Review: One Of Us Is Lying

Book Review: One Of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Goodreads
Date Read: 05/19/17
Pub Date: 05/30/17
4 STARS


Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

What a marvelous, delectable read! There was something so addictive about this book; it felt at times distinctly young adult while also having moments that felt so well done it was beyond the stereotype of what a teenage thriller tends to be. It’s taken me 4 days just to collect my thoughts to the point that I can attempt writing a proper review, and I’m certain this will be one of the most talked about books in the YA genre this Spring/Summer season. My issues with this book were minor, and I’ll get to those later, but when I first picked up this book I knew I would enjoy it based on the description stating “Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars”, two things I love to pieces. While this was in some ways a traditional whodunnit, I believe many of the minor influences were the reason this novel reads so well.

According the the books I’ve logged on Goodreads, I’ve managed to read over 700 mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. That is an overwhelming number of books that tend to be fiercely judged on their ability to provide a solid, mind-blowing twist. The reason I mention this is due to the fact that it is very difficult for me to pick up a mystery and not have it solved in the first 10% if the clues are provided; otherwise, I typically pick it up when said character is first introduced into the narrative. One Of Us Is Lying is bound to be one of many fabulous novels that gets thrown into that category and is scrutinized solely by it’s ability to keep the reader guessing “whodunnit” until the big reveal. Again, I mention this because I think it would be a grave mistake for the reader to be so focused on this aspect when the book has so much more to offer! Personally, I had it figured out in the first chapter. As stated in the summary, the pieces are there for the reader to put together if they are clever enough. I applaud the author for her cleverness and storytelling abilities; there will be many readers who will be fooled by the red herrings and receive that glorious AHA moment at the big reveal. Why am I rambling on about this you ask? I really want to drive home the point of what makes this book stand out from others that are similar.

The Characters. It is a rare day indeed that I find fleshed out, grounded, relatable characters that draw me in to a young adult narrative the way that these did here. My AHA moment may not have come during the big twist, but it certainly came in waves abounding throughout my experience journeying with these various high school kids. I was sure this would be another read with those stereotypical teenagers that give contemporary YA novels a bad rep; for crying out loud the stereotypes are printed on the inside of the book cover in the description! I think this was a clever move by the publisher and author; if other readers pull the same underestimation as I did, they will be more than pleasantly surprised at what they get out of this book. In referral to the wrapping up of characters and not the twist, the ending was one of the best I’ve seen in awhile. There is no gag worthy happily ever after where everyone is perfectly paired up in couples and they ride off into the sunset on their baby unicorns while the sun beats down on their pimple free faces…. No, while there are some upbeats moments, the ending is messy and real and I welcomed it whole heartedly. People made mistakes beyond the central narrative and there were consequences and some things were left open-ended in the way that makes you wonder what their eventual decisions lead to. I’m extremely pleased that the author chose to take some risky leeway with her writing direction and applaud her with a standing ovation.

Alright, I said I would get to the minor issues and I kind of lied. Please don’t hate me, but there was a tiny aspect of this book that I thought I could get past, and even though I can’t discuss it outright (because these spoilers involve blowing the entire plot of the book), my conscience just wouldn’t let me finish this review without mentioning them in the broadest of terms. Again, I applaud the author for tackling some really tough issues and concerns in this book, and I don’t think she wrote anything wrong on her end. I think it’s more of an issue I’ve seen present itself across a wide number of YA books recently. Some who may be dealing with mental illness may perceive the outcome of this novel in an unrealistic way and I can see the possibility of various readers being split on their opinions of some of the content presented. I will say, I feel it was handled better in this book than in others I have read previously. As always, if you’ve read this book early or once you have a chance to read it and would like to discuss, please feel free to private message me and I’ll gladly have a respectful chat with you.

This is a review I’ve been struggling to write for a few days now and I hope I’ve done it justice. There just aren’t words to describe how completely readable this book really is. McManus did such a fabulous job of making me just as interested in the individual secrets and side stories of the “Murder Club” as I was in the central mystery surrounding Simon’s death. The author had me convinced that this couldn’t possibly be her debut novel, and if this is what she has published first, I can only imagine the treats we will receive in written form from her down the road. I’m a committed fan now and I can’t wait to see what she publishes next. Highly recommended to teens, sure, but I think loads of adults are going to enjoy this one as well. There’s something really special and unique to this story that defies the boundaries of age gaps and will have me remembering it for months to come.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to post my honest thoughts here. 

