A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, December 31, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth-Feature and Review

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.
The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.
Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.
But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.
As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.


The Family Next DoorThe Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth is a 2018 St. Martin’s Press publication.

The secrets of suburbia are always deliciously scandalous…. And sometimes they are downright criminal.

The perfect neighborhood, perfectly manicured lawns, perfect families. It all looks so picturesque from the outside, but when new neighbor, Isabelle, moves into the neighborhood of Pleasant Court, cracks suddenly begin to appear in that perfect veneer.

Elle, Fran, and Ange, are very curious about Isabelle, wondering why an older, single woman has moved into their family- oriented neighborhood. But, the three ladies all have major issues, besides drawing out their new neighbor, that are commanding their time and attention, behind closed doors, where their seemingly perfect lives are, in fact, unraveling.

I have not read any of this author’s other books, but this one was advertised as ‘for fans of Liane Moriarty’. I’m not sure if this is SH's usual style of writing or not, but while the comparisons to other authors is a marketing ploy I despise, in this particular case, I can see some similarities, but this author takes that format and puts her own unique spin on it.

There is just something about taking a nosy peek into your neighbor’s private lives that is irresistible. Getting to be the proverbial ‘fly on the wall’, this novel allows us to vicariously live out our unrequited desire to get a glimpse into what our neighbors are really like, without being accused of spying on our nearby residents.

But, what makes this story really work is that each of the three featured women are coping with identifiable issues we are all sympathetic to. Postpartum depression, infidelity, money issues, and the everyday challenges of parenting are real problems many marriages face. But, while these subjects are highly dramatic and always engrossing material, the author manages to somehow take these common enough domestic issues and give them a more sinister tone. I was on pins and needles as the author unveils secrets and crimes at a tantalizing pace. I was furiously turning pages, completely lost in the lives of these seemingly ordinary suburbanites. There are a few shocking twists, but at the end of the day, there is also plenty of character growth. The characters made much needed progress, and adjusted bravely to a new normal, which set each character in an entirely different frame of mind than the one they were in, when we were first introduced.

I liked the strictly feminine viewpoint and the fluidity in which the author segues one POV into another, making it easy to keep up with all the characters and gain more insight into their personal feelings and struggles, in the process.

I truly enjoyed this novel! I am really looking forward to reading more books by Sally Hepworth!!





Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives. The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s debut novel as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”. The Secrets of Midwives was also the highest selling debut Australian fiction of the year in 2015. 

Sally is also the author of The Things We Keep, published in January 2016. The Things We Keep was a Library Journal Pick in the U.S. for January 2016, and an Indie Next Pick in the U.S. for February 2016. NYT bestselling author of The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion praised The Things We Keep calling it ‘A compelling read that touches on important themes, not least the different forms that love may take.”

Both novels were published worldwide in English and have been translated into several languages.

Sally is currently working on her next novel, to be published in early 2017.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY-The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson- Feature and Review


 Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that 'The Devil in the White City' is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.

Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison.

The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims.



The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson is a 2003 publication.


To be clear, this is a true crime book about H. H. Holmes, but it's much more that- it's also about a time, a place, a huge event in history, and those who brought it all together. It's a horrifying story, but also a fascinating one.

Larson is quite something, isn’t he? The research is, of course, phenomenal, but it’s the way he makes history come to life that kept me turning those pages.

The book reads like a novel, which, as we know, is an approach many True Crime authors have mastered, but is a bit harder to pull off when writing about history. Anyone who feels history or nonfiction is too dry should give this book a try!

Larson had me in the palm of his hand and despite my penchant for True Crime, it was the planning and execution of the magnificent World Fair that takes center stage. The architecture, all the vivid details, the people behind the scenes, and the influx of people into the city was just incredible.

But evil was lurking in the background and the fair turned out to be the perfect environment for a serial killer- H. H. Holmes- to be exact.

Holmes was most assuredly the stuff nightmares are made of!! He got away with so much, for such a long time, it was hard to take it all in!! Times were so different back then too- which made it easier for Holmes to con a more trusting public.

Overall, Larson has a unique approach, and a well organized presentation, bringing together two seemingly different subjects, and linking them together in such a way that one can hardly tear themselves away from the pages.

That’s a rare talent for historical writing. I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys true crime and history, of course, but even if you usually prefer fiction, you’ll probably still find this book of great interest!!



Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers: Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than nine million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne- Feature and Review


Romantic comedy following two thirty-somethings who meet on a blind dating app—only to realize that their online chemistry is nothing compared to their offline rivalry.

Perpetually cheerful and eager to please, Gracie Cooper strives to make the best out of every situation. So when her father dies just five months after a lung cancer diagnosis, she sets aside her dreams of pursuing her passion for art to take over his Midtown Manhattan champagne shop. She soon finds out that the store’s profit margins are being squeezed perilously tight, and complicating matters further, a giant corporation headed by the impossibly handsome, but irritatingly arrogant Sebastian Andrews is proposing a buyout to turn the store into a parking garage. But Gracie can’t bear the thought of throwing away her father’s dream like she did her own.

Overwhelmed and not wanting to admit to her friends or family that she’s having second thoughts about the shop, Gracie seeks advice and solace from someone she’s never met—the faceless “Sir”, with whom she connected on a blind dating app where matches get to know each other through messages and common interests before exchanging real names or photos.

But although Gracie finds herself slowly falling for Sir online, she has no idea she’s already met him in real life…and they can’t stand each other.



To Sir, with LoveTo Sir, with Love by Lauren Layne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne is a 2021 Gallery Books publication.

Gracie Cooper gave up her dream of being a professional artist to run the family owned champagne shop, per her father’s wishes. Gracie’s siblings have left her holding the bag, so Gracie is determined to make the best of the situation by adopting a ‘Pollyanna’ approach, working hard to convince herself she is happy. Sadly, though, the champagne shop is going through a rough patch.

Enter Sebastian Andrews…

Sebastian wants to by the champagne shop and is pressuring Gracie non-stop, merely because he needs the space the shop in sitting on. His approach could use some work, as he is oh so arrogant. Gracie is determined to fight for her store, despite her doubts and the odds against her.

The one bright spot in all this an accidental messaging relationship Gracie has developed with ‘Sir’ via a ‘faceless’ dating app. She’s loving the light and easy banter she has stuck up with ‘Sir’, and soon finds he is an excellent confidant, and despite her protest, she might be falling in love with him…

What a cute, sweet story with a nice updated – ‘enemies-lovers’ vibes, Ala “You’ve Got Mail”. The dialogue is snappy, flirty and fun, with just the right amount of tension and emotion, to compliment the plot and the characters.

Layne has become a ‘go-to’ author for me when I want a light contemporary or romantic comedy. Her stories are light, but have depth and feeling, and always, always leave a big smile on my face!


Featured in Oprah Magazine and PopSugar, Lauren Layne books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Snappy banter, sexual tension, and a fairy-tale happy ending are a hallmark of the Lauren Layne brand. Library Journal has described Lauren's work as "exceptional," and the books have been described by USA TODAY as "romantic comedy at its finest."

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Beaumonster by Jesse Dayton- Feature and Review


Jesse Dayton’s story reads like a who’s who of American music. In his debut memoir Beaumonster, Dayton reveals the stranger-than-fiction encounters and outlandish experiences that have ensued across his wide-ranging career. After sneaking into night clubs to play gigs in his youth, eighteen-year-old Dayton and his trio began packing clubs and theaters across Houston, Dallas, and Austin. His first solo record which featured great luminaries like Doug Sahm, Flaco Jiménez, and Johnny Gimble, hit number one on the Americana radio charts and then he was off to the races— touring the world solo and with punk legends Social Distortion and the Supersuckers. While doing press in Nashville, he caught the attention of Waylon Jennings and was whisked off to Woodland Studios, where he was greeted by none other than Johnny Cash, who told Dayton, “We’ve been waiting for you.”
Since then, Dayton’s ride across the entertainment industry, traversing genres and formats, has only gotten wilder. Whether it’s playing guitar on records and film with the likes of Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, Glen Campbell and Duff McKagan; writing and recording soundtracks for horror director/rockstar Rob Zombie; directing Malcolm McDowell and Sid Haig in his own horror movie; filling in for the iconic punk band X’s guitarist; joining Ryan Bingham on tour; or the many solo and guest projects he continues to work on, Dayton is down to leave his mark, making Beaumonster a uniquely entertaining tale that will impress new and old fans alike.



