A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, September 30, 2019

Wrapped Up in You- Jill Shalvis- Feature and Review


It’s love. Trust me.

After a lifetime on the move, Ivy Snow is an expert in all things temporary—schools, friends, and way too many Mr. Wrongs. Now that she owns a successful taco truck in San Francisco and an apartment to call home, Ivy’s reinvented life is on solid ground. And she’s guarded against anything that can rock it. Like the realities of a past she’s worked hard to cover up. And especially Kel O’Donnell. Too hot not to set off alarms, he screams temporary. If only his whispers weren’t so delightfully naughty and irresistible.

Kel, an Idaho sheriff and ranch owner, is on vacay, but Ivy’s a spicy reason to give his short-terms plans a second thought. Best of all, she’s a tonic for his untrusting heart, burned once and still in repair. But when Ivy’s past intrudes on a perfect romance, Kel fears that everything she’s told him has been a perfect lie. Now, if only Ivy’s willing to share, Kel will fight for a true love story.



Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay, #8)Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wrapped up in You by Jill Shalvis is a 2019 Avon publication.

Hot Holiday romance packed with Shalvis’ trademark brand of humor and emotion

Ivy Snow owns a taco truck and serves the best tacos you’ll ever taste. Her life has never been settled, but now she is determined to put down some roots in San Francisco. The only shadow hanging over her is her troubled brother, who could very well sabotage Ivy’s plans.

Enter Kel O’Donnell. Kel meets Ivy through mutual acquaintances, via her ‘to die for’ tacos. Kel, a sheriff from Idaho is visiting San Francisco after suffering an injury in the line of duty. Kel has been hurt by the very people he should be closest to and isn’t keen on repeating the experience- even though Ivy is awfully tempting. But, when both Ivy and Kel are forced to face their pasts, their newly forged relationship will face a test it may not pass…

The legend associated with that fountain went that if one made a wish with a true heart, then true love would then find you.

You don’t expect me to believe that true love cost only twenty-five cents, do you?

This is another brilliant effort by Jill Shalvis! I love this series and the holiday themed books are always so special! I was sucked into this story right off, instantly picking up on the humming vibe between Kel and Ivy. I wanted to make the book last as long as possible, but couldn’t force myself to stop reading!

Be smart.
Be vulnerable.
Be brave…

This is a story as much about family as it is about seeing two people find true love. It’s a sweet, tender story, with plenty of sexy time, but also has a strong emotional edge to it. I might have swallowed back a big lump in my throat there at the end. The holiday theme is very mild but does add an extra element of magic to complement that famous fountain.

Shalvis comes through again with the perfect, heartwarming story to launch your holiday reading season!!






New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill's bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.





or email her at contact@jillshalvis.com

Friday, September 27, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Lake House- by Kate Morton- Feature and Review


A missing child.

June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't have. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

An abandoned house.

Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. She retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, Sadie stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

An unsolved mystery.

Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape.



The Lake HouseThe Lake House by Kate Morton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Lake House by Kate Morton is a 2015 Atria publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

While Kate Morton has written several highly praised novels, I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first of her books I have read. So, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this one, but I had a feeling I was going to like it.

Alice, a successful mystery writer and Sadie Sparrow, a detective visiting her grandfather while on leave, have their lives intersect in the most unlikely of ways, but it almost feels like fate is working overtime because the odd circumstances that place them together will unravel years of secrets, lies, guilt, and will ultimately lead to the truth about a seventy year old cold case.

Seventy years ago, Alice’s youngest sibling, Theo, disappeared, and has been presumed dead. But, his body was never found, and no one was ever charged with a crime. The lake house was abandoned just as it was, nothing moved or packed away, and has stood empty for decades, when Sadie happens upon it.

Sadie is in some hot water at work and her partner is trying to keep her from being fired. So, he suggested she lay low for a while. But, what caused her to make such a huge career blunder, is a distraction from her past.

With nothing to keep her mind busy, Sophie begins to delve into Theo’s disappearance. What she uncovers is absolutely astounding….

I love it when a mystery novel is written in a literary prose, and this story certainly has that advantage, but in the beginning the story was sort of disjointed and moved very slowly. The truth is, nothing all that exciting comes to pass until the half way mark, when all that came before begins to take shape. From that point on, the story became so absorbing, I couldn’t stop reading and found myself still awake at one a.m., totally spellbound.

