Jessie's Bookshop

Jessie's Bookshop
Jessie's Little Bookshop by the Sea by Kirsty Ferry

A Quest of Dreams

A Quest of Dreams
A Quest of Dreams by Debra Dier

Monday, September 16, 2019

Quest of Dreams by Debra Dier- Feature and Review


To Devlin McCain she was a fool chasing moonbeams, a spoiled rich girl who fancied herself an archaeologist and believed her money could buy anything. But beneath her spinsterish fa├žade burned a blistering sensuality he was powerless to resist, and he would journey through hell to claim her.

To Kate Whitmore, he was an overbearing brute who treated women like chattel, an unscrupulous scoundrel who valued gold above all else. Yet try as she might, she couldn’t deny the irresistible allure of this dangerous man.

Hard-edged realist and passionate idealist, Devlin and Kate plunged into the Brazilian jungle, searching for the answer to an ancient mystery. Yet someone else sought that mystery, someone determined to possess it at any cost.



A Quest of Dreams (Destiny Devices, #1)A Quest of Dreams by Debra Dier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Quest of Dreams by Debra Dier is a 2019 publication. (Originally published in 1994)

High Adventure, Steamy Romance!

Kate Whitmore and her father are in search of the lost city of Atlantis. To help them navigate the dangerous Brazilian jungle, Kate attempts to hire Devlin McCain, who is highly skeptical about their quest. Still, the possible reward is hard to pass up. However, he is very unhappy that Kate is traveling into danger with her father. Kate, on the other hand, has centered her entire life around her work, and is determined to prove her mettle.

The journey will be a long one, filled with physical dangers, and more than a little intrigue, but Kate’s heart is also in jeopardy as she fights off her unexpected and undeniable attraction to the mulish Devlin McCain.

But, with others on the trail of the lost city and the promised treasures hidden there, Devlin and Kate will have to work together to see their dreams realized, whether they like or trust one another or not!

This is one of those books that takes me back to a time when historical romance was imaginative and creative and not always stuck in Regency England. (Plus, maybe we weren't so hung up on extreme realism, either.) This book has a bit of everything in it. Suspense, adventure, action, intrigue, mystery, paranormal elements and of course, a sizzling romance. The cast was a little larger than I’m comfortable with, but I was able to follow along with only a minor amount of confusion.

The story moves fast and there is a lot going on, but the unusual plot challenged me and kept me fully engaged.

I’d squeeze more historical romance novels into my reading schedule if they had this much imagination.

*Note: Full disclosure: This book was written back in 1994. The author has reissued this book and a handful of her other books in digital format, and updated the cover art. I was delighted to discover I had three of Debra’s older paperbacks in my paperback collection and they are in near mint condition. How fun!!

On occasion one could tell this book was not written recently, but overall this story stands the test of time. In fact, Kate's character and the attitude of her father fits right in with today's modern messages of empowered women and the men who support their efforts. So maybe the author was a little ahead of her time. If you enjoy historical romance, I hope you will give this author a try.



Debra Dier is the bestselling author of sixteen critically acclaimed romance novels and short stories. Her work has earned her a place in the Writer's Hall of Fame.

Friday, September 13, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood- Feature and Review



The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a 1985 publication.

This year I’ve been trying to add books into my reading schedule that 'the entire world has read but me.' This book falls into that category, I think. As it happens, I had downloaded this book from the Kindle Unlimited library a long while back but kept putting it off.

To be honest Dystopian literature is not my favorite. I have dabbled in the genre, but usually, I give it a pass. Not only that, something about all the comparisons to current events made the book feel intimidating and it made me nervous. I’m already in a constant state of anxiety and didn’t know if I wanted to read something that was going to add to it.

Sure enough, right off the bat, I was on edge. I see where the comparisons are coming from now. But I don’t think Margaret Atwood had a crystal ball back in 1985 when this book was first published. That is why I felt this book was so unsettling.

