SOME GREAT BOOKS I’VE READ THIS YEAR 😊

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture.
Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

I promised a few people I would blog about my year in reading.

My Goodreads goal was 52 books in 2022. Goodreads gives me credit here for having read 53 when last I checked, but I’m at 54 now. It takes them a bit to catch up. Most of the books are psychological thrillers, but there are a few other genres.

Here are the books I gave a five-star review:

Cruel: A Dark Romance Psych Thriller (A Necrosis of the Mind Duet 1) by [Trisha Wolfe]
Brain Damage: A twisted psychological thriller that will keep you guessing by [Freida McFadden]
Say Her Name by [Dreda Say Mitchell, Ryan Carter]
Want to Know a Secret?: A jaw-dropping psychological suspense thriller by [Freida McFadden]
Suicide Med: A gripping psychological thriller by [Freida McFadden]
The Housemaid: An absolutely addictive psychological thriller with a jaw-dropping twist by [Freida McFadden]
The Inmate: A gripping psychological thriller by [Freida McFadden]
Dead Against Her (Bree Taggert Book 5) by [Melinda Leigh]
Stone the Dead Crows (The Saeed Sharif Standalone Thrillers) by [Carrie Magillen]
When He's Not Here (The Saeed Sharif Standalone Thrillers) by [Carrie Magillen]
The Moonlight Child by [Karen McQuestion]
The Yoke and the Noose by [Kieran Higgins]
In the Waning Light by [Loreth Anne White]
Fear No Truth: A Faith McClellan Novel (The Faith McClellan Series Book 1) by [LynDee Walker]
DON'T LIE TO ME (Eva Rae Thomas Mystery Book 1) by [Willow Rose]
Dawn Girl: An absolutely gripping serial killer thriller (Tess Winnett) by [Leslie Wolfe]
Until I Met Her (Emma Fern Book 1) by [Natalie Barelli]
After He Killed Me (Emma Fern Book 2) by [Natalie Barelli]

Obviously, my favorite author of the year is Freida McFadden. There are many I’ve come to love, and Carrie Magillen is also at the top of that list.

I’ll post just a couple of my reviews.

Stone the Dead Crows (The Saeed Sharif Standalone Thrillers) by [Carrie Magillen]

This is the second book I’ve read by this author. The first, When He’s Not Here, I rated five stars.

Now, this one, I wasn’t sure what I’d rate it for a couple of reasons. First, I figured out exactly what would happen when I was about halfway through. (I wonder if that’s to my credit or if others would figure it out just as easily). Then again, is that so bad?

Second, the story deals with narcissistic and domestic abuse and gets into so much detail at a couple of pivotal moments that it almost seems to turn from fiction to non-fiction. Those subjects are important, though. I was into it, and, as far as I’m concerned, the more awareness created, the better.

The writing itself was beautiful, especially her descriptions of the surroundings. The story was riveting, and I couldn’t put it down. I read it all in just two days, and despite my figuring out the upcoming twists, the way she executed it was brilliant. So, near the end, I thought, hmm, should I give her a four or a five? Then I read the last few pages and HAD to give it a five. Well done! 

*****

Bloody brilliant! And I never say bloody anything. As disturbing and unsettling as it was in general, it was a well-written page turner, so cleverly constructed. I’m thirsty for more. 

A few words…

According to the literary statistics, 2022 has been a banner year for reading all around. That makes me happy not only because I’m a writer marketing books but because it’s a joy I want everyone to experience. For me, it’s been one of life’s greatest treasures, a passion I’ve felt privileged to have.

I have fond memories of trekking to the library with friends as a kid. On the way back, we bought french fries from the fish market, ate them along the way, and then settled on my stoop to read. It started with the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Pinocchio, all so thrilling and magical.

I looked forward to ordering books during the school book sales. Narrowing it down to the books I wanted most was tough since my list was so long. On the day they arrived, the teacher arranged them in front of the classroom for all to see, and they were just beautiful with their gorgeous covers. I couldn’t wait! Then, holding the new books in my hands! It was a feeling I find hard to describe.

My English teacher introduced us to classics like Nicholas and Alexandria in high school. He took us to see A Christmas Carol at Radio City Music Hall, where my love for Charles Dickens began. I went on to Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice with a burgeoning passion for 19th-century British literature. I loved gothic settings, too, time travel, and the days of the Roman Empire.

The truth is, no matter what you read, it’s bound to be good for you, and it’s easy when you find the genres and authors you love. In fact, like meditation or a day at the spa, reading is one of many ways to practice self-love. It takes you out of your world and into someone else’s mind, heart, and universe. You get comfortable in your favorite reading spot by the fire or under the covers. You relax with a book or even your phone. (I’m always reading on my iPhone Kindle.) You cast any troubles aside and simply surrender. It’s “you” time.

