The Lost History

The Lost History
The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Windows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The History of Lost Dreams by Kris Waldherr- Feature and Review


A post-mortem photographer unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future, in this captivating debut novel in the gothic tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale.

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise.

When famed Byronesque poet Hugh de Bonne is discovered dead of a heart attack in his bath one morning, his cousin Robert Highstead, a historian turned post-mortem photographer, is charged with a simple task: transport Hugh's remains for burial in a chapel. This chapel, a stained glass folly set on the moors of Shropshire, was built by de Bonne sixteen years earlier to house the remains of his beloved wife and muse, Ada. Since then, the chapel has been locked and abandoned, a pilgrimage site for the rabid fans of de Bonne's last book, The Lost History of Dreams.

However, Ada's grief-stricken niece refuses to open the glass chapel for Robert unless he agrees to her bargain: before he can lay Hugh to rest, Robert must record Isabelle's story of Ada and Hugh's ill-fated marriage over the course of five nights.

As the mystery of Ada and Hugh's relationship unfolds, so does the secret behind Robert's own marriage--including that of his fragile wife, Sida, who has not been the same since the tragic accident three years ago, and the origins of his own morbid profession that has him seeing things he shouldn't--things from beyond the grave.

Kris Waldherr effortlessly spins a sweeping and atmospheric gothic mystery about love and loss that blurs the line between the past and the present, truth and fiction, and ultimately, life and death.



The Lost History of DreamsThe Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr is a 2019 Touchstone Books publication.

A mesmerizing traditional Gothic tale replete with ghosts and a few stunning twists that will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime!

All love stories are ghost stories in disguise

Robert Highstead, a former historian turned post -mortem photographer, is still struggling with the premature death of his wife, Sida. His daguerreotype photos bring comfort to others, and is, in an odd way, a cathartic occupation.

However, when his brother informs him that their cousin, the famed poet Hugh de Bonne has died, he asks Robert to accompany Hugh's remains to his final resting place. Robert never met Hugh in life and is initially reluctant to make the journey. But, because Hugh wished to be laid to rest by his beloved wife, Ada, in a glass chapel he made especially for her, sixteen years prior, he agrees, knowing better than most the desire to be reunited with one’s spouse.

However, the scene he encounters upon arriving on the moors of Shropshire is startling. His presence is not welcomed by Ada's niece, Isabelle, who outright refuses to unlock the chapel. Not only that, he learns the chapel is a gathering place for deeply devoted fans, of Hugh’s last book, “The Lost History of Dreams.”

Isabelle and Robert strike a bargain, eventually. If Robert will record Ada’s story, within five nights, Isabelle will agree to unlock the chapel.

Ada’s life story, as told through Isabelle’s masterful storytelling, keeps Robert entranced to the point of obsession. As the relationship between Isabelle and Robert deepens, the sad story surrounding Sida, and her death gradually unravels, revealing Robert’s guilt and inconsolable grief. His condition is so profound, spirits linger in his orbit, neither of them able to abide the present circumstances, or move beyond them.

Naturally, I really liked this story. It’s right up my alley and I got sucked into it immediately. The story enthralled me and kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. While a bit too ambitious at times, this is a crackling good historical mystery, heavily steeped in old school Gothic traditions.

While the dramatics are toned down a bit, the story is heavy, creepy, and atmospheric. The mystery is absorbing and twisty, which kept me on toes.

But, let’s not forget the love story. It’s unconventional, but pure Gothic joy. However, I also loved the eventual break in the clouds, and all the possibilities and hope the story left me with.

Although I read this story in the peak of summer, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking it would be a great fireside novel fitting for long, dark winter nights. But no matter when you decide to read it, if you like Gothic historical fiction, you don’t want to pass this one up.



Kris Waldherr's books for adults and children include Bad Princess, Doomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as "utterly satisfying" and "deliciously perverse." The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club's Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by the New York Times Book Review for its "quality of myth and magic." Her fiction has won fellowships from the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts, and a works-in-progress reading grant from Poets & Writers.

