along the way. It’s about human nature, the ability to be kind, the willingness to be kind, and seeking and embracing the possibilities life has to offer. I know this is kind of scattered and brief but allow me to end by saying I finished reading the novel with that delicious feeling of wishing it could go on and on. I love when that happens. It’s on my 2017 Favorites List, for sure.


Advance Praise:

“Ruth Emmie Lang dazzles with her inventive and magical debut. Told with brains and heart, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance introduces a protagonist who is both mythical and relatable. Weylyn Grey leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets, and he will on readers too.” —Michelle GableNew York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment, I’ll See You in Paris, and The Book of Summer

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a brilliant button on the coat of American magical realism. Think Charlotte’s Web for grown-ups who, like Weylyn Grey, have their own stories of being different, feared, brave, and loved.” —Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

“Ruth Emmie Lang’s prose has the earthy warmth of a campfire story, best enjoyed in the woods and under the stars. Her contemporary spin on the American folktale, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, bristles with charm and curiosity, and its oddball hero, Weylyn Grey, will make you want to follow him into the forest.” —Winston GroomNew York Times bestselling author of Forrest Gump

“A wholly original and superbly crafted work of art, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a masterpiece of the imagination. Intelligent, witty, and brave, Ruth Emmie Lang takes us on an uplifting and unforgettable adventure of love, magic, friendship and fate. An extraordinary work of fiction by a truly gifted author. ” —Lori Nelson SpielmanNew York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness 


 

The Trust by Ronald H. Balson

  • Title:  The Trust
  • Author:  Ronald H. Balson
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  September 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  The newest novel from Ronald H. Balson, the international bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers, finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle’s funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural.

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm. (publisher)

My take:  Liam Taggart gets more than he bargained for when he returns to Northern Ireland for his beloved uncle’s funeral. He accepts the request to act as trustee for the estate, much to his relatives’ dismay. He will have to untangle a knot of family secrets, old grudges (both political and familial), and nefarious activities before he can return to life with his wife and young son in Chicago.

Ronald H. Balson’s story was interesting and grew in intensity with each chapter building to an exciting climax that was cinematic in scope. The setting and historical circumstances were intriguing as were the characters. I grew quite fond of Inspector McLaughlin and Officer Megan Dooley. I enjoyed this legal thriller and look forward to reading more of Balson’s novels.


About the author:

RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Karolina’s Twins, Saving Sophie and the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

 

 

Praise for Ronald H. Balson:

“A heart-wrenching…triumphant story.” —The Chicago Tribune on Karolina’s Twins

“Secrets, friendships, survival, and the Holocaust are woven together in Ronald H. Balson’s haunting Karolina’s Twins.”—Family Circle on Karolina’s Twins

“A new look at an old story…will stay with you long after you have finished it.” —The Huffington Post on Once We Were Brothers

“Uplifting and moving, intelligently written…an unusual insight into human character.” —Library Journal, starred review on Once We Were Brothers

 “A page-turning read filled with despair and anger but with hope, love, and humanity at its core.” —Jewish Book Council on Saving Sophie


Jane Austen At Home by Lucy Worsley

  • Title:  Jane Austen at Home
  • Author:  Lucy Worsley
  • Genre:  Biography
  • Pages:  387
  • Published:  July 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On the two-hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the world in which one of English Literature’s best-loved novelists lived.

This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces, and possessions that mattered to her, and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms; in fact, her life was often a painful struggle.

Jane famously lived a “life without incident,” but with new research and insights Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster in fact had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.  (publisher)

My take:  I’ve enjoyed Jane Austen’s novels so reading Lucy Worsley’s biography of the revered author was a pleasure. It’s a compelling look at Austen’s life and, more specifically, how she lived. The impact of what was going on at any given time in her life was apparent in her heroines’ circumstances. The day-to-day minutiae landed on the pages of the novels that readers, then and now, recognize and can relate. That’s why there are so many Janeites still today. I found the book easy to read and, honestly, difficult to put down. I especially loved learning about Jane’s endearing relationship with her sister Cassandra. I appreciated the extensive research made apparent by the bibliography, notes and index. The photos and illustrations included in two sections enhanced the reading experience. I can say with confidence Jane Austen at Home would be a perfect gift for Austen fans.