Society, not just in America, but everywhere, has seen periods of progress, followed by enormous setbacks in human rights of all types. Obviously, this novel addresses the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Religious extremes have prompted some serious conversations about this book, but the set up here, in my opinion, is a means to an end.

Now that I’ve skated past that land -mine-

What I took away from this story was a that it was an important cautionary tale. It’s a strong lesson in complacency which is the most prominent theme, and the one I feel has the most urgency. Today we toss around phrases like ‘new normal’ or ‘normalizing’, which sends chills down my spine.

While this is a fictional story, it does have a basis in real history, revealing cycles of progression and regression.

Is that how we lived, then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now. We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it. Nothing changes instantly: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this book. It gave me the willies, but it has also given me a lot to chew on. It pretty much sums up my feelings about resting on the laurels of those who have made sacrifices and did the grunt work for the privileges enjoyed by women today.

This book should be a lesson to us all. Complacency comes with consequences. Let’s make sure we never take our rights for granted, and that we continue to fight the good fight for ourselves and future generations.





More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

"Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in."
--Margaret Atwood



Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth ­ in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.

Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow- Feature and Review


"Every person wrongfully convicted of a crime at some point dreams of getting revenge against the system. In Confessions of an Innocent Man, the dream comes true and in a spectacular way."--John Grisham, New York Times bestselling author of The Reckoning

A thrillingly suspenseful debut novel, and a fierce howl of rage that questions the true meaning of justice.

Rafael Zhettah relishes the simplicity and freedom of his life. He is the owner and head chef of a promising Houston restaurant. A pilot with open access to the boundless Texas horizon. A bachelor, content with having few personal or material attachments that ground him. Then, lightning strikes. When he finds Tieresse--billionaire, philanthropist, sophisticate, bombshell--sitting at one of his tables, he also finds his soul mate and his life starts again. And just as fast, when she is brutally murdered in their home, when he is convicted of the crime, when he is sentenced to die, it is all ripped away. But for Rafael Zhettah, death row is not the end. It is only the beginning. Now, with his recaptured freedom, he will stop at nothing to deliver justice to those who stole everything from him.

This is a heart-stoppingly suspenseful, devastating, page-turning debut novel. A thriller with a relentless grip that wants you to read it in one sitting. David R. Dow has dedicated his life to the fight against capital punishment--to righting the horrific injustices of the death penalty regime in Texas. He delivers the perfect modern parable for exploring our complex, uneasy relationships with punishment and reparation in a terribly unjust world. 



Confessions of an Innocent ManConfessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow is a 2019 Dutton publication.

A thought provoking, atypical and emotional crime story!

Rafael Zhettah is a private aircraft pilot, and the head chef at a Houston restaurant, happily married, content with his life, and looking forward to what the future may bring. But, in the blink of an eye, everything changes. His beloved wife is murdered and despite having an alibi, he is convicted and sent to death row.

However, a stunning turn of events garners Rafael his freedom, just in the nick of time. However, his outrage towards the system that robbed him of years he will never get back, and very nearly cost him his life, has left him entertaining ideas about how to get even. Perhaps the Old Testament method of ‘an eye for an eye’ would be the most fitting form of revenge…

Well, I must admit, If I had been in Rafael’s shoes, I would probably entertain a few revenge fantasies and it would be hard not to feel bitter. So, from this angle, Rafael’s feelings are quite understandable. But as righteous as his feelings may be, when he begins to plot his revenge, and then follow through with it, he begins to see things are not as black and white as he thought.

Issues arise that he didn’t anticipate, causing more than one crisis of conscience. But the suspense builds to an unbearable pitch as small mistakes could land him right back into some very hot water, and forces beyond his control may unravel all his carefully constructed plans.

I hate using those old cliches like 'compulsively readable' but the phrase fits this book perfectly.

Once I started reading it, I could not put it down!!

In the first segment of the story, the author begins by building an emotional relationship between the reader and Rafael. He is honest, almost to a fault, admitting his foibles up front, which goes a long way towards establishing trust.

We know for a fact that he did not kill his wife. But he’s sent to die anyway, a problem that is becoming an epidemic in real life.

