Four elderly pensioners living in Cooper’s Chase, a retirement community in England, make up the membership of the secret Thursday Murder Club. Each week a retired detective, nurse, psychologist and intellectual gather around the jigsaw table in the community meeting room and discuss crimes and investigate them on their own. The group leans on the insight of an underappreciated young copper named Donna to inform them of police intel, and they help her to solve some of the cases that police have given up on.
When a murder spree strikes close to home, The Thursday Murder Club break out all of their tricks and try to get to the bottom of it before the local police.
Their investigation puts them in harms way and gives each of the club’s members an opportunity to flex their atrophied muscles. The search for who would want the community’s developer dead leads to a long list of subjects, many uncovered secrets, and a trip to Cyprus.
This English Best-Seller is well read for a reason. The four main characters are charming and unique. Even though the crimes of the community are serious there were many endearing and light moments between the elderly characters. The ending was a twist I did not expect albeit a bit convuluted. I rated this a 3-star book because although I enjoyed the characters, the ending could have been stronger.
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Encounters with big time celebrities don’t happen in the small, British town of Belford, so when V finds herself making tea at the local cafe for an A-lister she is caught off guard. She was used to the painstaking customers from the pensioners court down the road-not gorgeous men from London.
In this short story, you can experience the essence of a quaint British bakery based on my own experiences this summer.
“The Closing Shift” is the latest installment in my short story collection. For access to exclusive content including this 8 page story, you can join my Patreon page.
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Over the past two summers, I’ve been taking classes for my Master’s in English. So many of those courses required me to read works of literature selected by an instructor. While many of them were enjoyable reads like Station Eleven, there was a missing element to my reading life: Choice.
This is my first summer since 2020 where I have had the freedom to select my book choices and so I decided at the beginning of the summer that I would chase the reading fads–just because I can. I turned to TikTok and blogs that I follow for recommendations and so the three books that I read while in England came highly recommended by social media’s elite readers and all for great reasons.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Being an A-List celebrity came at a great price for the glamorous Evelyn Hugo. Not only did she abandon her heritage by bleaching her ebony locks, but she also abandoned the notion that love can be genuine through her long list of failed marriages.
For most of her life, marriage had been a tool she used to gain fame, but one love came in unexpected ways and changed Evelyn’s life for the better.
In her final days, Evelyn seeks out a young journalist to share her life story with, but is the world ready to learn about the real Evelyn Hugo?
Title: Book Lovers
Author: Emily Henry
Nora Stephens is the cutthroat agent of a book-turned-Hallmark movie set in Sunshine Falls, NC. When her pregnant sister, Libby, suggests a trip to the town that served as the backdrop for the famous novel, Nora is hesitant to leave her New York life behind for a few weeks. She decides to take her work with her to enjoy some quality time with Libby.
While immersed in the quiet setting and working in the local coffee shop, Nora runs into her editor nemisis from the city: Charlie Lastra.
As an avid reader, Nora is aware of the archetype she is playing and the tension that is being created with Charlie throughout the summer. Despite all of his advances, Nora refuses to fall for Charlie and tries to distract herself by going through the bucket list that Libby created for their summer.
Before the summer ends, Nora learns of the real reason behind the trip and must decide her own path moving forward. She must decide if the corporate life in the city is worth losing those people she cares about most. What Nora saw as a summer adventure before Libby’s labor turns into a crossroads that forces Nora to make the choices she’s been avoiding with her busy life.
Author: Colleen Hoover
Verity Crawford was a bestselling author. WAS. As a result of a terrible accident she was left unable to communicate or control much of her own body. Her publisher and husband sought out Lowen Ashleigh, a struggling writer, as the solution to the writing contract that was broken prematurely by the disabled author.
Lowen met Jeremy Crawford on her way to discuss the deal with her publisher. A man was struck by a car on a busy New York street spraying blood all over Lowen. Jeremy helped to clean her up and prepare for her meeting without knowing her identity. Still in shock, Lowen attends the meeting and agrees to take over Verity’s series as a ghost writer and to bring closure for Verity’s beloved readers.
In order to finish the series, Lowen must spend a few weeks in Verity’s home going through her notes and reading her earlier works. But when Lowen finds a journal written by Verity she can’t stop reading. Within those pages, Verity admits to horrific crimes and truths that chill Lowen to the core. Before long, Lowen notices some strange activity going on in Verity’s bedroom and realizes that someone is lying to her about why she is there.
