Cover Love: part 46 – Solitary birds

They say you can never have a second chance to make a good first impression. A book’s cover does just that – gives a first impression. A good cover can make a reader pick up a book. A bad cover can leave the book at the very bottom of a dusty pile.

The covers of novels entice the reader to enter a different world. Covers are, after all, the way the publisher hooks the reader into choosing one book over countless others.

In my forty-sixth installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature a solitary bird on their covers.

Some of the following books I’ve already read, some are on my ‘to read’ list,
and some I chose only for their covers.

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from  Goodreads.

You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

If you have a few minutes visit any of the previous installments of

Cover Love – some of which I’ve updated recently

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 9 Comments

“I’ll keep you safe” by Peter May

I’ll keep you safe” by the inimitable Peter May begins in Paris and ends in the atmospheric Hebrides for which he is famous.

The protagonist is forty-year old Niamh (pronounced Neave) Macfarlane. She, with her husband Ruairidh, are attending a textile fair in Paris. Together they own a successful textile business based on the Isle of Lewis named Ranish Tweed. Their childhood friendship had blossomed into a deep love that culminated in them getting married ten years previous.

While in Paris, Niamh receives a malicious email from a ‘Well Wisher’ that states Ruairidh is having an affair with Irina, a Russian designer. Disbelieving and in shock, she confronts her husband which culminates in him leaving their hotel room. She watches him as he leaves the hotel and enters a waiting car – with Irina.  Moments later the car is blown to bits before her eyes!

Shocked and incredibly bereft, Niamh is questioned by the Paris police. The policewoman, Sylvie Braque, seems cold and distant to Niamh.  The reader is privvy to Sylvie Braque’s feelings in a secondary narrative that runs throughout the book. Braque is a woman torn between her cherished career with the police and her love for her twin seven-year-old daughters. The increasingly erratic demands of the job have threatened her custody of her girls.

When, a few days later, Niamh is permitted to return home to the Hebrides, she is once again shocked by what little remains of her beloved husband. His remains fit into a newborn-sized box.

“From childhood you know that life will end in death. But nothing prepares you for its finality. The irrevocable, irreversible nature of it.”

At home, Niamh feels the loss of Ruairidh even more. Memories of him are everywhere, for they were not just life partners, they were business partners as well.  After Ruairidh was made redundant, he used his severance money to start up Ranish tweed.  Similar to Harris Tweed, but silkier and lighter, and woven on old Hattersley looms by individual weavers, the business was Ruairidh’s dream.

It doesn’t help that Niamh’s family and Ruairidh’s family have long held deep animosity for one another.  Divided now when Niamh needs them most.

Policewoman Braque flies to Lewis and together with a local policeman, George Gunn, continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ruairidh’s death.

Cutting peat

Meanwhile, the reader is treated to some of Niamh’s childhood memories and the history of Ranish Tweed’s inception. We are told about her childhood friends and a family tragedy. These were some of my favorite parts of the novel.

“It’s always trying to rain here.
And usually succeeds.”

Cellar Head, Isle of Lewis

May’s description of the Isle of Lewis and the beautiful house that Niamh and Ruairidh built on the remote headland of Cellar Head transported the reader, thus making the setting an integral part of the book.

The murder investigation alludes to many different possible suspects, though Niamh cannot imagine why anyone would have wanted to murder her husband. When events escalate to include an attempt on Niamh’s own life, the tension mounts…

The end of the novel, revealing the murderer, was a surprise for me, though not a completely credible one in my opinion, thus letting down the otherwise stellar read.

I have long been a fan of Peter May’s novels, and I did enjoy this one, though it is not my favorite of his. His writing is both articulate and compelling with characters that leap off the page.

Many thanks to Charlotte Cooper from Midas Public Relations who contacted me about this title. The publisher, Quercus, in conjunction with Edelweiss, provided me with a digital copy for review purposes.

from Quercus:

Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane 15 years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time TV drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.

He has won several literature awards in France and received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy.

He now lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Amazon #bookreviews: what #bookbloggers need to know

Most of the book bloggers I know post their book reviews to Amazon as well as to their blog.  I usually post mine to my blog first, then Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, etc.

Although Amazon is usually very quick to publish my reviews, there have been a few occasions when my reviews got rejected!

The first time this happened I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I had done wrong.  WELL… it turns out that Amazon runs an algorithm to STOP certain keywords.  And my innocent little reviews got caught in that algorithm.

It might be something very innocent. My two rejections included the expressions “a cock-up” (to make a mess of things) included in my review of “Death in profile” by Guy Fraser-Sampson, AND “wankers” (British insult describing  contemptible persons) which is included in my review of “The shivering turn” by Sally Spencer.
Once I removed the offending terms with other words my reviews were published successfully.

My Amazon reviewer status right now is:

My reason for writing this short blog post is because this topic came up in a Goodreads discussion where another blogger was wondering WHY their review got rejected.

 Have you ever had YOUR Amazon reviews rejected?
If so, what did you discern the problem to be?

Posted in Book bloggers, Book Reviews | Tagged , | 35 Comments

Throwback Thursday (an old favorite recommended)

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favorites.

This week I’ve chosen “Five night stand” by Richard J. Alley for my Throwback Thursday post. It was first published in May of 2015 and was, for me, a 5* read.musicline66

5nightstand coverA beautifully written tale of three disparate yet kindred souls – all at a crossroads in their lives.
Oliver Pleasant, an octogenarian jazz pianist of some renown is finally retiring from the music business. He is wrapping up his long career with a final five night stand on the stage of a New York hotel owned by an old friend. Sadly, his lifestyle of travel, music, and women have left him estranged from his grown children. The table he has reserved for his family remains accusingly vacant throughout his last shows. His wife, Francesca, the love of his life, has been dead for two decades. Oliver has lived through the racism of the South, traveled to Europe in the heyday of jazz, fathered children, bedded myriad women, and enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow musicians. Through it all he had a deep and abiding love and respect for the ‘music’. Now he feels little other than the loneliness, regret and fear that comes with old age.
Agnes Cassady, also a pianist, is in her early twenties and suffering from what she believes to be a fatal neurological disorder. She hails from Memphis, Tennessee but has lived in New Orleans for the past few years plying her trade. Recently the pain and tremors that result from her condition have hampered her musical ability. The reason for Agnes’ trip to New York is yet another hospital with yet more tests. This time it is the famous Mount Sinai with its expert physicians. Since learning of her probable early demise, Agnes has packed a lot into her short life. She loves music and men in that order. When she learns that Oliver Pleasant is playing while she is in town, she knows that she must attend his final performances. He has long been her idol.
Frank Severs, a former journalist, also from Memphis – is in town to write about Oliver Pleasant’s life and last performances. He greatly admires the man and his music and feels he could do justice to a story about him. Frank’s personal life is in flux. He is distant from his wife whom he still loves. Their many years of trying to conceive a child has left a rift in their marriage. It is a rift that Frank doesn’t know how to bridge – or if he should even try to bother.
The meeting of these three lost souls and their brief time spent together was nothing short of magical.
The characters are fully developed and are so ‘human’ that it is a joy and a privilege to share time with them.  The early winter New York setting is described clearly with an affection for the place.

Thelonious Monk 1962

Thelonious Monk 1962


Filled with the joy, sadness, regret and confusion that is life, “Five night stand” was a novel for music lovers and non-music lovers alike. I actually read part of it whilst listening to the infamous Thelonious Monk via YouTube. His music was a wonderful background for the novel.
This novel should be on the bestseller lists! Highly recommended!

My heartfelt thanks to TLC Book ToursNetGalley, and Lake Union Publishing for providing me with a digital copy of “Five Night Stand”, for which I voluntarily wrote this review.


Richard J. Alley photoRichard J. Alley, a longtime freelance writer and editor, was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children.

Follow Richard J. Alley on Facebook

An interview with Richard J. Alley, the author of Five Night Stand.
Tell us about your new book, Five Night Stand. What is it about? Who did you write it for?

Five Night Stand takes place over the course of five days and nights in New York City, and tells the stories of three characters — Oliver Pleasant, a retiring jazz musician; Frank Severs, a reporter in the throes of a mid-life crisis; and Agnes Cassady, a piano prodigy with an undiagnosed disorder of the nervous system wreaking havoc on her body and dreams.

Set against the backdrop of jazz, there are emotions and struggles in here that we all face — personal relationships, love, loss, regret, disappointment and hope.

I wrote this book for anyone who has ever looked back at their life and wondered if they made the right decisions, and what might have been had they chosen a different door, turned another corner. But it’s also a story for anyone who loves art in all its forms. The characters are each flawed in their own ways — some physically, some emotionally — yet these flaws don’t make them inferior. The flaws go into what makes them the people they are and informs their artistic visions and the paths they’ve chosen.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Literary fiction, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“Unsound” by Toby Neal

“I think I started getting really worried when I found the shoe.”

The first line of this novel grabbed me, and what followed ensured that my interest was maintained. Being unfamiliar with the author, I had no expectations, either positive or negative.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Unsound” features protagonist Caprice Wilson, PhD.  A psychologist who, in addition to her private patients, provides consultation and support for law enforcement for the state of Hawaii. Recently divorced, and feeling the loss of her son, Chris, who had just gone off to his first year of college, Caprice is feeling lonely and stressed, and drinking WAY too much.

She operates out of two offices, one is located within the police station at Hilo, the other is in a charming little restored cottage near the Hido campus of the University of Hawaii.

how I pictured Caprice’s office

The story  begins with Caprice discovering a shoe on the doorstep of her cottage office.  Shortly thereafter, she finds several other items. She is creeped out enough by this that she lets her police friends and colleagues know.

“The last thing I needed right now was a stalker
complicating the shreds of life I had left.”

Caprice is in a mess. She has not yet adjusted to single life or her now empty nest. She is struggling to keep up the payments on the marital home.  With no real friends, she takes solace in her loved Mini Cooper car, her siamese cat, Hector, and…. the alcohol which she drinks daily.

Bruce Ohale, Caprice’s friend and colleague (who just happens to be the Police Chief), performs what he calls an ‘intervention’. After reaching an all-time low, Caprice is told that she will be fired if she doesn’t go to rehab. She agrees to a rehab facility on Maui.  Little does Bruce know that Caprice has other ideas for her rehab. She plans to hike to the bottom of the Haleakala Crater, alone, and go ‘cold-turkey’.

After an arduous trek down the crater, and suffering physically, Caprice spends four days at a rented cabin. That is when he world begins to unravel… A young giant of a man, claims that he rented the cabin as well, and that they will have to share… His lie is apparent to Caprice hours later when she realizes that he is keeping her prisoner!  To what end? He forces her to drink vodka after already going through days of agony trying NOT to drink.  What is his agenda?  Will she live through this?

Her abductor’s name is Russell Pruitt. He is the stalker who has left the items on her office doorstep. He has traced her here via her cell phone, which he smashes to pieces. Her lifeline gone.

As hours under Russell’s eagle eye, turn to days, Caprice must use all her strength and psychologist’s training to stay alive.

This novel was a pleasant surprise for me.  I thought that whatever I read after my previous read (which I loved) would somehow be a letdown.  “Unsound” did not let me down in any way.  It was a solidly constructed suspense novel with well fleshed out characters. The setting was unique and very memorable.  The descriptions were vivid, yet not overdone. It is part of a series, but I didn’t know that going in, and I found that it reads perfectly as a stand-alone. The series does not share a protagonist, only the Hawaiian setting.

This was a well written, tension-packed novel that delved into the psyches of two damaged individuals – with moral dilemmas and empathetic reasoning. The realistic yet satisfactory ending, made for an enjoyable reading experience.

I will gladly read this author again, and recommend “Unsound” to all who enjoy a good mystery/suspense novel with a psychological bent.The author has provided an online photo gallery for “Unsound”. (requires Flash player)

“I received a digital copy of this novel from Edelweiss, for free – at my request, and I provided this review voluntarily.”

Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. After a few “stretches of exile” to pursue education, the islands have been home for the last fifteen years. Toby is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her books. Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life in Hawaii through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

Follow her on Twitter @tobywneal

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

“Beartown” by Fredrik Backman

“In this story of a small forest town,
Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.”

It is official!  I can honestly say that Fredrik Backman is my favorite author.  I have now read everything he has written, and all have been top-notch.  “Beartown” rates as high as “A man called Ove” in my opinion, so that is high praise indeed coming from me.

I usually add a few quotes to my reviews, but in this case if I added all the quotes I highlighted in my Kindle, this review would be almost as long as the book itself. Though, that being said, I did have to add a few of my most favorite quotes at the end of this review.

Where to start?  When you absolutely LOVE a book, it is hard to know how to write a review without sounding ‘gushy’.  I hate gushy.

Deep in a forest in Sweden lies a small town called “Beartown”.  Beartown is a hockey town, and this book is about hockey.  But it’s not really.  It is about society, it is about life, parenthood, loyalty, bravery, and so very much more. It is about a scandal, and how the people of Beartown are forced to take sides…

Beartown is a town that is in economic decline. Pretty much all it has left is its hockey club. The hope is that if the town’s team wins the final, money and prosperity might return to the town as a result.

It is hard to pinpoint a protagonist in this novel.  All the characters shine brightly, and you will come to care for them all.

“It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.”

The Andersson family: Peter, his wife, Kira, their fifteen year old daughter Maya, and their twelve year-old son, Leo. Peter, a former professional hockey player, is the General Manager of the Beartown Hockey Club. Kira is a talented lawyer, Maya loves her guitar, and Leo his games. Oh, and then there is Ana, Maya’s best friend, who practically lives at the Andersson’s.

The Erdahl family: Seventeen year-old Kevin is the town’s star hockey player. He was born with the talent to excel at his sport. He is the only child of affluent parents who are not demonstrative in their affections. His father is one of the primary financial backers of the team.

“Kevin is too good. Kevin is the jewel, Benji the insurance policy.”

Benjamin (Benji), is Kevin’s best friend. He has been since they were both tiny.  A fighter on the ice, Benji always has Kevin’s back.  Kevin wouldn’t be half the player he is without Benji’s support, both on and off the ice.

Fatima, works as a cleaner at the hockey rink. An immigrant, and the mother of fifteen year-old Amat, a small boy in stature, but a big man in moral fibre.  He loves hockey and is one of the fastest skaters in Beartown.  The only thing he loves more than skating, is Maya Andersson.

