We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker

This was the library book club read at my local library, and there was an audio book available so I thought I’d try it.

Stats: Published March 2021, 384 pages (hc), audio book – 9 discs narrated by George Newbern.

Blurb: Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess―her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

What I liked: It is a great story. The characters – primary and secondary too – are all very real and Whitaker does a great job with the setting, even though he’s never been in Montana or California (he’s from England), though from other reviews I’ve seen, he doesn’t get some English usage correct (which I missed listening to the book). And we really care for this teenager – Dutchess (I wonder why that name). It’s kind of a complex story – lots of pieces and characters in play – which helps make it difficult to figure out who done it. The twist at the end is perfect and resolved perfectly too, since he’s dealing with a teenager. Newberg does a good job with the narration.

What I didn’t like: The writing style can be a bit too choppy and poetic for my taste – feels like he’s trying a bit too hard. When he does it a lot, (and the whole piece isn’t written this way but much of it is) it is a distraction for me rather than adding to the story. Duchess may hang onto her “outlaw” mask a bit long for a teen. But maybe because of her gruff personality, she’s been sheltered from other teens so hasn’t grown out of her persona, maybe. There is also no mention of social media. I find that odd. It isn’t needed for the story, of course, and I’m not exactly sure when this story is supposed to have taken place but if it’s present time, it just seems odd when dealing with a teen. I also don’t understand Duchess running far away, then suddenly she is back home. It made me wonder if I missed a disc (that I was listening to) but I don’t think I did. And maybe I’m dense but I don’t understand the title. Whitaker has Duchess’s grandfather say this to her and even in context I don’t get it.

Rating: 4/5

Author and Illustrator Visit: Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and Pamela Christiansen

Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie has recently published this story for young readers is lovingly illustrated by Pamela Christiansen that will entertain both child and adult alike.

Esseboe and Pam answered a few questions for us.



  1. What is your motivation in creating this book? 

    Night Critters Play is a poem I really love. It is from my earlier book of poems, Ready for your love and other poems.  As a book project, it began eight years ago when I discovered the work of Pamela B. Christiansen. She is a printmaker and art teacher on Bainbridge Island here in the Pacific Northwest. It took Pam several months to illustrate the poem. Then I left it. I revived the project when my partner Michele Plumb Stowell was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition to the chock of the news come a sense of powerlessness and death staring you in the face. I decided to revive this one of my book projects in her honor and claim a measure of agency in the situation.
  2. Death has been a major motivation in your writings.

    Yes, it has. I began to write poems seriously in my sophomore year in high school. A brilliant student called Anthony Dzodzoe died during the Christmas holidays. I thought that if he could die as a teenager, then the potential for me to die is always there. Poetry became a tool for me to immortalize myself and my subjects. 
  3. Ready for your love came out in 2004. When are you coming up with a new book of poems?

    I have been engaged in other creative activities since then.  Thirst No More A Fable of Hope and Forgiveness came out in 2017. I have several fiction and nonfiction projects going on. I am also working on a collection of poems that continue to address the problem of death and our human condition. This will be coming out in the next few years.
  4. What will children like about Night Critters Play?

    The book is layered with different meanings and the illustrations have hidden images. Different readers will take different things from it. The hope is that parents and educators will use this as a springboard to introduce children to another way of looking at the natural world. More than anything, Night Critters Play is a meditation on the environment. I also hope that parents and educators will understand the extraordinary skill and energy poured into creating the illustrations and appreciate their depth, beauty, and uniqueness.
  5. Who are the poets that influence your poetry? 

    It’s difficult for me to list all the poets that influence me. I discovered Emily Dickerson in high school. From her, I learned that poetry needs not be complicated to be deep. I studied the John Donne and the metaphysical poets. Charles Baudelaire, considered the consultant poet, has echoes in my writings. I read all the poetry books in the African Writers Series when I was younger so I have all of these influences in my poems in varying degrees.


  1. Tell use about the beautiful illustrations. How did you make them?

    The illustrations are monotypes. Monotyping is a technique that generally yields only one good impression from preparing a plate and running it through a printmaking press one or many times. Monotypes are prized because of their unique textural qualities. They are made by drawing on glass or a smooth plate with printer’s ink.
  2. How long did it take you to do the illustrations?

    Several months
  3. Where else can people find you?

    I illustrated Seasoned with Gratitude, a cookbook, by Kathryn Lafond.  These plates are pen and ink drawings and gouache paintings.

