A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Sunday, February 28, 2021

We Were Killers Once- by Becky Masterman - Feature and Review


Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn returns in Becky Masterman's fourth stunning thriller.

In 1959, a family of four were brutally murdered in Holcomb, Kansas. Perry Smith and Dick Hickok were convicted and executed for the crime, and the murders and their investigation and solution became the subject of Truman Capote's masterpiece, IN COLD BLOOD. But what if there was a third killer, who remained unknown? What if there was another family, also murdered, who crossed paths with this band of killers, though their murder remains unsolved? And what if Dick Hickok left a written confession, explaining everything?

Retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn and her husband Carlo, a former priest and university professor, are trying to enjoy each other in this new stage in their lives. But a memento from Carlo's days as a prison chaplain--a handwritten document hidden away undetected in a box of Carlo's old things--has become a target for a man on the run from his past. Jerry Beaufort has just been released from prison after decades behind bars, and though he'd like to get on with living the rest of his life, he knows that somewhere there is a written record of the time he spent with two killers in 1959. Following the path of this letter will bring Jerry into contact with the last person he'll see as a threat: Brigid Quinn.




We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn, #4)We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman is a 2019 Minotaur publication.

Interesting spin on the Clutter murders and ‘In Cold Blood’.

This fourth installment in the Brigid Quinn series sends our favorite retired FBI agent directly into the path of a diabolical killer bent on keeping his crimes hidden.

Brigid’s husband, Carlo, a former priest, may have a copy of a confession written by Dick Hickcock, which tells a different story about the infamous Clutter murders, one that includes a third party.

That third party is Jeremiah Beaufort, who has just been released after a lengthy stint in prison. His biggest fear is that DNA technology might uncover evidence of his other crimes, and that after all these years a written confession might resurface- which means he must find Carlo and retrieve it.

Jeremiah eventually locates his target, but his plans are complicated when he comes face to face with Brigid Quinn.

Okay, I’ll admit this was not exactly what I was looking for in a Brigid Quinn thriller- but as the story developed, the more I began to see the genius in it. A tense psychological mind game emerges between Jeremiah and Brigid- one killer to another, so to speak.

This may or may not be the first time someone has speculated about the possibility there was a third person present at the Clutter murder, but Masterman’s theory is not half bad- maybe not probable- but hey, Truman Capote took a few liberties too- so there’s that.

The Yin and Yang of Carlo and Brigid continues to flourish as Brigid continues to struggle with her competition with Carlo’s deceased first wife.

Not only that, because Jeremiah is after her husband, Carlo experiences first- hand the parts of Brigid she’s tried to warn him about. The question is, how will that effect their marriage going forward.

Overall, this one doesn’t quite equal up to previous installments, but it was still a pretty solid addition to the series.



Becky Masterman created her heroine, Brigid Quinn while working as an editor for a forensic science and law enforcement press. Her debut thriller, Rage Against the Dying, was a finalist for the Edgar Awards and the CWA Gold Dagger, as well as the Macavity, Barry, ITW and Anthony awards. Becky lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley- Feature and Review


 Murder -- a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria's lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it's been a part of us ever since. The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historians. 



The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred HitchcockThe Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley is a 2014 Pegasus Books publication.

A must read for British Crime Enthusiasts-

This non-fiction book outlines the history of British Crime- both real and fictional and their obsession with crime and murder. It’s not just the British, though. I happen to love, love, love British crime fiction. Two of my all- time favorite book series are British Mysteries- one historical and one set in present day.

I also love my Brit-Box-(Worsely has a television version of this book currently airing on this service) and Acorn TV subscriptions too. Great crime series- from dark and gritty to light and cozy.

This book explores all the flavors of British Crime- Scotland Yard, Sherlock Holmes, the Golden Age, and true crime.

The book is mainly focused on historical British Crime- not contemporary- and is well- researched, but never dwells too long in one place. In fact, the book is only a little over three hundred pages and covers a lot of ground in that space.

Some of the history is more interesting than others, but this book was right up my alley. It reminded me of some great mysteries I’ve read over the years and had me thinking of re-reading a few of them, and also reminded me of authors I have yet to try.

