Cat Ellington’s review of The Other Girl

The Other GirlThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You can sleep with a blonde, you can sleep with a brunette, but you’ll never get any sleep with a redhead!”
— Jamie Luner

. . .A humorously tongue-in-cheek quote spoken by one of the grooviest—and prettiest—copper-maned women in the earth realm.
Humorous, because to it, there is a level of truth.

Case in point: The auburn-tressed Erica Spindler, author of the remarkably-scribed tale currently under review, that is The Other Girl.

For it is a gripping and unputdownable effort so saturated with emotion that it kept me up until way past 2 a.m.—for four straight nights, I might add—reading . . . absorbed in Spindler’s created world . . . and hating the fact that the second and minute hands on my clock determined to thrust themselves forward, mocking and reminding me of my growing fatigue, despite my attempts to ignore the gravity of slumber and continue on with my reading.

Yes. It had been quite a challenge to fall asleep on this one.

Followed in a sequence of date stamped and time stamped chapters, The Other Girl gets underway in Jasper, Louisiana, circa 2002, as we’re introduced to our main protagonist, Randi Rader, a fifteen-year-old rebel with many causes.
The product of a highly dysfunctional family (a consistently imprisoned father, two criminal-minded and unlawful older brothers, and a mother who just doesn’t seem to care one iota), the misguided Randi sneaks out of her clan’s trailer home (also called a “double wide”) in the middle of the night in search of the revelous fast life: a party, some beer, some harder booze, some weed, some fellow debaucherous cohorts, or any other type of trouble that will assist in her quest to forget the pain and hardship of her everyday reality.
. . .She finds it.

Originally scheduled to be picked up at a certain location near a power station by her two older brothers, Wes and Robby, at 8 p.m. on that pivotal evening, Randi instead sees a red Ford F-150, owned and operated by one Billy “Billy-Bo” Boman, who tells wild child Randi, ‘Your brothers told me to come pick you up.’ Believing his words to be the truth, just based on the characteristics of her good for nothing siblings, plus the fact of knowing that Billy-Bo had a cooler full of beer, Randi quickly jumped into the passenger seat of Boman’s pickup.

The two chat . . . Randi cracks open and guzzles beer after beer . . . Billy-Bo sees an opportunity for bodily violation . . . he makes his move . . . Randi plays along at first . . . things began to get more forceful—on Billy-Bo’s part . . . Randi fights him off—robbing him of a bag of weed in the process . . . she gets out of his truck—but not without a verbal piercing from him of skank epithets . . . she begans walking down the dark and lonely road, her flip flops-clad feet waxing weary . . . finally, she sees another vehicle approaching her—headlights delightfully bright in the darkness . . . her arms fly up, waving for the car to stop, and it does . . . a man in the driver’s seat and another mysterious young girl in the passenger seat smile at the rebel child, Randi . . . the man tells Randi that he and his female passenger (the other girl being named Cathy) are going to a party and asks Randi if she would like to join them . . . and of course, she would . . . Randi quickly jumps into her second vehicle of the night . . . and with that decision, Randi’s life would never be the same again.

Fourteen years later.

Miranda Rader, detective with the Harmony, Louisiana police department (HPD), has been called to the scene of a grisly, blood-soaked murder—the victim being Richard Stark, a prominent college professor, who also happens to have been the son of a rich and highly influential college president—by her superior and mentor, Chief Buddy Cadwell, who then assigns the investigation to both Miranda and her partner, Jake Billings. But as the probe progresses further along, Miranda is forced to realize—and fretfully so—that her abysmal past has learned of her wherabouts, and is come back…that it may be reacquainted with her.

Set in the author’s native state of Louisiana, respectively, The Other Girl wrenches on the emotions of its reader—twisting and squeezing and saturating those sentiments in thick coats of frustration and anger and sadness and irritation…even hopelessness.

. . .When you feel as though the entire world has banded together against just one of you.

. . .When lies and the two-headed monster of deception seem to hold the upper hand over the truth.

. . .When your entire world feels like it’s coming apart, and being snatched out from under you.

. . .When you feel like you have no one. No, not even anyone at all.

With The Other Girl, Spindler spins a tale that holds a firm grip on its reader—with all of its might, pinching on the psyche without cessation. And though a few of the characters on these pages (including Miranda’s best friend, the recalcitrant and stiff-necked Summer, and her partner, Jake Billings) is strong enough to carry the narrative in his or her own right, there’s only one Miranda Rader. And she is a genuine champion among female protagonists in the mystery thriller subgenre today.