As a visual artist, Waldherr is the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has a quarter of a million copies in print. She has had illustrations published as greeting cards, book covers, and in calendars and magazines. Her art has been exhibited in many galleries and museums including the Ruskin Library, the Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Kris Waldherr's upcoming books include her debut novel The Lost History of Dreams (Atria Books, 2019). She works and lives in Brooklyn in a Victorian-era house with her husband, their young daughter, and a very vocal Bengal cat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows By Balli Kaur Jaswal - Feature and Review



A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.



Erotic Stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

A bold, unforgettable story!

No, the title is not misleading. This book does contain erotic stories. But, trust me, this story has much more depth and importance than the title might suggest.

Nikki lives in London, is a modern girl, rebelling against her traditional Punjabi upbringing, which brings sorrow to her family who had such high hopes for her. However, until she finds her true calling, she is living above a pub and tending bar.

On the other hand, Nikki’s sister, Mindi, has decided to take a more traditional path, looking for a marriage arrangement instead of waiting to fall in love. Nikki vehemently dislikes her sister’s choice but agrees to pin Mindi’s profile up on the Temple’s board.

Here she notices a want ad searching for a writing teacher. Nikki applies and is hired to teach a creative writing course. However, she quickly discovers her class is full of widows who are mostly illiterate. Before they can write stories, they must learn to spell and write the alphabet, starting from scratch. Nikki is irritated because she felt misled. But, before she can make headway with her pupils, the widows take over the class by verbally telling erotic stories, as opposed to writing them.

However, the nature of the class must be kept a closely guarded secret. If Kulwinder Kaur, the dour community director, or worse, ‘The Brothers’, a group of bullies enforcing morality, finds out, they will all suffer dire consequences.

As time passes, and Nikki forges a warm bond with her students, she also begins dating someone. However, her new love interest seems to have a few conflicts of interest he isn’t keen on sharing with Nikki. Meanwhile, Nikki has discovered Kulwinder Kaur lost her daughter, Maya, piquing her curiosity. But, by dredging up the details of Maya’s death, Nikki could meet the same fate…

I loved this story!! It is mysterious, with a sinister undertone, but primarily it is charming, funny, and romantic, plus it blends cultures, diversity and generations with a nice feminist slant.

There is a large cast of characters, along with several threads to follow. However, on this one rare occasion, I had absolutely no problem keeping up with who was who. The threads are super easy to follow and so unique, there was no way to get them confused.

The story blazes through conventions with rousing and inspirational aplomb and had me standing at the finishing line cheering on all the characters as they crossed over into the land of happy endings.

I wish I had been able to fit this book into my reading schedule long before now.

It would be easy to presume this book would mostly appeal to the ladies, but I recommend this book to everyone - well, everyone over the age of eighteen, that is.



Balli Kaur Jaswal's latest novel is The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters (Harper Collins/William Morrow). Her previous novels include Inheritance, which won the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist Award, and Sugarbread, a finalist for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize and the Singapore Literature Prize. Her third novel Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows was translated into 15 languages and chosen by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine book club.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Proof of Life- by J. A. Jance- Feature and Review

                                                              ABOUT THE BOOK:

Be careful what you wish for . . . 

Before he retired, J. P. Beaumont had looked forward to having his days all to himself. But too much free time doesn’t suit a man used to brushing close to danger. When his longtime nemesis, retired Seattle crime reporter Maxwell Cole, dies in what’s officially deemed to be an accidental fire, Beau is astonished to be dragged into the investigation at the request of none other than the deceased victim himself. In the process Beau learns that just because a long ago case was solved doesn’t mean it’s over.

Caught up in a situation where old actions and grudges can hold dangerous consequences in the present, Beau is forced to operate outside the familiar world of law enforcement. While seeking justice for his frenemy and healing for a long fractured family, he comes face to face with an implacable enemy who has spent decades hiding in plain sight.



Proof of Life (J.P. Beaumont, #23)Proof of Life by J.A. Jance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Proof of Life by J.A. Jance is a 2017 William Morrow publication.
I’ve touched base with Joanna Brady and Ali Reynolds recently, but not J.P. Beaumont- my favorite J.A Jance series- in a long while.

So, what has Beau been up to lately?