You can pick up this lovely book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

You can find out more about Esseboe at his website: nightcrittersplay.com

CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

If I Were You by Lynn Austin


Got this from my mother-in-law, who is a BIG reader. It’s historical fiction, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Stats: Published in 2020, 464 pages for the paperback.

Blurb: 1950. In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve’s secrets–and the complicated history of their friendship–to the surface.

1940. Eve and Audrey have been as different as two friends can be since the day they met at Wellingford Hall, where Eve’s mother served as a lady’s maid for Audrey’s mother. As young women, those differences become a polarizing force . . . until a greater threat–Nazi invasion–reunites them. With London facing relentless bombardment, Audrey and Eve join the fight as ambulance drivers, battling constant danger together. An American stationed in England brings dreams of a brighter future for Audrey, and the collapse of the class system gives Eve hope for a future with Audrey’s brother. But in the wake of devastating loss, both women must make life-altering decisions that will set in motion a web of lies and push them both to the breaking point long after the last bomb has fallen.

What I liked: It is an interesting premise and seems plausible. And do I give too much away when I say it has a happy ending?

What I didn’t like: I have never read anything by Lynn Austin before so I don’t know her writing style, but in general I don’t like stories where the writer tells you the obvious and this book is written in this style. I am also guessing her other books are Christian books, as this one is. I have not read Christian books before and it seems it’s not for me, even though I am a Christian. Not exactly sure why. Maybe because it seems a bit preachy. Not a lot but more then I liked.

Rating: 3/5

“Kernels – Stories” Author Interview

I recently helped Mary Behan publish her third book – a collection of short stories.

Back Blurb: This debut collection of short stories by author Mary Behan showcases her relentless curiosity and insight into the human condition, and displays her considerable talent for evoking an emotional reaction in the reader.  In settings ranging from Ireland to Iowa, from Norway to New York and beyond, her characters embark on journeys that leave them indelibly changed. These are tales of loss and pleasure, of poignant relationships and chance encounters. Reading Kernels, one experiences heart wrenching moments of sorrow intertwined with unexpected surprises of joy and comfort.

A question and answer with Mary

Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your writing?

My first 25 years were spent in Ireland, a country where language is everything. Reading was a huge part of my life, not just in boarding school but also at home. I remember saying to my mother that I was bored one wet afternoon during the summer holidays. Her reply — part censure, part challenge, part encouragement — was instructive. “Don’t you have a book to read?” she said.

The Irish are good at conversation. It’s often said that ‘talk’ in Ireland is a combat sport! We love to tell a good story, so it’s not surprising that I turned to writing when I had the time.

How did Kernels come about?

I had just finished writing my first novel, A Measured Thread, a 3-year journey that left me feeling elated but at the same time spent. After it was published I found that I didn’t have a clear idea for a second novel. I didn’t want to stop writing, so I came up with a plan: I would write a short story every month for a year, get some feedback from beta readers, and eventually one story would rise to the top and become the candidate for my next novel. I remember pitching the idea to a group of friends at a local coffee shop after Yoga practice, telling them this was an experiment as I had never written a short story before. Several of them volunteered to be beta readers for which I am immensely grateful.

The first story, Dangerous Building, was written in October, 2019. I sent out the final story, All That Glitters is not Gold, to my beta readers in December, 2020. Missing the deadline didn’t seem very important at the time, especially with Covid-19 all around. I gathered my beta readers’ comments each month but held off reading them until January, 2021. That’s when I began to revise the stories. Some revisions were easy but others more challenging, especially when two or three readers disliked the same part of a story, or suggested a completely different direction that required a major rewrite. Towards the end of March, I had the makings of a book and that’s when I approached Christine. She liked many of my stories, but challenged me with some unexpected questions about others. More revisions ensued over the next couple of months, and I could see the improvements. I’m very pleased with the way the stories have turned out. 

Where did you get your ideas for the stories?

The first story I wrote, Dangerous Building, had been lurking in the back of my mind for a long time. It was a place I remembered from childhood, a big country house where my sister and I went to play during the summer holidays with the three kids who lived there. I suppose I must have been 9 or 10 or thereabouts. The place has lingered in my mind for the last 60 years. About five years ago when I was back in Ireland, I went to see it. The description of the house and its surroundings is completely accurate, but the rest is pure fabrication. I needed a story. That’s when the magic of story-telling took over. It was such a powerful feeling: to create characters, have them interact, give them a voice. There’s a tiny kernel of truth in the story, but not much more.

