Thanksgiving Photo


PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin, 10/2015
GENRE: Arts/Adult coloring books

FROM PUBLISHER: Color away the stress with these stunning book of relaxing designs that offer a therapeutic retreat into a world of beauty, inner peace, and relaxation. Each exquisite design allows you to fall deep into the calming experience of coloring, providing tranquility and ease that we so often miss in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Perfect for framing and gift-giving, these designs bloom from creative sanctuary to modern works of art.

· Soothing designs perfect for art therapy
· Instant stress reliever
· Original designs
· 8.5 x 10 tear-out pages fit for framing
· Personalized artwork for home-decorating, framing, or gift-giving


This first one is a close up of the one below it. Click them to make larger.



 Below are scanned images of three pages of more intricate designs from near the back of the book, as well as one image of several animal heads. Click on each image to make larger.





MY THOUGHTS: I must admit I really enjoyed coloring with colored pencils. Adult coloring books have become very popular this year. I think the craze came out of Europe. I can’t say I’ve colored since elementary school. There are six animal heads, twenty-four animals, lots of floral designs, and some I don’t now how to describe. There are cats, rams, birds/hummingbirds, tigers, horses, turtles, hot air balloons, butterflies, telephones, fish, and so on.  Most of the designs aren’t what I’d call feminine, though the floral designs are my favorite, and this certainly is for both genders.

The quality of the paper is very good and bright, possibly like 22 lb. printer paper (definitely stronger than 20 lb.). The pages are perforated and I recommend you tear them out and use a clipboard or something else hard to put the paper on when you color. People have said about other adult coloring books that marker bleeds though so if you use markers, especially if you leave the pages in the book when using them, make sure you put a couple sheets of printer paper behind the one you’re coloring to protect the page behind it. You may even want to make a copy of each one you’re going to do in case you mess up and your eraser isn’t any good.

Publishers say coloring books are supposed to be relaxing but for me it was a bit stressful, since I’m not artistic and can’t drawl or anything like that. Choosing colors is much harder than it sounds but I did enjoy this little project. I didn’t really know what I was doing and it took me more than a few hours. I used Cra-Z-Art brand from Walmart, but mine was a pack of 36. I guess they were alright. I don’t have anything to compare them to. The color didn’t smear while I was working, so that’s a plus. A regular pencil eraser didn’t work too good on it.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

BAKING WITH THE BRASS SISTERS: Over 125 Recipes for Classic Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, Desserts, and Savories from America’s Favorite Home Bakers by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass

brasssistersPUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Griffin 10/6/15
GENRE: Cookbook/Baking

FROM PUBLISHER: In their new book, Marilynn and Sheila have gone to their collection of trusted manuscript cookbooks and handwritten recipes that number in the thousands to rediscover the home-baked treats that were brought to America from around the world – Russia, The Ukraine, Germany, Austria, France, Greece, India, Costa Rica, Armenia, Italy, England, Ireland, Norway, Canada, as well as many created here the US. They have listened to the stories of recipes that have been passed down by family and friends and interpreted them for the home kitchen. They’ve even included some of their own recipes created over 126 years of combined home baking experience.

Readers will find wonderful recipes for treats like Grandma Goldberg’s Honey Cake, Chocolate Walnut Banana Muffins, Billy Goat Cookies, Cobblestone Apple Tart, Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Layer Cake, Nana May’s Irish Yeast Bread, Jack’s Chocolate Caramel Walnut Tart and many more. “Baking with the Brass Sisters is “a classic baking book that people will keep on their shelves, bake from, and cherish for years to come.