“What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright.” – Gustave Flaubert

For me, that escape to another time and place, learning about different people and things, is a lot of fun, like traveling in your mind. Whether you’re a writer or not, the stories inspire you. It’s good for the brain, warding off cognitive decline, and it often helps me fall asleep! 😉

Back in my school days, teachers would tell us we could increase our vocabulary by looking up words we didn’t know. That’s true as well.

And one of the best things about reading is the opportunity to empathize, even in a fictional situation.

When I became a parent, I often took my son to the library. At the time, I was looking for horror fiction, and he was looking for books about Jupiter!


It’s a wonderful thing.

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” – Maya Angelou

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

Reading nook in big library feature image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay 

Both Dickens Images by Prawny from Pixabay 

Wizard of Oz – Image by neotenist from Pixabay 

London Victorian era Lady dressed in black Image by Happy New Year from Pixabay 

Vintage Victorian ladies Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay 

Gothic romance – book, rose, black gk Image by Dorothe from Pixabay 

BOOK REVIEWS ON A COUPLE OF THRILLERS

I love a good thriller. 

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin and As So It Begins by Rachel Abbott are two books that provided the page-turning suspense that kept me reading but still managed to leave me disappointed.

The main reason is I need characters I can like and root for throughout the book. Please give me one, at least.

It’s particularly distressing when I think there’s one, but it turns out in the end that they all suck. 

My reviews for these will be short.

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.

My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I know Ian Rankin is good. So many people recommend his work. I also know Knots and Crosses was not the best example of why he is popular.

The main character in Knots and Crosses , Detective John Rebus, does not seem to do much of anything but drink and get laid. He didn’t solve any crimes, let alone the main one. There was nothing to like about him and plenty to not like. Oh, there is sufficient reason to feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for the victims, too, and, of course, I rooted for the ones still alive, but it’s not as if you get to know them. I liked the book, sure. I just needed more.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

And So It Begins is a darkly compulsive psychological thriller with all the hallmarks of a Rachel Abbott bestseller – a provocative dilemma, richly-layered mystery, knife-edge tension, and brilliant characterization.

My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This book I liked a lot. Rachel Abbott is a wonderful storyteller, and As So It Begins is a well-written page-turner. I hated the twist and the ending for personal reasons, but I can’t get into that without spoilers.

What I can say is, the detective here, Stephanie King, is nowhere near as interesting as the people involved in the mystery that unfolds. (This is her series, and she is the star, but you’d never know it.) She turns up now and then and mostly worries about her love life. I feel like the whole story could have happened without her minimal involvement. A couple of minor characters impressed me, but, as I mentioned above, I want to root for at least one of the main characters.

As an aside, I’m reading another of Rachel Abbott’s books right now called The Invitation, and I love it, but now that I’m many chapters deep into the book, Detective Stephanie King emerges once again.

Hopefully, she makes a better impression here than in the last book.

Roger Daltrey: My Story – Thanks a lot Mr. Kibblewhite

I had Roger Daltrey’s poster on my wall as a kid. My father tore it down nonchalantly when he decided to panel the walls. He didn’t think my sister, who shared the room with me, or I would mind. But, we did. He left the beautiful poster crumpled up in a ball on the floor!🤣

I cried and did a little foot-stomping. The Who was one of our favorite bands. We loved the movie Tommy and the collection of songs from the rock opera that preceded it. I always thought it was the work of a genius, and that genius was Pete Townshend, the band’s legendary guitarist. His other works were phenomenal as well, and seeing Roger bring Tommy to life on screen was incredible. I’ll confess; I had a mad crush on him.

As you can imagine, by the time my sister and I got to see the band in concert, it was so powerful and emotional, I was in tears. My heart was just exploding with joy. 

Now, I happen to love a good juicy memoir. When I say juicy, I don’t mean in terms of sex but information. Curiosity, I guess, but I do enjoy learning about people and things.

I didn’t know much about the band members beyond Keith’s self-destructive path, resulting in his death and Pete’s arrest for downloading child porn. (Pete was found innocent and cleared of the charges.) Roger tells that story in his book. He is a fantastic storyteller, and his collaborator did an excellent job helping him put it all together. Reading about his experience, I learned a lot more about music and what bands go through. Being a lover of music who could only dream about singing on stage, I found it fascinating. Reading about the sixties and seventies has always been exciting to me, too. If I could transport back in time to get there, I’d take the chance in a heartbeat.

