Monday, January 17, 2022

Book Review: An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher

Title: An Honest Lie
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Release Date: April 26, 2022 
Publisher: Graydon House
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Hardcover/Audio
Source: Netgalley


“I’m going to kill her. You’d better come if you want to save her.”
Lorraine—“Rainy”—lives at the top of Tiger Mountain. Remote, moody, cloistered in pine trees and fog, it’s a sanctuary, a new life. She can hide from the disturbing past she wants to forget.
If she’s allowed to.
When Rainy reluctantly agrees to a girls’ weekend in Vegas, she’s prepared for an exhausting parade of shots and slot machines. But after a wild night, her friend Braithe doesn’t come back to the hotel room.
And then Rainy gets the text message, sent from Braithe’s phone: someone has her. But Rainy is who they really want, and Rainy knows why.
What follows is a twisted, shocking journey on the knife-edge of life and death. If she wants to save Braithe—and herself—the only way is to step back into the past.
This seething, gut-punch of a thriller can only have sprung from the fiendish brain of Tarryn Fisher, one of the most cunning writers of our time.

My first finish of the year. I am glad I started with a book by Tarryn Fisher. Ever since The Wives I make sure that her books get added to my TBR pile as soon as they become available. Was this my favorite book of hers? Sadly, it was not. Of the 3 that I have read this would come in third. Does that mean it was a bad book? Absolutely not. It just didn't offer me the thrills of the last two. 

Rainy and her mother go through a tough time and her mother takes her to meet Taured, a friend from years ago who has converted an abandoned prison into a community of people who have what he believes is a common goal. After a bunch of drama and trauma, Rainy tries to start a new life and eventually moves to live with her boyfriend across the country. Here she meets a group of call them all friends would be a stretch but she does have a connection with a few of them. 

When they invite her to a trip to Vegas, she reluctantly decides to go. This is where the story really picks up. Vegas is not too far from Taureds 'compund' and she thinks she may have some unfinished business with him. But Taured is the least of her problems - she has someone from her past who is hell bent on seeking revenge, and when one of the girls from the trip ends up in trouble, even though it isn't one of Rainy's besties, she feels she has no choice but to help.

To be honest I did feel that the current storyline was a little thrown together as this story really relied so heavily on the past and what happened to Rainy and her mom. Still a solid read but just not my favorite. 

Meet the Author:

Tarryn is a New York Time and USA Today bestselling author. She lives in Seattle with her children and husband. Her heart is dark but she loves you with it anyway. Tarryn is the founder of Guise of the Villain, a fashion blog, and has written twelve published novels. Tarryn is a Slytherin. 

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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Salon - Still dealing with grief

Happy Sunday! It's been awhile since I have posted a Sunday Salon post - years in fact. But, I want to give thanks to Deb at Readerbuzz for hosting the chat. My mom passes away unexpectedly a few months ago, and I started a new job. So, there has been a roller coaster that I call life and I am hoping it slows down sometime soon. 

What I’m watching: We are always looking for things to watch and try to read more when we can focus. But, sometimes during the week we just want to unwind in front of the tv. We have been watching Wentworth and do really enjoy it. We are always open to options, so if you are watching something great, please let me know so I can add it to the list. 

What I’m reading: I just finished The Maid by Nita Prose and started Book of Night by Holly Black thanks to NetGalley. I also have Circe by Madeline Miller to read in hardcopy. I tried to read that one in the past but had to put it down. Just think it might not have been the right time for me so we will see how it goes this time.

New Books to the TBR Pile: Yes, having a daughter that works at B&N is a problem. We went shopping there on Friday and I to the following books:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (I have read this on NetGalley but wanted to own it)
Circe by Madeline Miller
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Read but wanted to own)
Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes (this is a another one that I have ready but wanted to own)
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Have you read any of the above books? I'd love to know what your thoughts are on them. 

I also rejoined the Book of the Month Club so have books coming shortly. Will post about those next week.

I haven't been on Netgalley recently so will have to go there and see what else is available. I do have a pretty lengthy list there already but always looking to see what else is out there. 

Hope you all have a great week!

