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A Twisted Tale that Fulfills Your Anticipation

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In Her Shadow by August McLaughlin

5 star

5 Stars

shadowAugust McLaughlin’s psychological thriller “In Her Shadow” is a page-turner that leaves the reader guessing what will happen and fulfills the anticipation with a surprising, unexpected twist at the end. The novel tells the tale of Claire, a Harvard-trained psychologist whose insecurities stemming from her parents’ premature deaths exacerbate a series of actual or perceived events that trigger a relapse of an eating disorder and acute anxieties. The plot is a series of vignettes about Claire and a mysterious woman held captive by a sadistic man. It’s woven into a tale that begins broadly but narrows to an exciting – and startling – conclusion. Although the reader is initially left wondering how two very different stories are interconnected, as the plot progresses, McLaughlin links the subplots in a stunning finale.

I really enjoyed this novel. McLaughlin put her heart and soul into this book and laced it with her own expertise in health, nutrition, and relationships, among others. She uses her insights to tell a believable if disturbing story. Even as it conjures questions of “Why would someone do such a thing?” it reminds one of true stories from around the world that are even more bizarre and tragic than what her thriller portrays. The plot pace is fine, and the story moves along. McLaughlin wrapped up the story’s loose ends in a crisp conclusion that addressed unanswered questions to this reader’s satisfaction. The story begs for a sequel to unravel the aftermath of the tragedy that unfolded.

I found myself second guessing the characters’ choices at times, wondering why they did this or didn’t do that and whether their choices were believable. McLaughlin addressed some potential plot holes, such as explaining the police’s delayed response to a missing person’s report. She leaned heavily on her deep understanding of health and nutrition. While Claire’s eating disorder was a central aspect of the novel, I thought a bit overdone to focus so much on food and drink when some references didn’t seem to add to the plot.

I highly recommend August McLaughlin’s book and give it 5 stars. I look forward to reading more books – and hopefully a sequel – from this talented novelist.

In Her Shadow is now available at:



About August McLaughlin

August McLaughlin is a Los Angeles-based health writer and journalist with articles featured regularly by, DAME Magazine, Healthy Aging Magazine and more. Before completing her first novel, In Her Shadow, she worked in the fashion, film and wellness industries, wearing hats ranging from Parisian runway model to culinary coach. Considering her longstanding passion for thrillers, she wasn’t surprised when her attempt at a memoir turned quickly into a fictional tale of suspense. She is represented by John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and is in the midst of completing her second thriller and a nutritional guide to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn E-book Publishing Success from a Master

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The Secrets to E-book Publishing Success by Mark Coker

5 star

5 stars

This is a gem of a book for the price (free on Smashwords). It’s a good read for aspiring authors who are just starting to self-publish and need some guidance getting started in the seemingly chaotic, unorganized, and ever-expanding galaxy of the self-publishing industry. As founder of, Mark Coker leans heavily on Smashwords’ self-publishing platform to help the reader understand what it takes to publish and distribute an e-book(s) successfully. The book complements his other free companion pieces, the “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide” and “Smashwords Style Guide.” The three books together are great primers for using Smashwords and leveraging it as a distribution and marketing tool.

Coker’s book offers 28 secrets to publishing a successful e-book. Some “secrets” are common sense, and the book doesn’t go into great deal on how to take advantage of them. The biggest “secret” to success is to write a great book that resonates with readers, but Coker doesn’t explain how to do it. That’s up to you. He does, however, generally point writers in the right direction, getting them to think about the different elements of self-publishing success. For example, he suggests writers think beyond the price to generate sales. Should a book be priced at $0.99 or $9.99? It depends on the writer’s objective. Price is just one aspect of book sales an author should consider.

Coker does not offer as many specifics in this book as he did in his marketing and style guides, but I appreciate the holistic view of self-publishing he offers. Experienced self-published authors may have a few “duh” moments when something strikes them as common sense. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile for any writer to read this book and learn from one of the masters of the self-publishing industry.

I give Coker’s book five stars and highly recommend it to all writers, including those interested in traditional publishing who might be persuaded to self-publish after reading the book. If nothing else, the price point — free — should be an incentive.

The Secrets to E-Book Publishing Success is now available at:



Not Stupid by any Means…Gems for Life

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How Stupidity Saved My Life by Okechukwu Ofili

4 star

4 stars

Mr. Ofili has written a gem of a book filled with pearls of wisdom. He shares with readers 18 ways to have a better life by making the right choices. His conclusions are underscored by news stories, anecdotes, and moments from his own life when he realized that he was doing something wrong and that there was a better way to handle the situation.

I appreciate how candidly he drew from his own experiences and lightened up the book with humor. I enjoyed his funny and telling sketches to illustrate (literally) his points. I liked the stories that tackled tough issues, from growing up in another culture, racism, a tendency to overanalyze, and financial challenges, among others. While the life’s lessons the author shared are grounded in common sense, he packaged them in an easy-to-read, thought-provoking book. His stories made me want to know more about his personal life, but I’ll have to wait for him to share more if he writes a follow-on book.

If there’s any reason to give this book 4 out of 5 stars, it’s because it ends before you know it, and the wisdom he imparts is quite fleeting. It’s not the kind of book that those seeking help to change their own lives can rely on for solid advice. The author does not take enough time to help the reader apply it to their own lives or even sink in. It’s a great read for what it offers. His advice might not be equally applicable to all, but he left it up to readers to decide if they agree with his advice. Not everyone is an engineer or has an engineer’s mind (myself included), but his anecdotes cut across a wide demographic.

I recommend this book to anyone who prefers to learn life’s lessons from others than the hard way — on their own.

How Stupidity Saved My Life is now available at: