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March 23, 2017

Interview with Author Sherri Smith (@SL_Smith_)

by Donna Huber




On Monday, I chatted with Sherri Smith about her new release FOLLOW ME DOWN which came out Tuesday, Learn about exciting release day parties when you have small children, Sherri's passion for vanities, her favorite HGTV shows and more.


Hi, Sherri. Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! Well, I live in Winnipeg Manitoba with my family (and large extended family), where I question my sanity every winter. Moving never wins out, because I know where everything is, and not wanting to leave your house several months out of the year is a great way to keep you in your chair writing.


Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 21) is a big day for you as your new thriller FOLLOW ME DOWN comes out. Do you have any fun plans to mark the day?

Well, that all depends if we’re able to get another babysitter since ours just canceled. If not, we’ll be heading out to a place where the tables are decked out with coloring mats, three primary color crayons and picking out a toy at the end from a germy treasure chest is the main event.  I’m thinking Boston Pizza just before 5 pm? There better be a good drink special!

That sounds like fun, but then again I spent my weekend with my parents at a charity thrift sale. So I'm all into spending time with family.


I love stories with great characters. Who is your favorite character in FOLLOW ME DOWN? Why?

Well, I’d have to say Mia of course. I love how flawed she is, how her gummy brain works, how she can twist things to suit whatever she’s chasing down. I admire her loyalty and how she keeps her snarky humor going because I think it’s true of how a lot of people cope with their dark childhoods.


How did this story come about? What was your approach to writing FOLLOW ME DOWN? Do you have any writing rituals?

Follow Me Down started with an image of a semi-rundown apartment block with a rusty looking pool in the back. There’s a teen girl in the pool, floating on an air mattress. She has that look girls this age can have, a kind of mournful sadness. I kept wondering, who is this girl? Why is she so sad? Who did she lose? Does she belong there or not?

From there, a plot and characters eventually swirled together through sheer will.

My writing approach is to write out a thousand worthless drafts until I get something I am happy with. So y’know ‘efficient,’ is NOT a nickname I go by.

I don’t really have any writing rituals because I have small children and I’m no longer allowed that luxury (unless you want to call short, frantic bursts of writing while hiding from them, a ritual?)

Basically, I wanted to write a book I’d want to read. That’s it.


I've read that you enjoy restoring furniture. What is your favorite piece you've done or are you working on a piece now? Do you have a favorite DIY television show (I personally love Fixer Upper)?

I mainly restore bedroom vanities. I love these old pieces, and I am always surprised that they ever fell out of popularity. You get to have all of your make-up in one spot, a stool and mirror so you can sit and gaze at yourself (hey, they’re called vanities for a reason,) there’s room to enjoy a glass of wine or two (so you think you look better than you do.) You get to feel connected to all the other women who sat there before you, probably worrying about the same things. I love them. They’re such romantic pieces.

My favorite vanity that I worked on was this old ornate piece from the turn (of the last) century that once belonged to a professional clown. This red make-up just kept bleeding through the stain I was using. It was so creepy but it turned out beautifully.

I can watch HGTV all day long. I love Property Brothers, House Hunters International (it makes me daydream,) Leave It to Bryan. I could go on!

I'm so looking for a vanity for my bedroom. (I've wanted one since I watched Downton Abbey). I found a lovely vanity stool at last year's thrift sale, but so far no dice on a vanity to go with it. Too bad you're in Canada otherwise you might have been able to hook me up. I could go one about furniture projects, but let's get back to your writing projects.


Do you have any new writing projects in the works that you can share with us?

I am currently writing another suspense novel. I don’t want to say too much about it at this point other than it takes place at a wellness retreat, involves psychotropic tea and murder.


Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today and good luck with the release of FOLLOW ME DOWN tomorrow.

Thank you so much having me!


If haven't already, be sure to read MK French's review of FOLLOW ME DOWN. Buy your copy at Amazon or enter the giveaway below.