“The most painful fall for anyone is tumbling down through a hierarchy.”

Sune, the A-team coach of the Beartown Hockey Club. He has been around as long as anyone can remember.  He is patriarch of the hockey club and mentor to both Peter and David.

David, the hockey coach. The players love him and have done so since they were seven years old. He is who they strive to win for.

Ramona, the chain-smoking owner of the town’s only tavern. Ramona is a childless widow.

“People say she’s gone mad, because that’s what people who know nothing about loneliness call it.”

This book did exactly what literary fiction should do.  It makes you think. About others in your life – about yourself. It makes you chuckle, it makes you weep. This is a book about parents and children, friendships, loyalty and betrayal, loss and loneliness, bravery and cowardice, vengeance and justice, the value of social acceptance.

“Another morning comes. It always does. Time always moves at the same rate, only feelings have different speeds. Each day can mark a whole lifetime or a single heartbeat, depending on who you spend it with.”

In my opinion, if you spend your time reading Beartown, it is time well spent.  Highly recommended! Many thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada who sent me a physical copy of the book, and to Atria Books who approved my request for a digital reading copy on NetGalley.

Here is a link to the online Reading Group Guide provided by Simon & Schuster.

Some of my favorite quotes from Beartown:

“Sometimes life doesn’t let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep.”

“All adults occasionally wonder about another life, one they could be living instead of the one they’ve got. How often they do so probably depends on how happy they are.”

“There are damn few things in life that are harder than admitting to yourself that you’re a hypocrite.”

“Amat is sitting in a corner, doing his very best imitation of an empty corner.”

“The early afternoon sky hovers just above the trees almost all year round in these parts, and that can be hard to get used to for someone who grew up in a big city where nature was something used primarily as a screensaver.”

“Any living thing that is kept behind bars for long enough eventually becomes more scared of the unknown than its own captivity.”

“Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.”

“They mean everything to him, so he is everything they want him to be. And that’s a terrible thing. Having to keep a secret from those you love.”

“Peter was so averse to conflict that he couldn’t even kill time.”

“Laughter can be liberating. Roaring with laughter can unite a group. Heal wounds, kill silence.”

“Humanity has many shortcomings, but none is stronger than pride.”

“Maya knows all too well that this silence can be like water. If you let it make its way too far in, it can freeze into ice and break your heart.”

“…the people around a bullied child assume that he or she must get used to it after a while. Never. You never get used to it. It burns like fire the whole time. It’s just that no one knows how long the fuse is, not even you.”

Fredrik Backman is a Swedish columnist, blogger and writer of the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries, in more than twenty-five languages. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Literary fiction, Memorable lines, NetGalley, novels in translation, Scandinavian | Tagged , , , , | 34 Comments

Miserly Monday (#Kindle ebook bargains) Jan. 8/18

Three bargain Kindle purchases this week.

These books might vary in price from to to but they are all still BARGAINS!  Probably about what you would pay for a cup of coffee.

NOTE: The price tags now reflect the U.S. and Canadian prices. (Apologies to my U.K. followers as the price will not display for me on

Click on the price tag to go to the link for the book.

Note: I do NOT receive any remuneration from Amazon.  These are just Kindle deals that I have found and want to share with my fellow book lovers. 

So, here goes my seventh Miserly Monday…

Blurb: The sun is out. Your little boy is smiling. The next time you look… he’s gone.

Lana Cross would do anything to protect her perfect family but on a trip to an adventure park, they slip out of her sight. When she finds her husband, he’s out cold on the forest floor. Then the truth sinks in: Cooper, her four-year-old son, is missing.

No one stopped the man carrying the sleeping boy. The park cameras don’t show where he went. Then Lana receives an anonymous message, telling her to visit a local school with a horrifying history…

This is no random attack. Whoever took Cooper is playing a twisted game, and if Lana wants to find him, she must participate.

How could there be a link between the school and her missing son? And can Lana find her little boy before it’s too late?

Blurb: On a leafy suburban street in Dublin, beautiful, poised Stella Greene lives with her successful husband, Matt. The perfect couple in every way, Stella appears to have it all. Next door, at number 72 however, lives Rea Brady. Gruff, bad-tempered and rarely seen besides the twitching of her net curtains, rumour has it she’s lost it all…including her marbles if you believe the neighbourhood gossip.

But appearances can be deceiving and when Stella and Rea’s worlds collide they realise they have much in common. Both are trapped in a prison of their own making.

Has help been next door without them realising it?

Blurb: My husband loves me.
I love him.
But, a secret is eating us alive.

It’s not the one I keep from him.
It’s not the one he couldn’t keep from me.
And, someone knows everything.

A stranger. A stalker. An online nightmare.

I’ve got mail.

Have YOU found a great Kindle bargain this week? If so, please share in the comments.

