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 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,


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!


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?

Please subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss out. I hope to be able to bring content that all readers will enjoy.

Until next time,


Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, I think I have found my favorite book so far for 2023. This was hilarious. LOVE it when I find a new author I love. Finlay Donovan is a hoot. When a young divorcee mom suddenly has to worry about her cheating ex-husband trying to get custody of her kids and she is a struggling novelist who is finding it hard to pay her bills and keep afloat, what should she do? Of course, become a hit mom. A miscommunication in a Panera with her agent leads a Panera customer to think she is a hit man and leaves her a note asking her to kill her husband for a substantial sum of money. Finlay is not a killer but everything she does to get out of the mess causes her to dig deeper into a bad situation. If you like cozy mysteries that make you lol, you will love this series. I can’t wait to read the next one.

View all my reviews

I shared my Goodreads review above but I wanted to add a little more for my own followers.

I have watched several booktubers talking about how great different books are and had been disappointed, until now. None of the other suggestions had panned out so far, until now.

This truly is a new favorite. The writing flows well as she spins her ridiculously funny story. She makes the unbelievable believable. The characters are well rounded and you get to know them so you care about what happens to them. Finlay gets herself into such awful situations, it actually made me nervous worrying about her. It is a story and I know it isn’t real but as far out there as the situations were, I believed it was possible.

If you love cozy mysteries that are not gory but are hilarious, I hope you take my suggestion and read this one. Let me know what you think.

Also, if you are on Goodreads, follow me for all of my reviews. I would love to follow you as well. If you have read this series, what are your thoughts?

Until next time,


The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Marie Benedict

“A winning whodunit from the thrilling life story of the mistress of whodunits, Agatha Christie herself, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie is a deft, fascinating page-turner replete with richly drawn character and plot twists that would stump Hercule Poirot!” – Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network.

I have had an interest in Agatha Christie since the early eighties when my daughter was old enough to attend story time at the library. While she listened to stories and socialized, I loaded up with books to read at home for the next week. I quickly read all the Agatha Christie novels, our local library had to offer. I have since read as many biographies about her as well.

This is a novelization of what might have happened those eleven days that Agatha Christie disappeared. From everything that I have read, this feels like a good explanation. Agatha was a very private person and I don’t believe anyone except Agatha knows the true story.

Marie Benedict researched this famous author and put the bits and pieces of information together to form a plausible explanation. She did it in a way that created tension, conflict, and well rounded characters. It doesn’t put a very good light on Archie Christie, her husband. It makes him appear to be unworthy of Agatha. The author has attempted to tell the story with two narrators, Archie and Agatha. Archie explains how he was so besotted of Agatha in the beginning but after childbirth and her inability to get back to her youthful figures, he strays. Of course, Archie makes it seem like the obvious solution.

Agatha shows their story from her point of view. She is in love with Archie and when she discovers his infidelity the reader connects and feels her heartbreak. If it had only been Archie it would have been difficult enough but when you add in Agatha’s mother pushing her to ignore everyone else, including their only child, Rosalind, in order to stroke Archie’s ego and ensure her husband’s attention.

There is a definite character arc for Agatha. Though she’d written several books before her disappearance, this might explain how she became the powerhouse writer throughout the rest of her writing career. If I hadn’t known that Agatha does re-marry and apparently had a happy union later, I would have been more sad for her. Archie seemed to negate her writing. Not sure if it was ignorance or jealousy because of her success. If this book is anything like the truth, I am happy to see how it ended.

If you love Agatha Christie’s novels or are an anglophile and love everything from the UK, I think you will find this an enjoyable read. I have read several of her novels but not all. I do intend to remedy that by reading them regularly.

Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is also the author of The Only Woman in the Room, Lady Clementine, The Other Einstein, and Carnegies Maid. She lives in Pittsburgh with her family.

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy a taste of spring wherever you are. Here in the Midwest we’ve had a string of days filled with sunshine and seventies. May you find some time to get outside and to read this week.

Until next time,


The Sun Down Motel

The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

This was one of those books I’ve seen circulating the BookTube channels for a while. I had wanted to read it in October because of that spooky thing but found it too late to start then.

