#SaturdaysAreBookish Sampler | Discovering the collective works of #SatBookChat feat. guest [5 October] Kimberly S. Belle!

Posted Saturday, 5 October, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

After launching this lovely new feature of mine during [Autumn, 2018] it is a pleasure of joy to continue to bring #SaturdaysAreBookish as a compliment focus of my Twitter chat @SatBookChat. If you see the chat icon at the top of my blog (header bar) you can click over to visit with us. The complimentary showcases on my blog will reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of the chat are the stories I am reading which compliment the conversations.

#SaturdaysAreBookish throughout [2019] will be featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read across genre and point of interest. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – the stories I am reading might simply inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

I am excited about where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction. Here’s a lovely New Year full of new authors and their stories to celebrate!

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Borrowed Book By: I first discovered the collective works of Ms Belle in [2015] when I featured a guest post for her novel “The Ones We Trust” when I was a blogger working with TLC Book Tours. I wasn’t able to request the book for review consideration which is why I oft mused about when I could read the novel as my local library hadn’t yet purchased a copy to read. Fast forward through the years, as I tipped @AudioShelfMe (a podcast which grew into a booktube and bookstagram channel) towards her collective works – I noted how well Brad & Britney had taken a hankering to her stories as they would frequently showcase her novels. I caught their podcasts, happily interacted with the three of them on Twitter and re-thought about how to get a hold of Ms Belle’s novels myself! This is why over the Summer of 2019, I decided to see what was available at my local libraries these four years later. I happily found two novels in print and one in audiobook; though technically, “Three Days Missing” and “Dear Wife” were also available at different intervals but I’ll discuss those within the context of this post.

I borrowed a print copy of “The Ones We Trust” and “The Last Breath” whereas I borrowed an audiobook copy of “The Marriage Lie” via my local libraries. The audiobook was courtesy of their OverDrive digital libraries which I was thankful to find as they can be streamed rather easily. I am choosing to share my reflections and takeaways on behalf of these novels without obligation to post my ruminative thoughts about them. The Press Materials shown on this post were provided by the author Kimberly S. Belle and are used with permission; as these stories were a focal point of a recent @SatBookChat wherein the author was a featured guest on 5th October, 2019. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

As you might have spied via my bookish feeds on Twitter – via both @joriestory + @satbookchat, my lovely guest author this weekend is none other than Contemporary Women’s Fiction novelist : Kimberly S. Belle! A delightful author I first crossed paths with during a [2015] TLC Book Tours showcase for her second novel “The Ones We Trust” which at the time left quite the strong impression on me even without having had the chance to read it.

Our paths re-crossed on #bookishTwitter, especially when I nudged the hosts of #AudioShelf (@AudioShelfMe) to give her stories a whirl and see if they might be a good ‘fit’ for their bookish podcast. I happily enjoyed listening to their journey into her collective works, whilst looking forward to the day where I could begin my own!

This Summer I had earmarked myself to read her novels in reverse order – starting with her latest release “Dear Wife” and moving backwards into “The Last Breath” which was her debut release in [2014]. However, as life continues to prove, our best plans end up needing a bit of an adaption when some curve-balls enter into the fray! I had some serious health issues post-May due to those 5x cluster migraines I succumbed too during #WyrdAndWonder whilst life became a smidge adverse with numerous plumbing fiascos which included 2x major *flooding* incidents! Woo was Jorie this Summer!

Needless, I kept :pushing: forward my readings of Ms Belle’s novels, eagerly looking forward to seeing my turn in the queue lines dwindle down to where I could pick them up (either the physical copies and/or the digital audiobooks via OverDrive for my libraries) – a few separate times I saw myself having either the audiobook for “Dear Wife” or the print version on my loans shelf – whilst it took a bit more time to track down print copies of “The Ones We Trust” & “The Last Breath” as I waited in queue for the audiobooks of “Three Days Missing” and “Dear Wife” to boomerang back into my loan shelves!

