The Lido by Libby Page: A Review


Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.

But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.

As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

I firmly believe that some books truly do call to us. There are certain times in our lives that are the perfect moment to curl up with certain books. My time reading The Lido by Libby Page was one of the those experiences. I kept seeing this book all over Bookstagram. I knew that it was one that I would read at some point. I was reading a few other things that were not really keeping my attention so I decided to check if my local library had a copy. They did. I put it on hold and got it a few days later. At the time I did not realize how fortuitous it was that my small town Indiana public library had a copy. The copy that I had was the UK edition. The U.S. version was only released a few weeks ago. Personally, I am glad to have read the UK edition because I prefer that cover.

Again, this book was calling to me. I did not know why at first but once I completed it, with tears in my eyes, I knew the answer. Kate was a character that I quickly identified with. Her days are consumed by anxiety and panic attacks. She is capable of doing so many great things but her mental illness causes her to be locked in fear. When it comes down to it, just getting through the day is the only achievable goal. Then she meets Rosemary and slowly begins to break free of the stranglehold that her anxiety has on her life.

I have battled anxiety all of my life. I am now 31 years old and only just now realizing how much anxiety has controlled my life…even my childhood.

Two days before I finished The Lido I had an unexpected visit from my old foe ANXIETY. I was at work. I was not having a difficult work day. I was not in an obviously uncomfortable situation. I should have been feeling fine. There was no reason (as far as I could tell) for me to have anxiety. I was locked in fear and panic. My heart was racing. I wanted to be home. The only thing I could think about was being able to go home. I could not focus on anything but getting through the rest of my day. Most of my work day was spent trying to control my anxiety, figure out why I was filled with anxiety, counting down the clock and being obsessed with getting home.

I came home to my husband’s open arms and just silently cried. Thankfully it happened on a Friday so I did not have the added concern of having to return to work the next day. I had the weekend to recoup and “relax”. I put relax in quotation marks because I rarely feel relaxed. In a past post entitled “How Reading Saved My Life” I share the past few years in which I was stuck in a toxic work situation that resulted in depression, anxiety, leaving the toxic job, and an eight month long job search. During those two years of mentally exhaustive employment I had frequent attacks of anxiety as well as a few terrifying panic attacks. During my time of unemployment I still dealt with anxiety. Today, I am still recovering. I am still dealing with bouts of anxiety that leave me panicked, exhausted and feeling like a heart attack is not an unrealistic possibility. Frankly, anxiety is always lurking around the corner.
The Lido is a story of how an unlikely friendship and outdoor swimming pool saved Kate from a life consumed by anxiety. It follows Kate as she embarks on a path of cultivating new friendships, reaching new heights in her career and experiencing empowerment with a sense of duty. It is an absolutely lovely story that truly spoke to my heart. When I finished the last page I closed the book, held it close to my chest and hugged it. While I am not expecting my story to be anything like Kate’s I still know that something like it will come my way. I know that my days are not going to be filled with anxiety forever. I know that I am going to reach a point in which past experiences are going to be behind me and not affect my current life. I will accept deep in my bones that my new job situation is not going to be anything like the toxic hell I went through for two years.
The Lido instilled a sense of hope in me. It shows that, like Kate, something will appear in my life that will result in me re-discovering the confidence and determination that I once knew. I will find that drive and once again be introduced to the Jamie that I once knew. I know that she is in there. She has had a lot of changes in her life so she will not be the same Jamie I have known in the past. I am looking forward to getting to know the new Jamie of the future. My recent bouts with anxiety indicate to me that she is not ready to come out yet but I have no doubt that it will happen soon enough.


One other book has ended in a hug this year for me. That book is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I will always be searching for that special reading experience that I had with Eleanor Oliphant. I will always remember sitting in my rocking chair by a sun filled window and hugging it tightly. I adored that book and the character of Eleanor Oliphant. When I began reading The Lido I quickly got Eleanor Oliphant vibes. The stories are very similar but the female characters are different. Eleanor Oliphant is odd and quirky. Kate is none of those things. I personally relate more with Kate than Eleanor. So if, like me, you are searching for that special reading experience….I think that you will find it with this LOVELY debut by Libby Page.

The Lido by Libby Page is now available.

Do yourself a favor and go get this book now!


Our Kind of Cruelty: A Review


This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

I won an early copy in a giveaway sweepstakes hosted by the publisher FSG

While I was reading Our Kind of Cruelty I seriously contemplated throwing the book across the room.  I really did. I was SO tempted.  This story was infuriating and problematic for me.  It was infuriating and problematic to me because this bullshit REALLY does happen!  This story could easily be seen in the headlines across the world.

When I was about a 1/3 of the way into the novel I realized how my anger was slowly building up.  It reminded me of the way I felt when I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Never in my life have I ever been furious while reading a book.  When I finished that book I was infuriated and was convinced that it was the worst book ever.  However, once the story settled for a few days I realized that any book able to evoke that much emotion from me was an extremely well-written book.  Gone Girl started a huge trend in the publishing world of the unreliable narrator.  Take it from me.  Anything that contains an unreliable narrator will likely piss you off and make you want to throw a book.  Nonetheless…even knowing this to be true…I still come back for more.

You are probably wondering to yourself what it was about this book that made me angry enough to want to throw the book across the room.  I honestly forced myself to read it quickly because I was just eager to be done with it and move on to the next.  The aspect of the story that angered me so was the trial.  I will not give away the reason for a trial but I think it is very clear that Mike is not well so the fact that there is a trial is not at all surprising.  The female character Verity is judged harshly for being sexually adventurous.  Is Verity a likable character in this story?  Hell no.  I am still so confused by her character.  I cannot confidently distinguish what her intentions nor can I tell what is true and what is not.  Reading this book is like looking through clouded glass.  I am not sure what I am actually seeing.  Having said all of that my issue is that women are still judged harshly for what their sexual proclivities.  The depiction of a woman’s sexual desire being on trial is what I take issue with.

So did I like this book?  It was just okay for me.  It is in no way on par with Gone Girl.  The character of Mike is obnoxious and whiny to me.  I cannot tolerate those kind of characters.  Does it make you think?  It does.  Would it make for a great discussion? It would.  I already have a few people lined up who will be reading and/or finishing it soon.  The nature of this book calls for engaging discussion with others because books that have the ability to infuriate almost certainly make for great discussion.

Our Kind of Cruelty by Ararminta Hall is available now!



Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering: A Review


A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you—the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

I won Tell Me Lies in a Goodreads Giveaway.  Thank you Atria and Simon & Schuster for sending me an early copy to read!

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother—or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love.

This is the kind of book that is meant to be a blaring example of what not to pursue in your life.  Tell Me Lies is the absolute PERFECT depiction of an extremely toxic and unhealthy relationship.  To be honest, I would love to mandate that every college across America should make this required reading for all incoming female freshman.  Ladies.  This is the sort of guy you NEED to avoid.  Ladies.  This is not a normal situation.  Ladies.  Never fall for this bullshit excuse of a guy.

I finished this about a month ago.  This book need to sit and simmer.  Then I completely forgot that I had started this draft and now I am getting to it.  C’lest vie people.  C’lest vie.  Writing reviews can be daunting and exhausting.  I love it.  I truly do but I tend to fall in the spectrum of procrastinator…

Let’s not get too off track here.  Reading this book made me so FRUSTRATED.  While I cannot speak to having experienced an unhealthy relationship like Lucy and Stephen, I can attest to seeing it as an outsider; not to mention having seen every Lifetime movie in the Nineties and early 2000s.  Ugh Lucy…sweetie…WHY?  I cannot tell you how many times I had to put this book down because I just could not longer bear “witness” Lucy’s naivety nor could I stand to hear one more undeserved excuse for Stephen’s asshole behavior.

