Tag Archives: Mainstream

Before He Finds Her by Michael Kardos

BeforeHeFindsHerBefore He Finds Her by Michael Kardos

Published 2/3/15 by Mysterious Press

Review Copy obtained through NetGalley

Synopsis: Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a blowout block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter.

But everyone is wrong. The daughter got away. Now she is nearly eighteen and tired of living in secrecy. Under the name Melanie Denison, she has spent the last fifteen years in small-town West Virginia as part of the Witness Protection Program. She has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. Precautions must be taken at every turn, because Ramsey Miller was never caught and might still be looking for his daughter. Yet despite strict house rules, Melanie has entered into a relationship with a young teacher at the local high school and is now ten weeks pregnant. She doesn’t want her child to live in hiding as she has had to. Defying her guardians and taking matters into her own hands, Melanie returns to Silver Bay in hopes of doing what the authorities have failed to do: find her father before he finds her. Weaving in Ramsey’s story in the three days leading up to the brutal crime, Before He Finds Her is a stirring novel about love and faith and fear—and how the most important things can become terribly distorted when we cling to them too fiercely.

My Thoughts:  Thankfully, when I decided to read this I was on a road trip and I wasn’t driving…so I got to read uninterrupted which was great because I found this book incredibly hard to put down.

The story starts out as a blog post from an elderly, retired journalist explaining how the Ramsay Miller Murders were his “white whale” and he gives the readers the nutshell version of the story. Chapter 1 drops us in the lap of the supposedly dead daughter of Ramsay Miller who has been living in rural West Virginia for the 15 years since the murder.

The story perspective is told from the daughter’s POV as well as going back in time to Ramsay, the father, to relive the events leading up to the murders.  Ramsay is fascinating! I lived for the chapters where we saw life through his eyes…and his life has not been pleasant. Ramsay is constantly fighting demons and seems to teeter on the brink of an abyss.  As Ramsay’s story unfolds we also start to see that period through the eyes of other people who were there. It’s a very complex bit of storytelling and it’s done beautifully.

We do, eventually, learn the whole story and though I could see parts of it coming…I couldn’t see them until we were almost upon them. It’s a story I am still thinking about days later.  So much so I am off to see what other books Kardos has written.




Summer Symphony by Brandon Shire

Summer SymphonyPublished 1 October 2014

Published by TPG Books

Copy obtained from author for review.


Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his façade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.

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Words, full of despair and turmoil, dance across the page as if they are being propelled by the music flowing from Martin and Ren’s souls. Shire’s ability to make his words provoke so many emotions, like music notes, is a thing of beauty. The tortured moments of a broken man, raw from pain. The weight of expectation from a savant. This haunting beauty carries the book through pages of real-life suffering, as if a dance. The music is their solace. The music is their prison. The music is their hope for peace. The music, their only escape, their only joy.

Two men, two different journeys to happiness. Their paths cross and they help each other cope and find the music that will lessen their burdens and free their souls. One man has lost his ability to use music to heal the other can only cope and release through music. They are quite a pair.  When they come together to create a musical masterpiece, it is just what they both needed. At that moment, it is everything and yet so small in the symphony of life. One summer that propels them through, helps them make their decisions and move on.

Summer Symphony is a poignant reflection of life after the loss of a child. The loss of a dream, a moment, of a lifetime of happiness. That is Martin Zoric’s journey. Summer Symphony is also about the stress of familial obligations in a culture where family and honor is everything. Being gay isn’t the problem, not marrying and having babies is the problem. How can Ren Wakahisa dash his mother’s hopes for their family’s future? These two men must find their inner strength and decide to either give in, let go, move on or be miserable. Sometimes support can come from someone without a tie or the same experience. When there is a common thread, in this case music, to grasp it can be enough to create a bond strong enough to pull each other through the hardship.

This work of emotional sensitivity is a must read. Brandon Shire continues to astound his loyal readers with unique and impassioned works of fiction.