Of course, at his age, he is retired, he’s still happily married, living in Seattle, but he’s bored and mildly depressed. Meanwhile, his very busy wife is caught up in the politics surrounding an officer involved shooting during a domestic violence call. The family at the center of the case is taken to a safe place, but their dog is left without a place to go.

So, much to his surprise, Beaumont becomes a first- time dog owner, at least temporarily. This should lift his spirits and give him something to occupy his time, but when he runs into an old nemesis, who later turns up dead after his house catches on fire, Beaumont gets sucked into the investigation when the death becomes a suspicious one.

Suddenly, Beaumont is back in his element, his depression all but forgotten…

Beaumont is quite a character, but in this 23rd chapter in the series, he is sublime. Be aware that Beau is very much a product of his time. Not everything he says lines up with our current politically correct guidelines. He still thinks men should do all the yard work, for example, and doesn’t understand why a teacher wouldn’t want a police officer to bring a gun into her elementary school classroom while he speaks to her students. But, mostly he’s a sweet guy who has mellowed nicely in his twilight years.

His interactions with his newly acquired dog are priceless and his tender approach to a delicate family situation gave me the warm and fuzzies- not something I thought I’d ever say about J. P. Beaumont.

But, of course, the reason we tune in is to solve a mystery and this one is a doozy. An old murder case connected to the death of Beaumont’s old acquaintance is woven into the current investigation, which is complex, but compelling. It was a real guessing game right to the end, and I never could have figured out how things would turn out.

I am very satisfied with this latest chapter in the series and am happy to see our favorite detective back in the saddle again!!



Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont is drawn into an intriguing, and shockingly personal, case in this superb tale of suspense from New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance.

Former Seattle homicide cop, J. P. Beaumont, is learning to enjoy the new realities of retirementdoing morning crossword puzzles by a roaring fireplace; playing frisbee with his new dog; having quiet lunches with his still working wife.But then his pastcomes calling.

When a long ago acquaintance, Alan Dale, shows up on Beaus doorstep with a newborn infant in hand and asking for help locating his missing daughter, Beau finds himself faced with an investigation that will turn his own life upside down by dragging hisnone-too-stellar past onto a roller-coaster ride that may well derail his serene present.It turns out that, even in retirement. murder is still the name of J. P. Beaumonts game.



J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; three interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and Edge of Evil, the first in a series featuring Ali Reynolds. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.

Monday, August 19, 2019

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughn by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort- Feature and Review

                                                              ABOUT THE BOOK:

The first definitive biography of guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, with an epilogue by Jimmie Vaughan, and foreword and afterword by Double Trouble’s Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.

Just a few years after he almost died from a severe addiction to cocaine and alcohol, a clean and sober Stevie Ray Vaughan was riding high. His last album was his most critically lauded and commercially successful. He had fulfilled a lifelong dream by collaborating with his first and greatest musical hero, his brother Jimmie. His tumultuous marriage was over and he was in a new and healthy romantic relationship. Vaughan seemed poised for a new, limitless chapter of his life and career.

Instead, it all came to a shocking and sudden end on August 27, 1990, when he was killed in a helicopter crash following a dynamic performance with Eric Clapton. Just 35 years old, he left behind a powerful musical legacy and an endless stream of What Ifs. In the ensuing 29 years, Vaughan’s legend and acclaim have only grown and he is now an undisputed international musical icon. Despite the cinematic scope of Vaughan’s life and death, there has never been a truly proper accounting of his story. Until now.

Texas Flood provides the unadulterated truth about Stevie Ray Vaughan from those who knew him best: his brother Jimmie, his Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton and Reese Wynans, and many other close friends, family members, girlfriends, fellow musicians, managers and crew members.



Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Alan Paul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughn by Alan Paul is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This book made me feel like I’d been invited to a memorial service for Stevie, with everyone who knew and loved him, either personally or professionally gathered around sharing intimate memories of Stevie’s life from their own unique perspective.

I remember when Stevie died, perhaps more vividly than I might have because of a death in my own family just days before. Despite my personal grief, I was still in utter shock and disbelief. Yet, it would be years down the road before I was able to truly absorb the magnitude of his loss and the incredible void he left in the world of music.

This book is not written in the traditional biographical format. The presentation is unique, a compilation of interviews, reflections, and recollections.

I loved it!! Memories are so subjective. Sometimes people remembered events differently or had differences of opinion.

That gave the book a realistic quality and made me feel as though nothing was being glossed over or sugarcoated or left out, because at the end of the day we all experience events in different ways. Anything too pat, might be circumspect. This material came straight from the mouths of the participants. Their words were pure, unedited with no way to put a spin on it.

I think it is the unique layout of the book that gives it such a personal and emotional atmosphere. I admired the way the author assembled the information, letting those who were there, tell the story chronologically. Using this unconventional approach took some extreme organizational skills, and the author pulled it off quite nicely.

Over the years, the little details of Stevie’s life have slipped from my consciousness. This book brought back a few memories for me, not just musically, but geographically, since Stevie was a home- grown talent. There are so many talented blues artists, so many guitar heroes out there, but no one could touch Stevie Ray Vaughn. The guy was electrifying. It wasn’t just his skill- There was an aura around him, a presence, that spilled over his live performances casting a spell over his awed audience.

I miss Stevie a lot. I often wonder just how far he would have traveled musically and personally, as well. His life was clicking into place, coming together on all fronts. He was blazing hot with nowhere else to go but up. His death was a tragedy of epic proportions, only made worse by the knowledge that it was preventable. Hearing the various artists reflect on that fateful decision reiterates the senselessness of it, only compounding the loss even more.

In some ways, though, this book was cathartic for me. I never really got to grieve this loss has I have other artists who left an indelible mark on me. I enjoyed hearing these heartfelt, humorous, honest, harrowing, poignant, and inspirational stories about Stevie, learning a few details about his career I didn’t know, or had forgotten about over time. But mostly this book was a reminder of what a great talent Stevie was and how grateful I am for the influence he had on me and my great love affair with pure blues.

The sky is still crying….



Alan Paul is the author of the Top Ten New York Times Bestseller One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. 
Paul is a senior writer for Guitar World and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He wrote "The Expat Life" column for the Wall Street Journal Online from 2005- 2009. The National Society of Newspaper Columnists named him 2008 Online Columnist of the Year. He also reported from Beijing for NBC, Sports Illustrated, the WSJ, and other media outlets. 

Over the last 10 years, Andy Aledort has sold over one million instructional DVDs, and continues to produce new DVD products for Guitar World and Turefire. Andy performs regularly in the tri-state area with his band, the Groove Kings, and are looking to expand their touring parameters. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White- Feature and Review


Twelve years ago, Sarah Baker was abducted by the Watt Lake Killer and sexually assaulted for months before managing to escape. The killer was caught, but Sarah lost everything: her marriage, her child, and the life she loved.
Struggling with PTSD, Sarah changes her name to Olivia West and finds sanctuary working on Broken Bar Ranch. But as her scars finally begin to heal, a cop involved with her horrific case remains convinced the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. He sets a lure for the murderer, and a fresh body is discovered. Now Olivia must face the impossible—could the butcher be back, this time to finish the job?
As a frigid winter isolates the ranch, only one person can help Olivia: Cole McDonough, a writer, adventurer, and ranch heir who stirs long-dormant feelings in her. But this time, Olivia’s determination to shut out her past may destroy more than her chance at love. It could cost her her life.



A Dark Lure (A Dark Lure, #1)A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White is a 2015 Montlake publication.

I won a copy of ‘The Dark Bones’, the second book in this series, so I thought it might be a good idea to back track and read this first book in the series, although I see there has been a rather large time gap between installments.

All the same, I’m glad I discovered this author!

Sarah Baker was the lone survivor of the Watt Lake Killer. Twelve years later, after losing everything she held dear and still battling PTSD, Sarah changed her name to Olivia, and found a modicum of solace working at the Broken Bar Ranch.

However, the ranch owner is dying, leaving Olivia's future and that of the ranch, in limbo.

Believing she is making the right decision, Olivia contacts Cole McDonough, one the ranch heirs, to inform him of his father’s ill health. Although Cole hasn’t spoken to his father in years, he flies home knowing there won’t be a fatted calf awaiting his return.