So, in my assessment, Thanks a lot Mr. Kibblewhite is a fast-paced read and thoroughly enjoyable. Fans of The Who will love it. I got so into it that I had to watch a bunch of their live shows on YouTube. I wanted to observe each of them individually and collectively. (Yeah, when I’m watching or reading something good, I am obsessed.) They blow me away now more than they ever had! All of them were beautiful and brilliant— topnotch musicians and showmen.

I will say I can’t entirely agree with everything Roger says in his book. For instance, he thinks fidelity should not end a marriage. That might have been debatable at the peak of his fame, but to say that after the 80s? He’s had children with women he played with on the road, so he wasn’t too concerned about protection. In terms of awareness advocacy, I’d be remiss not to say I’m glad he and his wife never had to suffer the consequences. 

Other than that, I admire Roger Daltrey and respect him. At 5’6, the man’s presence was (and likely still is) enormous. It seemed to me he was not only grounded and a tough guy, especially with his anti-drug stance but also vulnerable and emotional. What happened to Keith and John—and even the troubles Pete had— broke Roger’s heart. He seemed to have tremendous empathy for them, even though their antics had a detrimental effect on the band, in general, and individually.

 One thing struck me while reading about his depression after the series of tragedies. He wrote: 

 “We hadn’t been able to grieve after John’s death. We had just pushed on through that intense tour and then, only weeks after we’d got home, before we could process it all, Pete was arrested and all our lives got turned upside down. In the face of a sustained crisis your brain stops coping. It shuts down to protect your heart.”

 That was sort of an a-ha moment for me because this happened to several people I love and me, too. As simple as it may seem, it is deeply profound. In fact, after reading that, it helped me help someone else. 😉

Roger Daltrey shows, throughout this writing, that he’s capable of admitting his mistakes and learning from them. In my book, people like that are a treasure. Thank you, Roger, for sharing your fascinating story and thought-provoking words of wisdom. If I was a fan before, I’m more of a fan after finishing your book. ❤️

Roger Daltrey: Thanks a lot Mr Kibblewhite

BOOK REVIEW: TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH by Mary L. Trump

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”— Plato

*WARNING* Possible spoilers

5 stars *****

When I first opened this book on my Kindle, I figured my rating would be four stars, tops. The book’s subject, Donald Trump, has been distressing and depressing most of us for years, and we know why.

However, it doesn’t suffice to say that Mary L. Trump has done a great job covering this subject.

Everything she wrote was entirely believable and relatable. I loved the family anecdotes, especially the one about the holiday gift exchange. Family dysfunction is typical. We can all laugh about it, but, beyond silly, meaningless gifts, the level of dysfunction in the Trump family was brutal and overwhelmingly tragic.

Considering how the Trumps treated Mary, her parents, her brother, Fritz, Fritz’s wife, and Fritz’s seriously ill child, it surprised me to note how fair she was to the perpetrators of what I’d call highly traumatic narcissistic abuse.

Now, there are stories written out of anger and a need for revenge. There are also stories told with raw honesty, and as much compassion as the author can muster. I felt that Too Much and Never Enough came straight from the heart. Resentment seeps through, yes. How can it not? But the way the author has attempted to understand the people around her speaks volumes.

I would go so far as to say that Too Much and Never Enough is the most compassionate perspective you will ever get about this president. His enablers will never have this level of empathy for him. They are merely using him to their advantage. The same way his father did. I’m not saying Mary Trump wrote this book to help her uncle, but I think she wanted to help America and the rest of the world fully understand what we’re dealing with here.

To that end, she provides an extraordinary explanation for everything we see, and if you’ve been paying close attention to what’s been going on, it all makes perfect sense. If you’re familiar with narcissistic abuse, it makes even more sense. And she’s not giving him a pass here. She makes it painfully clear how dangerous it is to keep Donald Trump in office. I’m not giving him a pass either. Yes, my heart broke for him a couple of times. The book has made me more sympathetic toward him, but I have more sympathy for the rest of the world, dealing with the fallout of his tragedy.

A broken, terrified child is running our country. As Mary Trump stated, he’s still seeking approval from his dad.

In my opinion, he’s likely punishing him with a madman’s fury by punishing usall of us. It doesn’t matter whether we support him or not. He will punish anyone and everyone in any way he can.

“No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”— Edmund Burke

In conclusion, I do wish everyone would read this book. I hope those who support Donald Trump will read it and see it for what it is and not merely an attempt to slander or humiliate him. It’s only possible if they approach it with an open mind and heart.

Maybe it’s too late for Donald Trump to get the help he should have gotten so many years ago, but he can still do the right thing and step down. Either way, we need to get him out of there.

“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”Michel de Montaigne