Cover Love: part 23 – Yellow coats

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 this, my twenty-third installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature yellow coats and jackets on their covers.

A fitting subject for the showery month of April.  

Some 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!

The covers displaying ‘yellow coats’ are,  for the most part, mysteries and thrillers. Interesting…

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

You might just find your next favorite book!

Stay tuned for Cover Love Part 24: “Bicycles”

or… revisit any of the first twenty-two installments of

Cover Love – some of which I’ve updated recently

What is your favorite ‘Cover Love‘ series post so far?

Have you found anything to add to your TBR?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 18 Comments

“All things cease to appear” by Elizabeth Brundage

“A novel that combines noir and the gothic in a story about two families entwined in their own unhappiness, with, at its heart, a gruesome and unsolved murder.”

The old farmhouse in upstate New York has seen more than its fair share of tragedy.  Many of the locals think that it is cursed.  Could they be right?

 In the family since 1908, the Hale diary farm now belongs to Calvin, Ella and their three boys.  The farm, like many of their ilk, has fallen upon hard times. Calvin takes his frustrations out on his family and is unkind and abusive.  At the end of his tether, he takes his long-suffering wife with him in a murder-suicide by gassing them in their bedroom which is above the garage.  The three boys are left orphans, and the farm goes into foreclosure. The boys, Eddy, Wade, and Cole are sent into town to live with their uncle.  They live not only with the loss of their home and their parents, but also with the stigma of being a ‘Hale’.

“You had to figure out how to go on. That’s all you could do.”

Then, at a ridiculously cheap price, George Clare buys the old farmhouse and two hundred acres of land. He moves there with his beautiful wife Catherine and their sweet little daughter, Franny. George is an academic and his wife a former art restorer.  Now a full-time mother to Franny, Catherine does not like this rural life, but does her best to settle.

Shockingly, the reader learns that Catherine has been brutally murdered with an axe while lying in her bed!

Then, through flashbacks, we learn about her life in the house.  Although her husband George knew the house’s history, she did not.  They hire three local boys to paint the barns and house.  George knows that these boys used to live in the house, Catherine does not.  Catherine likes these unusual boys.  She thinks they are polite, sincere, and ‘broken’.  She becomes quite fond of the youngest boy, Cole.  The Clare’s hire Cole to babysit Franny on a regular basis.

When we first met George Clare immediately after his wife’s murder, we find him a pitiable widower.  Now, through these flashbacks, we find that he is really not a likable character at all.   The Clare’s have a loveless marriage.  They married only because Catherine fell pregnant with Franny. Now married, Catherine feels trapped – but – “women in Catherine’s family didn’t leave their husbands“.  George is unfaithful and dishonest. Moving here to the country he has procured a position at the local college as a art history professor.  His position would never have been granted to him if he had not forged his qualifications. When discovered in his deception George says, “I wrote the letter I deserved“.

We come to know their friends and neighbors.  The bohemian, childless couple Justine and Bram. Mary, the real estate agent and her policeman husband, Travis.  We also come to know George’s coworkers at the college, and his young and damaged mistress, Willis.

We learn that Catherine felt uneasy in the house.  A house where she felt chilled in some rooms. A house where she felt an oppressive gloom even when the sun is shining.  Franny too seemed aware of the house’s creepiness.  There is one scene where Catherine is doing dishes and looks up to the window and sees another woman’s reflection. Then she finds rings on the windowsill that weren’t there before.  As if the other woman had taken them off to do the dishes…

Catherine develops a kind of relationship with the dead Ella. “They were a morbid pair – one dead, one alive. Both stuck.”

Another vivid scene that I won’t forget is when the three Hale boys learn of Catherine’s murder.  They were all very fond of her and the three climb the ridge overlooking their old house. Eddy plays ‘Taps‘ on his trumpet in her honor.

Exceptional imagery and great characterization are evident in this novel. We come to know and care for the characters – in particular Catherine Clare and Cole Hale.

George Clare? … not so much.  He is handsome, narcissistic, false, and sociopathic.

“Bad things could add up in a life, he thought.
They could slowly, slowly disfigure you.”

The title is referenced by way of connection to a painting: “the moment light and dark and land and sky were perfectly balanced, what Inness would call an ideal composition, a vague and conniving frontier where, as the artist put it, all things cease to appear.”