RISE AND SHINE– A Little Girl’s Blueberry Cake, Breakfast Corn Cake, Buckwheat Pancakes, Chocolate Walnut Banana Muffins, Cowboy Coffee Cake, Grandma Woodward’s Whole Wheat Date Muffins, Harriet’s Bran Muffin Bread, Irish Soda Bread, Mango Corn Muffins, Mary’s Pumpkin Bread, New England Baked Maple French Toast Casserole, Sweet Potato Drop Scones, Vatrushki (Russian Cheese Pastries)

A PIECE OF CAKE- ABC Cake (apple, banana, coconut cake), Almond Chiffon Cake, Aunt Ida’s French Apple Cake, Brandy Alexander Cheesecake, Edith’s “Very Good” Orange Sponge Cake, Husband’s Cake (Tomato Soup Cake), Macaroon Cupcakes, Mama’s Jelly Roll, Mother Carleton’s Black Walnut Bundt Cake, Muriel’s Banana Walnut Cake with Burbon Frosting, New England Maple Walnut Cake, Orange Pecan Olive Oil Cake, Pink Velvet Cake, Shivani’s Hazelnut Cake, Worcester Pound Cake

THE COOKIE EXCHANGE– Alison’s Speculatius, Aunt Minnie’s Date and Oat Bars, Bernice’s Irregular Raisin Cookies, Billy Goat Cookies, Hazelnut Espresso Cookies, Lemon Clove Cookies, Mary Messer’s Vanilla Coat Buttons, Cousin Helen’s Greek Cookies (Koulourakia), Mom’s Coconut Cornflake Cookies, Norwegian Spice Hearts, Polka Dot Chocolate Bars

FILLING THE BREAD BASKET– Aunt Minnie’s Butterhorn Dinner Rolls, Brown Soda Bread with Dried Cherries and Toasted Walnuts, Chocolate Walnut Yeast Bread, Honey Molasses Bread (Weetabix), Coconut Banana Bread, Lise Zimmer’s Sweet Banana Yeast Bread, Nana May’s Irish Yeast Bread, Quick Oatmeal Bread (Yeast Batter Bread), Orange Pecan Yeast Bread, Aunt Eller’s Apple Nut Bread, Salt and Pepper Potato Bread

EASY AS PIE– Kahlúa Pie, Black and White Cheese Pie, Buttery Maple Walnut Pie, Cheese Crumble Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust, Cobblestone Apple Tart, Chocolate Chess Pie, Dang Good Pie, Lemon Rio Pie, Mama Ruth’s Georgia Pecan Pie, Rhubarb Streusel Pie, Sheila’s Perfect Piecrust, Chocolate Piecrust

WE GATHER TOGETHER– Brown Sugar Brownies, Chocolate Bûche de Noël, Cranberry Raisin Pie (Mock Cherry Pie), Grandma Rometo’s Torte, Hot Cross Buns, Italian Cream Cake, Joyce’s Basbousa Cake (Armenian Farina Cake), June’s Pumpkin Cookies, Lemon Almond Biscotti, Central Squares (Lemon Cream Cheese Squares), Lemon Curd, Old-Fashioned Soft Gingerbread, Passover Sponge Cake, Peanut Butter “Hermits”

TEATIMES AND COFFEE HOURS– Big Mama’s Lemon-Lime Tassies, Almond Jam Clothespin Cookies, Evelyn’s Strawberry Blondies, Edna’s Feather Gingerbread, Irish Sweet Bread with Bourbon Glaze, Lemon Drizzle Tea Cake, Maria’s Alfajores (South American Jam-Filled Cookies), Mary Frances’s Brown Sugar Tea Cake, Pumpkin Tea Cake with Toasted Walnut Sugar Topping, Soft Molasses Cookies, Tutti Frutti Biscotti, Ukrainian Prune and Walnut Cake (Prune and Walnut Bars)

SUMMERTIME TREATS– Lemon Chess Pie, Marilynn’s Fresh Cherry Tart, Crisp Vanilla Butter Wafers, Summertime Blueberry Kugel, Green Tomato Chocolate Cake, Merry’s Upside Down Plum Squares, Rhubarb Royalle (Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake), Nanall Alleman’s Sand Cookies, Rustic Ginger Peach Pie (Peach Galette), Rolled Peanut Butter Cookies, Washington Apple Crisp

MAKE MINE CHOCOLATE– Chocolate Guinness Bread Pudding, Chocolate Tea Cake, Dark Chocolate Butter Cookies, Fran’s Sour Cream Espresso Brownies, Gloria’s “Glorious” Chocolate Pound Cake, Jack’s Chocolate Walnut Caramel Tart, Julia’s Chocolate Coconut Bars, Mocha Truffle Tart, Mrs. Finkelstein’s Marble Cake, Palma Snarskis’s Cranberry, White Chocolate, and Walnut Squares, Shirle Broner’s Fudge Squares (Chocolate Tea Brownies), Sue’s Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

SOMETHING SAVORY– Cheddar Poppy Seed Biscotti, Aunt Grace’s Rhubarb-Walnut Conserve, Blue Cheese and Pear Tart, Caraway Seed Cookies, Curried Cashew Rounds, Sun-Dried Tomato Parmesan Cocktail Crackers, Savory Cornmeal Parmesan Biscotti, Vidalia Onion Marmalede





This is incredibly moist. There’s no milk in the batter so the batter’s thick and has to be spooned into the pan. I made half the recipe and baked it in a 1qt. loaf pan for 32 minutes. I omitted the ginger and cloves from the batter. The nut and brown sugar topping wasn’t really necessary. Though I pressed the mixture into the batter before baking, before spooning my own glaze over the top (glaze isn’t part of the recipe), I brushed the nuts off the top since they were falling off anyway. A very good basic cake. I don’t know why it’s called bread.



This cake alone is worth the price of the book. I made an almost identical version of this one before. It uses cocoa powder and has hot water added to it at the very end. I chose to make jumbo cupcakes out of it instead of one big cake. It’s extremely moist and is moister the next day. I made two different frostings for it, including the chocolate one that went with the recipe, only I made a few changes to it, like heating the milk and butter together and used less cocoa. This cake tastes a lot like a boxed devil’s food cake but more moist. I love the flavor and this cake, and the other similar versions, and is my favorite homemade chocolate cake.


These are the best flavored homemade brownies I’ve ever made. They’re cake-like. I made half the recipe in a 1.5 qt. square pan, which is typically 8″. I omitted the espresso powder, since I don’t like it. The batter tasted like it needed more cocoa powder so I added an extra tablespoon (making it 3 total) and I doubled the vanilla to 1 teaspoon. I didn’t make the frosting for them but did dust them with powdered sugar. Excellent.


Very good and very moist. The flavor’s nice, especially on the bottom where it got golden in color. This cake uses chocolate syrup, the kind you put in chocolate milk, in half the batter. It seems the weight of the top layer causes the batter to sink down into the bottom layer, causing a marbled effect. That explains why we weren’t to swirl the batters together with a knife. The chocolate flavor is very very mild and I’m a bit disappointed in that. I made half in a 9″ square pan and baked it for 31 minutes. I didn’t sprinkle nuts and chopped chocolate on top of the batter but I did make my own powdered sugar glaze for the top. Next time I’ll make a chocolate glaze for it. This would also be good without the chocolate syrup.



This cake is pictured on the cover, bottom left. The full recipe makes a three-layer 7″ round cake. I made half the recipe in an 8″ square pan. I used sour cherry jam in the cake and frosting instead of raspberry. The cake had good flavor before adding the flour, then the cherry flavor sort of disappeared. Adding jam to the frosting ( I used my own recipe for that) didn’t really do much for it except give it a bit of tang, which I could have done without. I added almond extract to the frosting and that made it better. I toasted a heaping half cup of sweetened flaked coconut and ground that in the food processor with 1/4 c. lightly toasted sliced almonds. Nuts weren’t part of the recipe. The recipe had you put untoasted coconut around the sides of the cake but I just put my nut mixture around the four sides on the top and boy, is it good. I also added 1/4 c. of the ground coconut/almond mixture to the frosting before spreading it on the cake. Free recipe here.

The cake itself is very moist and a bit delicate. It has a slightly wet look to it. If you do use raspberry jam I suggest you add a bit of raspberry extract to both the cake and frosting. I’d definitely make this again but I would just frost the top with my own vanilla buttercream frosting, omitting the jam, and make my coconut/almond mixture and sprinkle it evenly over the top. I don’t think I’d make this into a layer cake.


MY THOUGHTS: I’m happy with everything I’ve made out of this book. There are several more things I’m going to bake from this in the future, like chocolate pound cake and lemon drizzle cake.

