Wednesday, November 5, 2014

MISSING YOU by Harlan Coben

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The smart people on this list are just about to receive a FREE advance copy of my novel Back Again.  You can read more about Back Again and enjoy the first three chapters by clicking here.

Rating: ✪✪✪✪✪ out of 5 Stars

Release Date:                           March 2014
Author’s Website:                    Harlan Coben's website
Publisher’s Website:               Hachette Australia

My thoughts:

Missing you is an appropriate title for this book for me because I’ve never read any Harlen Coben books and I realize, after reading this page-turning gem, that I have been missing out. Coben is an accomplished writer and after only reading the first chapter you know you are in a professional’s hands. There are so many mysterious plot threads created that my poor tired eyes were propped open into the wee hours as I desperately read on to discover the reveals.

It all begins with NYPD Detective Kat Donovan finding her ex-fiancĂ©'s profile and picture on a dating website, but when she contacts him he doesn’t seem initially to recognize her. She is confused, but at the same time she doesn’t have time to ponder it for long, as she becomes preoccupied with the imminent death of the imprisoned man whom she believes killed her father. He has never revealed the truth as to why her father was murdered; this is her last chance to confront him.

Amid all this emotional chaos, enter teenager Brandon whose mother has gone missing, but nobody believes him. She’s supposedly on holidays with a lover whom she met on the same dating website where Kat has spotted her ex-fiancĂ©. As the tale unravels, nothing is as it seems, and the truth is terrifying. Kat discover some frightening truths, as readers are treated to one of the slickest thrillers releases this year.

As I closed the covers on the final page all I could think was: I’m going to miss you, Mr Coben. Luckily there are 25 other published books of Coben’s, so I won’t be missing him for long.

I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review.

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It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fianc Jeff, the man who shattered her heart 18 years ago, never to be seen or heard from again. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable. As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved her former fianc , her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.

About the author:
With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world.  His first Young Adult novel SHELTER was just released in paperback, and the second in the Mickey Bolitar series, SECONDS AWAY, was released on September 18th. His books are published in 41 languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries.

Winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

BACK AGAIN (the novel) Excerpt & Pre-order Link

With great excitement, I announce that my latest book, the time slip novel BACK AGAIN, will be available for sale on 21st November 2014. 

   For a sneak peak keep reading, as I've posted the first three chapters (9 pages) here. I know once you start reading, you won't want to stop.

    For a limited few days from the 21st November, it will be on sale for .99 cents. After that it will go up to its normal price of $5.99.  

PRE-ORDER NOW!!! at the crazy .99 cents price from Amazon (in case you forget on the 21st) by CLICKING HERE.

If you prefer to order it in a different format, CLICK HERE to grab the format that suits you. 

Here's the blurb from the book. Doesn't it sound intriguing?


"Between life and death, lies fate."

Could there be any greater nightmare than living through the death of your child? 
Yes! Reliving it again and again. 
A tragic accident takes Dawn’s only child right before her eyes. The following surreal days are filled with soul-destroying grief and moments she never wants to live again—until, inexplicably, she finds herself back again, living that day. 
It’s a second chance to save her son. But changing fate is not as simple as it first appears. Time is not Dawn’s ally.

“She’d lost count of the number of times she’d lived through this. Every time it hurt as much as the time before. Eventually, she thought that she must become immune to the events, and that her heart wouldn’t shatter into a thousand, million pieces— 
But it always did.”

Reviews of BACK AGAIN the Short Story 
“Well-written. Thought-provoking. Highly recommended.” Peg McDaniel-Amazon 
“I recommend this book to fans of time travel, parents, and those who thing texting and driving is okay. Please, read this story!” Chris Mentzer, author of the Askinar Towers 
“It is a story not easily forgotten.” L. Frier-Amazon 
“A MUST READ novella that will tug at your heart!” Ana Medina-Amazon 
“A well written and haunting story that the reader will not soon forget.” Evie-Amazon 
“Heartbreaking and, yet, wonderfully told.” Tamara-Amazon

This is the novel, inspired by the short story BACK AGAIN, published in May 2014. At the urging of her editor and readers, Susan May revisited her popular time slip novelette and created the novel. The result is a thrilling ride into the wonderful possibilities of travelling back in time to avert a disaster. Susan's editor's comment: "You’ve written something pretty wonderful here."