Beaumonster: A MemoirBeaumonster: A Memoir by Jesse Dayton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beaumonster by Jesse Dayton is a 2021 Hachette Books publication.

The blurb for this book caught my eye, and I thought Jesse Dayton sounded like an interesting fellow, who has had some extraordinary experiences in his life.

He’s from Beaumont, Texas and is well acquainted with the Austin music scene when it boasted an eclectic array of talented musicians from a variety of different musical genres.

According to Dayton, he has an online presence that might be a controversial- he calls them online rants- but I was not familiar with any of that, and I didn’t take the time to research it, so for me reading this book was like going in blind.

Dayton is a real character. He’s brash, enthusiastic, and unapologetic, and had worked with quite a colorful cast of characters- country stars, rock stars, movie stars, and even performed at the white house.

Unfortunately, this memoir is not as organized as I would have liked it to be- though in all fairness, Dayton did warn his readers that timelines would skip around a lot.

I did enjoy the history he talked about, and his firsthand experiences with some of the biggest names in country music, as well as his work with Rob Zombie- of all people. Dayton is opinionated, and not shy about sharing his views- some of which I agree with and others, well… not so much. He has certainly lived a life outside the norm and has an incredible gift of adaptability.

This memoir was a little raw, but more realistic, sincere, and intimate because Dayton, though well-known in some circles is not a household name. There is some bragging, name dropping, etc., but the superstar ego and bloat are refreshingly absent.

Overall, if you have ever read my reviews for biographies or memoirs, you know that organization is something I’m a stickler for. I admit I did struggle with the format a little bit.

That said, Dayton has an interesting musical style I discovered, and his memoir is one of the more interesting ones I’ve encountered in a while, which helped balance things out the rough edges.



Jessie Dayton is an American musician, actor, and record producer from Austin, Texas, best known for his guitar contributions to albums by country musicians including Johnny Cash, Waylong Jennings, and Willie Nelson.  He is also notable for his collaborations with horror film director Rob Zombie, who commissioned Dayton on multiple occasions to record music to accompany his films. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- A Cowboy Christmas Miracle by Carolyn Brown- Feature and Review

It will take a miracle bigger than the state of Texas for these two feuding families to survive the holidays!
Opposites might attract…
The Brennans and the Gallaghers put aside their one-hundred-year feud every Tuesday for their weekly poker game. This week, the stakes are sky-high. Goaded to recklessness, Declan Brennan bets one thousand dollars that he can woo the next woman to walk into the saloon. A minute later, fiery-haired Betsy Gallagher pushes through the doors. If Declan can tame this wild Gallagher, he’ll have earned every penny.
If they don’t kill each other first…
Betsy can outshoot anybody in Burnt Boot and loves ranching more than anything—until she falls for Declan. He’s fallen for her too. But when she discovers what sparked their courtship, Declan will need a Christmas miracle to save his hide—and his heart.
NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author and RITA Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than seventy books.  These days she is concentrating on her two loves:  women’s fiction and contemporary cowboy romance. She and her husband, a retired English teacher, make their home in southern Oklahoma.



A Cowboy Christmas Miracle (Burnt Boot, #4)A Cowboy Christmas Miracle by Carolyn Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Cowboy Christmas Miracle by Carolyn Brown is a 2016 Sourcebooks Casablanca publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Yes, it’s that time of year when reviewers are sampling the upcoming holiday themed books, recommending the ones that make us laugh, or warm our hearts and get us in the mood for the festive and magical season.

This is my first holiday themed book this year, and it’s off to a pretty good start!

There is nothing like a Texas themed holiday romp with sexy cowboys, humor, and of course a long running family feud….
The feud between the Brennan’s and Gallagher’s has been going strong for over a hundred years, but when a poker match between Delcan Brennan and Tanner Gallagher got a little out of hand, a dangerous bet takes place. Unfortunately, Tanner’s favorite cousin, Betsy, becomes the prize, when her arch enemy Delcan Brennan must win her heart in a month’s time or forfeit a thousand dollars.