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, etc. To learn more visit www.karenmcmanus.com, or follow @writerkmc on Twitter.

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Review: A Killer Harvest

Book Title: A Killer Harvest
Author: Paul Cleave
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 05/16/17
Pub Date: 08/01/17

5 STARS

 

Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.

Have you ever discovered an author that you felt was immensely talented but widely under appreciated? This is exactly how I feel regarding Paul Cleave. Don’t let the description suggest that this book contains a B-rated story; it’s precisely the opposite. I’m glad the cover includes the insinuation of cellular memory in the description, as I think many readers would be turned off if this was somehow the big twist of the book. Knowing that going in led me to open my imagination and suspend my need for a realistic plot. If you can do that, you might have the same 5 star experience that I did while reading A Killer Harvest. 

So yes, cellular memory is the backbone of the theme of this novel, but it’s just a fraction of what makes this book so neat. Cleave has taken care in crafting a story that is both complex and layered, thus revealing a web of multiple POV snippets that complete the big picture. The first few chapters really gripped my attention, followed by about 25% character building scenes with a slow burning suspense. This worked REALLY well for me, as I’ve been craving contemporary mystery/thrillers with a combination of the slow burn and high action. There are quite a few characters in this story, which made me appreciate the way the author chose to ensure we had all the important details down and a connection to our characters before yanking the chain and pulling us quickly through the remainder of the book. I read 75% of this book in one sitting; I literally didn’t even break for the bathroom or food. GO CHELSEA! 

I was also extremely pleased with the pacing between twists, big and small. There were lots of smaller AHA moments alongside major, jaw dropping twists, and I can honestly say I didn’t see the biggest reveal during the final 100 pages. I’m still trying to shove my tongue back in my mouth and force myself to blink. If you are like me and are tired of thrillers that boast a Gone Girl level twist which the entire plot depends upon, you’re in luck! A Killer Harvest is not one of those tales; the twists are fantastic and unexpected, but the relationships and emotions between the characters are what really drew me in to caring about what happened, more so than figuring out the ending. Speaking of, no spoilers here, but I REALLY love how he chose to end this book. Let’s just say it gave me the heebie jeebies and the creepy crawlies. 🙂

I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Cleave’s series yet, but if it’s anything like A Killer Harvest then I’ll need to read them stat. The cover gives off such a creepy vibe and really portrays the tone of the book well. I think readers who are looking for a little variety in their thrillers will appreciate what the author has created with this story; while cellular memory has become quite a popular theme amongst psychological thrillers and mysteries recently, I feel this one stands out due to the sheer fact the author had me constantly questioning “But what if this COULD happen?” This book was able to take a science fiction like topic and ground it as a contemporary story unlike any I’ve read before. Highly recommended to the reader who is looking to expand their appetite for delicious thrillers and add a little variety to their TBR stacks. I can’t wait to find out if this book thrills you the way it did me!

*Many thanks to Atria Mystery Bus for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts here on the blog. 

Paul Cleave is an internationally bestselling author who is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He has won the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel in New Zealand, he won the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year in France, has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Barry Award in the US, and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly award in Australia. When he’s not writing, he spends his time swearing on a golf course, swearing on a tennis court, or trying to add to his list of 25 countries where he’s thrown his Frisbee.

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Weekly Wrap-Up: 5/20/17

Hi guys! I hope you’ve had a great week; I feel like the months just keep getting busier as time rolls on. I’ve mainly focused on reviews since my previous update; I keep feeling like I’ll never catch up or be on track, but I guess that’s all part of the blogging process, eh? While I didn’t have any new NetGalley approvals, as I haven’t requested anything else, I did acquire a few new ebooks that I’m dying to share below. Please be excited with me; I get no sympathy for my book love at home. 😉 I managed to finish one NG book and start another, so at least I’m making progress there. I think come mid-June I’m going to try and have one week where I read nothing but e-arcs and see what kind of a dent I can make in my stack. As always, I’d love to know what you’re reading and what books you’ve received recently!