Chapter 1  



Fourteen seconds.
Dawn counted them down in her mind. On any other day, what difference would fourteen seconds make?
Today, they would be the difference between life and death.
Tommy would leave his music lesson any minute now. No, that was too vague. She knew the time. He would leave his music lesson at 4:33 and fourteen seconds. The seconds were what mattered. Fourteen increments of time that could—and would—change everything.
She checked the car clock. Dawn always glanced at it—she couldn’t help herself—though there was no need to note the time. She knew it.
Her hands twisted together in her lap before pausing to pull at a stray thread on her skirt. She wrapped it around her finger and pulled. The thread was always there. It came away from the material, but she kept it twisted on her finger like a ring, as if she were married to the moment.
Married. That was a few years ago. She didn’t think about Richard so much anymore. She used to, but there wasn’t the time to care and fuss about inconsequential things like a broken marriage since this.
How many times had she checked that clock? How many seconds had she counted down? Still, the beat echoed in her head as if she herself were a ticking time bomb.
Her mouth felt dry, not a normal dry but the draining thirst that no amount of water can quench. Without looking down at it, she pawed at the drink bottle sitting in the center console. Flicking the lid open, she raised it to her lips and sipped. As she did, the digital clock changed numbers.
She lowered the bottle, her fingers gripping the cylinder, as if it were the last rung of a ladder hovering over a long drop. The metal felt as cold as her heart in those times when it all seemed pointless.
The door of the music studio flew open. Tommy’s guitar, a large black case that seemed too big for his ten-year-old body, preceded him through the doorway. He paused and looked across the cars parked outside.
Catching sight of her, a smile erupted across his face and he waved. It was a small wave, one of those waves where you barely lift your hand. A wave that simply said I see you—you’re there. Not a wave to say I love you, you’re special or I am so happy to see you. Certainly, it wasn’t a wave to say goodbye.
Internally, she coughed back a sob as her hand raised to wave back. Her wave said more. It said I love you. I’m sorry. I will find a way to get you back.
Fourteen seconds to go.