This is such a compelling story, which goes far beyond the initial mystery that brings Alice and Sadie together. They don’t write enough of these types of stories anymore, which is sad. Although there are heartbreaking elements to the tale, the ending is simply perfect.

I highly recommend this story to those who love historical mysteries, contemporary fiction, and great story telling.






KATE MORTON is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author. Her novels - The House at Riverton (The Shifting Fog), The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House - are published in over 40 countries, in 34 languages, and have all been number one bestsellers around the world.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- The Ghost of Eden Park -by Karen Abbott- Feature and Review


The epic true crime story of bootlegger George Remus and the murder that shocked the nation, from the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he's a multimillionaire. The press calls him "King of the Bootleggers," writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand new Pontiacs for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.

Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt's bosses at the U.S. Attorney's office hired her right out of law school, assuming she'd pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It's a decision with deadly consequences: With Remus behind bars, Dodge and Imogene begin an affair and plot to ruin him, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government--and that can only end in murder.

Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.


The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age AmericaThe Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott is a 2019 Crown Publishing Group publication.

An absorbing and shocking true crime saga!!

George Remus is a name I was only moderately familiar with. I knew he was a famous bootlegger during prohibition, but I didn’t know much more than that. I had not familiarized myself with his complex criminal operation or with his personal issues, which included referring to himself in third person, and the hint of mental instability. So, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book.

Well, to say George lived a colorful life is an understatement. As an attorney, he found a way to procure alcohol legally for “medicinal purposes.” This subterfuge allowed him to take control of a large percentage of distilleries. From there he built a very lucrative bootlegging operation which made him quite wealthy, earning him the moniker, “The King of the Bootleggers’.

George and his second wife, Imogene, lived a lavish lifestyle, handing out diamonds and cars to their party guests, but the law was not ignorant of his enterprise. Enter Mabel Walker Willebrandt, a prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office, whose job it was to investigate and prosecute violators of the Volstead Act.

Mabel Walker Willebrandt

This is where the story really gets interesting. One of Wellebrant’s agents, Frank Dodge, was assigned the task of infiltrating Remus’ empire. Frank’s involvement lead to a shocking turn of events that would have made a gripping crime novel. The head spinning twist and turns in this case just goes to show that truth really is stranger than fiction…

Imogene Remus

Since Truman Capote spoiled us with his ‘True Crime Novel’, any other approach to this ‘genre’ can be mind numbingly dry. Yet, Karen Abbott has employed a new technique which I thought worked out quite well.

The book is written in the standard chronological format- thank goodness, as I’ve never seen nonfiction work out when someone gets creative with the timeline. The research is also noteworthy as the author had access to thousands of pages of transcripts. Naturally, this requires exceptional organizational skill, and Ms. Abbot did a phenomenal job with so much material.

George Remus

There are many people involved in this tale, and unlike fiction, where the author has control over the number of characters involved in the plot, the author didn’t have that same luxury when it came to writing nonfiction. Still, I thought Abbott handled it nicely, including all the key players in this saga without allowing it to slow down the momentum. In fact, the book is very fast paced, and held my interest all throughout.

Frank Dodge

As one will gather from the title, bootlegging is not the only crime at play. A murder is eminent which is where Abbot applies one truly unique and clever trick-

Unless one already knows how this story plays out, the victim and the murderer remain a secret until the killing transpires in real time. Abbott keeps us on the edge of our seat, building the suspense and keeping one guessing like this was a fictional murder mystery.

Then there is that stunning trial! The prosecutor was Charles Phelps Taft II, son of William Howard Taft. But you will have to read this book to believe how it concluded. It’s one of the most insane trials I’ve ever read about from this era. Talk about putting on a show!

I admit, by the time I turned the final page, I was shaking my head in disbelief. This is one bizarre story and will take readers on a wild roller coaster ride through prohibition and the politics of the day. But mostly this is one of the most entertaining true crime books I’ve read.





Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of SIN IN THE SECOND CITY, AMERICAN ROSE, LIAR TEMPTRESS SOLDIER SPY, and, most recently, THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK, named one of the best books of August 2019 by Amazon.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Reach for a Star by Kathryn Freeman- Feature and Review


What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?



Reach for a StarReach for a Star by Kathryn Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reaching for a Star by Kathryn Freeman is a 2019 Choc Lit publication.

Captivating and delightful!!