In the second segment of the book, the author examines Raphael's time in prison, the relationships he builds, the attorneys who champion his cause and work tirelessly to overturn his conviction.

This segment is harrowing, heartbreaking and made me squirm in my seat, as Raphael nearly meets his end. This is also the part of the story where the reader truly invests themselves in Raphael’s outrage. The court system, the judges, and the entire flawed process, very nearly executed an innocent man.

The third segment is also a tough one. This is where the reader must decide if Raphael is doing the right thing. One might be tempted to urge him on, but we also watch him struggle with his conscience.

However, the ability to empathize with those who nearly committed murder waxes and wanes, not only for Raphael, but for me, as well. Watching all this play out is very engrossing, but it is also quite thought provoking.

However, the conclusion packs the hardest punch of all. I was nearly a hot mess by the end of this book. It is emotional, and tears at the heart in a variety of ways.

The story has some flaws, but despite how well thought out and easily executed Raphael’s plans went, it may require a bit too much suspension of belief for some readers.

I was more than willing to play along though, because the core of the story is outstanding, and the unmistakable moral carries a powerful and important message.

David R. Dow writes what he knows, bringing along an insider’s perspective on the judicial system and the perils of capital punishment.



David R. Dow is the Cullen Professor at the University of Houston Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and theory, contract law, the death penalty, and law-and-literature. A graduate of Rice and Yale, Dow is also the founder of the Texas Innocence Network (TIN), Texas' oldest innocence project, and the co-founder (with his wife, Katya) of the Juvenile and Capital Advocacy Project (JCAP). Working through his death penalty clinic, Dow and his team of lawyers, clinical professors, students, and interns, have represented more than one hundred death row inmates during their state and federal appeals.

Dow is the author of both scholarly papers and texts, as well as books for a general audience. His first memoir, The Autobiography of an Execution (published by Twelve), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover award for nonfiction. His second memoir, Things I've Learned From Dying (also published by Twelve), was named by NPR as one of the best books of 2014. Confessions of an Innocent Man, Dow's first novel, was published by Dutton in 2019.

Dow and his wife Katya have one son, Lincoln. They live in Houston and Durango, Colorado, along with their dogs Delano and Soul.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey- Feature and Review


Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights.

Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious.

The Farid widows live in purdah: strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. It's her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.



The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1)The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey is a 2018 Soho Press publication.

Set in 1920s Bombay, Perveen Mistry, is one of the first female lawyers in India. Although she works in her father’s law firm, as a woman she isn’t allowed to argue a case in court.

But, when a wealthy mill owner dies, his three widows, who are practitioners of Purdah, express a desire to donate their inheritance to charity. As the executor of his will, this development raises Perveen’s suspicions. She decides a visit to the widows is in order so that they fully understand their rights. However, she quickly finds herself embroiled in a genuine murder mystery when the estate trustee is found murdered.

The story moves back and forth between ‘present day’ 1920s and 1916, revealing Perveen's shocking and painful history.

Like most avid readers I have books that languished on my TBR list for ages before I finally got around to reading them. I’ve had my eye on this one for at least a year. I knew it was a book I’d been excited to try, but at this point I can’t remember how the book was marketed. I’m thinking I probably added it because of the cultural and historical aspects, but of course I’m never one to turn down a good mystery.

I have since learned that Perveen’s character was based on two real life trailblazers, Camelia Sorabji and Mithan Tata Lam, which is most interesting and inspiring.

As with any attempt to combine two genres, a skilled balancing act is required. While the story flips back and forth between the 1920s and 1916, the author chose not to alternate the chapters, as is standard with many dual timeline stories. I think there was a reason why the author inserted the flashbacks to 1916 in this manner, but for those who are tuning in strictly for the mystery, the momentum and pacing might feel a bit jarring.

However, as a huge fan of historical fiction, I was very invested in Perveen’s backstory, and didn’t mind taking a break from the mystery in order to understand her personally, to discover the drive behind her passion, her devotion to women’s rights, and her sensitivities to the widows and why she fought to protect them and discover the truth behind the murder.