There are some categories with recipes that don’t interest me, like The Cookie Exchange, Filling the Bread Basket, We Gather Together, Teatimes and Coffee Hours, Summertime Treats, and Something Savory. There’s only one recipe in those categories that I’d make and quite a few of those cookie recipes are very old fashioned and unappealing. There aren’t any basic recipes like peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies. No peanut butter cake or frosting, no basic white or yellow cake, no muffins, basic biscuits, and so on.

There aren’t many photos either, which is always a huge disappointment. I wish publishers would realize the importance of photos, especially when it comes to cookies. I rarely try a new cookie recipe if I haven’t seen a photo of it. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘We eat with our eyes first’, meaning if we see something that looks good, we may be more likely to make it before making something without a photo, since we already know what the finished product will look like.

See their live presentation on QVC.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

MURDER IN PLEASANTON: Tina Faelz and the Search for Justice by Joshua Suchon

murderinpleasantonPUBLISHER: Arcadia Publishing, 9/2015
GENRE: Nonfiction/True Crime
SETTING: California, 1984-2000’s

FROM PUBLISHER: In April 1984, Foothill High freshman Tina Faelz took a shortcut on her walk home. About an hour later, she was found in a ditch, brutally stabbed to death. The murder shook the quiet East Bay suburb of Pleasanton and left investigators baffled. With no witnesses or leads, the case went cold and remained so for nearly thirty years. In 2011, the investigation finally got a break. Improved forensics recovered DNA from a drop of blood found at the scene matching Tina’s classmate, Steven Carlson.

Through dusty police files, personal interviews, letters and firsthand accounts, journalist Joshua Suchon revisits his childhood home to uncover the story of a disturbing crime and the controversial sentencing that brought long-awaited answers to a city tormented by questions.

MY THOUGHTS: This is such a sad story. Tina was picked on at school and on the bus by a few girls but Tina was also a bit troubled herself, it seems, since she wasn’t the nicest to everyone. I can’t help but wonder if she was mean to some because she was being picked on herself. And at least one of the girls who picked on Tina feels horrible to this day for her own behavior back then.

This book was well written in most areas. Tina’s mother, brother, stepfather, and best friend were interviewed. The author needed to explore Steve‘s early childhood. There was something seriously wrong with that family. Steve was already a rapist/pervert before he murdered Tina when he was just sixteen and his slightly older sister, Tanya, was bulimic. She was interviewed and apparently wasn’t asked anything about what she thinks may have caused both of them to have problems. The author said they were neglected by parents who liked to party and that’s about it. I want to know if either of them were abused in some way by someone.

I learned of this case in September by watching a new episode of I.D.’s On the Case With Paula Zahn. Tina’s episode was called Shortcut to Murder.

There’s a Facebook page with lots of photos of Tina.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

HALLOWEEN by Curtis Richards, based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill- Film vs. Novel

halloween1979 front coverPUB. INFO: Bantam, 10/1979
GENRE: Horror
SETTING: Illinois, USA 1978

From Publisher: Based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.

Tricked by his cunning..Treated to his savagery.. Annie, Linda and Laurie.. fresh, pretty, ready to be taken.. stalked by a sadistic power who has returned to claim new victims, on this.. the most frightening night of the year.

THINGS NOT IN THE FLIM: This book was actually released a year after the film. Not sure why. I love the film but the book’s so much better! It’s only 166 pages but boy is it packed with extras. It’s more graphic sexually and the murders are more gory, especially the murder of his sister. The best part is that we get to learn a little about Michael Audrey Myers’ life before and during the fifteen years he was away at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium for the murder of his seventeen-year old sister, Judith, when he was six years old. We learn his thoughts before and during her murder and what he did immediately afterward, before his parents came home to find him standing outside.

I’m going to mention things in the book that weren’t in the movie. We meet Michael’s mother’s mother at the beginning of chapter one. It’s Halloween and he shows her his Halloween clown costume that he got from Woolworth. I love his granny. She’s sassy. She was offended by his cheap store-bought non scary costume and even referred to Michael once as ‘Mister Woolworth Clown Costume’. She began to reminisce to him and his mother Edith about what Halloween was like when she was a child. She said if it was a tame Halloween only your chickens would get beheaded, or as Michael said, unheaded.

We learn that Michael had started wetting the bed after not doing so for three years. He’d been getting into fights at school and with his sister. He’d been having violent dreams and scariest of all, he’d been hearing voices that were telling him to say he hates people. Later in the book Loomis and Sheriff Brackett were discussing how Michael’s great-grandfather Nordstrom (his mother’s father’s father) had heard voices too and had even murdered two people at a harvest dance in the 1890’s and was hanged for it.

Shortly before murdering his sister, he goes trick or treating at his own house on Peecher Street with other kids from the neighborhood. His sister jokingly asked the kids what they’d do if she didn’t give them candy and Michael said he’d kill her. She said, ‘Was that you Michael Myers?!’ and he said, ‘I’m not Michael Myers. I’m a clown’. Every time I’ve read that line its caused me to laugh out loud, for some reason.

Soon after that Judith’s boyfriend Danny comes over. Michael is spying on them through the window. They’re kissing downstairs then later upstairs in her bedroom. Michael can hear the sounds they’re making through the open windows and ‘the sounds filled him with a murderous hatred.’  He doesn’t understand why they’re making those sounds. While he’s standing outside listening to them we learn of a recurring dream he’s been having. In the dream two people who look like Judy and Danny are dancing around a fire outside with other people. He’s jealous as he watches them dance and voices are telling him to kill the lovers.

After Danny leaves he goes into Judy’s room and stabs her over thirty times while she’s sitting at her vanity, brushing her hair, naked except for bikini underwear that have red hearts on them. He stabs her in her wrist, hand, breasts, arms, legs, groin and throat. He goes into the kitchen, eats a cookie, drinks milk out of the bottle, then goes outside and that’s when his parents show up and find him holding the knife.

Earlier that day he told his grandmother, in response to her suggesting he disguise is face with white clown makeup, that he wasn’t going to play any pranks, and was just going to ask for candy and in response she told him to have an ‘innocent, Woolworth kind of Halloween.’ Oooh, it was anything but!

Loomis is remembering all the times at the sanitarium over the past fifteen years where Michael got revenge on other kid’s for some slight but was never seen doing it. One kid got food poisoning after playing a joke on Michael by loosening the salt shaker top so the salt would pour out when you went to use it, one boy was scalded in the shower after repeatedly turning the TV volume down when Michael kept turning it up, a nurse fell down the stairs and fractured her pelvis days after an argument with Michael, a boy who forgot to return a game to Michael got a mysterious rash and had to be hospitalized, and worst of all, Michael suggested one year that they be allowed to have a Halloween party, of all things. A girl was bobbing for apples when the lights went out. Soon after when the lights came back on the girl was laying there, almost dead, from someone, Michael, trying to drown her. Loomis looked over at Michael, who smiled at him, but his costume was dry and Loomis had no proof Michael did anything to the girl.

When Laurie’s walking home from school with Annie and Lynda (it’s spelled Linda in the book) and goes inside, her red-haired mother is there, making candied apples and they have a short conversation about evilness. This is right before Laurie goes into her room and sees Michael staring at her from the clothes line. In the film, she walks though the front door and is shown walking straight into her bedroom.

Laurie’s father is Chester Strode. Film credits say his name is Morgan though it’s never spoken in the film.

In the book, several people who see Michael are close enough to tell he may be wearing a mask, but they aren’t sure. In the film, most aren’t close enough to him to wonder if it’s a mask until they’re being murdered by him.

When Loomis and Sheriff Brackett (Annie’s father) go into Michael’s old house and find the dead dog, they say his intestines are hanging out.

Shortly before Annie’s killed, she’s at Lindsey’s, brushing her own hair. Michael’s watching through the window and is staring at her ‘large’ breasts and becomes sexually aroused. ‘The sex between his legs throbbed in an unpleasant way.’