Meanwhile, a former cop who worked the Watt Lake case is convinced the wrong man was sent to prison and is desperately hoping to solve the case before it’s too late.

While this is a very graphic and tense thriller, the story has plenty of depth, especially when it comes to family dynamics, with a nice romantic element, as well. There are several different threads running at once, but at no time did the story feel too busy.

The relationship with Cole and his father, along with the greedy ploys to control the ranch adds drama, the relationship between the cop and his daughter, Tori, is poignant and very bittersweet, and the romance between Cole and Olivia is well-done and realistic.

However, Olivia is being stalked by someone, hinting that the Watt Lake Killer is still out there. The suspense builds at an unbearable pace, and the atmosphere becomes taut and riveting as the final showdown brings us face to face with a clever and diabolical serial killer and all the pending threads are woven together seamlessly.

This genre has really suffered a downward slide in recent years and I usually wind up feeling very frustrated by it. It is so nice to find an author who understands the genre, and knows how to write romantic suspense the way it should be written.

Now I’m really looking forward to reading the second installment!!




Loreth Anne White is an internationally bestselling author of thrillers, mysteries, and romantic suspense. A three-time RITA finalist, she is also the Overall 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award winner, and she has won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the National Readers' Choice Award, and the Romantic Crown for Best Romantic Suspense and Best Book Overall, in addition to being a Booksellers' Best finalist, and a multiple CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award winner.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- The Five:The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold- Feature and Review


Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that "the Ripper" preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.



The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the RipperThe Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold is a 2019 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication.

"She had been brought into the world along the Street of Ink, and it is to there, riding on the column inches, its illuminated plates, its rumor and scandal, that she would return: a name in print.”

The canonical five Ripper victims:

Mary Ann -Polly- Nichols

Annie Chapman

Elizabeth Stride

Catherine- Kate- Eddowes

Mary Jane Kelly

Ask your friends, relatives, or colleagues what they know about the five women Jack the Ripper murdered and nearly all of them will say ‘they were prostitutes’. However, with one notable exception, there is no concrete proof the other four victims ever identified themselves as such or worked in the sex trade.

What we are reminded of here, is that these women were mothers, sisters, lovers and wives. They had hard lives, bad luck, and little choice or opportunity to change their circumstances. Their lives have been reduced to little consequence, partly because the sensationalism surrounding the Jack the Ripper legend, and tons of unsubstantiated information- but most of all because they were thought of as ‘just prostitutes’.

It has taken us a little over a century to finally restore humanity to these women, to examine the mindset that promoted their sexualisation, and diminished the compassion and respect due them.

The author did a lot of deep digging and research to give the reader an in -depth profile of each of these five women. The laws of the day were stacked against them because they were women, their options were few, forcing them into the streets. They worked legitimate jobs, but society judged their lifestyles, slapping upon them the undeserved label of a ‘fallen woman’.

Many of the historical details are mind numbing. It’s an overwhelming, depressing, and bleak portrait the author paints, proving it wasn’t the sex trade that made these women targets, but their vulnerability brought on by poverty, addiction, and abuse.

The author astutely and determinedly takes us to task for all the ways society had devalued human life. Judgments have been passed based on second -hand information, conveyed by so called reputable sources which eventually became cemented into the lore of Jack the Ripper, and shoving these women so far into the background, they have been cast off like so much rubbish.

The books, movies, documentaries all geared towards discovering the identity of the elusive serial killer, raises him into a cult celebrity status. It is appalling that souvenirs are sold bearing the silhouetted image of a savage murderer!!

Yet, we can’t take the time to mourn the victims, much less remember them as individual human beings. They get lost in the grisly gore, as incorrect information continues to be passed off as the unmitigated truth.

This is an eye-opening book, and a humbling experience. I came away feeling duly discomfited and chastened. While I never viewed these women as ‘just prostitutes’, I never stopped to consider if the information about them was true or not.

That is another reason why this book is long, long, long overdue!! I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is an important book, debunking long presumed facts, but also, at long last, it helps to restore dignity to these women.

It is an educational book, depicting real history. This book is not about Jack the Ripper, and his crimes are not detailed in this book, appropriately so, and there are no theories tossed about as to his identity. I think we've had enough of those types of books already.

