Book Review: TAMPA by Alissa Nutting

Tampa by Alissa NuttingTitle: Tampa

Author: Alissa Nutting

272 pages, Published by Ecco

Alissa’s Info: Website | Twitter

Buy The Book: Amazon


Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She’s undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste’s devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.

In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut. (Summary provided by Ecco/HarperCollins.)

My Thoughts:

I first heard about the novel Tampa by Alissa Nutting on Twitter. Rebecca Schinsky ( Book Riot, Food Riot and Bookrageous) and Josh Christie (co-founder of Bookrageous) among others were discussing the book on Twitter and it sounded scandalous. Scandalous in a thought provoking, OMG this book is going to be the most controversial book of the summer kind of way. As I am a regular Bookrageous listener and respect their book recommendations, I put in a request for an ARC.

For a while the ARC sat in my TBR stack taunting me. Literally, I felt like Alice hanging out in Wonderland with a book tagged read me. I wanted to read it, but due to the subject matter (child molestation) I had to put on my brave pants and just read it. I read Tampa and it was like ripping off a band-aid. Nutting’s writing is powerful and her portrait of Celeste, a teacher who is only sexually attracted to young boys on the cusp of puberty, is a look into the mind of a predator, a female pedophile.

I can’t remember reading a book with a female pedophile character. This book fills a gaping hole in the way female predators are portrayed. The graphic subject matter told through the mind of deranged Celeste is incredibly disturbing. The readers see the sexual encounters Celeste has with two young boys, her students, through her POV. The scenes are described in a titillating manner, because Celeste does not consider what she’s doing to be wrong. The sex scenes with the young boys are hard to read. However, it’s because of these graphic descriptions and Celeste’s inner monologue that the reader is able to understand the brutality and traumatizing nature of Celeste’s actions with the boys.

In addition to the disturbing subject matter Nutting even manages to add dark humor into the mix. I would find myself laughing at one of Celeste’s very messed up thoughts or predicaments and think to myself this is so not funny. However, the moments actually are funny, and I’m impressed with Nutting’s ability to simultaneously disgust and amuse readers.

Here’s a graphic I created to record my reactions as I read Tampa. See the rest of my review below the graphic.

I was fascinated by why Nutting chose to write Tampa. I read in a Cosmopolitan interview that the author attended high school with Debra LeFave, the infamous “hot child predator.” We had a situation like this in our community in 2008. One of my family members went to high school with a female teacher who molested a young boy, and she only received one year in jail (seven years with six suspended). Coincidentally, she lives in my neighborhood. Much like the LeFave case, this teacher was beautiful and the case attracted a lot of attention. My reason for reading the book was a bit similar to Nutting’s spark of inspiration (LeFave and a lack of female sexual predators in literature) for writing it. When the incident in our community happened I was a new mom with a baby boy. The thought of a teacher molesting him scared me to death when I saw the coverage on the news. The thought how could a woman do this went through my head more than once. That was my impetus for finally opening the pages of Tampa. I wanted to get a glimpse into the mindset of a woman who could do something so sickening. I feel like Nutting captured the possible inner monologue of someone who is cable of a crime like this well. Tampa is the book people will be talking about this summer. Don’t get left out of the conversation.

FYI: Tampa was a Rumpus Book Club pick. I read both the ARC and the finished copy (it has a fuzzy book jacket) thanks to The Rumpus. Click here for more information about The Rumpus Book Club. Here is a link to The Rumpus’ interview with Alissa Nutting. Largehearted Boy linked to a pretty awesome interview of Alissa Nutting as well.


FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of the book mentioned, and I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon links on this site.


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Book Review: The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales

TheBlingRingTitle: The Bling Ring

Author: Nancy Jo Sales

288 pages, Published by It Books

Nancy Jo’s Info: Website | Facebook

Buy The Book: Amazon


The true story that inspired the Sofia Coppola film

Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson: robbed. More than $3 million in stolen clothing, jewelry, shoes, and handbags reported missing. Who is behind one of the most brazen string of crimes in recent Hollywood history? Meet the Bling Ring: a band of club-hopping teenagers from the Valley with everything to lose.

Over the course of a year, the members of the now infamous Bling Ring allegedly burglarized some of the biggest names in young Hollywood. Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, these seven teenagers made headlines for using Google maps, Facebook, and TMZ to track the comings and goings of their targets. Many of the houses were unlocked. Alarms disabled. A “perfect” crime— celebrities already had so much, why shouldn’t the Bling Ring take their share?