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Thursday, January 13, 2022




Online dating is a headache, live vicariously through someone else’s experiences to make yourself feel better…

By Shannon Yingst

IF THEY CAN'T KISS RIGHT: SURVIVING ONLINE DATING, Creative Nonfiction, Tyburn Hill Media Co., 150 pp.

Online dating: the new way of life. It seems like the only logical way to meet people anymore. The rest of our lives are on the internet, so why not our love lives too? Because if you wait for your friends to set you up, you’ll only be disappointed with their choice of Roger from accounting, the epitome of mouth breathing, booger eating morons.

Fortunately, there are no Rogers from accounting in this tale. There are, however, many other bad choices. But along the way, I learned what I want, and what I don’t want in a relationship. I learned good qualities to seek and bad qualities to leave behind. I also learned a lot about myself in the process, too. The biggest gain I got from my foray into online dating, though? Writing this book and passing along some of the life lessons I discovered through a painful trial-and-error process.

If you think your dating life is bad, take a gander at mine. Relive the awkward moments, soak in the unnecessary drama, and don’t forget to learn a thing or two. Men and women alike will be able to read this and take-home solid dating advice for the future.

Laugh. Learn. Love. Question why some humans are so insane. Maybe even see yourself in some of the pages. But above all, take to heart all the things I figured out along the way. It’ll save you the heartache and trouble. Trust me.

Chapter 1: Oceans Away

I spent three years of my life in a negative relationship with a man that lived over three thousand miles away, in the UK. Miles and miles of ocean and land separated us, but I thought he was the only man that would ever love me.

            Always the fat girl in class, my life revolved more around making others laugh rather than pursuing crushes. That is not to say I didn't try chasing them anyway. I knew the outcome, though: the boys always liked the other girls, the skinny girls. Me? I was the ‘fun friend’. My yearbooks are filled with homages to my sense of humor and even sometimes to my friendly nature. Other girls were told to call the boys over the summer, reminded of their beauty, and endlessly complimented. My sense of humor was about all anyone ever noticed about me.

            "Am I ugly?" I would ask close friends. No matter what age, I always got the same answer in some form or another.

            "Don't be ridiculous. You're really funny and that counts for a lot." They would smile wide with kind eyes, avoiding mine. My question never directly answered. I began to think this was all for me – humor. My only redeeming quality. I would never be ‘pretty’ in a conventional sense.

            Now this isn't to say that beauty and boys are everything in life. I can guarantee you that they will never be everything in your life. They aren’t in mine. They are a side mission, not a main quest. However, I wanted nothing more than to find a man to join my story, to build along with me. I think we all want someone with whom to share our journey.

Right now, you’re reading this book for one of three reasons. Reason A: the humor in which each story unfolds - a good laugh is great for your skin* (*not medically proven.) Reason B: you want to avoid some of the same speed bumps I hit and save your sanity. Reason C: you want to see if our stories match and make sure everything is going as normal as possible. Relatively speaking. I don’t really mind whichever reason it is, but I do hope you gain something from my tale, and my sage wisdom. That being said, let me take you back to where this all started.

Desperate to fill that superficial abyss, I landed with the man from England.  

            We agreed that we would never see other people. We agreed it was a real relationship, despite only seeing each other twice a year, during my Christmas break from college and in the summer after school ended. He could easily get time off work, and spent most, if not all of it, with me. Looking back now, I'm not sure if it was selfish of me to take all his vacation time. Of course, he never let me forget how much it cost his wallet. Never mind that I worked all summer long and was barely able to afford my trip to him come December.

            Yet, no matter what, no matter how much each of us spent, it was never enough. The heartbreak we had to suffer each time the trip came to a close was immensely painful. It was like taking down decorations after a holiday: you're happy to get back to normal life, but some of the flair is missing and you feel it every day it's gone. Except with the relationship, things never went back to that sense of normalcy. It just got harder as the days went.

            The drives back to the airport were always quiet. Our last moments together for months and we spent them in silence with the occasional sniffle as we held back tears. The last time we were together (before we decided on a major change), I couldn't stop crying. I held onto him in the airport and repeated the same sentence over and over for five minutes straight.

            "I don't want to leave you," my voice whimpered between chest-deflating sobs. He would rub my back and rest his cheek on the top of my head cooing a shush. His tears hit my hair faster than my tears soaked his shirt. Maybe we both knew it was the end for us. There had to be something in us knowing we would never do this again. The painful goodbyes were over. We would never watch each other walk away into the long airport security lines again.

            "Hey, look at me. The next time you're on a plane here will be the last time you fly alone. Next time, I'll be with you. And every time after that. It will be us. Together." He kept his words hushed. Not because he didn't want anyone else to hear, but because he was doing his damn best to soothe my blubbering self. I nodded, wiping tears off my red-blotched cheeks. My hand gripped the handle of my suitcase and I felt the heaves within my chest slow. That was the last time I was truly in his arms. The last time the emotion had any real meaning. It was mere weeks later it ended.

            After that big change I mentioned.

            I had planned to leave behind the United States to be with him in England. My family, friends, my entire life would change in order to be with this man I had fought with more times than dreams of him filled my mind. Ironically, I often made up dreams to tell him because he would tell me about ones he had involving me. My mind wandered during the day, but come night, my subconscious never even bothered. I had more dreams about hockey players that I'd never met as opposed to the man I planned on spending the rest of my life loving. That probably should have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. In the end, it came down to one mistake. That one mistake showed me everything I overlooked. Everything I pushed aside because I thought he was it, my only one. 

            In our last seven weeks together, we tested everything we knew about being in a relationship. We never spent more than three weeks together at a time over our three year stint. Yet here we were, getting ready to be together for a large block of time. He was in America for two weeks to see me graduate from college, and then I flew back with him to spend five weeks in England. And if that went well, it was going to be forever.

My time staying with him was amazing at first. He would wake up and kiss me goodbye as he left for work. I would have dinner ready for when he got home. Minus the night his roommate told me the cooktop was on low when it was actually on high and it burnt the meatballs beyond recognition. Everything seemed perfect.

            But, as everyone knows, perfect can't last.

            We began fighting. Stupid, pointless, absurd fights. One night he was in his kitchen, running around trying to make a nice dinner for the two of us. He was sweating and overwhelmed. When I offered help, he took it, but criticized every single thing I did.

            "Can you knock it the fuck off?" My voice was straight and low, my hands steady on the knife and cutting board.

            "I just want the carrots cut thicker." His jaw was squared, eyebrows furrowed.

            "There isn't enough time to have thick-cut carrots cook. We need them thin because everything else is already done. I'm not an idiot, I can cut carrots." My eyes closed, but I still could feel the heat in the kitchen adding to my already boiling blood.

            "I don't want thin carrots."

            "Well I'm not waiting all day for thick carrots to cook."

            "Then get out of the kitchen." He took the carrots off the cutting board and waited for me to leave. I went upstairs to his room and sat on the bed staring out the window. An hour later, he came into the room slowly and placed a plate down in front of me on the bed before turning on the TV. I heard his fork hit the plate and then he started chewing with his mouth open. A habit I hadn't noticed before spending that kind of time together, but it grew more and more annoying each day. I think he picked it up from his roommate because I didn't remember this habit when we were first together.

Maybe I was blissfully unaware before, and now was slowly falling out of love. Maybe the fight just opened my eyes a little wider to all the flaws. Either way, there they were, on display. Crowned by that horrible smacking of open-mouth chewing. And don’t tell me the sound of a human chewing like a cow is sweet and endearing. Because it’s not. At least to me. After a few minutes, he stopped and angrily sighed. "Aren't you going to eat? I cooked a nice meal."

            "I'm not hungry, thanks."

            "Are you fucking kidding me?" The bed shook as he stood in a huff. He threw his fork onto the plate with a loud clink. I saw his hand reach over and snatch the plate from in front of me and, in a blur, threw it behind me into the trash can with such force that it broke into a ton of pieces. Food and broken plate scattered all around, and a few bit even landed in the trashcan. He stormed off with his plate and didn't come back to the room until I had fallen asleep, and was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.