If you’ve labored under the illusion that these women were ‘just prostitutes’, this book will pull the wool from your eyes and give you a fresh perspective on the past, one you may not have considered before now.

A must read!



Hallie Rubenhold is a bestselling author, social historian, broadcaster and historical consultant for TV and film.
Hallie received her B.A. in History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an M.A. in British History and History of Art from the University of Leeds. Remaining at Leeds, she embarked on her studies for a PhD and later completed her thesis on the subject of marriage and child-rearing in the eighteenth century.
Her most recent book, The Five: The Untold LIves of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, is the first full length biography of the Ripper’s victims. Disregarded by society for over 130 years, The Five pieces together their individual stories and overturns much of the mythology surrounding their lives, including the belief that all of the women were involved in ‘prostitution’. The book became a Sunday Times Bestseller and has been optioned as a drama series by Mainstreet Pictures. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews- Feature and Review


Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist. 

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews' signature wit, heart, and charm.



Sunset BeachSunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews is a 2019 St. Martin’s Press publication.

A perfect beach read mystery!

Drue, now in her mid-thirties, finds herself at loose ends, heading in no clear direction. Her mother recently passed away, and an injury ended her competitive days as a kite boarder. Adding insult to injury, she gets fired from her job. As a last resort, she reluctantly accepts a job offer from her estranged father, who is a personal injury lawyer.

So, she moves to Sunset Beach and into the cottage she just inherited from her mother. Upon arrival, she is stunned to learn her father has remarried for a third time. Not only that, wife number three used to be Drue’s BF. Awkward!

But at least she has a job and a place to stay, right? Unfortunately, her new stepmother and former friend is also her office manager, and for some reason she has it in for Drue. She’s also struggling with her new position, and the cottage is in horrible disrepair.

However, when a disgruntled client barges into the law office, furious with the firm for dropping the ball on a wrongful death suit, Drue senses something is off about the situation and begins investigating in her spare time.

If that weren’t enough to keep her occupied, she discovers a cache of old newspaper clippings detailing the disappearance of a local woman back in the mid-seventies. Why did her mother keep those newspaper clippings? Could her father have been involved in the case somehow? The more questions Drue asks, the murkier the two cases become. But, once she peels back enough layers, she may wish she had left the dead buried.

I realized with a shock that it is already August and I have yet to indulge in an official summer ‘beach read’. I chose this book specifically because it had a ‘beachy’ cover and title, and while we may all have our own definition of ‘beach reads’, I think this book would be perfect to take along on your vacation, or for a day at the beach.

Granted, this is more of a mystery- or in this case, two mysteries, instead of a drama, or romance, although both of those elements are included, as well.

My only small gripe is that I never understood why Drue’s old friend was so heavy handed and mean, but I suppose all’s well that ends well. The family makes progress, though, and Drue deserved a little overdue attention from her father. The story is quite absorbing, but not too heavy and the ending is a real stunner!!

This is my second book by MKA and once again, I see why this author is so popular. I love the amateur sleuth element, and the cold case story. Drue is funny, sarcastic, determined, and a very believable character. I instantly took a liking to her.

I enjoyed seeing her carve out a niche for herself and discover a hidden talent she can build a career on. I’d like to touch base with Drue again and see how her detective skills are developing and touch base with her family and friends, as well.

Overall, a very satisfying read! I am definitely reading more books by Mary Kay Andrews!!



Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of American writer Kathy Hogan Trocheck, based in Atlanta, who has authored a number of best-selling books under the Andrews pen name since 2002.

Trochek graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976. She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991. She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and switched to the Andrews pen name in 2002 to author Savannah Blues, which marked a change in her style to more Southern-flavored themes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

One Fatal Mistake by Tom Hunt- Feature and Review


Her son accidentally kills a man.
They cover it up.
Then everything goes wrong.

When eighteen-year-old Joshua Mayo takes a man's life in a horrible accident, he leaves the scene without reporting the crime to the police. He hopes to put the awful night behind him and move on with his life. But, of course, he ends up telling his mother, Karen, what happened.