Annie asks Lindsey why their laundry room is in a separate building outside. Lindsey tells her that her mother wanted it outside because of the noise they both make. That’s not mentioned at all in the movie.

Toward the end when Laurie goes to Lindsey’s looking for Bob and Lynda and find Annie’s dead body in bed with Judith’s tomb stone, her stomach had been cut open up to her throat and her intestines were out.

MY THOUGHTS: I’ve always been a fan of the film and got a copy of the book in May 2009 from a friend. The book is so great. Unfortunately it’s so expensive that most fans of the film will probably never get to read it. I don’t know if the added stuff that I’ve mentioned was in the original screenplay or not or if Curtis came up with it on his own. Either way, I’m glad it was in the book and not the film. It makes reading the book so much more exciting.

Below are the two covers. The first two are the covers. The last photo is the back cover of both versions. My copy has the middle cover. It was reissued in 1982 and had the cover in the middle.

Same review here.


Halloween Collage

LOVERS FOREVER by Shirlee Busbee

loversPUBLISHER: Warner Vision, 5/1996
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1811

FROM PUBLISHER: Under the cloak of darkness, Lady Tess escapes, a lone rider fleeing from her diabolical cousin-only to fall into the hands of ruffians who rob her of her jewels…and her memory. Then in the shelter of a wayside inn, she meets the man the centuries and the fates have prepared her for. From the moment the coldly handsome Nicolas Talmage, Earl of Shelbourne, lifts his dark eyes to hers, they are drawn together, spellbound, into each other’s arms, and into a night of passion that claims her innocence and melts his heart. But Tess refuses to become his mistress. Enraged and yet unable to let her go, Nicolas takes her to an old cottage on the outskirts of his estate. Here, in a place haunted by whispers from the past, they will discover Tess’s true identity, a tangled web of family secrets, and a magical love that can transcend the boundaries of time and space…

MY THOUGHTS: I really liked this and it reminds me of books published in the 80’s. Tess is twenty-one, with red hair and violet eyes. She was raised by her aunt, Hester. Her uncle Sidney died recently and his distant cousin, Avery, has inherited everything. He’s out to make Tess his but she’s having none of it. He holds her aunts and her prisoner but she escapes and looses her memory after she’s attacked. She makes her way into an inn and is mistaken by the owners as someone they’re expecting. They also think she’s a prostitute, as does Nick.

Nick is thirty-two, with black curly hair and dark brown eyes. He doesn’t believe she’s lost her memory. He thinks she’s poor and along with her family is trying trap a wealthy man into sleeping with her so he’ll have to marry her. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but he doesn’t know it. There’s not much backstory on him.

I like the way they bicker a lot. I can’t stand when hero and heroine get along great from the start and there’s never any conflict. Boring! They’ve got chemistry from the start. Though Avery’s a villain, I like him and think there should have been more of him physically in the story, not just in the beginning, and not just in conversations.

The time span is only about two weeks which is ridiculous, really. They’re in love and married in that short time. I don’t know why the story couldn’t have spanned several months, at least. Nick’s older sister, Athena, is deranged and hateful but we don’t really find that out until the end. She was nasty from the start but I liked her.

The only thing I didn’t like about this story is the plot about Nick’s grandfather and his old diary from seventy years ago. I found all that stuff to be absolutely boring. I found the Avery’s-out-to-get-Tess storyline interesting as well as the whole Tess/Nick meeting at the inn to be interesting…and Nick trying to catch smugglers too was interesting to me.

MURDER IN THE FIRST-CLASS CARRIAGE: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun

murderPUBLISHER: The Overlook Press, 11/2011
ORIGINAL PUB: Little, Brown, 5/2011 as Mr. Briggs’ Hat
GENRE: Nonfiction/Biography/Historical true crime
SETTING: England, 1864

FROM PUBLISHER: In July 1864, Thomas Briggs was traveling home after visiting his niece and her husband for dinner. He boarded a first-class carriage on the 9:45 pm Hackney service of the North London railway. At Hackney, two bank clerks discovered blood in the seat cushions as well as on the floor, windows, and sides of the carriage. A bloodstained hat was found on the seat along with a broken link from a watch chain. The race to identify the killer and catch him as he fled on a boat to America was eagerly followed by the public on both sides of the Atlantic. Kate Colquhoun tells a gripping tale of a crime that shocked the era.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a very detailed, well researched and descriptive account of the crime but not as exciting as I was expecting. That’s not the authors fault, though. When I get a book that sounds so interesting I build it up so big in my head, telling myself it’s going to be the greatest book ever, and I end up let down.