The best aspect of this book is that Lucy and Stephen are alternating narrators.  The alternating viewpoints is what makes this such an honest depiction.  As a reader, insight is given into what makes Stephen the way he is.  We see that he does not think like other other people.  We see that he has pretty much always been the way he is.  We also get to see how Lucy was easy “prey” for the predator behavior of Stephen.  I find the comparison of prey and predator to be extremely relevant.  Others may see it as harsh but I find it wholly appropriate.  There is no other way to put it as Stephen drags Lucy along for nearly five whole years.  He constantly gets her hopes up for the relationship to progress to the next level.  He swears there is no one else when there really is.  He does not give one iota of shit for her feelings.  He is 100% a narcissistic douchebag.

Now do not think that I am male bashing. Lucy is just as responsible for the unhealthy nature of their messed up relationship.  She keeps going back for more despite her friends not approving the relationship.  She is fully aware of this because she hides the fact that they are “back together”at one point.  She allows herself to free fall into an eating disorder because he loves her body so much.  In order to please him and keep him coming back she chooses to sacrifice her health.  She allows herself to become addicted despite being treated like yesterday’s trash.  I do not feel bad for what she goes through because she truly is fully aware that he is a huge dick.

So.  After all that you are probably wondering….does Lucy come to her senses?  That you will have to learn for yourself.

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering is out now.  Buy a copy.  Visit your library.  Download it off Audible.  Just be ready to internally scream at the stupidity of the characters!

How Reading Saved Me


So I took a bit of a break from my blog because I have been transitioning back into life as a working woman! For eight months I was going through a difficult time as I was pursuing what was going to come next in my career. It really was a challenging time. Mentally. Emotionally. I was married in September 2017 (best decision ever). As my wedding day approached, I made the stressful decision to leave my job of two years. I left an incredibly toxic work environment. For two years, I saw more and more of myself disappear. I became someone who I did not recognize. Despite meeting and falling in love with the most incredible man I was extremely unhappy for the eight hours of my day I spent at work. It then got to the point where I could not let go of all the stress, frustration, and anxiety that I experienced at work. I brought it home. That toxic work environment was eating away at me. Piece by piece. I knew that I had entered a highly undesirable work situation one month into the job.

I became a highly anxious person. My body was tense and constantly on high alert. Every single day. Going to work felt like I was going to battle. I chose to leave and it was the right decision FOR ME. However, after going through all of that, it was not as easy as leaving it behind. I have a strong work ethic (thanks mom and dad). I gave my job my all despite the difficulties I experienced. I am stubborn. I am not the sort of person who just gives up on something. That job experience made me doubt myself. It made me question if I was doing the right thing. It made me wonder if I had made the right career choice. I felt weak, broken and lost. I doubted my abilities. I second guessed myself. I essentially became scared of everything. That was not the person I was nor was that the person I wanted to be.

For the first time in roughly 15 years….I did not have a job. What the hell was I supposed to do with myself?

Three things got me through it. Number one…my wonderful husband. Number two…family and friends. Number three…reading.

I had a terrific support system in the people that I have in my life but they cannot be there all of the time. I spent most of the day alone. Reading got me through it. I have always maintained a strong reading life but my reading life EXPLODED during this time. It exploded and it evolved. I normally have always been a consistent nonfiction reader. I love to learn and absorb facts but that quickly changed as I began to adjust to a new reality. I became drawn to fiction. Never in a million years would I ever have predicted that I would read exclusively fiction. Yet look at me now….currently…I am reading three novels. I am reading zero nonfiction. Mind you I have not abandoned nonfiction…I completed one last week. I learned that fiction can be a wonderful world in which to forget my stresses, momentarily let go of anxiety if possible and give me something to do.

During my time of unemployment, I developed this blog. I become an enthusiastic member of the bookstagram community. I became a reviewer for a publisher. I have since been approached by another publisher. My reading life brought me back. It made me confident in my abilities. I was able to heal from a trying time in my life. I grew as a reader. I embarked down a new bookish path in that I got back to my books. I re-discovered that books are my security. Books are my passion. I discovered a new level of my ability to support and champion books. I am thrilled to see where that will go in the future.

