Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Grave Tender ~ Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

By Eliza Maxwell

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: April 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 248

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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

"The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem ... Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down." - Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine

* * *

HALL WAYS REVIEW: ✪✪✪✪✪ For anyone who’s read my reviews or rantings, you know that I am all about the book covers. And this one. . . Even without the word "grave" in the title, it's just a little unsettling. Eeeeeeeeexcellent. (*voice of Montgomery Burns*). I also don't like to read the blurbs and prefer to dive in, so I was happy that within the first few pages of The Grave Tender, I already had the cover and the basic story figured out. Except I didn't, really, and as I read further, everything I initially thought about The Grave Tender was completely off course.  Quickly, the story goes from feeling cozy around the Dixon family to uneasiness that there is something off -- something beyond quirkiness. Talk about functioning within dysfunction. Whoa.

This family has layer after layer of secrets that have been put into a box (some literally), one on top of another, for years. But these secrets haven’t collected dust; they’ve turned moldy and turned toxic in that box, and when main character Hadley Dixon takes off the lid, the unraveling of all she has known as truth begins. As secrets are revealed, readers will be appalled not just by the events themselves, but by the norms of the times in which those events happened. I felt angry for what the characters endured and how the community must have turned a blind eye to it. Shameful.

Author Eliza Maxwell’s writing is descriptive (and maaaahvelously edited), and with her word choices, she coaxes very specific and intentional feelings out of the readers. The descriptions aren’t always pretty, though, and they often grabbed me in the gut with their bluntness. Fortunately, there is balance between the traumatic and the more lyrical writing, and Maxwell makes beautiful use of figurative language without overdoing it. Images stick.

"It was October. Heat-weary, the residents of east Texas 
waited for summer to give up and die, but it held on 
like a leech, sucking the life out of the place, getting fat."

The story is book-ended with present-time narration, but the chapters between are mostly told in flashbacks and from multiple viewpoints. In hindsight, had I paid closer attention to those multiple perspectives, I likely would not have been as blindsided when the big reveal happened. Maxwell plants more than a few subtle seeds that lead you exactly in the wrong direction, and her characterization is rich with complex, flawed, and real personalities. Be warned, though: much like it is for Hadley, readers only see what the characters want to reveal to them.

When I finished reading The Grave Tender, my mind was buzzing. I kept wondering how I hadn't seen what was coming. The twists! The turns! I replayed scenes and spent several days trying to process all that went wrong within one family. I kept thinking of how differently things might have been if only X and if only Y and if only Z had happened. I still think about Hadley and worry for her, just a little.

Eliza Maxwell is a writing force to be reckoned with, and I look forward to reading more novels from her. I highly recommend The Grave Tender. (However, I don’t recommend that you start reading it as you are brushing your teeth to go to bed and then sit on the bathroom counter for hours until the last page is turned. My back is still complaining about that.)

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.
Grand Prize:The Bookworm Basket ($150 Value)
Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER
$50 Amazon gift card
Plush decorative throw blanket (Smoke Grey)
Greatest opening lines of literature coffee mug
Taste of Texas Coffee variety pack
Ferrero Rocher Gift Cube
Library card socks
Paperback copy of THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens
Paperback copy of SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE by Nancy Star
1st & 2nd Runners-Up:
Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER
 (U.S. Only)

Book Trailer
Author Interview
Deleted Scene

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