Despite the occasional imbalance in the flow, I think this book is perfect for those obsessed with the history of British Crime. Some of the material is probably familiar for the aficionado, but it will still be fun to revisit it. For someone just now developing an interest in British Crime, this book could serve as a crash course and give you lots of material to research and may send you off on a few deep dives for more detailed information.

I breezed through this one quickly, enthralled as always, by actual crimes and the evolution of British Crime novels through the years. Crime fiction lovers will want to add this one!



Lucy was born in Reading , studied Ancient and Modern History at New College, Oxford, and got a PhD in art history from the University of Sussex.

Her  first job after leaving college was at a crazy but wonderful historic house called Milton Manor in Oxfordshire, where she gave guided tours.   Soon after  that  she  moved to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in the lovely job for administrator of the Wind and Watermills Section. She then departed for English Heritage in 1997, first as an Assistant Inspector and then as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings; Bolsover Castle, Hardwick Old Hall, and Kirby Hall were her favourite properties there. In 2002  she made a brief excursion to Glasgow Museums before coming down to London as Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces in 2003. Yes, this is a brilliant job, but no, you can’t have it. (Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

You might also catch her presenting history films on the old goggle box, giving the talks on the cruise ship Queen Mary 2, or slurping cocktails.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering- Feature and Review


From Carola Lovering, the author of Tell Me Lies, comes Too Good to Be True, an emotionally nuanced psychological suspense, and an obsessive, addictive love story, for fans of Lisa Jewell and The Wife Between Us.

Skye Starling is overjoyed when her boyfriend, Burke Michaels, proposes after a whirlwind courtship. Though Skye seems to have the world at her fingertips—she's smart, beautiful, and from a well-off family—she's also battled crippling OCD ever since her mother's death when she was eleven, and her romantic relationships have suffered as a result.

But now Burke—handsome, older, and more emotionally mature than any man she's met before—says he wants her. Forever. Except, Burke isn't who he claims to be. And interspersed letters to his therapist reveal the truth: he's happily married, and using Skye for his own, deceptive ends.

In a third perspective, set thirty years earlier, a scrappy seventeen-year-old named Heather is determined to end things with Burke, a local bad boy. Inspired by the sophisticated mother of her babysitting charges, Heather vows to leave her impoverished hometown behind and make a better life for herself in New York City. But can her adolescent love stay firmly in her past—or will he find his way into her future?

On a collision course she doesn't see coming, Skye throws herself into wedding planning, as Burke's scheme grows ever more twisted. Meanwhile, three decades in the past, Heather's longed-for transformation finally seems within reach. But of course, even the best laid plans can go astray. And just when you think you know where this story is going, you'll discover that there's more than one way to spin the truth.


Chapter One


MARCH 2019

Something is going on with Burke this morning. I can tell because he asks me three times how I want my eggs.

“Over easy!” I call from the bedroom. It’s how I’ve asked for my eggs every time since we began dating six months ago.

Burke is a morning person and I am not, and I love that he’s gotten in the habit of making me breakfast on weekend mornings while I lounge in bed with a book.

“Over easy, right?” he shouts again from the kitchen.

“Right! Thanks.” I sink back into the pillows, confused. Burke and I have been living together for over two months now. He knows how I like my eggs.

The fear that my forty-six-year-old boyfriend might be developing early-onset Alzheimer’s suddenly seizes every square inch of my brain. I recognize the irrational concern as it formulates, but the compulsion has already taken its unshakable hold, and I can’t lose Burke to Alzheimer’s out of sheer laziness. I climb out of bed and knock on every wooden object in the room eight times: eight knocks for the headboard, bedside tables, both dressers, windowpanes, closet door, baseboard moldings, and the little hand-carved elephant on my dresser. For time-management purposes, I should really avoid buying wooden furniture in the future.

“Two over-easy eggs with an English muffin and extra-crispy bacon for my beautiful girl,” Burke says, entering the bedroom with a tray. “And, of course, coffee.” He looks adorable in sweats and a T-shirt, his dark hair damp from the shower. Affection floods me, and I almost can’t stand how much I love him.

“Breakfast in bed?” I sit up straighter as he places the meal in front of me. “I didn’t even know we owned this fine tray. So fancy, Goose. What’s the occasion?”

