Missing You by Harlan Coben

Missing YouMissing You by Harlan Coben

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coming off the heels of “Six Years,” Which I absolutely loved, I was really hoping that this thriller would be just as good.

Harlan Coben is a fantastic author, there is no doubt about that, so I had high expectations for this book. For the first third or so of the story, I wasn’t positive that I was going to love this. The story starts out well enough, but is so focused on the main character and her own wants and desires that it was hard for me to see how this was going to form into a complex thriller.

As the story progressed the plot thickened and there were multiple angles being worked at the same time. The characters were well written and each had a defined purpose in the story, even the ones that at first glance didn’t really seem to be important.

There were a few things I thought were a bit too convenient (everyone seemed to be a computer genius) but for the most part I found this story easily digestible. The last few chapters of the book were very edgy and tense and the kind of writing that makes you grip the book in terror for the heroes.

This author is good at creating tense situations for his characters and making the reader want to keep turning pages. This book was no exception. I enjoyed getting to know Kat and trying to anticipate what her next move would be. Although there were times during the latter half of this book that I wondered about the things she did (would an officer really do that?)she was a character that I formed a bond with and wanted to see prevail in the end.

Even in the last few pages, the story was still taking unexpected turns. If you are a fan of Harlan Coben or just a good mystery/thriller, this is a book you will not want to miss out on.

Get to know Author Joe Gazzam

FrontCOVSome of my favourite discoveries this last year have been accidental, and that is certainly the case with the talented author we are featuring here today. Please give a huge welcome to author Joe Gazzam. I think there is a good chance this will not be the last you hear from him. I’m pretty good at these big future judging games, no?


 Tell us a little bit about you and your work.

Quick bio:

I was born in Baltimore, MD, grew up in Fort Lauderdale, FL and graduated from the University of Florida. Soon after college, I moved to Los Angeles with one script under my arm, never having been to California in my life and literally knowing no one. Since then, due to good luck and the support of friends and family, I’ve been a working screenwriter (21 Jump Street,
Step Up: Revolution, Anubis Tapestry) for 8 years. I currently live in Southern California with my wife and son.

About the work:


My work falls into two categories novels and screenplays. But yet, the content is pretty similar. I gravitate toward grounded, action-y Young Adult stories.

I just think YA fits me the best. I have a hard time reading books that take a long time to get going or spend inordinate amounts of time describing non-essential stuff. If you take five pages to describe how sunlight hits off a tin can, I’m probably not going to keep reading.

With screenwriting you ALWAYS have to be moving the plot. In fact, if you have a scene that doesn’t forward the plot in some way – you better delete it. YA, in a way, is somewhere between a long drawn out novel and a screenplay. It’s very much about character, mood and such, but you better keep it moving. I love that.

 What first gave you the idea for your book “Uncaged?”

The story came out of my own, unmitigated fear of prison. Prison and sharks pretty much scare the crap out of me. The prison part, stemmed from an old documentary I watched when I was probably way too young to watch it. My dad had it on an old videotape; it was called “Scared Straight.”

Named, obviously, after the program (the same program in my fictional book). It was this program for repeat juvy offenders — kids they couldn’t get to stop committing crimes. They’d put them in a real jail for a day and these real convicts would explain (in the most terrifying manner ever) what life would be like in prison if they ended up there.

It honestly gave me some of my worst nightmares growing up. And that seed just stuck in my head. So when I decided I wanted to do a YA thriller – it was already there.

In the documentary, as scary as it was, those convicts were all volunteers. Guys who had a new attitude and wanted to help reform these kids. So there was always an imaginary line you knew they couldn’t cross. No matter how much they threatened these kids, you knew they weren’t really going to hurt them.

But, in my head it was always – what if that imaginary line was gone. What would it be like to be one of those kids in the most terrifying place on the planet with some of the most dangerous people on the planet? And the writing pretty much flowed from that.

What has been the most difficult part of publishing/marketing your work?

Getting word out. I guess this is everyone’s problems if you go with a small publisher. They really have no marketing budget to speak of, so it rests mostly on my shoulders.

I’ve been pulling what strings I can – getting some celebrities to tweet it out, doing a couple radio shows, and a few interviews for smaller papers. But it’s really tough. Now with self-publishing (which I think is great) – there’s so much noise in the system. It’s hard to get people’s attention.

Have there been any surprises for you in how the book has been received?

Yes! Now, this is going to sound totally self-serving, but just the overwhelmingly positive response and reviews. I honestly expected to just have some people just hammer me. You always hear the horror stories of people that are just brutal on the internet. Just to be mean.

But all but one of my reviews on Amazon have been 4 and 5 stars. The only 3 star I’ve had so far, the guy was actually really positive about the book.