This was a quick read. It definitely was a page turner. The last night I finished it at 3:30 A.M. the next morning. I could not put it down until I knew what was going on. Luckily I am retired so didn’t have to get up and go to work.

This is a story told by two protagonists. The current day one, Claire and her aunt from November 1980, Vivian. Claire was born after her aunt had disappeared and she decided to make it her mission to find out what really happened to her mother’s sister. She luckily or depending on how you look at it, unluckily took the same night shift job at The Sun Down Motel, where her aunt Vivian had disappeared.

Claire quickly picks up that something isn’t right at the motel. The mysterious scent of cigarette smoke, room doors opening and closing by themselves, the ghost of a young boy around the abandoned swinging pool, and one ghost whose anger causes the electricity to go out giving Claire a warning that it is time to leave.

The motel rarely has many guests and apparently most of them don’t notice what is going on. I thought that was a little odd.

The other half of the story is as Vivian shows the reader what did happen leading up to her disappearance. Both women snag onto the fact that they believe there is a serial killer in the area, killing women. Claire believes that same killer is still hanging around. The two women’s stories merge into a very satisfying ending.

Can’t call this a feel good novel but if you enjoy getting a scare every once in a while. This might be a good read for you.

Survived Thanksgiving 2020 style. I am finding myself reading way more than I ever did but that is normal. Reading has always been my escape.

Hope you too had a good Thanksgiving and may you find some joy in a good book.

Until next time,


Stranger Diaries

“If you’ll permit me,’ said the Stranger, ‘I’d like to tell you a story. After all, it’s a long journey and, by the look of those skies, we’re not going to be leaving this carriage for some time. So, why not pass the hours with some story-telling? The perfect thing for a late October evening. – Stranger Diaries

Stranger Diaries is a story within a story.

Claire Cassidy, a high school English teacher who has immersed herself in the life of R. M. Holland, a fictional author in this book. He is the author of a ‘famous’ historical short story – The Stranger. The school where she teaches is R.M. Holland’s former home. It has been converted to include an addition that holds most of the classrooms. Most of his home is intact, including his personal office, kept almost like a shrine.

Claire uses The Stranger in her creative writing class while she also is writing a biography about H. M. Holland. The story is set in England where she lives with her teenaged daughter, Georgia. After a rocky divorce, the two moved from London so she could take this teaching position.

After a couple of murders, reminiscent of those in The Stranger, Claire notices that someone besides herself is making journal entries in her personal diary. She soon guesses that the killer is someone she knows even though the local police detective is starting to suspect her in the killings. During Claire’s investigation, she digs up several possible suspects.

The story is set around Halloween and includes some history about H.M. Holland’s wife committing suicide in the house by throwing herself off the second floor landing and that her spirit roams the halls. The legend is that when her spirit is seen, someone will die. There are also rumors that H.M. Holland had a daughter but no one has been able to confirm it.

I discovered this author through a YouTube channel I follow called ‘Diane in Denmark’. Her channel is actually about how she uses the FlyLady Housekeeping system but she is also an avid reader and shares some of her favorite reads.

I found a little more information about Elly Griffiths while watching another BookTube channel. Elly’s real name is Domenica De Rosa. She has written a few women’s fiction novels under that name. When she became interested in writing a mystery, her publisher suggested a new name; Elly Griffiths name belongs to her grandmother.

Elly wanted to write something scary and creepy. The story has two point of view characters, Claire and the police detective – Harbinder. Elly says that she loves telling ghost stories. Her inspiration was a place where she teaches creative writing. It is an older home owned by an art patron. It too has a spiral staircase similar to the one in this book.

When young, she used to write her own fan fiction about ‘Starsky and Hutch’. In her stories, the characters sometimes died and it made her readers cry. She wrote her first mystery novel at eleven.

She always wanted to be a writer and when on maternity leave 20 years ago for her twins, she wrote her first book.

Stranger Diaries is a stand alone but Elly is thinking about writing another one with Detective Harbinder as the protagonist.

This book reminds me of a modern Agatha Christie. I have read one of Elly’s Ruth Galloway mysteries and do like her writing style, so I will be adding Elly Griffiths to my favorite authors list.

If you decide to check this one out, let me know what you think. As always feel free to share what you are currently reading.

Will see you again soon,


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