Burke shrugs. “I just wanted to do something nice for my Goose. I know how you love your lazy Sundays.”

I smile. Burke and I have called each other Goose ever since we watched a documentary about geese and how they mate for life. When a goose loses its mate, it circles and calls endlessly for the one that’s never coming back. Burke said that’s what he would do if he ever lost me.

“You’re the sweetest.” I bite into a piece of bacon, crisped to perfection in the nearly burnt way that I like it.

Burke stands beside the bed, sort of shifting from one foot to another while he watches me eat, a peculiar grin plastered to his face.

“Are you okay?” I look up at him, worried again. “Did you already eat?”

“I … I—not yet.”

“Well, what’s the matter? I can tell there’s somethi—”

“Skye. There’s one more thing to go with your breakfast.” All of a sudden Burke drops to his knee beside the bed, staring at me with wide, deer-in-headlights eyes. Several slow, strange seconds pass before it finally hits me. Oh. OH! But it can’t be thisCan it be this?!

A small box appears on Burke’s palm—it must have come from his pocket—and along with the air in the room, my heart goes still. I hear him saying something about how much he loves me, and how even though it hasn’t been that long, he knows he wants to be with me forever, and then he flips open the box and there’s a ring and then he’s asking the question that every girl dreams of hearing from the love of her life.

My jaw hangs open. My entire body feels fizzy and light.

“Skye?” Burke prompts. “Say something.”

“Yes!” I scream. “YES!”

Burke whisks the breakfast tray to the floor and dives into bed beside me. Shock runs through me in hot waves as he slides the sapphire-and-diamond ring over my finger. It’s loose over the knuckle, but that’s okay—easy to have it resized, Burke assures me. He smiles up at me and it’s his biggest smile, the one that reaches his ocean-blue eyes, dimples teasing either cheek, and I’m grateful that I never gave up on love.

“You’re crying, Goose.” He touches my face.

“Of course I’m crying.” I wrap my arms around his neck and pull him in close. “Oh my God, Burke. Oh my God. I just can’t believe it. I thought you had Alzheimer’s or something.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because you kept asking what kind of eggs I wanted! And you always know to make mine over easy. I got so worried I knocked on all the wood in the room.”

Burke laughs and presses his lips against my temple. “I was nervous, I guess. Are you surprised?”

So surprised. But it’s just perfect.” I gaze down at the ring, a brilliant round diamond framed by two smaller sapphires on a platinum band. “How did you know I wanted sapphires? I never even told you.”

He swipes a tear dripping down my cheek. “Just a feeling.”

I nuzzle in toward Burke’s face, inhaling the smell of aftershave in the creases of his neck. I can’t help but imagine Andie’s reaction when she hears we’re engaged, and this is how my mind works—once an anxiety-inducing thought takes hold, I’m powerless against it.

You can’t actually know someone after six months, Skye, she’ll say, just as she said when we moved in together.

I listen to Burke explain how he asked my dad’s permission a couple weeks earlier, and how he’s arranged brunch at Buvette to celebrate later this morning with my dad and Nancy and her twin teenage sons, Aidan and Harry—it still feels weird to call them my stepbrothers. My stomach twists—I don’t want to share any of this with Nancy and her kids—but the excitement in Burke’s voice tells me he’s proud of his effort to include my family in this special day.

I can’t believe I have a fiancé, and there’s Andie’s stupid voice again: Don’t you think it’s weird, Skye, that you’ve never met his family? You’re living with someone and you’ve never met his family.

But Burke doesn’t have a family—his parents died in a plane crash when he was nineteen. He’s an only child. It’s not his fault.

“Want to finish your eggs?” Burke asks. “Brunch isn’t for a couple hours.”

I smile and nod, and he grabs the tray from the floor and places it on my lap. I bite into a buttered half of an English muffin, and God I would do anything to get Andie out of my head in this moment.

All I’m saying is that if he seems too good to be true, he probably is.

I lean my head on Burke’s strong, safe shoulder. “Tell me how you picked the ring, Goose.”