As the months went by I found that about three quarters of the way through each story a new idea would pop into my head, almost demanding to take over. On the last day of each month I would send out a finished story, and force myself to take a week’s break so that the new one could sort itself before I began to type. During a long walk or a bike ride or a solitary drive I’d find the pieces of the story beginning to assemble themselves into a coherent arc.

What is your next project?

I don’t think that any of the short stories have the makings of a novel. Mind you, several of my beta readers disagree with me. That’s encouraging, so maybe I’ll change my mind in a year or two. Interestingly, as I was writing these stories I began to entertain the idea of writing a sequel to A Measured Thread. That hadn’t been my plan at all, and I was somewhat taken aback. I have an outline in my head: a beginning for certain, and a rough idea of an ending. But the middle is less clear. It’s going to be a hard book to write, not just structurally but also emotionally. So, I’m putting it aside for now; I’ll know when I’m ready. 

My sister and I wrote a memoir about our childhood in Ireland, especially our time together at boarding school, called Abbey Girls. We had such a wonderful time wandering through our childhood that we are going to write another memoir together, Travels with Mick. Our father, Mick Behan, had a delightful and quixotic approach to travel that each of us experienced both as children and adults. We have a treasure trove of letters, diaries and photographs to dig into, and will laugh endlessly as we combine our memories into a story for everyone who knew him and those who wished they had.

Will you write more short stories?

When I began to write short stories for Kernels, several of my beta readers asked who were my favorite writers in this genre. I had to admit that I didn’t read short stories, preferring full-length novels. It seemed foolish not to dip into some of the well-known writers in the genre so I read James Joyce, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, William Trevor and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). I read stories in the New Yorker Magazine and American short Fiction. Oddly enough the exercise was unsatisfactory, perhaps because I couldn’t see my own stories reflected in any of theirs. Recently a friend suggested reading stories by Guy De Maupassant, and it was there I found a kindred spirit who will eventually lure me back to writing more.


If you’re interested in getting Mary’s new book or connect with Mary, below are the links.


Goodreads (paperback and e-book)  

Barnes and Noble (paperback and NOOK)  


Apple Books  

Rekuten Kobo  

Mary’s previous booksAbbey Girls and A Measured Thread


CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim


This was a blind pick audio book from my library.

Stats: Published in 2019. Print book is 355 pages, audio book is 12 discs, narrator: Jennifer Lim


In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

What I liked: I liked most everything about this story. The characters are very real. I especially like how Kim explores those dark and very natural thoughts we all have at times. Things we don’t want to think or even admit we think about our lives or the people we encounter or live with. The situation seems real (even though it’s a bit far-fetched). The way Kim parcels out the bits of information makes for a very interesting read (or listen) and I think it is one of the big pluses to the story. I also liked how the wife stuck up for herself and what she believed was right, at the end. Would someone be able to do that in this situation is a good debate to have after reading this story (a good book for a book club read). Jennifer Lim does a great job with the narration.

Great debut novel! I’m jealous!

What I didn’t like: That the author lets a couple people off the hook at the end is a bit disappointing, but as she says in the audio version interview, it’s more realistic, which it is.

Rating: 5/5 (and I don’t give many of those 5’s away. Thought of giving it 4.5 but can’t really think of why, so 5/5 it is 🙂 ) I also agree with the author and editor, I like “Miracle Submarine” for the title.

Author Visit – Bill Ried

I’ve had Bill on my blog before, when he came out with his debut novel: Five Ferries.

Bill’s come out with his new book – Backstory – and it’s getting great reviews:

 “An original and deftly crafted novel that in an inherently riveting read from cover to cover, “Backstory” showcases author William Michael Ried’s genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling style that brings his characters to life and holds the reader’s rapt attention from first page to last.”

Midwest Book Review

Here is a little questions and answer with Bill.

How did you come up with the idea for Backstory and what does the book say about facts and truth?

The 2016 presidential election introduced us all to the concept of “fake news,” that truth was whatever candidate Trump said it was at the moment and anything else was fabricated to embarrass him. This struck me as straight out of George Orwell’s1984, where the Ministry of Truth “rectifies” historical records to accord with Big Brother’s current pronouncements.

I then thought about writing a novel about a character’s attempt to change his own history by altering someone else’s novel. I imagined six classmates and placed them in a setting twelve years prior to the current story, on the picturesque campus of Trinity College that has occupied the center of Dublin for hundreds of years. I then contrived to reunite the ex-classmates in 2016 in New York City, for one to start writing a novel based on their time together, and for another to see this will reveal secrets that must be kept hidden and contrive to alter the novel.

Once the characters occupied the setting, the story pretty much wrote itself and the characters sometimes surprised me. For example, I created Becca to fill a limited, supporting role, but she wrote herself in as another major character—and my favorite. But Backstory also illustrates the trap for the weak-minded in falling in line behind propagandists who try to revise facts to fit their self-interest. In the end, facts and truth do matter, in the history books as well as in the life of Ansel Tone. 

What authors inspire your work?

I suppose James Joyce, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, James Fenimore Cooper and Charles Dickens are among the authors who have taught me most about writing. It is no coincidence the hero of Five Ferries reads works by or references these authors and sees Europe through the prism of their works.

I also enjoy modern novels by Caleb Carr and Hilary Mantel and so many others. In trying to craft Backstory as a literary novel with an element of mystery, I took inspiration from modern novels such as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, Tana French’s The Witch Elm and Lexie Ellliot’s The French Girl, although I should also acknowledge Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary for the counterpoint structure of the Yankee Stadium chapter. 

How do you approach cover design?

For Five Ferries I started with the image of a hitchhiker, created by an artist friend from actual photographs. I submitted this to 99designs.com along with a brief summarizing the novel and images of book covers I liked. I immediately received submissions from lots of graphic artists, with whom I conversed in real time through the site. After six days I chose six designers for a final round and continued to review submissions and make suggestions. I finally picked a winning design and only then learned my designer, Colum Jordan, worked in Dublin. 

For Backstory, I repeated this process, in the end receiving 144 designs and variations from some 35 designers. For this book I provided the artists with no central image but did summarize the story and the settings. Unfortunately, I noted the story involves a beautiful woman and two high-end sports cars. Some of the submissions looked more appropriate for a romance novel or a muscle car magazine than a serious novel, so I revised the brief to eliminate women and cars. The winner, Mikhail Starikov d/b/a michaelstar*, actually had it right from the beginning, and he stood out for employing genuine artistry rather than simply applying a font to a stock image. When I chose this winner, I found that he works in Moscow, which led to discussions about Tolstoy and the war of 1812. 

As to fitting the cover design to technical specs for print and e-books, I rely upon my editor/publisher Christine Keleny at CKBooks Publishing. 

How do you research your novels?

Five Ferries started as a memoir, so the basic research was simply living the story. However, memories fade and after 30 years of writing I turned the book into a novel, which required a lot of research. The internet made this much easier; I no longer had to visit the library’s map room to locate a village or find photography books to describe a building. However, I realized I also needed a person native to each country through which my hero travels (England, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Wales and Ireland) to advise about geography, language and customs, as well as native speakers from other countries, to get the slang right. This led to extensive correspondence, one of the things I most enjoyed about writing the book.

Backstory is largely set in my backyard and peopled with Americans who talk like me, so the research was simpler. But the backstory within the novel is set at Trinity College in Dublin. I sent a blind email to the Literature Department at Trinity and found a faculty member who answered my questions and corrected my descriptions. Also, two of my characters drive high-end sports cars. I haven’t even owned car in fifteen years and so needed specific technical expertise. My cousin the engineer loved helping out, and enlisted a friend of his who works in a pit crew. I also found a friend to describe the work life of a university professor, another to counsel on New York criminal law, and a third to help with the perspective and dialect of a twenty-five-year-old woman. As to the study of propaganda, which relates to changing history and thus is part of the theme of the novel, I did the reading myself.

I find that people really enjoy contributing their expertise to a novel. They feel part of the creative process, which enriches the collaboration and makes it fun.

What’s next? I have nearly completed the first draft of my next novel, as yet untitled. It is the story of a young man who lives an entitled life until tragedy strikes and forces him to get by on his own. It marks my return to first-person narrative, which I hope will allow me to explore the emotional challenges the hero seeks to overcome. I’ve also had fun including a Australian Shepard as a character and creating a family compound occupying a large bluff on the southern coast of Maine. I hope to publish this book in early 2022.

Here are links to Bill’s book:



Goodreads – paperback –  e-book 

Rekuten Kobo

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Google Play

Bill’s first book:

Bill’s first book: Five Ferries

The Searcher – Tana French


Another blind pick recommendation from my library. I got the audio book.

