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,


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,


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,


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,


What Did I Read in April?

This is going to be a quick message to review what I read in April.


Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich – I gave it 4 stars

Sinister Spring by Agatha Christie – 4 stars

The Shop on Royal Street by Karen White – 3 stars


Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery – 5 stars

Historical Fiction:

After Anne by Logan Steiner – 3 stars


All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot – 4 stars

If you are new to my blog, the reviews for these books can be found under their genre in the menu on the side. All except After Anne – I will be reviewing that one this Friday. Those reviews will summarize the book and explain why I rated each book the way that I did.

For April my visitors came not only from the United States but also, Ireland, Canada, Germany, France, India, Taiwan, China, Philippines, and Japan.

If you are like me, I enjoy a little bit of stats information. So far this year, my most popular post was – What I read in January. It had 107 views.

I appreciate all of my visitors to this site. I currently have 419 subscribers and I would love to see that number explode. If you know anyone else who might be interested in So Many Books, you can direct them to Virginia-Gruver.com.

May you find yourself lost in a book soon,


All Creatures Great and Small

Three Reasons Why You Should Read This Book

I finished this one yesterday. It was a great read after my month of reading mysteries. But why should you read this book?

  • Read this book if you are looking for something historical that is wholesome. Sometimes you just need to escape to a better time or place and Yorkshire England during the ’30’s might just be what you are looking for.
  • Are you in need of a beautiful setting? Though the setting for Spring, Summer, and Fall seem welcoming the harshness of winter also has it’s beauty until you see the hardship the main character endured. The memoir tells of James Herriot’s stories of sometimes walking miles through the snow to care for the local farmers livestock. But if you can picture each season, you will feel both the hardships and the good times shared within the small towns. I loved the pub visits and the local dances.
  • If you like quirky characters, you will enjoy the townspeople and farmers in the community. Each has their own eccentricities. Some are the kind you may want to see regularly and some maybe just once. Each little vignette he writes about introduces you to more of the community. By the time you are finished, you feel like you too are part of the small village of Darrowby . His books are probably a reason why so many people from around the world travel to England.

I have heard some BookTubers call books like this a palette cleanser after reading stories that are a little more gritty. I would say this is true. It is a comfortable visit to a time in the past. It sometimes makes you wish you lived back then when you see how close the residents of the community are and how they enjoy their time together. Their ability to communicate without the interference of Social Media and other modern technical intruders. You won’t see anyone looking at their phone over dinner. In fact, many residents didn’t even own a landline.

It also makes you happy that in the middle of winter, you have more reliable transportation. The author talks about having to patch his tires frequently and that he has become so good at it that he can do it without much thought. As far as the veterinary medicine, it appears that much of the vet’s practice involved doing stuff they knew probably wouldn’t work and some things that did work but they weren’t sure why.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially those within the Skeldale household, Siegfried Farnon is the Veterinarian who hired Jim as an assistant. Mrs. Hall is his housekeeper. Her part of the story is not as well developed in the book as it was on the television adaptation. Siegfried’s brother Tristan is a real character who always seems to get into trouble and sometimes drags James along with him. Helen is James love interest and that part seemed pretty close to the television show. One difference I did see from the book to the show was with Helen’s family. The book says she has a father, and both a younger brother and sister but on the show she only has a father and younger sister. There are always some inconsistencies with adaptations. I am guessing they decided to eliminate one character because even in the book they didn’t delve too far into either sister or brother’s lives.

Overall this was an enjoyable read and something I might read again so I will give this one 4 stars.

Have you read this series or watched any of the adaptations? There is an older version on Prime that I may watch soon too because I do enjoy this series that much. I also like to compare how shows are adapted.

I am enjoying Spring so far. My next read that I just started is an Agatha Christie – Sinister Spring. I will share more about this one, once I have finished reading it.

Hoping you have a great day. Take time to relax with a good book.

Until next time,


The Lost Apothecary

How Many Books Have I Read This Year?

Are any of them your favorites?

The Lost Apothecary is the last book I read for March and I do look forward to reading more from this author. This novel is set in London with a duel timeline. Caroline, in the present time, arrives in London to celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary alone. We learn early on that she recently found out that her husband had cheated on her. She had received the trip as a gift from her parents so without explaining anything to them decided she needed some time alone. Caroline had a degree in history that her husband had discouraged her from taking advantage of. She’d found herself stuck in an unfulfilling book keeping job for her family. As soon as she arrives in London she is approached by someone who asks if she would like to go mudlarking with a group. Mudlarking is where you sift among the mud alongside the Thames River looking for historical treasures. While doing so, she finds an old Apothecary jar. She starts to research the jar and discovers there had been an Apothecary Shop owner accused of murder in the 1700’s.

The second timeline takes us to the Apothecary shop in the past and we learn that the shop started out dispensing homeopathic medicines for women. We soon learn more about life for women in that time period and how some came to the shop for remedies for abusive, cheating husbands, lovers, and other family members.

The characters are well developed and I did come to care about them both in the past and in current time. The author expertly weaved the timelines together to show how Caroline becomes a suspect for a crime in the present time much like Nellie, the character from the past, but needs to know what exactly happened in the past to help prove her own innocence.

I gave this book a 4 star rating while Goodreads currently shows it at 3.76 stars. I have already purchased the second book by this author – The London Séance Society and I look forward to reading it.

Now onto my stats for the quarter:

I have read seven books in March, six books in February, and 3 books in January, with sixteen books so far for the year. All were books I own and one was an audio book. They were in the following genres:

Romance 2

Mystery 9

Memoir -1

Biography -1

Horror -3

My 5 star ratings for the first quarter are:

The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey – Serena Burdick

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman – Lucy Worsley

Risky Biscuits (Sugar and Spice, # 2) – Mary Lee Ashford

Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

J is for Judgment – Sue Grafton

Finlay Donovan is Killing it – Elle Cosimano

The Moving Finger – Agatha Christie

I had a great first quarter for reading – Seven out of sixteen books I rated 5 star. These are my ratings and I may have rated some books lower than you but that is fine. Everyone has their own tastes about reading. I also think it has to do with what my mood is at the time. I might read the same book at a later date and give it a different star rating. I have rated some books by adding a half star. Going forward, I think I will either round them up or down, depending on how much I actually enjoyed them.

I continue to read mostly mystery but I plan to add a few classics this year as well as maybe a sci-fi or fantasy. There is an author coming to talk at an Avid event this month who has a pretty popular book out that I might not have chosen on my own to read. I will let you know more when I make up my mind about either reading it or attending that event, since I really have not been a fan of that genre.

It has been kind of eye opening to review my reading so far. I plan to do this again at the end of June. I am having a hard time deciding what my most favorite book has been so far. I think it is a tie between Finlay Donovan is Killing it and The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey. Guess we will see what it is next quarter.

Hope this post finds you all well and safe from this wild ride spring has hit us with, so far. It will soon even out with more warmer days than cool. On those less comfortable days it gives me pleasure to curl up with another good book.

Happy Saturday and until next time,


Don’t Know What to Read in April?

“In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood – Bluebeard’s Egg.

I probably won’t smell like dirt but I will most definitely smell like good books.

It’s easy to get into the rut of only reading newer releases. Most of my suggestions are from books that have been out for a while but you may not have been aware of them.

In the spring, I like to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. I do like to plant a few flowers but I am not a gardener. I am a reader. I do like to read books in the Spring that are a little lighter and maybe set in the season but as you know, I love mystery and a little horror too so here are my choices. Most of these books are on my to-be-read list and I don’t want to spoil the story for you or me, I will give a brief description.

Maisie Dobbs is a maid in a London household. She first became employed there when she was thirteen. Her employer is a suffragette so you have a good idea of the era of this story. After working for her mentor for several years and with the outbreak of war, Maisie becomes a nurse. She serves in France at the Front. While there, she found and lost an important part of herself. Ten years later in the spring of 1929, she sets out on her own to investigate her first case involving infidelity but discovers something unexpected. In the end she finds herself confronting a personal ghost that has haunted her for over a decade. I chose this book because it begins in the Spring and it is one that has been on my radar for a while. I believe it is the first of a series and I do love series. It has 3.92 stars on Goodreads.

This book is definitely on my list for April. I have been watching the series on PBS and love it. It is the story of a young man who apprentices with a Veterinarian in rural Yorkshire. Since I am an Anglophile, this hits so many buttons. It shares his heartwarming stories of the people in the area and their animals. It begins with James Herriot’s train ride from Scotland to Yorkshire and the immediate household where he ends up living and serving as an apprentice. The Vet, Siegfried Farnum, his housekeeper, Mrs. Hall, and eventually Mr. Farnum’s brother, Tristan, are main characters. The series is full of heart warming stories and the descriptions are beautiful. You can picture the English landscape. Though I haven’t read this one yet, I know I will enjoy it. Goodreads gives this one 4.34 stars.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is another one that I have no idea why I have waited so long to read. I think I was drawn to it because it is set in Iowa. The protagonist is Sara, who is from Sweden. She travels all the way to meet her pen pal. When she arrives, she discovers that her friend Amy has passed away and Amy’s friends are leaving her funeral. The residents of the small town take it upon themselves to look after Sara. Amy’s home is full of books and between Sara and the residents of the community she is encouraged to open a book store. Sara and the townspeople are a little quirky. This book is said to be a reminder of why we are booklovers. Goodreads has given this book 3.56 stars.

I may not get to all of my Spring recommendations in April but this one I want to read for sure. I have set myself a goal to read one Agatha Christie each month and I am awaiting the arrival of this book. This book has some of Agatha’s short stories set in the springtime. If you are new to Agatha’s novels, I highly recommend them. I love mysteries and I feel Agatha is the queen. You won’t find gore but good mysteries set in an era long gone. She may have some things we don’t feel are politically correct but I am comfortable because of the timeframe they were written in. Goodreads gave this one 3.74 stars.

I am almost done with The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner and will have a review when finished. I am looking forward to April reads. Let me know if you read any of these or what books you would choose to read next month. As the days become longer and warmer, I do move my reading out onto my patio with a cool beverage and a little sunshine. That is what I am waiting patiently for. Where is one of your favorite reading spots?

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Until next time,


What is Better Than New Books? – Free Books and Book Festivals

I attended an online author event recently with local authors. I won a copy of this book from an author I have never read. Tracey is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thanks so much Tracy Garvis Graves. I look forward to reading this. Free books are always a good thing.

Saturday was the Des Moines Book Festival so I sat at the Sisters in Crime Booth at the event. Here I am with another SINC member – Julie Fridinger.

The Book Festival is a fairly new event for Des Moines. In the beginning someone said they hoped it would become as popular as our Art Festival. It hasn’t grown to be quite that large yet but after this Saturday, I think it is on it’s way.

The Book Festival is part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership

The author pavilion featured Sequoia Nagamatsu, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chris Bojhalian, and Sarah Penner who presented talks during the day. There were hands-on workshops from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM in two different rooms that featured Bookstores, authors Kay Fenton Smith and Carol McGarvey who offered food samples along with their – Baking Blue Ribbons book. Django a local restaurant who showed how to build a better Cheese and Charcuterie Board. True Crime and tasting wine with John Brassard and Madison County Winery and way too many to list on this post.

There was food and adult beverages available.

A live stage set up with Musicians and performers.

A VIP area was available for some lucky attendees.

A Kids’ Zone featured face painting, story time, a magician, and more.

There was also a Des Moines Architecture Walking Tour with the Iowa Architecture Foundation for a chance to learn more about downtown buildings.

They had a local author alcove with booths for authors to meet, greet, and sell their books. That is where our SINC booth was for the day. I was there for a couple hours in the afternoon. Met many people, most were readers. Had fun talking about SINC and books. I introduced our group by telling them we were all about murder. That seemed to get their attention.

The event was held at Capital Square, downtown. Does your community have an event similar to this? If you are local and have never attended, I would recommend it. I have been involved from the beginning because of the writer’s organizations I belong to and I do remember several years ago it was held in the summer, outside, and it was not nearly this well organized.

The last hour of the event, I attended the author talk with Sarah Penner. I am currently reading her first book – The Lost Apothecary. She was promoting her latest book – The London Séance Society. I got that one autographed and she promised an author interview if I can wait until mid May. Of course, I can wait.

Sarah Penner is the first author for the library’s AVID (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) program. There are six more authors who will speak over the next few months and I do plan to attend as many of those talks as possible.

Her talk was interesting. She is from Kansas and used to work in the finance industry. She worked in London for a while and the setting for her books is actually not far from the office building she worked in there.

She never expected her books to take off so quickly and when her publisher offered her a contract for books three and four, she gave up financing to write full time. She now lives in Florida.

A local news lady was the moderator for her talk. Everyone laughed when her first question was where Sarah got her red pant suit.

Several years ago, I got to be a moderator for AVID for Eloisa James. It was great fun and I felt honored because most of the moderators over the years have been big-wigs around town. Like, the Hubbell family, or reporters from the Des Moines Register and people from Meredith publishing.

Hopefully Sarah will remember when I send my interview request in May and I will share more about this author at that time.

I hope your weekend was as fun and exciting as mine. I hope you’ve found a little time to read and look forward to our next chat.

Until next time,


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