I just wish there had been sketches of the key players in the case, especially of the killer, German immigrant Franz Müller. He’s described as being twenty-three, not very tall, thin, fair-skinned, prominent cheekbones, small gray eyes, and wavy dark blond hair with eyebrows so light you can barely see them.

I like that the author hypothesized what probably went down in the carriage that night, saying Franz likely didn’t even know he’d murdered Thomas in a botched robbery. What she didn’t say is how he got out of a moving train without any injuries.

The book is 339 pages but the actual story is only 282 pages. There’s an extensive bibliography as well as a very helpful section in the back that’s got the names of all the people mentioned in the book and who they were/what role they played in the trial.

There’s a mediocre hour long BBC documentary about this from 2013 called Murder on the Victorian Railway that you can watch.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Franz Müller

Franz Müller


recklessPUBLISHING INFO: Mira, 12/2001
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1819
TIMESPAN: about 4-5 months

FROM PUBLISHER: Celia St. Remy Sinclair has harbored a dark obsession since the tender age of twelve: to bring about the downfall of Lord Northington, the man responsible for her mother’s death. Now an elegant and self-possessed beauty of twenty-two, she leaves America for London, determined to avenge the act of violence that shattered her life.

Celia is stunned when she comes face-to-face with her nemesis — for this rakishly charming gentleman called Colter is not what she expected. When she discovers he is the new Lord Northington, son of the man she’s vowed to destroy, she embarks upon a daring plot to take revenge on the father through the son. But even the best-laid plans can be thwarted by the powerful forces of the human heart…

MY THOUGHTS: This reminded me a lot of an older historical romance for a few reasons. Celia hated Colter because of what his father did to her mother. Colter knew nothing about his father’s past sins and didn’t know or care why she was so hostel towards him. She was kidnapped towards the end by the villain, which happens a whole lot in older historicals. For a lot of the book Celia hated Colter but he wasn’t deterred by it and he never let it stop him from trying to bed her. So there was a love/hate relationship between them for awhile, which is very common amongst older historicals. There was a nine year age gap between them and I liked that too. I hate when the hero is just a couple of years older than the heroine, which is very common with newer romances.

I liked Celia. She’s a green-eyed blond. She’s a bit of a spitfire when it comes to Colter and I really like heroines to be like that. I rarely find one like that in newer historicals, which is a shame. She was born in Virginia to a French-born mother and was living in Georgetown, D.C. when she left for England to get revenge on Colter’s father, who is a rapist and murderer. She stayed with her aunt Jacqueline, who is also her Godmother.

I liked Colter a whole lot too. He’s thirty-one, has dark hair and blue eyes though the stepback (the page directly behind the front cover of a book showing hero and heroine) has him with blond hair. His dialogue towards her when she’s being bitchy to him made me smile constantly.  Unfortunately there wasn’t any background information given on him.

There was also some drama involving something Celia unknowingly had in her possession, stuffed inside a directory that a ship passenger, James Carlisle, let her borrow, that she was unaware people were after. I got confused along the way with that whole mess. It’s still unclear to me about what happened with the item and who has it now.

I enjoyed the friction between Celia and Colter and I did feel their attraction for each other. They make a good pair.

THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER by Robin Moore and Neville Romain

thehillsidePUBLISHING INFO: Condor, 1978
GENRE: Fiction/Serial Killers
SETTING: California, USA

FROM PUBLISHER: Driven by animal desire, a psychotic killer springs from the mist-shrouded California hills, ravishing and murdering to sate his perverse sexual lusts. A hard worldly call girl… a fragile, beautiful, vulnerable, young musician – In the harsh light of morning the police found they had one thing in common… Their Last Terrifying Moments On Earth Were Spent With The… HILLSIDE STRANGLER.