I love developing an emotional attachment to my crime solvers, whether it be a seasoned detective or an amateur sleuth. As this looks to be the first book in a planned series, the author has laid out a solid foundation to build not only good mysteries, but cultural history and character growth. I'm pretty sure Perveen could become one of my favorite characters!

I found every part of this story fascinating. The cultural landscape and the historical details were incredible. I found myself doing a few Google searches and I will certainly look at the suggested reading the author provided.

The murder mystery is one of the best I’ve read a long while. Recently, it has occurred to me that pure mysteries are not as common as they once were. Unless one turns to the cozy mystery genre for a genuine whodunit, most books falling into the mystery category are more focused on the psychological, action, or suspense elements, than on guessing who the culprit is. So, I’m buoyed by the popularity of this book, and hope it jump starts authentic mysteries back into mainstream popularity again.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. I have the second book on hold at the library right now.

Can’t wait to see our courageous protagonist back in action!



Sujata Massey is an award-winning author of historical and mystery fiction set in Asia.
However, her personal story begins in England, where she was born to parents from India and Germany who began reading to her shortly after her birth. Sujata kept on reading as she grew up mostly in the United States (California, Pennsylvania and Minnesota) and earned her BA from the Johns Hopkins University's Writing Seminars program. Her first job was as a reporter at the Baltimore Evening Sun newspaper, where she wrote stories about fashion, food and culture. Although she loved her work, she left when she got married to a young naval officer posted to Japan.

Sujata and her husband lived in the Tokyo-Yokohama area which forms most of the settings of her Rei Shimura mysteries. The eleven novel series has collected many mystery award nominations, including the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark awards, and even won a few: the Agatha and Macavity prizes for traditional mystery fiction. The Rei Shimura mysteries are published in 18 countries. The first book in the series is THE SALARYMAN'S WIFE, and the eleventh is THE KIZUNA COAST which was listed as the most-borrowed ebook is the Self-E Library reads borrowing program for 2016. Rei Shimura mystery short stories are in MURDER MOST CRAFTY, MALICE DOMESTIC 10, AND MURDER MOST CRAFTY.

In 2013, Sujata began writing about India. THE SLEEPING DICTiONARY is a historic espionage novel set in 1930s-40s Calcutta told from a young Bengali woman's point of view. It's also out as a Dreamworks audiobook, and is published in India, Italy and Turkey under different titles. This was followed by INDIA GRAY HISTORIC FICTION, an ebook and paperback collection of stories and novellas featuring strong Asian women heroines throughout history. Included is a story featuring Kamala from THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY and a prequel novelette featuring Perveen Mistry. A Perveen story is included in THE USUAL SANTAS, a story anthology to be published in October 2017.

Sujata's next book is THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL, a historical mystery set in 1920s Bombay that comes out in January 2018 from Soho Press in the US. It also releases as THE MALABAR HILL MYSTERY in February 2018 from Penguin/Random India. The first in the new Perveen Mistry series, it's an exciting story about Bombay's first woman lawyer. Perveen, the 23-year-old daughter of a distinguished Parsi family, is convinced her clients--three widows and four children--are in danger. Can she use the law to save them, or will it take more action?

You can sign up for an early look at the book, giveaways and more perks by joining AsiaFile, Sujata's free reader newsletter. Visit for details.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney- Feature and Review


A stunning debut novel about a teenage girl and her mother as they grapple with first love, family secrets, and tragedy.

Maddy is sixteen. Smart, funny, and profound, she has loyal friends, a mother with whom she’s unusually close, a father she’s never met, devoted grandparents, and a crush on a boy named Jack. Maddy also has cancer. Living in the shadow of uncertainty, she is forced to grow up fast.