This literary thriller is a slow burn, but despite its 400 pages, it kept me interested and invested in the outcome throughout. Although the novel contains ghostly references it is not really a ‘ghost story’ per se.  It is a murder mystery with no mystery, only unsettling and uneasy suspicions. The ending was both satisfactory and unsatisfactory. Don’t understand what I mean?  I guess you’ll have to read it for yourself.

My digital copy of this novel was provided to me by Knopf via Edelweiss.

Elizabeth Brundage graduated from Hampshire College, attended the NYU film school, was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, and received an MFA as well as a James Michener Award from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has taught at a variety of colleges and universities, most recently at Skidmore College, where she was visiting writer-in-residence. She lives near Albany in upstate New York.

Posted in book reviews, Edelweiss title, ghost stories, gothic fiction, Literary fiction, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

“ough” x 9 pronunciations

Early this month I wrote a blog post called “Glorious, complicated, perverse English language“.  It was fun to write and I enjoyed reading the many comments on the post.

One comment though was a challenge!  The comment stated that there are NINE ways to pronounce the letters ‘ough’!  Well, being the nerd I am I had to immediately think and add up the ways in my head.  However… I couldn’t think of nine – only eight!

1.  bough, plough = OW

2.  rough, enough, tough = UFF

3.  trough, cough = OFF

4.  dough, furlough, thorough = OH

5.  sough = OO

6.  hiccough = UP

7.  thought, bought = AW

8.  lough = OCK

What am I missing?  If anyone can provide me with examples for the ninth pronunciation, I’d love to hear it in your comments.

Thanks to everyone who commented on this topic.

The pronunciation that I was missing was…

9.  through = EW

Another comment pointed out an interesting point.  The word thorough in North American English is pronounced with the OH sound

whilst British English pronounces it was a AH sound

The English language never fails to enthrall me!


Posted in ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged | 22 Comments

Series to Savour 7 – Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway mysteries

This morning, as I peruse my lovely bookshelves I spy one of my all-time favorite series and realize that I have not yet posted about it on my “Series to Savour” blog series. Well, that must be remedied immediately!  I’m referring to the Ruth Galloway mysteries written by Elly Griffiths.  The Ruth novels are a joy!

About Elly Griffiths (from the author’s website)

Elly Griffiths is the pseudonym for Domenica de Rosa.  She has written four books under her real name.  She was born in London in 1963 and her family moved to Brighton when she was five. She loves Brighton – the town, the surrounding countryside and, most of all, the sea. She went to local state schools and wrote her first book when she was a eleven, a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, near the village where she still lives. At secondary school she used to write episodes of Starsky and Hutch (early fan fiction) and very much enjoyed making her readers cry.

She did all the right things to become a writer: She studied English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant at HarperCollins. She loved working in publishing and eventually became Editorial Director for children’s books at HarperCollins. All this completely put her off writing and it wasn’t until she was on maternity leave in 1998 that she wrote what would become her first published novel, The Italian Quarter.

Three other books followed, all about Italy, families and identity. By now she had two children and her husband Andy had just given up his city job to become an archaeologist. They were on holiday in Norfolk, walking across Titchwell Marsh, when Andy mentioned that prehistoric man had thought that marshland was sacred. Because it’s neither land nor sea, but something in-between, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. As he said these words the entire plot of The Crossing Places appeared, full formed, in my head and, walking towards me out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway. She didn’t think that this new book was significantly different from her ‘Italy’ books but, when she read it, her agent said, ‘This is crime. You need a crime name.’

And that’s how she became Elly Griffiths.

The Ruth Galloway series is set mostly in a brooding
saltmarsh area of England’s Norfolk coast

Titchwell saltmarsh

Her protagonist, Ruth Galloway, is a forensic archaelogist who lives alone with her two cats in an isolated cottage on Norfolk’s Saltmarsh coast.  Ruth is ascerbic, solitary and strangely loveable. She works as the Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. Thirty-something and a bit overweight, she does not have much of a social life, nor does she want one. However, she is drawn to DCI Harry Nelson, the police inspector who was instrumental in solving the mystery in “The Crossing Places“.