About Sherri Smith
When not writing SHERRI SMITH spends time with her family and two rescue dogs, and restores vintage furniture that would otherwise be destined for the dump. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada, where the long, cold winters nurture her dark side. FOLLOW ME DOWN is her first thriller. Visit her online at http://www.sherri-smith.com/, and on Twitter, @SL_Smith_.


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March 22, 2017

Heat Up Your Spring With These Romance Novels


Spring has sprung and love is in the air with this month's most popular romance novels. Have you picked up any of these or has another romance caught your eye?


How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days
Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

Buy How To Tame a Beast in Seven Days at Amazon


An Extraordinary Union
As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .

Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.

Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.


Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .

Buy An Extraordinary Union at Amazon


Dirty Filthy Rich Men
When I met Donovan Kincaid, I knew he was rich. I didn’t know he was filthy. Truth be told, I was only trying to get his best friend to notice me.

I knew poor scholarship girls like me didn't stand a chance against guys like Weston King and Donovan Kincaid, but I was in love with his world, their world, of parties and sex and power. I knew what I wanted—I knew who I wanted—until one night, their world tried to bite me back and Donovan saved me. He saved me, and then Weston finally noticed me, and I finally learned what it was to be in their world.

And then what it was like to lose it.

Ten years later, I’ve found my way back. Back to their world. Back to him.

This time, I’m ready. I've been down this road before, and I know all the dirty, filthy ways Donovan will try and wreck me.

But it’s hard to resist. Especially when I know how much I’ll like it.

From NYT Bestselling author Laurelin Paige, discover a whole new world filled with sex, love, power, romance and dirty, filthy rich men.

Buy Dirty Filthy Rich Men at Amazon


Close Enough to Touch
From the author of Before I Go comes an unconventional love story perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.

One time a boy kissed me and I almost died...

And so begins the story of Jubilee Jenkins, a young woman with a rare and debilitating medical condition: she’s allergic to other humans. After a humiliating near-death experience in high school, Jubilee has become a recluse, living the past nine years in the confines of the small town New Jersey house her unaffectionate mother left to her when she ran off with a Long Island businessman. But now, her mother is dead, and without her financial support, Jubilee is forced to leave home and face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

One of those people is Eric Keegan, a man who just moved into town for work. With a daughter from his failed marriage who is no longer speaking to him, and a brilliant, if psychologically troubled, adopted son, Eric’s struggling to figure out how his life got so off-course, and how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Then, one day, he meets a mysterious woman named Jubilee, with a unique condition...

Close Enough to Touch is an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart.

Buy Close Enough to Touch at Amazon


The Highland Duke
She'll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she's intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he's the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she's by his side day and night. But the longer he's with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger - he will face death itself to make her his . . .