Karen has raised Joshua on her own in Cedar Rapids, Iowa--and she'd thought they'd finally made it. He was doing well in school and was only months from starting college. After hearing his dark confession, she is forced to make a choice no parent should have to make, one that draws them both into a web of deceit that will change their lives forever--if they make it out alive....



One Fatal MistakeOne Fatal Mistake by Tom Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One Fatal Mistake by Tom Hunt is a 2019 Berkley publication.

Tense, fast paced and compulsively readable-

Eighteen- year old Joshua Mayo is involved in a hit and run accident and is hoping to keep it covered up, especially from his mother, Karen. But, as mothers often do, Karen eventually learns the truth.

Meanwhile, a bank robbery goes horribly awry. The robbers, Ross and Amber, a married couple, fleeing with their booty, experience car trouble.

Inexplicably, Josh and Karen and Ross and Amber’s lives collide forcing Karen to do the unthinkable to save her son’s life.

There is never a dull moment in this emotional, high-octane thriller. It was very easy to get sucked into the saga, especially between Karen and her son. The story feels a little like a cautionary tale, although the main theme throughout is that of familial bonds and the lengths one might go to in order to save someone they love.

It is curious how we all set bars at different heights when it comes plausibility limits. I’m one who firmly believes that fiction should be given the benefit of the doubt, and that is especially true with thrillers. In this case, however, I felt I had to overlook a few too many improbabilities. Sometimes it was the dialogue I took issue with, and of course some of the scenarios and rationalizations didn’t seem realistic or make much sense to me.

Maybe try burning something that is not food on a grill, then putting hot items in a plastic trash bag- for example. What mother of an eighteen- year old son doesn’t know what PS4 stands for? And that ridiculous explanation Josh gave Karen for the damage to his car. Nope- that wouldn't have flown with me- at all.

Stupid little things like that got on my nerves a little bit. But, maybe I’m just being ticky-tacky today.

Despite that, the book is an edge of your seat thrill ride. Not only that, there is a somber, emotional edge to it, especially at the conclusion. No soft sell or slaps on the wrist. Still, I rooted for the characters, hoping that everything would work out for the best.

The author did a great job with putting the characters in situations that force the reader to consider how they might react under the same set of circumstances. That question is at the heart of the story more than anything else.

So, overall, this is a fast and easy read, and even though I balked at a few absurdities on several occasions, this is still a solid, entertaining crime drama.



Author of KILLER CHOICE and ONE FATAL MISTAKE. Born and raised in Iowa, always a Hawkeye, live in NYC now.

Monday, August 12, 2019

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Elvis in Vegas- by Richard Zoglin- Feature and Review


The story of how Las Vegas saved Elvis and Elvis saved Las Vegas in the greatest musical comeback of all time.

The conventional wisdom is that Las Vegas is what destroyed Elvis Presley, launching him on a downward spiral of drugs, boredom, erratic stage behavior, and eventually his fatal overdose. But in Elvis in Vegas, Richard Zoglin takes an alternate view, arguing that Vegas is where the King of Rock and Roll resurrected his career, reinvented himself as a performer, and created the most exciting show in Vegas history.

Elvis’s 1969 opening night in Vegas was his first time back on a live stage in more than eight years. His career had gone sour—bad movies, and mediocre pop songs that no longer made the charts. He’d been dismissed by most critics as over the hill. But in Vegas he played the biggest showroom in the biggest hotel in the city, drawing more people for his four-week engagement than any other show in Vegas history. His performance got rave reviews, “Suspicious Minds” gave him his first number-one hit in seven years, and Elvis became Vegas’s biggest star. Over the next seven years, he performed more than 600 shows there, and sold out every one.

Las Vegas was changed too. The intimate night-club-style shows of the Rat Pack, who made Vegas the nation’s premier live-entertainment center in the 1950s and ‘60s, catered largely to well-heeled older gamblers. Elvis brought a new kind of experience: an over-the-top, rock-concert-like extravaganza. He set a new bar for Vegas performers, with the biggest salary, the biggest musical production, and the biggest promotion campaign the city had ever seen. In doing so, he opened the door to a new generation of pop/rock performers, and brought a new audience to Vegas—a mass audience from Middle America that Vegas depends on for its success to this day.

