I Didn’t Do It

By Jaime Lynn Hendricks

I couldn’t wait to read this book. I had such high hopes.


A story about writers at a thriller writer’s conference and there is a murder. What’s not to love?

I loved the premise. One of the nominees is found stabbed to death the day before the big ceremony announcing the winner.

Four authors are targeted by someone on Twitter. It looks as if one of them is guilty of murdering Kristen Bailey.

One is a narcissistic rising star, one is a fellow nominee for the award, one is a big author whose star is fading out, and one is a newbie that no one really knows anything about.

Clues slowly emerge. The newbie has been stalking Kristen. It was so bad Kristen had a restraining order.

The fellow nominee’s boyfriend is sleeping with Kristen.

The fading star collaborated on a book with Kristen that would have been his comeback and the newbie attempted to make it look like she had a one-night stand with the fading star.

The Tweets start making the four authors question each other. One by one, they begin to think each of them could be the killer. They start becoming paranoid but for their own reasons, mainly publicity, they refuse to go to the authorities. They think they can figure it out. Why not, they are all thriller writers.

It all builds up to a climax at the end that wasn’t totally expected.


Usually, the first thing that attracts me to a book is the cover. I didn’t like this cover, but I did like the premise.

It was well written. The plot was interesting.

It did feel like I was attending a writer’s conference. They do have that clique atmosphere. I have attended many writer’s conferences over the years, mainly for the writer’s workshops and it is exciting to be sitting in a workshop and have an author you love presenting. Most authors are friendly but some you know not to approach. I can see where the wrong personalities could clash, and this book did portray that aspect of conferences convincingly.

I couldn’t get myself to like any of the characters. They were all pretty much a hot mess, except Mike Brooks. He seemed to be the most believable.

I am not sure why this book didn’t satisfy me. I think the climax was a little underwhelming. We find out what really happened and then at the end is another little surprise. (I can’t say more without spoilers.)

This book was written with moments of humor. I like that but I wonder if the humor sometimes dampened the suspense. It sometimes felt like the author was really working to get that laugh. I got the humor, but I never had a laugh out loud moment.

Because most of the story was told through social media, it felt like there wasn’t that much action. Instead of following the characters through the story, I felt like I was a voyeur looking over their shoulders as they read what was happening on their phones. I think that is what made me not enjoy this read so much.

It is an interesting concept, and I would advise anyone who likes thrillers, stories about writers, and murder to read it. It wasn’t bad but it just wasn’t as much fun as I had hoped it would be.

I rated this book 3 stars.

This is rare for a three-star review for me, but I plan to keep it and read it again someday. Maybe it was more when I read it than what I read. I will also look for other books by this new-to-me author.

Title: I Didn’t Do It

Author: Jaime Lynn Hendricks

Year Published: May 23, 2023

Category: Mystery

Pages: 312 hardcover

Rating: Goodreads 3.93

Setting: A hotel in New York City

I did see that there is an interview with this author on a YouTube channel. I plan to watch it. I am not sure about my rating, and I am thinking if I hear more about how she came about writing this book, it might make more sense to me. I am thinking most of my writer friends would enjoy this book. Even though I couldn’t give it a 4- or 5-star rating, I did enjoy reading it. It is worth a read, and I think it might make you feel better about missing out on writers’ conferences in the past few years.

Do you write? Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? Did you enjoy it? Could you see a murder there?

Now off in search of my next read,


Where Did My Books Take Me in May?

“Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” – Susan Sontag

Why do you read?

I read for entertainment, and I read to escape.

I am a mood reader. I don’t do well with a to-be-read list. I won’t follow it. I read whatever I am in the mood to read at that moment. Luckily, I have a pretty big selection of books to choose from. I am trying to get more books read now that I am retired and have more time. I would like to start utilizing the Library more.

I had a productive reading month. The past few days I have kind of fizzled out but most of the month, I always had a book or two to read.

I read seven books in May. All were mysteries.

The Agathas by Karen Glasgow – I gave it 5 stars.

The Last Word by Taylor Adams – I gave it 5 stars.

Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart – I gave it 4 stars.

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden – I gave it 4 stars.

The Lost Women of Lost Lake (Jane Lawless #19) – I gave it 3 stars.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St James – I gave it 4 stars.

K is for Killers by Sue Grafton – I gave it 3 stars.

The star rating here is mine. I’m not sure how others rate them. A three or above is good for me. A three could be a book I enjoyed but I doubt I would read again. Mainly because I have so many books to read.

A four means I really liked it and would probably read it again someday.

A five is the holy grail for me. If I rated, it a five it means I felt it could someday be a classic for readers in the future.

It also is how I felt at the time and that too could change if I chose to re-read it. I think it is similar to when you go back to your childhood home as an adult. Everything always looks smaller. Re-reading could be like that and I could wonder how I ever rated it the first time.

