A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, January 31, 2020

FOODIE FRIDAY- Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero- Feature and Review

                                                            ABOUT THE BOOK:

Go beyond the pale of iceberg lettuce with recipes for indulgent salads of plant-based proteins, vibrant veggies, and zesty dressings.



Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to LoveSalad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-To-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero is a 2014 De Capo publication.

Naturally, when we hear the word ‘Salad’, the first thing many of us think of, is that small ‘dinner salad’ we have on the side or that might serve as an appetizer- which is about as boring as boring can be. Seldom do we think of having a salad as a main course- or refer to a salad as being ‘hearty’.

This cookbook, however, will change your entire perceptions of salads. While these recipes apply to the vegan diet, anyone can find a recipe they will want to try. Not only that, there are fresh ideas for homemade dressings, and plenty of hints and tips as well, and color photos of the recipes.

The salads are organized by seasons, which makes sense to me. Various fresh ingredients are not in season year -round. My moods change with the seasons as well. Summertime has me reaching for more fruits and lighter meals, while in the winter I long for something warmer and a little heavier.

The ease of preparation varies, and the ingredients were not ones I can readily obtain here in Podunk, Texas. However, once can always use these recipes to prompt your own imagination by adding, leaving out, or substituting ingredients that work best for you.

One thing is for sure, though- after reading through this book, you will never think of salads as boring again!!




Terry Hope Romero, author and co-author of bestselling vegan cookbooks Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Viva Vegan!: Authentic Vegan Latina American Recipes has also presented informative and lively cooking demonstration and talks to hungry crowds at food festivals and conferences the world over, ranging from Paris, New York City, Boston, Toronto, and many more. Terry also contributes to VegNews (leading vegan lifestyle magazine) her Hot Urban Eats column. She also holds a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University.

Terry lives, cooks and eats in NYC.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro- Feature and Review


“A gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” —Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach 

From the acclaimed, best-selling memoirist and novelist—“a writer of rare talent” (Cheryl Strayed)—a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test: an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
     In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history--the life she had lived--crumbled beneath her.
Inheritance is a book about secrets--secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman's urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in--a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.


Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and LoveInheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro is a 2019 Knopf publication.

A poignant journey to self-rediscovery!

The home DNA kit is so popular right now. I know many people who have purchased one and mostly it was a fun and fascinating exercise. However, there are many pros and cons that consumers often neglect to consider.

Pros- such as learning about a predisposition to certain diseases is beneficial information to have.

But, one of the cons is privacy. I think many consumers fail to realize their DNA information is being used in ways that are profitable to other people, and there are no real guidelines in place to keep one's information safe from third parties. Even the FDA backed off on their original concerns about revealing health information. Until more policies are in place I think I'll take a pass on the trend for now.

Another consequence, as many have discovered, is the exposure of a few family secrets along the way. Surprise! You have a half brother you didn't know about!

For Dani Shapiro, who only sent off for a DNA analysis on a whim, discovering that the man who raised her was not her biological father sent her reeling. This would be a shock to anyone, at any point in their lives, but for a mature woman who felt confident in her heritage- despite some skepticism from others close to her- it was an adjustment, she couldn't absorb easily.

Both of her parents were dead, but Dani did recall a startling conversation with her mother once, where her mother confessed that Dani had not been conceived in the usual manner.

From that memory, Dani pieces together a complex puzzle, which erases much of what she thought she knew about herself, while exposing the truth of her heritage, her genetic makeup and opening up the possibility for relationships with her biological family members she never would have known about otherwise.

This is a fascinating story and Dani’s voice is so compelling. I felt as though I was on this journey with her. Her confusion, hurt, and disconnect with everything she had known before is palpable, and emotional, but not disproportionately so. I thought Dani went through this process of rediscovery with grace and dignity.

There may still be lingering questions she will never have the answers to, but she has managed to find a balance between her past and her new normal. She's made peace with her parents, her biological father, and the various cultural, religious, and health implications she struggled with along the way.

This is a very engrossing and interesting book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir quite like this one. I found Dani to be an engaging storyteller and I am thankful she shared such an intensely personal part of her life with us.





Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest memoir, Inheritance, will be published by Knopf in January, 2019.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sins of the Fathers ( A J.P. Beaumont Mystery) by J.A. Jance- Feature and Review


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 retirement doing morning crossword puzzles by a roaring fireplace; playing frisbee with his new dog; having quiet lunches with his still working wife.But then his past comes 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 his none-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.



Sins of the Fathers (J.P. Beaumont #24)Sins of the Fathers by J.A. Jance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sins of the Fathers by J.A. Jance is a 2019 William Morrow publication.

Beaumont’s past comes calling, exposing a long -buried secret!

Usually, I wind up alternating between the three series by J.A. Jance that I follow-'Ali Reynolds', 'Joanna Brady', and 'J.P Beaumont'. I enjoy all of them, but Beaumont was my first love and so of the three series, this is still my favorite.

Somehow, I’ve managed to read two Beaumont mysteries in a row! What a rare, but very pleasant treat!! Not, only that, I won a gorgeous hardcover copy of this book from Goodreads!! Win-Win!

In this 24th installment, Beaumont must absorb some stunning information, when an old acquaintance pops up out of the blue asking for J.P.’s help in locating his missing daughter.

Naturally, this is not your ordinary missing person situation. The missing girl abandoned her newborn at the hospital and now her father is caring for the baby, hoping to obtain full legal custody. Not only that, Beaumont may have a personal stake in the matter, as his wild, alcoholic past may have come home to roost.

Beaumont has always been an interesting character. His life has taken many paths over the years, but now he has reached retirement age and although he’s mellowed a bit, he has finally carved out a niche for himself as a private detective. That doesn’t mean his life is dull by any means. Turns out life has a few more surprises in store for Beaumont. These new developments will once again change the entire dynamic of his life. As Beaumont digests all that he has learned, the hunt for his client’s daughter leads him straight into a murder investigation. This case, as usual, is compelling, revealing the darker side of human nature.

Of course, I enjoyed Beaumont’s private musings, which often give me a chuckle, but this time around, he also made me cringe a few times. While this story wasn’t quite as strong as the previous chapter in the series, I was still very invested in the plot, and as always, the writing is outstanding.

Overall, the primary theme in this installment is the complexity of family bonds- the good, the bad and the ugly. There are a few interesting juxtapositions and plenty of food for thought.






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, January 27, 2020

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler-Feature and Review


From the New York Times bestselling author Erica Spindler comes The Other Girl, a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.

A horrific crime. One witness—a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law.
Is it any surprise no one believed her?

Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community.

When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealedexcept for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist.

Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop—the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda.



The Other GirlThe Other Girl by Erica Spindler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Other Girl by Erica Spindler is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Quick and uncomplicated novel of suspense-

When a popular college professor, who also happens to be the son of a prominent citizen, is found brutally murdered, small town cop Miranda, (Randi), Rader’s hard- earned road to success takes an abrupt turn.

For starters, the case brings back disturbing memories of a harrowing night, years ago, when Randi was abducted, but made a narrow escape. As she and her partner, Jake, begin investigating the murder, they uncover some unsettling information about the victim. But the powers that be aren’t interested in hearing it. As a matter of fact, it looks as if someone is trying to set Randi up- framing her for the murder…. But why?

Back in the 90s, I read my share of books by Erica Spindler. Unfortunately, I lost track of her for a time. But, over the past couple of years I have added a few of her newer books to my reading list. Unfortunately, they always slipped down the list before I had a chance to reacquaint myself with her books.

However, over the Christmas holidays, I decided to take a break from ARCs and chip away at my ridiculous TBR pile. This book has been sitting on my Kindle for close to two years, so I plucked it from the middle of the heap with eager anticipation. It was just the right book, at the right time for me, as it turned out.

The plot isn’t all that deep, and is quite transparent, to boot. But the atmosphere is creepy, and the twists are effective, despite my having guessed whodunit, and why, well in advance.

In some ways the style of this book is a bit nostalgic to me. The format is very similar to all those romantic suspense novels I gobbled up back in the day. The romance is not the prominent thread in the book, but it is a part of the story, so I think it counts as romantic suspense, although I'm sure it was marketed as a psychological thriller.

Despite some imperfections, I enjoyed this book and fervently wish romantic suspense would return to this format again someday. It used to be one of my favorite genres, and I really do miss it!!






A New York Times and International bestselling author, Erica Spindler's skill for crafting engrossing plots and compelling characters has earned both critical praise and legions of fans. Her stories have been lauded as “thrill-packed page turners, white- knuckle rides and edge-of-your-seat whodunits.”

Erica loves meeting and interacting with her fans, both in person and online. She has a wicked sense of humor, an optimistic spirit and loves coffee, chocolate and red wine, not necessarily in that order.

In 2002 her novel Bone Cold won the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence. A Romance Writers of America Honor Roll member, she received a Kiss of Death Award for her novels Forbidden Fruit and Dead Run and was a four-time RITA® Award finalist. In 1999 Publishers Weekly awarded the audio version of her novel Shocking Pink a Listen Up Award, naming it one of the best audio mystery books of 1998.

Erica lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband and two sons.

Friday, January 24, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Impersonator by Mary Miley- Feature and Review


In 1917, Jessie Carr, fourteen years old and sole heiress to her family's vast fortune, disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, her uncle Oliver Beckett thinks he's found her: a young actress in a vaudeville playhouse is a dead ringer for his missing niece. But when Oliver confronts the girl, he learns he's wrong. Orphaned young, Leah's been acting since she was a toddler.

Oliver, never one to miss an opportunity, makes a proposition—with his coaching, Leah can impersonate Jessie, claim the fortune, and split it with him. The role of a lifetime, he says. A one-way ticket to Sing Sing, she hears. But when she's let go from her job, Oliver's offer looks a lot more appealing. Leah agrees to the con, but secretly promises herself to try and find out what happened to the real Jessie. There's only one problem: Leah's act won't fool the one person who knows the truth about Jessie's disappearance.

Set against a Prohibition-era backdrop of speakeasies and vaudeville houses, Mary Miley's Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition winner The Impersonator will delight readers with its elaborate mystery and lively prose.



The Impersonator (Roaring Twenties Mystery, #1)The Impersonator by Mary Miley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Impersonator by Mary Miley is a 2013 Minotaur publication.

The roaring twenties, vaudeville, and a puzzling mystery – a winning combination!

When, Leah, a Vaudeville performer, is approached by a gentleman, who introduces himself as her ‘Uncle Oliver’, and swears she is the spitting image of his niece, Jessie Carr, she blows him off, thinking he’s a creep.

But he persists in his pursuit, finally revealing that dear Jessie disappeared when she was fourteen years old, and that if she doesn’t show up to claim her generous inheritance soon, it will be forfeited. Leah, as an actress, could impersonate Jessie and secure the fortune, which she and Oliver would share. Initially. Leah refuses the offer, but shortly thereafter, she finds herself down on her luck and in dire straits. Desperate, Leah contacts Oliver and agrees to play the part.

However, once she arrives at Cliff House, she begins to think the real Jessie might have met with foul play. Not only that, her cousins, who stand to lose a fortune, have promised to prove she’s a fake. With the deaths of two other girls nearby, Leah begins to think the cases are connected to Jessie somehow. She must also keep her wits about her and avoid making any grave errors until the estate signs over the inheritance.

Is Jessie still out there somewhere, or has something terrible happened to her? Will Leah manage to pull off the performance of a lifetime, or will she be exposed and arrested for fraud… or worse?

This book has been sitting on my Kindle for at least six years!! I’ve been looking through my device recently, trying to read a few books that slid down the TBR list and off my radar over the years. This book stuck out because I’ve been dying to read more historical fiction lately, but all the new releases tend to follow a current trend and there are few choices beyond that right now. However, that unfortunate situation did force me to look through my older titles for something to satisfy my craving, and as a result, I have found some real gems- this being one of them!

