A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, December 29, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie- Feature and Review


It's been less than a year since beautiful heiress Rosemary Barton took her own life during a birthday dinner in her honor. Her husband George never believed that his fun-loving wife would commit suicide--especially now that he's received two anonymous letters that suggest cold-blooded murder. One implicates even George himself. It's true he long suffered Rosemary's infidelities. But what about her embittered sister who was left out of the family will? Or any of Rosemary's secret lovers, not to mention their betrayed wives? Not one of them has ever forgotten Rosemary. Nor has any one of them ever forgiven her. But only one of them killed her...


Sparkling CyanideSparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie is a 2001 Minotaur publication. (Originally published in 1945)

Classic Agatha Christie- Always a treat!

It has been a long time since I read a book by AC. With a nip in the air and the days getting shorter, I always find myself in the mood for a good old fashioned golden age mystery to curl up with.

This classic whodunit is very cleverly plotted and centers around Rosemary Barton, a beautiful young heiress who suddenly committed suicide.

Now one year after her death, her husband, George, begins receiving anonymous notes suggesting his wife may have been murdered. Thus, unfolds the sordid tale of the events leading up to Rosemary’s untimely death.

George then plans to host a remembrance party for Rosemary, inviting all the people who were present at the dinner when Rosemary decided to end her life. He is determined to discover if his wife was indeed murdered, and if so, by whom.

This classic mystery hit the spot. It was perfect for the mood I was in, plus it is a Christie novel that I had never read.

This book was originally published in 1945, but it has certainly aged well. I thought the dialogue was crisp and sharp, with the entertaining trademark twists Christie was so gifted with.

I thoroughly enjoyed this quick and easy mystery and think I’ll start working more of these titles into my reading schedule more often.





Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920). She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter- Feature and Review


Should you ever go back?It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town's most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?




My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter is a 2017 Crown Archetype publication.

A heavily atmospheric and absorbing crime story-

When environmental lawyer, Abby Williams returns to her hometown in Indiana to investigate illnesses which could be connected to the town’s life force and largest employer, Optimal Plastics, she immediately, regrets coming back.

She soon learns her estranged father is quite ill, and she is flooded with childhood memories of her best friend, a girl named Kaycee, who may or may not have been exhibiting signs of illness, who has simply vanished into thin air, leaving Abby haunted and hollow, even after all these years.

She also experiences a strong wall of resistance from the town’s residents, who are afraid she will uncover something about Optimal that will affect their livelihoods.

But, Abby is determined to learn the truth behind Kaycee’s disappearance, and the possible cover up by Optimal, as well as a connection between a scholarship program the plant offers, catering to female applicants only.

Yet the deeper Abby digs, the more convinced she is that something very sinister is going on, but her work is heavily compromised by the spike in her alcohol consumption and her erratic behavior, which could get her kicked off the case.

Bonfire is a dark, moody, edgy novel of suspense, very engrossing, and convincing. The atmosphere is very heavy and thick, the foreboding palpable. A town willing to do almost anything, including sweeping evidence of scandal under the carpet, to save Optimal Plastic, sets up a tense and ugly tug of war for Abby, who is also being courted by a crowd of people that shunned her back in high school, while also receiving a few veiled threats.

Abby quickly becomes obsessed with Kaycee, believing she holds the key to unlocking the secrets the town is so desperate to protect.

Abby’s narration is what makes the story work, in my opinion. She’s cynical, yet harbors the scars of high school cruelty, which makes her susceptible to certain unrealized yearning that affects her decision making skills.

Although fragile emotionally, Abby is tenacious in her single minded pursuit. The story has a taut sense of urgency, which propels the reader forward, unable to look away as Abby’s well -orchestrated professional life begins to circle the drain, along with her sanity.

Ritter did a fine job creating sympathetic characters, with a slow, but enticing plot, that reveals small town cover-ups and scandals wrapped around a timely subject, shining a spotlight on corporate power and greed, which really resonated with me. I got sucked into this story right away, finding it very hard a put down.

I am not a television fan, but my husband and I binged watched, ‘Breaking Bad’ a while back and loved it. But, I still did not connect Ritter to her acting credentials until I started writing this review.

Wow. I have to say I am impressed with this debut novel! This is a very solid crime novel and I hope it is not just a one off for the author. She has potential here and I hope she will capitalize on it fully.