Everyone has different interests. I may have rated a book that you felt was a five star or a one star and I rated it three. That is okay. It’s all each reader’s own perspective.

How do you decide if a book is worth keeping or re-reading? Do you re-read or keep books?

If you want to see my full review of these books, just click on the dates in the May calendar on my blog and it will direct you to all my May 2023 book reviews.

Now to answer – where did I go in May?

For the Agatha’s it was Castle Cove, California. – I am guessing that is a fictional town.

The Last Word – was on the coast of Washington State

Rose Cottage – was Todhall, England. Even though there is a Todhall England, I thought I read somewhere where the author did make it a fictional one for the book. For this one, I also travelled back in time.

The Housemaid – was the Winchester Home. I don’t think I got what state this was located in. It is not the famous haunted Winchester Mansion in California.

The Lost Women of Lost Lake – was Minnesota.

Silence for the Dead – was Portis House – a mental hospital in England. I believe this was fictional. This too involved time travel for me, as a reader.

K is for Killer – Santa Teresa, California

Out of all these locations this month, I have actually travelled to California and Minnesota so it’s easier to imagine those settings. So those are the places I escaped to this month in books. Where did you go with your reading in May?

As of May 30th – My blog visitors for May came from the United States, Finland, United Kingdom, Poland, Canada, Germany, Ireland and Chezia.

So far, my most popular post for 2023 is still – What I Read in January with 107 views. Let’s see if we can break that record. I am doubting that will happen in May but there is hope for June. If you enjoy reading my blog and know other like-minded readers, please suggest your friends check it out, subscribe, and like. I would really appreciate it.

Do you have a book you think I need to read? Let me know in the comments. What are you reading in June?

Until next time – happy reading,


K is for Killer

“Kinsey is one of the most persuasive of the new female operatives…She’s refreshingly free of gender cliches. Grafton, who is a very witty writer, has also given her sleuth a nice sense of humor – and a set of Wonder Woman sheets to prove it.” Boston Herald

by Sue Grafton

This is an older series. This book was written in 1994 but I loved it from the beginning. I just never finished reading all of them.

Since I am a mood reader and I do want to finish this series, I have been attempting to read one a month from A-Y. Sadly Sue Grafton passed away before she could finish the last book in the series. I felt sad with her passing and I felt sad because she came so close to finishing the series.


K is for Killer is the story of Lorna Kepler’s death. Her body had been discovered weeks after her death and the medical examiner wasn’t able to determine how she died. Lorna’s mother, Janice, believed it was murder.

Janice knocks on Kinsey’s office door one night and assumes Kinsey is the receptionist. Janice doesn’t know that Kinsey is a one-woman detective agency. Kinsey reluctantly agrees to do a little investigating before she commits to working on the case.

Kinsey discovers that there were several people who might benefit by Lorna’s death. She also finds out that Lorna is involved in some illegal and dangerous activity. The more Kinsey learns about Lorna, the more she wants answers too.

As Kinsey gets closer to solving the case, she stirs up some interest from people she’d rather not get involved with. A couple of thugs grabbed her and dragged her into the back seat of a limousine. The guy tells her he is an attorney representing someone else and explains why they need to know what happened to Lorna. Kinsey isn’t sure the attorney isn’t the guy Lorna was involved with.

Kinsey gets some help from Danielle, a friend of Lorna’s and Cheney a cop. She eventually puts all the pieces together and solves the case at the end.


This wasn’t my favorite Sue Grafton book. Most of them grab my interest and drag me through the alleys and old motel rooms along with Kinsey as she investigates. This one wore me out. Kinsey spent most of the book working through the night. She’d make appointments with people at maybe 1:00 or 2:00 o’clock in the morning. I found that hard to believe sometimes. Then she would drag her butt home at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and sleep all day. She kept talking about her body adjusting to the time change. Mine struggled with it. I sometimes felt tired for her.

Henry and Will were out East and Kinsey didn’t spend much time at the Hungarian lady’s restaurant. I missed some of those characters. She did meet a DJ, Hector, and his dog that I thought were interesting characters. Also, she made friends with one of Lorna’s hooker friends Danielle who sat Kinsey down and gave her a good haircut. At first, I thought Danielle was obnoxious when she showed up at Kinsey’s place and started looking through her kitchen cupboards and drawers. I had a hard time picturing Kinsey letting her do that.

There were times, I felt like someone else wrote this book. It felt off compared to Grafton’s previous books. I guess if I read through a memoir or biography, something may pop up to explain why the writing didn’t feel the same. I do have a couple books about Sue Grafton. I guess this gives me a good reason to move them up in my to be read pile.

With that said, it was a slow read in the beginning but as I got further into the story, I did finally get hooked. It usually happens sooner for me in her books. By the time I was hooked I did need to know what happened and the remainder of the book flew by.