NETGALLEY E-BOOKS:

POSTS FROM LAST WEEK:

Review: Where I Can See You

Review: Beartown

Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke Q&A

Officially Obsessed: Red Covers

Review: Not A Sound

Review: When It’s Real

BOOKSTAGRAM:

That’s it for this week! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads. Until next week, have a great weekend and happy reading! ❤

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Review: When It’s Real

Book Title: When It’s Real
Author: Erin Watt
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: YA/NA, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads

Date Read: 05/13/17
Pub Date: 05/30/17

4 STARS

 

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

I consistently struggle with writing reviews for contemporaries, whether they are adult or young adult. Over the years they have grown predictable and there isn’t much to talk about regarding the plot as they tend to be more character focused. Needless to say, I’m wary in picking up contemporaries anymore because they just seem to fall into the realm of “nice but not memorable”. When I first saw the cover and description of When It’s Real, I’ll admit I was skeptical but gave it a second glance as the author duo is so popular from their successful Royals series. I kept going back and checking out the cover and description which made me realize I had to read it. This sat on my light and fluffy shelf for a couple of months, because I so wanted to love this but I also had to wait for the mood to strike me. I’m really glad I waited, because I picked this up at an opportune time and it heightened my experience like no other.

I’ll admit I have yet to pick up Paper Princess but might have to move it up my list after having such a positive experience with WIR. I’ve heard that the Royals books are darker romance and have been found very controversial amongst various readers (that alone makes me want to read them!), so I was surprised when they released such an upbeat story. Sure, there are some serious themes and darker moments to the story, but I found WIR to be the perfect book for the reader who likes an overall feel good, happily ever after type of story. I don’t want to touch on the plot too much, but I was highly intrigued by Oakley and Vaughn from the beginning; in fact, I was so distracted by their drama that I read the entire almost 400 pages in a single sitting. This is what happens when you have really thick hair that is high maintenance. 

Overall, this was such a fun read. I’d call it a guilty pleasure, but I don’t think I should have to justify if a read is worthy based on how pretentious it’s deemed to be by high brow readers. I love cheesy, heartfelt love stories that are messy; if you are a fan of Colleen Hoover, you will likely love this as it has a YA CoHo feel too it. Perfect to snag for summer poolside days or a week at the beach; if you enjoy a love story that takes a new spin on a classic tale, I highly recommend picking up a copy of When It’s Real to add to your summer shelves. You can do like I did and ogle the beautiful cover until you’re ready to read it. 🙂

*Many thanks to Harlequin Teen for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to post my honest thoughts here on the blog. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.

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Review: Not A Sound

Book Title: Not A Sound
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
REVIEWED BY: CHELSEA
Series: None
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense Fiction
Goodreads

Date Read: 05/12/17
Pub Date: 05/30/17

4 STARS


When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Yay! My first thriller featuring a deaf female! I have developed a craving for more diverse characters in my mystery/thrillers and this one was pure gold. While the plot itself was fairly unique, I also found myself drawn to the careful details included surrounding the hearing impaired, and the medical field in general. I learned from the author’s note that she herself is hearing impaired, something I wasn’t aware of before, and it brought Amelia’s character to life more so than it could have from the voice of a writer who had never experienced such a thing. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this novel as it seemed from the description to be a bit different that her previous books; it was certainly different and I applaud Heather for taking the risk as it was well worth the pay off.

If you’ve read any of Heather Gudenkauf’s previous novels then you know she has a knack for what I like to call “emotional suspense”. Her books manage to contain dark subject matter while maintaining an ethereal quality which makes them easily devoured in a single sitting. This is technically a whodunnit, but that isn’t the element that shines brightest in this story. The plot is fairly straight forward, and you may be able to guess who and what is behind the sinister murder of Gwen due to a small cast of characters, but I found I didn’t have it pieced together as well as expected. What caused my attention to be completely focused on this novel after failing to be grabbed by my two previous reads was Amelia’s character and the detail that went into bringing her to life. I learned so much about what a deaf person might experience, especially one who was having to adjust to being impaired instead of having been born that way. From the various tools available, to the coping mechanisms, to the medical details included from her work at the oncology clinic, these are the things that set Amelia apart from just a “girl” in just another psychological thriller. Is it safe now? Can we stop putting the word girl in every title? 

This was a fast paced read, and while I found some portions to be slightly repetitive of what Amelia was thinking or experiencing at the moment, I felt the writing in this book was the strongest Gudenkauf has produced and was floored. The suspense was gripping, the characters were dramatic but grounded, and the ending wasn’t cookie cutter perfect. I love it when all my questions are answered without having the dreamy, fairy tale ending. Gag me with a spoon. In short, if you are looking for a psychological thriller to invest in this summer, I highly recommend Not A Sound. The characters are unique, the story was captivating, and the pacing was consistently quick and witty; this is the perfect story for the reader who wants a worthy distraction from everyday life.