A classic comeback tale set against the backdrop of Las Vegas’s golden age, Richard Zoglin’s Elvis in Vegas is a feel-good story for the ages.



Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas ShowElvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Las Vegas Show by Richard Zoglin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Elvis in Vegas: How the King Reinvented the Vegas Show by Richard Zoglin is a 2019 Simon & Schuster publication.

A wildly entertaining and juicy piece of pop culture history!!

Elvis truly resonated with my mother’s generation, back in the fifties and sixties, but not so much with me. He was before my time, and frankly, I just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I didn’t see in him, what legions of fans apparently did.

For decades, I sneered when someone mentioned Elvis as a pioneer of rock and roll. I thought he was vastly overrated and felt that if a title, such as ‘The King of Rock and Roll’, must be applied, Chuck Berry was far more deserving of it than Elvis.

However, these days, Elvis seems to slip further and further from our mainstream consciousness- unless you happen to be in Las Vegas, that is. Even now Elvis remains a mainstay in Sin City. In fact, very recently an Elvis impersonator performed the wedding ceremony for a popular ‘It’ couple, which made the rounds on social media.

It was the first time I’d thought of Elvis in years.

Elvis is synonymous with Vegas and the big theatrical stage show that became the norm once he set up a residency there. For many, however, it also signifies Elvis’s downfall- the place where he became a parody of himself, becoming bloated and out of shape and dependent on drugs, going through the motions with no enthusiasm.

While it is true that Elvis became bored and restless, and fell prey to his own celebrity and gaudiness, Richard Zoglin shows us a different side of that coin-

The author takes readers on a fascinating journey back to Vegas’ beginnings, through the age of mob -controlled casinos, the peak of night club performances, the ups and downs of the entertainment mecca, and through Elvis’s tenure as Vegas’ top draw.

I never realized what a big impact Elvis had on Vegas. I guess I never really thought about how his show transformed the city and the future of all other popular shows and spectacular stage performances since then.

If not for Elvis, I’m not sure what path Vegas may have traveled down, but I don’t think it would have flourished in the same way.

For the record, this is not another Elvis biography, nor is it a dry history of Vegas. While some familiar ground is covered, this book is more of an analysis of how the city and its entertainment venues changed and adjusted over time, and how it evolved into the entertainment epicenter it is today.

It also offers up many titillating details about major Vegas acts, like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. These are lesser known, and less flattering stories about the nightclub acts, some of which would certainly raise eyebrows today. It is also a nostalgic journey. I’d forgotten about some of the performers mentioned in this book and do remember how popular they were.

I’d also forgotten how Howard Hughes took over Vegas for a time, shoving the mob out of the way. It was a bit weird to hear people like Florence Henderson and Paul Anka lament the lack of mob protection. When the mob was running things- Vegas was a safe place!! Wow!

The author spent a bit too much time with Frank Sinatra. I realize he was the name most associated with Vegas before Elvis stepped into his shoes, and for some, his legacy is still steeped in Vegas lore. But I did grow a bit weary of Frank, wishing we could hurry up and move on into new territory.

Vegas went through an identity crisis a time or two, especially as rock music began to become a dominant force, pushing crooners like Frank Sinatra to the sidelines. No rock performer or group wanted to play Vegas. It just wasn’t cool. It was where one ended up in their twilight years. But in many ways Elvis changed all that.

Shows like Cirque du Soleil and performers like Celine Dion owe Elvis a debt of gratitude. Without him and his elaborate stage shows, it is unlikely that Vegas would be what it is today.

Trust me, one doesn’t need to be an Elvis fan to enjoy this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys history or pop culture. The author has written a dazzling Vegas showcase giving Elvis a bit of overdue credit, and this time I must concur- he was a pioneer after all- a Vegas pioneer, and this time he earned the respect. So, let’s hand it to him. Elvis changed Vegas, gave it a new lease on life, one the city continues to benefit from, and will for some time to come.



Richard Zoglin is a contributing editor and theater critic for Time magazine. He is the author of HopeEntertainer of the CenturyComedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America, and Elvis in Vegas. A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Zoglin currently lives in New York City.