Posted in Miserly Monday | Tagged | 2 Comments

Cover Love: part 45 – Hands, palms out

They say you can never have a second chance to make a good first impression. A book’s cover does just that – gives a first impression. A good cover can make a reader pick up a book. A bad cover can leave the book at the very bottom of a dusty pile.

The covers of novels entice the reader to enter a different world. Covers are, after all, the way the publisher hooks the reader into choosing one book over countless others.

In my forty-fifth installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature hands with palms out on their covers.

Hands with palms out can mean several things.  Stop, stay away, supplication, surrender, a wave, or often in these cases, a plea for help…

Some of the following books I’ve already read, some are on my ‘to read’ list,
and some I chose only for their covers.

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from  Goodreads.

You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

If you have a few minutes visit any of the previous installments of

Cover Love – some of which I’ve updated recently

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 10 Comments

“14 days to die” by A.B. Whelan

This title has been lingering on my TBR for quite some time so I decided that it was high time I read it. The first line captivated me, and I was more or less riveted to the novel for its duration.

“It was a fine winter day that eighth of February
when I decided to kill my husband.”

Sounds cold. Calculating. Yet… the reader comes to realize that the reason she wants to kill her husband is that he has put a ‘hit’ out on her! A man with a foreign accent calls her on the phone telling her so – and that she has 14 days to die.

Sarah Johnson is the mother of two young children, a devoted mother and housewife. Her husband Mike, an Air Force firefighter, is having an affair.  This is the reward she gets for following him around the world for his career, neglecting her career that she coveted.

The setting is Temecula, Southern California. A suburban community where things look fine to the unwary observer.

“If my husband thinks badly enough of me to hire someone to kill me,
maybe I am bad. I can be bad – that I know. I will show him just how bad.”

The book is told in countdown fashion. 14 days to die, 13 days to die, etc.  This is interspersed with police interviews ‘after an event’.  This event is not apparent to the reader until later on in the book.

Also, the reader is given hints as to something in Sarah’s past that would make her a less than reliable narrator.

“I need my old friend madness, if I want to execute such an unforgivable sin, or I will fail.”

You know how, when you are REALLY angry, you are filled with adrenaline?  I felt that way while reading this novel.  Frenzied almost. And I never really knew who Sarah was.  Was she mentally unstable? a victim to be pitied? a scheming manipulator? or… a sociopath? Other aspects of her personality were unlikable, her husband Mike was unlikable, yet… I kept rapidly turning pages.  I akin it to the fascination one feels when glued to the television after a disaster has taken place.  You can’t watch it, yet you can’t NOT watch it.

“The past always catches up with us.
There are no unsettled scores or unpaid bills in life.”

Meanwhile, Sarah is losing weight. Her throat is bothering her a lot and her voice is getting hoarse. No wonder, all the stress she has been under lately…

Mike has pretty much always been emotionally abusive.

“Maybe subconsciously I married him because he offered me the punishment I believed I deserved…”

It is no surprise then, that Sarah, severely stressed and with little to no support system, turns to a handsome neighbor.  Bruce is a wealthy, unmarried, casino manager. They share an unquenchable lust.

Oh, and did I mention that Sarah is a book blogger?  Funny, I think she is the first book blogging protagonist that I’ve ever read.

The ending of the novel felt rushed, yet it did contain some jaw-dropping twists. The hitman’s character seemed more than a tad unbelievable, yet still I read on.  Although I could spot several weak points in the plot, they didn’t stop me from reading this compelling work of suspense fiction. It is for that reason that I give this book 4 stars.

“I received a digital copy of this novel for free from InMotion Capitol via NetGalley – at my request – and I provided this review voluntarily.”

A. B. WHELAN writes young-adult fiction and fantasy novels. She is the author of the Fields of Elysium series. She lives in sunny California.

14 Days to Die is her first adult thriller.

Her second thriller, “As sick as our secrets” is due to be published February 14, 2018.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday (an old favorite recommended)

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favorites.

This week I’ve chosen “Into the shadows” by Shirley Wells for my Throwback Thursday post. It was first published in May of 2007 and was, for me, a 5* read.

Blurb from the author’s website:

When Rodney Hill, wrongly arrested for a series of murders, hangs himself, Jill Kennedy, the forensic psychologist whose profile led to Hill’s arrest, gives up her work with the police and moves to the peaceful village of Kelton Bridge to write self-help books, enjoy a quiet life with her cats and perhaps an occasional flutter on the horses.

Then the likeable but unremarkable vicar’s wife, Alice Trueman, is brutally murdered, and Jill discovers that Kelton Bridge is far from the quiet refuge she had anticipated. According to DCI Max Trentham, Jill’s ex-colleague and ex-lover, the case if pretty cut and dried — Alice’s son was found standing over her body with the murder weapon in his hand. But he won’t talk.