This was an enjoyable read. I did give it 3 stars only because I felt the beginning was slow but I would recommend it to anyone who has been reading the series. I feel committed to completing the series. I do love the characters, the setting, and her story lines. I would love to go to visit, see her mini-home, and eat some of Henry’s fresh baked cinnamon rolls.

Title: K is for Killer

Author: Sue Grafton

Year Published: 1994

Category: Mystery

Pages: 292

Rating: Goodreads 3.98

Setting: Santa Teresa, CA

Coming Soon: What Did I Read in May?

I hope you’re enjoying the Spring/Summer like weather. I have been moving more and it feels good. I hope to get out to visit more bookstores soon. A friend invited me to join her to visit a newer bookstore in Ames, IA and then visit Reiman Gardens in Ames also. I have never been to Reiman but from what I can tell it has plants and butterflies and some art work? My friend is a volunteer there and we talked about doing this before. Now I just need to do it.

Have you made plans this summer to get out more? Are you reading or are you in a slump? Do you have any suggestions for books I should read? I did win another Goodreads book. Lisa Jackson’s The Last Sinner. I haven’t received it yet but I plan to read it fairly soon so I can review it.

The book I plan to read next is about a writer who goes to a Thriller writer’s conference and there is a murder. Writers, books, conference, murder, what’s not to like?

Happy Reading,


Silence for the Dead – Book Review

Imagine you’re a young nurse in an old mansion turned into a mental hospital. It’s the middle of the night. All lights out except your small lamp. It’s June and the room is freezing. You can see your breath and out of the corner of your eye you see someone rush past you to the bottom of the stairwell. You can hear them waiting for you to come down the stairs to them…

By Simone St. James

“Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow…”

I am a Simone St James fan girl. I love her books. The first of her books I read was Sunset Motel. I then read The Book of Cold Cases. After I finished those, I looked for everything she had published and discovered her older historical books. I have slowly been reading through them, not because they take me a long time to read but because I want to savor them.

If you like a good ghost story, you need to read her books. Each book is about someone trying to solve a mystery that involves a haunting. She is skilled at making it creepy. Her characters are well developed and I did care about what happened to them. Her plot pulls me in.


Silence for the Dead is the story of Kitty Weekes. She is pretty, smart, homeless, and a liar. From the beginning we know she is on the run but not exactly why.

Kitty loses her job. She desperately needs a job. She has a roommate who is a nurse and she finds out about an opening for a nurse at a mental hospital in an isolated location. It is the kind of place where if the weather turns bad, you are unable to get there because the bridge from the mainland floods.

Portis House is dark and full of secrets. It is not a happy place for anyone. The patients want help and to be able to see their families. The staff is overworked and no matter what they do, they don’t feel like it is enough. The Matron is harsh and makes life unbearable for everyone with her strict rules.

Kitty gets the job and soon finds out that they are desperate for help. The staff is stretched to the limit. The matron discovers that Kitty may not be who she says she is. She knows Kitty is not a nurse, but Matron doesn’t say anything because Kitty was hired by the owner. Matron does test Kitty by giving her disgusting jobs and pushes her, in a way that feels like torture.

Kitty had thought this would be an easy job. Soldiers from the war, recuperating. How difficult could that be? She quickly learns that the men have varying degrees of madness. Some are almost catatonic while others are violent and are not her friends.

She gets to know them but is afraid to always trust them, and she learns that they all have similar nightmares. Like her own. After she has been there a while and experienced the night shift, in a mental hospital, in total darkness except for a small lamp she carries. Kitty starts seeing things she can’t explain. She wants to help the patients and she knows she needs to find out what exactly is happening to be able to do so.

Kitty, with the help of a handful of patients and staff that she can trust, makes it her duty to find out exactly what is going on. Are the patients insane, is she insane, are there ghosts?


I gave this book 4 stars. It is definitely a keeper. Another book I stayed up late to finish.

St. James feeds us the information slowly, a little at a time. She hooks you and doesn’t let you go.

I loved the story line. I collect haunted house books, so these are perfect for me.

Each of her stories are stand alone and she is adept at spooky. All of her stories have scared me but I need to know what is going on so I suck it up and keep reading. Her books are not gory. They create a psychological fear.

Nominee for Best Horror 2014.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery with a ghost storyline.

Title: Silence for the Dead

Author: Simone St. James

Year Published: April 1, 2014

Category: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal

Pages: 374

Rating: Goodreads 3.92

Setting: Portis House – a mental hospital in England in 1919

About the Author:

Award Winning author Simone St James worked in Canadian television for many years before turning to writing full-time. She lives in Toronto with her husband.

I often find it difficult to give a good summary and review without telling too much information. There is a fine line between telling just enough and too much. I hope you enjoyed this review and if you’ve never read this author’s work, you will give it a try.

I hope you’re managing to enjoy a good book now and then. Let me know what you are reading.