All the Water in the World is the story of a family doing its best when faced with the worst. Told in the alternating voices of Maddy and her mother, Eve, the narrative moves between the family’s lake house in Pennsylvania; their home in Washington, DC; and London, where Maddy’s father, Antonio, lives. Hungry for experience, Maddy seeks out her first romantic relationship, finds solace in music and art, and tracks down Antonio. She continually tests the depths and limits of her closeness with her mother, while Eve has to come to terms with the daughter she only partly knows, in a world she can’t control.

With unforgettable voices that range from tender to funny, despairing to defiant, this novel illuminates the transformative power of love, humor, and hope.



All the Water in the WorldAll the Water in the World by Karen Raney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney is a 2019 Scribner publication.

Heart-rending, but eloquent, study of mother/daughter relationships

Maddie, only sixteen years old has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, Eve, raised her alone after her father announced he didn’t want children…. Well, not with Eve, at any rate. At her grandfather’s suggestion, Maddie decides to reach out to her father, Antonio, earlier than she had intended, and the two begin a secretive email correspondence. Meanwhile, Maddie does what most sixteen -year old girls do- gossip with her friends, fall in love, and test and probe the mysterious depths of her relationship with Eve.

Meanwhile, Eve relates her struggles with Maddie’s illness, as we glimpse the circle of support the two receive from Eve’s parents, her partner, Robin, Maddie’s friends and her boyfriend, Jack. Yet, Maddie’s contact with Antonio will have an impact she never could have anticipated- not necessarily for her, but for Eve.

The story uses the alternate narrative format, giving Maddie and Eve a chance to tell their story from their own unique perspectives. Maddie’s voice is clear, her courage unshakable, as she takes as much control over her life as she is able.

Her cancer diagnosis is at the center of the choices she makes, some of which are questionable, but understandable. The same can be said of Eve, who also makes choices she might not have if circumstances were different. I didn’t agree with Maddie or Eve when it came to their decision making skills sometimes, but while it is so very easy to judge, or to get on one’s preachy little soapbox, one never knows how they might respond if they were living within this set of circumstances.

The story is full of tender, but potent moments, often laced with humor, and is more than a little bittersweet. Life throws us unfair curve balls and as Maddie and Eve discover, the only thing we can do is give it our best effort, grab the moments we have and make the best of them.

This story embodies all the various parts of life and living- family and friends, love, pain, mistakes, grief, and forgiveness. This a beautifully written, thought provoking story that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Overall, this is an impressive debut novel by Karen Raney!



Karen Raney recently gained an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a distinction and was awarded the 2017 Pat Kavanagh Prize for All the Water in the World when the novel was still a work in progress. Born in Schenectady, New York, Raney attended Oberlin College, graduated from Duke University, and worked as a nurse before moving to London to study art. She lives in London with her husband and daughter, and teaches at the University of East London.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Run Away by Harlan Coben- Feature and Review


A perfect family is shattered in RUN AWAY, the new thriller from the master of domestic suspense, Harlan Coben.

You've lost your daughter.

She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.



Run AwayRun Away by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Run Away by Haran Coben is a 2019 Grand Central Publication.

Enjoyable, but not up to Coben’s usual standards-

Simon Greene’s daughter, Paige, is on the run. She’s addicted to drugs and under the influence of her abusive boyfriend, Aaron. Her family has done everything humanly possible to help her, but they’ve finally accepted that there is nothing more they can do until Paige is ready to get clean.

But, on the sly, Simon, continues to search for his daughter. Following up on a tip, Simon spots Paige, but gets into a physical altercation with Aaron. Paige seizes the opportunity and runs away from Simon.

Not only that, the scuffle between Aaron and Simon is captured on video, leading to Simon’s arrest. He is then ostracized in the court of public opinion for ‘picking on a homeless guy’. Shortly, thereafter, Aaron is murdered.

So, guess who becomes suspect number one?

Coben’s novels, like those of Stephen King, or any other consistent NYT bestselling authors are pure pleasure reads for me. I seldom request ARCs from authors of this caliber because they don’t need the reviews or promotion in the same way other authors do. So, I usually wait for his books to show up at the library and feel no real urgency about getting my hot little hands on it. I just fit these in when and where I can, just for fun. That said, Coben is still one of my favorite suspense writers, and reading his clever thrillers are always a big treat.