One month ago I began a new job. I am in absolute awe that going to work does not mean preparing for battle and needing to defend myself. I am surrounded by people who do not dread every single work day ahead of them. I get to come home and have the energy to snuggle next to my hubby….and read a book.

B.A. Paris & “Bring Me Back”


A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

If you asked me to recommend a solid thriller author I am positive that I would recommend B.A. Paris.  While I love reading thrillers I am also incredibly critical of them when it comes to reviewing them and giving them a “rating”. I really cannot say why I am so critical of them.  I had a past co-worker who devoured thriller, was always so enthusiastic  talking about them and recommending them.  I loved discussing them with her.  I also really enjoyed when I would read what I deemed a decent thriller and having her tell me she stayed up all night reading it because it was incredible.  I found our polar opposite thriller expectations engaging and I still chat with her despite no longer working with her.  In fact when she saw my post for Bring Me Back on my Instagram she immediately commented.  I am telling you….talking with people who love books just as much as you is food for the bookish soul.  I will never tire of it.

It is worth noting that this was surprise book mail.  When I opened the package from St. Martin’s Press I was beyond excited.  In fact…you may have heard my squeals of excitement.  I immediately did the happy dance.  I went outside to show my husband the book.  He was not as excited as me as he thinks I get a lot of book mail so what’s the big deal about getting another.  I do not think I get a lot of book mail and hello….I just got a highly anticipated Summer thriller release and got it before most people.  Do you not see how awesome and exciting that is?  If I ever cease to feel that excitement lock me up and throw away the key.

Last year I binged listened to B.A. Paris’s debut thriller Behind Closed Doors. It was an ideal audio book and I could not pull myself away.  If I remember correctly it got me through an insanely tedious work task so many thanks B.A. Paris.  Once I finished Behind Closed Doors I picked up her follow up The Breakdown. While it did not resonate with me as much as Behind Closed Doors I still read it quickly and could not wait to discover where Paris was going.  Bring Me Back brought me back to the sanctification I experienced in reading Behind Closed Doors.  When I was seventy-five pages into it I commented on Goodreads “where the heck are you going with this B.A. Paris?”.

The “what the heck” element of Paris’s writing is what has kept me coming back to her work.  The primary issue that I have with a majority of thrillers out in the bookish world is the predictability of the plot.  Sometimes, just from opening chapters, I will have mostly worked out what is going to happen.  A key characteristic of thrillers (in my opinion) is the formula they always follow.  Paris follows that but what sets her apart and makes me favor her work over others is there is always something extra.  The key point of the plot is easily determined however there is an added psychological element that adds to intensity and excitement of the story.  It is something that makes you doubt whether you have really worked out the ending.  It makes you question if you are right to not trust a character.  It makes you wonder where on earth the story is going.  It makes reading her novels worth my time.  The something extra added to the story makes all the difference.

One thriller writer that B.A. Paris seems to contend with (in my opinion) is Ruth Ware.  Both are British.  Both have similar accomplishments.  However Ruth Ware seems to have more popularity.  I have read both and will forever choose to champion Paris over Ware.  To be frank.  I will no longer read anymore novels from Ruth Ware.  They are always the biggest disappointment.  They start off with so much promise and just fall completely flat.  The endings are sure to disappointment me.  I read her first three books and decided that the three strikes and you are out rule is going to apply.  She has just released her newest.  It is different from her other thrillers in that it is described as taking on a Gothic vibe.  Am I curious?  Yes but I am sticking to my guns.  There are too many other options out there!

If you haven’t already read B.A. Paris I hope that you decide to after reading this.  As a bookish person who is incredibly selective about the thrillers she reads I hope that I can help you navigate all that is flooding the market right now.

A big thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review!

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris comes out June 19th.


My First Buddy Reading Experience

Greetings!  For today’s post I have decided to share my recent buddy reading experience on Bookstagram (Instagram for bookish people).  In May, I participated in my very first buddy read with another fellow book lover.  It was initiated by a giveaway I hosted in April for the debut novel Stray City by Chelsey Johnson.