She is sure to become one most beloved.

There are books. And then there are books that possess the capacity to enrapture each one of their readers because the said compositions have personality…and heart…and flaws…and faults…and regrets…and anger…and bitterness…and compassion…and love…and integrity…and dignity…and forgiveness…and self-forgiveness.

Erica Spindler’s forthcoming effort, The Other Girl, is an ingenuine member of the latter.

And when the time of its release to the general public is upon us, I will be right there cheering it on, wishing it a great success among its literary novel peers.

Five stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank St. Martins Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “The Other Girl,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “The Other Girl” by Erica Spindler is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Friday, June 23, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review of A-List

A-ListA-List by D.P. Lyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jake Longly and Nicole Jemison are the Rick Castle and Kate Beckett of private investigators.

Jake Longly and Nicole Jemison are the Seeley Booth and Dr. Temperance Brennan of private investigators.

Jake Longly and Nicole Jemison are the Ryan Booth and Alex Parrish of private investigators.

. . .Catch my drift?

And if you enjoy watching those fictive, made-for-tv characters—zany as they are—by way of any of the respective dramas on which they feature, then you will indeed enjoy D.P. Lyle’s impending mystery thriller, A-List.

Set in the ever effervescent New Orleans—that’s N’awlins to us non-natives—the fun and food-filled, liquor-flowing tale gets underway when the alpha female Nicole receives a phone call from her uncle Charles Balfour, a big shot Hollywood movie producer/director, asking for both Jake’s and her help in the investigation of a murdered young woman inside of a Big Easy five-star hotel room—which just so happens to involve a world-famous, and exceptionally good-looking, albeit whorish, movie star named Kirk Ford.

The young woman, Kristy Guidry, and Ford have had intimate relations in Ford’s room, of course, and when the Hollywood royal awakes the next day to find Guidry laying next to him, literally dead to the world, all hell suddenly breaks loose, especially after the girl’s uncle, Tony Guidry—a mob boss of both local and long distance influence—learns that his beloved niece, whom he, by the way, idolizes nearly to the extreme of perversity, has been killed. Tony suspects pretty boy Kirk. And Tony, the top Don of the Southern Regions, vows deadly retribution.

. . .He wants his neice’s murder avenged. And he wants his neice’s murder avenged now.

Enter a foursome that even the Master of the Crime Caper himself, the same being Carl Hiaasen, would get a kick out of: Ray Longly, founder of Longly Investigations. He’s quite a guy. And he’s also Jake’s father; the big and extra beefy Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, Ray’s partner and a menacing red head who can pack a hefty punch—on both criminals and food; Nicole Jemison, a ridiculously beautiful—however domineering—P.I. whose only flaw is her tendency to forget that she entered the world from her mother’s womb equipped with a clitoris, vulva, and vaginal cavity, and not with a penis, scrotum, and testicles; and of course there’s our main protagonist, Jake Longly, formerly famous MLB pitcher turned P.I./bar owner and Nicole’s love interest.

. . .Added to this badass, though wacky, quartet of star characters are a supporting cast just as lovable, even if downright scandalous: Kirk Ford, screen idol and one of Hollywood’s biggest moneymaking stars; Tegan and Tara James, gorgeous “identical” twin actresses and Kirk’s sisterish (Is that a word?) co-stars who, like their “big brother” Kirk, are in N’awlins shooting the latest installment of a major multi-billion dollar blockbuster franchise (Space Quest) that the trio have starred in together since its inception; Marty Ebersole, director of Space Quest, who’s all about protecting his interests; and Troy Doucet, NOPD detective assigned to the Guidry murder case, and who, in turn, works with Ray, Pancake, Jake, and Nicole to crack it.

. . .Who killed Kristy Guidry? And why? What had been his or her motive?

A small group of bit players and extras—including the two brothers of the deceased, Kevin and Robert—round out this adventurous mystery. And it is one that is sure to hold your interest as it had mine.

The Big Easy floweth with plenty of gumbo and rice, oyster po’boys, crawfish étouffée, jalepeño cornbread, and of course, liquor, as our exceptional team of P.I.s work both the French Quarter and the gator-infested swamps to find a killer—at least before the Mafiosi do.

