Monday's Musical Moment

Monday's Musical Moment
Monday's Musical Moment

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

Monday, December 18, 2017

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Gold Dust Woman: A Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis- Feature and Review

We all love music, so from time to time I will feature a book centered around music, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, or biography. 

This Monday's feature is:




"All you ever wanted to know about Fleetwood Mac's mesmerizing frontwoman." - People Magazine

"Davis is astute and respectful...adept in his literary analysis." - The New York Times Book Review

Stevie Nicks is a legend of rock, but her energy and magnetism sparked new interest in this icon. At sixty-nine, she's one of the most glamorous creatures rock has known, and the rare woman who's a real rock 'n' roller.

Gold Dust Woman gives "the gold standard of rock biographers" (The Boston Globe) his ideal topic: Nicks' work and life are equally sexy and interesting, and Davis delves deeply into each, unearthing fresh details from new, intimate interviews and interpreting them to present a rich new portrait of the star. Just as Nicks (and Lindsey Buckingham) gave Fleetwood Mac the "shot of adrenaline" they needed to become real rock stars--according to Christine McVie--Gold Dust Woman is vibrant with stories and with a life lived large and hard:
--How Nicks and Buckingham were asked to join Fleetwood Mac and how they turned the band into stars
--The affairs that informed Nicks' greatest songs
--Her relationships with the Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh, and with Fleetwood himself
--Why Nicks married her best friend's widower
--Her dependency on cocaine, drinking and pot, but how it was a decade-long addiction to Klonopin that almost killed her
-- Nicks' successful solo career that has her still performing in venues like Madison Square Garden
--The cult of Nicks and its extension to chart-toppers like Taylor Swift and the Dixie Chicks



Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie NicksGold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

She rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover?
All your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised to you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?

In the past year or so, I’ve read several rock memoirs and biographies with very mixed results. I swore them off for a while because I found myself losing respect for the artist, or because the biographer did a very poor job and I felt the subject deserved better.

But, I’ve been a fan of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks since junior high, but Stevie has always been somewhat of an enigma, so I when I saw this biography, I caved and took a chance on this book.

Some may view Fleetwood Mac with no small amount of disdain, feeling they represent the very picture of bloated, overproduced corporate rock. But, I don’t care. The first time I heard the Nicks/Buckingham incarnation of the group I fell hard.

Ironically, it was a Christine McVie’s voice that made the biggest impression on me, not Stevie’s, and I still maintain she is a vastly under appreciated vocalist. However, when I first heard ‘Dreams’ I found myself grudgingly admitting that Stevie’s haunting vocals were deserving of the same respect.

Over the years, and in between tours and reunions with Fleetwood Mac, I loved Stevie’s collaborations and duets with Tom Petty and Don Henley and instantly felt a vast appreciation for her solo material as well.

So, it goes without saying that I loved the music. But, like many others I was also curious about Stevie’s well- crafted mystical aura, was captivated by her fashions, and mesmerized by her stage performances.

Introducing ‘Rhiannon’ as a song about a Welsh witch, sparked speculation that Nicks was into the occult or was a witch herself. Her fashions and hairstyles were copied by scores of women attending concerts, who wanted to look ‘very Rhiannon.’

But, Stevie’s personal life? Well, it’s complicated.

Reviews of biographies and memoirs are hard for me to write. With a memoir I feel free to leave a personal opinion about the subject. The author has put themselves out there and can expect a bit of scrutiny, but with a biography, especially an unauthorized one, I feel it may be best to focus on how the biographer presented the material, if it was well researched and documented and if the author managed to capture the essence of his subject- or not.

In this case, I felt the author did an admirable job of organizing the material, going in chronological order, offering insights into Stevie’s upbringing, her musical roots, and her journey to stardom. He did not put words in her mouth or attempt to analyze her feelings, and for the most part remained neutral, not allowing his personal opinions of Stevie to surface in his writing. There was only one occasion where I felt the author attempted to gloss over or sugarcoat the facts by avoiding certain key words surrounding a very personal and delicate situation.

Watching it all unfold, it is easy to see the ways in which Stevie changed and developed over the years, going from Lindsey Buckingham’s protégé, to a headlining act, surrounding herself with top writers and musicians, taking center stage and owning it.

I can’t say I would want that kind of lifestyle for myself. It sounds rigorous and lonely, and not at all glamorous, fraught with terrible pitfalls that wrought ghastly consequences. While there were incredible professional triumphs, there were also many pitfalls, and embarrassing lows, most of which are common traps in the life of a rock star.