All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-four-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

I was very excited to read this one.  It was one that I had been following and receiving a finished copy was a complete surprise.  I was even more surprised when I realized I was sent two finished copies.  When I mailed the finished copy to library_swagger I asked if she would be interested in doing a buddy read of Stray City.  Thankfully she agreed and was just as excited as I was.

I have always wanted to be part of a solid book club.  I have always cherished the times in which I could enthusiastically talk books with other book lovers.  There is just something so satisfying for me when I get to talk books.  It does my soul good to be able to do so.  For me the enjoyment gained from Bookstagram is food for the soul.  It is the perfect outlet for me to be able to associate with people who have no shame in geeking out over books.  I have made great connections with so many people that I would have otherwise never known existed.  For example, library_swagger resides in North Carolina.  I have connected with several bookish people all over the country and abroad.  I plan to share more of treasured Bookstagram experiences in future posts.  Now back to Stray City and my first buddy read.

Once library_swagger agreed to the Stray City buddy read we decided to share our thoughts on the novel by the end of May.  We shared our progress with each other while at the same sharing our enthusiasm. I cannot tell you how much fun I had reading the novel, wondering where library_swagger was in the story, curious to find out if she was going to feel the same way I did and nervous that she was going to hate it.  I knew that if library_swagger  hated the book I was going to fell terrible.  After all I was the person who put the book in her hands!  At the end of the day it was all in good fun.  It is the risk a reader takes whenever they choose a book to read.  There is a definite possibility that we are not going to enjoy that book.  Those are usually the best bookish discussions between readers.

You must be wondering if we finished Stray City.  We did!  We both came to the same conclusion.  We are not a fan of the ending.  We both loved the setting which was Portland Oregon in the late nineties.  I thought it was the perfect time period in which to base the story. It was truly a transitional time in our history especially within the gay community; not to mention the tail end of alternative rock is an idyllic pairing.

What did we not like?  The first half of the book was really great.  There was a build up to the unusual relationship between Andrea and Ryan.  The description of the nineties scene.  We learn Andrea’s background and the power of the family we choose for ourselves.  I was so engaged and committed to seeing where Andrea’s story was going to go.  Even though it is mentioned in the synopsis, I was not at all ready for the jump ten years into the future.  I felt like I was forcibly plunged into a completely different book.  Library_swagger felt the same way.  This was so helpful for me.  Whenever I do not like a book there is always a small part of me that wonders…is it just me?  Am I missing something?  The huge benefit of doing a buddy read…apart from bonding with other book lovers…is being able to get another perspective.  It would have been fascinating to me if library_swagger would have come away with different thoughts on the novel.  However I am thrilled and take tremendous comfort in the fact that we are agreement!

Library_swagger and I have already agreed to another buddy read in the future.  I am already looking forward to what our book selection will be.  I am so excited that we are both eager to build on to our bookstagram friendship.  It has been such a fun experience!

The Word is Murder: A Review



A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.
A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own.
A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control.

What do they have in common?

A huge thank you to Harper Books for sending me an advanced copy of The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz in exchange for an honest review.

When I found out that I was going to get a copy of Horowitz’s newest mystery I knew that I needed to move his previous mystery novel The Magpie Murders up my TBR.  I had heard nothing but rave reviews for The Magpie Murders but I still had not gotten around to reading it.  I was determined to at least have one of his books read before I began The Word is Murder.  I wanted to have a sense of his style….which I was already sure I was going to love.  I listened to The Magpie Murders on Audible and devoured.  It actually got me through the experience of raking dead grass clippings in my yard.  I was extremely grateful to the brilliant narration and engaging story because it made a tedious task bearable.