During the holiday season, love’s magic is a little more potent than usual, but it still has to work extra hard to bring together two people who would never have given each other a chance under normal circumstances.

This book is laugh out loud funny, but there is an underlying bittersweet tinge to it because of the forbidden and unrequited love the couple felt they would have to live with forever because of their family names. But, when they begin spending time together, working on the church’s holiday program, they keep it a secret from everyone as they fall hopelessly in love. But, what happens when their families find out?

Since I have not read the previous installments in the series, I am not familiar with the dynamic or the secondary characters, so the church may have played a role in the series all along, but for me, I felt a little uncomfortable mixing church, praying, and the Christian holiday in with drinking, bars, sexy time, and cursing. It was a strange combination, but the pastor was pretty cool.

Other than that, this was a really cute story and has all the elements a good holiday romance should, infusing a nice amount of humor in with a spicy romance and a heartwarming happy ever after. So, when you begin picking romances for the fast approaching holiday season, be sure to add this one to your list!


Hi! I'm twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can't trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who've made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He's even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio's box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it's about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn't changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter... all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I've touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it's brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list. In 1997 Kensington bought two books for their Precious Gems line. Two years and six books later the line died with only four of those books seeing publication. But by then Avalon had bought a book and another, and another. Ten years later the list has grown to thirty nine. Last year Sourcebooks bought the Lucky Series which is in the bookstores now. They've also bought The Honky Tonk Series which will debut with I LOVE THIS BAR in June and will be followed by HELL, YEAH, MY GIVE A DAMN'S BUSTED, and HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there's enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I'm writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I'm telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

I have a wonderful agent, Erin Niumata, who continues to work magic and sell my work. I'm very lucky to have her and my editors who continue to believe in me.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole- Feature and Review


An enchanted Christmas dress brings two generations of women together for the magic of the season in this delightful holiday story from author Courtney Cole.

One Dress. Two Women. The Magic of the Holiday Season.

When hopeful fashionista Meg Julliard must return to her hometown of Chicago to manage her late father’s apartment building, she thinks her dreams of making it in the fashion business are over. Add in her father’s eclectic roster of tenants who all need Meg’s attention (ASAP!), a host of building related disasters, and a handsome handyman she keeps embarrassing herself in front of, and this has all the makings for the worst Christmas she’s ever had.

Ellie Wade, one of the building’s longtime residents, is also not feeling the Christmas Joy this year. She is preparing to move into a nursing home (reluctantly), and is in the process of sorting through her belongings to downsize. Every corner of her apartment holds memories, some good, some bad. But there’s one dress she hesitates to pack up as it represents both the best and worst night of her life.

Ellie and Meg strike up an unlikely friendship and the story of Ellie’s dress comes out. Ellie gifts the gorgeous dress to Meg, hoping that it will bring her more luck, on the condition that she wear it to the building’s Christmas party.

The dress magically fits, and while it eventually leads to the best night of Meg’s life, it also acts as inspiration for Meg to follow a life-long dream of her own, a dream that will help save the crumbling Parkview West, and restore it to its former glory, and keep it as a safe home for all of the current tenants.

The dress and the magic of the holiday season helps both Meg and Ellie find their own happy endings. 




The Christmas DressThe Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole is a 2021 William Morrow Paperbacks publication.

When Meg’s father passes away, she puts her fashion world dreams aside to manage the apartment building she inherited. Her return to Chicago is met with mixed feelings by the tenants. They all seem dedicated to her father, but the jury is still out on Meg.

Despite a rocky start, Meg strikes up an acquaintanceship with Ellie Wade, a tenant with a sad past. Her story is centered around a party dress she wore to her engagement party many years ago, though the marriage never took place because of an ugly accusation and youthful pride. Ellie obviously has many regrets, and Meg can certainly identify with that.

Meanwhile, Meg learns the building is in horrible condition, which keeps her in constant contact with the deliciously handsome and very generous, maintenance guy…

This is a super sweet story with great characters, a wonderful second chance at love thread, and a wonderful contemporary story that all ties in together.