I know the ugly one is coming and I’ve prepared a fetal position to drop into when it hits. I know it’s gonna be tough, you put your heart and so much time into the writing, but the truth is — not everyone is going to like it.

Do you have another work in progress?

I just finished two screenplays, one for Disney (Disney’s Hawaiian Adventure) and one for Universal (It Takes a Thief)

And I just finished the first draft of a new YA series that I’m really excited about. It’s basically a big, fun blockbuster movie in book form. It’s been so much fun to write. It has everything in it – romance, action, thrills. I can’t wait to get it out there. Plus, I’ve been dying to write a series. “Uncaged” is sort of a self-contained story. It would be tough to pull another book out of it. But this new series I could write for a long time.

Where can we find you and your work?


Here are a few ways…

“UNCAGED” can be purchased:








The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never ListThe Never List by Koethi Zan

The most relentless, deeply disturbing thriller writer since Jeffery Deaver and Gillian Flynn

For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.

Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

A shocking, blazingly fast read, Koethi Zan’s debut is a must for fans of Karin Slaughter, Laura Lippman, and S.J. Watson.–Description from Goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be completely honest, I am still somewhat divided on how to feel about this book. From the very beginning it is quite attention grabbing and easy to get involved in. At first I thought the subject matter might be a bit too dark for my liking, but although there were some pretty emotional images brought about by this novel, the writing was kept pretty clean and it wasn’t at all what I had feared it might be.

There were parts of this story where I felt that the characters were taking logical steps to solve a mystery and deal with the demons from their past. What I did not get, was how a character that had barely been mentioned before suddenly became a hero at one point in the story. I felt the focus shifted suddenly and it didn’t seem to fit what I knew of the character previous to that point. Perhaps this was intentional on the part of the author, but for me it was a little jarring.

I really enjoyed Sarah’s character. She seemed very down to earth and the author did an amazing job of making her appear as an introvert, as one would expect after the terror she lived through. Her attitude and guarded manner went perfectly with her story. I also liked that she felt such compassion for others, even if she didn’t recognise it for what it was.

Out of all the characters, Adele was my least favourite. She never grabbed my attention and much of the time I felt she was just there as a stepping stone for the other characters without much of a real identity of her own. When she did begin to play a larger role I felt she was portrayed as silly and I actually think the story might have been able to get by without her.

The storyline remained interesting throughout the novel and there were some unexpected twists along the way. One thing that I think would have made the book a bit more believable is if the characters had gotten fatigued sooner. Two of them traveled a lot during the course of the story and yet it wasn’t until toward the end that they seemed to display any lack of strength or human qualities.

The part of this book that I enjoyed the most, was actually the last two chapters. The unfolding story of the characters was very well written and the dialogue was incredible.

I did not expect the book to end the way it did, and now that I look back, I can see what genius the author used in crafting the last third of her story. She ensured that no one would be able to figure it out through a revelation in her story. Well played.

I still felt there were a couple of things not completely resolved at the end of the story, but the ending was good regardless.

If you have not read Koethi Zan yet, now might be a good time to start.

The (th Girl by Tami Hoag

The 9th Girl (Kovac and Liska #4)The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You want to read this book. Really. You do.

I can’t recall reading a mystery/thriller book that actually kept me on my toes this well for quite a while.

The two main characters have the kind of relationship that is filled with tension and makes them play extremely well off of one another. This carries the entire plot of the story along nicely.

The humour is wry and funny and makes you burst out laughing at inopportune moments, just as a good book should. It was this humour that proved to be what made the 9th Girl stand out from the crowd. The entire thing is well written, the story is carefully crafted and filled with suspense, but the laughs you get every so often really break up the serious parts and make it enjoyable.

The angle of having the Zombie girl in this book made it unique and not feel quite as procedural. Being a mum myself, listening to the descriptions of what happened to her both angered and intrigued me. I like novels that can outrage you, please you and make you forget about everything else.

My favourite character was Liska. She is strong and determined to protect her family and yet compassionate and just an overall very well rounded character. I usually don’t think much of the characters after reading a novel, but she is one that will stay with you.

Tami Hoag is masterful at writing books that make you sit at the edge of your seat waiting for the next page. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who likes a mystery it is impossible to figure out.

This review is based on a Digital ARC provided by the publisher.

An Interview with Bianca Sloane, author of Live and Let Die

Live and Let Die - Book Cover

Today I am happy to chat with the very talented and beautiful author Bianca Sloane. I read this book a few months ago and I have to tell you, it was one of the best books I have had the pleasure of enjoying. If you love puzzles and you like it when the author fools you all the way to the last page, you can’t go wrong with “Live and Let Die.”

Please welcome Bianca!

Head Shot


Bianca Sloane is a freelance writer living in Chicago. When she’s not writing, she’s watching Bravo TV, Investigation Discovery, reading or cooking. “Live and Let Die” is her first novel.

A Lovely Interview With Bianca Sloane

Tell us a little about your background,  your current life and your most recent book.

              I’m originally from the South – I was born in Little Rock, Ark. and lived in Texas when I was younger.  However, I’ve lived in    Chicago off and on for the past 20 years and consider it my home, blizzards and all.

“>In terms of my professional background, I worked in the PR and advertising industry for about 12 years before striking out on my own a few years ago to try my hand as a freelance writer.  I work mostly with corporate clients, writing a variety of materials such as press releases, bylined articles and speeches.

Currently, I live on the north side of Chicago, am single in a sea of marrieds with a raging shoe addiction, a love of monthly brunches with my girlfriends and an unhealthy obsession with all things Real Housewives.

My debut novel, “Live and Let Die,” which I released in 2012, is a psychological thriller about a woman who disappears and is later murdered.  Her sister, who was out of the country at the time, starts to realize there are a lot of things about her sister’s death that don’t make sense and the more she digs, the more sinister things become.   

                When did you first realise that you were interested in writing and what inspired you to write?

I’ve always been a writer – I was that kid pecking out fanfiction for TV shows, movies and books on an ancient typewriter.  I was always writing stories in my head, jotting things down on random scraps of paper or in a notebook.  I wrote for the school paper in college and even now, when writing press releases, it’s interesting to figure out the best way to tell the story.

I’ve always drawn inspiration from everything around me, from a TV show to a conversation overheard on the street.  You just never know where a good story will come from.

               Did you have any reservations about publishing your work?

I did have some reservations about publishing my work.  Writers, like all artists, have fragile egos, so it can be daunting to open up your soul to scrutiny from the public.  Also, “Live and Let Die,” is quite different from a lot of what is available in the suspense/thriller genre— it’s not about a quirky detective, a police procedural or even romantic suspense.  I worried people wouldn’t “get” it.  However, readers have really responded to it because of how different it is, which has been so exciting for me.

 What has been the most difficult part of marketing your work?

Probably the most difficult part of marketing my work has been training myself to think differently about promotion and marketing.  Since my background is in public relations, I’m used to writing a press release and pitching it to a reporter or inviting a reporter to cover an event or doing any number of “traditional” PR activities.  I’m finding that “PR” works a bit differently in the eBook world – things like blog tours, blog hops and podcasts are huge.  I’m learning more everyday about these methods and am always thinking of ways I can combine them with more “traditional” PR. 

One thing that doesn’t change, is the power of relationships; relationships with your readers, other authors, bloggers, reviewers, etc.  The package may look a little different, but the gift is the same.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am actually working on two new releases, both suspense novels; “Every Breath You Take,” is about a man’s obsession with an old girlfriend and the other, title TBD, details an extramarital affair and its deadly consequences.

Why did you choose the genre you picked for your novel?

 I have always loved reading mysteries, stretching back to Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, right up to Gillian Flynn and Kate Atkinson.  So, when it came to my own writing, I was naturally drawn to stories about crime and mystery.  However, rather than serial killers or straight whodunits, I like to explore the dark side of love; in other words, how people are driven to commit heinous acts, all in the name of this extremely complex emotion.

What is the last thing you read and did you enjoy it?

I actually didn’t care for the last book I read, a mystery novel by a favorite author – it wasn’t their best work, so I don’t want to say – but I will say that I’m currently reading “What the Dead Know,” by Laura Lippman, and it’s just terrific.  She really knows how to get inside the heads of her characters and their motivations. 

What do you think the future of publishing is? Will there always be traditional houses?

I think the future of publishing is exciting; we’ve entered the realm where the reader can decide, vs. gatekeepers in New York, about what is an interesting/commercial viable work, and as a result, some really fresh and original voices have emerged.  Without this brave new indie world, they – and other writers – might not have ever had the opportunity to share their work. 

However, new gatekeepers are in order and I think book bloggers will begin to fill that role.  They are much more accessible and a lot less jaded than the old guard, but are still quite discerning about what they like. 

I think we’ll see more “big name” authors break away from traditional publishing as we know it now and take greater creative control of their careers.   I think way off in the future, traditional publishing houses will function more like distribution houses, rather than production houses.  They have the relationships and muscle to get books on the shelves, because, despite the rise in eBooks, I don’t think print books are on their way out anytime soon.  People still love the feel of a book.   

Any advice for other writers who have not yet taken the plunge and published?

Do your homework and don’t take shortcuts.  Publishing is a confusing business with a lot of nuances and you have to educate yourself about its ins and outs.  At the same time, we’re living in the information age – the resources are yours for the taking.  There’s no excuse to claim ignorance.   J.A. Konrath’s book, “A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing” is a comprehensive and powerful guidebook and I recommend all aspiring authors start there – and read all of it.  Stephen King’s “On Writing” is an invaluable book on the craft and should also be required reading.