As with any unauthorized biography, you may find a few discrepancies, but, overall, I felt like the book was as true and honest as possible, and was very respectful to the artist. But, remember, Stevie's presence is notably absent, as is the case with many unauthorized bios.

Overall, I was pleased with how the biography turned out. Stevie Nick’s musical achievements are balanced with her interesting history and personal life. I don’t know if I got a real feeling of true happiness or contentment from Stevie, or if the book captured Stevie's spiritual essence, at all. It seemed as though she was always working, working, working, or going through a personal crisis. I think her thoughts these days tend to lean more towards resignation and acceptance, which does seem to give her a measure of peace.

Her journey has been a fascinating one, for sure, and she’s still out there surrounded by that trademark mythical aura, performing and working regularly, even as she approaches her seventh decade.

This book did have some little known facts and some information regarding early television appearances I don't remember after all these years, and reminded me of all the great FM songs I never stopped listening to, and passed down to my own kids, as well as the many solo hits Stevie had.

Alexa/Echo has been ordered to play a lot of Fleetwod Mac the past few days.





Stephen Davis is an American music journalist and historian.  Davis was born in New York City and attending Boston University.

Davis has been described 'as perhaps America's best-known rock biographer'.

Friday, December 15, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy- Feature and Review


‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago...

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son - not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum.

Strange Companions is a debut novel about a mind in the grips of dementia. Simultaneously a fast-paced mystery and a moving meditation on memory and identity and told through Maud's unforgettable voice, it humanises a condition most of us find impenetrable and frustrating.



Elizabeth Is MissingElizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy is a 2014 Harper Publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

For me this was a stunning novel, not only as a mystery but one that gives an unique insight into the mind of someone dealing with dementia and the effects it has on them and their family.

When Maud who is 82 years old, realizes her friend Elizabeth is gone, she desperately tries to convey this to her daughter, Helen, who is her sole care taker. No one takes her seriously, which frustrates and agitates Maud even more. But, this turn of events has jarred loose a torrent of memories regarding the disappearance of Maud's sister “Sukey” when she was much younger. She tends to confuse the two events in her mind and of course is fighting so hard to keep things straight and communicate to those around her who are totally clueless about what is really going on in Maud's head

When her sister disappeared, Maud was driven nearly mad by it . Slowly, Maud's mind sketches together the events of the past with the present day vanishing of her friend Elizabeth. It's a slow moving realization and the saddest thing of all is Maud's inability to hold on to her train of thought long enough to enjoy some kind of peace of mind or obtain closure in any way for herself.

I found myself feeling intensely angry with Helen and the police and Elizabeth's son, Peter. While I know it is so difficult to deal with a parent suffering from dementia, and I am certainly not making light of that burden, I couldn't help but feel irritation at Helen's making faces at Maud behind her back or dismissing her symptoms with the doctor or a thousand other ways she was rather unkind to her mother. I mean, this was her mother!! She resented every single thing she had to do for her and blamed her brother for not helping out more, which of course I would have to agree with that, and realistically this happens more often than people realize among siblings. Helen performs her duties admirably, but it's seldom she shows any real empathy or tenderness for her mother.

The two mysteries, the cold case, if you will, and the current mystery of Elizabeth's disappearance is compelling, mostly because we know that there is something twisted up in Maud's mind and our frustration is as deep as hers. We know on one level that Elizabeth's disappearance is more of a catalyst for the deeply buried trauma of Maud's memories regarding her sister, but there is also a feeling of foreboding in regards to Elizabeth, mainly because Maude simply can not turn the idea loose. She is like a dog with a bone when it comes to her great concern over her friend's absence.

I think at times there are books placed in a rather generic genre classification, like mystery, suspense or psychological thriller, and that fits in this case, no doubt, BUT, it also leads people to draw a certain expectation of what to expect, and then perhaps, as could be the case with this book, the reader isn't quite sure what to think. The mystery is certainly understated, but I'm afraid many missed the poignancy of the story and the truly remarkable thing the mind really is.

While, Maud was mostly unaware of what she has ultimately revealed by insisting Elizabeth was missing, it is astounding what she has managed to accomplish here. No, this is not exactly a whodunit in the traditional sense. Yes, it is difficult to read, and is very emotional and yes, it is slow moving without many of the elements most mysteries employ.

