Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Read Rate Review:
The Blow-Up Man
by Nina Blakeman
Publisher: Outskirts Press
The Blow-Up Man is a psychological thriller that takes place in a dispirited region of West Texas. It is where pests, weeds, predators, and strong winds make living in the region a burden to most. West Texas is not a place for the weak or a naive, young woman with a head full of fantasy. Abandoned homesteads along the barren countryside represent the many dreams that didn’t come true, but the nightmares that did. In the middle of the vast rural region is Ethanville, an agrarian town of 100,000. It is an unlikely place to find a university. A barbed wire fence is all that separates the institution of higher learning from the adjacent grazing land.
Inside the hallowed halls of Cullen State University is where Faye Brady falls in love. Thirty-year-old Faye has lived a sheltered life. With a deceased father, and an emotionally detached mother, Faye exists in a world derived from the imagination of the many authors she s read and falling in love means living happily ever after. Life without a father has left Faye with many unresolved issues. They’re major contributors to her falling long and hard for her older mentor, Dr. Todd Davis.
Dr. Todd Davis is a well-respected researcher in the area of pharmaceutical sciences, and it’s under his direction that Faye earns her PhD. He’s handsome, and his intellect, experience, and confidence are all powerful enticements that draw Faye into his world. Faye’s mother, Madeline Brady, is concerned about her daughter s relationship with Todd. Faye interprets her concerns as intrusive, but its Todd’s age and baggage that cause Madeline to worry.
Fourteen years ago, Todd had a relationship with a woman named Annette Dolce. Annette has father issues of her own. But unlike Faye, she s impulsive, manipulative, and dangerous. She s also the mother of Todd s twin girls. The girls are on the cusp of adolescence, and even though the twins are identical, their personalities have diverged in two separate directions. Emma is most like her mother, and in Annette’s eyes, Emma can do no wrong.
Ella is quiet, reserved, and serious. It is Ella who is often the target of her mother’s displaced anger. When things get overwhelming at home, Ella seeks refuge down the road at the home of Margaret Carson. More than once, the widowed neighbor proves herself to be Ella s champion against the vengeful mother. Todd doesn’t want to believe that Annette is all bad. To do that, he has to face that he gave his children that kind of mother. The righteous Todd will do whatever it takes for his children to believe in family; however, it s his loneliness that pushes him towards the younger Faye. He wants to build a life with her. When Todd informs Annette of his decision to marry Faye, the psychologically disturbed Annette is pushed to the edge. Faye is frightened of Annette and she should be. The world of books has left Faye totally unprepared to deal with Annette. Does Faye have what it takes to overcome the toxic mistakes of Todd s past, and the nightmare that is about to come true?”
In the opening chapters of ‘The Blow-Up Man’ by Nina Blakeman, we meet Annette Dolce, the apparently wronged ex-lover of Todd, and her current man discussing the list of complaints she had against Todd, the father of her twin girls Ella and Emma. The reader hears from Annette of the things that have been done to her, sympathises with her, empathises with her hurt feelings – and then throughout the rest of the story learns how wrong they were!
Annette is a user; a manipulative, impulsive and psychologically disturbed woman who uses whatever it takes to have her own way – people, family, items – apparently at times not even sure she actually knows what she really wants. She is an abusive wife and partner, and a neglectful and abusive mother, particularly of one of the twins, Ella. Dr Todd Davis, a gentleman, respectful and respected is in a new relationship with a gentle, sheltered and consequently a naïve woman called Faye. When Todd announces to Annette that he is to marry Faye her jealousy knows no bounds, and fuelled by rage she sets out to exact her revenge on the people who have wronged her!
A compelling and deeply psychological read, demonstrating that women can be abusive too, and men are just as likely to be the abused. Cleverly, Nina Blakeman has caught us up at the beginning with Annette as the victim; however, as the story unravels we realise how deceptive people can be as the truth about the complicated relationships between the characters is revealed.
[ reviewed by Jo at Read Rate Review ]
Here’s what other reviewers are saying:
Annette Dolce feels betrayed by life and by the father of her two illegitimate children. She is the mother of twin girls, Ella and Emma – who couldn’t be more different from each other in personality. Emma takes after her mother; Ella, her father. The girls’ father, Dr. Todd Davis, Ph.D., is a professor at the local university. He has recently found success in his pharmacological research on a new drug for treating prostate cancer, and his love life when he falls in love with his student, and much younger woman, Dr. Faye Brady.
Annette and daughter, Emma, don’t accept Todd’s new liaison nor his subsequent marriage and make no secret of their displeasure. Ella is accepting but is the scapegoat for the unhappiness and frustration of her mother and sister. When the local lifestyle magazine publishes a big spread on the new super-couple, Dr. & Dr. Davis, and “their” daughters, Annette goes off the deep end and plans to get revenge for all her past perceived insults, injuries, and betrayals.
The Blow-Up Man by Nina Blakeman was a suspense-filled story of a madwoman scorned. Fast-paced with interesting characters in a rural West Texas location (which I loved!) The author’s descriptions of the various settings were vivid and creepy, yet familiar. (Like the author, I, too, am a Texan.) The plot incorporates intense scenes of torture and child abuse.
Good, strong secondary characters in Faye’s mother, Madeline; Annette’s live-in boyfriend, Angel; an obnoxious and privileged med student, Matthew Nolan; and the new priest in town, Father Sweeney all add depth and help to advance the story. Cool medical terminology lent a feeling of authenticity and genuineness but some of the details of the research were a little much for me on occasion.
I highly recommend this tense and highly readable novel for those that like their suspense “gritty.” I was pleased to see mentioned somewhere online that there is a sequel in the works. Yay!
– Goodreads Reviewer Karen Siddall
The Blow-Up Man by Nina Blakeman, shows a disdained woman fueled from her mad desires after an emotionally damaging marriage is tossed back into her lap after her former husband marries another woman and dumps there kids into her lap. The definition of a Woman Scorned is the premise for this quick pace west Texas account. Fully developed details with incredibly eerie depictions, draws the reader into the story line specifically. Caution however, this story tells of torture and abuse of children, so for the squeamish at heart you are for warned. If you want the tenacious suspense and the professionally cruel story telling, Nina Blakeman and The Blow-Up Man, delivers!
– Goodreads Reviewer Jay
* = courtesy of the book’s Goodreads book page.
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