Finding a good critique partner and honest beta readers is also key.  Really listen to what they have to say and keep your ego out of it.

I would also say, find the money and hire a professional proofreader.  It’s just not a good idea to proof your own work, because you will miss something.  Also, unless you’re a graphic designer or really good at formatting, hire professionals to handle these tasks.  With a little bit of research, you can find reasonably priced experts who will give you great value for your money.

Be nice to your readers, reviewers and other authors.  Not everyone will like your work and that’s okay.  Resist the urge to send them nasty messages or track them down and slash their tires.

And always, start writing the next book.

  If you could be one of the characters in your book who would it be and why?

Even though she is the total opposite of me, the character of Sondra in “Live and Let Die,” is just such a badass, that I wouldn’t mind stepping into her shoes for a day.  She’s a smoker, a nail-biter and a slob; she’s also smart, tenacious and just cool.  I dig her.

Where can we find you and any final thoughts?


Readers can find me at any of the places below; I’m an active tweeter and have been known to waste copious amounts of time on Pinterest.

 I love to hear from readers! 

 Finally, I’m really grateful for the indie author movement and the opportunities it has opened up for so many, myself included.  I’m having a blast.



*Bianca–Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview with Readful Things. I am super excited to read your next book. You have a permanent residence on my bookshelf!

Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson


Despite the illusion Sapphire Dubois presents to the rest of the world, she is not just your stereotypical 22-year old Beverly Hills heiress; she hunts serial killers. While her fellow heirs spend their nights with trending celebs and drugs at the hottest club, Sapphire secretly spends hers luring, capturing, and anonymously handing over So-Cal’s most wanted killers to the police — just your average Tuesday night.

What Sapphire doesn’t know is that one of her adversaries is watching her every move, aware of both her true identity and her unconventional hobby. Needless to say, he doesn’t approve. Used to being the one who redefines the definition of predator and prey, Sapphire’s world abruptly shatters when a gruesome ‘gift’ arrives for her at the Beverly Hills Country Club. With her involuntary crush, handsome Detective Aston Ridder, close on her tail, Sapphire now has to rethink her routine strategy and figure out how to capture a killer who already knows she’s coming.–Description from Goodreads

ebook, 184 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Diversion Books
edition language
Sapphire Dubois is the heroine to beat out all other heroines. She kind of reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer except her Name isn’t Buffy and Vampires aren’t her target…Okay maybe that was a bad comparison. She kicks butt and takes names. You wouldn’t expect that from a spoiled, rich girl.

I loved this book. I had so much fun while reading this that I forgot all about everything else. There is romance, intrigue and a lot of danger in this novel and it kept me riveted to my seat the entire time. I really can’t find too much to complain about with this book. The author was creative and there are constant twists and turns that I just wasn’t expecting. There were a couple of moments where I thought “yeah right,” but overall these were few and far between and it is fiction, so I can forgive those.

The single thing that I liked more than anything else about the book was the dialogue and the character’s inner thoughts. Never once did I feel there was too much or too little of either and I also found it to sound like a real conversation rather than just words on paper (or in this case on Kindle.) The personalities the author has created seem to fit the characters.

It takes a lot of work to make a killer that has new qualities and can actually frighten the reader. This author made me look over my shoulder and think while I was reading her work. That to me is a sign of a good thriller writer.

This author has a unique voice and has written a highly readable novel with an unexpected and rather exciting ending. I would certainly read another book by Mia Thompson. Recommended.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly


Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.

The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn in Devon for Bonfire Night, but this year everything is different. Lydia, the matriarch, is dead; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time.

The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on – but when they leave her looking after Sophie’s baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest…

Gripping and chilling, with a killer twist, The Burning Air reaffirms Erin Kelly as one of Britain’s foremost psychological thriller writers.–Description from Goodreads

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 21st 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books (first published January 1st 2013)
0670026727 (ISBN13: 9780670026722)
edition language
You can find this book HERE
My Thoughts:
To be honest, this book didn’t grab me from the first page, or even the first chapter. What I did instead, was settle into it a little at a time and began to really enjoy it after the third chapter.

This author has a unique voice when she writes and it pleased me as a reader. I particularly liked the way she built suspense without revealing too much of what was yet to come. The way the characters are doing battle with their own lives, histories and also trying to solve a mystery was a great way to present a psychological thriller.

The descriptions were well-crafted and helped set the tone for story. I found it appealing that the author didn’t waste pages of space telling about her characters physical appearance, but managed to work the descriptions into the story so that they felt much more natural.

plot-wise, this book has plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and although not all of them were totally believable, it made a great build up for a strong finish.

This is the first book I have read by this author and I would gladly read another. If you are looking for something edgy, a little scary and complex this would be the perfect book.

This review is based on a digital review copy from the publisher.