He launches into the story and I cling to his words, willing them to drown out Andie’s voice, which is negative and stemmed from envy and a threat to my happiness. Because Burke is not too good to be true, and unlike Andie and Lexy and Isabel, I never had a Burke, not until six months ago. I never had a reliable plus-one or a valentine, someone to bring to parties and weddings and be debilitatingly hungover with on Saturday afternoons. Until Burke I never had a guy who told me he loved me or brought me soup when I was sick or wanted to make me come until my vision blurred.

Copyright © 2021 by Carola Lovering


Too Good to Be TrueToo Good to Be True by Carola Lovering
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering is a 2021 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Wickedly good!

This is one of those books that falls into ‘the less you say, the less you know, the better’ category- so to that end-all I’m going to say is:

This is one clever little mind-trip- highly absorbing, and wildly entertaining. If you like getting sucked so completely into a story that you lose track of time, this might be one you want to consider.

There is no agenda- no messages- no sermons, just a good, original, well-plotted thriller with one amazing twist that completely took me by surprise!!

I got a little more than I was expecting from this one! I will definitely read this author again!



Carola Lovering is the author of TELL ME LIES (out now from Atria Books) and TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE (forthcoming from St. Martin's Press, early 2021). She attended Colorado College, and her writing has appeared in W Magazine, National Geographic, Outside, and Yoga Journal, among other publications. She lives in Connecticut.

Instagram: @carolatlovering
Twitter: @carolatlovering
Facebook: /carolatlovering

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett - Feature and Review


An inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity and an urgent call to free those buried alive by America's unjust legal system--from a gifted young lawyer whose journey marks the emergence of a powerful new voice in the movement to transform the system.

Brittany K. Barnett was only a law student when she came across the case that would change her life forever--that of Sharanda Jones, single mother, business owner and, like Brittany, black daughter of the rural South. A victim of America's ruthless and devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn from the arms of her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole--all for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of own life, both as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and the one-time girlfriend of an abusive drug dealer. As she studied Sharanda's case, a system slowly came into focus: one where widespread racial injustice forms the core of our country's addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda's plight, Brittany began to work towards her freedom.

This had never been the plan. Bright and ambitious, Brittany was already a successful accountant with her sights set on a high-powered future in corporate law. But Sharanda's case opened the door to a harrowing journey through the criminal justice system, in which people could be locked up for life under misguided appeals for law and order. Driven by the realization that her clients' fates could have easily been her own, Brittany soon found herself on a quest to unlock the human potential of those our society has forgotten how to see. Living a double life, she moved billion dollar corporate deals by day, and by night worked pro bono to free Sharanda and others in near-impossible legal battles. Ultimately, her journey transformed her understanding of injustice in the courts, of genius languishing behind bars, and the very definition of freedom itself. A Knock at Midnight is Brittany's riveting, inspirational memoir, at once a coming-of-age story and a powerful evocation of what it takes to bring hope and justice to a system built to resist both at every turn.



A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and FreedomA Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett is a 2020 Crown publishing group publication.

A Compulsory and eye-opening memoir!

Brittany K. Barnett writes a compelling memoir chronicling her journey to combat injustice. She had her own personal hurdles to jump over, but her experiences prepared her to accept her true calling.

Brittany Barnett’s personal experiences aided her when she began digging around in the criminal legal process. Her own mother had a serious drug addiction and spent two years in prison. But, when Brittany begins to look closely at the case of Sharanda Jones, it becomes obvious the punishment far exceeded the crime.

From there, Brittany, in her determination to help Jones, is met with a massive brick wall, disappointments and setbacks. Eventually, with her options running out, she turns to the Obama Administration’s clemency initiative for help.

Sharanda’s case is not the only case Brittany worked on. In fact, she is so dedicated to the cause, and the need so great, for someone like her to champion for people serving life sentences for lesser, non-violent drug offenses, she eventually left the corporate world to dedicate herself to fighting injustice.

                                 SHARANDA JONES, COREY JACOBS AND BRITTANY

While the draconian sentences, the criminal legal process, and mass incarceration could easily break one’s spirit, Brittany’s Pro-Bono work is focused on the victories, on the promise of hope. While she certainly gives readers an up close and personal view at the system’s failures, outlining its flaws passionately, she doesn't veer off into preachy pulpit pounding, and shows respect for those forced to work within the system as it is.

