The Invoice: How much is happiness worth?

The Invoice

By Jonas Karlsson

Rating: 4/5 Stairs

TheInvoiceThis is going to be a quick mini-review. This was a short book, and I also don’t want to give too much away. I went in not knowing much about it, and I think that made it more interesting – for me to discover what was behind The Invoice as the (nameless) main character does.

The book opens with our hero (for lack of a better word) receiving a ridiculously large invoice in the mail. He knows he would never buy anything which costs so much, and it must be a mix-up, and he tosses it in the garbage. When a second invoice arrives a month later (with interest) he realizes he needs to investigate.

The Invoice explores the price of happiness, and what do you need in life to really experience it?

This was an interesting, quick read and gives you something to think about when you’ve put the book down.

Many thanks to First to Read for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

TTT: International Edition

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m a day late and a dollar short, but here’s this week’s TTT!

July 19: Ten Books Set Outside the US.

Oh, man. I saw this topic and thought piece of cake. I do read books set in the US. BUT my favorite books to read are ones that take place in the United Kingdom. (Yes, I’m an Anglophile.)

But then I thought, bor-ing.


I mean, while I gravitate towards British Mysteries, I really like to try and mix up my TTT list here at Hidden Staircase. So, for a real challenge this week, I have BANNED books set in both the United States AND the United Kingdom. That’s right. Banned.

Ten Books Set Outside Both the US AND the UK.

Challenge accepted.  Shall we?

Continue reading

Dead Wake

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

By Erik Larson

Rating: 4/5 Stairs

“On this particular voyage, give the convergence of disparate forces, timing was everything. Even the briefest delay could shape history.”

DeadWakeI must admit, when I was in school, history was not one of my favorite subjects. I think it could have been, had the material been presented in a more interesting narrative. But reading and memorizing facts did not capture my interest.

If Erik Larson books had been our reading material, my feelings on history class would have been very different.

This is the third book I’ve read by Mr. Larson. In each one he creates an engaging narrative, weaving a fascinating tale from an event in history. Dead Wake examines the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania from a German submarine during WWI in 1915. The narrative is told from four different perspectives: The voyage of the Lusitania, whose final voyage took her from New York to England; the German submarine U-20, sent on patrol through England’s waters; Room 40, a secret branch in the Admiralty who intercepted and decoded German messages;  and finally Washington, D.C., and the personal issues distracting President Wilson at the time.

Judging from the title, you would expect a fairly straight narrative describing the voyage of the Lusitania and her sinking. But this is an Erik Larson book. We get personal insight into her Captain as well as many of the passengers as we follow her final journey. We also learn a lot about the U-20; I found the history and operation of submarines used in WWI fascinating. The third piece of the puzzle is the Admiralty and exactly how much they knew, but were afraid to reveal and tip the German’s off that they had cracked their code.

The most interesting part about this story is how the so many small pieces combined together to create the perfect storm, putting the Lusitania directly into U-20’s path. It was a fascinating and tragic tale. Mr. Larsen turns the event from a paragraph in a history book to a living event filled with real people. His thorough research breathes life into the story, as we follow this great ship on her final voyage.

Many thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Since She Went Away. A mini review.

Since She Went Away

By David Bell

Rating: 3.5/5 Stairs

SinceSheWentAwayCelia has been missing for three months. She was supposed to meet her best friend Jenna in the park at midnight, but never showed up. Did she meet with foul play or simply run away from her husband and daughter?

Since She Went Away is told from the perspective of two characters – single mother Jenna and her son Jared.  Jenna is living a life of guilt – she pushed Celia to relive their high school glory days to sneak out at midnight and meet at the park, but Jenna arrived late and Celia wasn’t there. Jared has his own secret – he was the reason his mom was late for the meeting.

What worked for me? Mr. Bell kept me wondering.

As the novel unfolds, Mr. Bell has many twists and turns for the reader. As I read, I kept wondering, is Celia alive? Had she run away on her on accord or did she meet foul play? Anything is possible. I also wondered how Jared’s story would intersect (if at all) with Jenna’s.

What didn’t work? At times, things were a little too coincidental.

You know, how I feel about spoilers. I try to avoid them. I will say I did find some of the twists a little unrealistic. Not that they couldn’t happen individually. But that they all happened to the same family. That being said, I still enjoyed the story.

Overall this is a fun summer read – the mystery of Celia’s disappearance kept me engaged and turning pages late into the night.


Many thanks to First to Read for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

TTT: Ten Bookish Facts

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger…whatever you want)

Okay. Let’s see. Important facts you lovely readers out there need to know about me…

  1. I love mysteries.
  2. I love Benedict Cumberbatch.

The End.


Wait. What? You’re saying that many of my TTT posts have made these facts abundantly clear? Hmmm…

Ha! Just kidding.

In all seriousness, there are a lot of ways to go with this list. Since this is a book blog, I’ll stick to bookish-type facts about me. Shall we begin?

Continue reading