Buy The Highland Duke at Amazon


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

March 21, 2017

Review: If I’m Found (If I Run #2) by Terri Blackstock

by Elisabeth Scherer
If im found, book review, blackstock
March 2017; Zondervan/HarperCollins
9780310332480; ebook, audio, print (352 pages)
christian, mystery, thriller
a free ARC was provided for this review
This is the first Terri Blackstock book that I have had the chance to read and boy let me tell you I am a fan! I knew nothing about these characters even though this is book two in the If I Run series. The good news is this book does stand on its own for readability. Blackstock gives enough information to pull us into the story from the start. The urge to keep turning pages continues to the end of the book.
Casey is a girl on the run. She is a suspect in a murder she did not commit. Dylan is a private investigator hired by the victim’s family to hunt her down. The thing is, Dylan isn’t sure Casey committed the crime. Casey collects evidence on the real murderers to clear her name. She should be keeping her head down and find the evidence. Her conscience nags at her to help people she comes meets along her journey. This moral dilemma is a common occurrence in the book and makes for an interesting topic of discussion for book clubs reading this story. Would you do what is right even if it meant losing the chance to clear your name?
Ms. Blackstock is a wonder at developing characters with complex feelings and problems. It is these rich details that appeal to me as a reader. It makes the characters come alive. Casey is a smart girl. Her father was a cop and she has inherited his knack for helping people and solving mysteries and crimes. She is also humble and compassionate. Now if she could just solve the one that could ruin her life. Dylan has so many interesting facets as well. A war veteran with PTSD, best friends with the murder victim. Feelings of some kind for this girl he is hunting. What does Dylan do when he’s paid to find the girl that murdered his best friend and he believes she didn’t do it? He let her escape once before when he could have captured her.
The pacing of the book is spot on without even a moment’s pause to say this part is slow. Plot twists and action-packed close calls follow these characters through to the end. Blackstock turns the screw tighter in this book with tension and nail-biting conflict. I was not surprised to finish with me wanting to read the next chapter of this sojourn.
It’s also refreshing to read a book that also contains a great message and has substance. There is mention and discussion of God in the characters’ lives as well as life purpose and prayer. Blackstock writes it in a wonderful way with both main characters introspections and discussions. I think it adds a layer of dimension to Casey and Dylan as they are moving through a unique time in their own lives.
The book kaleidoscope with three separate perspectives: Casey’s, Dylan’s, and Officer Keegan’s. The transition shifts are smooth with enough focus on each viewpoint to drive the story forward. It doesn't jump back and forth too quick. It’s a dynamic way to move readers through the story.
I liked the book so much that I went out and immediately purchased the first book in the series, If I Run. I then devoured that book too. I will be reviewing it that book soon.
If I’m Found is available today at all major book retailers. Grab your popcorn, tuck up under a blanket, and mark your calendars as busy - do not disturb!

Buy If I’m Found on Amazon
Elisabeth Scherer grew up in a very small town in Minnesota but now lives in the lovely Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time raising her two young children. She and her husband have a large collection of books that takes a good space of their small condo. When she's not reading she has a variety of hobbies that include crocheting, drawing, baking, cooking, and movie watching. She is currently obsessed with making French macarons and other baked deliciousness. You can also find her blogging at http://kitchenstoriesetc.blogspot.com

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.


March 20, 2017

Review: Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith #MondayBlogs

by MK French

March 2017; Macmillan; 978-0765386700
ebook & print (352 pages); thriller
a free ARC was provided for this review
Mia Haas had moved far away from the small North Dakota town where she had grown up with her twin brother Lucas and alcoholic mother, Mimi. Her brother had returned to their hometown and became the high school English teacher. He went missing just as the body of one of his students was found, and the entire town was convinced he did it.

Though Mia hadn't been as close with her twin in recent years, she absolutely didn't believe him capable of murder. She arrived to be questioned by police and started to investigate for herself. It was a small town, after all. Everyone knew everyone else, and there were plenty of other secrets hiding in plain sight...

This is Sherri Smith's first thriller, but the pacing is terrific.

We're given flashbacks and background into relationships between all of the characters as Mia interacts with the police, other residents in Wyoata, as well as her own memories. The small town residents are narrow-minded and only too eager to paint Lucas as a killer. Having Mia upset the narrative brings out their prejudices, and we can feel her desperation in looking for an alternative explanation for the murder.

It's almost claustrophobic at times in Mia's head, her tangled thoughts and conflicted emotions. She goes pretty far in her investigation, even though she has no experience doing so, bungles a lot of it, and is in harm's way. There are lots of red herrings and little details that heighten the paranoia until you reach the end and discover the truth. It was quite the shock but isn't a cheap cop out. If anything, it's even more sad and pitiful for the poor murder victim and all of the other people left traumatized in her wake. No one is perfect here, and it feels as though you're right there with them, struggling.

This is a fantastic book and kept me in suspense until the last page.

Buy Follow Me Down at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

March 19, 2017

March Women's Fiction Novels

by Susan Roberts


There are lots of great books out this month. Here are four that I really enjoyed:


March 2017; Crown; 978-1101906668
ebook & print (288 pages); suspense
a free ARC was provided for this review
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls is being marketed as a thriller which I think is misleading. It was more of a family drama about how a family secret can affect generations in a family.