The balance between sharing her personal life and professional life is perhaps too intertwined for one to get a better read on Brittany as a private citizen, which is too bad, as she strikes me as a person one might want to get to know better.

Other than this one small regret, I highly recommend this book. It is educational, heartbreaking, inspirational and hopeful!



Brittany K. Barnett is an award-winning attorney and entrepreneur focused on social impact investing. She is dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system and has won freedom for numerous people serving fundamental death sentences for federal drug offenses – including seven clients who received executive clemency from President Barack Obama. Brittany is founder of several nonprofits and social enterprises, including the Buried Alive Project, Girls Embracing Mothers, XVI Capital Partners, and Milena Reign LLC. She has earned many honors, including being named one of America’s most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass by Geddy Lee- Feature and Review


"It's not surprising that sooner or later I'd dive down the proverbial rabbit hole into the world of vintage bass guitars."—Geddy Lee

From Rush frontman Geddy Lee's personal collection of vintage electric bass guitars, dating from the 1950s to the 1980s, comes the definitive volume on the subject.

Geddy's love of the bass has been nurtured over a lifetime spent in the limelight as one of the world's premier rock bassists. For the past seven years, he's dedicated himself to studying the history of the instrument that's been so essential to his career, collecting hundreds of basses from around the globe, 250 of which are presented here in breathtaking detail with specially commissioned photography by Richard Sibbald.

Representing every tone in the bass palette, every nuance of the rock and roll genre as well as blues, jazz, pop, and country, this one-of-a-kind collection features so-called "beauty queens"—pristine instruments never lifted from their cases—as well as "road warriors"—well-worn, sweat-soaked basses that proudly show their age and use. Complete with personal commentary from Geddy that showcases his knowledge both as a musician and an aficionado, this luxuriously produced volume is a revelatory look at the heavy hitters in the world of bass—Fender, Gibson/Epiphone, Rickenbacker, Höfner, Ampeg—and lesser known but influential global luthiers such as Antonio Wandr Pioli, Dan Armstrong, and Tony Zemaitis.

The book also features interviews with John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin); Adam Clayton (U2); Robert Trujillo (Metallica); Jeff Tweedy (Wilco); Bill Wyman (The Rolling Stones); Les Claypool (Primus); Bob Daisley (Rainbow); Fender expert and owner of the legendary Gibson Explorer, Bass Ken Collins; veteran guitar tech for The Who, Alan Rogan; plus comments from many other great players across three decades of rock and roll.

Written in Geddy's singular voice, this book reveals the stories, songs, and history behind the instruments of his inimitable collection. Complete with an index and a graphically designed timeline of the history of the bass, as well as an up-close look at Geddy's basses on Rush's final R40 Tour, his stage and recording gear from 1968 to 2017, and forewords by author and respected vintage expert, Terry Foster, and Rush band member, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass is the ultimate compendium for the consummate collector, musician, Rush fan, and anyone who loves the bass guitar.


Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of BassGeddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass by Geddy Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass by by Geddy Lee, Daniel Richler (Text & Editorial Collaborator), Richard Sibbald (Photographer), Terry Foster (Contributor), Alex Lifeson (Contributor) is a 2018 Harper Design/HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. Publication.

Gorgeous Book!

In hundred percent honesty, I never gave the bass the credit it was due until I heard RUSH, and then had the pleasure of seeing them perform live. MTV videos also allowed people to watch Geddy play the instrument, and believe me, he takes it to a whole new level.

Once I discovered RUSH, I started noticing the bass contributions in songs much more often,and grew to fully appreciate the instrument on the same level I had previous bestowed my praise on the guitar, vocals, keyboards or percussion.

This book is almost like a love letter to the instrument from a true maestro and dedicated collector. The book is presented like a coffee table book, therefore, it includes pages and pages of photographs.

The text is very interesting and informative, appealing to both the casual fan, and the aficionado. The interviews included with other prominent bassists was a fun treat too.

This would be a fun way to learn about the instrument if you aren’t all that knowledgeable about it. Diehard enthusiasts will really love this book, and collectors will salivate.