To be honest – the narrator for “Dear Wife” did not convince me to listen to the novel – there was something I was simply not connecting with in how the story was being delivered through the narration itself and this can and does happen to me, dear hearts. There are some narrators of whom I dearly want to *love!* listening narrate a story but in the end, I find they are not the right fit for me in the context of that story at all. Other times, they woo me to read an author I might not have connected with in print; so it just depends, really. I also found the story a bit more jolting – it had more abrasive language and the context in the beginning wasn’t very appealling to me either but I think that had to due to the situations & the subjects explored moreso than anything else. Some story-lines are just not a good fit for me and this one fell into that category.

Likewise, the narrator for “Three Days Missing” was a rough go for me – I couldn’t even put my finger on what was wrong listening to this novel until I started listening to “The Marriage Lie” and recognised the differences between all three audiobooks. The narrator’s approach in this third novel ropes you in rather immediately – from her accent, to how she is articulating the story and personalising your reading experience by how she’s presenting her characters – it felt full and expressive and that kind of narration is my favourite – so even if the story was a punch-gut hit to the dramatic, it was a story I felt I might honestly enjoy hearing due to the narration & how Belle would walk us through a rather remarkable plot!

Overall, the three novels I selected to showcase this weekend and to begin the discussion into how she curates her tone, narrative style & the convicting story-lines of her Contemporary Women’s Fiction Suspense Thrillers is to focus on the trifecta of her collective works which for me were novels one, two & three! The second as mentioned I had a special reason of wanting to read it having hosted the blog tour; the debut as I love to see where a writer begins their writerly career and the third, quite literally was decided due to the narrator who breathed a breath of life into the book as it funnelled its way into my ears!

I lost the hours to properly devour each of these lovelies in full – but as you will see, even with my method of ‘previewing’ the stories ahead of #SatBookChat, I have quite a heap to share about what I am finding inside them; which either meant I was curiously hopeful about what would happen next or I was so dearly chilled by what I found inside the story itself, I realised I could not pursue it further.

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Without further adieu,
I give you my first “#SatBookChat sampler”
ahead of conversing with the author whose penned these chilling stories of Women’s Fiction!

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The Contemporary Women’s Fiction novels of Kimberly S. Belle

I sampled ahead of #SatBookChat’s conversation!

The Last Breath by Kimberly BelleThe Ones We Trust by Kimberly BelleThe Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

The Last Breath (2014)

The Ones We Trust (2015)

The Marriage Lie (audiobook) (2016)

 → forthcoming release: Stranger in the Lake (2020)

About Ms Kimberly Belle

Kimberly Belle

Kimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of five novels, including the newly released domestic suspense, Dear Wife (June 2019).

Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and her work has been translated into a dozen languages.

A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comConverse via: #AudioReads + #AutumnReads with #KimberlyBelle
also #WomensFiction #Suspense or #Thriller

Be sure to stay tuned to @SatBookChat for the transcript post-chat in ‘Moments’ – where I am housing our chat archives after having lost years worth of conversations to Nurph & Storify. Also, if you would like to share or respond to ANY of the chat’s talking points, kindly add our tag #SatBookChat and carry on the convo with us! Likewise, visit our Info Page.

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my #25PagePreview of “The ones we trust”:

The Ones We Trust by Kimberly Belle

Book Synopsis for “The Ones We Trust”:

When former DC journalist Abigail Wolff attempts to rehabilitate her career, she finds herself at the heart of a US army cover-up involving the death of a soldier in Afghanistan—with unspeakable emotional consequences for one family. As the story of what happened comes to light, Abigail will do anything to write it.

The more evidence she stumbles upon in the case, the fewer people it seems she can trust, including her own father, a retired army general. And she certainly never expected to fall in love with the slain soldier’s brother, Gabe, a bitter man struggling to hold his family together. The investigation eventually leads her to an impossible choice, one of unrelenting sacrifice to protect those she loves.

Beyond the buried truths and betrayals, questions of family loyalty and redemption, Abigail’s search is, most of all, a desperate grasp at carrying on and coping—and seeking hope in the impossible.