I could tell from the very high ratings, this book was another well received effort by this author, but unfortunately, for me, this one was an uncharacteristic misstep.

Early in the novel the author employed a clever plot device which all but guaranteed my undivided attention and instantly forged my connection with Simon. As usual Coben held me in the palm of his hand, luring me deeper into his mesmerizing trap until….

Suddenly the plot veered off track with the introduction of an entirely new thread that seemed to have no bearing on Simon’s dilemma, which totally threw me. As this very strange thread expands, things got super weird, and I completely lost focus. Sadly, I never regained it.

One of the things that draws me to this author time and time again is his ability to challenge me. But, on this occasion, I easily met that challenge, piecing together key developments in advance, despite what I thought were some rather weak and obvious red herrings.

The big twists were effective, and strange enough to make me squirm in my seat a little, not because I was shocked, but because of how twisted and bizarre the scenario was.

Overall, I suppose one can tell I’m a bit disappointed in this one. It didn’t have to blow me away, but it at least needed to be up to par, which is wasn’t. However, it sufficed for a quick, pleasure read, and was entertaining enough to warrant a three -star rating.



With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – and he has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. His novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into a hit French film of the same name. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

Friday, September 6, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie- Feature and Review


A millionaire dies...

'One can see by his face that he was stabbed in the back' said Poirot.

But the strangest feature of the case was where they found the body - in an open grave!

Hercule Poirot had answered an appeal for help - but he was too late!

MURDER - bizarre and baffling - had come to the Villa Genevieve.



The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie is a 1923 publication.

Poirot has been frantically summoned to France by Monsieur Paul Renauld. Unfortunately, upon arrival, Hastings and Poirot are informed they have arrived too late and Renauld is dead… murdered as it so happens. Pitted against a younger and equally confident detective, Poirot is determined to meet his competition head on, utilizing his advantage of experience to solve the crime.

This is the second Poirot by Agatha Christie and is one I have not read. Christie obviously found inspiration with Holmes and Watson, and one can debate whether this is a homage or a parody, but either way, she did a masterful job with this twisty, complex whodunit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this classic mystery. I was never able to sit back, smugly confident that I had it all figured out. Christie was always at least two steps ahead of me. This is a stunning guessing game, narrated by Hastings, who provides his own unique observations along with his amusing commentary.

Despite its age, and our current desensitization and demand for more shock and awe, I think this story stands on its own merits quite well. (With the exception of a bit of cringe-worthy insta-love)

Christie is very clever, and it is obvious she put much thought into the plot, dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s. I was enthralled by her skill, and it is easy to see why she had such an enormous impact on the mystery genre.

As pure mysteries are few and far between right now, I’m looking to read more classics. Having read Poirot mysteries off and on over the years, I know this one might not rank up there with some of the later installments, but this a smart and impressive gem!!

4 stars

View all my reviews



Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Silent Patient


Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....



The Silent PatientThe Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is a 2019 Celadon Books publication.

When this book first started to garner a little buzz, I initially shied away from it. I am still avoiding psychological thrillers for the most part. However, the reviews were so overwhelmingly positive I relented, adding it to my TBR list. After a lengthy wait at the library, I finally obtained a copy, and dived in with no small amount of cautious optimism. Was it worth the wait? Did it live up to the hype?

The set- up is instantly intriguing-

Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist is oddly obsessed with the well- respected artist, Alicia Berenson, a patient housed in a forensic unit after shooting her husband five times in the face. She hasn’t uttered a word since. Theo sacrifices better and more lucrative opportunities in hopes of becoming her therapist. As he manipulates his way into Alicia’s life, his determination to unlock the secrets of her heart and mind slowly yields a few surprising results. However, all his probing could have a few unforeseen consequences...

Anyone who has read a review for this book has, by now, heard about the stunning twist that apparently caught most readers off guard. But, let’s not get too hung up on the twist. In my humble opinion, a mind -blowing twist is a requirement of any and all psychological thrillers. What makes a twist work in the first place is the mystery.

Did Alicia kill her husband, as all the evidence suggests? If so, what was her motive? Why hasn’t she uttered a single word in all these years? This is a compelling mystery. Alicia an enigma, to be sure. This is unsettling enough on its own merits.

However, the author also examines some hard truths about institutions that rely on funding, which leads to money and power taking precedent over the welfare and health of the patients. Adding in yet another rich layer is the unique and quite interesting mythological parallel woven into the story.

It is easy to step into Theo’s narrative as he slowly walks us through Alicia’s past, dropping hints and clues along the way, introducing us to all the possible suspects, while delving into Alicia’s fragile psyche.

But, if I am being totally honest, the plot is not all that plausible, and at times the execution warbles. There are some problems within the story, but in my humble opinion, this is how a pure psychological thriller should be presented. The author relies on paranoia and the emotional instability of the characters to build suspense as opposed to grisly, graphic crime scenes. It’s a mind game from start to finish.

Now, about that twist-

The most important thing to me was that it was singular. No over the top, unnecessary twists added for mere shock value. A good PT doesn’t need more than one, maybe two, depending on the author’s experience or the situation- in my opinion.

In this case, the reader is totally blindsided, tapped on the shoulder from behind, by a revelation, so shocking, I’ll bet some of you gasped out loud. I know I did! It messed with your head, right? Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!!

Of course, after all that buildup and the success of the big plot twist, the ending had to come together, or all was for naught. I was a little concerned for a few minutes, but honestly, the conclusion was the cherry on the cake.

The book was worth waiting for, but I am glad I proceeded with caution and kept my expectations in check. The story is not quite strong enough to merit a five -star rating, but I appreciated the pure, traditional understated approach. The author wisely dialed things back, distancing himself from the over-saturated parodies many current psychological thrillers have become. I hope the popularity of this book will inspire more authors to follow this more authentic prototype and restore the psychological thriller back to its former glory.



Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother. He has a MA in English Literature from Cambridge University and a MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient is his first novel.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Waiting on Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey- Feature and Review


Can a romcom-obssessed romantic finally experience the meet-cute she always dreamed of or will reality never compare to fiction, in this charming debut adult novel from Kerry Winfrey.

Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days...can he?



Waiting for Tom Hanks (Waiting for Tom Hanks, #1)Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey is a 2019 Berkley publication.

An adorable ode to classic Rom-Coms!

I am pleased to see this book was so well received! Rom-Coms were considered circumspect back in their prime, but after a while they became the 'Barry Manilow' of movies, eliciting all manner of hand waving and eye rolls from the super intelligent, who are too smart to indulge in something so sentimental and sweet, playing the tired old 'unrealistic' card. Blah, Blah, Blah! I don't care! I loved those movies!!

I’m so happy to see people are looking back on those wonderful ‘feel good’ movies with fond nostalgia these days and are maybe beginning to relax and realize that a little light gentle fun won’t hurt you- in fact it’s good for the soul!!

That said, I must, with great chagrin, admit that at times this book was a bit too silly, even for me. The author did do an amazing job of recreating the 1990s Rom-Com format and atmosphere, which also means it was occasionally corny.

The characters are zany, quirky, and downright weird at times, but they are also funny and sweet. The story is predictable, of course, but that's part of its charm.

We find comfort and escape with these stories. They lift our spirits, restore hope, and leave us enveloped in a warm fuzzy glow, but most importantly, they make us smile.

This book pays tributes to all the great classics- not just ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ or ‘You’ve Got Mail’. I was happy to see the author mention, “While You Were Sleeping’ (Bill Pullman!!!!!) which is my all -time favorite, although ‘When Harry Met Sally’ is a pretty close second- but of course- even stuffy snobs love Tom Hanks!

Overall, this story is super light and easy, very fun and…. It made me smile!



Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio, where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. Kerry writes for HelloGiggles and blogs at She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin. You can find her on Twitter @KerryAnn.