Lee’s exuberance is palpable, and it is obvious he is quite passionate about the bass, but also about collecting. It only makes sense that Geddy would get into collecting vintage bass guitars and it is obvious he takes pride in the collection and has generously shared it with all of us.

All music fans will appreciate the labor of love- Rush fans will feel a little bittersweet, and collectors will recognize the passion and obsession Geddy reveals in these pages.




Geddy Lee Weinrib, OC known professionally as Geddy Lee, is a Canadian musician, singer, and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller- Feature and Review


 A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age debut novel

It's 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time. However, fresh starts aren't as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn't believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor, Samuel Moore, appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn't need any more complications in her life―especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam.

Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva's new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva's history―and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.



The Widow of Rose HouseThe Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller is a 2019 St. Martin’s Griffin publication.

My kind of ghost story!

Alva Webster has returned to New York amid scandalous rumors swirling around her after the death of her estranged husband.

Ready to put the past behind her, she purchases Liefdehuis, and old mansion she intends to refurbish, then feature in a book about interior design.

The house, unfortunately, has a reputation for being haunted. This scares away the workers Alva needs, so she eventually succumbs to the overtures of one Sam Moore, an attractive man who is interested in studying the potential paranormal activity in the house.

The chemistry between Alva and Sam is undeniable, but Alva has dark secrets in her past that makes her wary of romantic entanglements.

Meanwhile, it would appear there really is a ghost, prompting intensive research to uncover the truth behind the haunting.

If my memory serves, I added this book thinking I would read it for Halloween, but I never got around to it. Now, over a year later, I’m finally pulling it up to the top of the TBR pile.

While this would be a nice book to read at Halloween, any time is a good time for a spooky ghost story. I had forgotten the premise of the book at first, but soon found myself immersed in the history, the mystery, and the red-hot attraction between Alva and Sam! Whew!

This book surprised me! I didn’t have any expectations one way or another, but this book turned out to be more than I bargained for! The author painted a vivid historical portrait of the time period, created a spine-tingling atmosphere, with shades of Gothic horror, added compelling commentary on mental illness, and provided a wonderful love story to cap it off.

Although this one was a bit steamier than I usually feel comfortable with these days, I really, really liked this story!!

Tackling the TBR list is turning out to be a whole lot of fun!!



Author of THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE (St. Martin's, 2019) | Enthusiastic about sauropods, sloths, books, and biscuits

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell- Feature and Review


The author of the “rich, dark, and intricately twisted” (Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author) The Family Upstairs returns with another taut and white-knuckled thriller following a group of people whose lives shockingly intersect when a young woman disappears.

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart.

In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.



Invisible GirlInvisible Girl by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell is a 2020 Atria publication.

Clever and suspenseful!

Three first person voices narrate this enthralling story which examines the various devices humans employ to hide their innermost secrets, darkest pain, obsessions, or deepest character flaws, from society, from family and friends, and maybe even from themselves.

Saffyre Maddox, in treatment for self-harm, is released by her therapist, Roan Fours, before she’s ready. This leads her to stalk him and spy on his family.

Meanwhile, Cate Fours, Roan’s wife, acquired an uneasy feeling about her neighbor, Owen Pick, after several sexual assaults were reported in the area, and her daughter thinks Owen may have been following her home one night, with dark intentions.

Owen, a virgin, living with his aunt, has been let go from his job after being reported for sexual impropriety with his female students. He finds a sympathetic ear after joining an online chat group of ‘incels’.

When Saffyre disappears, key evidence leads investigators to Owen, who then becomes an obvious person of interest...

This is another winner for Lisa Jewell!! The story held my rapt attention from start to finish! The exploration of the darker corners of the internet was chilling. Although, the atmosphere was not as heavy as Jewell’s previous novels, I thought the story was extremely creepy!

I was a tiny bit concerned about the ending after reading a few editorial reviews for this book. I must disagree with the critics in this case.

Okay, sure, in a perfect world, it would end differently- but that’s what made Jewell’s decision so provocative. I thought it was fitting to leave the reader feeling unsettled.

As to the suggestion the conclusion may be weak-as a seasoned crime reader- I guess I must be losing my touch, because I closed the book with a definite shiver running down my spine!!

Fans of domestic and psychological thrillers will enjoy this one!


Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

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