Ruth is an intriguing character. Solitary, smart, and strong, (not to mention a cat owner) Ruth is a protagonist that you’ll want to follow avidly as she becomes almost a friend over the course of the series.
With such a powerful protagonist and themes of missing children, historical exhumations, friendship, and just a smattering of romance, the series exhibits everything I truly enjoy in a mystery series. Griffiths descriptions of the barren and beautiful marshlands set the mood for the books excellently.

The fabulous first novel of the series was the Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award 2011 and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year!

In further books in the series we come to know Ruth and follow her through several interesting cases whilst encountering some steep challenges, and the joys and sorrows of her personal life.  It is the excellent balance between her personal life and her work life that makes this series so special.

Elly Griffiths loves doing research and it is evident in her novels.  The perfect blend of forensically interesting and atmospheric mysteries.

Listen to Elly Griffiths talk about her character, Ruth Galloway

Elly Griffiths won the CWA Dagger in the Library award in October 2016.  This award is presented to the author of the most enjoyed collection of work in libraries!

The nine novels featuring Ruth Galloway are: (don’t you agree that they all have stunning covers?)

The author has also written a novella featuring Ruth Galloway.  It can be considered 4.5 in the series coming between “A room full of bones” and “Dying fall“.  It is a Christmas novella called 


Some of my favorite quotes from Elly Griffith’s novels:

An interview with Elly Griffiths

and another interview

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read any of the Ruth Galloway series
or if you plan to.

Elly Griffith’s cat, Gus guarding her novel “Dying Fall”

Posted in Authors, award winners, Favorite books, Mystery fiction, Series order, series to savour | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Canadian “Authors for Indies Day” is almost here!

Why do Canadians love their neighbourhood independent bookstores?

Indie bookstores build community, make for great spots to hang out, celebrate literary diversity and serve as that place where anyone can go and experience the stories of our lives as Canadians.  On Saturday, April 29, Canadians will be out celebrating those great spaces – our independent bookstores – along with the authors who love them, as part of the third annual Authors for Indies Day, a grassroots event organized in support of Canada’s independent bookstores.

On this day, authors across the country will volunteer at their local indies to greet customers, recommend books, and celebrate the vital role of independent bookstores in both the book industry and our communities. This year, independent bookstores from Victoria to Halifax are hosting more than 400 authors who will be signing books, talking shop with avid readers and lending their support to promote local bookstores.

Best-selling author Jennifer Robson, spokesperson for the event, has called on Canadian book lovers to show their support for this initiative. Explaining her motivation for getting involved, Robson says, “In a world where big box stores and supermarkets carry a dozen or so bestsellers for a week or two, or perhaps a month if they’re feeling generous, local indie bookstores stock and hand-sell the books they love for far longer…I am profoundly indebted to independent bookstores for devoting shelf space and attention to my books, and to those of authors I love and revere, long after they have vanished from the
bestseller lists.”

Stores that participated in 2015 and 2016 saw impressive increases in sales according to BookNet Canada and BookManager, organizations that track those numbers.
Visit the Authors for Indies website and find a store near you to see which authors are being hosted at your local bookstore. There will be authors of every genre participating, from bestselling authors to emerging Canlit stars. Follow Authors for Indies on Facebook (AuthorsforIndies), Twitter (@Authors4Indies) and via the hashtag #AFI2017.

To learn more about Canadian Authors for Indies, visit AFI Public Relations Manager Robin Rivers can connect you with local writers for in-studio and phone interviews at or 604.379.9067

Posted in Bookstores, Canadian fiction | Tagged | 5 Comments

“Lillian Boxfish takes a walk” by Kathleen Rooney

It is New Year’s Eve and Lillian Boxfish, age 85, leaves her cat Phoebe, and her apartment in Murray Hill to dine alone at one of her favorite restaurants.  She is early so she decides to go for a walk.  Walking is something she has done all her life, often walking over five miles per day.  It is in walking that she has found her muse, inspiring her to write poetry and come up with her very best ideas.  Now when she walks, she surveys modern society and ponders social change. Now her thoughts are heavily interspersed with reminiscences of her youth.

Lillian is not at all hungry, so after a quick drink at the restaurant, she finds herself not ready to return home. So she walks some more. And she walks… and she walks… her destination is to another restaurant – Delmonico’s.  She feels that by the time she gets there she will finally be hungry.

