Fault Lines by Emily Itami

Fault Lines is a beautiful, poetically written, heartbreaking story about a Japanese woman who seems to have it all, but is slowly dying inside. She mourns the loss of her past, her freedom and the death of her father which she feels responsible for. As her world begins to break apart, like the fault lines which cause earthquakes, she must make a decision which she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

Mizuki is a housewife, who works part-time as translator for Americans who are living in Japan. She has a hard working husband who is never home and two children who believe she is their servant. Her life consists of cooking, cleaning, picking up and dropping off at schools, and tending to everyone’s needs except her own. This is a far cry from the young girl who spent a year in New York City in a student study abroad program, who had the world ahead of her and wanted to become a famous singer.

Just as her life begins to spin slowly out of control with a husband who spends no time with her and the demands of two children who can’t seem to do anything for themselves, she meets a man named Kiyoshi who owns many restaurants. They begin an affair. In him she finds the attention and conversation which is lacking in her relationship with her husband and the praise and appreciation she never feels when tending her children. She begins to see a life she thought she could never have.

Kiyoshi seems to be her true soul-mate. But with most affairs of the heart, there comes a time when a decision must be made. Feelings need to be reevaluated. Who is most important? Her love for Kiyoshi, or the choices she has already made in her life with her husband and her children? And then suddenly Mizuki is jolted back into the reality of her life with her family.

Along the way she gains perspective into her life, both past and present. Sometimes decisions must be based not just on ourselves, but on the needs of those we love. But love never dies and those we are devoted to never truly leave our hearts or our souls.

Thank you #Goodreads #CustomHouse #EmilyItami #FaultLines for the advanced copy.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Psychopaths rule! At least they think they do! A group of seven diagnosed psychopaths have found themselves in an experimental college clinical study. Most of the college community doesn’t even know the study exists. They are monitored and have sessions with a famous psychologist who put this study together. He was part of a serial killer’s team years ago. The group must wear smart watches at all times for tracking, complete experiments and help answer questions about how they are feeling at certain times. You see psychopaths have no empathy and feel no emotion. Most think the world revolves around their needs and wants. Tuition for these students is free. They do not know each other. Until one of them is killed. And one of them finds the body.

Then they begin to find each other, one by one.

Chloe is a freshman. She is smart, pretty, knows she must make lots of friends on campus and be popular. She is a psychopath. She is really at the school for the free tuition because she is planning to kill a student who goes to the school who did something to her when she was a younger. She has been stalking him since then and her plan is to commit the perfect murder.

Charlie is a seasoned psychopath. He has been in the program for a few years. He comes from a very wealthy family who are embarrassed by him. Charlie does have a faithful girlfriend who tries to keep him under control, but psychopaths like Charlie know how to manipulate very well. And Charlie has a wandering eye. Her name is Chloe.

Andre is a fake psychopath. Because he had been in trouble as a teenager he was able to manipulate his way into the study. What he is really there for is the free tuition. Although Andre can try and think like a psychopath, he cannot truly feel like one. He has found Chloe and Charlie and does not trust either of them. And he shouldn’t.

As the dead bodies begin to pile up, the group begin to accuse each other of being the killer. So how is it possible for psychopaths to try and put their psychosis aside and make an effort and work together? Very difficult. But they have to because whoever is killing has set their sights on them.

Is the killer a psychopath? Can these very challenged young adults put all the pieces together before one of them is the next victim? What happens when a group of non-caring, narcissistic, passionless, unexpressive psychopaths must work together? An incredible crazy ride!

Vera Kurian is a psychologist and writer and a longtime resident of Washington DC. She has a doctorate in social psychology, specializing in intergroup relations, political ideology, and quantitative methods. She has studied fiction at Breadloaf, Sewanee, VONA, and attended juried workshops at LitCamp, Colgate, Juniper, and the Marlboro Summer Writing Intensive. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a semifinalist for the Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest.

