Awesome Authors #19: Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I hadn’t thought about Lois Duncan in years!


Born in April 1934, she was the oldest child of professional magazine photographers. Raised in Pennsylvania at first, her family relocated to Florida, where her parents became circus photographers. She played in the woods and read. Duncan started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age 10. She sold her first story at age 13. After graduating from high school in 1952, she enrolled in Duke University. However, she dropped out the following year to start a family with the man who became her first husband, Joseph Cardozo.

Her writing career continued throughout the 1950s, publishing over 300 articles for various magazines. Her first novel, Love Song for Joyce, was published in 1958. In the early 1970s, she was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, after living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years. While teaching, she enrolled in classes at the university. She earned her B.A. in English in 1977.

Married twice, Duncan had five children. Her youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, was murdered in 1989. After her daughter’s death, Duncan’s writing shifted to lighter fare, particularly children’s picture books.

Her 1966 novel, Ransom, received an Edgar Allen Poe Award. She was the recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1992. In 2014, she was awarded the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Duncan died on June 15, 2016. She was 82. Although the cause of death was not disclosed, her second husband, Donald Arquette, noted his wife had suffered several strokes in prior years.


Killing Mr. Griffin (1978)

Book cover with a black-and-white marble pattern, showing the title of the novel centered in red, and blue skull and bones at the bottom right

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure this is first book of Duncan’s I read. Every book written by her, I borrowed from Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake.

Summer of Fear (1976)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

The Third Eye (1984)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This one absolutely freaked me out. I don’t think I picked up another book by Duncan for at least six months after this.

Don’t Look Behind You (1990)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I want to. It’s set in Virginia!

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t make the connection between the book and the film adaptation (1997) until years later.

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer (1992)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always been interested and intrigued by authors and their memoirs or autobiographies.

Who Killed My Daughter? (1992)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

Being such a fan of true crime, this book is already climbing toward the top of my next TBR list.


What about you? Have you read any of Lois Duncan’s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #70: “Bonfire”

Bonfire

Image Credit: Goodreads

I bought this book from Barnes & Noble for two reasons: (1) The cover, and (2) The author! Known recently as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, I admire Krysten Ritter in many respects. I wanted to see how she wrote a book!

To be completely honest, I nearly DNFed this book around the 50-page mark. It was a good story, but I felt it was moving really slowly. The world-building was good, the characters were good, but it felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace.

One of the things that kept me going was Ritter’s use and creation of fantastic, realistic imagery and scenery. Wow! I felt like I had been dropped straight into Barrens, Indiana, and walking beside Abby Williams, the MC.

I’m glad I stuck with the book, though. It got better. I can’t exactly pinpoint when it got better, but the pace did pick up, and it felt like a rush after that. This book is part mystery, part legal thriller, part psychological thriller. I wasn’t expecting all of that when I started the book!

In terms of characters, Abby reminded me so much of Erin Brockovich, but where she is returning home to investigate the seemingly-stellar company that’s put her hometown on the map and revitalized everything. Seeing her attempt to navigate past relationships with her father, and former classmates, was really interesting.

There wasn’t a huge twist, per se, but I know I didn’t see it coming. I audibly gasped when it struck me between the eyes, as I was reading it on the page. Ritter weaved several story lines together so well, and entangled multiple characters.

I felt Abby was slightly gaslighted, in a way, because she started to believe she was truly crazy, and couldn’t tell fact from fiction. It was tough for me to keep up with and navigate the stories of 10 years prior and her present, but I feel like Ritter did a good job, overall. I was hooked, and couldn’t put the book down at the very end. She also divided the chapters really well, and the flow was great.

It’s not my favorite book in the whole world, but I’m glad I read it. It’s going on my bookshelf. I look forward to see what she writes next.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #198: “30 Day Disney Challenge” (Day 29)

30 Day Disney Challenge

Image Credit: Meerkat Musings

Day 29 – Your favorite theme attraction

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Image result for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™

Although I was scared at first, I love this ride!

We wanted to ride it when we went to Disney on our honeymoon in 2015, but the wait was well over an hour the day we went to Hollywood Studios. Oh, well. Hoping we can ride it when we return to Disney in the fall of 2020!


Come back tomorrow for the LAST post of the 30 Day Disney Challenge!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #67: “Small Town”

I found this book at a thrift store in Florida in May of this year, for $1.50. Why it took me so long to read it, and finish it, I don’t know. But, overall, I enjoyed this book. Lawrence Block was a new name to me, but what captured my attention was the setting – New York City. I’m a sucker for books set in the Big Apple!

Originally, it took me a while to read more than two chapters per night. Block’s writing is so incredibly detailed, and the cast of characters is extensive. His chapters are meaty, but mighty. I told a group on Facebook that this is a good thriller, but if you’re not a fan of sex, violence, and profanity, I would avoid this book. Those three things are very prevalent in this one!

I liked this book, for the most part. It’s not my favorite thriller in the whole world, but I liked the structure of the story, and how the title is so fitting. Despite several heavy subject matters – It’s set in 2002, so that gives you an idea of the circumstances in New York City – the characters were constantly engaging. Each character was unique. Also, one of the main focuses is on a published author, and seeing the process of a book deal in a fictional story was really cool to see. I enjoyed following the author’s story, and the saga he’s involved with.

I could have seen less graphic sex, and the violence was definitely unsettling. But, it’s a thriller. And Block accomplished that with his writing.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #52: “The Woman in Cabin 10”

The Woman in Cabin 10 - Amazon

Image Credit: Amazon

This is one of three books that my wonderful husband gave to me for Christmas!

I first learned about this book, and the author, in September 2017 thanks to a book review from Thrice Read. Don’t worry, the ladies have spoiler-free reviews, and this is one of them. I immediately added this book to my Amazon wish list!

Once I started reading, I could hardly put this book down. Ever since I read The Girl On The Train, I wanted to find and read more thrillers. Ware’s writing is amazing, and spellbinding. I did not want to put this book down. She seamlessly takes you from London, to Scandinavia, and back again.

I will say that I’m glad I didn’t read this book on a boat or on a cruise, and I recommend that you don’t either. Ware is so talented at making you feel like you’re a fly on the wall, watching main character Laura’s (Lo’s) every single move on the luxury yacht.

And once you think you’ve figured it all out, there’s a twist. And another. And another. I felt for Lo, I caught myself holding my breath several times! It’s very much like a murder mystery, with psychological horror thrown in.

I’m amazed I didn’t have nightmares, since I typically read before going to bed. Ware is such a good storyteller!

I look forward to reading In a Dark, Dark Wood very soon! I hope she continues writing, because Ruth Ware is quickly rising toward the top of my favorite authors list.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #45: “The Girl on the Train”

The Girl on the Train

Image Credit: Barnes & Noble

This was another 49-cent birthday purchase from Best Thrift. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while!

I’ll try to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, if you haven’t read the book yet.


I’d heard mostly good things about this book, so I wanted to give it a shot.

Let’s just say that Hawkins does not disappoint!

I love that this book is set around London. It gave me a different perspective of how people in Britain work, live, and struggle.

I immediately noticed that each chapter was a different POV. Given my inherent struggle to read and finish books with multiple POVs, I was crossing my fingers, hoping and praying this was different.

It was. This book was a breath of fresh air!

Hawkins enveloped me into the train, the houses, and the characters. It was an amazing look into a group of people’s lives, and how dramatic things can be and become.

The book starts with Rachel, literally “the girl on the train.” Pardon my French, but this woman is fucked up from the get-go. She takes the train from the house she shares with Cathy, into London, every day. She’s an alcoholic, and we quickly learn that she was fired from her job, she single-handedly demolished her marriage, and she’s incredibly jealous of the woman that is now married to her ex-husband.

Along the way, we meet Tom, Anna, Cathy, and the man and woman Rachel refers to as “Jess” and “Jason.” She gives them these names because she sees them, and their house, from the train every day.

Little does Rachel know – Her life is about to be turned upside down. As her drinking increases, she struggles with multiple emotions and feelings. When one of the women suddenly disappears without a trace, Rachel believes she saw something, and inserts herself into the investigation.

What did Rachel supposedly see on the night this woman vanished?

Will her daily observations of “Jess” and “Jason” from the train be significant?

By inserting herself into the investigation, is she doing more harm than good?

Will her drinking help or hurt?

Hawkins crafts each chapter like a diary, where each character experiences something different. There are flashbacks, but Hawkins tries hard to keep the characters in the present, especially as they start to intertwine and get caught in different webs.

I actually appreciated the flashbacks, since it was made obvious with the headings, and I didn’t have to flip pages back and forth. Much better than other books (I’m looking at you, Allegiant)! Hawkins masterfully built the worlds around these characters, and was able to tell multiple stories in a clear, consistent way.

This book being classified as a “psychological thriller” was almost an understatement. The characters were quickly embedded in my brain, and I found myself thinking about the story during the work day, and on my way home from work.

I flew through this book, repeating, “One more chapter, one more chapter.” I looked forward to reading this book nearly every night. I stayed up way too late earlier this week, but I couldn’t put this down!

I’m definitely looking for more psychological thrillers to spice up my reading life, so any recommendations are appreciated!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #36: “The Lost Symbol”

The Lost Symbol

Image Credit: Target

If you’re curious about other books involving protagonist Robert Langdon, here are my previous Book Review posts:


Dan Brown has done it again!

Like Angels & Demons, this book was really long – Over 500 pages. However, I didn’t mind that it was so long. It was action-packed, and I learned so much about Washington, D.C.

However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend trying to read this book in one sitting. It’s so dense, I found myself taking multiple breaks, sometimes days at a time, in order to process all of the information. It wasn’t necessarily a turn-off, but it was a challenge. The longest stretch was a few nights ago, when I read Chapters 78 through 112. I needed a day-long break before starting again. Luckily, reading through Chapter 112 brought me closer to the end – I finally finished last night, around 10:30 p.m.

Langdon’s adventure this time is set primarily in Washington, D.C., with a few scenes in Maryland and northern Virginia. If you’ve ever been curious about the Masons and their history, this is a good book to learn about them!

For once, I greatly appreciated the lack of a romance aspect. This book appeared to focus on the various mysteries surrounding Langdon, especially since these 500 pages are set, for the most part, within just one night in the characters’ lives. I’d be happy to eventually see Langdon and Katherine end up together – I think they have a lot in common – but I was excited that the book primarily focused on solving the mysteries!

Again, like his other books, I really liked and appreciated Brown’s attention to detail and historical accuracy. It was incredible to see just how much history is jam-packed into Washington, D.C. Reading his books has taught me so much about our world’s various secret societies and great mysteries!

This book was a great mix of an intense thriller and historical novel. When I was able to wrap my mind around everything that was happening, I found myself flying through the pages. I think Brown is clever to mix up the length of his chapters – Some were long, some were a few pages, and a handful were either one page or a half-page. It’s a great way to keep the reader interested and wanting to read “just one more chapter” before turning out the lights.

Following the chronology of Robert Langdon’s character, I now need to find a copy of Inferno (2013). Hopefully, I can read that one right before Origin is released in early October!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