I have so much to share with ya’ll today, so lets get to it.
First, please welcome Author Laura McNeill. She has an awesome play list to tell you about.
And then I’ll be sharing some things about Sister Dear along with my review.
Also, there’s a great giveaway, so don’t forget to enter.
Take it away Laura!
Guest Post / Play List
Music can fill your soul with so many emotions. Beautiful words, melodic notes, and just the right harmony can emit happiness, longing, and feelings of nostalgia.
For my most recent novel, Sister Dear, I spent some time on Spotify listening for just the right songs to represent Allie’s journey in Alto and Brunswick, Georgia. She has strong ties to her small community in the Coastal South, so I wanted the music to embody that.
Here’s my playlist for Sister Dear. Hope you love it!
- Home, Michael Buble – I love his voice and the passion with which he delivers this gorgeous song. I think of Allie and Caroline’s relationship with this one – the strain that Allie feels with not being able to see and hold her daughter. “I’ve been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you. Each one a line or two…I would send them but I know it’s just not enough.”
- Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles – This is such a classic song that conjures up the gorgeous green Georgia landscape, especially that by the ocean and the forests throughout the state. “Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines.”
- Walk On the Ocean, Toad the Wet Sprocket – Unless you are a child of the ‘80’s, you might not immediately recognize this song. It’s perfect for this story and Allie’s journey. She loves the ocean so much and that adoration is represented so well in the lyrics. “Walk on the ocean, step on the stones. Flesh becomes water.”
- Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You), Kelly Clarkson – This song by Clarkson epitomizes Allie’s strength. I love Clarkson’s voice. She seems to channel Allie’s tenacity with her words. “Stand a little taller. Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.”
- Sister, Lenny Kravitz – This is a surprisingly soulful song about a sister who falls in love with the wrong man. It’s so much Emma’s story, especially after Allie discovers the truth of the affair. “Sister. Did you have to go away? You left your home and the things you had to say.”
- Home, Phillip Phillips – I really adore this song. It’s impossible not to sing along to the lyrics. “Hold on to me as we go. As we roll down this unfamiliar road. And although this wave is stringing us along, just know you’re not alone. I’m going to make this place your home. Settle down, it’ll all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you fill you with fear.”
- Come Home, One Republic – This seems like Caroline’s song. A pleading to the world to listen to her perspective – she’s simply trying to figure out this new life with her mother, her aunt, and her friends. “Hello world, hope you’re listening. Forgive me if I’m young and speaking out of turn.”
- Sunrise – Nora Jones – Jones has such an amazing voice. This song seems to represent Allie’s hope for a brighter future and brighter tomorrow. Near the end of the story, she rediscovers her feelings for her ex-fiancé Ben. “Surprise, Surprise. Couldn’t find it in your eyes, but I’m sure it’s written all over my eyes.”
- Come on Get Higher – Matt Nathanson – One of my favorite performers gives life to this song. It definitely represents the longing between Allie and Ben at the end of the story. “I miss the sound of your voice. And I miss the rush of your skin. And I miss the still of the silence as you breath out and I breathe in. If I could walk on water, if I could tell you what’s next, make you believe, make you forget.”
- Sisters – Thomas Newman – This brief instrumental song seems a fitting ending to Allie and Emma’s journey. The song is from The Shawshank Redemption soundtrack, and echoes the pain and loss Allie feels as she loses Emma but gains her freedom.
Here’s the Spotify playlist link if you’d like to listen along. Just click on the widget below.
Hope you love it!
by Laura McNeill
Genre: Suspense / Mystery
I’m sure all of you word lovers know how it feels when you try a new author, crack open that book, and get swept up right from the get go. I have a list of must read authors. They’re the ones I follow closely, watching for their next new release. Laura McNeill easily added herself to that list.
From the opening, the author put me in Allie’s shoes. As she took me back into the past and forward to the present, I could only feel badly for Allie. All she was trying to do was protect the innocent and expose the one doing selfish, terrible things. Instead, someone winds up dead and she’s lost ten years, locked up for a murder she didn’t commit.
Released from prison, she has much to adjust to. Her parents handle her with kid gloves and make themselves scarce. Her sister, Emma, looks at her like she’s come back to ruin her life. To take away what she holds most dear. That being Caroline, Allie’s daughter. Emma took her in when Allie was sent to prison. Raised her. Loved her. And now she may be asked to let her go.
And poor Caroline. Scared of what will happen to her life now. Will her friends stand by her after learning her mother’s returned? It’s one thing to have a parent locked up, far away. It’s another thing altogether when that person reenters your life. How many teens are tough enough to stand up to peer pressure, to ignore the petty prejudices, to be the friend Caroline needs?
This author sure knows how to build up the suspense and excitement. As she maneuvers her characters, brings them together, you’ll get a taste of that talent.
Her characters are large as life, no cardboard figures here. You’ll feel some sympathy for all of them, good and bad. Told in multiple points of view and different time periods, the author makes the transitions smooth and easy to comprehend. It works great for this plot.
I’ve never cheated and skipped ahead in a book to get answers. What’s the fun in that? I would rather deal with the anticipation and crow when I finally get to the finish. But, boy, I was sorely temped to read ahead with this book. Even the mundane becomes suspenseful. You know it won’t be calm for long.
The suspense at 25% into the book had me on edge, especially trying to figure out who had hidden agendas.
50% in, the manipulations were fascinating and disturbing. There were shining moments followed by dips into ugliness.
At 75%, it was a free for all. I was rooting for some characters, a few were still questionable, and some I wanted to drop kick.
At 100%, the end finally let my mind stop whirring with questions. I got plenty of surprising answers. Couldn’t have asked for a better finale.
If you like some psychological suspense along with your mystery and a not as obvious as you think plot, you’ll love Sister Dear.
Oh, I almost forgot! There’s some fun discussion questions at the end. I enjoyed answering them and thinking more about the characters. One question had me thinking for quite some time. I surprised myself by how I answered it.
All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.
But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.
As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.
Author Laura McNeill
After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura McNeill moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.
She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s in Interactive Technology. Laura works at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as the school’s Instructional Design Manager.
Under the pen name Lauren Clark, Laura has published four novels, Pie Girls, Stay Tuned, Stardust Summer, and Dancing Naked in Dixie. She recently began writing suspense with HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson. Her debut novel in that genre, Center of Gravity, was released in July of 2015.
Visit Laura’s website at www.lauramcneill.com.
Laura McNeill is giving away one signed copy of Center Of Gravity!
US ONLY. Sorry to my International friends.
To enter, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win and show the author some love. Leave her a comment about the book or ask her a question!
Giveaway ends June 25th.
The truth could cost her everything.
Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.
Or is it?
When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.
If only Ava could believe her own excuses.
Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.
Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?
Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.
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