I was overjoyed finding my copy of “The Ones We Trust” has been well-loved, well-read and happily consumed by many patrons ahead of me. I am also thankful for reciprocal borrowing in neighbouring library districts as my ILL services (inter-library loan) are currently on sabbatical until a new system can be implemented. Without these ‘extra’ libraries, it would have made borrowing these lovelies to read a bit impossible save the audiobooks.

As I began reading this novel, there was a turning of familiarity to the opening paragraphs – whenever you have gone through a singular tragedy, a long-extended family crisis, a personal adversity or have been through the motions of an illness, an emergency surgery or a hospitalised stay which resulted in your loved one’s passing; you become marked. Those are fixtures of moments in your life where you understand more than your own years, see a bit of the wisdom which alights into your spirit with age and the limitless cycle of humanity, life, and the soul become entwined as you view things exponentially separate and entwined from your own experience(s) therein. In essence, the jolt of emotional conviction was not lost on me, it was a familiar companion. Perhaps a singular moment wherein this reader recognised a reason for a particular story to become read even if the contents of the novel itself on discovery were yet unknown.

I’ve used that word (blindsided) myself oft-times enough to know the fuller scope of what lies behind its use – of late, my followers and social engagers via the twitterverse will recognise it as a method of disclosure when it comes to a recent blighter of a sledgehammer migraine. The kind which put a full-stop to my life and unexpectedly detain, re-direct and re-schedule my blog’s schedule inasmuch as my presence socially on #bookishTwitter. It was not unfamiliar to me at all – how life can curve, bend and attack us from the side – from a place we are not expecting, to a moment we are not prepared to embrace and for a journey we are uncertain we wish to take; this is what feels like what is fuelling the disclosures of this novel; this first page of where The Ones We Trust wants you to become emotionally sympathetic to the journey the character desires you to be empathetic towards understanding.

Of course, where my life has taken me and the events I was contemplating as I wrote these words were not even on the same cosmic level of explosive life moments which erase one half of your existence in exchange for another like what unfolded soon after I read the first opening paragraphs. I was referring to the regular unexpected moments in our lives –  this is a story about a journalist who writes a story condemning two lives and unfortunately, one of them did not make it through the scandal of what was revealled on their behalf. It is (at least I believe it will be) about the boundaries between truth, the secrets which never should surface (as they would serve no purpose, except for more harm than good) and the intricate ways in which to be truthful about situations which affect people’s lives, you have to own the choice to be the catalyst of that eventual change.

What interested me is how Belle would treat the narrative from here – as it is a spin on what is currently being discussed through the #Metoo movement; how sexually exploited women are fighting to live their truth and showcase the predators who erased a part of their identity by what was taken from them. Its not an easy subject to approach and this novel predates the firestorm – especially post-Weinstein era which curiously takes on a different angle of the movement itself as it re-approaches it from a women’s perspective within a f/f relationship rather than a m/f relationship. This could be a slippery slope to write about as how do you counter-balance the narrative against the secreted truths of why this story first came into the journalists hands to deliver to a wider audience and in that action, what was self-motivating the journalist inasmuch as the person who wanted the story to be told?

Like most novels who like to taunt their readers to dive deeper into the folds of where the Suspense of the unknown meets the thrill of the Thriller building up from the centre and extending outwards until it encompasses not just the characters but the reader turning the pages – this one likes to take a few right and left turns, replacing where you are in the thread of the story for a replacement of steps to back-track into the history of the character vs keeping the pace centred on what you felt might have been the bigger reveal. In this instance, Belle re-shifts us into acknowledging the ache of pain her journalist went through is rooted in a lost love; a person who can no longer touch her character in the present but who effectively has never left her past. It is this person who re-appears through a brother whose personality is a near-match inasmuch as his looks to where you nearly need a pinch to realise who was whom.

I was a bit uncertain why it was pertinent to entreat into this scene – to see why renovating a bathroom is as important as it felt in-scene until I realised; Belle’s journalist is only half-functioning at this junction of her story. She has come so far forward out of the darker portions of the past but hasn’t transcended those moments at all; she is caught in a black hole where memory and time erase themselves and attempt to use masks to disguise any sense of recovery from the trauma.

We shift again to see Abby meeting up with a good friend who encourages her to re-emerge back to the living – where she can hold down an honest job for honest pay and use the talents she knows Abby must miss on some level of executing into a career. She’s the type of friend you hoped to have found somewhere along the route of life because although she understands you, she also knows how to push you; to endeavour you to be better than you have become.

And, this is where the twenty-fifth page left me – where Abby is circling through her memories and her angst of guilt-fed remorse about what cannot be changed and what is the reality of her actions; she muses constantly about the life she affected, the one person who survived the article and the revelations it brought in its wake. The irony, of course, is that the person at the centre of that media storm is the same person who brought her the story initially and that in of itself is art imitating life as how oft does that happen?

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Verdict? It is hard to say that this junction as Belle writes convicting Women’s Fiction which transplants you into a world and life you are not expecting to step inside. She writes in a very conversational style as well – where the dialogue might be minimalist in the opening bridge of this novel (or at least within the first twenty-five pages!) – but it is how she has her character Abby conveying her innermost thoughts, the introspective nature of psyche and the moorings of how her sanity and her desire to move forward are locked into a cycle of regret, remorse and angst.

It is darkly depressive if you look at it too hard from that angle but there are a few nudges of hope as well. The language is a bit on the brassy snarky side of the ledger which wrinkled a brow here or there but it wasn’t over the top either. I will have to read a bit more to decide how to proceed as I already feel quite full on what I’ve read thus far along as said Belle writes breadth in small spaces and curiously begins an active discussion within a short distance of beginning her story.

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my #25pagepreview of “the last breath”:

The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

Book Synopsis for “The Last Breath”:

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that turn her tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated….

Verdict? To be honest – I didn’t quite make it through the Prologue! I’ve read a lot of dramatic crime dramas in the past few years, but this prologue reminded me more of the chilling realities facing the characters in Susan Sleeman’s novel which was a bit past where I would normally entertain a novel of its kind to go – in essence, I never had the chance to meet Gia, as I was irrevocably disturbed by the sequencing of the Prologue which I think proves this novel is best for readers of True Crime and Hard-Boiled Thrillers.

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my #25minutepreview of “the marriage lie”:

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Book Synopsis for “The Marriage Lie”:

Everyone has secrets

Iris and Will have been married for seven years, and their marriage is as close to perfect as it can be. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Florida, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers.

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core.

I simplified how to know when the twenty-five minute mark would occur in the audiobook – I just set a gentle alarm reminder to notify me ever so lightly that ‘twenty five minutes’ have been heard and thereby, it is time to pause the audiobook!

A Southern voice greets you as soon as the audiobook begins giving you an assured sense of setting and place even without knowing the particulars of where this couple resides. The narrator has a relaxed sensibility about her presentation – almost as if she isn’t acting but rather embodying this woman at this point in her life to where you can hear the character moreso than the narrator! I love when that happens – as she has this realistic vibe to how she’s narrating this inter-personal moment of a couple who are snuggling close and are attempting to share a ‘moment’ without disrupting the vibe with her introspective thoughts.

She’s trying to sort through why everyone is insinuating that there will come a point in her marriage where she will see her husband differently. Almost as if there is this invisible line in the sand – where she can move from the blissful spouse she has been into this new variation of herself, where she sees her husband as he’s never been seen and recognise the truthfulness of the warnings her friends tried to convey to her about the ‘seven year itch’ as they called it.

Their having one of those discussions about what needs doing and why there isn’t a need to wait for the morrow what could be done now. Even if she has a different opinion about what needs to addressed when she’d prefer to focus on him. I had a feeling the memory of this moment they were sharing including the conversation turning towards contemplating the prospect of being first-time parents, you almost felt the shoe would drop once the light of the next morning finally dawned. There was an ambiance of expectation here – how happy she sounded but how curiously ominous this scene was in of itself; almost as if there was something off in the shadows just waiting to be seen and known. And, that is something I picked up on as I was reading The Ones We Trust and it felt like Belle’s signature.

I was hoping we’d understand the ‘ring’ which is featured on the book’s cover – it was a talking point for me when I first saw it – what inspired the choice, was it a particular style chosen for a specific reason? Turns out, despite his quirks and soon to be discovered faults – he gave her the illusion of a loving spouse who was considerate and fully in love with his wife; giving her a trinity ring to symbolise the loving bond between wife, husband and child. What could possibly go wrong after such a gesture of love and admiration? (oyy.)

Those fateful words: a plane has crashed has held such a strong reaction in most Americans ever since the early 2000s and hearing them in the context of this story, you definitely had similar reactions of chocking shock for the characters as they never expected they would be connected to a crash or the tragedy which unfolds in its aftermath. That gutting realisation of what is being relayed to her and the suddenness of the news; the emptiness and the horrible gutting sensation that whatever you knew before this moment suddenly turnt to salt and sand.

Without any moments spared to contemplate her own complications of involvement in the crash itself; Iris attempts to re-direct her attention on the children she is in charge of protecting as their teacher. The school is in a sequence of action – to circumvent the responses of the students and to get the teachers in positions to address their needs as they arise. For Iris, this leaves her hardly any personal thoughts to wrap her mind and heart round the news of the crash from the stand-point of what if her husband really had been on the plane? What would that mean about their life and how would she reconcile that new bit of information? I felt this was the springboard moment – where once you get to the twenty-fifth minute in the early chapters, you start to see the shift coming – to move closer to where Iris starts to unravel how out of synchronicity her life with her husband truly had become.

Verdict? Belle never shies away from peppering her story with strong words but blessedly they are never overtly sprinkled but rather, included here or there wherever it is most necessary to use a stronger word. I appreciated the discretion even if the occasional word (the strongest of the lot) still rankled a bit as it was just a blunted addition to the pacing and flow of the story.

What truly staid with me more is the emotional anguish the narrator etched into her performance for these first three chapters – she goes from the elation of being a happily married couple enjoying each others’ company to the guttingly realistic emptiness of not knowing how to feel, how to process the news of what is being told to you and the rising fear of uncertainty. Narrators for me always sell the story – as it is how they interpret how to project the author’s words through their performance which either makes or breaks how an audio narration will resonate in my ears and imagination.

“The Marriage Lie” is very straight-forward and matter-of-fact in this opening sequence but I felt, that is just about the right moment where Belle is going to ‘shift’ us into a wholly darker POV! I need to hear more of this story and sort out where these shifts will take us before I make my final call on the story. I am intrigued by how Iris realises she needs to do ‘something’ rather than ‘nothing’ and I was most keen on seeing how she handles what comes ‘after’ she moves closer to the truth her husband apparently wanted to keep buried.

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This Kimberly S. Belle sampler is connected with the chat I hosted via @satbookchat featuring this lovely author on 5th October, 2019. The press Materials are courtesy of:

Kimberly S. Belle

#SatBookChat banner created by Jorie in Canva.

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I am truly thankful I finally had the chance to dive into the collective works of Kimberly S. Belle – navigating my way into her Contemporary Women’s Fiction Suspense / Thrillers and sorting through which of the stories I am finding are more my cuppa rather than which ones might have appealled to other readers. Each story reads differently for each of us and for each bookish curiosity we have for the authors we enjoy conversing with online – sometimes it takes a bit of time to sort out which of the stories they’ve written are the ones we love to be reading the most. I am thankful you are taking this journey with me and to look forward lateron in the month when I reveal which novel between “The Marriage Lie” & “The Ones We Trust” became the one I could not put down.

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “The Last Breath”, “The Ones We Trust”, and “The Marriage Lie”, as well as the author biography and author photograph of Kimberly S. Belle were all provided by the author Kimberly S. Belle and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SaturdaysAreBookish banner, #SatBookChat banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 5 October, 2019 by jorielov in #SaturdaysAreBookish, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Contemporary Thriller, Disillusionment in Marriage, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Realistic Fiction, Suspense, Women's Fiction

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