As the unprecedented case unfolded in the news, the world asked: How did our obsession with celebrities get so out of hand? Why would a group of teens who already had so much, take such a risk?

Acclaimed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because each stolen T-shirt or watch brought them closer to living the Hollywood dream . . . and because it was terrifyingly easy. For the Bling Ring the motivation was something deeper than money—they were compelled by a compulsion to be famous. Gaining unprecedented access to the group of teens, Sales traces the crimes minute by minute and details the key players’ stories in a shocking look at the seedy, and troubling, world of the real young Hollywood.(Summary provided by It Books, a HarperCollins imprint.)

My Thoughts:

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales is a true crime, companion book to the film directed by Sofia Coppola bearing the same name. For those of you who missed out on the sensational story that made headlines several years ago, The Bling Ring is a true story about a group of teens who routinely “went shopping in” aka burglarizing celebrity homes. The main source material for the book originated from an article Sales wrote for Vanity Fair about the bling ring called “The Suspect Wore Louboutons.” Sofia Coppola read the article and purchased the rights to make it into a film titled The Bling Ring.

The Bling Ring is an interesting look at youth obsession with the cult of celebrity. Throughout the book it’s apparent that a few of the teens involved wanted to feel close to the celebrities they admired, and part of feeling close was entering their homes and stealing clothes, jewelry, and other valuables. I was engrossed in the way Sales describes the entitlement the teens involved felt to invade the celebrities’ homes. At one point Sales describes how two of the teens used Paris Hilton’s Twitter updates and an internet search of her neighborhood to rob her home. When they finally got to Paris’s house, there was a key under the doormat. The teens entered her home “went shopping” in her closet and even hung out in her nightclub room. Sales goes on to describe how the bling ring robbed Hilton repeatedly.

Hilton was one of many celebrity victims the teens targeted. The most shocking incident Sales writes about is the robbery of Orlando Bloom’s home. The teens stole over $500,000 worth of items from the actor’s home. One of the perpetrators even stole art and a rug to decorate her home.

The Bloom robbery leads to one of the most fascinating sections of the book. Sales writes a large portion in The Bling Ring about Alexis Neires. Alexis was charged in the robbery of Orlando Bloom’s home. It was the only robbery that she was charged for out of the many the bling ring committed. However, Alexis denies she entered Bloom’s home and claims to be innocent. Sales details in the book how she was on assignment for Vanity Fair covering the bling ring case and was granted interviews with Neires. One of the interviews was even caught on film for Pretty Wild, the E! reality show Neires’s family was starring in at the time. Sales’s account of the interview and the taping of the reality show in the midst of Neires’s legal issues was like taking a peek behind the scenes of “reality TV.” I highly suggest watching the episode of Pretty Wild titled “Vanity Unfair” while reading The Bling Ring. (The episode is available on Netflix.) Seeing Neires ‘s reaction to the article after it was published adds another layer to the attitudes of the teens involved in the crimes. Ironically, while serving her jail sentence, Neires was in a cell next to Lindsay Lohan, one of the victims of the bling ring. Neires had no involvement in the Lohan robbery, but I still wonder if they talked at all when they were neighbors briefly in jail. Sales includes many unbelievable but true details like this throughout the book.

Sales writes using interviews with the suspects, police sources and other media related to the case. Sales includes passages from her interview with Nick Prugo throughout. Nick was the alleged ring leader of the bling ring, Rachel’s wing man. He helped plan most of the burglaries. However, despite his extreme involvement in the crimes, Prugo comes across in a sympathetic light. Sales writes about how his confession informed the police that the teens were behind many robberies that were unsolved or never reported. Sales’s detail of Prugo’s treatment by his first attorney, his crisis of conscience, and his naivety regarding how the justice system works were fascinating to read about.

With The Bling Ring, Nancy Jo Sales presents a startling portrait of teens obsessed with celebrity to the point of violating the very celebrities they worshiped. It’s a story of compulsion, entitlement, delusion, and societal pressures that lead to criminal behavior with very real consequences.Now that I’ve read the book I can’t wait to see Sofia Coppola’s film version of the crimes.

FTC Disclosure: I purchased the above mentioned book.  I receive a small commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon links on this site.


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Book Bounty: Upcoming Fiction Titles I Can’t Wait To Read

The following are fiction books I can’t wait to read in the coming months:

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman (Beth is amazing and I can’t wait to curl up with her latest in my reading nook with a cozy blanket.)

Nowhere but Home by Liza Palmer (The cover for this book is beautiful. Yes, I know we shouldn’t judge books by them, but this one is so pretty!)