Chapter 2  


Today was not the best day of Dawn’s life. She’d had very little sleep thanks to last night’s phone call with Richard, her prick of an ex-husband. She tossed and turned most of the night, churning about his request.
He and that woman wanted to take Tommy to Disneyland for a week. He’d never suggested that kind of trip while he was with her, so why he’d suddenly decided to do it now, she couldn’t understand. Well, she could. It was his way of winning Tommy over to thinking that his new wife, the “everything’s awesome,” curly-haired, husband-thief was better mother material than her.
She remembered when he’d first courted her. It was fifteen years ago, but still so fresh in her mind. Richard had been such a charmer, tall, square-shouldered, confident, mesmerizing deep-brown eyes—the same eyes Tommy had inherited. He’d made her feel as if she was the most beautiful, exciting woman in the world, and marrying him seemed like a dream come true. Even her mother, who’d disliked every other boyfriend she’d brought home, was in love with him.
So she could almost understand why husband-thief Miranda ignored the fact that he was married with a child and stole him away. That notion was little comfort and, certainly, it was no excuse for her to break up their family. She blamed him just as much—not the correct apportion of blame, according to Dawn’s best friend, Gail. In Gail’s opinion he was totally to blame.
Sometimes, like last night, her thoughts swung like a pendulum from anger at them, to a deep guilt that somehow she was responsible for it happening. That it was her punishment for spending more time worrying about Tommy than their marriage.
Then there were the slips—that’s what she called them, anyway. It wasn’t like she’d kept them a secret with Richard; he knew about them before they were married.
So what if sometimes she lost a little time and forgot what she’d been doing and where she’d been? Didn’t everyone have forgetful moments? Before the other night, she hadn’t had a slip for years. With the medications and the relaxation techniques they had dwindled in frequency and duration. None was ever as bad as that first time with her sister on the mountain when she was a kid.
Why was she even thinking about him? She must stop blaming herself. He met a woman, whom he found more attractive than her, who would pay him more attention, and who didn’t have the welfare of a child to consider. The End.
She needed to get her head back into today and stop thinking about the past.
This morning was the usual rush, their son being an average ten-year-old dawdler. On days like this, parenting him was a tricky job. When they were married, Richard just hadn’t been up to the task of managing the day-to-day organization of Tommy’s life. If Dawn were honest, some days neither was she.
Today Tommy was on a go-slow. He could be charming, delightful, loving, and beyond enthusiastic about life and particular topics that interested him—like soccer and YouTube stars. On some days, though, like today, she would get the other Tommy. The ten-year-old that ate his breakfast—always Coco-Pops because of the monkey on the box—so slowly that it could easily become lunch before he’d finished.
She looked over the counter at him, drew in a deep lungful of air, and exhaled a long, frustrated breath.
“Tommy, if you could hurry it up, Mommy would appreciate it.”
He looked up and gave her his cheeky smile. That boy knew how to work her.
“Mom, you want me to get indigestion? I’m going as fast as I can.”
“Not fast enough, if you want to get to school on time. And I don’t think you can get indigestion from Coco-Pops. Come on. Hurry it up.”
Tommy went back to eating, now shoveling the cereal from the bowl to his mouth so quickly that little brown beads of over-processed rice, or wheat, or whatever the stuff was made from, fell all over the counter. It lay there, scattered around the bowl, like mini brown rocks.
Dawn saw the amusing side, but she’d learned that if she let him get away with these antics he would think he had the go-ahead to clown around any time. He never understood when it was a good or a bad time to be a funny little guy.
“You can clean up that mess you’re making as well, buddy.”
“What mess?”
Dawn put on her stern mother look and said, “Very funny… Not! In one minute, you are putting that spoon down and we’re walking out the door, mister. I don’t want you to be late. Again!”
Dawn checked the clock on the microwave. If she had one dollar for every time she glanced at those glowing digits and thought, I’m going to be late, she’d be rich. About every third time, she would think about Richard, and how if he hadn’t done what he did, she wouldn’t be running from one thing to the next, and have a better chance of being on time.
Forget. Him. Dawn.
Her mother had told her regularly that she needed to move on. She knew she did. Maybe tomorrow she would make a resolution. Today she just wanted to be angry as hell with him.
She looked at Tommy again. He’d slowed back down to the snail pace, as if she hadn’t spoken. She wanted to remind him that they were a team, and he was letting the side down. Gail told her that she said that to her children in these situations, and that sometimes it worked. Dawn couldn’t say those words. They seemed kind of… well, false. “Yahoo, aren’t we the perfect Brady Bunch family. We’re a team. Yippee-yi-ay.”
Truth was, she didn’t believe Gail acted like that all the time. How could she? It seemed impossible to keep your cool when, often, children seemed like an opposing force in your life, put there simply to test you.
Dawn grabbed a cloth from the sink, wet it, then wiped around Tommy’s bowl. He was mid spoon-to-the-mouth when she decided she’d had enough. Swiping the spoon from his hand and grabbing the bowl from beneath him, she pulled them away and put them in the sink.
“Enough. We’re going.”
Tommy looked shocked, affronted. He gave her one of those looks that said, “You’re not part of the team, I hate you.” That look in his eyes always hurt her. He’d been giving it to her more often lately. Perhaps in response to her waning patience.
Damn Richard.
Now the day had started badly. Tommy’s annoyance always faded quickly, soon replaced by his charming chatterbox self, while Dawn would spend the next few hours riddled with the type of mother-guilt that ate into her mood all day. Her inability to control herself with Tommy activated a nagging self-doubt about her power to take control of her own life. She couldn’t afford that, because as much as she dismissed the slips, it was always in her mind that one might happen at any moment.
When people told you that parenthood was the hardest job in the world, it wasn’t the truth. Being a single mother was the toughest, most demanding job in the world. At some point every day she felt like a miserable failure. The person paying the price: Tommy. That just didn’t seem fair.
Tomorrow, she decided, she would make a change and begin the day with a renewed determination to be patient. She just knew she had it in her. Today, she was tired and cranky. Tomorrow, she would start again. Surely, tomorrow she could find it in herself to be a better mother.
She checked the time on her phone as she grabbed Tommy’s bag and hustled them both out the door.