New York’s infamous “21 Club” which Lillian frequented in her youth

Lillian’s reminiscences relate her memories of some of the most interesting and historically significant times in the history of New York.  In her bohemian youth she has lived through the affluent 1920s, the ‘Crash’ in the 1930s, prohibition, WWII, and the list goes on and on.  Her story has so much potential! However… throughout it all, Lillian seemed disconnected to events. Always quite successful, she seems unaffected by the stock market crash as she worked right through it.  She drank and partied her way through prohibition.

“I am old and all I have left is time. I don’t mean time to live; I mean free time. Time to fill. Time to kill until time kills me.”

“The Strand” – one of Lillian’s favorite book stores


Now an octogenarian, Lillian laments her lost youth, and reflects upon the loneliness incumbent on the aged – when many friends, acquaintances, and contemporaries are no longer living.  My problem with that was that the story read almost like a report.  We learned that she had many people in her life.  Friends, coworkers, lovers – people she adored and people she barely tolerated.  But… we didn’t get to ‘know’ any of them.  Not even her very best friend Helen.  Other than her name and what she did for a living, Helen was an enigma.  Other than the fact that Lillian and her husband Max were truly in love, we didn’t ‘know‘ anything about him. We learned that Lillian just about always had a cat.  We learned their names but nothing about their personalities.  I admired Lillian, who wouldn’t?  She was vivacious, witty and very intelligent. She was a feminist and a career woman who lived in a time when women just wanted to stop working and get married and raise a family. She championed equal pay for equal work.  She was a maverick.  But all of these admirable traits were related with no real empathy.  We didn’t learn ‘how‘ Lillian felt – and ‘why‘ she championed the causes she did.

“Winter, at bay for weeks, has taken sundown as its cue”

This novel employs some well rendered imagery and was well researched.  But – it wasn’t a warm novel, rather a relating of events and people. The only warmth I could discern was when she thought about her husband Max and her son, Johnny. Oh, and her work. Her work was her comfort.  Now long retired, one realizes that she no longer has any comfort – other than her walking through a city that she loves with palpable affection. My problem with “Lillian Boxfish goes for a walk” was that for me it read like a history book – not a novel.  In a novel I expect to get to know the characters and through that knowing form a temporary bond with them. Because it was related the way it was, I didn’t really care about the characters, though the book did warm up at around the 62% mark.  It was then that we learned of Lillian’s bout of depression, her alcoholism, and her subsequent divorce from the love of her life. By the end of the book I found I had acquired a deep respect for Lillian.

Delmonico’s restaurant – Lillian’s destination for her ‘walk’

I expected to like this novel more than I did.  I did like Lillian Boxfish’s character, but I didn’t empathize with her as much as I thought I would.  She seemed too advantaged and too self indulgent – but after sticking with her story right up until the end, I realized that, like most people, Lillian had hidden depths that are not at first apparent.  Also I found her story verbose and over long. Funny, because I love words, and learned several new ones whilst reading this novel.  Some of which include: pulchritudinous, simulacrum, anhedonia, augury, bellicose, hermetists, evanescent and unctuous.

Many of my fellow book reviewers really loved Lillian’s story, but sadly, it was not a real favorite of mine. Perhaps you will relish it more than I…

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy to read and review.Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (Fifth Star Press, 2014) and the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012). A winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, her reviews and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times MagazineThe Rumpus, The Nation the Poetry Foundation website and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.

Meet the REAL Margaret Fishback!  Watch this short presentation

Margaret Fishback (upon whose life this novel was based)



This novel was inspired by poetess Margaret Fishback, the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world during the 1930’s who paved the way for many females following in her footsteps.

Posted in book reviews, Fiction, Historical fiction, Literary fiction, NetGalley title, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Fictionophile’s ‘philes’

Adding ‘phile‘ to the end of a word denotes ‘lover of

When I began this blog I was going to use Fiction-phile, but after some thought decided that Fiction-o-phile sounded cooler.  It sort of goes with Bibliophile.

Anyway, just for the fun of it, I decided to list all the kinds of ‘philes‘ that I am…  In alphabetical order (because I’m a retired library cataloger).

Of course, I love many, many, more things, but I just couldn’t find a ‘phile‘ word to convey them.  Do any of these words apply to you?

Posted in ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged | 13 Comments