The tone is light, but the story has depth, as the characters learn to overcome obstacles to see their dreams realized and create solid relationships.

The holiday atmosphere helps give the story that little extra touch of magic.

Overall, a lovely holiday tale- recommended to all!



Courtney Cole is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling novelist who would rather write than eat chocolate. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business, but no amount of working in the corporate world could quell her urge to write.

Courtney was born and raised in Kansas, home of incredibly friendly people and the most horrendous weather on the planet. Because summer days were so hot, she grew up reading stacks of books... and when she didn't like the ending, she wrote her own.

Courtney has relocated to Florida where she writes beneath palm trees. To learn more about her, please visit her website, www.courtneycolewrites.com To sign up for her newsletter and receive exclusive sneak peeks and super-fan perks, go here: http://smarturl.it/CourtneyColeEmail

Friday, December 17, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Home for Christmas by Lily Everett- A Book Review


Tis the season for family and love…

At least it's supposed to be. For Libby Leeds, however, the holiday season is just another reminder of things she'd rather forget. When she left Sanctuary Island as an orphaned child, she never thought she'd go back except in her dreams, dreams she's kept alive by writing monthly column of her fictional small-town life, until her publisher sends her back home for the holidays.

Owen Shepard is a fallen hero, wounded in action rescuing three of his fellow soldiers, but after a whirlwind of media attention, all this charismatic Army Ranger wants is to get back on his feet and make it to Sanctuary Island to be with his daughter in time for Christmas. What he didn't expect was to be put on a crash course with a columnist hiding her past. Will the magic of Sanctuary Island at Christmastime allow them to find healing together? 




Home for Christmas (Sanctuary Island, #4)Home for Christmas by Lily Everett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Home for Christmas by Lily Everett is a 2015 St. Martin's publication.

Home for Christmas is a sweet and emotional story of family, forgiveness, healing and hope.

Libby is a writer on assignment for the publication she works for and while she tried to weasel out of it, her boss has given her an ultimatum, so for better or worse, Libby returns home for Christmas. Her assignment? To give war hero Owen Shepard a heartwarming Christmas with his family on Sanctuary Island. Can she pull it off and still maintain her false persona?

I haven't read all the books in this series, but have immensely enjoyed the ones had to chance to read, thus far. This one is just a little bit different from the others, in that the characters featured here, Libby and Owen, only had familial ties to Sanctuary Island, and the story is more focused on the entire family and not just on the romance between Owen and Libby, making this one fall more into the women's fiction or chick-lit genres that some of the previous installments.

The storyline involving Owen's daughter, is very sad and emotional. Owen has only recently discovered he is a parent and is having trouble adjusting to that type of responsibility. I got very frustrated with him and his fixation on returning to the army, which would mean abandoning a little girl who desperately needed him.

Libby was sort of an enigma, living a lie, and struggling to cope with the reality of her situation. Her family dynamic is certainly interesting and creates a lot of drama.

Since the story deals with a lot of rather heavy family issues, the romance is not all that steamy, but that seems more fitting somehow in this case. I enjoyed the way Libby and Owen rose to the occasion to do the right thing for themselves and their individual families, and managed to forge a family of their own in the process. So, while this one was not exactly what I was used to from this series, I still thought it was a strong addition to the Sanctuary Island collection.

So, if you like contemporary or women's fiction, emotional and touching holiday stories, and happy ever afters you will want to add this on to her holiday reading list.





Lily Everett grew up in a small town in central Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although she’s lived many other places since, from college in Philadelphia to her first publishing job in New York City and her current home in Austin, Texas, she never forgot the beauty and warmth of her little hometown. She is thrilled to be writing the Sanctuary Island series full time because it allows her to combine her longstanding love of romance with the memories of her childhood home.
Lily’s alter ego is Louisa Edwards. Under that name, she is the author of the Recipe for Love series, sexy contemporary romances with hot chef heroes set in the high-stakes, fast-paced world of professional restaurants.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

TRUE CRIME THURSDAY- The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb


a“When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.”