Happy Reading,


Where Do You Go For Your Book Fix?

Walls of Books

Walls of Books Bookstore Dog

Bookstores are my happy place. I have noticed though that each bookstore has a different feel. Some are warm and friendly, some are more modern with sleek lines and more minimalistic, some are geared toward adults, some more toward children. I have been to a mystery only bookstore and I have been to the Haunted Book Store. I am not sure if those last two are still around but I will do some research and let everyone know. I will try to visit them again.

The first time that I visited Walls of Books, I was looking for Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldie the Caterer series. I found them. I bought all of them. From then on, I was known as the lady who bought all those books. Which reminds me, I need to finish this series.

I discovered this bookstore a couple of years ago. It’s located in Ankeny, IA in a strip mall and it’s part of a franchise so I am sure you can find more in other locations.

It is an interesting place, not just because they have a bookstore dog. (To be honest, I was a little intimidated to see this dog running around the store. I like dogs but I can feel uncomfortable around strange dogs.) This one is gentle and most of the time it lies down near the owner and allows people to pet and talk to him. Lately, I haven’t always seen Isa in the store. Maybe he gets a day off occasionally.

This store is set up with bookshelves all the way around the room with stacks of shelves running in between. In the middle of the room is a leather sofa and chairs for anyone who wants to take a minute to look through a few books before they purchase them. It also has a second room connected with more books.

The main room has children’s books lining the back wall. As you walk into the store, the books start on the furthest wall to the left and weave back and forth through out the room. All the fiction books are in alphabetical order. All the fiction genres are mixed, so if you know the author’s name, you can find what you are looking for easily but there is no separate mystery, romance, horror, or sci-fi, fantasy section. I like to slowly walk through the stacks and find something that calls to me. When you reach the end of the fiction books, there are young adult and classics on last two rows on the furthest right.

In the second room, you will find a couple more chairs and new books, autobiography, biography, historical, non-fiction, and any other genre that doesn’t fit in fiction. I like the fact that this smaller bookstore thinks of the comfort of the customer compared to a local big name box store that pretty much removed any comfortable seating.

In the center of the store in front of the check out counter is a small row of tables with featured books and book related items for sale.

The staff are all pleasant and a mixture of younger and older employees. The fiction section is both used and new books. If you are looking for something special, you can ask someone to order it for you.

You can sell books as well as buy books there. They don’t pay cash, but they do give credit and you can use that credit toward half the purchase of a used book. You keep track of your credit, and you can spend it at any time.

The store has a pleasant atmosphere. There was a man proposing to his future wife there one day. Maybe they met there. Guess I will never know but I did watch with a few other customers and clerks.

Tell me about your favorite bookstore. Where is it located? Why is it your favorite? I hope to add more stores as I visit them. The Des Moines area has several bookstores now so watch for more tours soon.

Coming soon: A book review for Silence for the Dead by Simone St James.

Also, if you are in the area, the Des Moines Public Library has another AVID event tonight at the central library. The author is Jack Carr and it’s at 7:00 PM. I try to get there by 6:00 to make sure I get a copy of the book and a seat. They do sometimes have standing room only. Will post more about this event later.

Happy Reading,


The Lost Women of Lost Lake

By Ellen Hart

I like to read new genres and sometimes it is intentional. This time it was by accident, but I am glad that I did.

I have never read gay fiction. This is a gay mystery. Part of me wondered why it needed to be a separate genre. Isn’t a mystery, a mystery. So, I guess it is considered a sub-genre, like paranormal mystery or historical mystery and makes it easier for readers to find what they are looking for.


The Lost Women of Lost Lake is part of the Jane Lawless mystery series. Jane owns a couple of restaurants, and she is also a part-time P.I. She often helps friends in need.

A friend Tessa has sprained her ankle and Jane and another friend Cordelia decide to go help Tessa and her partner Jill out while Tessa is convalescing.

Tessa is a playwright and involved in a local play. Because Cordelia has acted and directed plays, she decides to go along with Jane to help Tessa while Jane helps Jill by cooking. Jill also owns the premier resort in the area.

When a journalist arrives in town with a photograph and asking questions about a bombing in the past that killed a Chicago police officer, a local woman and the journalist turn up dead.

Jonah, the teenage nephew of Jill and Tessa hitch hikes from St Louis to Lost Lake after running away from home. His parents had moved him away from Lost Lake and he missed his girlfriend and wanted to finish high school in Lost Lake. Jonah begs his aunts to let him stay with them. Within a couple days, he breaks his curfew and gets grounded.

Jane sees a strange man looking into Jill’s study window. Tessa has a strange paranoid reaction and Jane uses her investigative skills to help solve what is going on.


I purchased this book at a Library book sale so wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never heard of this author but the description on the jacket seemed intriguing.