And that’s not all. Someone is intent on reminding Jill that she made a mistake in the Rodney Hill case. Is it a malicious joke, or is there a more deadly agenda? It begins to look as if real killer — the man who should have stood in Rodney Hill’s shoes, the man still terrorizing the Lancashire Pennines — is stalking her. And that is a truly terrifying thought. 

There is nothing quite like the pleasure of discovering a new author whose writing really grips you from the beginning. Finding out that this delightful mystery was the first in the Jill Kennedy/Max Trentham series was a bonus.
Into the shadows” did not dwell on the gory side of the forensic details, so it should appeal to those who normally shy away from forensic novels for that reason.

Jill Kennedy has ‘retired’ from her job as a police forensic criminal profiler. She has bought a cottage in the country where she intends to write of her past experiences. Of course, her job follows her when the serial killer whose case she had worked on before, continues his evil killing spree. Her ex-lover, Max Trentham is back on the scene as well, working on a double murder case in her new village.

Jill lives alone with 3 cats for company. However, she realizes the value of becoming part of her new community and attempts to make friends…. but could one of her new ‘friends’ be a cold-blooded killer? Although the murder case and the serial killer case do play a large part in the novel, it is one that is mainly character driven. Jill, Max and all of the village characters are well rounded and I found I want to visit them again and again.
Well done Shirley Wells!

Oh, and that cover….. gorgeous!


Shirley Wells

Shirley Wells


Shirley Wells is a dog lover who was born and raised in the Cotswolds and after time spent living in Cyprus and on the idyllic island of Hoy in the Orkneys, she now lives in the beautiful rolling hills of the east Lancashire Pennines. It’s no surprise then that her mystery novels are set in the area.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Mystery fiction, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

“The suicide plan” by Emma Clapperton

Do you believe in being able to contact the dead? If so, this short novel might just be for you.  I’ll admit, I’m one of those skeptics that believe the work of mediums and spiritualists is just hogwash. But hey! This is fiction, and I can suspend my skepticism for the length of a book.

Patrick McLaughlin is a medium. He has the ability to contact the deceased and in doing so, he feels he provides some comfort to the bereaved. He works out of a church in Glasgow, and often draws a decent crowd. It is at one such spiritualist ‘meeting’ that a man enters the church and in front of all in attendance, he slits his own throat.  Before he dies, the man says to Patrick “Only you can help me”- “But only when I’m dead”.

“Patrick hadn’t turned his back on anyone, living or otherwise,
and he wasn’t about to start.”

The police identify the man as David Hopkirk, a 55 year-old man who had been accused of murdering his own young son. Released due to lack of evidence, David wants to find justice for his son, even if that means committing suicide…

“Death never did mean the end; if there was unfinished business,
it had to be dealt with.”

Patrick learns that Aidan Hopkirk, the ten year-old son of David, had fallen from a third story window in the Hopkirk home back in 2014.  To further complicate matters, the family’s nanny had committed suicide a few weeks after Aidan’s death.

Who killed Aidan Hopkirk?


Was it the nanny? Aidan’s mother, Eleanor? Or… Eleanor’s lover Rob?

Using items belonging to Aidan, in conjunction with an Ouija Board, Patrick delves into the murder.

This novel expounds on the lengths people will go for self gratification. The mystery was interesting, even though a tad predictable. The paranormal elements weren’t featured to excess. What really detracted from the book, in my opinion, was the lack of character development.  You felt you wanted to like Patrick, but you didn’t really know much of his personal history – what made him tick.

If this is the type of book you enjoy, you can read more about Patrick McLoughlin in the full-length novels “Beyond Evidence” and “Henderson Manor“.

I enjoyed this novella, but sadly, I didn’t love it. Perhaps you will?

I received a digital copy of this novel from Bloodhound Books at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

Emma L. Clapperton began writing in June 2010 and completed her first novel in April 2012.

She currently resides in a little town outside of the city of Glasgow with her partner .

Check out her blog by visiting;
Twitter @EmmaLClapperton

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Novellas | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Welcome 2018! (Fictionophile’s updates and December #bookhaul)

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable festive season spent with family, friends, and of course…. books.

I received four titles from NetGalley in December

I was invited to participate in the Official Transworld Blog Tour
Friday, Februrary 9th, 2018. They sent me a NetGalley widget for the book.

I was invited to participate in a blog tour on February 2nd, 2018 by Macmillan/Henry Holt and Company. They sent me a NetGalley widget for the book.

I read and really enjoyed the first book in this series in December. Upon finishing “The shivering turn” I immediately downloaded “Dry bones“, its sequel.  Luckily I have been pre-approved by Severn House, so I didn’t have to wait for approval.

No explanation needed.  It’s Clare Mackintosh!

I received TWO titles from Edelweiss in November


So SIX more review commitments in December.

I am valiantly trying to get my TBR under control and I’m working toward my 80% NetGalley badge. My 2017 resolution was to obtain the badge.  Needless to say, though I really tried, I seem to be adding titles almost as fast as I’m reading them.  Maybe by the end of 2018 ??? LOL  I’m currently standing at 77%

I bought a book on the recommendation of Cleo Bannister.  It was one of her favorite reads of 2017 and she thinks that it deserves a wider audience.  At only $5.06 Cdn. for the Kindle copy, I was excited to purchase a copy from It is a British police procedural mystery written by a former policeman!

I stumbled across these three interesting blog posts, and thought they were share-worthy.

An older post by Kristen Twardowski = How Writers Get Paid: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Royalties

A thoughtful post by author Joanna Cannon entitled = Twenty-One days without the Internet

A timely post by FoxyWriterChick = The Selfie Mindset and the Heart’s Posture

After reading this post by Eva of NovelDeelights, and this post by Danielle of BooksVertigoAndTea, I immediately visited to find myself a copy of “Tall Chimneys“.  To my utter delight it was FREE! At least it was when I bought it on December 14th.

Blurb: Considered a troublesome burden, Evelyn Talbot is banished by her family to their remote country house. Tall Chimneys is hidden in a damp and gloomy hollow. It is outmoded and inconvenient but Evelyn is determined to save it from the fate of so many stately homes at the time – abandonment or demolition. 
Occasional echoes of tumult in the wider world reach their sequestered backwater – the strident cries of political extremists, a furore of royal scandal, rumblings of the European war machine. But their isolated spot seems largely untouched. At times life is hard – little more than survival. At times it feels enchanted, almost outside of time itself. The woman and the house shore each other up – until love comes calling, threatening to pull them asunder. 
Her desertion will spell its demise, but saving Tall Chimneys could mean sacrificing her hope for happiness, even sacrificing herself. 
A century later, a distant relative crosses the globe to find the house of his ancestors. What he finds in the strange depression of the moor could change the course of his life forever. 
One woman, one house, one hundred years.

I completed my Goodreads Challenge and plan to have the same challenge next year.

2017 was a very successful year for my blog.

I posted 255 times during 2017 and wonder if that was too much, or too little…. Thoughts?

Thanks to all my fellow book bloggers who have been SO very supportive, and who share my posts via Twitter, etc.

Fictionophile now has 2,200 followers.  Thanks all!

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Fictionophile’s Top Reads of 2017

Wow! Was it ever hard to choose my top reads this year!

Of the 103 titles I read in 2017 so many of them were top notch.
The best I could do was narrow it down to 25 Top Titles.

All were, for me, 5 STAR reads.

So, in no particular order, my favorite reads of 2017 were:

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace

Weathering by Lucy Wood

Out of the Blue by Gretta Mulrooney

Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewill

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Gone without a trace by Mary Torjussen

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

House. Tree. Person. by Catriona McPherson

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Entry Island by Peter May

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Malagash by Joey Comeau

Seas of Snow by Kerensa Jennings

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

2017 was a stellar year for reading.

Here’s hoping that 2018 will be as rewarding.

Happy New Year everyone!


Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 23 Comments

“A Cornish Christmas” by Lily Graham

This is my final Christmas read for this year, and is quite possibly the best of my Christmas reads in 2017.  My first time reading the work of Lily Graham was very rewarding.

A lovely couple feature in this novel. Ivy Everton, an artist, and her husband, Stuart Everton. They have recently moved  from the hustle and bustle of London, to a charming Cornish ‘Sea Cottage’ ‘free-holding’.  Ivy is missing her mother terribly.  Even after five years, she pines for those times she had with her dear Mum and now she needs her more than ever.  After years of trying for a baby, and two miscarriages, the couple had all but given up, when to their immense delight they find they are expecting!

“Death is not something you get over. It’s the rip that exposes life in a before and after chasm and all you can do
is try to exist as best you can in the after.”

Now they are starting over due to her recent literary success.  Ivy is a children’s book illustrator and co-author of a successful series of picture books featuring a talking English bulldog. (based on her own dear bulldog, Muppet) Stuart, once a successful marketing/advertising manager, now grows vegetables and makes and sells condiments from his kitchen. A prized-winning chef, Stuart does all the cooking, for Ivy would burn water.

“We’re so wired to expect the worst that when something good happens, it’s like our subconscious minds need to find something to torture us with, because if we dared to trust, well then there’s a chance we’d be disappointed.”

Ivy goes to her parent’s home and retrieves her mother’s precious Victorian writing desk – an integral part of her memories of her mother. She installs the treasured desk in her attic artist’s studio under a window with it’s ocean view.


The desk brings a touch of magic to Ivy’s life. Her mother was one of those people who believed in the inexplicable, in magic – which made Christmas the perfect time of year for Ivy to share in that magic…

“Sometimes things have to break before they can mend.”

In addition to the heart-warming plot, the writing was wonderful. “Shells dotted the beach, as if the ocean had gently pulled back its skirt to reveal a frothy garter studded with jewels.” 

The characters were ones that you find a place for in your heart. Ivy and Stuart, Ivy’s Dad, Stuart’s sister, Ivy’s best-friend Catherine, all were wonderful.  As was her late mother’s sewing group, “The Thursday Club”. Six women who rally around Ivy giving her some of her mother’s love vicariously.

The setting? Coastal Cornwall… what could be better?

With fantastical and enchanting elements, this book is not my usual preference. The combination in this case is the exception that proves the rule. I loved it.  “A Cornish Christmas” is not the ‘romance’ that it is touted as.  It is thoughtful and delightful women’s fiction that expounds on the good and the bad that life has to offer.

“Life is as beautiful as it is brutal and over in the length of a sigh.”

Sadly, this novel is also now over for me. If you haven’t yet read it, you are in for a treat.I purchased this book in Kindle format from


Lily Graham grew up in dry, dusty, sun-filled Johannesburg, which gave her a longing for the sea that has never quite gone away. She now lives in the Suffolk countryside, happily just minutes from the sea, with her husband and her sweet, slobbering bulldog, Fudge. She brings her love for the sea and country-living to her fiction.

Posted in Book Reviews, Christmas, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“His third victim” by Helen H. Durrant

I was excited to see this title offered on NetGalley because I’ve read this author before and really enjoyed her work. . “His third victim” introduces a new protagonist, and is set in Yorkshire, England.

“All she had to do was make him happy. It wasn’t much to ask, but his chosen ones always seemed to fail him in one way or another.”

Huddersfield Police Station

A serial murderer is at work in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. His ‘perfect‘ crimes have gone unnoticed, as he has made sure that the women his victims are not even reported missing. How? He also kills everyone that would be likely to do so…  The police are confused as the victims seem random – the only thing connecting them is that the victims have all had a stamp on their body with the Chinese calligraphy for the word ‘sorry’.

The East Pennine Police have the murders on their books. They are puzzled by the fact that the stamps on the bodies are different colours. There are three green, two red, and now… a blue. Chief Inspector Dyson is unsatisfied with the DI and DC that are currently working the case.  His best man, DI Matthew Brindle is on sick leave after suffering from an ambush the previous year. A grenade ripped into DI Brindle and left his sergeant, Paula Wright, dead.

When Chief Inspector Dyson goes to Brindle’s home to enlist his help with the case, the temptation is just too great for Brindle, who acquiesces, and returns to work, much to his mother’s disgust.

“He’d sworn he would never return, that nothing and no one could tempt him. But he’d been wrong. It was in his blood and wouldn’t let him be.”

We meet Bella Richards.  Bella is the single mother of a young son. When her lover is murdered and found with a blue stamp on his body, she is devastated.  Then, shortly thereafter, her Aunt is also found murdered with the very same stamp on her body…

Bella is somewhat of a mystery to the police. It would seem that she has no personal history older than two years.  Before that time she does not seem to have existed. And now… Bella’s young son has been abducted!  How could all of these events possibly be related???  Why is Bella lying to the police who are trying to help her?

how I imagined Brindle Hall might look

As with most police procedurals, I admit I enjoy the policeman’s ‘back story’ as much, if not more, that the crime case itself. In the case of Detective Inspector Matt Brindle, this proves true once again.  He is an interesting character. In his mid-thirties, badly injured – and traumatized by the death of his partner, he lives in ‘Brindle Hall’, the large Georgian manor house owned by his family for generations.  His mother, lady of the manor, does not want him to return to work as she fears for his well-being.  While he was off work, he had decided to open his rather grand home and the surrounding grounds to the public.  Though everyone thinks the family to be wealthy, the upkeep of the manor has decimated their finances and they really need some cash to fend off imminent bankruptcy.

When Matt returns to work with the CID, he is paired with Lily, a new, very young, female sergeant. I enjoyed reading about how they are adjusting to their partnership and how they work.

As far as the case went, there was no shortage of possible suspects to leave the reader guessing. The pacing perfectly kept up the suspense, and the characters seemed genuine and believable. Then there is the surprise when the reader learns the identity of the murderer. I had my suspicions, but once again, I was wrong. The climax of the novel occurs in memorable scenes at a remote Yorkshire farmhouse.

So far, Helen H. Durrant has never disappointed me and I highly recommend this mystery to anyone who likes character-rich police procedurals.  The publisher’s website states that this is a stand-alone mystery, but I am fervently hoping that we will meet D.I. Matt Brindle in further novels…

I received a digital copy of this novel from Joffe Books via NetGalley.


helen-h-durrantHelen H. Durrant is the author of the popular Calladine & Bayliss police procedural series, as well as the D.I. Greco police procedural series.

She lives in northern England.  When she is not writing mysteries, she is bird-watching.

You can follow her on Twitter @hhdurrant


Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments