Category Archives: Thomas Nelson

Book Review: Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Thomas Nelson To Be Published April 19, 2016 336 Pages
Thomas Nelson
To Be Published April 19, 2016
336 Pages

Allie Marshall was convicted of a crime she did not commit and after years behind bars, she is finally free and back home in Brunswick, Georgia. But the welcome she was hoping for, especially from her daughter Caroline, didn’t come as expected.

Now determined to get her life back and discover the truth about what really happen that night, Allie digs into the pass of her small town, not realizing she is going to uncover the biggest secret hidden by her sister. 

Shout-out to Netgalley for recommending this amazing read. The summary doesn’t give much away and it sounds pretty cliche but I figured why not step out my YA zone and read something different. I am glad I did.

McNeill can write and this is first noticed in the pace of the novel. Although a bit slow and dull at times, she wrote in a way that keep me wanting to know what happens next. I wouldn’t exactly say this novel is suspenseful but I would say that it keeps your attention once it truly gets moving.

I enjoyed the character details. I didn’t feel that it was too much or too little. Everyone had a role to play and they played it well. Despite these two big things, I did have some qualms about this book.

For starters, I felt that Allie didn’t do much to discover the truth. Her being there caused things to unravel and ultimately the truth to come out. This is not to say that detective work wasn’t done but it wasn’t done intensively, I guess I should say. I also felt that Allie wasn’t too concerned about the truth until her daughter (who I didn’t like very much) threw a challenge in her face. I had expected her to have her boots on the ground almost immediately when she got home but no; it took some time (this wasn’t too bad but it showed a lack of necessity for a woman, who lost most of her life being in prison).

Secondly, predictability was there.  You knew something from almost the beginning was weird about everyone that wasn’t family. (I’m just going to leave that there).

Lastly, Allie’s ex-fiance is a butt.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I wish for more intensity but I am not complaining at all with how the book was written.


4 Pickles. 


Quick Five © with Laura McNeill

Courtesy of Laura McNeill
Courtesy of Laura McNeill

Name: Laura McNeill

Twitter: @LauraMcNeillBks


Books: Center of Gravity and Sister Dear (TBP: April 19, 2016)

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Shoutout to Netgalley for introducing me to Ms. Laura McNeill. I have had the most amazing pleasure to read her to be released book (April 19 2016), Sister Dear and I am officially a fan. So to say I was not excited when Ms. McNeill agreed to an interview with Motif by Tanya, is an understatement.

Enjoy my fellow readers because I had a blast talking with Ms. Laura McNeill.

Thomas Nelson To Be Published April 19, 2016 336 Pages
Thomas Nelson
To Be Published April 19, 2016
336 Pages

Your career originally started off as an anchor for CBS Affiliates. During this time were you writing or did the idea/drive to become a writer come after you left to raise your family?

When I began working as an anchor and reporter, my older son had just been born, so I was juggling new motherhood with the demands of a fast-paced job in a newsroom. To top it off, the latter part of my career was spent working overnights (2 am – 10 am) in order to prepare and anchor the morning news, so that schedule left little time for anything extra!

After six years, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my children, and it was then that I gave up TV news and began writing.

How did you career as an anchor help you write books? 

My experience as a journalist certainly came in handy when I started writing novels! In the television business, you can’t miss deadlines, so I learned to work fast and smart. I became quite adept at completing assignments in the news van (going over bumps in the road), dreaming up story ideas on slow news days, and generating creative and compelling stories, most of which were no longer than a minute and thirty seconds.
On the flip side, adjusting to life as novelist took a shift in mindset. I wasn’t used to working on a single project for longer than a day or two, so sitting down at a computer keyboard and working on the same story day after day was a challenge. For me, outlining helped tremendously and gave me a “roadmap” to follow!
Thomas Nelson Published July 4, 2015 320 Pages
Thomas Nelson
Published July 4, 2015
320 Pages

What inspired “Sister Dear”? Why did you decide to write within the genre of suspense and thriller?

A close friend of mine, years ago, was caught with some illegal drugs in her car. When she, as a teenager, went in front of the judge in her small hometown, she refused to give up the name of the dealer. The judge decided to make an example of her, and sent her to jail for six months. To this day, my lovely, wonderful friend, who is one of the kindest people in the world, is still a convicted felon. It affects everything in her life — her jobs, her relationships, her future plans.
Her situation got me thinking “What If” something terrible happened to a single mother of a five year old girl. “What if” the woman stumbled on a dying man, tried to revive him, and was held responsible for the man’s death? Then, what if after going to prison for a crime she didn’t commit and being paroled after ten years, the woman attempts to reconnect with a daughter who doesn’t know or trust her? Worse yet, the woman discovers that the person she trusts most in the world held the key to her freedom all along.
In terms of genre, I started out writing fun, frothy women’s fiction under the pen name Lauren Clark. I published 4 books before changing genres and tackling the deeper, darker side of domestic suspense. The decision to switch gears was two-fold: I love reading suspense and thrillers, and I had gone through some personal adversity and writing seemed a logical way to put some of my thoughts, ideas, and experiences down on “paper” to share with the world–in the hopes that other people might connect with my stories.

Where do you see yourself as a writer, let’s say a year from now? 

Camellia Press Published Aug. 10, 2014 295 Pages
Camellia Press
Published Aug. 10, 2014
295 Pages
In a year from now, I would feel very fortunate to continue to have a successful career as a writer and continue to connect with readers. I would love to have enough success to quit my “day job” as an instructional designer and stay home and write full time!
Of course, everyone wants the NY Times bestseller list, or an appearance on Oprah, but I truly write for the love of writing.
Finally, how do you want the reader to feel once they have completed one of your books?
It is my hope that readers feel like they’ve been given a rich experience, a story that has compelled them to keep reading and turning pages, and one in which they’ve found characters they care about and root for. I also strive hard to deliver a satisfying, but not perfect ending. I want the reader to feel he or she has come full circle when he or she finishes the last page. In addition, I would like the reader to feel that the main character has grown and changed, has learned, has overcome significant adversity, and changed his or her world for the better.
I love hearing from readers, by the way, and have made some amazing friends over the years just connecting over books! Readers mean the world to me, and I value each and every thought, comment, and opinion that is shared with me!

NetGalley Review: Siren’s Fury (The Storm Siren Trilogy #2) by Mary Weber

Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins Published June 2, 2015 352 Pages
Thomas Nelson / HarperCollins
Published June 2, 2015
352 Pages

If you haven’t read the first book, check out my review for it here.

Nym has defeated evil and saved Faelen or at least so she thinks. When the battle is over Nym discovers that Draewulf has taken over the body of the man she loves and he has taken her powers. 

Nym is offered a new power, something she could never imagine but there are secrets to the new power and to the person willing to give it her.

Can Nym change history again or is she simply falling into a trap?

*Short Review*

I enjoyed the first book. I thought it was okay and had a lot of potential to being a really good series. However, after reading this second book I don’t believe that anymore.

Nym is a ball of depressing mess that makes the book extremely slow and hard to get into. I honestly thought that she would be a bit more grounded maybe sure of herself but nope that isn’t there. Her entire life (which I should have caught in the first book) is about her powers and this guy she loves. When both are taken away she has no idea who she is or for that matter who she really was. But she doesn’t really go out and try to find this out. She finds an alternative because she can’t live being a human and without her man.

I felt that the author did a really good job adding details to the setting, character features, the plot and emotional turmoil. I just couldn’t get past Nym. I understand depression and experiencing lost and being lost but man that girl didn’t even try.

The book was okay. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first one. The lack of character development was too much to overlook despite the twist and turns within this book.

2 pickles


NetGalley Review: A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

Thomas Nelson To Be Published Oct. 2015 384 Pages
Thomas Nelson
To Be Published Oct. 2015
384 Pages

India Hartley is a famous actress, who has embarked on a tour of theaters in the South. During one of her plays at the Savannah’s Southern Palace her co-star is fatally shot on stage. India is accused of the crime and taken to jail.

Someone unknown to India hires lawyer Philip Sinclair to defend her. Philip needs India’s case to restore his home Indigo Point. If he successfully helps the famous actress the clients will be pouring in.  In order to protect his client, Philip brings India to Indigo Point where India discovers a mystery of her own that she needs to solve. 

*Short Review

This book would have been perfect if it wasn’t so boring. From beginning to end, everything felt as if it was moving in slow motion.

I loved the mystery of the novel but India didn’t give life to the story, which was crazy because she is an actress. There was no flare, no passion, no intensity. Even the romance with Phillip was unbelievable. It was just there. All of a sudden they are falling in love. But why? How?

What I liked about the book was the fact that the author was able to keep me curious enough to know why India is in this predicament. It wasn’t as if something was happening every page or every chapter but the way the words were written despite the slow pace, I wanted to know how it ended.

I thought the book was okay. The author added way too much in the book; everyone was connected in a ridiculous way and it just wouldn’t end. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the author did a book two to this.

2 Pickles