MY THOUGHTS: This book is incredibly hard to find and wasn’t worth what I spent on it. I was so let down. The title and story was probably inspired by California’s real life Hillside Stranglers, active from 1977-early 1978. That’s why I was interested in this.

Though the book is relatively short, 240 pages, we got a tiny bit of background on the murderer and four female victims. Two of the girls were young call girls. There were a few more victims but no background info on them.  Early on we learned who the killer was. I didn’t want to know until the end. Most of the suspense was taken away by knowing too early. I guess the authors’ wanted us to know so that they could let us in on his background, childhood, home life and such so maybe we could understand him a bit. Like most serial killers, this one was physically abused and there was a bit of sexual abuse at the hands of his father. He was also frustrated at having erectile dysfunction for almost a year and was also having problems at work. The act of strangling the victims’ caused him to get an erection.

Aside from the murders, this book was boring as hell. I think the majority took place at Andy’s job. He’s some sort of manager for a real estate development firm. His age wasn’t given but I’m sure he was in his mid to late thirties. His co-worker, Sam, was annoying and took up many pages.

I don’t understand why two American authors use the slang word ‘bloody’, say ’round’ instead of ‘around’, and say ‘spelt’ instead of ‘spelled’. I didn’t like that at all.

There weren’t any interesting characters in the entire novel, including the killer. The only good thing about this book is its cover. They don’t make ’em like that anymore!



SERIES: House of Pleasure, #8
GENRE: Historical Erotic Romance
SETTING: England, 1826

FROM PUBLISHER: Lucinda Haymore is still reeling from the cruel betrayal of a vile seducer. Softly, irresistibly, his profession of love disguised his truer, baser intentions. With the knowledge that her reputation is at stake, she is happy to accept a proposal of marriage in name only from her best friend since childhood…

While Paul St. Clare has no interest in consummating his marriage with Lucinda, he has every intention of allowing her to enjoy true physical ecstasy in the hands of another. It’s no surprise that he finds an agent more than willing to accommodate his needs in the House of Pleasure. What he doesn’t expect is how perfectly the arrangement satisfies everyone’s desires…

MY THOUGHTS: Another bad novel with little to no background information on lead characters. I don’t know anything at all about Lucinda’s (aka Lucky) background/childhood, or how long she’s been good friends with Paul. I don’t even know how old Paul is. I was assuming he was around her age but since he fought in a ‘long, bloody war’, I’m guessing he’s a bit older than her twenty-one.

Something bad happened to Lucky so she was eager to marry Paul. She claimed she’s always loved him but I never felt any love between those two or for the love she and Con claim to feel for each other. I did feel love between Paul and ex-lover Constantine (aka Con) Delinsky and was sad that they couldn’t be together in the traditional sense. They say they’re still in love with each other.

Con is from Russia, and is thirty-four, tall, and has white hair and silver eyes. I wanted to know how long Con and Paul have known each other but never got any information on it.

Paul, well, all I know about him is that he’s blond and brown-eyed, has a slight frame, and was in the army. That’s it.

Lucky puzzles me. She knows Paul loves Con so she wants them to continue to see each other. She thinks Paul ‘gave up everything’ to be with her but what, exactly, has he given up besides lovers? If anything he’s gaining her fortune. She also wants to make Paul jealous so she flirts with Con. She thinks that Paul’s jealousy will make him want to take Con back as a lover. What?! That makes no sense at all. I don’t find her encouragement of Paul and Con’s relationship to be the slightest bit believable. Not at the beginning of their marriage, anyway. I can see her, at a much later date, wanting them to resume their sexual relationship and include her in it, but not at the beginning. I don’t even know if she knew Paul was bisexual and leaned more towards men.

Towards the end of the story there was a whole lot of uninteresting drama involving Con and whether or not his wife was still alive. I really didn’t care a thing about it.

There are ten sex scenes in the book. Four are just between Con and Paul, five are between Lucky and Paul, and one is a threesome between Paul, Lucky, and Con. All are very graphic so two thumbs up to them. Two thumbs down to the storyline.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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