I will discuss The Magpie Murders briefly before going into The Word is Murder.  Anthony Horowitz is bloody brilliant when it comes to writing original and engrossing murder mysteries.  The Magpie Murders  essentially pays homage to Agatha Christie; it truly is a love letter to Christie.  The fictional detective Atticus Pund is a German Sherlock Holmes….without the drug habit. Here is a synopsis of The Magpie Murders.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

I absolutely love Agatha Christie.  In fact I have purposely not read all of her books because I never want to live in a world in which I no longer have Agatha Christie to read.  Now that I have read and experienced Anthony Horowitz’s writing style I now have his books to enjoy.  I am sure I am not alone in feeling this way but my favorite mystery authors are Agatha Christie and, now, Anthony Horowitz.

Back to The Word is Murder.  This is novel is ingenious.  Anthony Horowitz has masterfully constructed an original mystery…in which famous author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz is a main character.  That is correct.  Horowitz is the narrator of his newest book.  When I realized that Horowitz wrote himself into his newest release I was very skeptical.  In fact I may have cringed to myself thinking “how can he pull that off?”  This is a challenging writing exercise to say the list and Horowitz makes it seem effortless.  Horowitz succeeds admirably in crafting an engaging mystery that keeps you guessing while at the same time writing himself into the story without coming across as egocentric.  I truly cannot think of another author who would be able to pull that off.

The Word is Murder introduces Detective Daniel Hawthorne to the mystery world.  Hawthorne is the sort of fictional character that you love to hate.  In The Magpie Murders private detective Atticus Pund is clearly based off of Sherlock Holmes however he shares the art of detection.  Daniel Hawthorne also shares the art of detection but also possesses the annoying and despicable characteristics of Sherlock Holmes.  Atticus Pund is both admirable and talented.  Daniel Hawthorn is deplorable at times and talented.  Both detectives are memorable.

As is true with Agatha Christie’s mysteries, I have not been one step ahead of Horowitz’s mysteries. No matter how slowly I read them.  No matter how hard I try to think like a detective and try to look past the obvious I do not ever see myself being able to figure out whodunit by the story’s end.  That is what makes Anthony Horowitz this generation’s Christie and Doyle.  Who knows how to perfectly construct a murder mystery while at the same time taking it one step forward.  In Magpie Murders it is featuring a murder novel within a mystery.  In The Word is Murder he effortlessly narrates a fictional mystery as himself.  Christie and Doyle gave the world the whodunit.  Horowitz is giving the world a stylistic whodunit with a creative edge.  Well done Mr. Horowitz.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz will be released on June 5th!




Collecting Childhood Favorites

Vintage Childhood Finds

I have always loved old books.  I do not see that every changing.  In my opinion there is nothing better than old books; childhood favorites especially sweeten the pot.  For someone who has always been a big reader I truly treasure the books that left an impression on me as a kid.  I will always get a warm and fuzzy feeling in my heart when I see a book that left an impact on me.  As I was mostly a library book reader I did not have personal copies of most of my favorites.   I did have some of the books pictured below.  Yes mom.  I know.  I told you to get rid of them.  Looking back on it now I should not have been so hasty in insisting that you just get rid of them.  It would have been great to have my own original copies but c’est la vie.

So let’s explore some of my favorites! 

The expected favorites such as Charlotte’s Web and Little House in the Big Woods are on there.  These are the stories that every child should read.  They have so much to offer and are completely timeless.  I was especially thrilled to find the hardcover copy of Little House in the Big Woods I have.  It is a 1953 hardcover edition with the Garth Williams illustrations.  The illustrations of the Ingalls family that Garth Williams drew for the reprints are how I visualize the books.  They are one in the same.  If I think of popular illustrators of my childhood….I honestly think of Garth Williams.  He did Little House and E.B. White’s books (Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little).

If I had to identify my favorite childhood book it would have to be Matilda. This means that I adore Roald Dahl’s very British writing style that he shared with children all over the world.  I own a few of his books.  I have very specific memories of reading most of them.  My dream book find is a very early edition of Matilda.  I have yet to find it but I know that it will happen some day.  I could easily seek one out online but where is the fun in that?  I did find a lovely 1972 edition Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.  I found this in one of my favorite independent bookstores Hyde Brothers in Fort Wayne Indiana.  Truthfully I hope to find my dream copy of Matilda at that book store.  It will happen someday.

Copyright 1976

I think that it is safe to assume that Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell is a Newbery Award winner that most people have read.  It is such a classic.  I have memories of reading this in school.  Although I have no idea what grade I was in I do have those strong memories flash back when I see this book.  I remember being fascinated by this story of a girl surviving on her own.  As an adult now I am quick to note how rare it was at the time to be presented with a strong girl character.  The main thing that stands out to me is skinning seals and scavenging the shoreline for shellfish.  That entire concept of foraging for food was a novelty to me and to this day it still stands out to me.


I am not going to deny that when I spotted this at a thrift store I snatched it up so quick…you would have thought The Flash stole it right off the shelf.  Off the top of my head I am not able to tell you what this book is about.  All I know is that I was absolutely obsessed with this cover.  It was creepy, involved ghosts, a stoic white cat and a terrifying doll.  When I was a kid I found weird and creepy things really appealed to me.  Let me put this in perspective….visual perspective…for you.  As a child I was obsessed with Tim Burton films (Beetlejuice and Michael Keaton as Batman) and I could not get enough of Ann Ramsey in Don’t Throw Mama from the Train.

So yea I may have been a weird child.  Here is the description for The Doll in the Garden.

“She had been warned never to go there but as a ten year old Ashley followed the beautiful white cat through a small opening in the hedge, she stepped into an enchanted place. A place where she might find the answers.  Who is the little girl with golden curls and huge sad eyes? Whose voice cries out in the dark of night? Why does the white cat cast no shadow in the moonlight? Who is the owner of the beautiful old doll found buried in the garden? And if Ashley discovers the truth, can she ever go back?”

Again, I have absolutely no recollection of that plot.  I do not even remember if I was pleased with the book.  I just remember the cover.  The cover is forever imprinted on my brain and a new to me copy resides on my shelf.

Lastly, book #1 of The Baby-sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin.  Kristy’s Great Idea is where my connection with The Baby-Sitter’s Club all began.  When I was a little girl I was always excited for the gift that my Aunt Dawn would get me.  I would always get money…which meant I got to go to the bookstore in the mall and buy the next Baby-Sittter’s Club book.  Five dollars was just enough to buy a brand new paperback.  I associate The Baby-Sitter’s Club with being able to shop for my own books.  It was my money.  I got to go to the tall shelves filled with brand new books and  choose which book I wanted to take home with me.  It was a big decision that I took very seriously.  I treasure those book buying memories.

My Paperback Classics Collection


I am a lover of books. There is no doubting this. One of my favorite things is thrift shopping for books. I love the “high” and thrill that I get when I find something amazing at a bargain. I have found many exciting treasures for under a buck. Some people probably wonder why I am buying (in the joking words of my husband) “crusty old books”. I buy and collect them because they are beautiful. They are something that I treasure. I have infinite appreciation for well-loved books. I am so glad that family members are choosing to donate their great-grandmother’s old, dusty books to thrift stores. This knowledge is what drives me to go on my “treasure hunts” because I never know what I am going to find.

So what do I collect? I will be discussing the books I seek in future posts. For this post I am discussing my recent obsession with collecting vintage paperbacks. What is it about my attraction to them? I cannot really say. I love that they are small and compact. I love the artwork on the covers. I find the cover art to be incredibly appealing and unique. I was at one of my favorite local thrift stores when I saw this stack of paperback Agatha Christie. They were priced at a quarter to fifty cents. I could not and would not say no to those deals.

NOTE: Click and hover over images for copyright information

Agatha Christie was a genius. I have purposely not read all of her work because I do not want to live in a world in which I no longer have anymore Christie to read. When I saw the copy of Roger Ackroyd I nearly jumped for joy (I saved that for when I got home and reviewed my haul). I am so glad that I was able to scoop these up as they will always remain in my collection…until my family members likely decide to throw them in the garbage upon my departure from this world. I now proudly own Ruth Bradley’s copy of 13 for Luck. It has green tinted pages, a slight tear on the back cover, looks like it was read once and resided on a shelf until I found it in a thrift store.

Once I realized that lovely little treasures could be found amongst the paperback stacks in thrift stores I kept my eyes peeled for what else was waiting for me to discover. I have had some great luck recently!

Have I ever read Jack London? No. Do I have other books by him living on my shelves? Yes I do. Will I ever read him? Time will tell but let’s be honest….the chances are very slim. Why do I add Jack London to my collection? I add his work because I can appreciate his contribution to literature. When I picked up that copy of Frankenstein at my local Goodwill I was very surprised when I saw the cover art. That was not what I was expecting a cover of Frankenstein to look like. I read the book in college and really liked it. Since I know that what is between the cover art of this particular copy it makes me question what the publisher was thinking. I would not pick that up at a bookstore and be thrilled to read it. Frankenstein is a standard classic. The cover art screams “forced reading”. At second glance, I appreciate the gothic scene. The contemplative stance of who can only be Dr. Victor Frankenstein on the moors. The cover art provides a subtle intrigue that would only be possible on a small paperback.

The old paperbacks are usually the books that are overlooked in second hand stores. I used to be one of them. Then I discovered the beauty and intrigue that they posses. They are small and compact, stack beautifully on my shelves and are meant to be treasured.

Jar of Hearts: A Review


This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

MacMillian Press was kind enough to surprise me with a free advance galley of this new thriller. Here is my honest review!

Before receiving Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier in the mail I had heard nothing about it. Aside from knowing that it was thriller I truly had no idea what the plot was or anything else. Several popular thriller writers gave their stamp of approval—-Lisa Unger, Lisa Gardner and Riley Sager. I believe that with all of that early support I cannot go wrong….right?

Correct. If you are a reader of all things thriller then you really need to pick this one up. I already foresee this being in the hands of sunbathers at the beach. It will be all over the summer must-read displays in bookstores. It has all the right ingredients for an addictive summer read. Everyone is saying that Aimee Molloy’s The Perfect Mother is going to be the must-read of the summer. While The Perfect Mother is a great read I would recommend Jar of Hearts over Molloy’s book. Click here for my review of The Perfect Mother.

I must admit that since I knew nothing about this book before I received it, the title alone had me building a completely different plot in my head. When I started reading it I was surprised to realize that I was very wrong about the story. Once I reached the point where the reason for the title is shown I become obsessed. I will not state where the title comes from but I will state that the title is absolutely perfect for this thriller.

Any thriller with a serial killer at its core I am here for. True crime is a fascinating subject area for me in general so I am always down for it. However, the standard recipe for thrillers always run the risk of being cliche when all is said and done. After all , how many different ways are there for spinning similar plots? Thankfully, Jar of Hearts does not fall victim to coming off as cliche.

My favorite element of this thriller is the way in which Hillier allowed the story to unfold. The further you get more pieces are revealed. Each piece adds to the plot but more importantly it reveals more about the main character Geo. The gradual reveal of more information to the murder of Geo’s best friend’s murder causes you to alter your opinion of Geo. I loved how much my opinion of her changed because it made me not know what to believe. Should I feel sorry for her? Was five years in prison too little or not enough? What is Calvin’s fascination with Geo? Is Kaiser a good cop or a bad cop? Should Geo be forgiven?

It is always difficult for me to review a thriller because it is hard to share my thoughts on the book without giving too much away. Like I have already mentioned, I knew very little about Jar of Hearts going into it. That certainly made all the difference in my opinion. I had no expectations so I could not be disappointed! I do not want to give away any of the minor details of this book because it all adds up in the end. I had many emotions when I reached the end of the story. The story did not end the way I anticipated but that is the very thing that makes it a great thriller.

If you are looking for a plot that will slowly reveal itself into a something you were not expecting then this is what you are looking for. Your thoughts and opinions of the characters are going to change many times. You do not know who to feel compassion for. You will be left analyzing the actions of the characters. What would you do in that situation? What are you capable of? Do you see what you want to see?

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier will be released on June 12th.