            It was that night and the following night I was so upset that I forgot to take my birth control. That second night without birth control, we also had sex. I was still upset, but wanted to make him happy, so I pretended to be okay. Unfortunately, we had decided not to use condoms anymore. We were in a committed relationship, both clean…and both so stupid. He told me that condoms hurt him and made it harder for him to stay erect. I foolishly let him go without one. Yet when the pregnancy scare happened, all of the blame went to me. He only had one thing to say about the whole thing.

            "You have three choices: keep it, abort it, or give it away. I'm not comfortable giving it away and we can't be together if you keep it." So, only one choice, really. He offered no support, no kind words, nothing to help me feel less trapped. He blamed sleepless nights on me and piled all of his stress on this accident. It wasn't a mistake we both were in together, it was all on my shoulders. He started ignoring me. Days would pass without him even sending a smile. 

            When I found out I wasn't pregnant, it was the beginning of the end. Nothing ever felt the same after that. Eventually I told him I wasn't moving to the UK. I couldn't. Not if he was going to blame me for every mishap, isolate me, and make me feel like nothing more than a mistake. There was nowhere I could go, no friends or family to rely on if he were to tear me down like that again. After I told him all of this, all of the empty feelings and worry I had about moving there to be with him, about how I didn't think I could do it, he responded with, "Okay, it's over."

            I've had problems with self esteem my entire life from being overweight. It affected me in ways you could never imagine. As I write this sentence now, I feel the dread of a ‘not good enough’ mental breakdown creeping up. It always lurks in the back of my mind, waiting for the perfect time to leap and sink into the depths of my heart where no daylight can get, no matter how bright it shines. I end up drowning in the warm sunlight while my still beating heart continues to pump cold thoughts. Never good enough is not a good slogan for yourself.

You are always good enough. Always. I promise.

            It was only a week after getting back to the States when I wanted to see what was out there for me, for an overweight twenty-something. It hit me hard, the idea that guys could still like me despite the way I look. Despite my weight, despite my less-than-average face. Despite that, and despite my own person reservations, I am considered desirable. Maybe not as much as other women, but enough to get me laid. Apparently. 

            However, time for a 180 as I turn this sob story into a continuous ‘what the fuck’ moment.

            Let me show you the world of dating apps and what actually happens when people say ‘I totally want to date’ and then live on that lie for months while they awkwardly spend time and money on someone for an entirely too expensive, and mediocre, fuck.

            It's really not as glamorous as movies and TV make it out to be. It's mostly a lot of ‘what do I do now’ moments, followed by naked escapades, and confused drives home where you laugh out loud at yourself with a little bit of crying. Or maybe a lot of crying. It all depends, you know?

            Here is where I beg any family members to stop reading. Seriously. Please.

            To the rest of you: join me. Marvel in my disasters. Take notes. I have plenty of excuses for getting out of bad dates, examples of what not to do, and little tidbits of life advice I'm sure you'll want to take along with you in your pocket right next to your condom. Don't do everything I did. Or do, I'm not your mother. Maybe by the end of this, you'll feel like an amazing person with new found confidence gained from reading about how I found confidence. Or you gained it because you feel better than me after all my stupid mistakes. Either way, congrats!

            Disclaimer: The rest of these pages contain copious amounts of profanity, crass behavior, and graphic descriptions of sex. I’m not going to apologize if you get offended, but I did warn you.


is available at:

Shannon Yingst
 is a woman with dreams far beyond her reach. Not because she isn’t ambitious, but because she is short, and her dreams are on the high shelves. On her tip toes reaching for those dusty aspirations, she hopes to achieve the daunting task of entertaining the masses with the written word. Shannon likes to write while listening to Star Wars soundtracks, stand outside while it snows, and get confused playing board games. She would love to spend her days reading on the beach with a waiter bringing her frozen margaritas and snacks as the sun moves about the sky, but for now, she will continue to work at her desk in Jersey.

If They Can’t Kiss Right: Surviving Online Dating is her latest book.

You can visit her blog at or connect with her on Twitter.

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Monday, January 10, 2022



Learn to address grief on your own terms, to make true and lasting peace with your loss…

By Erik Lewin

THIS IS HOW I SPELL GRIEF, Self-Help, Jeffrey Park Press, 126 pp.

Erik Lewin shares how he turned the profound loss of his mother and father into life-changing growth, with intimacy, warmth and humor. He offers a no-nonsense, commonsense way to create your personal path to acceptance of your loss.

Lewin became an expert in his grief experience twice over, encouraging readers to find their own way, as no two lives or losses are the same. He eschews expert opinions and general analyses of grieving in favor of common sense, letting you know you are not alone in how you’re feeling. He shares how he turned his loss into an impetus to personal change. A former criminal defense lawyer, Lewin is now a full time writer and standup comedian.

This Is How I Spell Grief takes a counter-intuitive approach to self-help; there are no eight simple exercises to get over it. Instead, you gradually learn to address grief on your own terms, to make true and lasting peace with your loss.


“Generous, intimate and deeply personal, even funny at times. I believe this book will help readers work with their own grief.” - NOAH BRUCE, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director, Salinas Valley Medical Clinic

Outstanding work. Everything I felt about my father’s recent death and my best friend’s death 14 years ago was articulated in this writing. It truly is a wonderful tome on helping one to manage their grief after the death of a loved one.” – Philip Peredo

“This is the book that I wished I had many years ago when first confronting the passing of my father. The author expertly navigates all of the issues that one encounters when grieving. It’s a remarkable book in that even for those who think we have a handle on their grief, the author helps us understand new ways to engage with grief. It’s definitely not a self-help book, but I found it much more profound and valuable.” - AKF



The World Goes on But You’re Still Grieving


One of the worst aspects of grief is it can feel like nobody knows what you’re talking about. This can make you feel emotionally alienated, and therefore reluctant to share your feelings with others.

Since losing my mom and dad, I’ve tried to share with family my feelings of alienation, but I suspect they’re convinced I’m something of an alien; as if the emotional frequency I am tuned into is like dog ears—one they cannot hear at all.

Hey, I’m now alone in the universe. “Oh okay,” they reply, “want to get a hot dog?”

Or silence. They’ll just ignore the subject. It’s flabbergasting! Especially when it’s an anniversary of loss, and the person is aware of this, it hangs in the air real thick and gloomy; they treat it as no more important to discuss than the weather, something far in the distance, passing us by. The longer the absence of their acknowledgment of the loss, the gloomier and thicker the air becomes, until it’s suffocating to not say something. It’s up to me to bring it up! As if it wouldn’t exist otherwise! I’m sorry to have made them feel uncomfortable.

I understand that no one wants to talk about death. In the first place it’s depressing, and its finality is just plain hard for a human mind to comprehend. It’s baffling, overwhelming, heartbreaking, traumatizing, debilitating, anxiety-inducing, and this list goes on.

But the irony is laughable! Everybody on the planet dies, so presumably, many people have lost someone close already, and you would therefore think many could relate. The truth is somewhere in between; a lot of people still have not lost a parent, or child, or brother or spouse, someone integral to their life, and this often renders them incapable of meaningfully empathizing, or even sympathizing, with your experience. Likewise, certain people are simply incapable of dealing with the discomfort of the subject. In the end, there’s effectively not too much difference between the two, and so it just becomes too exhausting to examine the reasons why any particular individual doesn’t feel really “there for you.”

Nevertheless, as I grapple with the enormity of loss, I still do bristle at those who express scant empathy. I visited with a close relative, (whom I still love in spite of the following) shortly after my mom’s passing. I felt fragile and vulnerable, yet eager to commiserate with someone who knew my mother well. It felt like an opportunity to help with my healing process, and of course, listen to anything grief related my relative might have to share. When I arrived, to my shock, over the course of an entire day, he didn’t ask a single question, or say a single word regarding my mom’s passing.

We were outside his apartment later in the day already, and he looked at me with a certain intention. I figured this would finally be the opening salvo into the subject. He spoke.

 “Hey Erik, wanna smoke some weed?”

“No man, I’m good.”



“How about a little boxing?”

“Okay.” We plugged in the video game. My head swam with confusion. When is he going to say something? Then he suggested we go out for a burger. I thought I’d give him a head start.

“So how’re things with you?” I said.

“Pretty good, but tough sometimes, y’know.”

Okay, here comes the first mention of my mom’s passing.

“This place is a lot of fun on the weekend. . .”

OMG!!! At this point I paid little attention to whatever he talked about, none of which had anything at all to do with my mother. We hung out all day without so much as one solitary word on the matter. That my mom had just died. Not one question about it, not one question about how I was holding up. Nothing. We parted ways afterward, and as I drove off, the chance of any talk of it now gone, I was pissed.

I guess he was. . . unsure, uncomfortable, weirded out about how I’d react—

He maybe thought: So. . .  I guess I might as well say nothing. Yeah, ‘cuz if A, B & C options all mean saying something, and I’m not sure which one is right, then, uh, yeah, let’s go with D—say nothing. Can’t go wrong then. Besides, Erik’s here to get away, escape, have a little fun—what kind of dick would I be if I reminded him that his mom just died?

I promise you I haven’t forgotten that my mom has died! I also love when people say this sort of thing, like—I didn’t want to bring it up, I mean maybe you wouldn’t want to talk about it, and I’d be rude to put you on the spot like that, it’d be thoughtless and disrespectful of me to cause you pain like that.

Here’s a message to all humans who have said something like the above to someone in grief—THE PAIN IS NOT FROM YOU BRINGING IT UP. IT’S FROM THE FACT THAT MY LOVED ONE HAS DIED.

I say this emphatically, but with less anger and bitterness as my process of recovery deepens. In other words, it’s important to convert one’s frustration into an understanding that is cathartic. The message here is these feelings of dissatisfaction are perfectly acceptable and normal, though that doesn’t mean you have to hold them close to your heart. You can observe the reactions of people, as well as your own feelings, accept them and let go. 

There are friends who have gone so far as to have questioned what was wrong with me. Why am I not the same person? How I disappointed them. And from one point of view, who can blame them? They’re not the ones suddenly crying at a bar during a night out. It’s ME. That kind of behavior doesn’t scream fun to be with. I’d go out with friends and they’d be upbeat, living their normal lives, and I’d just kind of stare at them for long silences. After a while of that, I didn’t have to worry about turning down too many invites.

I didn’t mean to be dead weight. It’s just that whether or not your friend should switch to Dial soap to better moisturize their skin rash didn’t hold quite the same sway over my attention. All these mundane parts of life that everyone is so caught up with. How serious can I take any of it?

It’s even harder when some friends and family continue to wonder why I haven’t “moved on.” It’s been so many years already, how come you still seem so burdened? How come you’re still not back to “normal”? I’d love to send a message to people everywhere who have made any bereaved person feel this way: MY FAMILY IS STILL GONE. As in, not coming back to life. How could I not continue to be deeply impacted by this irreversible fact? I am doing the best I can.

These frustrations are commonly felt by those of us who have lost a loved one. I hope other sufferers have the good fortune to benefit from support that is healthy, responsive and supportive. It is also certainly possible to make new connections and to develop friendships that can be quite nurturing. Unfortunately, if you’re bereft of such help, a certain sense of estrangement can arise.  

There are mourners who may momentarily have an attitude of well one day you’ll understand, but I’m confident no one actually wishes grief on anyone. But the truth is, wished or not, everyone will be next in line at some point. The time will come when everyone will lose a loved one and be overwhelmed with grief.  I think it’s an instructive question to pose: What kind of support would you hope for?



is available at:

Erik Lewin is the author of three books – This is How I Spell GriefAnimal Endurance, and Son of Influence – as well as numerous essays published in Ponder Review, GNU Journal, David Magazine, Real Vegas Magazine &Literate Ape. Erik is also a stand-up comedian who performs in clubs and venues around the country. He formerly practiced law as a criminal defense attorney in New York City and Los Angeles. He is at work on a new one-man show loosely based on This is How I Spell Grief.

Erik lives in Las Vegas with his wife and their furry pets.

Visit his website at or connect with him on Facebook and Goodreads.

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