I enjoyed this read immensely. The plot was interesting, and it hooked me with the strange man looking in the window. (I guess that is a personal fear of mine.)

The characters were interesting and most felt three dimensional. I loved the setting. Love small towns and a home on a lake. (A dream of mine.) The author made me care about the characters enough that I needed to know what happened to them.

The threat seemed realistic and that pulled me through to the end. The sub-plots were also well written and tied into the main story nicely.

Sometimes it’s good to browse for new-to-you books and authors. The cover attracted me originally. A chair on a deck overlooking a lake with a full moon reflecting on the water. What’s not to like? All I needed to know was that it was a mystery. I read so many series that I can’t promise to read the whole series until I finish some already on my radar but if I see more from this author, I will check them out.

I gave this book 3.5 stars and would recommend to anyone who loves mysteries set in a small town with strong female leads.

Title: The Lost Women of Lost Lake

Author: Ellen Hart

Year Published: September 27, 2011

Category: Mystery, Gay Mystery

Pages: 336

Rating: Goodreads 3.70

Setting: Lost Lake MN

About the Author:

According to Entertainment Weekly, Ellen Hart is a novelist in the cultishly popular gay mystery genre. She is also a Lambda and Minnesota Book Award winner. Three-time winner of the Golden Crown Award. A recipient of the Alice B Medal. Official GLBT Literary Saints and Sinners Festival in New Orleans. Has a GCLS Trailblazer award for Lifetime Achievement in the field of Lesbian literature. Was named a Grand Master for the Mystery Writers of America. The author of over 30 crime novels in two different series. Ellen Hart has taught an Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery through the Loft Literary Center. Ellen lives with her partner Kathleen Kruger in Eden Prairie, MN.

I have been finding ways to buy books without overspending my budget. This is the first I have reviewed from a library book sale. I was surprised what books were available. One from an author I had hoped to read. I’ve shopped in a few thrift stores recently too. I will continue to buy new books as often as possible, and I do plan on using the library more. This was a good find. I look forward to reading more of my newfound treasures.

Where do you get your books? Do you have a favorite bookshop? I do love the library and I do like to support the authors, but I think buying used can help me find new authors without breaking the bank.

Coming soon:

A tour of Wall of Books, a bookstore I frequent in Ankeny, IA.

I hope you enjoyed this review and hopefully I have introduced you to a new to you author.

Happy Reading,


The Housemaid

By Freida McFadden

A rich handsome man – a bitchy wife – a beautiful young housemaid who is on parole.

What’s the worst that could happen?


Wilhelmina (Millie) Calloway is on parole after serving ten years in prison. She has found it difficult to get and keep a job. She is currently living in her car.

When she interviews for the job of housemaid for the Winchester’s she thinks her worries are over.

Nina, Andrew, and their daughter Cecelia live in a gorgeous gated two-story home. Her job is to keep it clean, run errands, cook, and sometimes watch Cecelia.

The home has a master bedroom, Cecelia’s bedroom, a guestroom, and a home theater all on the second floor. Millie is shown to her room in the attic by way of a narrow dark stair way. The room is tiny with a lumpy cot, a light with a pull string, a window that was painted shut, and a door that locks on the outside.

It doesn’t take long for Millie to discover why she was so lucky to get this job. She arrives her first day to a total pigsty. The house was immaculate when she met with Nina for her interview but now it is a mess. Her first day is cleaning the entire house and she admits that when she is through, she is proud of the work she has done. She goes to bed feeling good.

The next morning, she wakes up to Nina yelling in the kitchen. Millie walks into a total mess. Supposedly Nina has lost her notes for her afternoon PTA meeting and she is sure that Millie has thrown them away. In her search of the kitchen, Nina has knocked everything off the counters, dumped all of the food from the refrigerator as well as pouring out all of the milk.

Nina threatens to fire Millie until Andrew walks in and manages to calm his wife down. Millie cleans the kitchen and fixes breakfast for the family.

Nina continues to act kind one minute and yell at Millie the next. Nina is a cruel person and if there were any way out, Millie would leave but because she is on parole, her parole officer could make her go back to prison if she doesn’t have anywhere to live. She lucked out that she got a job before the system found out that she’d been living in her car.

While cleaning, Millie notices Nina’s medicine cabinet and the fact that she is on a lot of medication that appears to be related to mental health.

While waiting to pick up Cecelia, one of Nina’s friends tells Millie that Nina had spent time in an asylum for trying to drown Cecelia and kill herself. This makes Millie feel even less safe in the home.

She has a chance meeting with the gardener, Enzo. He is a gorgeous Italian man who doesn’t speak English. He is so good looking that all of Nina’s friends have hired him to do their yard work also.

Enzo acts like he is trying to warn Millie that she needs to leave. Because of their inability to communicate it takes her a while to translate a word he says on her phone. She learns that it means danger. But their inability to communicate prevents him from telling her why she is in danger. Every time they try to talk, Nina catches them and Enzo acts as if he is afraid of her.