Chapter 3   


Kylie dawdled out her front door. Late again. She was always late. Late to meet her friends, late home for dinner, late in making her car payment and, at least twice a week, late for work.
Being late never bothered her. It bothered everybody else, she noted, but that was their problem. It was her thing. Part of her personality, part of what made her unique, like the blackness of her hair or the green hue of her eyes, or the way her nose tipped down a little at the end.
That tip was the reason she’d had the single nose ring pierced through each nostril. The mom—as she called her—said she looked like a cow, but Kylie thought it drew the attention away from her nose; she hated her nose. As soon as she had enough money she would have plastic surgery like all the actresses did and have it fixed.
To her mind, the ring camouflaged the flaw using reverse-psychology. Everyone noticed the ring and nobody really looked hard at her nose. It gave her face a daring look. Like mess with me and I could get wild and dangerous, just like those cannibal pygmy people with the bones through their noses. Mess with them and you’d get eaten. Mess with her and you’d wish you had been eaten.
Perpetual lateness was her other way of showing her true self. Time did not control her like it controlled her parents, her brother, and all those other losers who wanted to be part of the mind-numbing world of clones. She was an individual, and the rest of the world could just suck on that.
Although, today, concern did tingle at the back of her mind that this was the third time this week she would be late to work. Mr. Ramello, her boss at the shithole IGA supermarket, where she was slowly being bored to death, was constantly at her to show pride in her work. Every time he said it, she wanted to reply: “Yeah, well give me something worthy of pride and I will.” She’d been close to quitting so many times.
Her little, red baby stopped her.
The first thing she’d done when she’d gotten the job was to buy a beautiful red Ford coupe. Complete with sunroof. Only five years old, it was perfect for her. The minute she saw it she fell in love. Driving it gave her a sense of freedom she’d never experienced before. It was her baby, and she took better care of it than herself.
 She hadn’t saved any money since she’d started this job five months, three weeks, and two days ago. (That’s how much she hated it; she counted the days, marked the number up there on her calendar.) She’d given herself two years to pay off the car and set herself up to move out of home.
That plan wasn’t going so well. All the Main Street clothes stores were too tempting. She’d also found an addiction that had surprised her at first, but that she found growing increasingly important to her. Tattoos.
The bluebird on her ankle was the first and meant to be the only one. After she got it, though, she couldn’t stop examining it whenever she was sitting on the couch, or lying on her bed, or any time when her ankle was exposed.
It added something to her, improved her life in a way that makeup and changing her hair color didn’t. So she went back for another, never telling her parents, knowing they wouldn’t approve of even one, let alone a collection of them.
The next one, an entwining of stars and vines and hearts, was larger, and ran from the back of her waist to spread out just above her bottom. Every few months she added another tattoo to the collection. Her star-sign Gemini on her right breast, a bloom of rose buds springing from a vine up her left wrist, a dolphin jumping through a crescent of the moon on her stomach. Next month she was planning another for her left leg: a beautiful owl, wings spread, hovering over mystical symbols. 
It hurt like hell to have a tattoo done, taking hours of pain that she could barely stand, but she endured it for a good reason. Right from when she got the bluebird, each tattoo filled a hole in her she hadn’t known existed. Every night before she went to bed, she would hold up her shirt, twist her neck to catch a glimpse of her back, examine her breast, her wrist, and her stomach.
They were beautiful, just like her red baby. She deserved them, needed them and, as much as the mom was on her case about scarring herself once she saw her bluebird and rosebuds, she wasn’t about to stop collecting them any time soon.
Continuing to work at Ramello’s IGA was the biggest pain in the ass; sometimes it even got her down. Lately he’d issued even more threats about firing her, but he never followed through. She couldn’t leave this job just yet, because then she might lose her car, the installments taking a big chunk out of her pay. And the owl, which she’d set her heart on and couldn’t stop thinking about, would have to be put on hold.
No, she was stuck at this dead-end job, putting up with her idiot boss and the stupid parade of customers she was forced to serve every day. Eventually, she’d find something else, and if he got on her back today, maybe she’d start looking sooner than later. Maybe as soon as she’d gotten the owl tattoo.
As she turned the key in her car, her gaze fell upon the painted rose bud daintily resting on her wrist, while the vine travelled up and under her sleeve. She suddenly imagined herself a rose stuck in an ugly weed garden. She thought, Even another year of this and I’ll wilt and die.
Her decision was made in that instant. Tomorrow she would change her life, look for a new job. She was not a wilting flower and she wasn’t going to stand for the cosmic unfairness of working at this mind-numbing job.
Tomorrow would be the beginning of her new life.

If you have enjoyed this musing, do hop over and register for my very random newsletter. Straightaway you will receive two fantastic short stories FREE. You'll also be the first to know when I have exciting news to share like free books (international) and film ticket giveaways (Australia). Hop over here: