A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz- Feature and Review


 An electrifying first novel from “a riveting new voice in American fiction” (George Saunders): A young woman returns to her childhood home in the American South and uncovers secrets about her father’s life and death

Billie James’s inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since.

Thirty years later, Billie returns, but her father’s home is unnervingly secluded; her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.



The Gone DeadThe Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz is a 2019 Ecco publication.

Race related crimes from the past continue to painfully haunt those living in the present in this tense and timely southern mystery.

This is a short novel, but it still packs a punch. The story is centered around Billie James, a young woman who inherited some money and a run down, barely habitable home in Mississippi. Upon arrival, Billie hopes she can learn more about her father, who had been a renowned black poet. But her inquiries are met with a slew of roadblocks as nearly everyone seems to be warning her off.

Although Billie was around when her father died, a death ruled an accident, she was only four years old and has no memory of that night. However, an odd bit of information causes her to dig her heels in and double down, more determined than ever to find out the truth about her father’s death, despite the possibility it could put her in grave danger.

I nearly read this book in one sitting. Partly is was the brevity of the book, which weighs in at less than three hundred pages in length, but mostly, it was because of the mystery and the superb characterizations. Yes, there is a big cast of characters, which does require some concentration, but I didn't find it as distracting as I normally do.

The old house, the secrets it holds, the racial history in Mississippi and the multiple points of view kept me turning pages as the sins of the past finally comes to light. The portrait of a rural small southern town is captured perfectly and examines the class and race divides that have barely budged in all the years since the death of Billie’s father.

Thought provoking and very timely-

After all is said and done, the reader experiences things through Billie’s eyes, learning simultaneously that injustice lingers forever, and that the past is never truly buried, and it’s never really all that far from the surface- and it should never be forgotten…



Chanelle Benz has published work in Guernica, Granta.com, The New York Times, Electric Literature, The American Reader, Fence and others, and is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie- Feature and Review


The very first collection of superb short stories featuring Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings…

First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond… then came the ‘suicide’ that was murder… the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat… a suspicious death in a locked gun-room… a million dollar bond robbery… the curse of a pharaoh’s tomb… a jewel robbery by the sea… the abduction of a Prime Minister… the disappearance of a banker… a phone call from a dying man… and, finally, the mystery of the missing will.

What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!

1. The Adventure of The Western Star
2. The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor
3. The Adventure of The Cheap Flat
4. The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge
5. The Million Dollar Bond Robbery
6. The Adventure of The Egyptian Tomb
7. The Jewel Robbery at The Grand Metropolitan
8. The Kidnapped Prime Minister
9. The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim
10. The Adventure of The Italian Nobleman
11. The Case of The Missing Will



Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot, #3)Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie is a 2001 Harper publication- originally published in 1925

A clever and lively group of eleven short stories by Agatha Christie, featuring Hercule Poirot!

Short stories are a hard sell for me, normally, but this book was a perfect fit for me right now. The stories in this collection are very short and I could read one or two a night a feel a sense of accomplishment.

Not only that, the mysteries were so entertaining and fun I felt my mood lightening with each session with Agatha’s brilliant detective!

4 stars!



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.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert- Feature and Review


A storm-struck island. A blood-soaked bed. A missing man. Senior Investigator Shana Merchant believes it all adds up to a killer in their midst—and that murder is a family affair.

Thirteen months ago, former NYPD detective Shana Merchant barely survived being abducted by a serial killer. Now hoping to leave grisly murder cases behind, she's taken a job in her fiancé's sleepy hometown in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate New York.

But as a nor'easter bears down on her new territory, Shana and fellow investigator Tim Wellington receive a call about a man missing on a private island. Shana and Tim travel to the isolated island owned by the wealthy Sinclair family to question the witnesses. They arrive to find blood on the scene and a house full of Sinclair family and friends on edge.

While Tim guesses they're dealing with a runaway case, Shana is convinced that they have a murder on their hands. As the gale intensifies outside, she starts conducting interviews and discovers the Sinclairs and their guests are crawling with dark and dangerous secrets.

Trapped on the island by the raging storm with only Tim whose reliability is thrown into question, the increasingly restless suspects, and her own trauma-fueled flashbacks for company, Shana will have to trust the one person her abduction destroyed her faith in—herself. But time is ticking down, because if Shana's right, a killer is in their midst and as the pressure mounts, so do the odds that they'll strike again.



Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1)Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert is a 2020 Berkley publication.

Fantastic locked room mystery with a dark edge!

The premise for this novel sounded good- just the kind of mystery I like. But I was in for a huge surprise when this book turned out to be one of my favorite mysteries of the year so far!

Shana Merchant has moved to upstate New York, to her fiance’s hometown, after a traumatic close call with a serial killer, while working as a detective with the NYPD.

Now working in a smaller territory, with her partner, Tim Wellington, a call comes in that a man has gone missing on a private island. Upon arrival, Shana and Tim find blood on the scene and are welcomed by the wealthy and nervous, Sinclair family. Yet, Tim is not really alarmed, suspecting a runaway case. But Shana thinks there is something far more sinister going on and that the Sinclair family may have a lot to answer for.

As Shauna works to uncover the truth, she also begins to face some hard truths in her own life...

It was a dark and stormy night...

No, this setup never grows old for me. As a pure mystery lover, locked room mysteries are my favorite- if they are done right.

Despite the comparisons to Agatha Christie, which are hard to ignore, this book is much edgier and atmospheric. Once I started it, I did not want to put in down. Everyone is a suspect- and I do mean everyone- which means the only person Shauna can depend on is herself. But, after her experience in New York, her confidence has taken a huge hit.

Even Shauna's fiance is less than supportive or encouraging, continually pushing for her dependence on him, rather than on herself, planting seeds of doubt. But she must rise to the occasion, and I enjoyed watching her character development, becoming stronger and wiser, while gradually revealing a complexity that was not evident at first.

The pacing is spot on, the suspense taut, and guessing game works the way a great mystery should- by keeping me guessing and on my toes! A few surprise revelations don't hurt either- and this book just happens to have a nice little last minute addition that will leave you wanting more, and eagerly anticipating the next book in the series!!



Tessa Wegert is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, Adweek, and The Economist. She grew up in Quebec near the border of Vermont and now lives with her family in Connecticut. Tessa writes mysteries set in Upstate New York while studying martial arts and dance. DEATH IN THE FAMILY is her first novel.

Friday, August 21, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent- Feature and Review


Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.



  My Absolute DarlingMy Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a 2017 Riverhead Books publication.

Very dark and disturbing, but one of the most noteworthy novels I have read this year!

Despite some very stellar reviews, I waffled back and forth, unable to decide if really wanted to tackle this one, but thanks to my GR friend, Jennifer Masterson’s review, I took the plunge.

I knew going in this story was controversial and perhaps not for everyone. Yet, I still was not emotionally prepared for the intensity of the novel and the almost unbearable passages I had to endure. It is one of those stories I had to read in small doses, but one I couldn’t put down for too long.

For those who have read ‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ you can’t help but notice some similarities and maybe to some extent, ‘The Seven Lives of Samuel Hawley’, but while each of those novels were remarkable in their own right, this novel takes those concepts into an entirely new realm.

On the surface, Turtle’s upbringing may seem merely unorthodox, to some. She attends school, but often runs wild. Her father, a hardcore survivalist, is inconsistent about his daughter's education, but is absolutely rigid about the lessons in survival he tutors her in.

But, if anyone is looking close enough, they will see much more going on. Once the reader is allowed to witness the training Turtle's father puts such a premium on, the sense of dread doesn’t slowly creep up on you, it hits you right between the eyes. It's immediate, violent, extreme, and relentless.

But, while Turtle is aware enough on some level that she is different from the other students in school, and she dutifully covers up her bizarre upbringing.

‘Turtle wonders if there are things that she is blind to that other people see, and what those things might be.’

She accepts the confines of her life, copes with her father as best she can, convinced he loves her, until she meets Jacob, purely by chance. The development of this friendship, opens up an entirely new world for Turtle, allowing her a glimpse inside a more normal atmosphere, which makes her yearn for something different, something more, something better for herself.

Against insurmountable odds, Turtle fights not only a physically bruising battle, but an internal battle against many psychological angles. It’s exhausting, but her resilience is awe inspiring.

‘Her moments of happiness occur right at the margin of unbearable. She knows it will not last and she thinks, you can never forget, Turtle, what is like, here, without him. You have to hold tight on to it, how good it is.’

This writing is raw, uncompromising and stark, with a minimalistic approach to dialogue, and what dialogue there is, is often filled to capacity with harsh language. The author defers to or relies on descriptive scenery, or scenes of action, allowing peaceful, but heavy silences to dwell in places, as we catch our breaths. Turtle has a long road ahead, her isolation and severe abuse stunting her ability to articulate her emotions in a more profound manner.