 So, I suppose it might have been best to have added this one to the literary fiction or contemporary fiction category along with mystery/ suspense to give the potential buyer an idea of what lay ahead. I thought this was a well thought out novel that maybe went over the heads of some who perhaps are not in any way familiar with dementia other than what they see on television. If you know someone with this disease, I can think you would look at this book with a different perspective. If you are interested in reading the typical mystery novel, police procedural, detective, forensic, sort of thing, then keep going.

But, if you are looking for something that digs a little deeper into the human psyche and examines the long term emotional effects of loss, crime, guilt and in some ways even redemption, give this one a look.





Emma Healey grew up in London where she completed her first degree in bookbinding and was the third generation of women in her family to go to art college. She then worked for two libraries, two bookshops, two art galleries and two universities, and was busily pursuing a career in the art world before writing overtook everything. In 2008, after the death of one grandmother and the decline of the other, she began to explore the idea of dementia in fiction, and she moved to Norwich in 2010 to study for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Elizabeth is Missing is her first novel.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton- Feature and Review


On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrived in Alaska.

Within hours they were driving alone across a frozen wilderness

Where nothing grows

Where no one lives

Where tears freeze 

And night will last for another 54 days.

They are looking for Ruby's father.

Travelling deeper into a silent land.

They still cannot find him.

And someone is watching them in the dark.



The Quality of SilenceThe Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton is a 2016 Crown publication.

Harrowing, white knuckle suspense!

Alaska. Its beauty contrasts with the dark, brutal, bitter cold, making it the perfect backdrop for this gripping environmental thriller which is coupled with a story of undying love and devotion.

Yasmin has traveled to Alaska in search of her husband, Matt. She has brought her deaf daughter, Ruby along, believing deep in her heart that despite evidence to the contrary, her husband was not a victim of the deadly fire that wiped out an entire village.

Knowing no one is looking for Matt, Yasmin and Ruby take off across Northern Alaska, in one of the worst winters on record, determined to find her husband.

Not only will Yasmin have to contend with weather conditions few humans could endure, she feels a prickly sense of danger, as though someone is following her, trying to prevent her from making it to her destination.

Did Matt know something about the fire someone wants to keep quiet?

This story has a several interesting layers to it. On one hand, we have Yasmin, who is unwavering in her belief that Matt is alive, and rises to the occasion, showing a type of grit only sheer determination and a refusal to give up could pull off. Yet, all the time she is battling the elements, she is also battling an internal struggle involving the state of her marriage, which has hit a rough patch.

But, the story also features the fearless and brave ten year old, Ruby, whose deafness accentuates an added vulnerability, but in reality, it could be what makes Ruby so strong, so pragmatic and observant. Ruby’s narrative plays a key role the way the reader views the various aspects of this incredible landscape.

She has absorbed every single thing her father has shared with her, using that information to help guide her mother and to restore Yasmin’s faith in Matt and their marriage.

In this way, the novel is a beautiful story of familial love, a bond between parent and child and husband and wife, as each member gains a new perspective on their relationship as they face incredible adversity.

The plot is centered around ‘Fracking’, the danger to the environment that it poses, and the motives behind the argument for tapping down that far underground for oil.

All these elements combine to create a taut story of suspense, adventure, greed, and danger, as well as a tightly woven family drama.

The author does an incredible job creating the Alaskan climate, bringing both its beauty and its harshness into focus. As awesome as the images of it appear in pictures and on television, I don’t think I’d survive living in Alaska!

The only downside here, is that some parts of the story are just too unrealistic, but the atmosphere is so tense, I willed those negative thoughts away and focused on the what was working.

Ruby’s characterization, the various tools she uses to communicate, is also part of what makes the story poignant and her mettle so impressive.

But, thrumming in the background, is that pesky feeling that something is terribly wrong, that the elements are not the only thing Yasmin and Ruby should be afraid of and that knowledge haunts their journey from start to finish, until the all the pieces of the puzzle finally snap into place.

I was so impressed with this book, I wanted to see what else this author has written. I was surprised that I had already read one her books. I didn’t make the connection until just now, because I think I had it mixed up with another book with a similar title. But, sadly that means I only have one more book to read by this fabulous author. I hope to hear from her again soon!!





Rosamund Lupton is the author of Sister, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and a bestseller in Europe. 

Published in the UK by Little, Brown Book Group, Sister has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, a BBC Radio 4, Book at Bedtime and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option with Studio Canal, to produce with Kevin McCormick of Langley St Pictures. Emily Blunt is attached to star and the script is in development. 

Lupton's critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011, with UK sales alone of more than 200,000 copies. 

The Quality of Silence is her third novel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami by Roben Farzad- Feature and Review


The wild, true story of the Mutiny, the hotel and club that embodied the decadence of Miami’s cocaine cowboys heyday—and an inspiration for the blockbuster film, Scarface...In the seventies, coke hit Miami with the full force of a hurricane, and no place attracted dealers and dopers like Coconut Grove’s Mutiny at Sailboat Bay. Hollywood royalty, rock stars, and models flocked to the hotel’s club to order bottle after bottle of Dom and to snort lines alongside narcos, hit men, and gunrunners, all while marathon orgies burned upstairs in elaborate fantasy suites.

Amid the boatloads of powder and cash reigned the new kings of Miami: three waves of Cuban immigrants vying to dominate the trafficking of one of the most lucrative commodities ever known to man. But as the kilos—and bodies—began to pile up, the Mutiny became target number one for law enforcement.

Based on exclusive interviews and never-before-seen documents, Hotel Scarface is a portrait of a city high on excess and greed, an extraordinary work of investigative journalism offering an unprecedented view of the rise and fall of cocaine—and the Mutiny—in Miami.



Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control MiamiHotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami by Roben Farzad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami- by Roben Farzad is a 2017 Berkley publication.

Miami Vice? Al Pacino’s Scarface? Miami in the 1980s, was all that and more. You'll have to keep reminding yourself that this is no work of fiction. While the entire country suffered an economic downturn, Miami was hustling and bustling, its economy bursting at the seams, solidifying its ‘sexiest’ city reputation- all thanks to that high priced, highly addictive, white powder- Cocaine.

At the center of all the excitement, sat the Mutiny Hotel, situated on Bayshore drive. The hotel and club, was Miami’s version of ‘Casablanca’, with Burton Goldberg at the helm. This was the gathering spot for the Miami Dolphins football players, rock stars, party girls, drug smugglers and dealers and cops, alike.

Business was conducted at all hours of the day and night. The Cocaine, the money, the Dom- all flowed like water through the Mutiny in its heyday. The city was a war zone, with the highest murder rate in the nation, and the cops and judges were in the pockets of the drug lords- many of whom were household names, right alongside the celebrity clientele at the Mutiny. People from all walks of life, small time earners, and lower income Cuban immigrants, were suddenly flush with unimaginable amounts of cash, expensive cars, and all the rest.

It was a crazy time, and Mutiny Hotel became THE place to meet and do business for the notorious ‘Cocaine Cowboys.’

The book replays the drama that took place inside the storied walls of the Mutiny, featuring a large cast of characters, some of whom will sound very familiar, while others were mostly famous inside the confines of the drug industry. To help keep it all sorted, the author graciously provides a list of the major players the book is centered around.

I was not surprised by the number of celebrities that partied there, and while a few of the names mentioned will shock you, most of them won’t. Some may be moderately shaken by how many local athletes were participants, but you really shouldn’t be.

A few notorious regulars were Rick James, members of the classic rock group- The Eagles, and a few politicians, popped in and out as well- maybe a famous Kennedy? – And of course, some cast members of the wildly popular television show, 'Miami Vice’.

One notorious dealer even landed a couple of guest spots on the show for providing the crew with trustworthy cocaine.

While the stage is set to look like everyone was having a good time partying, drinking Dom, visiting the fantasy suites, there was a lot more going on than meets the eye. The Cuban immigrant issues that settled into the city in the 1980’s and the political climate with Cuba, in general, roiled just as intensely as it did two decades prior.

While the events that were transpiring in Miami may have helped inspire the Al Pacino movie, ‘Scarface’, the movie was mostly shot outside of Miami, and the author will explain those details, but it mainly had to do with the fear of how Cubans would be portrayed in the film.

Still, many thought they recognized themselves or others they knew in the film, and weren’t particularly offended by it.

It’s crazy to think back on it all now. Everything detailed in this book would have made for great television and movies… which it did- but it was very real, very scary, and a very dark piece of Miami’s history. It was a dangerous situation, shocking to the core, as Americans watched it all play out in real time, but now with the benefit of hindsight, it seems even more insane and hard to believe.

This book makes an excellent companion piece to the documentary ‘Cocaine Cowboys’- (the producers of the documentary even provided the prologue for this book), if you have seen it. If not, I highly recommend watching it and reading this book, in no particular order, because both will provide an incredible look back at this part of America’s history- Miami’s, in particular. FYI- the documentary is available with Neflix streaming.

Overall, this book focuses primarily on the Mutiny Hotel and the goings on connected to it, but also delves into the city’s history, political climate, Cuba, Columbia, and the drug smuggling superstars and how it all came crashing down.

The author did a great job of organizing the material and helping to put names with faces, so to speak,
and tells this riveting true crime saga in such a way, you feel like you are seeing these events unfold in front of your very eyes.

Even if you remember hearing all about Miami's drug trade on the news ad nauseam in the eighties, you didn’t get this inside version of events, believe me. You will feel the reverberations, get caught up in a bit of nostalgia, shake your head at the name dropping, and gasp in horror at the ruthless double crosses and killings. I can almost hear Jan Hammer’s Miami Vice theme song in my head as we speak.

This is an excellent true crime drama which will appeal to those of a certain age, but I highly recommend it for younger readers, too, who will get a bit of unexpected history behind the sexiest city in America. You will never look at the Miami skyline the same way again.





Roben Farzad hosts the weekly program Full Disclosure on NPR One and is a special correspondent on PBS NewsHour. He was previously a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek, where he covered Wall Street, international finance, and Latin America. Farzad is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Woman Who Couldn't Scream by Christina Dodd- Feature and Review


From the New York Times bestselling author comes the fourth novel of suspense taking place in Virtue Falls, Washington.

Beautiful Merida is married to a wealthy older man who takes her around the world as his trophy. Merida is everything a man could want. But a traumatic accident years before left her without the ability to speak. When her husband dies, she knows it's her chance to exact revenge on those responsible for her accident—and that vengeance begins in Virtue Falls. Reinventing herself, she slips into village life, biding her time. But someone knows exactly who she is and will use this chance to finish what was started years ago. And this time an accident for Merida will mean silencing her forever.



The Woman Who Couldn't Scream (Virtue Falls #4)The Woman Who Couldn't Scream by Christina Dodd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Because the third installment was so awesome, I a little nervous going into this one, but I needn’t have worried. The momentum carried over to this latest installment… and then some!

Merida, is beautiful, but can not speak. After the death of her obsessive husband, she is also rich- so she
returns to Virtue Falls with one thing in mind- revenge.

But, her plans go off the rails when several women are slashed to death, and her old lover recognizes her and as fate would have it, her old friend, Kateri is the sheriff.

Meanwhile, Kateri’s half sister arrives in Virtue Falls looking for the strange package Kateri’s deceased father sent her, believing it holds something very valuable. But, Kateri is busy hunting down the man who shot Rainbow and the person who is killing women in Virtue Falls, and attempting to understand her complicated relationship with Stag.

I do believe this series gets better as it goes along. Merida is a real mystery and her past is riddled with extreme pain, physically and emotionally. What is the history between her and the wealthy Benedict? Why is she seeking revenge against him? This is a very interesting and intense part of the story, and I loved how it all came together. Whew! Good stuff!

I have also enjoyed getting to know Kateri, and I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I also love, love, love her dog, Lacey!!

In this installment, Kateri really gets to show off her law enforcement skills, more so than usual, and proves once and for all she is the right person for the job, while she also deals with a host of personal issues, as well as the Frog God, which is always very interesting.

While each book in the series has been suspenseful, this one has a slightly darker edge to it, and fit more into a traditional format than the previous installments, and I thought it worked out wonderfully.

This is yet another outstanding installment in this series! Romantic suspense fans will love this one!!

Thank you, Goodreads, Christina Dodd, and St. Martin’s Press for providing me a copy of this terrific novel!!





Go to Christina's home page for her, "Books by Series and In Order," page and her printable book list sorted by genre, series and in order. Join Christina's mailing list for updates! http://christinadodd.com

Upcoming Titles:
DEAD GIRL RUNNING: Cape Charade Full-Length Thriller, a Virtue Falls series spin-off

Out now!
—THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T SCREAM: Virtue Falls Full-length Suspense #4 in hardcover and ebook (Amazon Best of September, Library Journal Starred Review, RT Book Reviews Top Pick)
— THE WATCHER: A Virtue Falls Short Story starring Sheriff Kateri Kwinault
—BECAUSE I'M WATCHING: Virtue Falls Full-length Suspense #3 (2016 Amazon Best of Romance, #1 Amazon Romance of September, Kirkus starred review, Booklist starred review and Best of 2016, Library Journal starred review, RT Book Reviews Top Pick.) Readers' Group Discussion Questions available on Christina Dodd's website.
—A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT: Stories of Virtue Falls, a compilation of the previously published Virtue Falls short stories with new extras from the Virtue Falls books (deleted scenes, the alternate ending of OBSESSION FALLS, Readers' Guides.)

New York Times bestseller Christina Dodd writes “Edge-of-the-seat suspense.” —(Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd.” (ALA Booklist) Follow Christina on Amazon to receive notices about her upcoming and new releases, and join her mailing list at christinadodd.com for entertaining newsletters, book news and contests. THE WOMAN WHO COULDN'T SCREAM (September 5) is next in the Virtue Falls series; RT Book Reviews calls it, "The Payoff Kateri Fans have been Waiting For," (top pick) and ALA Booklist says, a "Sexy, compulsively readable tale of romantic suspense.” Her current thriller, BECAUSE I'M WATCHING, is an Amazon Best Book of 2016, a Booklist Best Book of 2016, and a Top Pick for RT Book Reviews, with a starred Kirkus review ("Another Virtue Falls winner!") and a starred Library Journal review. Christina's fifty+ novels have been translated into more than twenty-five languages, won the Golden Heart and RITA Awards, and been called the year's best by Library Journal and Booklist. Much to her mother's delight, Dodd has been a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. And let us not forget the infamous three armed cover… You can find more information on her website, ChristinaDodd.com

Monday, December 11, 2017

Finding Grace: Captured by a Cult by Warren Adler - Feature and Review


The chilling new drama from Warren Adler, the bestselling author of The War of the Roses, gets to the heart of brainwashing and its power to corrupt and control. 

A father. A mother. A daughter. A cult. 

When their twenty-three-year-old daughter goes missing, divorcees Harry and Paulie are forced to leave behind their newly constructed lives to track Grace down. But Grace isn’t lost, not physically at least. They find her seemingly unharmed in California on a sunny farm the other residents call “Camp Star.” But nothing is as it seems… 

Sinister motives lurk behind the smiles of those at the camp and the two soon learn that Grace is in the clutches of a notorious cult. Under the spell of mind control, she denies Harry and Paulie as her family and shuns their love, leaving them to search for answers in the most desperate of places. 

Scrambling to piece together their shattered lives, Harry and Paulie race against the clock to bring Grace back home – but will she ever be able to return? How do you help someone who doesn’t know they’re lost? 



Finding Grace: Captured by a CultFinding Grace: Captured by a Cult by Warren Adler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finding Grace by Warren Adler is a 2017 publication.

Do you believe strange religious cults are a thing of the past? Think again…

Grace, a beautiful, young political intern, has joined an odd cult and is completely under their spell. The cult’s goal is to take over the world, starting with America. They are totally right-wing, fascist types, but spout all the usual cult rhetoric and use commonly known methods of brainwashing and persuasion to entice and hold their followers.

Henry and Paulie divorced when Grace was a child, both remarried, but Henry is separated from his wife, while Pauley is rather content in her second marriage, despite it lacking the passion she shared with Henry. Although the couple have been divorced for fifteen years, they swiftly discover the bond they once shared, the bond that still binds them through their daughter, is still quite strong.

As Henry and Paulie work to free their daughter, they rediscover the passion and love that brought them together in the first place and must face a plethora of complications as their lives turn on a dime.

This book is set back in the late eighties or early nineties, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. There are phone booths, and landlines and the mention of Pan Am, so it obviously takes place a few decades ago, and is NOT a current day scenario.

Still, by that time, cults were beginning to lose ground, disperse, and no longer showed up regularly in the news. But, as we know, they didn’t go away entirely.

Paulie and Henry were blindsided by the revelation their smart, seemingly well-adjusted daughter fell prey to such manipulations. Their work to free her becomes an obsession, as they both reflect on their past life together, how or if they had unwittingly let their daughter down, blaming themselves for their self- absorptions, and remembering the intense feelings they once shared.

It may seem like an odd time to publish a book with this particular theme, since we seldom think of cults like the one described here in modern times. But, the topic did make me wonder about that, so I did a quick internet search and was shocked to discover how many cults are still quite active, and boasts incredibly large numbers of followers. Spooky.

But, the story also offered a couple of chilling remarks that reminded me of what uncharacteristic, complete and total loyalty can mean. So, from that angle, it seems like a bit of a cautionary tale, a warning that it still might not be safe to go back into the water, so don’t let your guard down.

Yet, after having said all that, the story doesn’t appear to be about Grace, per se. We only get a very tiny glimpse of the type of person she was prior to her cult conversion. Once she was immersed in that setting, she became almost a parody of the typical, brainwashed cult member. Her role in the story seems to serve more as a catalyst from which Henry and Paulie are forced to pull the focus off of themselves and onto a common goal, leading to an in -depth examination of their relationship, both past and present, and what that might mean for their future. In a weird way, it’s almost like a very quirky love story- a second chance at love trope, told within a very strange context.

All in all, this is a very offbeat story, strangely absorbing, fast paced, and easily read in one sitting. It lingered around in my mind for a while, as I puzzled over and searched for some missed hidden message or allegory, but I never could come up with anything solid on that front.

It’s an interesting read, perhaps a little shallow in places, predictable in others, but sinister and thought provoking all the same.




Warren Adler is best known for The War of Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turn into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas. Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. In addition to the success of the stage adaptation of his iconic novel on the perils of divorce. Adler has optioned and sold film rights to more than a dozen of his novels and short stories to Hollywood and major television networks. Random Hearts ( starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas), The Sunset Gang (starring Ben Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts), Private Lies, Funny Boys, Madeline's Miricles, Trans-Siberian Express and his Fion Fitzgerald Mystery series are only a few titles that have forever left Adler's mark on contemporary American authorship from stage to screen. Learn more at: www.warrenadler.com

Friday, December 8, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews- Feature and Review


Three Weddings...And a Murder

So far Meg Langslow's summer is not going swimmingly. Down in her small Virginia hometown, she's maid of honor at the nuptials of three loved ones--each of whom has dumped the planning in her capable hands. One bride is set on including a Native American herbal purification ceremony, while another wants live peacocks on the lawn. Only help from the town's drop-dead gorgeous hunk, disappointingly rumored to be gay, keeps Meg afloat in a sea of dotty relatives and outrageous neighbors.

And, in a whirl of summer parties and picnics, Southern hospitality is strained to the limit by an offensive newcomer who hints at skeletons in the guests' closets. But it seems this lady has offended one too many when she's found dead in suspicious circumstances, followed by a string of accidents--some fatal. Soon, level-headed Meg's to-do list extends from flower arrangements and bridal registries to catching a killer--before the next catered event is her own funeral...



Murder With Peacocks (Meg Langslow, #1)Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder with Peacocks (Meg Langslow #1) by Donna Andrews is a 2006 St. Martin’s Press publication. (Originally published in 1999)

Fast paced and witty!

I need to start another series like I need a hole in my head, but….

This series keeps popping up in crime novel sites I follow, or book recommendation sites, and because already had a couple of the books on my bookshelf, I decided to read one to see how well I liked it.

Well, for better or worse, I’m hooked. This is the first installment in a very long running series. For a ‘first in a series' novel, published over seventeen years ago, it was pretty darned good. In fact, it was a riot!

Meg’s best friend, her brother, and her mother are all getting married, and Meg has been roped into helping them plans their weddings.

But, when her mother’s fiancé’s former mother-in-law arrives, she stirs up a real hornet’s nest, and the next thing you know her body is found. While it is quite evident the woman was murdered, the suspects are very clever, and their motives are even murkier.

With local law enforcement ill equipped to handle such a serious crime, Meg’s father rises to the occasion to play amateur detective. But, before long, Meg finds herself bitten by the detecting bug, herself. Along with her new friend, Michael, she begins to uncover shocking secrets, lies, and cover-ups, that just might lead her to the murderer!

This is a madcap, screwball family comedy on one hand, and a puzzling murder mystery on the other. Meg and her father have a special bond and work well as detection team. Meg’s inner monologue is hilarious, but also a poignant at times.

The story moves at warp speed, and is so entertaining, I finished it before I was ready to- and that is always a good sign.

So, here’s to piecing together another long running series and to many more adventures with Meg and her zany supporting cast!





Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the setting of Murder with Peacocks and Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, and now lives and works in Reston, Virginia. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she's messing in the garden