The rest of the book is a slow burn as her life in the home becomes a living hell. Even Cecelia hates her and often causes her to get in trouble for little things like accusing her of trying to feed her peanut butter when she has a nut allergy.

Her only ally is Andrew. She admits she is attracted to him but Andrew obviously loves Nina and Millie is a good person and knows Andrew has no reason to be interested in her.

The story twists and turns in unexpected ways. As a reader you’re not sure who you can trust, and you become concerned for Millie’s safety as Nina spirals deeper into madness. Nina becomes a more dangerous threat once she lets it slip to Andrew that Millie had spent time in prison. Millie fears the news will turn him against her and she will really be all alone.

When Millie wakes up one night to go to the bathroom and discovers that her bedroom door is locked she starts going into panic mode.

The book has a good surprise ending. It was unexpected and it held a hint as to what Millie may be involved in with the next book.


I discovered this book by watching book reviewers on YouTube. Lots of people like it. This was a good read and I think Freida McFadden is an author to follow. I plan to read the next in this series.

It was another book that I stayed up way too late to finish reading. (I really need to stop doing that.) The characters are fully developed. I liked that they all had flaws, including Millie.

At first, I wasn’t sure what was going on, but the story had a good hook and it reeled me in. As the story unfolds, it slowly starts to make sense and with each chapter I couldn’t put it down. I was invested and wanted to know where it would go.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and good mysteries. It is fast paced. I didn’t find the story predictable. It kept me guessing to the end.

I rated this book four stars. It is something I might read again but the second time as a writer to see exactly how the author did a few things.

Title: The Housemaid

Author: Freida McFadden

Year Published: April 26, 2022

Category: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 336

Rating: Goodreads 4.36

Setting: Winchester Home

About the author:

Freida McFadden is a multi-award winning and nominated author, a practicing physician specializing in brain injury who has written multiple psychological thrillers and medical humor novels.

She lives with her family and a black cat in a centuries old home overlooking the ocean. She says it has a set of stairs that creak and moan and if you scream, no one will hear you. Unless you scream loudly.

Coming Soon:

A tour of Wall of Books – a local bookstore I visit often.

Please subscribe and share with other book lovers. Check out my older posts. You can suggest my blog to other book lovers. A direct link is Virginia-Gruver.com. Let me know of a book you read that I might like. If I read and review it, I’ll give you a shout out for your suggestion.

Happy Reading,


Rose Cottage

By Mary Stewart

A young woman returns to her childhood home to find it filled with secrets and mysteries. Can she unravel the clues, and will it leave her in a better place than when she escaped so many years ago?

I chose Rose Cottage to read because I had been reading so many thrillers recently that I needed something different.

I enjoy thrillers but I enjoy a variety of genres and need to switch it up occasionally. I have noticed some reviewers refer to a palate cleanser when they switch up their reading choices.

In my early twenties, I discovered Mary Stewart with her Merlin trilogy. At the time I had watched a few movies inspired by the Arthur Legend and this trilogy made an impression. I didn’t complete reading those books, but I did like the first one. I think it was when my kids were small, and I got busy and distracted.  I have since purchased them. I plan to read and re-read them soon. I hope they hold up to my memory.

 I did discover her other more gothic suspense novels at that time also. They usually involve traveling around the world to exotic places. I have purchased several new editions of those books as well.

So, between reading newer titles, I will be reviewing backlist books of Mary Stewart and many other authors. If a book is good, it doesn’t matter when it was written and hopefully, I can introduce a few to new readers.


Rose Cottage is the story of Kate Herrick, a young widow who returns to her hometown when her grandmother requests to see her. It is the summer of 1947, and her grandmother had an injury and after recovering, she moved to a home in Scotland and needs Kate to go to Rose Cottage where Kate grew up to arrange moving her grandmother’s personal items.

There are a few mysteries surrounding Kate. Her mother left her to be raised by her grandmother when she was a small child. Her mother died in a car crash, and she never revealed to anyone who Kate’s father was. Kate’s grandmother is all the family she has.

She reconnects with old friends and there is a hint that the cottage is haunted and that some of the neighbors are witches.

While searching for some important papers for her grandmother, she uncovers secrets and betrayals. She follows the loose threads to discover the truth.

This novel was first published in 1997 and was a major bestseller. The back cover says it was the last and most mature novel from one of Britain’s greatest writers.


As I stated earlier, this read was a palate cleanser because of all the heart stopping thrillers I have been reading. It was enjoyable but I do think some of her earlier romantic suspense novels were better. I am a curious reader, and it did hook me, so I continued until the end. The author told the story with a gradual increase of suspense. It fed me enough information that I needed to keep reading. I also cared about the characters and wanted to see it through to the end.

