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 “The black house” by Peter May for my Throwback Thursday post. It was first published in 2009 and was, for me, a 5* read.

First reviewed on Fictionophile on July 31, 2014

My review:

They say that reading is the cheapest form of travel.  In this case it was a wonderful trip.   “The Blackhouse” by Peter May is the first in a trilogy of novels set on the Hebridean Isle of Lewis. The setting was a major factor in the story and the author’s skillful writing transports the reader to Lewis with it’s rich culture and long history.

However, let us not forget that this is a murder mystery. The protagonist, Fin Macleod was born and brought up on Lewis. He is now a policeman working out of Edinburgh. Fin is very vulnerable as he is in mourning for his broken marriage and for his young son who perished in a hit-and-run.  When a murder occurs on Lewis that resembles one that he is working on – his superiors send him to Lewis to aid in the investigation.  Fin has not been back to the island since he left it eighteen years ago to attend university.  It turns out that the murder victim, Angel Macritchie, was a childhood nemesis of Fin, a bully who played a large part in his growing up. His return to the Isle reacquaints him with Artair, his best friend from childhood and also Marsaili Macdonald, his first love.

The story is told alternating between the present with the murder investigation – and the past which slowly reveals the trauma and tragedy filled childhood days of Fin.  Memories of starting school, the accidental death of his parents, and his boyhood friendships. Memories of the year he was chosen to take part in the annual guga hunt which is a long tradition on Lewis. The hunt for the gugas is perceived on Lewis as a rite of passage that turns boys into men.  In Fin’s case it was marred by tragedy.

The adult, present-day Fin uses his memories and his return to Lewis as a way of facing the demons of his past. The novel does the mystery genre justice, but it is much more than a mystery novel. It is a character-driven study in human nature, an examination of how our pasts can shape our lives.

The characterizations were expertly formed, with each character fully fleshed-out and multi-dimensional. The atmospheric setting was described in such a way as to actually affect the reader’s senses. You can smell the sea and feel the wind…

A scene from the Isle of Lewis

A scene from the Isle of Lewis

The author has spent several years on Lewis and his personal knowledge shows in the writing.

The Blackhouse is the deserving winner of several literary awards and is – according to the author the best book he has ever written. It was rejected by many publishers at first, but is now a world-wide bestseller with translations in many languages.  It is one of the best written novels I have ever had the pleasure to read.  Highly recommended!

F 5 star

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, Favorite books, Mystery fiction, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

“A place called Winter” by Patrick Gale

I had no idea what to expect when I began this novel. At first it didn’t seem like it had anything to do with the blurb I read, as the first pages were an account of the horrific way the mentally ill were treated in asylums near the turn of the century. Then, I began to see how the story would evolve and grow…

What an amazing book!  The author has written of his own forebears, embellishing with fiction what he could not know for certain as fact.  Painstakingly researched, he has written a fine tribute to his own family as well as the homesteaders who settled the Canadian West in the early 1900s.

Winter, Saskatchewan is a real place. Harry Cane, the protagonist of this novel, was the author’s great-grandfather.

Harry, an Englishman of means and leisure, is married and the father of a daughter, when he first realizes that he is gay.  This, in a time when homosexuality was not only socially unacceptable, but it was actually illegal!  When his family is threatened by blackmail, he does the noble thing – he emigrates to Canada. The government is offering 160 acres in exchange for three years residency on them. This land, appropriated from the resident Cree Indians, he is expected to farm.

“Think of the memories as pus; once it comes to the surface, you wipe it away. Or, better yet, as mud; brought out into the air, it dries in the sun and then crumbles to dust.”

When he arrives in Canada he is taken under the wing of a irreputable man named Troels Munck. A man whose presence in Harry’s life will produce much trauma and heartache.

Harry, who loves reading, riding horses, and has never worked a day in his life, is suddenly immersed in immeasurable toil and hardship. He works arduously for a year with a prairie family before setting out to claim his own acres in Winter, Saskatchewan. Here he is expected to build himself a shelter to live in and plow land that is not yet cleared of trees and rocks.