Michael Tennant, a fabulously popular singer, who also happens to be pretty easy on the eyes, is about to set off on a world tour. To promote the tour, he’s been roped into participating in a reality television show, in which a professional musician is teamed with an amateur. His job will be to teach his partner how to sing. He really, really doesn’t want to do the show in the first place, but once he hears Jessie sing...Oy!

Jessie Simmons has hoped for passion and excitement in her life and relationships. When she is nudged into auditioning for a reality show, she is floored when she finds herself partnered with her fantasy crush, Michael Tennant!!! What could be more exciting than that?

However, the new partnership hits a sour note when it turns out Michael’s private persona is a far cry from his public one.

This is such a great set-up! Michael is guarded and sheltered, his life structured by his 'ice queen' personal assistant. Jessie comes along and shakes things up, but despite their feelings, the two come from completely different worlds, making it nearly impossible to make the budding romance work in the long term.

The characterizations are spot-on and the dialogue is crisp and sharp. The author did a great job of imagining all the various challenges a couple in this unique situation might face and made it all come life in a light and easy atmosphere. Michael is so arrogant at times- or was it really awkwardness? He is forever saying the wrong thing- but his loneliness is palpable. I just wanted to hug him. Jessie is a scene stealer, though, and I loved her spunk and the way she refused to be intimidated... Especially by the ice queen!

This is a wonderful, well-rounded romance, balancing a bit of mature angst with humor, family, friendship and a truly delightful HEA!!






Kathryn started her working life as a retail pharmacist but soon realised trying to decipher doctors' handwriting wasn't for her. Next she joined the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications, doing a lot of writing - about medicines. What she really wanted to write about though, was romance.

In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it's the reaction to a hunky hero...

She lives with two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine's Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) so the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband's unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes can come in many disguises.

She can often be found on Twitter (@kathrynfreeman1) and Facebook (/kathrynfreeman) when she should be writing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider- Feature and Review


Beloved Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes is back with his final murder case in That Old Scoundrel Death.

When a man is run off the road by a thug with a snake tattooed around his neck, Sheriff Dan Rhodes knows it's his duty to stop and help out. The grateful victim gives his name as Cal Stinson, on his way to the nearby town of Thurston to take a look at the old school building before the city tears it down.

The next day, Cal Stinson turns up again. Only this time, he's dead.

His body is found in the dilapidated school that's about to be razed, and the woman who let Cal onto the premises claims he gave his name as Bruce Wayne. Whoever is he is, he was shot in the back of the head, and a piece of chalk lies inches away from his hand, under a lone line on the chalkboard, his last words unfinished.

Between not-so-bright hoodlums who can't seem to stay on the right side of the law, powerful families in town who are ready to go to battle over whether the old school should come down, and trying futilely to get private detective Seepy Benton to stop making mountains of mole hills, Sheriff Rhodes is beginning to wonder if retirement might be as good as it sounds.



That Old Scoundrel Death (Sheriff Dan Rhodes #25)That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider is a 2019 Minotaur publication.

Dueling news blogs, a decayed school building, his deputies, and the mayor are giving Sheriff Dan Rhodes fits. But when a body is found in the abandoned school, the chameleon victim places three prominent families under suspicion, all of them pointing fingers at the other. The sheriff has his work cut out for him trying to find out who the victim is, and why someone would want him dead.

The deeper he digs the more explosive the case becomes. Not only that, it happens to be an election year and the good sheriff is pondering his future. Should he seek re-election or hang up his badge?

This series never fails to charm me. While the stories are loaded with hysterical banter and odd duck characters, the mystery is always a top-notch whodunit. I climbed aboard this series a bit late in the game and now I’m glad I did, as there are still many books I haven’t read.

That means I won’t really have to say good-bye to the sheriff for a good long while. It is rare for a long-running series to stay fresh, and I’m sure there are a few stale chapters back there somewhere, but I’m thrilled this series went out on a high note. I still think of Bill from time to time and am so happy I discovered this quaint mystery series.





He received an M.A.  at the University of North Texas, in Denton. Later, he taught English at Howard Payne University for twelve years, before earning a Ph.D. at the Univeristy of Texas at Austin, where he wrote a dissertation  on the Hardboiled detective novel. He then moved to Alvin, Texas with his wife, where he was the Chair of the Division of English and Fine Arts at Alvin Community College. He retired in August 2002 to become a full-time writer.
He was the author of the Professor Sally Good and the Carl Burns mysteries, the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, the Truman Smith P.I. series, and wrote three books in the Stone: M.I.A Hunter series under the pseudonym "Jack Buchanan". He was also the writer of several westerns and horror novels.