Turtle struggles mightily with the truth, her inner turmoil nearly as painful as the many other abuses she endures.

‘Nothing is as difficult as sustained and unremitting contact with your own mind.’

But, the underlying and overriding themes and ultimate relief, albeit not perfect, with some demons left to fight and work to be done, is still worth every ounce of agonizing pain I suffered.

*Be aware this book could prompt triggers for some readers.

Pulling out all the stars for this one-





Gabriel Tallent was born in New Mexico and grew up in Mendocino, California with two mothers. received his BA from Willamette University in 2010. After graduation he spent time leading youth trail crews through the backcountry of of the Pacific Northwest. Gabriel enjoys blackpacking and rock climbing. His stories have been published in Narrative and in the St Petersburg Review. His debut novel, My Absolute Darling, was published in August 2017 by Riverhead Books.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Outsider by Linda Castillo- Feature and Review


 Linda Castillo follows her instant New York Times bestseller, Shamed, with Outsider, an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder's past comes back to haunt her when she receives a call from Amish widower Adam Lengacher. While enjoying a sleigh ride with his children, he discovered a car stuck in a snowdrift and an unconscious woman inside. Kate arrives at his farm and is shocked to discover the driver is a woman she hasn't seen in ten years: fellow cop Gina Colorosa.

Ten years ago, Kate and Gina were best friends at the police academy, graduating together as rookies with the Columbus Division of Police. But the reunion takes an ominous turn when Kate learns Gina is wanted for killing an undercover officer. Gina claims she's innocent, that she was framed by corrupt officers who want her gone because she was about to turn them in for wrongdoing.

Kate calls upon state agent John Tomasetti for help and with a blizzard bearing down, they delve into the incident. But no one wants to talk about what happened the night Gina allegedly gunned down a fellow cop. Even Tomasetti is stonewalled, his superior telling him in no uncertain terms to back off.

With whisperings of corruption and the threat of rogue cops seeking revenge, Kate and Gina hunker down at Adam Lengacher's farm. As Kate gets closer to the truth, a killer lies in wait. When violence strikes, Kate must confront a reality that changes everything she thought she knew not only about friendship, but the institution to which she's devoted her life.



Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12)Outsider by Linda Castillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Outsider by Linda Castillo is a 2020 Minotaur publication.

You can’t go wrong with this series!!

Adam, an Amish widower, and his children are out for a sleigh ride despite the blizzard conditions, when they find a car riddled with bullet holes and a woman half frozen to death. No matter what, it is the Amish way to help people, so he takes the woman back to his place.

When Kate is called in, she finds herself face to face with her former best friend, Gina, a cop who went rogue. Now she’s asking for Kate’s help, but is she trustworthy?

This is another outstanding installment in the Kate Burkholder series!

The blizzard conditions create another layer of suspense as Kate attempts to clear up the murky details about Gina’s predicament. The flashbacks to Kate’s early days as a cop, the special friendship she had with Gina, and the disillusionment that follows when Kate first found out her friend had become a dirty cop, add a tone of nostalgia and melancholy to the story. Will Kate's memories cloud her judgment now?

The Amish elements also play a key part in the story, as Adam deals with his obligations to his faith, while also wrestling with temptation from someone who had no earthly idea of the consequences he and his children would be left to face.

The building suspense kept me glued to the pages, but I never was sure what to make of the situation, who to trust, or what to really believe. The stunning twists and the final showdown is riveting, nail biting stuff!!

5 stars


Linda Castillo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Kate Burkholder mystery series, including Sworn to Silence which was adapted into a Lifetime Original Movie re-titled AN AMISH MURDER and starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder. Castillo is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover Novel, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and a nomination for the RITA. In addition to writing, Castillo's other passion is horses. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next book.

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James- Feature and Review

                                                             ABOUT THE BOOK:
Rebecca James unveils a chilling modern gothic novel of a family consumed by the shadows and secrets of its past in The Woman in the Mirror.

For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.



The Woman in the Mirror: A NovelThe Woman in the Mirror: A Novel by Rebecca James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James is a 2020 Minotaur publication.

An eerie tribute to supernatural Gothic tales!

It’s 1947 and Alice Miller has just arrived at Winterbourne Hall to start her new job as governess for Jonathan de Grey’s twins. Alice is hoping this position will help her move beyond her haunted past as she works to keep her own secrets buried.