BLOG TOUR: Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane


I’m thrilled skinny to be dropping in here as part of the Second Helpings blog tour. A million thanks to 3 Chicks After Dark for having me as a guest.


What’s a typical day like for you?
I don’t have typical days. I do freelance training, so I might have that in the diary, or have a commitment for one of the voluntary things I do. My husband took early retirement so maybe we have plans for a walk and lunch, or I might have an author thing on. The only non-variables are that I’ll do some writing and check my e-mails, but the exact timing or location of those things is flexible.

What’s your favorite quote?
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’
Shakespeare, in praise of a man.

How long does it take you to write a book?
That’s a movable feast. Sometimes, particularly for short stories, the words just flow, and nothing in the story changes from first draft to first edit. Other times it’s like sweating blood, every word an effort, even though I have as much urge to tell the tale that’s forming in my head. Having said that, my ‘natural’ writing amount is 500 words a day, but they’re 500 good words, I hope.

Thank you, Charlie, for sharing a little about yourself!


Old kitchen table rural cottage morningAbout Second Helpings:

Stuart Collins’s life might as well have ended a year ago when his partner died in a car crash. Even Stuart’s widowed father has found new love with an old friend, Isabel Franklin, so why can’t Stuart be bothered to try?
Then he gets a phone call from Isabel’s son, Paul, who wants to check out whether or not Mr. Collins is good enough for his mother. During dinner together, though, they end up checking out each other. Trouble is, Paul’s got a boyfriend—or maybe he doesn’t, since the boyfriend’s supposedly giving Paul the push by ignoring him. Or maybe Paul just wants to have his cake and eat it too.
Honesty with each other is the only way to move forward. But maybe honesty with themselves is what they really need.


Meet the author:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

Buy Links:

Riptide Publishing
All Romance eBooks

Connect with Charlie Cochrane:

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane
Blog: http://charliecochrane.livejournal.com
Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk


There’s two ways to win today! Comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist (excluding Second Helpings), and a mix of summer seaside goodies! AND you can also…
Enter the Rafflecopter!
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Entries close at midnight, Eastern Time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced by Riptide Publishing on July 30th. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

Second Helpings by Charlie Cochrane

Old kitchen table rural cottage morningPublished 21 July 2014

Published by Riptide Publishing

Copy obtained from publisher for review.

A pleasant story of second chances at love. For Stuart, it’s after losing his partner in an accident, for Paul it is a new loss due to long distance.

Stuart has been mourning the loss of Mark and is in a funk. He’s lonely and hurting. Going to work and then home to an empty house just about kills him every day. He has to muster courage to open the front door and walk into the loneliness.

Paul has been strung along for a while by his stateside boyfriend, Ben. Waiting around for calls, texts and emails that never arrive has set Paul on edge. He knows the relationship he thought he had with Ben is pretty much over but he can’t even reach Ben to confirm. He’s just hanging on wondering, worrying and feeling sad for what he’s lost.

These two guys come together because of their parents! It’s so cute, their parents are both widows and they were childhood friends. Now they’ve reconnected and are having a go at their second chance at happiness. Their dating is what prompts Paul to reach out to Stuart. He’s basically checking to see that Stuart’s father is an upstanding gentleman. Neither thought that they would connect with each other.

Their first meeting ends in a row after Stuart inadvertently offends Paul over Ben. They manage to reconcile but after some intense sharing they manage to get in a row again. This time it’s not so easy to save face and apologize. Paul says some things about Mark and that’s just too below the belt.

I totally could see this building. Stuart was speaking so highly of Mark, but it was Stuart finally sharing his best memories so he could let go of Mark, finish his grieving and maybe move past Mark’s death. Even though it seemed he talked about Mark a lot with Paul, it was cathartic and it was helping him heal. It’s a shame Paul exploited that security for Stuart.

In the end, both men must make some hard choices. Paul must decide who he’s going to keep, Ben or Stuart. Stuart has to let go of Mark and accept that he is truly gone and what he’s doing is not living but existing.

RATING: SNEAKERS! (3.5 stars)