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (Seeing Jennifer from Literate Housewife’s Tweets about this title got me pumped to read N0S4A2!)

Tampa by Alissa Nutting (From the description, TAMPA sounds like it’s going to be very controversial.)

And Then I Found You by Patti Callahan Henry (The protagonist in And Then I Found You has a secret from her past she must confront. I love a character with secrets or a past to hide!)

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess (I’ve actually read this one already. Check out the July issue of RT Book Reviews to find out what I thought!)

FYI: If you’re going to RT Booklovers Convention let me know. I can’t wait to meet other voracious readers and see my favorite authors! I’ll be speaking at the conference on Wednesday, May 1. Click here for details.

FTC Disclosure: I received free copies of the books included in this list from the publishers, and I make a small commission off of any purchases made by clicking through the Amazon links on this site.


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Book Review: Fear In The Sunlight by Nicola Upson

Title: Fear In The Sunlight

Author: Nicola Upson

432 pages, Published by Harper Paperbacks

Nicola’s Info: Website | Goodreads

Buy The Book: Amazon


Summer 1936. Mystery writer Josephine Tey joins her friends in the resort village of Portmeirion, Wales, to celebrate her fortieth birthday. Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, are there to sign a deal to film Josephine’s novel, A Shilling for Candles. But things get out of hand when one of Hollywood’s leading actresses is brutally slashed to death in a cemetery near the village. The following day, as fear and suspicion take over in a setting where nothing—and no one—is quite what it seems, Chief Inspector Archie Penrose becomes increasingly unsatisfied with the way the investigation is ultimately resolved. Several years later, another horrif ic murder, again linked to a Hitchcock movie, drives Penrose back to the scene of the original crime to uncover the shocking truth.(Summary provided by Harper Paperbacks.)

My Thoughts:

Interest in the life of Alfred Hitchcock has seen a resurgence over the past year. In 2012 films The Girl and Hitchcock  both centered around the director, and the British Film Institute hailed Hitchcock as the most influential British director of all time. I have always been fascinated by Hitchcock’s films and by the man himself. As a child, I watched reruns of Alfred Hitchcock Presents every chance I got. So, I was quite excited to get the chance to read Fear in The Sunlight by Nicola Upson, a novel in which Hitchcock plays a role.

Nicola Upson’s novel is the fourth book in a historical fiction/mystery series featuring real life writer Josephine Tey. Upson weaves fact and fiction together in a way that is absolutely fascinating. I love historical fiction (see here and here), and Upson does not disappoint.

There is quite a large number of characters in the novel and Upson does an excellent job of distinguishing each of the different POVs from one another. The author paces the novel in such a way that the first murder does not take place until halfway into the book. I enjoyed the leisurely pace and the fact that I got to know the cast of characters prior to the first crime taking place.

Josephine Tey makes a fascinating protagonist. I have not read the first three books in the series, however Upson writes in such a way that readers new to the series have no problem catching up. I recommend Fear In The Sunlight to lovers of historical fiction. It should be a crime not to read this book!:)

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for including The Well-Read Wife on the Fear in The Sunlight tour. Make sure to stop by the other blogs included on the tour:

Tuesday, April 9th: The Well-Read Wife

Wednesday, April 10th: The Road to Here

Thursday, April 11th: Amused By Books

Friday, April 12th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Monday, April 15th: Booktalk & More

Wednesday, April 17th: Unabridged Chick

Thursday, April 18th: Man of La Book

Monday, April 22nd: Nonsuch Book

Tuesday, April 23rd: guiltless reading

Wednesday, April 24th: A Book Geek

Tuesday, April 30th: The House of the Seven Tails

Saturday, May 4th: Doing Dewey

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review from the publisher, and I make a small commission off of any purchases made by clicking through the Amazon links on this site.


Make sure you don’t miss a thing! If you’re new to The Well-Read Wife, click here to subscribe. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and “like” me on Facebook. You can follow The Well-Read Wife on Bloglovin’ by clicking here. My personal site is located at

Nicola Upson Discusses Alfred Hitchcock Connection in Her Latest Mystery Novel

Tomorrow, I’m posting my review of Fear in The Sunlight by Nicola Upson ($14.99, Harper Paperbacks). Fear in The Sunlight is the fourth novel in a mystery series featuring famed mystery writer Josephine Tey. I love historical fiction, and I also enjoy that Alfred Hitchcock is part of the action in this installment of Upson’s popular series. Watch Nicola Upson discuss Fear in The Sunlight and the Alfred Hitchcock connection by clicking below:




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