Lane is sent to live with her grandparents and her cousin Allegra after her mother commits suicide when Lane is 15. Her mother had been a very poor parent so Lane is thrilled to have a family. Once she gets to Kansas and meets her new family and learns the family secret, she quickly leaves Kansas behind to exist (just exist, not thrive) in California.

What I liked about this book: The setting in Kansas is very well described - you could almost feel the heat and the dryness when the author wrote about it. The characters of Lane and Allegra were well done - even though they were both very unlikable.

What I didn't like: The family secret was revealed too early in the book and the reader learned too early what a despicable family this really is. There was way too much sex and swearing in the book - a lot of it unnecessary to the plot.

I would like to read this author's books in the future as I think she has a lot of potential as an author of adult books.

Buy The Roanoke Girls at Amazon


March 2017; Ballantine Books
9780553391961; ebook & print (284 pages)
women's fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
If Not for You (New Beginnings #3) by Debbie Macomber

You can always depend on Debbie Macomber to give you a good story to take your mind off everything else going on around you. That said, this was not my favorite story by her but it was a fun satisfying read.      

As the book begins, Beth meets Sam on a blind date. They are total opposites - Beth is a music teacher and very prim and proper. Sam is a mechanic with long hair and beard. The blind date doesn't go well and it's apparent that they will never see each again. On their drives home, Sam is behind Beth's car when she is hit in an intersection and hurt very badly. He runs to the car and holds her hand and then starts to visit her in the hospital and a relationship between them develops very quickly. The big questions then become - will they be able to find true love despite their differences and the opposition of her controlling mother? It's a fun, quick satisfying read to find out the answer to this question.

Buy If Not For You at Amazon


March 2017; Algonquin Books
9781616206222; ebook & print (352 pages)
literary fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein

It may sound strange to say that a book about a single mother dying of cancer is a fantastic book, but let me tell you that it really is. Our Short History is the first book that I've read by this author and I plan to go back and read her previous books after reading this one.

Karen is a successful political consultant in NYC with a young son when she finds out that she has stage IV ovarian cancer. When she got pregnant with her son, the father broke up with her and she never told him about the baby. When her son is six, he asks to meet his father. Up until this time, they had been a family of two and Karen is very apprehensive about bringing his father into her son's life. However father and son bond very quickly and despite Karen's anger over including the dad into her son's life, she realizes that time is running out for her. Will she be able to learn to share her son with his father or will she continue to try to keep them apart?

The novel is written as a book that Karen is writing for her son to read when he is grown to explain the life that they had together. I thought she was an extremely fantastic character and the anger that she held against her ex-boyfriend, her cancer, and life in general is definitely justified. This is a fantastic book -- warning - keep Kleenex close at hand!

Buy Our Short History at Amazon


March 2017; Atria Books; 978-1476704456
ebook & print (320 pages); women's fiction
a free ARC was provided for this review
It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

Once again, Amy Hatvany has given her readers a book that explores a topic that is often in the news - date rape and consent. It was a tough book to read and readers are able to see the storyline through the eyes of Amber and Tyler as they work to understand what happened and how they are going to live the rest of their lives.

Amber and Tyler met when they were 10 and became best friends. Amber always felt a platonic friendship with Ty but he was in love with her. She became engaged while in college but when she was home after graduation, she spent considerable time with Ty and when she kissed him at a party after an evening of heavy drinking by both, things spiraled out of control. This is the story of the emotion and pain caused by that one night. It's told in alternating chapters from each character's point of view so the reader is aware of how it is affecting both of them.

It was a tough book to read but it needs to be read and discussed with everyone's daughters AND sons. If you have a teenager or college student, I beg you to have them read this book and then discuss it with them. At this age, they feel invincible and they need to understand how one night can totally change their plans for the future.

Buy It Happens All the Time at Amazon


Susan Roberts was born and raised in Michigan but after college decided that she wanted to live somewhere much warmer.  Susan lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.


Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: http://eepurl.com/mHTVL. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

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