Crider died at his home in Alvin, Texas, on February 12, 2018 of cancer, at the age of 76.

Monday, September 23, 2019



This is the story of Colin, a young man bearing witness to one of the greatest decades Britain ever knew – the 60s. From his last day at school to supporting The Who, this was the time for the Mods to rise and throw off the shackles of previous generations and their grey and dreary music.

Post-war Britain in the early 60s was recovering from the financial pressures of the Second World War, and the death knell had sounded as its once-mighty Empire slowly sank beneath the waves. Britain had reached its own ‘crossroads’. Now, with peacetime conscription ending, no uniforms to wear and no regulation ‘short back and sides’ haircuts to endure, a new civilian army of youths was entering the workplace. Being the most prosperous decade since World War II, the working youth of the day now had a disposable income with money to burn.

This was a new battleground and the electric guitar became the weapon of choice. From the first battle between Mods and Rockers at Cockett Wick in 1961, to the notorious beachfront confrontations with coppers in Brighton in later years, Colin and his generation were sounding the drum for a new style, beat and ethos to take Britain into a brighter and more confident future.

His prevailing love of the guitar and rock ‘n’ roll music had prompted him to form a group with his friends at school, and so he pursued a parallel career over the next eight years while continuing to work in the bank. In a world consumed with music, his banking career took back seat, but would teach him how to count banknotes at high speed, a useful requisite should the group hit the big time and make it’s millions.

Follow the tale of a young man's journey into adulthood as he faces jail for being among a group of Mods who took on the Rockers in the first-ever major altercation near Clacton in 1961 – with the press coverage read by his non too impressed bank bosses - their pursuit of stardom, the opening of a new scene laced with Purple Hearts’, and the call of the dingy pubs and clubs, a million miles away from the super groups of the 60s like The Stones and The Beatles.

Learn of their travels during the very early years of the British rock ‘n’ roll era, sharing a stage with veteran American rock ‘n’ roll stars and eventually becoming the desired support group for many emerging British acts like The Who, Tom Jones, The Dave Clark Five, The Merseybeats and The Love Affair, plus numerous other popular groups of the time. An unforgettable highlight moment for the author and his pals was to meet and play on the same stage with one of his childhood heroes, the wild man of rock ‘n’ roll, Jerry Lee Lewis.

The new youth culture of the 60s took on the establishment and helped change the world forever. From a grimy black and white beginning, to a fun loving colourfulfab’ world known as the ‘swinging sixties’. And Colin saw it all.



Mods to Rockers: A 60s Rock 'n' Roll JourneyMods to Rockers: A 60s Rock 'n' Roll Journey by Colin Stoddart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mods to Rockers by Colin Stoddard is a 2016 publication.

A personal walk down memory lane, exploring a brief, but interesting period in 60s British music scene.

I’m not quite old enough to recall the mod versus rockers period, but I had heard the phrase ‘Mods’, of course, and probably like many people, associated that word with ‘The Who’ and ‘Quadrophenia’.

However, Colin Stoddard was a part of a Mods versus Rock dust up years before the media took an interest- which is where our story begins...

Colin’s personal journey with his group, ‘The Candles’ is fascinating and unique. Colin and his band flirted right on the cusp of stardom, rubbing elbows with people who did become quite well known.

The history itself is certainly interesting, but Stoddard’s voice, and personal insights and experiences, are what makes this book stand out. His reminiscences are clear, vivid and colorful, and it is obvious he remembers this time fondly.

Overall, I enjoyed reading about the clothing styles, the music, and the historical vibe of the early 60s in Britain.





Colin Ferguson Stoddart (1943 - still alive and kicking) was born in Romford, a market town in Essex, to an English mother and a Scottish father. Educated at St Edward's Church of England school, he left school to work for a national high street banking organisation for the next 11 years. During this dark period in his working life he found solace in being the lead guitarist of a popular local group who performed together for 8 blissful years. Finally succumbing to married life, Colin found himself still working in the bank and depression setting in. His life was changed by a call from the group's vocalist who had emigated to South Africa to work in the clothing industry. Arriving in Cape Town, Colin finally found his true vocation working in the fashion tie business. 5 years later he returned to the UK and continued working in the tie business, eventually becoming sales director for a tie company based in Bond Street in central London. But changes were ahead as the popular trend in America for 'dress down days' started to take hold in the UK work place, and the ubiquitous tie became redundant. Colin took early retirement, jumped the sinking ship and headed for the sun with his wife leaving behind their 2 adult sons. They remain there to this day enjoying 'La Vida Loca' in southern Spain, where the book was written.