In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream poisoned at least ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedents. Structured around Cream’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb vividly re-creates this largely forgotten historical account against the backdrop of the birth of modern policing and newly adopted forensic methods, though most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then most police departments could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown at the time. As the Chicago Tribune wrote then, Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer, one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.” 



The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial KillerThe Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer by Dean Jobb is a 2021 Algonquin Books publication.

Dr. Thomas Neill Cream- cold- bloodedly poisoned at least ten people and attempted to kill several more- that we know about, in three different countries, during the Victorian era.

This case, as the blurb states, was mostly forgotten about, so I was completely unaware of it before reading this book.

Dubbed the “Lambeth poisoner", Cream preyed on prostitutes, giving them capsules which contained poison. Naturally, their deaths were hideously agonizing.

Cream held a medical license which gave him ready access to certain drugs and chemicals- a fact he did little to hide.

He also attempted to extort money from wealthy men by accusing them of committing his crimes- this didn’t work- but the attempt was incredibly bold- and just plain nuts!

Ironically, his blackmail schemes were what got him in trouble, initially, along with his reputation as an abortionist.

While he was continuously under suspicion, he managed to skirt the law for a long time- but eventually, his luck did run out.

Once he was finally brought to trial, the failures and prejudices of Scotland Yard were exposed for all to see. The class and sex of the victims played no small role this, obviously.

“The real mystery is why it took Scotland Yard so long to realize the Lambeth Poisoner was hiding in plain sight- a drug-addicted doctor who consorted with prostitutes, had access to strychnine, and knew far too much about the gruesome deaths of four women.”

Overall, this is an incredible true crime case. The author did a good job with organizing the material, and provides photographs, letters, documents and illustrations throughout, as well.

Dr. Cream is a chilling figure, and an enigma in some ways.The author doesn’t attempt to explore the psychology behind the crimes, or his choice in victims, in depth, sticking instead to more of a journalistic approach, allowing the reader to come to those obvious conclusions organically.

This book sheds light on the doctor's crimes, his methods, his boldness, and the investigations that allowed him to continue his murderous career far longer than he should have-



I specialize in true crime and I'm drawn to stories that have been overlooked or forgotten – hidden gems tucked away in the attics of history. My latest book, The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream, recreates Scotland Yard's hunt for a Victorian Era serial killer who murdered as many as 10 people in Britain, the U.S. and Canada. I discovered the subject of my previous book, Empire of Deception – Leo Koretz and his amazing oil swindle in 1920s Chicago – by chance, while doing other research. I spotted a reference to his arrest in Nova Scotia and I knew instantly it was a great story.

Empire of Deception won the Crime Writers of Canada award for best true crime book of 2015, was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and was named the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year. I'm also the author of two collections of Nova Scotia true crime stories – Daring, Devious & Deadly (2020) and Madness, Mayhem & Murder (2021).

I write a monthly true crime column for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and my features and book reviews appear in CrimeReads, The Irish Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, Canada’s History magazine and other major publications. I teach in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program at the University of King’s College in Halifax.

Website: www.deanjobb.com

Twitter: @DeanJobb

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer- Feature and Review


Two hours outside of Washington, DC is the mortuary for the U.S. government's most top-secret and high profile cases. America's most important funeral home. To work there, mortician Jim "Zig" Zigarowski has one rule: never let a case get personal. But when a new body arrives--of young female sergeant Nola Brown, who was a childhood friend of Zig's daughter--Zig can't help himself. Looking closely at Nola's body, he realizes immediately: this isn't Nola. Indeed, his daughter's friend is still alive. And on the run. Zig's discovery reveals a sleight of hand being played at the highest levels of power--and traces back through history to a man named Harry Houdini. "Nola, you were right. Keep running."



The Escape Artist (Escape Artist #1)The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer is a 2018 Grand Central publication.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zigarowski is a mortician at the most top-secret mortuary in the United States. When ‘Nola Brown’ arrives at the morgue, Zig is all set to honor the woman who once saved his daughter’s life when they were children. But the scars he knew Nola to have, are not present in this body.