The setting is described as a small village in England, and the description uses all your senses. The scent of roses, the prick of a finger as it bleeds after touching a thorn, the sound of birds singing. You experience the story, in the thatched roof cottage, in front of the fireplace, sipping your tea, waiting for a mystery to unfold.

I enjoyed the book because I think it brought back good memories of when I first read Mary Stewart. I would recommend it to anyone who likes gothic suspense. I rated it 3.5 stars.

Title: Rose Cottage

Author: Mary Stewart

Year Published: 1997

Category: Mystery, Suspense

Pages: 240

Rating: Goodreads 3.71

Setting: Todhall, England

About the Author:

Mary Stewart has published 20 novels, including the Merlin trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment), Nine Coaches Waiting, The Ivy Tree, Thornyhold, The Moon-Spinners, and My Brother Michael.

Mary Stewart passed away at 97 on May 9, 2014.

Have you ever read Mary Stewart? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite?

My reading streak continues. Looks like May will be another good reading month for me.

Since this blog is book related, do you have suggestions for anything else you would like me to do with this blog? Do you enjoy my book reviews? I hope to fit in with other content, including author interviews with a newer format and some book tours very soon. I will also write little snippets that might be of interest to other bibliophiles.

Coming soon:

A book review of The Housemaid by Freida McFadden.

Happy Reading,


This Book Was So Good, I Finished It in a Day

The premise of this book is – what happens when a reviewer gives a one-star review and suspects that the author might be stalking her?

I can’t speak for all book reviewers, but I feel like I must give an honest review of each book. I also don’t want to discourage or malign an author. So far, I have never given a one-star review.

I have given a two-star review once but never a one-star review. To be honest, I didn’t feel good about the two-star review either. If I struggle to finish a book, it will go on my DNF shelf on Goodreads. It might be something I am just not in the mood to read right now or it might be something I never want to see again.

Thankfully we don’t all have the same tastes, and I may not like something that someone else loves, that is fine.

If I did give a bad review, I would hope that I could do it in a constructive way that was not personal.

If it sounds like I might be a little paranoid about giving a bad review, you might be right and it’s all because of reading this book.


Emma Carpenter is house sitting in a lake home on an isolated beach in Washington state with her dog, hiding out. She spends her days reading cheap e-books. Either .99 cent or free because that is all her budget will allow. We don’t know why she is hiding out. When she isn’t reading, she is communicating with her only neighbor who lives a quarter of a mile away.

They communicate with white boards and nautical telescopes. They play a lot of hangman. Deek the old neighbor guy always wins. Deek is curious about Emma and invites her to meet in person and have some tea. She declines.

We know that Emma is depressed, and she keeps a backpack handy, filled with rocks. She also dreams about walking out into the waves with that backpack on and drowning herself.

If things weren’t bad enough. Deek recommends a book to Emma called Murder Mountain. She reads it and it is the worst book she has ever read. Now Emma has never written a book review before but because she is not in a good place, she writes a scathing review.

Shortly after she receives a response from the author who orders her to take the review down. She refuses. He responds with a few scathing remarks as well. She deletes their conversation and figures that’s the end of that.

If that was the only thing she had to worry about, she would be okay but lately she has been finding it hard to sleep. She has woken up a couple times in the past few nights and she swears she saw someone standing in her bedroom, watching her.

She sometimes hears the second bathroom toilet flush when she knows she is the only one there. And the owner’s teenage son’s room is just creepy.

When the motion detector lights start going off at night and Deek’s ring camera catches a man with a devil mask Emma starts feeling less safe. Deek contacts Jules, the home’s owner and Jules lets Emma know that she ordered a stun gun to be delivered.

Eventually we find out what is going on but that last quarter of the book had so many twists that I kept thinking I had it figured out but then something totally unexpected happened again and again.

I read this book in one day so you can guess that I was up late. I literally had heart palpitations so bad, I had to put it down and finish it in the morning. It was like that feeling you get when you are on a roller coaster going down that first big hill. You can’t wait to go down it, but you wonder if you will survive. Since I wear an Apple watch, trust me, I checked my heart rate, and I had reason to be concerned.


This is one of two books I’ve read so far this year, that I have said were my favorite books and to be honest it is still a toss-up, but I think this one may be inching into first place. I literally could not put this book down until I had finished it and then I felt bad it was over. This is one that I will read again. I gave this book five stars.

If you are looking for escape and you love a little mystery, suspense and tension, you really should read this book. I had never heard of this author, but I am so glad that I have now. Look forward to his backlist. He will probably become an automatic buy for me now.

Title: The Last Word

Author: Taylor Adams

Published: April 25, 2023

Category: Mystery Thriller

Pages: 340

Rating: Goodreads rated 3.97 stars

Setting: Washington Coast

About the Author:

I don’t have a lot of information about Taylor Adams. Here is the bio on the back of this book:

Taylor Adams is the author of several acclaimed thrillers including Hairpin Bridge and No Exit. No Exit has been published in thirty-two languages and was recently released as a Hulu Original film. Adams lives in Washington State.