Author Website

Twitter: @vera_kurian

Instagram: @verakurianauthor

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Thank you #NetGalley #ParkRow #NeverSawMeComing #VeraKurian for the advanced copy.

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The Fran Lebowitz Reader by Fran Lebowitz

I have always been a fan of Fran Lebowitz although I had never read any of her essays or books. I would enjoy seeing her on talk shows and was always fascinated at her witty humor. Whether I agreed or disagreed with her politics or ethics, I always found her quick, clever responses amusing. So when she landed on Netflix in a documentary about herself called Pretend It’s a City, which also featured Martin Scorsese it was a must watch for me. And it did not disappoint.

So it was then I decided to pick up her books of essays. This, unfortunately was easier said than done. You see Ms. Lebowitz has not written a book since the 1980’s, although she does seem to still write essays for magazines. She wrote two books of essays, I found out, Social Studies and Metropolitan Life. As I searched to buy one or the other I was flabbergasted to find that the cost of said books were astronomical! One of the books was selling for over $100 and I found someone selling the set for $2,500! And they were not even signed!

And that is how I discovered The Fran Lewbowitz Reader. This paperback sells for about $14 and is a compilation of some of the essays from both of the books she wrote. And although the book did not disappoint, I only wish I could have been able to read more of the essays from both of the original books.

Now remember, these books were written in the late 70’s, early 80’s which make the essays even funnier! One essay, Disco Hints, (I told you they were old) gives a glimpse of the proper way to dance at a disco, and how and who should take clothes off when getting hot dancing!

In the essay Color: Drawing the Line she gives her interpretation of what the primary and secondary colors really mean.

In Parental Guidance she gives suggestions to parents on raising their children, although she has none. One suggestion: “Do not on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won’t feel like watching.”

There is a wonderful section titled The Frances Ann Lebowitz Collection in which she posts actual pictures of actual items in her apartment describing such items as if she were auctioning them off. These pictures are hilarious! She also gives Lebowitz sage advice on how to find an apartment in New York.

Although her sense of humor may not be for everybody, I truly enjoyed her satire, references and reflections from days gone by. Now if we could just convince her to write just one more book!

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones

It was supposed to be a fun relaxing getaway for four good friends going to a destination wedding. But the fun never really began and they all seemed to be racked with guilt of some sort. Secrets are exposed, lives will be changed forever and jealousy and revenge will rear their ugly heads. More importantly who is telling the truth? Who do we believe? Unfortunately sometimes it’s not the lies, but the truth which can get you killed.

Rachel and her husband Jack and Paige and her husband Noah have been friends forever. Actually, Rachel and Noah have been best friends since college. Even their children have been friends since birth. The couples are traveling to Portugal for Jack’s brother’s wedding to his fiancee, Ali who used to work for Jack.

According to Jack, Ali has a problem telling the truth. Between embellishing stories, her “stylish” garb and always present smile and flirty demeaner, the group can barely tolerate her. But for Will’s sake, who seems totally smitten, they have decided to look the other way. Until Jack tells them something upon arrival to the resort which changes everything. Ali had been cheating with one of his married employees. He had her fired.

But as Rachel begins to look into Jack’s story, something seems a bit off. Ali begins lying to her. She sees Ali leaving her and Jack’s hotel room with Jack in a towel coming out of the shower. She confides in her best friend Paige that she thinks Jack and Ali may be having an affair. This seems to make the situation worse. But as the weekend progresses we find out other secrets the friends have kept from each other. Rachel wonders why Ali is lying. What does she have to gain? Should she tell Will that Ali is not what she seems? What secrets could Ali know? Will Ali expose any skeletons from their pasts? Can she be stopped?

All these questions will be answered in an explosive, shocking ending in which all their lives will be changed, and the guilt they each hid over the years will become visible. As with all Sandie Jones’ books, just when you think the story can’t get any better, she seems to always be able to save the best for last!

Thank you #NetGalley #MinotaurBooks #TheGuiltTrip #SandieJones for the advanced copy.