That must mean the real Nola Brown is still alive. He soon learns Nola is on the run and because he feels like he owes her one, Zig starts investigating, never dreaming he would uncover a conspiracy directly related to Houdini himself…

It's been a long time since I read one of Brad Meltzer’s books. Somehow, I lost track of him over the years. I would like to get reacquainted with his work and wanted to get in on the ground floor of this series before the next installment drops.

This is a fast paced, adventurous conspiracy-based thriller, with an interesting premise, one that piqued my interest because of the link to Houdini, who has always fascinated me.

This story has some highs and lows- Zig’s throwing all caution to the wind for Nola without knowing what she was really into, and Nola’s over the top volatile behavior wasn’t always believable, but, as with all conspiracies, if one has the presence of mind to view them ‘for entertainment purposes only’, they can be fun to dissect and theorize over.

Meltzer has carved out a small niche surrounding conspiracies, and they are still as popular as ever, as Zig and Nola are about to make an encore performance soon.

I’m willing to see how the pair manages to cross paths again and what adventures they will embark on next.

Overall, this was a solid beginning to the series, and was entertaining for the most part. I wouldn’t say this was one of Meltzer’s best efforts, but I’m willing to see where it takes me.



Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and nine other bestselling thrillers including The Tenth Justice, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, and The President’s Shadow. His newest book, The Escape Artist, debuted at #1 on the bestseller list.

Raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Brad is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School.

His books have spent over a year on the bestseller lists, and have been translated into over 25 languages, from Hebrew to Bulgarian.

Brad currently lives in Florida with his wife, who’s also an attorney.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Boone by Emily March- Feature and Review


 In Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas, New York Times bestselling author Emily March presents a brand new arc set in the Lone Star State that features a family-linked trilogy within the author's romantic series.

With his smooth talk, rugged good looks, and deep pockets, native Texan Boone McBride appears to be a man who has it all. Few people know about the heartbreak behind his decision to leave home, family, and career for the isolation of a small town in the Colorado Rockies. Luckily, time and life in Eternity Springs has worked its healing magic upon his wounded soul, so when he meets obviously troubled Hannah Dupree, Boone sees a chance to pay his good fortune forward. The last thing he anticipates is tumbling into love.

Tragedy has taken everything Hannah loves, and her will to keep going is failing. So when Boone strides into her life determined to save her, it’s easier to go along with him than to resist. Soon she is drawn into the fabric of life in Eternity Springs, and as her spirit begins to heal, her strength returns, and she’s able to go toe-to-toe with this hardheaded, big-hearted Texan. But just when love blooms and happiness is within their grasp, shadows from the past threaten. Hannah and Boone must stand strong and united in order to defeat old ghosts—if they are to create a brand-new life together.



Boone (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas, #3)Boone by Emily March
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Boone by Emily March is a 2020 St. Martin’s Press publication.

This is the final installment in the ‘McBrides of Texas’ arc in the long running Eternity Springs series. Obviously, Boone McBride is the featured ‘cowboy’ in this installment and his story is perhaps the most emotional.
Boone gets a phone call that will change the course of his life, but he’s unsure if he can take another heart wrenching disappointment. Still, his motto remains: “Be a light.”

He gets a chance to do that quicker than he had anticipated when he sees a woman standing precariously close to the edge of a dangerous precipice. Boone expertly coaxes the woman away from whatever she may have been considering. His help, kindness and understanding just might be the beginnings of a special relationship…

Hannah couldn’t take the pain anymore. The anniversary was coming up and she didn’t think she could bear it. Her spontaneous trip to Eternity Springs began with somber intentions, but little did Hannah know that Eternity Springs is a magical place, perfect for those who are need of healing and hope…

This is a special story that tackles some very heavy subject matter, but it is also a story that shows how s grief and heartache can bring strength and healing to others when they find themselves in a dark place. It’s a story about renewal, finding inner strength and peace, and then paying if forward.

The romance is centered around mature adults, with no immature conflicts or hormone fueled angst. I loved that!

The story begins with a wedding and ends with one- and all three McBride’s and their partners are ready to face life’s challenges together, forever!





Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a "master of delightful banter," and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

Emily invites you visit her website at www.EmilyMarch.com