I watched a couple of YouTube video interviews. He is married with a child, and he writes full-time. Also, he used his own dog, Laika’s name as Emma Carpenter’s dog. He originally planned to use it as a place holder until he could decide on a name but then changed his mind and decided to keep his dog in the book.

Coming Soon:

I have read so many good books this month and I have so many more to read. My next review will be Rose Cottage – by Mary Stewart.

I attended another AVID (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) book event this week. The author was Emily St John Mandel. Her most recent book is Sea of Tranquility. It is not a genre I generally read (metaphysical speculative fiction) but I did purchase it and will review later. Barack Obama included the novel on his list of favorite books of 2022. Those events are always fun. They usually draw a few hundred people. They are held at the downtown library and this week the weather was warm. The authors usually talk about their writing routines and sometimes about what inspires them. I always leave anxious to get back to my own projects.

I hope you find time this week to read and write and I look forward to sharing more information soon.


A Young Adult Mystery Worth a Read

“Welcome to Castle Cove – A town cursed with missing girls, bad boyfriends, family secrets, and some very steep cliffs.”

I have had an exciting week of reading. Three books in one week. I will be fitting an extra post in this week to catch up. This is the first of the three books I completed.

I ventured into reading young adult fiction and it was worth it. This book has all the thrills and adventure of any adult mystery but with characters who are a little younger. If anything, their age made me more concerned about them confronting danger than I might have if the characters had been adults.


Alice Olgivie is an only child of a wealthy couple who rarely stay home with her. She is being raised by a nanny. She is lonely and smart which doesn’t help when she is also fearless. Because of her loneliness, she has become an avid reader of the Agatha Christie novels. The beginning of each chapter starts with a quote from one of Christies novels.

Iris Adams comes from a home with only her mother parenting her. They live in an apartment complex and her mother works in a bar. Iris too spends a great deal of time alone but she does have a loving mother who she sees daily.

Iris is asked to mentor Alice to help her catch up with some of her classes. Alice’s boyfriend dumped her the previous year and Alice decided to disappear. She thought she was re-enacting an incident in her hero, Agatha Christie’s life who disappeared when her husband dumped her. Alice had a rude awakening when her best friend stole her boyfriend while she was gone. When that same friend is found dead Alice struggles with mixed feelings of both hating and mourning that friend. She and her ex-boyfriend quickly become prime suspects once Iris and Alice are able to convince the local police to actually investigate the friends death.

The two girls are not friends in the beginning. Who could become a friend with someone who is being paid to mentor you? Alice resented having a mentor while Iris resented Alice for having so much and screwing it up. Iris experienced envy when she first walked into the mansion Alice lived in until she noticed how alone Alice was rattling around in the huge empty space. Iris was able to push those feelings away when she focused on her goal of making enough money for her and her mother to escape their own bad situation in Castle Cove.

Both girls had their own group of friends. Alice’s friends dumped her though when she did her disappearing act because all of them had been investigated as suspects in Alice’s disappearance. Iris has a group of nerdy geek friends who do come in handy during their investigation but neither girl has a true best friend.

During the investigation the story points toward a handful of suspects, giving reasonable explanations as to why they might have done it. It kept me guessing right up to the end.

The rest of the story involves Alice and Iris investigating the friend’s death using techniques they picked up from Agatha Christie. They do solve the murder and become true friends.


I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were fun and their dialogue was perfect. I loved some of their attitude and dialogue reactions. Typical teenagers. I enjoyed their angst and watching them become more likeable human beings.

Both characters were well developed and felt like their own persons. Maybe because the book was co-written I am guessing that each author wrote in one character’s point of view.

Both girls were lonely and both needed a true friend. They found that in each other within this story. There were moments I worried about the situations they got themselves into but then I also celebrated their victories.

Interspersed between the story are text messages between the characters that really reflected that the characters were teenagers. It also cemented us into the timeframe of this story.

I think this is a fantastic read that sucked me in from the beginning. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. I gave this book 5 stars and plan to continue reading this series.

Title: The Agathas

First Published: May 3, 2022

Category: Mystery, Young Adult

Pages: 432

Rating: Goodreads: 3.96

Location: Castle Cove, CA

About the Authors:

Kathleen Glasgow is the author of the New York Times bestseller Girl in Pieces, How to Make Friends with the Dark, and You’d Be Home Now. She lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona.

Liz Lawson is the author of The Lucky Ones. She lives in Washington, DC with her family.

Coming Soon:

My next review will be coming up later this week for The Last Word by Taylor Adams. I hope to attend an on-line author event with him Tuesday evening. Hopefully that will give me a little more to share within his book review.

Happy Reading!


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