Krysten Ritter is well known for her starring roles in the award winning Netflix original series, Marvel's Jessica Jones, and cult favorite, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, as well as her pivotal role on AMC’s Breaking Bad. Krysten’s work on film includes Big Eyes, Listen Up Philip, Life Happens, Confessions of a Shopaholic and She’s Out of My League. She is the founder of Silent Machine, a production company which aims to highlight complex female protagonists. Ritter and her dog Mikey split their time between New York and Los Angeles.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Known by Kendra Elliot- Feature and Review


After a brutal snowstorm in the Cascade Mountains, Chris Jacobs discovers two things he never expected to see: the charred shell of a cabin, and Gianna Trask and her sixteen-year-old daughter huddled in an SUV, having barely escaped from their burning vacation rental.
Still scarred from a childhood ordeal, Chris knows there’s something sinister about the scene—it’s the stench of burned flesh.
Forced to wait out the blizzard in their rescuer’s retreat, medical examiner Gianna Trask wonders if her hidden past has finally caught up with her. When a body is found in the destroyed cabin’s ashes and a forest ranger is brutally murdered, both Gianna and Chris must confront their secrets if they want to escape the violent threat lurking outside.
In the fifth book in the Bone Secrets series, Kendra Elliot leads readers on a dangerous, twisting journey of two lives forever changed by a fiery snowstorm in the mountains.



Known (Bone Secrets, #5)Known by Kendra Elliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Known by Kendra Elliot is a 2016 Montlake publication.

This fifth installment in the 'Bone Secrets' series gives Chris Jacobs top billing, when he meets Gianna Trask and her teenage daughter, Violet, under extreme circumstances.

When Gianna’s cabin retreat catches fire, she and her daughter barely make it out alive. Chris also happens to be at his cabin at that time and brings the ladies to safety. But, he knows right away the burned-out shell of the cabin will reveal a very serious crime and that Gianna and Violet could be in danger.

Sure enough, it quickly becomes crystal clear that Gianna is a target…. But why?

I always enjoy Kendra Elliot’s romantic suspense novels, and this one is no exception. I love Chris Jacobs and was pleased to see him meet a kindred spirit in Gianna.

The story is fast paced, intense, suspenseful and emotional. The plotting is tight and unfortunately it captures the underbelly and greed of human nature all too well. It’s also a poignant family drama, with a bittersweet tone to it.

The action grabbed my attention right away and kept me riveted by building the suspense with perfect pacing, until it reaches a race against time drama that kept me glued to the pages.

The author did a terrific job of creating characters I could care about, and balanced the romance with the suspense exactly the way I like it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will keep my eyes peeled for the next installment in this series!!

4 stars

*Kindle Unlimited



***For a free Insider's Guide to my novels, visit KendraElliot.com. I give away four signed books with every newsletter.***

Kendra Elliot has sold over 4 million books, hit the Wall Street Journal top ten bestseller list five times, and is a three time winner of the Daphne du Maurier award. Her 2017 release, A MERCIFUL DEATH, was a #1 Amazon overall bestseller. She is also an International Thriller Writers' finalist and a Romantic Times finalist. She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and two Pomeranians. She's always been fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and can't wait to wear flip flops every day.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from The Book Review


I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Please be safe and enjoy this time with your friends and family. 

I will be taking this day to celebrate Christmas with my family. The Book Review will be back tomorrow for more books reviews and promotions. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

At the Christmas Wedding- by Caroline Linden, Maya Rodale, and Katherine Ashe- Feature and Review


Snowed in at a castle full of handsome lords, three young ladies are about to have the holiday of their lives…

From the authors of At the Duke’s Wedding.

Map of a Lady’s Heart by Caroline Linden

The road to happily-ever-after… With Kingstag Castle full of guests and the snow falling, Viola Cavendish has her hands full making sure the Christmas house party runs smoothly. The unexpected arrival of the Earl of Winterton and his nephew Lord Newton upends everything. Not only is Lord Newton flirting with the young ladies Viola is supposed to chaperone, Lord Winterton himself makes her pulse race.
Always takes some twists and turns Wesley Morane, Earl of Winterton, has come to Kingstag Castle in search of a valuable atlas, and he refuses to be deterred by the snow, the house party, his nephew, or even the most ridiculous play ever staged. But before long the only map he wants is one that shows him the way to Viola’s heart…

Hot Rogue on a Cold Night by Maya Rodale

Jilted by a duke: Lady Serena Cavendish was born and bred to be a duchess. Too bad, then, that the Duke of Frye mysteriously and suddenly ended their betrothal. 
Seduced by a Rogue: Greyson Jones, an agent of the crown, is the only one who thinks being jilted has made Serena more alluring. When he lucks into an invitation to a Christmas house party at Kingstag Castle to cheer her up—and perhaps find her a husband—he seizes the opportunity to win her heart before they might be parted forever. 
On the way to the altar: Their journey to happily ever after involves a ridiculous play, a lovesick swan, a mysterious gift and, of course, a kiss.

Snowy Night with a Duke by Katharine Ashe

The last time Lady Charlotte Ascot bumped into the Duke of Frye, she climbed a tree to avoid him. Sometimes it’s simply easier to run away than to face her feelings for him — overwhelmingly passionate feelings that no modest lady should have! Now, on her way to Kingstag Castle to celebrate the holidays with friends, Charlotte is trapped by a snowstorm at a tiny country inn with the duke of her steamiest dreams. 
But Frye has a secret of his own, and Christmas is the ideal time to finally tell the woman he’s always wanted the whole unvarnished truth. Better yet, he’ll show her...



At the Christmas WeddingAt the Christmas Wedding by Caroline Linden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the Christmas Wedding by Caroline Linden, Maya Rodale, and Katharine Ashe is a 2017 publication.

This is a last minute add on to my holiday reading. I will confess, I had only planned to read the Katherine Ashe story due to time constraints, but I ended up reading the entire book because, as it turns out, the three stories featured in this anthology are interconnected.


The first novella is written by Caroline Linden and is centered around Viola Cavendish, who is left in charge of Kingstag Castle and the holiday Christmas party being held there. She already has her hands full, when out of the blue, Lord Winterton and his nephew arrive to see the Duke.

Winterton has traveled to Kingstag Castle in hopes of finding a rare Atlas he believes the Duke may possess. While he waits out the winter storm, hoping for the Duke’s speedy return, he finds himself enjoying the company of Viola Cavendish.

This story is a little frenetic, but it did make me laugh a few times.


The second story is written by Maya Rodale and features Lady Serena, who was destined to be a duchess, but who was recently jilted by her long -time fiancĂ©, the Duke of Frye. Will she find her match in Frye’s best friend, Greyson Jones?

This novella explains some developments left unanswered in the first story, and I really liked Greyson. I also have a thing for unrequited love stories, so this one appealed on that front. Super short story, but overall satisfying.


The last story is centered around the duke of Frye, and we finally get a more detailed explanation for why he jilted Serena.

Katharine Ashe is one of my favorite historical romance authors, and I suppose I may be a little biased, but regardless, this last novella in the collection, did honestly appeal to me a bit more than the first two. I really liked Charlotte because she defied convention and I liked the adventure and intrigue. Charlotte and Frye belonged together, and so it was nice to know all the featured characters in these stories ended up with an enduring love match.

4 stars

I liked the way all the stories were connected, which does encourage readers to engage in all the stories offered in an anthology, which is a good thing.

The collection is a little rocky and uneven in some spots, but overall these are quick and easy to read novellas, very light hearted and fun.





Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a degree in mathematics from Harvard University and worked as a programmer in the financial services industry before realizing writing fiction is much more exciting than writing code. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Readers' Choice Award, the JNRW Golden Leaf, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA's RITA Award, and have been translated into seventeen languages around the world. She lives in New England.

Sign up at http://www.carolinelinden.com/signup....to get notified about her books and receive a free short story exclusively for subscribers.

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother's insistence and she is now the bestselling and award winning author of smart and sassy historical and contemporary romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Please visit her at www.mayarodale.com. 

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KATHARINE ASHE is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call "intensely lush" and "sensationally intelligent," including her acclaimed Devil's Duke Series, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the romance industry's most prestigious award, the RITA®.

Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about her books, please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com 
If you would like to receive e-news announcements about Katharine's books and appearances, join Katharine's e-news list. To subscribe, copy and paste this URL into your browser's address window: http://katharineashe.com/contact/#newsletter

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison- Feature and Review


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Clique series comes a novel about the importance of friendship, and, of course, the pleasure of a dirty book. 

M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. 

Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up. One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. 

Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.



The Dirty Book ClubThe Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison is a 2017 Gallery Books publication.

A lighthearted and often hilarious story about the special bonds of friendship!

Now, don’t let the title of this book fool you. This is not an erotic novel, at all. Instead, this is a book about relationships, focusing on the bond between women and true, enduring friendship.

The story begins in 1962 with the birth of ‘The Dirty Book Club’. A group of friends, all of whom have a different set of circumstances to cope with, form a secret book club, replete with certain rituals, and meet by the schedule of the full moon, to discuss the latest ‘erotic’ novel.

Fast forward to present day New York, where MJ is about to see her career dreams come true after a devastating loss that has left her bereft and riddled with guilt. But, at the last minute, her boss pulls the rug out from under her by assigning her a co- editor. This is not the way things were supposed to go. In a fit of temper, MJ quits her job, and accepts her boyfriend’s invitation to come live with him in California.

But, MJ soon finds herself bored and having an all -out pity party for herself. However, she does form an acquaintance with her boyfriend’s neighbor, Gloria. But, when Gloria suddenly departs for Paris, she leaves a note behind inviting MJ to join a secret and exclusive book club - one that only reads erotic novels. Unable to resist, MJ accepts the invitation and meets the three other carefully selected members of the club.

This eclectic group of women, as with Gloria and her lifelong friends, are all going through various trials in life. They reluctantly bond with each other and soon discover the real secrets behind ‘The Dirty Book Club’.

To be completely honest, this book is not deep, neither in plot or characterization, but in this instance, it’s not a big deal. Why? Well, sometimes I just want to read a story that has a minimal amount of angst, that can touch lightly upon a few darker topics without becoming heavy or depressing. Sometimes I need a break from romance or thrillers and just want to lose myself in a quirky ‘feel good’ story that makes me laugh out loud and lifts my spirits.

I also found the ‘erotic reading list’ very interesting, and occasionally nostalgic. Boy, have times changed since Gloria and the gang read Erica Jong’s ‘Fear of Flying’. Even if you snub erotica, you will find this list of reading material intriguing.

I did wish a few things had come together differently, but, overall, this book was just plain fun, thoroughly enjoyable, and serves as a reminder of how friendships can enhance our lives.





Lisi Harrison is the author of the #1 NYT Bestselling Clique, Alphas, Monster High and Pretenders series. Her first adult novel, The Dirty Book Club will be released October 10, 2017. She was senior director of Development at MTV and also served as head writer for MTV Productions. 
Lisi lives in Laguna Beach, California and has been a proud member of her own dirty book club since 2007. 

She posts a new blog every Wednesday at LisiHarrison.com

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris - Feature and Review


"Warning: She spares no detail!" —Erik Larson, bestselling author of Dead Wake 
A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2017, Publishers Weekly
A The Guardian Best History Book of 2017
"Fascinating and shocking." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The gripping story of how Joseph Lister’s antiseptic method changed medicine forever

In The Butchering Art, the historian Lindsey Fitzharris reveals the shocking world of nineteenth-century surgery on the eve of profound transformation. She conjures up early operating theaters—no place for the squeamish—and surgeons, working before anesthesia, who were lauded for their speed and brute strength. These medical pioneers knew that the aftermath of surgery was often more dangerous than their patients’ afflictions, and they were baffled by the persistent infections that kept mortality rates stubbornly high. At a time when surgery couldn’t have been more hazardous, an unlikely figure stepped forward: a young, melancholy Quaker surgeon named Joseph Lister, who would solve the deadly riddle and change the course of history.

Fitzharris dramatically recounts Lister’s discoveries in gripping detail, culminating in his audacious claim that germs were the source of all infection—and could be countered by antiseptics. Focusing on the tumultuous period from 1850 to 1875, she introduces us to Lister and his contemporaries—some of them brilliant, some outright criminal—and takes us through the grimy medical schools and dreary hospitals where they learned their art, the deadhouses where they studied anatomy, and the graveyards they occasionally ransacked for cadavers.

Eerie and illuminating, The Butchering Art celebrates the triumph of a visionary surgeon whose quest to unite science and medicine delivered us into the modern world.



The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian MedicineThe Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris is a 2017 Scientific American/Farrar Straus and Giroux publication.

Ghastly, but fascinating!

This is the true story of Joseph Lister, the surgeon, who in 1846 rendered surgery pain free by using ether. But, once surgery became more frequent, deaths occurred due to sepsis, and a myriad of other infections, prompting Lister to examine the prospect that germs, dirty surgical tools, and hospital cleanliness were to blame.

Lister’s antiseptic theories were groundbreaking, but not especially popular. This led to a great deal of medical politics and backlash towards Lister. This is fascinating because of the mindset in the Victorian days by medical professionals.

However, you should be aware that some of the situations described are not for the faint of heart. While not purposely or gratuitously graphic, your imagination can fill in the blanks. I can’t imagine such primitive practices, or the idea that hospitals were not sanitized, especially the surgical tools. It’s very disgusting to think of, and it’s a wonder anyone survived.

Thank goodness for Joseph Lister and his antiseptic theory!! His life is captivating, and his scientific vision paved the way for medical advancements and a massive reduction in loss of life. He didn’t always have the right answers, but he was an amazing trailblazer in medicine and science.

The book has a bleak atmosphere, and conjures up all manner of appalling images, some of which left me feeling a little green around the gills, but ultimately this is an inspiring story, and I for one came away feeling grateful for Lister and his forward thinking and his tenacity in sticking to his guns when he came under fire.

Lister’s personal life is connected to his professional life in many ways, and is examined moderately, but is not the primary focus of the book. Mainly, the book is about Lister’s work, and often reads like a history textbook in some ways, but nevertheless, it is quite absorbing.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys science, health and medicine, or history- and has a strong stomach!




Lindsey Fitzharris has a PhD in the history of science and medicine from the University of Oxford. She is the creator of the popular website The Chirurgeon's Apprentice, and writer and presenter of the YouTube series Under the Knife. She writes for The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Lancet, and New Scientist.