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy; it was a pleasure to provide my honest thoughts on the blog. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Heather was born in Wagner, South Dakota, the youngest of six children. At one month of age, her family returned to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota where her father was employed as a guidance counselor and her mother as a school nurse. At the age of three, her family moved to Iowa, where she grew up. Having been born with a profound unilateral hearing impairment (there were many evenings when Heather and her father made a trip to the bus barn to look around the school bus for her hearing aids that she often conveniently would forget on the seat beside her), Heather tended to use books as a retreat, would climb into the toy box that her father’s students from Rosebud made for the family with a pillow, blanket, and flashlight, close the lid, and escape the world around her. Heather became a voracious reader and the seed of becoming a writer was planted.

Heather Gudenkauf graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in elementary education, has spent her career working with students of all ages and continues to work in education as a Title I Reading Coordinator.

Heather lives in Iowa with her husband, three children, and a very spoiled German Shorthaired Pointer named Lolo. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, and running. She is currently working on her next novel.

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Officially Obsessed: Red Covers

Another new feature you ask? Why not?! I’ve been envisioning a feature called Officially Obsessed for awhile now, but was so bogged down with reviews that I didn’t have the time to put anything into motion. Basically, I wanted a place where I could fangirl about anything and everything book related with no limits on a theme. While some of the material might coincide with Cover Love, I’m intending for this feature to appear consistently on the blog regardless of publishing schedules and ever changing seasons. This is a piece where I’ll pick some aspect of the book world that I’m currently hung up on and gush about it here.

This edition I’m officially obsessed with-you guessed itRED COVERS!!! I’m not sure if it’s the sheer fact that there are simply more of them around right now, but every one that I’ve received in the mail puts giant butterflies in my tummy. They are bold and demand to be seen and touched. Don’t act like you don’t pet your books. We all do it; just ask Amy @ Novelgossip. 😉 Upon further thought, it seems red covers are “the thing” for the summer season and I for one am glad they are so popular! I’ve included some pictures of my red covers below, along with descriptions of the upcoming reads that you may be interested in adding to you TBR. Which cover is your favorite? What bookish things are you officially obsessed with?

PART OF THE SILENCE BY DEBBIE HOWELLS

A blighted memory. A child who seems never to have existed. A watcher in the shadows.

When they find Evie Sherman, battered and left for dead in a maize field, the young woman has no recollection of who she is. After three days in a hospital bed, the fog in her head begins to lift, and she remembers two names: her own, and that of her three-year-old daughter, Angel. Evie is convinced that Angel is in grave danger. But the police can find no evidence of the girl’s existence.

It’s clear that Evie is having some kind of mental breakdown–or is it? Even in the depths of her amnesiac darkness, Evie knows her daughter’s voice, her chameleon eyes, every precious hair on her head. So how can she be losing her mind?
As Evie’s grasp on reality slips away, she finds herself haunted by the same three-word warning, which she hears over and over: Trust no one. But whom is she being warned against? The police? The doctors and nurses? Or the mysterious figure who’s been watching her, who knows all her secrets, has a hidden agenda–and perhaps their own twisted version of reality.

BEST DAY EVER BY KAIRA ROUDA

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

THE WEIGHT OF NIGHT BY CHRISTINE CARBO

In a land sculpted by glaciers, the forest is on fire. Thick smoke chokes the mountain air and casts an apocalyptic glow over the imposing peaks and vistas of Montana’s Glacier National Park. When firefighters are called in to dig firebreaks near the small town bordering the park, a crew member is shocked to unearth a shallow grave containing human remains.

Park Police Officer Monty Harris is summoned to the site to conduct an excavation. But with an incendiary monster threatening to consume the town, Monty seeks help from Gretchen Larson, the county’s lead crime scene investigator.

While the two work frantically to determine the true identity of the victim, a teenager suddenly disappears from one of the campgrounds in Glacier. Could the cases somehow be connected? As chances for recovery of the missing boy grow slimmer and the FBI finds only dead ends, Gretchen and Monty desperately race to fit all the pieces together while battling time, the elements, and their own unresolved inner conflicts.