The 1920s is one of my favorite historical settings, and the Vaudeville theme also sounded intriguing. To put the cherry on the cake, there’s a mystery to solve- a cold case, at that!

The plot is not totally original, as there have been other books, and even real -life cases in which someone claimed to be a long lost relative to gain access to a title, power or wealth. However, the author did a great job of making the story uniquely hers, especially when it came to characterizations. Leah is a great heroine, full of spunk and enthusiasm and one couldn’t help but root for her.

While the culprit is rather obvious, there are several nice twists and surprises along the way, and I loved the way the story ended.

As I suspected, this book was a good fit for me. Why I didn’t get around to reading it ages ago, I’m not sure. But, better late than never! But the best news is that there are at least three other books in this series! I can’t wait to see what Leah will get up to next!






I'm an Army brat who has lived in Virginia most of my adult life. I received my BA and MA in history from the College of William and Mary and taught American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University for thirteen years. I am the author of almost 200 magazine articles, most on history, travel, and business topics, and of ten nonfiction books. For fun, I write mysteries set in the Roaring Twenties.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone- Feature and Review


A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.



Jane Doe (Jane Doe, #1)Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone is a 2018 Lake Union Press publication.

A dark, delectable tale of revenge!

Jane has put her high-powered career on hold in order to insinuate herself into the life of a control -freak- religious zealot named Steven.

Jane, one of the most likeable sociopaths you are apt to meet, proceeds to lure Steven into her web, pretending to be a needy, docile woman who is so insecure she will behave just the way her new boyfriend orders her to.

The question is: Why is Jane trying to ensnare Steven into her cleverly laid trap? Will her mission succeed or will Steven turn the tables on her?

I loved this book! Jane is hilarious and had me laughing out loud as she toyed with her prey and gave us access to her dry wit and inner thoughts. Sociopath or not, Jane is assuredly more of loyal friend than most. I had to hand it to her. She’s a smart, clever anti-hero and could easily become one of my favorite characters!

I promise, this is a devilishly fun thriller with an ingenious plot and absolutely pitch perfect pacing! If you like Dexter- you are going to love Jane Doe!

4.5 stars

*Interesting aside- Romance readers who enjoy Victoria Dahl’s books will enjoy getting a glimpse of her dark alter-ego here.

View all my reviews






Victoria Helen Stone is the nom de plume for USA Today bestselling author Victoria Dahl. After publishing more than twenty-five novels, she is now taking a turn toward the darker side of genre fiction. Born and educated in the Midwest, she finished her first manuscript just after college. In 2016, the American Library Association awarded her the prestigious Reading List Award for outstanding genre fiction. Having escaped the plains of her youth, she now resides with her family in a small town high in the Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, and not skiing (too dangerous).

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis - Feature and Review


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Wildstone with the touching story of finding your place in the world—and the people who make it home.

Piper Manning’s about as tough as they come, she’s had to be. She raised her siblings and they’ve thankfully flown the coop. All she has to do is finish fixing up the lake house her grandparents left her, sell it, and then she’s free.

When a massive storm hits, she runs into a tall, dark and brooding stranger, Camden Reid. There’s a spark there, one that shocks her. Surprising her further, her sister and brother return, each of them holding their own secrets. The smart move would be for Piper to ignore them all but Cam unleashes emotions deep inside of her that she can’t deny, making her yearn for something she doesn’t understand. And her siblingswell, they need each other.

Only when the secrets come out, it changes everything Piper thinks she knows about her family, herselfand Cam. Can she find a way to outrun the demons? The answer is closer than she thinks—just as the new life she craves may have already begun.



Almost Just Friends (Wildstone, #4)Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis is a 2020 William Morrow publication.

A wonderful feel good story full of inspiration, hope and laughter!

Piper is an oak. She had to grow up fast and put her own hopes and dreams aside to raise her two siblings. Not only did she put her life on hold until everyone else was taken care of, she also tucked away her feelings and never gave herself time to grieve her parent's deaths.

However, now that her siblings are living their own lives, Piper is finally able to work on realizing her own dreams. All she needs to do is to renovate the Lake House she inherited, and then sell it….

Meanwhile, Piper reluctantly agrees to a birthday celebration, where she meets Camden Reid. When a storm moves in, the couple gets to know each other a whole lot better. As it turns out, Piper and Cam know some of the same people, and both have a lot of pent of grief to work though.

Cam’s feelings are still raw, while Piper’s are deeply buried. Recognizing in one another the pain they are both living with, Piper and Cam forge a cathartic, yet tentative friendship- a friendship that sometimes leads to kissing.

Meanwhile, all of Piper’s plans for her own future could come crashing down when both of her siblings return home, harboring a few stunning secrets. Will Piper ever get the chance to achieve her own dreams? Can she manage to let go, accept help, and share her feelings? Could Cam and her siblings hold the key that will unlock the door to the new life she’s been dreaming of?

Shalvis has this stuff down to a science. This is another stellar contemporary tale about family, life and love.

The characters in the story are flawed, but each of them grabs the opportunity to give and take, let go, accept, and grow as individuals, while making room for a little romance, too, of course. I loved the way the story flowed, and how the momentum took the reader on a realistic journey that leads to a sweet, very inspirational finish.

Things may not always go as we planned them, but sometimes there’s a silver lining. Sometimes people need help seeing it, or maybe we need a little help finding it ourselves. But, at the end of the day, these characters really came through, leaving my heart feeling full and happy.






New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill's ALMOST JUST FRIENDS and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold. Visit http://www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and fun blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks- Feature and Review


What should have been a fun-filled, carefree day takes a tragic turn for the worse for one mother when her best friend’s child goes missing in this suspenseful, compulsively readable, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter....

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.



Her One MistakeHer One Mistake by Heidi Perks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.

Exceedingly good psychological thriller!

Charlotte has taken her children, along with her friend Harriet’s young daughter, Alice, to the park. While the children are playing, she looks down at her phone, checks on her social media, then looks back up to find that Alice is missing. Frantically, she searches for her friend's daughter- but to no avail. Instantly, the popular Charlotte loses her standing in the community, having lost a child entrusted to her care, while Harriet’s husband, Brian, outright blames Charlotte for his daughter’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Harriet is living a double nightmare. Her child is gone, and her marriage and state of mind is more fragile than ever.

While Charlotte is the last person Harriet wants to see or talk to, she may the only one who can help Harriet get her daughter back.

After taking a year off from reading psychological thrillers, with just a few select exceptions, I decided to go back and look through the mountain of books I had listed in this genre and pick out a few I thought might be worth taking a second look at. This book sounded a little different, so I plucked it out the massive pile, and I’m so glad I did!!

This story is very suspenseful, told in a dual narrative format, giving the reader a chance to hear the story from both Harriet and Charlotte’s perspectives. Naturally, one must decipher if the narrators can be trusted or not.

The suspense builds slowly, as a picture begins to develop that is startling and disturbing. Looking back on it, I see areas where I should have questioned things, but it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The twists are well-timed, but quiet, subtle, clever and understated, which was very effective.

But, for me it was the fallout that really gave me pause. I can’t say too much, but I’m still mulling everything over in my mind. I must say that for a psychological thriller, this is really a thought-provoking story. There was a lot to digest but, overall, as controversial as the conclusion may be, it does pack a punch. The path forward still left me with a feeling of unease, but also with a sense of fragile peace and hope.

Overall, if you are looking for a well-executed and unsettling psychological thriller, give this one a try.






Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional.
Heidi is now writing her second novel

Friday, January 17, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Watching Edie by Camilla Way- Feature and Review


Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…



Watching EdieWatching Edie by Camilla Way
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Watching Edie by Camilla Way is a 2016 Berkley publication.

A psychological thriller done right!

The past few months have been very hectic in my household- so I’ve been either catching up on my holiday books before the season is over, or going through my TBR pile and pulling out a few books that have slipped down the list so that I can read them at my leisure, instead of being on a deadline.

I remember when this book was making the rounds on Goodreads, I was very intrigued, but the wait time at the library was so long, I decided to try back later. Three years later, I still had a short wait, but I must say it was well worth it.

Edie’s life hasn’t turned out quite as planned. The once popular girl, now finds herself pregnant, living alone, with very little emotional support. Then out of the clear blue sky, Heather, an old friend from her school days, one she would rather not ever see again, pops up at her door, just when Edie is at her most vulnerable.

From there, the reader is taken back and forth through time as Heather and Edie’s relationship developed, keeping one on edge, wondering just what monumental thing came between them all those years ago, and worried about what will happen now that Heather has wormed her way back into Edie’s life.

Heather is obviously a bit obsessed with Edie. While at times she seems to be a great, supportive friend, the reader senses something is off about Heather. Does she mean to do Edie harm? Is the baby in danger? Is she out for revenge, or is she just a lonely woman who needs a friend?

This is a stellar novel of suspense! The author did a fantastic job at creating a taut, sinister, creepy atmosphere, while building the tension at such an excruciating pace, I was sitting on the edge of seat from start to finish.

Yet, I never fully guessed the direction the story would take me, until the shocking conclusion.

This is the way a good psychological thriller should progress, in my opinion. There were no over the top twists tossed in for mere shock value. The story is smart, tense, and emotional. There are a few very important topics addressed and I found the story had a lingering effect on me.

Overall, if you are still a bit wary of psychological thrillers, unable to decipher the good ones from the many sub par offerings in an overcrowded genre, I think this one is a very safe bet. I’m going to press the ‘recommend’ button for this one.






Camilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls' magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men's style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- American Predator- by Maureen Callahan- Feature and Review


A gripping tour de force of investigative journalism that takes us deep into the investigation behind one of the most frightening and enigmatic serial killers in modern American history, and into the ranks of a singular American police force: the Alaska PD.

Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried 'kill kits' - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations across the country, and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years - uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake - many of which remain unsolved to this day.

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement, and in Keyes' life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America's most isolated environments - Alaska - when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.



American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st CenturyAmerican Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan is a Viking publication.

When I first noticed this book, the crime didn’t ring any bells for me. As the blurb stated most of us had never heard of Israel Keyes. As far I knew, this was a true crime story I had heard nothing about. But, after reading several positive reviews from my Goodreads peers, my curiosity was piqued, so I added it to the pile.

The book opens in Alaska, with a harrowing scene, in which a teenage girl is kidnapped, her fate obviously precarious. The girl’s father immediately swings into action, collecting reward money for any information about his daughter. However, some of his actions raised a few eyebrows and he quickly became law enforcement's first person of interest.

Meanwhile, Israel Keyes, was moving far, far away from Alaska. Eventually he was pulled over by the cops in Texas, leading to his arrest for murder. It would soon come to light that Israel Keyes had a long history of rape and murder-possibly dating back as far as 1996.

Callahan follows the investigation from Alaska to Texas and back again. Readers get to see what challenges law enforcement faced, including jockeying for position, jurisdiction issues, and politics.

Not only that, judging from the intense interrogations, the investigation was far from pretty. It was a very complex and complicated situation, to be sure. Despite that, the monster was caught- although it was mostly pure luck.

The story was definitely absorbing, and Keyes’ background was truly shocking. But, as the manhunt transitioned to Texas, I was stunned to learn that Keyes had planned his crime so carefully, he had even created a cunning escape route through Texas well in advance. Not only that, one of the spots on this journey through Texas just happened to be in the town I reside in. What? For the life of me, I could not recall hearing anything about this. So, I quickly did a Google search and sure enough, back in 2012 Keyes passed through my little town.

Not only that, he made a pit stop at a state park about thirty miles away, where he had nearly chosen his next victim. The woman was walking a large dog and Keyes ultimately decided that disposing of both a dead body and a large dead dog was too much of a hassle.

In my defense, this did happen eight years ago, and I’ve slept since then. However, now I do vaguely remember hearing about a serial killer marking out our town on a map while planning his escape route. While we may have been spared any of Keyes’ evil doings, investigators are positive that Keyes probably did take someone while he was in Texas.

I guess you never know how close to true evil we are at any given time.

But- I digress-

Overall, this is a spine-tingling true crime saga. Although Keyes never became a household name like other serial killers of his caliber, he was every bit as chilling and terrifying. The man was an enigma, a kind of hybrid serial killer, who failed to fit into a neat profile. He was cunning and as the title states- meticulous! Truly the stuff nightmares are made of!

True Crime enthusiasts will not want to miss this one!






Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. Visit her at maureencallahan.net.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall- Feature and Review


From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.



The Myth of Perpetual SummerThe Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.

Heart wrenching southern style coming of age tale, bracketed into a touching story of eventual hope!

Mississippi during the 60s and 70s is boiling pot of tension and scrutiny. It’s the perfect backdrop for this coming of age story centered around Tallulah James and her dysfunctional southern family.

Tallulah copes as best she can in a house full of secrets and miseries. Her father exhibits the hallmark symptoms of mental illness in a time when it was something people didn’t understand or discuss. Her mother has little regard for parenthood, which leaves Tallulah, her brother, Griff, and younger twin siblings under their grandmother’s supervision most of the time.

Her grandmother’s overwhelming emphasis on propriety is overbearing, and her parent’s constant arguments and failings, leaves Tallulah desperate to escape Mississippi. Eventually, circumstances force her hand, propelling her to leave home and start a new life for herself. But several years later, a horrendous family situation sends Tallulah racing back home, back into her grandmother’s life, where she also reconnects with her old friend, Ross.

As memories from the past collide with the present, the family is finally forced to face the buried truths that have burdened them for far too long, paving the way for long overdue understanding, forgiveness, redemption, and healing.

I have been trying to work this book into my reading schedule for over a year and a half. It was supposed to be a summertime beach read for me, but I’m glad I ended up reading the book now, instead. It’s been a cold, dreary week, (proving there is no perpetual summer in Texas either, contrary to popular belief), and this book pulled me away from my present time and place, sucking me into a good old- fashioned southern family drama.

This story is absorbing, and so heartbreakingly sad. My heart ached for these children who longed for paternal love and guidance, but all too often had to be the adults in the family. Dark, buried secrets, is the foundation upon which lies, and scandals and whispers are built around the family, and Tallulah bears the brunt of something she doesn’t fully understand, as a teenage girl.

While the simmering Mississippi climate creates a haunting and taut atmosphere, the emotions run long and deep, building and cloying, desperate for a release. The dam will finally burst, and the relief is palpable and immediate. While the aftermath still leaves some uncertainty to contend with, overall, the predominant feeling is one of hope and new beginnings.

This is a terrific drama, which addresses a host of family issues, but with an emphasis on mental illness. The time frame reveals how once taboo topics are finally becoming less stigmatized and better understood.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ross is THE show stealer! He is the most satisfying character in the book, all the way around. His unconditional love, patience, kindness, and loyalty are a much- needed balm. However, I also thought his own bit of family rebelliousness, which resulted in a most fitting career choice, was wonderfully ironic.

Although this book was marketed as a summer beach read, the weightiness is balanced enough to make it a great year -round choice. If you enjoy family sagas, historical fiction, or coming of age stories- this book is one you might want to consider!






Alas, the rumor is true, Susan was a dental hygienist in her previous career. However, she "retired" from that profession many years ago and has been a full-time author ever since--thanks to all of you fabulous readers.

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay.

She's received a RITA, two National Reader's Choice Awards and a SIBA Award for Fiction. Her books include an Indie Next Pick, Okra Picks, a Target Book Club pick, and are popular with book clubs.