Stats: Published in Oct 2020. Print is 451 pages. Audio book is 12 discs (14.5 hours), narrator: Roger Clark.

Blurb: Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

What I liked: It was an interesting what if… story, if however improbable. Not sure I buy a ex-Chicago cop with a daughter in the States, going all the way to Ireland to live. Lots of desolate places in the US to choose from. That’s not a dig, just seems improbably. The story itself is enjoyable. I thought the characters were real and I cared what happened to them, especially Tray (spelling?). French really makes you want to root for Tray. And I didn’t figure out what was going on until I was told, though I suspected after a while that things weren’t as they appear. Roger Clark does a good job at narration. It everyone sounded very real. I always enjoy listening to a good Irish accent, too.

What I didn’t like: Hum… not sure. It wasn’t a gripping story but it was a good one. Maybe the improbability of the setup is what hinders me giving it a 5/5.

Rating: 4/5

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni


Got this out of my local library when I was looking for a new audio book.

Stats: Published in April 2020, Audio book is 9 discs, narrated by Heather Masters, print book is 349 pages.

Blurb: It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.

At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink.

But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes.

What I liked: The premise of the book was very fun. Who wouldn’t like to get something in the mail telling you you have a castle in the Alps, holdings in a tree plantation, and a home in Paris! I also enjoyed the narration. Heather Masters does a wonderful job with all the characters. And Alberta – the new heiress – seems real person in a real situation until strange things start to happen and she starts to act strangely too.

What I didn’t like: Alberta does things, little by little, that just don’t ring “true.” She is dropped off at this castle, being told she’d be picked up in a week. Three weeks go by when she finally realizes they aren’t coming back to pick her up – sorry, no way. No cell service in the mountains (sounds right), but they have a land line (okay, maybe), but she doesn’t insist on using it to leave, even though she is told she’s the new owner of the place. She tries to run away to a local (deserted?) village in tennis shoes without gloves or hat. She lived in the Hudson Valley, so she knows what winter is (not a realistic). And when she okays a murder… (nope) I kept reading because I was listening in the car, otherwise I might have stopped. And Trussoni tries to make it more spookier than it has to be. It could have been a strange and thought-provoking story, but it seems she tried too hard to make it something else

Rating: 3/5

Firefily Lane by Kristin Hannah

 I wanted to read this book before I watched the TV series based on the book, so I ordered the audio book from my local library. Now I wonder what the TV show will be like. 

Stats: Publishing in 2008, hardcover is 479 pages, audio book is 18 hours, narrated by Susan Erickson

Blurb: In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you.

What I liked: I enjoyed Susan Ericksen’s narration. Each character seemed like a different person. She didn’t miss a beat. I am mostly of the generation that Hannah is writing about here, so it was fun to walk down memory lane with her. The things the characters deal with feel real but…

What I didn’t like: I just couldn’t get myself to care much for these characters. I can’t put my finger on why but it wasn’t a book I couldn’t wait to get back to. The writing seemed a bit jagged to me, not consistent. It’s a large book, so I can understand how that might happen, but it’s the editor’s job to help Hannah fix that. I got particularly bored with the struggle Kate had with her daughter. It went on too long and was suddenly dropped on a couple occasions – that jaggedness I mentioned – then revived again. I wasn’t hard to figure out something was going to happen to their friendship and not hard to figure out what it would be that would bring them back together. I haven’t read any of Hannah’s other books but I’ll look closer at ratings before I do.

Rating: 3/5

The Turn of The Key – Ruth Ware

This book was recommended on an online book group I’m a part of, so I requested it from my local library.


Stats: First published in 2019, the paperback is 352, audio book is 10 discs, read by Imogen Church

Blurb: When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the home’s cameras, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder—but somebody is.

What I liked: I mostly like the narration done by Ms Church. She was good at making it a bit creepy. Of course, that means that the writing was good at making it creepy, and it was. And the characters in the story were very real but from the word and from the narration.

What I didn’t like: The story itself was a bit slow. The twist at the end did surprise me a bit, but it wasn’t an OMG moment by any means. And it was a touch hard to believe the the person that died could have done what he/she did, especially related to the house. (I don’t want to give anything away for those that want to read this story.) And finding out who did kill the character was actually a sad moment in the story, almost believable but also not quite.

Rating: 2.5/5