The stranger that Verity gets the closer Lowen gets to Jeremy. Their relationship begins to flourish, but he is still married to the woman who can’t interact or love him back. Lowen realizes that if she would share the journal with Jeremy, that she could have him all to herself. If he can see the true Verity that Lowen had met in those pages, then he may find room in his heart for her.
All three of these books mastered the art of a good plot twist. They all caused me to think about my life and to measure it against the values that I hold dear. I’m so happy that I decided to listen to the recommendations on these books because each one was engaging and kept me invested until the end.
As my trip came to a close, I picked up The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. It’s a British bestseller. I love going to Waterstones and looking at the top fiction and non-fiction books in England. Every summer I try to read a top 5 book. The Thursday Murder Club has been a fun read and I’m nearing the end so look for a review in the next week or two. You can see what else I’m reading and my own reviews of books on Goodreads.
With a subtitle of How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life, the expecations were high from the beginning. I approached this book with the end of the school year behind me. Each summer, I try to get rid of all the awful habits I formed while on survival mode during the school year. The reason this title spoke to me was because I needed a good pep talk to reignite my motivation after a pretty difficult year of teaching.
This five-part book explores the elements of self-love:
How You Got This Way
How to Embrace Your Inner Badass
How to Tap into the Motherlode
How to Get Over the BS Already
How to Kick Some Ass
The gut punches came right at the start as Sincero explores the psyche of self-sabotage and the creation of obstacles to our productivity. The power of being present is something we have control over, but first we must manage our natural tendencies toward snoozing through life.
The tools for embracing our badass may seem simple at first, but Sincero gives stories and practical steps for breaking out of the self-destructive cycles. A strong focus on self-love is the theme of the book, and many examples are provided for ways in which you can love yourself more each day.
Falling back in love with your life and the God who made you is the premise here, and when I got to the last page I felt like I just got a kick in the seat of my pants from an old friend. Jen Sincero does a great job of motivating through tough love and strong truths. I came away from this book with affirmations and goals to live the most badass life I could imagine.
I gave this book a 4/5 stars. I tend to prefer novels and fictional books, but a good non-fiction every now and again has the power to change your life. While I’m not sure much of this book was earth shattering in my journey, I did feel pumped up to get to work on myself.
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Jude knows what is to be raised by parents who were never present. Most of her childhood was spent reminding her career-drive mother of her own existence. Which is why she decided to be the most involved and approachable mother to her twins, Zach and Mia. Along with her husband, Miles, Jude builds a comfy life for her beautifully happy family in an affluent community.
Across the stream, within a collection of indigenous people’s mobile homes, Lexi is being raised by Aunt Eva. Determined to break the generational curse that landed her own mother in jail, Lexi vowed to create a better life for herself.
During their freshman year, Lexi and Mia hit it off and became inseprable friends. Each girl was exactly what the other needed and throughout high school they shared a special bond that grew only stronger with time. Jude opens her family’s home to Lexi and welcomes her as one of her own.
Senior year brings its usual pressures for the teens. Jude has worked hard to set her twins up for the perfect college and Lexi begins to complicate those plans when she falls in love with Zach. Jude is torn between wanting her children to be happy or succesful at the college of her dreams.
One night, after a wild senior party, tragedy strikes Jude’s family and she is thrust into unspeakable terror. In the days following she must choose once and for all how to protect her family at all costs.
This is a story about friendship, love, growing up, motherhood, loss, and redemption. There are so many aspects of life covered in this novel as it spans a couple of decades–the childhood and adolesence of Jude’s children. At times, it was easy to relate to Jude as a mother who wants the best for my girls, but at other times I saw the dangers of her “helicopter” approach to parenting and the way that affected her relationships. Night Road is a tale that cautions us to cling to those we love, but not so tightly that we strangle them.
I gave this book at 4/5 star rating. Although I can get behind anything by Kristin Hannah, there were parts of this book that seemed forced or unexplored. Without giving away too much of the plot, there was a trial that landed a teenager in jail for something I just don’t think is realistic. I found myself losing a little interest once I got to this portion of the story and I was less invested from there on out. But…Kristin Hannah is still a phenomenal writer in my opinion so the writing style kept me entertained. And her typicl twists and turns continued to surprise me until the final page.
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This is the first chapter of the novel I am currently working on. It’s a YA piece about a young girl who sets out along the Appalachain Trail in search of a missing person…and her purpose. All of her friends are headed to college soon, but Raven is staying behind to help run her parents’ Bed and Breakfast. This is a story about finding your true calling, coping with change, and finding the courage to succeed. I started working on this piece as part of my final portfolio in grad school. Only my graduate advisor and critique partner have seen this chapter and the others for this story. You can gain exclusive access to this 12 page chapter when you join my Patreon page.
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I’ll be the first to admit that The Love Hypothesis is not a book I would’ve gravitated toward on the shelf. Romance isn’t my cup of tea, but the marketing ploy for this book’s release was on-point and blasted all over social media. After viewing so many reviews and posts, I decided to give The Love Hypothesis a shot. And while this wasn’t my FAVORITE book of all time, it did help revive the Romance genre in my collection.
Olive was a lonely Ph.D student who spent most of her time in the lab or with her best friend, Anh. When Anh admits that she has caught feelings for Olive’s ex, Anh fears that going for Jeremy will be an act of betrayal toward her friend and ultimately decides to just let him go. Olive couldn’t care less, she was too busy with trying to invent a test for early detection of prostate cancer to bother with love interests. One late night she resolves to prove to Anh that she has moved on by grabbing the nearest guy and laying a big, wet kiss on his lips.
Only…this wasn’t just any guy. This was Doctor Adam Carlsen.
Carlsen was a god in the Biology world and the most feared advisor in Olive’s program. Once she realized who she was kissing she was embarassed and apologized profusely. But Adam was not as upset as she’d expected–in fact he was devising a plan to play this off in both of their favors.
Over the next several weeks, Olive and Adam began to con their friends and colleagues into thinking that they were dating. They met publicly for coffee dates to be seen by all the right people. In doing so, they got to know eachother, and yep, you guessed it…they started falling in love.
Although elements of this story were predictable, there were parts that I really enjoyed. I loved the way that the author brought nerdy humor to the page. From page one, I was engaged with her writing style and felt connected to Olive with her wit and struggle in academia.
**Chapter 15 was a bit of surprise. The story took a quick hiatus from lighthearted, playful plot to very erotic and graphic sexual scenes. (Like, probably the most X-rated text I’ve ever read. Again, I’m not really into Romance so I cannot even compare it to another text or say if it was appropriate for the genre. But, I would say this is not a book for teens for sure!)
All in all, I would rate this book a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the read, but there was room to improve the predicability and authenticity of the plot. In the future, I would read other books by Ali Hazelwood. This type of book would be a great vacation read or something light to take on a long roadtrip or trainride.
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This book sat on my shelf for far too long and my anticipation was strong. Luckily, Matt Haig did not disappoint!
Nora Seed has decided that she no longer wants to live. In the last twenty-four hours she lost her job and her beloved cat and so it seemed to her a good a time as any to swallow a bunch of capsules and check out. The afterlife wasn’t the peace Nora had hoped for, but instead was a large library full of green books and a familiar librarian from her past.
She soon learns that within the pages of each book lies a life that could have been hers. Each variation of Nora’s life was built by the decisions she could have made or the regrets that she held. In this parallel universe, Nora has the chance to see what her life may be like if things had been different. She experiences lives where she is famous, successful, poor, and broken. Each time she feels unsatisfied she transplants to a new version of Nora’s life.
With a beautiful message of contentment and making our own happiness in life this book was worth all of the acclaim in my opinion.
As a new technique I am going to rewrite a nursery rhyme in the voice of a legendary author. This was way more fun than I thought it could be. I’m still laughing at how easily Poe’s voice seemed to connect to a nursery rhyme.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Humpty Dumpty revised (in the voice/style of Edgar Allan Poe)
On a dark and dreary night upon a high wall of the city sat a man.
His soul still broken from the death of his lover.
Atop the city’s great wall he sat peering into the distance
Hoping one day to glimpse his bride.
She was taken too soon.
As the cloud of night grew thick and gathered about him
The young man wrestled with the notion of sleep.
Could he finally quiet his soul?
Would rest be upon him?
Or would he forever be tortured by visions of Lenore?
With heavy lids he began to sway.
And from the wall with great force he fell.
On horses did men from the kingdom come.
Rushing through the streets with doctors
Clearing the path through bystanders to attend to the man.
No one was able to revive his shattered body.
Not the king. Not his knights.
Because Lenore came down and woke him from his slumber.
When it comes to reading and writing my favorite story type is the one in which the protagonist must confront himself. Some sort of inner conflict causes the main character to engage in a battle in these types of stories. These are the ones where a misunderstood character rises to the challenges of his life.
Weaknesses are clear from the beginning and the protagonist must overcome the main obstacles of maturity or self-doubt in order to be the hero of their own story.
I love reading the tales penned by authors like Frederick Backman, Mindy McGinnis, Emery Lord, JD Salinger, Markus Zusak, and Kiera Cass to name a few.