Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secrets, secrets and more secrets. This book is full of them -- and twists. They all make for a book I could not put down.

Anne and Marco Conti are at a dinner party when their 6-month-old daughter Cora is kidnapped. About halfway through the book we find out who was involved in the kidnapping and why but, it also gets juicier as the culprit tries to keep the secret even though this person has a feeling people know.

The police are treating Anne and Marco as suspects and, as they are questioned numerous times, secret upon secret is revealed.

I'm not going to say any more about the story because I really don't want to spoil it. But, I will say ... This is a debut?!? Holy smokes, Shari Lapena, I wish you'd started writing sooner. Keep it up. I'm looking forward to the next one.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Widower's Wife by Cate Holahan
Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

These are two very different -- but very satisfying books.

You can listen to my interviews with both authors HERE.

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Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book after I asked a book club full of fantastic members what they were reading. It didn't take me long to see why it's a great book club read. There are so many issues to discuss -- rape, date rape, consent, bullying, peer pressure, teacher/student relationships, friendship, and so much more.

The story is told from Ani's point of view and we learn very early on that something awful happened to her when she was 14 years old and going to a small private school near Philadelphia. Now 28 and a successful magazine editor, she's been asked to participate in a documentary about an incident at the school. We're led to believe -- or, at least I was -- it's about the incident involving Ani that we already know about. Turns out that it's not and the incident it is about is simply horrific and that -- not the first incident -- has had more of an effect on Ani's life.

One thing about her adult life is that she's engaged to a guy from -- as her mother would say -- a hoity toity family. But she's questioning whether he really is everything she ever wanted. She comes to what I believe is the perfect decision for the perfect reason.

I highly recommend this book, whether you belong to a book club or not.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Psychological thrillers are my favorite kind of book and -- WOW! -- this one really did it for me. I do have to wonder, though, how the author came up with such a sick, twisted villain. Jack Angel is right up there with the worst of the worst of all time.

One of the things that makes him so bad -- and I'm not giving anything away but outing him as the bad guy. I got a Sleeping With the Enemy vibe very early on. -- is that he's so charming. George Clooney-esque, even. (You'll get it when you read it.)

It's hard to write much about the plot without giving a lot away, but I will say I hope everyone loves Millie -- Jack's sister-in-law with Downs Syndrome -- as much as I do. And, I hope the books gives everyone a lot of issues to discuss at book clubs or with friends -- things like spousal abuse, disabilities, mental illness, and more.

I highly recommend this book!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pitt-Bradford Announces Spectrum Series Offerings

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford’s fall Spectrum arts series will offer area residents fine arts, funk and even horror. Spectrum is the university’s oldest art series. Artists are selected by Pitt-Bradford faculty to enhance the arts curriculum.

Events are open to the public and free unless otherwise noted. For more information or tickets, contact the Bromeley Family Theater box office at 814-362-5113 or

 The first event of the season will be an art exhibition celebrating America’s National Parks Centennial by local artist Denise Drummond. The show will take place from Sept. 6 through Oct. 2 in the KOA Gallery in Blaisdell Hall. Gallery hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. A reception will take place at noon Sept. 9. Drummond will share a collection of drawings and paintings inspired by years of travel to the National Parks across the United States, from Acadia to the Redwoods to Florida’s Everglades. Drummond works in graphite and watercolor to create nature scenes and has a special love for national parks and wilderness areas.

 The first musical offering of the year will be a piano trio of Susan Waterbury, violin, Elizabeth Simkin, cello, and Miri Yampolsky, piano, at noon Sept. 23 in the Studio Theater in Blaisdell Hall. The program will showcase favorites from the heart of the classical repertoire.

  October will begin with a visit from unjustly imprisoned former death row exoneree Anthony Ray Hinton, who is one of the subjects of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.” Hinton’s story was also featured on the television show “60 Minutes.” “Just Mercy” will be read by students in freshman seminar, writing, criminal justice and economics classes at Pitt-Bradford. The book is the Bradford Area Public Library’s One Book Bradford selection as well. Hinton will speak at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Bromeley Family Theater in Blaisdell Hall. 

Wyoming artist Rebecca G. Weed will open an art exhibition, “No Over Night Parking: A Field Guide,” with a reception at noon Oct. 7 in the KOA Art Gallery and KOA Speer Electronics Lobby in Blaisdell Hall. The exhibition will continue through Nov. 4. On Oct. 14, Family FUNKtion and the Sitar Jams, a trio of brothers on sitar, bass and drums, will bring a psychedelic musical experience to the studio theater at noon as the second installment in the Noon Tunes series. The Padmanabha brothers play a fusion of rock, funk and Indian classical and folk styles.

 During the Halloween season, Dr. Kevin Ewert, professor of theater, will direct “Apparition: An Uneasy Play of the Underknown,” a play of the horror genre by Anne Washburn. The student production will have four showings – three at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27-29, and a special late-night 10:30 p.m. performance Oct. 28, all in the Studio Theater. The cost for the public is $6. The cost for all students is $2.

Writer Crystal Wilkinson (pictured), the author of “The Birds of Opulence,” “Blackberries, Blackberries” and “Water Street” will read from her work at noon Nov. 1 in the Mukaiyama University Room of the Frame-Westerberg Commons. Her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including most recently in the Oxford American and the Appalachian anthology “Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean.” She currently teaches at Berea College, where she is the Appalachian Writer in Residence.

 The final event of the semester will be a Noon Tunes holiday concert by the Vocal Arts ensemble at noon Dec. 6 in the KOA Speer Electronics Lobby. For disability needs related to Pitt-Bradford Arts events, contact the Office of Disability Resources at 814-362-7609 or

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tami Hoag!

I get to add another best-selling author to the list of the amazing people I've had the pleasure of chatting with over the last few years.

You can browse through Tami's books here ...

Tami Hoag books on Amazon

... and listen for my interview with Tami Hoag after September 7!

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