Book Review: The Sholes Key

Amazon Kindle link

My Grade: C

Author’s Website

Plot / Premise

All across London, single mothers are vanishing. Margaret Hill, mother of two, walked out of her house two months before, never seen again. A month later, Carrie-Anne Morgans takes her two-year-old son for a walk in the park and disappears leaving him alone in his stroller. Lorna McCauley leaves her London flat in the early hours of the morning to buy medicine for her sick child and disappears.

Newly promoted Detective Inspector Theophilus Blackwell is assigned the case of Lorna McCauley, which, on the outside seems to be a simple case of mid-life crisis and child abandonment. Elsewhere in London, MI5 analyst, Sophia Evans, is working undercover to catch an animal rights group responsible for targeted bombings.

As her case (and her personal life) fall to pieces, she receives a strange envelope in the mail. It contains a picture of Lorna McCauley s lifeless face along with a daunting code. Now the police and MI5 are forced to work together to stop the murders, and Sophia must find her way into the terrifying mind of a serial killer

My Thoughts

I would have given this book four stars save for one thing: the whole sub-story with Marc. What was the purpose of that? I thought it detracted from the whole story. If the author wanted to give Theo and Sophia an opportunity to meet, there would have been easier, less awkward ways of doing that. I would have preferred to see the entire Marc/bombing story deleted and a blooming interest between Theo and Sophia develop throughout the story. There would have been plenty of emotional conflict given Theo’s wife’s situation. I felt like the whole Marc story was thrown in there as an afterthought and it just didn’t add anything to the story, in my opinion. In fact, it was distracting and a bit annoying, if you want the truth.

Other than than, the story was interesting and moved along nicely.

Book Review: The Do-Over

Amazon Kindle link

My Grade: B-

Author’s Website

Plot / Premise

Just before her fortieth birthday, Mara Jane Mulligan, devoted wife and mother, runs out of bubble bath, and the ensuing panic attack drives her to Canada for more. She realizes that one foamy soak probably won’t cure what ails her, so she takes a 30 day vacation from her life. (What woman doesn’t need one of those?)

Surely her family will understand. Her son’s visiting Grandma, and maybe her husband won’t even miss her. Unfortunately, her husband doesn’t miss much and tracks her to Abundance, a Vancouver bubble bath company.

As her 30 days sail by, Mara Jane Mulligan discovers she has a decision to make that even Dorothy couldn’t avoid… Will she click her heels for home or kick them up for good?

My Thoughts

I liked this story – I was scared to really like this story.

I’m pushing 50, half my life is over. (Because I fully intend to live until I’m 100, with mind and body intact, thank you very much). So this story really resonated with me. It’s human nature to sit back and wonder .. what if? What if I had made different choices? What if I make a change now? What if I choose door B instead of stepping through door A. And what lies behind door C? I think we can all relate to the age-old question – is there more??

I confess, I almost stopped reading a few times. The character’s thoughts were all over the place and it was hard to stay in this character’s head, let alone try and empathize with her, for very long – there were times she wouldn’t finish a thought before another, even less rational thought, would pop into her head.

But that’s what happens when we’re confused. Nothing makes sense. When our normal day-to-day life changes, whether with, or without, our conscience consent, it’s hard to find a firm hold on an alternate reality. So … the character’s messy thoughts somehow … seemed appropriate, given what she was going through.

But here’s what I really liked about this story – the character didn’t just give up and walk away from her responsibilities or her life. She didn’t simply focus on her selfish motivations – she bathed in the sweet-smelling fragrance, liked it, didn’t want to give up her new-found happiness, but then made the decision to go back anyway. She gave her husband a chance to change WITH HER. She didn’t just write him off and decide she didn’t love him anymore, she made her wishes for change known, granted, she went about it in an overly drastic fashion (one would have to be completely dense to miss the furniture out on the lawn and the entire house painted yellow not to GET THE HINT), but she was not only brave enough to take the first step for change, she was even more brave to ask her husband if he would make the journey with her.

How many women would have simply written off the old in favor of the new?


It was refreshing to follow a character who made a responsible choice for a change. I get so sick of selfish characters, whether fictional or real, who think of nothing but, “I want a change and screw everyone else” mentality. (This of course, does not apply to women who decide to leave an abusive, or unhealthy, relationship – then one MUST be selfish in those instances to maintain one’s health, or even life).

I’ve been married for almost 24 years. Life DOES get stale after a while and change can be good. If there is one thing everyone can count one in life, its change. The beautiful part about this philosophy is when you have a partner who is willing to change right alongside with you.


So Many Books, So Little Time

comfy-chair I can’t read enough.

According to my account, I’ve read 43 books this year (so far). I’m assuming that’s correct, why would Good Reads lie to me?

Honestly, I would have guessed half that many. I really feel like I’ve dropped the reading ball this year. But right now? I can’t read enough. I’m absorbed. I CRAVE reading. I CAN’T WAIT to bury my nose in a book.

I CAN’T WAIT to get away from real life.

Not that real life is bad, per se. I have a great life. But it’s dull – wait – no it’s not. Not really. I’m not unhappy. The boys are living their lives but not causing us stress. Kevin and I are fine. Its just … I don’t know – I like to use my imagination. I love submersing myself in a really good story. I love picturing the characters and quietly inserting myself into the story somewhere – a shadowy character with no lines.

I’ve been reading a lot of ebooks – in fact, I haven’t held a real book in … months (years?) I ADORE my Kindle. It’s not a fancy one – just the no-frills, cheap, paperwhite basic Kindle that comes with ads because I was too cheap to pay the extra price to remove them. It’s no bigger than a real paperback book and I take it with me everywhere – it no longer bothers me to wait for anything, in fact, I sort of hope I HAVE to wait so I will have an excuse to pull my Kindle out and bury my nose in a book. (Or stare at a screen).

I read it on my lunch hour (actually, it’s only 30 minutes and that’s when I actually take a lunch). In fact, I often find myself going over my 30 minutes because I just need to finish this one paragraph / page / chapter.

I used this website a lot at the beginning of the year – they give away ebooks from lesser-known authors. I actually like that, it gives me a chance to read stories on the fringe of society.

But they’re not professionally edited and after a while, I just got too impatient with the misspelled words and sloppy format.

Then I discovered that my local library checked out ebooks and I’ve been in HEAVEN ever since. I haven’t paid for a book in probably two years.

However. I feel that trend is nearing the end, too. There are many books I’ve been interested in that are part of a series and the entire series is not available through my local library, so, I’ll most likely splurge and buy the ebook sequels on Amazon.

Which is why many authors like having their books being loaned out by the libraries – because then someone like me comes along and BUYS more of their work.


Even now, I’m thinking about the current story I’m reading and feeling antsy to get back to it. It’s not exciting and not especially easy to read, but it’s interesting in a sort of drowsy, charming way.

But only 43 books this year? I feel like I’ve failed. It should be higher. My goal is to make it higher next year.

But I feel overwhelmed sometimes – there are SO MANY good stories to read and SO LITTLE time.

I better get busy.

Book Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back


Amazon Kindle link

My Grade: A-

Author’s Website

Plot / Premise

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

My Thoughts

I’m really not that into YA, but I have been reading more of the genre lately. It’s refreshing to read about quasi-innocent characters and it often takes me back to my teenage years and reinforces how incredibly naive I was.

I can sum this story up in two words: cute and predictable.

I got this book for free – it’s one of the few I’ve downloaded free that I would have actually paid for.

The main character, Maddie (Tilly to those that love her), is absolutely adorable. She’s sweet, yet tough, wise, yet naive, smart, yet clueless, strong, yet vulnerable. She is funny (there are parts I literally chuckled at) and easy to relate to.

Like I said, there’s nothing unusual about this story – in fact, I sort of pictured a Disney movie in my head while reading it.

What I really liked about the story was the writing. And the tone. It was fresh, funny, and really well written. I felt like I was Maddie’s best friend, following her around and getting a pretty good glimpse of her personality, her issues and her thoughts. I empathized with the character and enjoyed everything about her. Ms. Wilson did an excellent job with characters, flow, tone …

It was an interesting, cute, fast read and I would definitely like to read more from Ms. Wilson.


By the by: I just found out that local libraries allow members to check-out ebooks. *SQUEE!* Check out this link and see if your local library participates. Or – go to your local library website and see if it’s possible. I borrowed two ebooks today and I have two weeks to read them. GAME ON!

Book Review: Beyond Nostalgia


My Grade: D

Plot / Premise

Born with blue in his collar instead of his veins, best-selling author Dean Cassidy chronicles his soul-scarring rise from New York’s darkest alleys to a place high atop the literary world. As difficult and unlikely as such a climb is, there’s yet another force working against Dean. He’s forever haunted by treasured memories of his long-lost teenage soul-mate. Theresa! Theresa! Theresa! She just won’t go away! Despite all Dean’s hang-ups and mental baggage, he eventually does marry another woman. And for twenty years his wife, Maddy Frances, remains so giving (and forgiving) she deserves to be canonized a living saint. Even after she finds Dean unconscious at a botched suicide attempt–a time-faded photograph of Theresa clenched in his hands-her love never wavers. But is Maddy’s loyalty enough to keep them together? Or will a force far stronger than fate alone change everything?

My Thoughts

Though I can appreciate the character working hard for his success, and the fact that he ultimately grows up and makes the right decision (which, by very definition, comes with maturity), I could not get past the preachy-bankers-and-business-type-people-are-evil segments of this book. I have no patience for characters, or authors, who can’t resist pushing their political agendas on to their readers. I know it’s hard to separate the author from the story, but at the very least, insert a counter character into the story that brings up the other side of the (author’s) issue so that the reader is not left with a bitter after taste.

Look. Life is full of hard knocks and when people work hard, make good life decisions, and finally achieve success, we should be happy for those individuals, not begrudge their hard work. Being envious is a natural feeling, but to harbor resentment and use that bitterness as a roadblock toward a better life, is counter productive. For ultimately, Dean finally achieves success from his hard work and he has every right to savor that success – should he feel guilty for that success? Should he hand his hard-earned success off to someone who hasn’t made good life decisions or who has chosen not to work as hard?


Now that he’s one of the successful people he has resented all of his life – now what? It’s suddenly okay to have money and be successful because it happened to him?

Dean was selfish, immature and a punk. Though I understand his deep love for Theresa and his regret that it didn’t work out and his guilty conscience for his role in the break up, I felt the most sorry for Maddy, she had to deal with the left overs.

I thought the character was weak in so many ways – sure, his childhood was rough, but he allowed that experience to define him instead of giving him strength and courage to grow up and move past it.

I will say, the writing was pretty good. There were some editing glitches, but for the most part, it moved the story forward and the author did a great job depicting all of Dean’s conflicting emotions.

Though I didn’t care one whit for Dean, I’d be willing to read more of this author’s work.