book review · family · NetGalley · psychological suspense

Book Review – Picture of Innocence

Picture of Innocence

by T J Stimpson

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.

My Review

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books for providing this ARC

Wow! This book packs one heck of a punch.

There are two stories here that converge into the best mystery ever!

With a dark undertone, the story centres on Maddie and her three children, the youngest only a few weeks old. She’s struggling, and after a severe bout of depression following the birth of her second child, she now feels the same black mood descend upon her. Frequent blackouts and memory lapses make her question if she is going mad. Has the depression come back? All she knows for sure that she doesn’t want to go back on the meds again, but those around her (hubby Lucas and Mum Sarah) feel it’s the only way to get her through the next few weeks and months.

But when her new baby is found dead in his cot, the calls for Maddie to seek treatment grow louder. And with it comes her own paranoia. When she discovers that others have been lying to her, that paranoia takes a firmer grip. How will she cope? The police investigation into her son’s death only fuels the fire of her own uncertainty – was she to blame for his death?

As Maddie’s storyline develops, a second plot featuring eleven-year-old Lydia, a child killer, is introduced. This one spans many years, but it is the combination of the two stories that makes this such an addictive read. Lydia serves time as just punishment for her crime and is ultimately released back into society. This immediately had me making all sorts of assumptions, but the truth is worth waiting for.

This is a tense, thrilling, addictive read with so many twists and turns. I was questioning everything; suspects came and went as the story progressed. It was a real whodunnit, but with complex themes running alongside. It begs the question if you can really ever trust anyone completely – and if you can, should you?

A very cleverly-written story that will keep you turning the pages into the night.

Highly recommended to fans of compelling drama with a chilling psychological edge.

As always,

blog tour · historical · mystery · paranormal

Blog Tour ‘n’ Q&A – Foul Deed Will Rise

This is something new for me, and I’m delighted to welcome Elizabeth Ireland to my blog to answer a few questions about her writing life.

But, first, let’s take a look at her latest book:

Foul Deeds Will Rise

By 1875, Lillian Nolan believes she has successfully shut off any connection to the spirit world. That winter she is thrilled when she wins the role of Ophelia in a new production of Hamlet in her home town of Chicago. Everything changes when the body of the managing director is found sprawled across the steps of the dress circle and all the investors’ money is missing. Lillian fears, once again, her career is over before it begins.

After her dearest friend is arrested for murder, Lillian commits herself to discovering the truth. Her search is complicated by a strange man who is following her, the romantic overtures of her co-star, and a reunion with an old nemesis. But nothing is what it seems. What she does find puts a member of her own family at risk and leads to the unmasking of the killer with lethal consequences for herself.

Purchase Links

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US –


Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.

Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theater. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”

The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.

Author Bio

Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theater early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theater, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theater History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.

She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned, but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.

Social Media Links

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes. I even purchased the URL for it in order to create a separate website. Like the main character in my series, I created it using my maternal grandmother’s middle name and maiden name. I may use it sometime in the future if I decide to write a book in an entirely different genre—or I may not use it at all. Right now it’s more of a Plan B.

It’s always good to have a Plan B, and who knows where it may lead!

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have started a lot of projects that are in various stages of completion. They just didn’t hold my attention, or the ideas petered out. So I have shelved them. I feel no idea is every lost – I can always come back to it or use it as a part of something else. I also have a number of screenplays I wrote which I intend someday to turn into books.

I doubt you’re alone with this; every writer I know has more unfinished projects than finished ones. It’s almost a rite of passage. 

How do you select the names of your characters?

Since I write in the historical mystery genre, I try to pick names that would sound like they come from that period. I have a number of books on American Theater History and one of them is a pictorial history that shows many actors from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. I sometimes choose a first name from one actor and blend it with a second name from another. Or I may use the name of an actual actor but change the spelling. I do find that I tend toward the same sounding names and in the first three books used the surname of O’Neill for 3 different characters! I eliminated two of them to ensure that I ended up with only one O’Neill.

That sounds like a fun way to lose a few hours; not that I’m encouraging procrastination, of course! 😉 

What was your hardest scene to write?

Love scenes. I want to put them in, but make them romantic rather than graphic. This is a skill that needs a lot of practice. I really admire a writer who can do that well and I recognize it’s just not my forte. However, I believe it is a skill and like anything else, I can improve upon it.

Practice makes perfect, or so they say. I’m with you on this, though – these are some of the hardest scenes to pull off. Kudos to those who can.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

If it was absolutely certain that it would make me a better writer, I would give up sugar! Since I’m a chocoholic, this would be quite a feat. But I would gladly do it if that would improve my writing.

Now that would be a challenge! 

What is your favorite childhood book?

This is no contest. I have to say it is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. That is a book that’s got everything—an unloved orphan, a tortured hero, a mystery involving a mad wife, a climactic ending. It’s also extremely well written. I must have read it six times when I was going through school.

Jane Eyre is one of my favourites too. I read it at school, and have re-read it several times since. Great minds, eh? 😉

Well, thank you Elizabeth for sharing an insight into your life as a writer. I’ll wish you luck on the sugar thing, and on continued success … and lots more books, too. 

For more news and reviews about Elizabeth’s book, check out these amazing blogs:

As always,