Great work of fiction by D.P. Lyle. And if I may say as much, A-List is to me not so much of a thriller as it is a murder mystery. In fact, the narrative is better suited for the action/adventure/crime/mystery genres than it is for the thriller genre. Nevertheless, it was an amusing and hilarious read.

Here’s another thing. Though I do recommend A-List, readers must be informed that the same is a “true-to-form murder mystery.” You won’t find out who killed Kristy Guidry (and why) until the the book is two to three blinks away from its ending.
. . .Okay that may be a bit of an exaggeration, as the figure of speech was only used here to stress a point. But because A-List is overall a genuinely entertaining read, the reader should not expect to bore.

I applaud D.P. Lyle for a work well-penned, but because of the stretch of waiting that it took to get the the heart valve of the mystery, I’m inclined to settle this particular Jake Longly adventure with a four star rating.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Oceanview Publishing, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “A-List,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “A-List” by D.P. Lyle is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Thursday, June 15, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review of The Breakdown

The BreakdownThe Breakdown by B.A. Paris

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Channeling the late—and truly great—Rod Serling, in the spirit of his timeless Twilight Zone opening narrations). . .

Cat Ellington: You’re about to meet Cass Anderson, age 35. Occupation: 9th grade History teacher at Castle Wells High School in the English market town of Castle Wells.
Cass Anderson, affluent, compassionate, empathetic, and free spirit of habit. As you will witness, within the pages of this grasping tale of cold deception, Cass is a troubled woman who has recently had her insouciant lifestyle disrupted by an otherworldly turn of events.
You see, while driving home, by way of a shortcut through the woods, to the quaint and homely cottage—which she shares with her husband, Matthew—on a wickedly stormy night, Cass, seeing a seemingly stranded car with its tail lights aglow, drives up alongside of the “idle” vehicle and comes face to blurry face with a woman whose situated in the driver’s seat, unmoving. Fearful of stopping to help the other woman, suspecting that it’s a trap to lure her to violent harm, Cass decides to leave the still woman behind.
And Cass, learning the very next day that the same woman was found brutally murdered, begans to suffer from the sharp fangs of guilt—gnawing away at her conscience—for not assisting the woman when she spotted her in the dark, climatically tempestuous woods on the fateful night before.

In this bizarre tale of eerie suspense, we follow Cass as she’s casually escorted farther and farther towards the perimeter of abstraction. Because what we soon come to realize is that Cass is not just any other ordinary woman. And her picturesque life is not at all what it presents itself to be.
This happens to be the Twilight Zone-like sophomore effort of one B. A. Paris. And our apprehensive protagonist, Cass, is about to find herself suddenly pushed over the edge and violently yanked, head first, down into a jet black and mind-devouring bottomless pit…of unmitigated madness.

The Breakdown, told in the first person, diary formatted narrative of its main protaganist, is an astonishing composition in the wake of its freshman predecessor, Behind Closed Doors.

The gifted Paris has yet again outdone herself with this highly recommended and completely enjoyable page-turner. For it is a rapidly paced title superb in structure, exceptional in both plot and character progression, true to its alarming description, and assertively commanding—where a five star rating is concerned.

Too good. Too good!

The Breakdown is a supremely fascinating novel—even one of those goose bump-inducing suspense thrillers that lovers of the genre hate to see come to an end. And here, the ending is one you won’t see coming.

Incredible work.
. . .Incredible writing.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank St. Martins Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “The Breakdown,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “The Breakdown” by B. A. Paris is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Sunday, June 04, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review of The Switch

The SwitchThe Switch by Joseph Finder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Immediately after signing up for a new membership to the Penguin Random House First to Read program, and then selecting each category, or genre, if you will, that interested me, I was provided with an intriguing bundle of upcoming titles that were being offered as ARCs—galley proofs—with the request option to view. And this intriguing bundle had included the latest Joseph Finder-scribed thriller, The Switch—a novel boasting capturing cover art, in addition to a fascinating description. So, eager to preread the imminent work of fiction, I excitedly requested it. And with my request for the galley approved (and queued) not much longer afterward, I would soon be engrossed in the conspiratorial plot of The Switch.

. . .It certainly lived up to its interesting synopsis.

Set in the dual locations of Boston, MA and Washington D.C., The Switch is a twisty-turny political thriller oozing with fear, dreadful paranoia, anxiety, and frustration. In fact, this, the latest effort from Joseph Finder, gives a whole new meaning to the old phrase, ‘Big Brother Is Watching You.’

The turmoil begins to unfold when, while going through checkpoint at LAX, coffee executive (and main protaganist) Michael Tanner (“Tanner” to his loved ones, including his estranged wife, Sarah) collects and repacks his effects, including an exorbitant MacBook Air, right before he boards his flight back to his home city of Boston. Michael Tanner, however, doesn’t yet realize that the MacBook Air which he retrieved at checkpoint is not his own, but rather is that one of the forever L’Air du Temps scented Susan Robbins, a very prominent and powerfully influential U.S. Senator. And it is onto the ill-fated laptop that Senator Robbins has uploaded top secret government documents not intended for public knowledge—lest national pandemonium ensue.

Michael Tanner doesn’t realize his error of grabbing the wrong MacBook Air until he has returned home, unpacked, and settled in. It is at that moment when he powers on the computer to see the pink post-it icon indicating the laptop’s owner to be one S. Robbins. Even her government-issued password has the careless senator posted. . .right on the home screen with her name. And out of impulsive curiosity, Tanner signs in to S. Robbins’ MacBook Air, using the provided password, of course. Once inside, he learns that he has in his possession the property of U.S. Senator Susan Robbins. He then reads the petryifying and forbidden documents. And his reaction to what he has just learned is a reaction that is to be expected: Sheer fear. Right away, he calls one of his buddies, Lanny, who is not only a die hard conspiracy theorist, but also a well-respected journalist at The Boston Globe. Tanner shares both the details of the docs, as well as hard drive copies of the same, with Lanny—

. . .And from there, the plot, as if being infused with cornstarch, begins to thicken.

Everyone—from the self-loathing Will Abbott, subservient false idolator of and chief of staff to Senator Susan Robbins, to the NSA, to deadly former Marine naval infantrymen—are now on the hunt for Michael Tanner. . .in order to retrieve the loaded laptop. Even if any of them must brutally murder him to do so.

Michael Tanner’s once peaceful, comfortable, and love-filled life has been turned upside down and inside out. And he’s now on the run. . .for his life.

. . .In Michael Tanner’s new reality of conspiracy, espionage, contract murders, double-dealing, and evasive technology, the question is: Who will outwit who?

What Mitch McDeere is to Grisham’s legendary legal thriller, The Firm, Michael Tanner is to Finder’s forthcoming gem of a political thriller, The Switch. Except that Michael Tanner may actually be a fictive stand-in for the scandalous Edward Snowden, what considering the more than a few references to both WikiLeaks and the now famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) whistleblower.

Though not as intense (where bone-chilling suspense and a faster pace are concerned) as Grisham’s The Firm—due to some much slower parts here and there—The Switch still does its job of keeping the reader severally gripped. It also entails a great, on-the-edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger ending.

What could have easily been a five star rating is foiled—only due to those slower parts where I got the feeling that the narrative was doing its damnest to uphold the suspense.

Overall, is The Switch an effort that I would highly recommend to those lovers of conspiratorial political thrillers?

Oh, absolutely.

Is Joseph Finder’s The Switch keen on detail, research, and character evolution?


Is The Switch an enjoyable enough “roman à clef” that I would want to have it added to my very own vast collection of thrillers—its subgenres contained?

Most definitely.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank both Dutton and Penguin Random House, as well as First to Read, for the advanced copy of “The Switch,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “The Switch” by Joseph Finder is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Sunday, May 28, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review of Dark Harvest

Dark Harvest (A Holt Foundation Story Book 2)Dark Harvest by Chris Patchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Teen pregnancies, kidnappings, unborn fetus harvesting, illegal adoptions, emotional hardships, cold, dreary, rainy days, human trafficking, sex trafficking, love lost, love won, cold-blooded murders, fiery explosions, scars (of both the mental and physical type), illogical medical madness, and the forcible will to live all contribute to the ensnaring suspense in this leg-shaking and enthralling page-turner of a mystery thriller.

Chris Patchell does a sublime job with Dark Harvest!

Loaded with tons of twists and turns, the poignant narrative, set in a very rainy Seattle, features an intriguing, however problematic cast of characters—each one deeply unsettled in his and her own right: They are as follows:

• Marissa Rooney, former teen mother and our main protagonist, whose life is a barrel of self-doubt and conflict—stemming from her youth.

• Seth Crawford, a troubled former cop and Marissa’s boyfriend—who battles with his own tortuous demons.

• Brooke, Marissa’s youngest teenage daughter—who incidentally survived captivity by a deranged psychopath (the same who murdered her best friend), and is struggling to return to a place of normalcy in her young life.

• Kelly, Marissa’s eldest teenage daughter—who wasn’t given a broad role in this great, movie-like novel, but who still has a sliver of importance, nevertheless.

• Henry, a brilliant computer hacker/coder at the Holt Foundation—and an annoying thorn in Seth Crawford’s side.

• Evan Holt, Holt Foundation heir and boss to Marissa, Seth, and Henry—whom all, by the way, are working together, although on haphazard terms with the Seattle P.D., to find two missing pregnant women: Becky Kincaid and Suzie Norwood.

• Dr. Xander Wilcox, an esteemed mastermind of a surgeon—who also happens to be a cancerous tumor on the medical profession.

• Victoria “Tory” Kaplan, a pretty, young half pitiable, half contemptible copper-haired nurse—who presents as both a hapless manpleaser and dastardly partner to Dr. Wilcox.

At break-neck speed, Patchell wraps this compelling ensemble around a plot so thrilling, unnerving, and mystifying—with an ending so well-written, smooth-flowing, and encapturing—that its readers won’t even realize that they’ve completed the book until they’ve turned the final page, only to find themselves at the “Author’s Notes.”

. . .That’s just how intense of a novel Dark Harvest is. It will leave you wanting more. I was so sorry that this story had to end, but it did. . .though not without a few tears shed, courtesy of mine eyes.

Chris Patchell has contributed a fine attainment that is Dark Harvest. And indeed, it is a fine attainment of which she can truly be proud.

Five stars.

• It is my kindly pleasure to thank Kindle Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “Dark Harvest,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “Dark Harvest” by Chris Patchell is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Thursday, May 18, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review of Size Zero

Size Zero (Zero, #1)Size Zero by A.C. Moyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Is beauty really only skin deep?

As the old adage goes, its concept may ring factual to some. But in many cases, when the subject factors around the innermost soul of Man, it can be downright ugly . . . And evil.

For a surety, one will never look at the high fashion industry (or at the models who strut the Milan, Paris, and NYFW runways, whose faces also feature on the glossy covers of high fashion magazines) in the same way again after he or she has completed AC Moyer’s ferocious anecdote, Size Zero.

Masterfully-written by the smart-as-a-whip author, Size Zero is a brutal, bile-in-the-throat novel of self-loathing, perversity, and depravity – even the same three that exists within the immoral individuals who act as the “gatekeepers” of the ridiculously expensive high fashion industry.

Courageously walking the tightrope of truth over a canyon of scorching lava—like a natural born Wallenda—Moyer has designed an haute couturesque novel which showcases the degeneracy of the industry of high fashion and extreme luxury in a most brutal and unflinching spotlight, with great attention paid to the detail of both her hemmed dialogue, and expertly stitched character development.

Moyer morphs nonfiction with fiction in such a remarkable way that its content will leave you in absolute awe. For such prose is Size Zero—representative of tremendous fieldwork done on behalf of its creator. And for this, she is deserving of commendation.

I admire this author already, as do I her two main co-protagonists, Cecil LeClaire and Ava Germaine. And she, AC Moyer, can now claim a new fan, for lack of a better word, in me.

Ingenuine in delivery and unstoppable in page-turning pace, with an ending that will leave your psyche drenched in a dark, semi-sweet scent reminiscent of Jasmin Noir, Size Zero is five-star fabulous, to say the least.

• It is my kind pleasure to thank Aurelia Press, as well as NetGalley, for the advanced copy of “Size Zero,” in exchange for my honest review.

Analysis of “Size Zero” by AC Moyer is courtesy of Reviews by Cat Ellington:

Date of Review: Wednesday, May 10, 2017

View all my reviews

Cat Ellington’s review The Woman in the Room (#20, Stephen King’s Night Shift) Duplicate analysis of short stories collection

The Woman in the Room (Short Story)The Woman in the Room by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A terrifying and classic collection containing twenty of King’s most legendary tales. I reviewed Night Shift as a composed body, rating each short story therein individually.

To read the actual review, search: Night Shift

View all my reviews