However, Jonathan is not a very warm person, at all, and the bond she initially forges with the children quickly sours. Not only that, the house itself appears to have an evil intent- its purpose to drive Alice to the brink of insanity…

Fast forward to present day New York, where Rachel Wright discovers she has inherited Winterbourne. Because she was adopted at birth, Rachel feels this may be the perfect opportunity to learn more about her heritage.

Yet, upon arrival, she finds that Winterbourne’s history is far from romantic, and despite her determination to stay and uncover all the long buried secrets of its past, the house and its tragic legacy prove to be more of a formidable opponent than she bargained for...

This book had my name on it! Rebecca James did a fantastic job of creating the intense uneasiness of a good spooky Gothic tale of terror, without lapsing into ridiculous clichés. The book is in some ways an homage to some of the greats, replete with the Cornish setting, the governess, the imposing house, and all those dark secrets, and of course, the requisite touch of the supernatural.

While the story is true to the classics, the modern- day timeline, allows James to put her own contemporary stamp on the story. The suspense is taut, the atmosphere heavy and malevolent, seamlessly blending the past with the present.

This is my kind of Gothic story! I loved it! I am so happy to see the traditional themes given a seat of honor is this topical tale of Gothic suspense!! Well done!


Rebecca James worked in publishing for several years before leaving to write full-time, and is now the author of several novels written under a pseudonym, as well as The Woman in the Mirror under her own name. Her favorite things are autumn walks, Argentinean red wine and curling up in the winter with a good old-fashioned ghost story. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two daughters.

Friday, August 14, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan - Feature and Review


Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the 'BookFrogs'—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when youngest BookFrog Joey Molina kills himself in the bookstore’s upper level, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions: Trinkets and books, the detritus of a lonely, uncared-for man. But when Lydia pages through his books, she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago—and never completely left, as she discovers.



Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreMidnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan is a Scribner publication.

Ingenious! This book was everything I hoped it would be!

This book starts off on a shocking note, with the suicide death of Joey Molina. Joey hung himself right there in the Bright Ideas Bookstore and poor Lydia was the one who discovered his body.

For Lydia, Joey’s sudden death opens a Pandora’s box from her past. It all starts to unravel when her picture appears in the newspaper, and with the discovery she was bequeathed all of Joey’s earthly possessions.

Lydia is deliberately living a low -key life, enjoying her work as a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Her childhood was marred by a horrific incident and the only way to avoid the stigma is to lay low.

But, now that her whereabouts are known, people from her past begin to seek her out- her estranged father, a detective with an unhealthy obsession, and her old childhood friend, Raj.

But, most of Lydia’s spare time is occupied by the puzzling clues Joey has left behind, which suggest Joey and Lydia are somehow connected. Joey’s coded messages could lead to the long overdue unmasking of a killer dubbed ‘The Hammerman’, who spared only one life in his rampage- Lydia’s.

Who can turn down the chance to read any book that is described as a ‘book about books’? That was a big draw for me when this book first showed up on my radar. That it also fell into the mystery/suspense genre made it all the more attractive.

From start to finish the story held me in rapt attention. The suspense slowly snuck up behind me, as the story gradually progressed from the mystery of Joey’s suicide and deciphering his codes, to morph into a rather chilling tale of a rampage killing, and cold case, that changed the course of Lydia’s life forever. As new details emerge, it appears that no one is what they seem, making it difficult to trust anyone.

The author has impeccable timing, doing an amazing job of dropping just the right amount of information, at just the right time, in order to keep the reader interested and full of anticipation, but keeping the most important facts close to the vest, so that it was next to impossible to guess who the killer was or what the motive might have been.

I found most of the characters intriguing and unique and nearly all of them were slightly quirky or offbeat, although I often found my inability to get a read on them frustrating at times. I can’t say I connected to any of them all that much, but understood why the author may have kept them at arm’s length.

Still, the story is incredibly absorbing and multi-layered, combining family dramas, friendship, psychological suspense, a horrifying cold case all together inside a ‘book about books’. Pretty nifty!

I enjoyed this imaginative and original mystery novel and do hope to see more books by this author in the near future.





Matthew Sullivan received his MFA from the University of Idaho and has been a resident writer at Yaddo, Centrum, and the Vermont Studio Center. His short stories have been awarded the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize and the Florida Review Editor’s Prize for Fiction and have been published in many journals, including The Chattahoochee Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Fugue, Evansville Review, and 580-Split. In addition to working for years at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, he currently teaches writing, literature, and film at Big Bend Community College in the high desert of Washington State. The author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, he is married to a librarian and has two children.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne- Feature and Review



Samantha Fremont may still be grappling with her mother’s death, but this summer she’s determined to build a new life for herself. Starting with making her friend’s dream wedding dress and establishing herself as a boutique fashion designer in the process. What she does not need is a surprise litter of puppies, the voice in the back of her mind saying she can’t do any of this—or her friend’s gorgeous brother who’s visiting from England for the wedding.

Ian Somerhill knows a sabbatical in Haven Point is exactly what his children need to recover from their own mother’s death. And even if he and Sam got off on the wrong foot, she has a way with Miranda and Thomas. As Sam—and her adorable puppies—bond with his children, they fall into a friendship unlike any he’s had in a long time. But Ian has obligations in England her can’t ignore—and a complicated past that might just stop this summer romance from ever blooming into something more.

Summer at Lake Haven (Haven Point, #11)Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne is a 2020 HQN publication.

A pleasant summertime romance

Samantha lived under her mother’s thumb her entire life, enduring her criticisms and negativity without fully realizing the impact it was having on her. With her mother’s passing, Samantha is naturally grieving, but she’s also ready to hit the reset button and start living her life with a fresh outlook.

While Samantha has dreams of becoming a fashion designer, for now, she’s content to run her shop and design a dream wedding dress for her best friend, Gemma. She also has her hands full taking care of newborn puppies. Despite her penchant for falling in love easily and often, Samantha is too busy to even think about romance- which she concedes is the last thing she needs in her life anyway.

Ian Somerhill arrives in Haven Point to attend his sister’s wedding and to enjoy a bit of down time with his two children before he must return to England and step into a role of duty that will take over his life.

Ian moves into the cottage right next door to his sister’s best friend for the summer. Initially, Ian rubs Samantha the wrong way, but she is taken with his kids immediately. Despite the friction between them, Samantha and Ian grow closer as the wedding date approaches.

Unfortunately, no matter how much they might want to explore the possibilities, Ian’s life is complicated, and his obligations are non-negotiable….

I love RaeAnne Thayne and have enjoyed several books in Lake Haven series. Sadly, this is the last chapter in the series. While this is not the strongest offering of the series, it was a nice, sweet romance perfect for light summertime reading.

Cute kids, adorable puppies, fashion designs, good friends, and a lovely happily ever after is hard to beat. 



#1 Publishers Weekly, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman- Feature and Review


A story set in a prestigious prep school in which one woman’s carefully hidden past might destroy her future.

Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.

And then one more morning she gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When Tess picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.

As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more she realizes that not all skeletons will stay safely locked in the closet.



The Sea of Lost GirlsThe Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman is a 2020 William Morrow publication.

Twisty, atmospheric suspense-

After surviving a painful past, Tess married a professor at prestigious boarding school, where she also teaches. Her troubled teenage son, Rudy, seems to be enjoying a period of stability until his girlfriend, Lila is found dead.

Rudy instantly becomes a prime suspect. However, the police are also interested in speaking with Tess's husband, believing he might also have a motive to kill Lila.

If that weren't bad enough, it would appear this is not the first time a female student has died at Haywood.

Tess soon finds herself walking a tightrope, trying to keep her past buried, and protect her son and husband, and staying one step ahead of law enforcement and their probing questions.

Tess is soon caught up in a vicious cat and mouse game as the walls start closing in on her.

This is a taut novel of suspense with some nice twists that kept me invested in the story. There were a few minor lags here and there, but for the most part the story maintains a brooding sense of foreboding from start to finish.

Tess is a great narrator, a terrific character whose strengths win out over her fear and vulnerabilities.

Overall, this was an addicting novel I had a hard time putting down. Now that I have my first Carol Goodman novel under my belt, I am looking forward to reading more of her books!





Carol Goodman graduated from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin. After teaching Latin for several years, she studied for an MFA in Fiction. She is the author of twenty novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, and, under the pseudonym Juliet Dark, The Demon Lover, which Booklist named a top ten science fiction/fantasy book for 2012. Her YA novel, Blythewood, was named a best young adult novel by the American Library Association. Her 2017 suspense thriller The Widow's House won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at The New School and SUNY New Paltz.