THE ALMOST SISTERS BY JOSHILYN JACKSON

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy–an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.


These are some of my arcs with red covers, along with a final picture containing more arcs/fun reads with red spines. Have you read any of these books? If red isn’t your color, what is your preferred hue that makes you go gaga? Stay tuned for the next obsession; who knows what I’ll pick up next?

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Q&A with Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Happy Tuesday everyone; today I’m incredibly pleased to bring you a Q&A with uber successful writing duo Lisa & Liz! Most of us have been eagerly anticipating the release of their newest book THE GOOD WIDOW which is available June 1st, especially since this is their first time teaming up to write a novel of suspense. I was incredibly lucky to receive an early copy and guys, if you haven’t you’re going to want to add this one to you TBR immediately, it’s THAT good. If you missed it the first time around and would like to read my spoiler-free review you can find it HERE. Read on below if you’d like to hear a little more from the duo on their newest book, their writing process, and more.

Q&A WITH LISA AND LIZ:

Tell us a little about yourselves. How did you meet and what inspired you to begin a writing career together?

We met in 1987! Lisa was a new student at the high school Liz attended. She walked into Liz’s freshman English class wearing overalls and red-rimmed eyeglasses and for some reason, Liz didn’t hold the outfit against her. She quickly offered to show her around the school and they’ve been best friends ever since. Twenty years later, they sat down to write their first book.

We’d talked about writing a book together for years. As teens, we’d daydream about it as we compared notes on the latest Danielle Steel book we’d devoured. But time passed, life happened and two decades disappeared in the blink of an eye. Lisa was on a trip to Hawaii and started writing. She emailed it to Liz and the timing could not have been worse. Liz had just had a baby and was roaming around with a hollow look in her eyes as she tried to figure out motherhood. But Lisa was not taking no for answer—she even threatened to write it without her! (gasp!) That novel, we don’t talk about today. It was terrible! But it was the best thing that ever happened to us because our writing team was born.

Your previous books have fallen under the contemporary/women’s fiction umbrella. What caused you to switch genres and publish a novel of suspense?

We were almost exclusively reading suspense. One day, we looked at each other and said, why don’t we write the genre we are loving so much?

You’ve stated in your acknowledgements that you took a joint trip to Hawaii in researching for TGW. How did your families feel about the trip? Any funny stories you could share from your time spent there?

If by “our families” you mean our husbands. Well, let’s just say they would have appreciated more than ten days of notice! We had written almost the entire book before we went on this research trip. (Not the usual order of things, we know.) We realized, even though we’d been to Maui before, we needed to step into our characters’ shoes and see the story from their point of view. We feel the book became ten times better as a result. (And so far, people have singled out our descriptions as part of why they love the book.)

Funny stories? Always, when we are together! Liz bottomed out our rental car on the Road to Hana and as a result, something was dangling the entire time we drove on the unpaved back road—making us a little nervous as it was getting dark and we had spotty cell service!

Which character was your favorite to write and which was your most difficult to bring to life?

Jacks was our favorite character to write. We really like her and want to be friends with her. She’s tough, she’s smart and she’s flawed. She learns from her mistakes, she loves deeply and she is a great friend.

James was the most difficult—it’s always tricky to write a character that has done something other people will disapprove of. But that’s the thing about life—no person is all good or all bad. People are complex, and we had to make sure we revealed that.

Can you describe the process of co-writing a book? What are the logistics behind who writes which parts? As you both live on opposite sides of the country, do you come together in person for any part of the process?

We live two thousand miles apart so our writing process takes place almost entirely over email, text and phone calls. Once we’ve decided on the plot of the book and who the characters are, we start writing. One of us writes a chapter, passes it to the other person, she edits and passes it back. We repeat this process until we are happy with the chapter. Then we move on to the next and the next… The only time we get together in person and write in the same space is when we take our research trips.

We see that your next novel is set in Mexico; can we expect another novel of suspense? Can you give us any juicy details about the next book and if we should expect to see any repeat characters?

Yes! The book is set in Tulum! Another research trip was involved, but this time, we traveled there before we wrote one word of the book! It’s called Girl’s Night Out. It’s about four longtime friends who travel to Mexico hoping to repair their friendships that have fractured over the last year, but one of them disappears before that can happen.

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Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been best friends for 25 years and survived high school and college together. Liz lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and two children. Lisa, a former talk show producer, now lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, daughter and two bonus children.

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