Friday, September 20, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Darktown by Thomas Mullen- Feature and Review


Responding from pressure on high, the Atlanta police department is forced to hire its first black officers in 1948. The newly minted policemen are met with deep hostility by their white peers and their authority is limited: They can’t arrest white suspects; they can’t drive a squad car; they can’t even use the police headquarters and must instead operate out of the basement of a gym.

When a black woman who was last seen in a car driven by a white man turns up fatally beaten, no one seems to care except for Boggs and Smith, two black cops from vastly different backgrounds. Pressured from all sides, they will risk their jobs, the trust the community has put in them, and even their own safety to investigate her death. Their efforts bring them up against an old-school cop, Dunlow, who has long run the neighborhood like his own, and Dunlow’s young partner, Rakestraw, a young progressive who may or may not be willing to make allies across color lines




DarktownDarktown by Thomas Mullen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Darktown by Thomas Mullen is a 2016 Atria publication.
This book came highly recommended to me due to my love of crime fiction. I had no idea, until I had finished the book, that a television program was made based on this story that starred Jamie Foxx. I’ll have to check that out sometime.

But, as for the novel, this is an outstanding historical crime novel that depicts the atmosphere in Atlanta just after the second world war and before the civil rights movement. Atlanta has just hired eight black men as police officers to work the ‘Darktown’ area of Atlanta, a groundbreaking move, but a political one, which was made under pressure.
Boggs and Smith are two of those black men hired as beat cops for Darktown. They only have so much power, though. If anything serious happens, they have to call in the ‘real’ cops. They work out of the YMCA, not the police station. They are resented by the white officers, of course, especially Dunlow, a rogue, racist cop that once patrolled the area.

But, when a white man plows into a pole on their beat, Boggs and Smith see a young, black woman in the passenger side with a black eye. Later, the woman is found dead, discarded like garbage. Dunlow, is not interested in solving the crime, but his new partner Rakestraw, is not as apathetic. Still, Boggs and Smith will have to risk their jobs and maybe their lives to solve the murder, on their own.

Wow, this was such an authentic depiction of this era and the attitudes about race at that time. The crime story is a real stunner, with several mind blowing twists along the way. The suspense, at times, is nearly unbearable, and I admit I had to wipe the sweat off my palms a few times.

The characters were well drawn, some clearly bad, corrupt, and evil, while others struggled with the complexities of race and prejudice and with doing the right thing, no matter what. Smith and Boggs were also complex in their own way, and of course I loved their partnership and their commitment to truth, despite the obvious danger they faced, but they did encounter some support from an unlikely source.
The pacing is quick, the dialogue is sharp, but very, very raw, so be prepared. This story is very gritty, very real, and not always easy to digest. But, the book is extremely well written, is riveting and maybe one of the best crime stories I’ve read this year. It’s definitely deserving of the attention and high praise it’s received!!
I highly recommend this to those who enjoy gritty crime thrillers, or historical mysteries.





Thomas Mullen is the author of "The Last Town on Earth," which was named Best Debut Novel of 2006 by USA Today and was awarded the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for excellence in historical fiction, and "The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers." His books have been named Best of the Year by such publications as The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Onion, and Amazon.com.

His third novel, "The Revisionists," will be published in September 2011.

Mullen was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Oberlin College. He has lived in Boston; in Chapel Hill, NC; in Washington, DC; and he now makes his home in Atlanta with his wife and two sons.

When not reading or writing, his greatest interests are music, film, travel, and hiking. The best books he read in 2010 were "Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood, "The Book of Daniel" by E.L. Doctorow, "The Bridge of Sighs" and "The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer, "Serena" by Ron Rash, "Caveman's Valentine" by George Dawes Green, "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" by David Mitchell, "Savages" by Don Winslow, "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, and "An Ordinary Spy" by Joseph Weisberg.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman- Feature and Review


"Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin

The author of Other People's Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings delivers a quirky and charming novel chronicling the life of confirmed introvert Nina Hill as she does her best to fly under everyone's radar.

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own...shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They're all--or mostly all--excited to meet her! She'll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It's a disaster! And as if that wasn't enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn't he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It's time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn't convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It's going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.


The Bookish Life of Nina HillThe Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman is a 2019 Berkley publication.

Sweet, witty, clever and whimsical- my kind of people- in my kind of book!

By some standards, Nina may seem a bit eccentric. But, truly, she just likes her job and her books and a solid routine. She may be a classic introvert, but she hangs out with her friends and competes in trivia competitions.

However, her quiet, ordered life turns topsy-turvy when she is informed that her father, a man she never knew, has passed away, and she has been named in his will. Suddenly there are lawyers, and a slew of relatives invading her life- none of which fit into her carefully constructed day-planner.

Nor, does dating, it would seem, although there is an interested party- except it’s Tom, her main competition on Trivia Nights. If this weren’t enough to rattle her, her job at the bookshop is in jeopardy because her boss can’t pay the rent.

Although, Nina does her best to avoid the lawyers and new family members, and genuinely tries to pencil Tom in for a date night, she isn’t having much luck on either count. Will Nina ever be accepted by her new family? Will her day planner ever make time for poor Tom? Will the bookshop sink or swim?

I new I would love this book!! The characters are easier for me to relate to than the ‘loudest person in the room’, voted most gregarious types- and of course, who doesn’t love books about books?

I’ve never been to trivia night, but it certainly sounds like a lot of fun- although I’m not that knowledgeable or competitive. Everything about this book is executed perfectly- pace, dialogue, characterizations, and tone. It’s light, but has depth, is poignant, but mostly it’s a fun, feel good story anyone can enjoy. I loved Nina’s life so much, I felt a bit wistful, wishing I could find fit into the mix of work, family, and friends that make up her charmed life. The ending was the cherry on the cake and left me grinning from ear to ear!!

This is just an all-around great story about the truly important things in life and staying true to oneself while adapting to life’s inevitable changes. Of course, us bookworms and introverts will find this book highly relatable, maybe seeing a bit of ourselves in this story, which makes it even more charming and touching!!

All the stars for this one!! (Did you ever doubt it?) That's makes three for three for Ms. Abbi Waxman!!

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Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman, who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Make it up to You by Lucy Keeling- Feature and Review


What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?
Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.
Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way



Make It Up To YouMake It Up To You by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Make It Up to You by Lucy Keeling is a 2019 Choc Lit publication.

A thoroughly modern romance!

Sophie takes her online make-up tutorials seriously. However, her viewer-ship numbers, hits and follows have hit a plateau. She needs to do something to freshen up her videos before her enterprise spirals downward.

When her friend, Pam, suggests she work with her brother, Marcus, to create a garden backdrop for her videos, Sophie is reluctant. But Marcus also needs a little exposure for his business, so it seems like a win-win situation. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, the two mix like oil and water. Despite that, they are deeply attracted to each other. Then Marcus inadvertently finds himself on camera making a big impression on Sophie’s audience, stealing a little bit of her thunder. This is NOT what Sophie had in mind to boost her numbers!!

As anyone who has tried their hand at making a little profit from YouTube videos or from blogging can attest to, it’s not all fun and games. Just like anything else, to make it profitable, one must put some work into it. Sophie has a hard time getting people to take her work seriously, though. Marcus is not aware of how much effort Sophie puts into her tutorials and how fragile her occupation can be.

After a bit of a rocky start, the two eventually wind up working well together… in more ways than one. However, Sophie isn’t sure if she wants Marcus to be a part of her personal life AND her professional life, as well.

This is a fun madcap romantic comedy with a timely premise. The author did a great job of capturing this time frame in a young adult’s life, the friendships they have, the parental expectations and pressures, as well the stress of carving out one’s own niche in a highly competitive and ever evolving climate. The chemistry between Sophie and Marcus is stormy, but hot and steamy. The story is hilarious at times and is definitely a mood enhancer!

Overall, this is a light, sexy romp fans of contemporary romance and Rom-Coms will love!






Lucy Keeling is an author writing fun, sexy, stories with all of the happily ever afters. When she’s not typing at the kitchen table, she’s arranging and then re-arranging to see her friends for the occasional spot of day drinking. Lucy is currently writing the third book in a contemporary romance series, the first of which was runner-up in Choc Lit’s ‘Search for a Star’ competition which was sponsored by Your Cat magazine.
Lucy lives in Greater Manchester with her family.