Cut off from his family, he is a solitary workhorse making some little headway, until he becomes ill. Kindly neighbors take him into their homestead and nurse him back to health. These neighbors, Paul and Petra, a brother and sister, are people he will come to love over time. He orders a house kit from the Eaton’s catalogue, and proceeds to make a life for himself.

“Luckily he had enough set by that he could focus on doing his own work rather than another man’s.”

On one of Troel Monck’s infrequent visits to the farm, he attacks Petra, leaving her wounded and traumatized.

When WWI begins, Harry and Paul elect to stay on the farm rather than go off to fight. Wheat was a much needed commodity to feed the vast number of soldiers, so there was no shame in staying put. A run in with the dastardly Monck changes Paul’s mind and he enlists. Soon after he is ‘missing in action’.

This novel has some serious themes running throughout. Not only is it a remarkably well written historical novel, it is a love story, a bold and realistic didactic treatise on how society has historically treated both the mentally ill, and homosexuals.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this astounding novel. Never did it lag, or become slow. I was rapt with learning of Harry’s plight, and wondering how the beginning of the novel could possibly join up with the flashbacks that comprised the bulk of the story. With an ending that is both satisfying and realistic, I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

I received a digital copy of this novel from Grand Central Publishing via Edelweiss.

Patrick Gale talks about writing “A place called Winter”.

Patrick Gale was in 1962 on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill, as his grandfather had been at nearby Parkhurst.  The family moved to London, where his father ran Wandsworth Prison, then to Winchester. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cathedral choir school, Pilgrim’s. At thirteen he went on to Winchester College. He finished his formal education with an English degree from New College, Oxford in 1983.

His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.

He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land’s End with his husband, Aidan Hicks.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss title, Historical fiction, Literary fiction | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

20 Questions with Kaira Rouda (author of “Best Day Ever”)

Kaira Rouda interview graphic

I’m delighted to welcome Kaira Rouda to Fictionophile! Author of the just released “Best Day Ever“, Kaira has obligingly agreed to answer a few questions in order that you can get to know her, and her new novel, just a little bit better.

1. Congratulations on the positive reviews of “Best day ever”. What is the most rewarding thing about hearing from beta readers and book bloggers prior to publication?

Thank you so much! The best thing about hearing from beta readers and bloggers prior to publication is that it helps me calm down a LITTLE about the impending launch. As you know, positive reviews are the best validation – and those one stars, well, little daggers through the heart, each one. I try to focus on the positive and I cannot be more thankful for the support this book is receiving from the book community. It has been a once in a lifetime experience. My publisher surprises me, in a good way, daily.

2. Touted as a twisty, domestic thriller, what inspired “Best day ever”? How long did the writing process take?

Two months for the first draft. Paul popped into my head fully formed and demanded to tell his story. You’ll know from reading BEST DAY EVER, he is persuasive.

3. In your opinion, how important are plot twists to the story-lines of psychological thrillers? Is there one novel that exemplifies your idea of a perfect plot twist?

Plot twists and surprises are essential. But I hope we’re not getting to the stage where we’re expecting so much from our novelists that we lose track of the best part of this genre: the anchor to real life. If readers keep pushing for bigger and bigger and more unusual plot twists, I’m afraid we’ll be asked to go too far. That said, there are so many great stories out right now. I gasped at Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. Great twists. Of course there are Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I love both of BA Paris’ books. I’m reading A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena right now (I loved The Couple Next Door). I’m sure she’ll get me.

4. Do you have family and/or friends proof-read your novels, or do you depend on your publisher’s editorial staff?
It takes a village to create a novel. All of the above.

5. Sometimes setting is a crucial factor in a novel – sometimes not. How important is the setting in “Best day ever”?

I’m a setting fan. My novels always are set in places I know well. My two favorite settings are Columbus, Ohio, and Southern California. Paul appeared in my head as a Midwestern guy, so his home is in Columbus. All of my previous novels are set in one of the other, except for one romance series which takes place on Daufuskie Island where we used to vacation. Oh, and in BEST DAY EVER, the lakeside community where Paul and Mia have a cottage is where we took the kids when we lived in Ohio. I’m grounded by familiar places and those settings allow my characters to breathe and grow.

6. Paul Strom, the male protagonist of “Best day ever” has been referred to by some reviewers as a modern-day psychopath. Would you agree with this description, or do you just think he is manipulative sociopath?

It’s hard to say. I’m not a professional. I think Paul’s answer would be that he’s just a confident guy. I think every reader has his or her idea of exactly what type of monster he is.

7. Do you consider Mia Strom to be a pitiable character, a hapless victim, or… a woman with hidden strengths?

Mia is a woman with hidden strengths. All of the female characters in my novels are stronger than they know they are. Mia pushed aside her own needs to try to create a happy family and she lost her self. Too many women fall into that trap.

8. Was the ending of “Best day ever” difficult to write? Did you know how the book would end from the beginning of the writing process, or did the story evolve as you went along?

The book went through several rounds of edits and so of course it evolved. Editors add so much insight to a book like this and mine were fabulous. I liked writing each part of the story, including the ending.

9. If someone reviews your book unfavorably do you feel personally insulted, or do you just take the bad with the good and consider it part of the writing experience?

Bad reviews are a stab in the heart. They just are. And with a character like Paul, a character readers will love to hate, you run the risk that his personality is responsible for star deletion. I’ve seen it already. But I guess that’s a backhanded compliment when readers get so riled up about the character that they hate the book? Who knows. I do believe that people who are triggered by domestic violence probably shouldn’t read domestic suspense novels. But that’s my opinion. I’m trying to learn to read only the good reviews, but if I told you that’s what I do, I’d be lying. I read them all.

10. Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?

I read all types of books but my favorites, since Nancy Drew as a child, have been mystery, thrillers and suspense. Crime novels are the best escape.

11. If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a glass of wine with another crime novelist – who would it be?

Just one? Ok, here you go. I recently had a chance to sit and chat with author BA Paris one morning at the Harrogate Crime Festival. Just the two of us. No wine, it was morning. It was such a huge fan moment for me. I love Behind Closed Doors and The Break Down. She’s not only a talented author, she’s a wonderful person. It was a magical moment. Oh, someone I haven’t had wine with? Susan Isaacs. She was the inspiration for me to begin writing suburban suspense. (My term for what I write.) Oh, and Liane Moriarty. She’s another brilliant author. I think I’ve gone over my limit.

12. What part of your career as a novelist do you dislike the most?

Rounds of edits. I know they make the story better, I know. Oh, and synopsis writing. I’m a pantser. That has been the hardest part for me.

13. Are you working on another novel? If so, is it a stand-alone novel?

Yes, and yes. Hoping to have another psychological suspense arrive in the world a year from now. Fingers crossed.

14. How much input did you have in choosing the covers for “Best day ever”? Which cover is your favorite?

I didn’t have any input, but aren’t the covers amazing? The Australian cover with the dead black roses is amazing. The UK cover with the perfect blue bow is simply wow. And the checklist is amazing. The US/Canada cover with the textured red envelope is stunning. I guess I’d pick the envelope just because it is so stunningly unique.

Australian cover

United Kingdom cover

North American cover








15. Has your novel been equally well received by preliminary readers in both the United States and the United Kingdom?

So far, so good! Of course, the one star reviewers pop up in all countries, bless their hearts. For the most part the reviews have been amazing. Fingers crossed!

16. Do you imagine that someday “Best day ever” will be made into a movie? Who do you see playing the lead roles?

That would be a dream, wouldn’t it? For Paul, it would be great to have an actor we all love cross into a scary role. For Mia, a strong beautiful quiet type. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll leave that in the hands of my agents and hope for the best.

17. What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known?

In today’s world most all novelists are underrated and deserve to be better known. I mean, seriously. Unless you are Patterson, or JK Rowling, you just aren’t well known. Authors should be rock stars, like, well, rock stars. Although, truth be told, most of us enjoy the anonymity associated with this career. The acclaim comes when readers enjoy our stories, not from the bright white spotlight of fame.

18. I’m a retired public library cataloger and have known for some time that mysteries/crime thrillers are some of the most read genres of fiction. Why do you think crime fiction is so popular?

Let me just say that librarians are the best people in the world. My elementary school librarian, Mrs. Gardier, encouraged me to write my first “book”. I had such a fabulous time attending my first ALA in Chicago this summer: So many wonderful people. But I digress. To me crime fiction is the perfect balance of heart and head. Characters are anchored in the real world, and they’re relatable. They aren’t as predictable with their happy ever afters like romance, but there is a deep satisfaction when the bad guy is caught or at least revealed. And, I know I enjoy reading crime fiction because it’s my favorite escape.

19. What interview question have you never been asked that you wish had been asked? What’s the answer?

Good question. I feel like I’ve been lucky to be asked almost everything. Oh, here’s one. What’s the name of your first pet? My cat, Snickledorf.

20. How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’? Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?

All of the above: You can sign up for my newsletter by visiting my website:

and you can find me on and on Twitter and Instagram, @KairaRouda

Thanks so much for a wonderful interview!

Publisher’s blurb for “Best Day Ever

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys, and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. It will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and into the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them. How perfect is any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for the cottage weekend?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, this story crackles with dark energy spinning ever tighter towards its shocking conclusion.

In the page-turning vein of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR and THE DINNER, this is a tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage . . . or a life. 

Don’t miss the fantastic book trailer for “Best Day Ever”!

Best Day Ever” is now available for purchase at the following online booksellers:

Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope, was the Winner of the Indie Excellence Book Award in Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Winner of the USA Book Awards in the Women’s Fiction category and received Honorable Mention in Mainstream/Literary Fiction for the Writer’s Digest Book Awards. Her novel, The Goodbye Year, which was released in May 2016, was Redbook Magazine’s “20 Best Books You Absolutely Must Read This Spring.” Kaira’s latest novel, Best Day Ever, is one of the major launch titles for Harlequin’s new imprint Graydon House, and will be available on September 19, 2017.

Kaira is also the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs and the creator of Real Living, one of the nation’s most successful real estate brands and the first national women-focused brand in real estate. She has given speeches to both women and men’s entrepreneurial conferences and programs across the country on the power of women as consumers and in the world. Kaira was named Best Entrepreneur from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and was also recognized in Entrepreneur magazine’s inaugural Top 50 fastest-growing, women-led companies list.

In addition to her many entrepreneurial and literary accomplishments, Kaira is very active in both her native Ohio community and in her community in Southern California, where she now resides. Her philanthropic pursuits began when she founded Central Ohio’s first homeless shelter for families when she was twenty-five years old, and Kaira has since received numerous awards for her civic service.

Kaira’s family includes her husband of 28 years, her four kids, and her two spoiled dogs. She lives in Southern California and is at work on her next novel. After living in Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, she now enjoys the beach whenever possible.

Posted in author interviews, Authors | Tagged | 10 Comments

Book themed art of Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith was born in Philadelphia in 1863. She originally studied to be a kindergarten teacher and worked in this field before accidentally discovering a talent for drawing. She then took formal art courses at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Jessie Willcox Smith had a long, distinguished career. She illustrated Scribners Classic edition of A Child’s Garden of Verses and she also illustrated editions of Little Women, Mother Goose, Noah’s Ark, Heidi and The Night before Christmas. Though she never married, or had children of her own, they became the center of her life and work.

Her work graced the covers of several popular magazines, and she also illustrated countless books for children and produced drawings for calendars. (One of her calendars is available on Amazon for over $3000.00!) Her prolific work was a part of many of our childhoods, so many of the following works of art might look familiar to you.


I hope you enjoyed this post. Just gazing at some of these art works sparks fond memories of my own childhood reading.




You can purchase art prints and/or posters of this artist’s work at

If you want to read more about this legendary illustrator you can order this book from Amazon.

Posted in Art with book themes | Tagged | 9 Comments

The opposite of “Cover Love”

For a long time now I have been sharing attractive book covers via my Cover Love series of blog posts.  You know… those books that have covers that attract the reader, make them pick the book up, read the blurb, etc.

For this post I’m sharing with you the very opposite.

In this post I’m sharing with you some of the covers that I would NEVER pick up on the basis of the cover alone.  Mind you, I would never be so superficial as to dismiss the book entirely, but it would take someone else’s recommendation or several superb reviews to entice me. Some of the following covers I find distasteful, some make me cringe, and some are just so-so, and do not appeal to me personally.  If there was a huge stack of books listed as free in a bookstore, these are ones I would NOT take home with me. I know that many of these are likely fine novels, and that some of them might even be spectacular novels, but they are ones that repel me and I would need coaxing to read if I only saw the cover.

As I said, if it was cover alone I would not pick these.  However, I realize that some of these books ARE good – some are already ON my TBR list.  Of course, sometimes it is the author’s name that attracts me to a novel. If I like the author’s work enough, I’d buy the book even if I hated the cover.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I also realize that beauty IS in the eye of the beholder.  For that reason I pose the following three questions:

  1. Do you find any of the above covers attractive enough that you would pick up the book?
  2. Do any of the above cover repel you?
  3. Have you read any of these books and liked it enough to recommend it to me? Why?
Posted in Choosing what to read next, Dustjackets, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged , | 54 Comments

“The long drop” by Denise Mina

The Long Drop is a re-imagining of the Peter Manual trial and of the drunken night two men spent carousing in Glasgow.”

Ever since I read the fantastic “Garnethill” I have been a devout fan of Denise Mina. This time around the ‘Queen of Granite Noir’ has turned her hand to the fictionalization of a true crime. As with everything else she writes, she did it brilliantly.  So brilliantly in fact that she has just won the McIlvanney Prize for this book!

Mina’s Glasgow of sixty years ago matches Chicago for its criminal past. Filled with career criminals, illegal arms, avarice, drunkenness, and desperation, Glasgow was then a dark place, both figuratively with its pervasive violence; and literally due to the myriad coal fires.

“Above the roofs every chimney belches black smoke. Rain drags smut down over the city like a mourning mantilla.”

The story features famous Glaswegian criminal Peter Manuel and his association with a rich local businessman, William Watt.

“Mr Watt likes power and being near powerful people”.

Watt was accused of murdering his wife, his sister-in-law, and his daughter. The case came to be known as “The Burnside Affair”. His celebrity lawyer, Laurence Dowdall gets him released from prison, though the police continue to believe he is guilty. Watt maintains his innocence and places the blame on career criminal Peter Manuel. Strangely, Watt and Manuel spend a drunken night together in Glasgow. Friends? How unlikely… Even stranger, it is Dowdall who introduces the two.

“Dowdall is a storyteller. He knows how slippery truth is.”

As the pages are turned, the reader realizes that no one here is truly innocent, though Manuel’s guilt seems evident from the off. Dowdall thinks him to be a malevolent liar. The reader is made aware that he is much more: a maniacal psychopath, an aspiring novelist, an impotent sadist, and a man with a violent temper.

Interestingly, Manuel fires his legal counsel and opts to represent himself in court.

“Then he talks for six hours, largely without notes. He tells all the stories of each of the murders individually.”

Peter Manuel’s mugshot

The author’s descriptive re-imagining of events prior to, and during, Manuel’s trial for eight murders adds to the reader’s enjoyment. She makes both villain and victim so real that they seem alive, thus making the reader more empathetic toward them. The reader feels particular empathy for Peter Manuel’s mother due to Mina’s deep understanding of her plight. Vivid dialogue and scenes transport the reader to 1950s Glasgow.

“It is 1958 and a husband has the legal right to rape and beat his wife.
That’s a private matter, a matter for the home.”

Yes, without doubt, it is Mina’s writing that brings this historic string of crimes to vivid life.  Obviously well researched, she has taken crime transcripts and newspaper coverage and caused them to come alive with her brilliant prose and dialogue.  I do have a quibble with the description on Goodreads which calls this a ‘psychological thriller’ just because that is the genre Mina usually writes.  This is a historical true crime fictionalized in an entertaining way. I am not normally a ‘true crime‘ fan, but when facts are disguised by skillful prose, I am won over.

“The long drop method snaps the neck between the second and third vertebrae. Done properly, death is instantaneous.”

For photos taken around the time of the actual trial see:

Congratulations to Denise Mina who won the Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017 for The Long Drop. It is the first time a woman has won the award.

The award was announced Friday, September 8, 2017 at the opening night of Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s international Crime Writing Festival.

I was provided a complimentary digital copy of this novel by Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley.


After a peripatetic childhood in Glasgow, Paris, London, Invergordon, Bergen and Perth, Denise Mina left school early. Working in a number of dead end jobs, all of them badly, before studying at night school to get into Glasgow University Law School.
Denise went on to study for a PhD at Strathclyde, misusing her student grant to write her first novel. This was Garnethill, published in 1998, which won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel.
She has now published 12 novels and also writes short stories, plays and graphic novels.
In 2014 she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame.
Denise presents TV and radio programmes as well as regularly appearing in the media, and has made a film about her own family.
She regularly appears at literary festivals in the UK and abroad, leads masterclasses on writing and was a judge for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction 2014.

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical fiction, Legal thrillers, NetGalley title | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Throwback Thursday – an old favorite recommended

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites and those books that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’ve chosen “Unspoken” by Samantha Hayes for my Throwback Thursday post. It was published in January of 2009 and was, for me, a 5* read.  

Wow, what a gem! “Unspoken” was one of those books that made you neglect everything you were supposed to be doing.  I couldn’t put it down until the last page was turned.

The dustjacket blurb reads:

Mary Marshall would do anything for her daughter Julia. A devoted grandmother to Julia’s children, she’s always been the rock her family can rely on. Until now. Mary has a past Julia knows nothing about, and it’s come back to haunt her – Murray French is walking a tightrope. A solicitor struggling with an alcohol problem, he’s about to lose his wife Julia and his children to another man: someone successful, someone they deserve. Someone who’s everything he’s not. Can he ever get his family back? Just when Julia Marshall thinks life is starting to turn around, she stumbles upon the brutalised body of a girl she teaches. And as the terrible present starts to shed light on her mother’s past, Julia realises her family’s nightmare is only just beginning…

Written with understanding and emotional acuity, the novel is one I’ll remember for quite some time.  It has been re-released with this great new cover:

If you haven’t read anything yet by Samantha Hayes, what are you waiting for?

F 5 star

Samantha Hayes grew up in the Midlands. Before becoming a writer, Samantha Hayes worked at jobs ranging from private detective to bartender to fruit picker and factory worker, lived on a kibbutz, and spent a few years in Australia and the USA. Her writing career began when she won a short story competition in 2003. Sam Hayes is the author of nine suspense novels and writes full time. She now lives in Warwickshire with her family.

Follow Samantha Hayes on Twitter

Posted in Favorite books, Psychological thrillers, Suspense, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Culling my lengthy TBR list – third attempt

Lost in a Story began this idea for blog posts as a way to edit a growing to-be-read list.  You take your Goodreads TBR list, sort by ascending date added, and look at the oldest 5-10 items on your list.  If you haven’t read them by now, are you likely to? Why or why not?

I began using Goodreads in September of 2012.  In my first two attempts at culling my Goodreads TBR I removed seven books.  Lets hope this time I can increase that number.

I’ve reread the Goodreads blurbs for each of the following and based my decision on the Goodreads rating and whether the blurb still piqued my interest.

My third ten oldest titles on my Goodreads TBR

The absence of mercy” by John Burley  (Goodreads rating 3.58)

A doctor and father in small town Ohio weighs the need to catch a killer against his fears for his family’s safety in this debut psychological suspense novel.  KEEP

Fatal whispers” by Sandra Nikolai (Goodreads rating 4.22)

Despite this titles high GR rating, I’ve decided I can give it a miss. REMOVE

Evidence of life” by Barbara Taylor Sissel (Goodreads rating 3.49)

Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace. REMOVE

All the birds, singing” by Evie Wyld (Goodreads rating 3.62)

Despite the fact that I hate the cover, this novel about an outsider who lives on a craggy British island still hold strong appeal for me.  KEEP

The last refuge” by Craig Robertson (Goodreads rating 3.81)

Great cover. Novel about a man who tries to start a new life on the Faroe Islands – all the time wondering if he is a killer… KEEP

The beast must die” by Nicholas Blake (Goodreads rating 3.84)

4th in a series. Story about a revenge killing. (I haven’t read the first three in this series – it must have been recommended to me – I can’t remember)  REMOVE

The piano room” by Harry Hindes (Goodreads rating  (4.41)

YOU read the blurb!  KEEP

Duplicate keys” by Jane Smiley (Goodreads rating 3.24)

Literary thriller set in Manhattan.  REMOVE

The dark” by Claire Mulligan (Goodreads rating 3.10)

Historical mystery/ghost story set in 1893 New York. REMOVE

The world before us” by Aislinn Hunter (Goodreads rating 3.11)

Three parallel stories are intertwined when thirty-four-year-old Jane Standen decides to research the disappearance of a woman, only known as N, in the 1870s.  REMOVE

More success this time!   When revisiting my third ten oldest titles on my Goodreads TBR I got rid of six of them.  Hey, I’m getting better at this! As I write this post, I have 1,860 titles on my Goodreads TBR! (for those of you who are keeping track, I added a few since my last ‘culling’ post – hey… what’s a girl to do?  Those pesky bookbloggers are always writing reviews about books that look SO good – It is all their fault!

If you strongly agree or disagree with my decisions please let me know in the comments. I’m easily persuaded…. LOL  I need all the help I can get.

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged | 19 Comments

#Coverreveal of Barbara Copperthwaite’s new thriller: “Her Last Secret”

I am excited to have the privilege of being on the team of bookbloggers to reveal the cover of Barbara Copperthwaite‘s latest thriller!

Published by Bookouture with a release date of October 13th, this book sounds like a winner!

Love this cover!

Blurb from the publisher:

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out. 

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed DoorsSometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

You can pre-order this novel now on Amazon!



Posted in Psychological thrillers | Tagged | 7 Comments

“The story of Arthur Truluv” by Elizabeth Berg

Not since “A man called Ove” have I been so charmed by a book.  “The story of Arthur Truluv” is one of those novels that give you a book hangover (you don’t want to start another book because you are still living in that book’s world.)

“He’s an old man living an old man’s life”

Arthur Moses is an eighty-five year old widower.  He hasn’t been a widower very long and his grief is still raw and fresh.  He was one of those fortunate people who marry the love of their life and stay in love until death does them part. And it did. Nola passed away over six months ago, yet he has lunch with her everyday. He takes the bus to the cemetery and eats his sandwich with Nola while discussing the day’s events.

When he is not at the cemetery, Arthur spends his time talking to his cat, Gordon, and his next-door neighbor, Lucille, octogenarian and expert baker of cookies.


It is in the cemetery where Arthur meets Maddy Harris – a seventeen year old girl who comes to the cemetery on her lunch break from school. Maddy does not have any real friends. She lives with her father, but theirs is a cold relationship with little, if any, overt displays of affection.  She loves to write poetry and take pictures. Maddy is very intelligent, but she has always been an outcast among her peers. She is teased, bullied, and made to feel alone.  But then… she has always felt alone.

“But the longer I live, the more I come to see that love is not so easy for everyone. It can get awfully complicated.”

When Arthur and Maddy become acquainted, Maddy is in a sexual relationship.  She thinks that if she makes Anderson happy sexually, that he will come to love her. Above all else, Maddy craves love and acceptance.  As can be predicted this relationship ends badly, as there was not any real love on Maddy’s side and Anderson was just using her.

She is astounded at the love that Arthur has for his dead wife and she gives him the nickname ‘Truluv’. Arthur is a true friend – and she secretly thinks he is cute with his large ears and big brown eyes.  When Maddy’s life takes an unexpected turn it is Arthur that she goes to for support.  And support her he does. He invites her to live with him in his big rambling, old-fashioned, house.  Before long, Lucille sells her house next-door and moves in with Arthur and Maddy. Mason, Missouri is a sleepy little town of five thousand souls. And now it is the home of Arthur, Maddy and Lucille.

“What is it that makes a family? Certainly no document does, no legal pronouncement or accident of birth. No, real families come from choices we make about who we want to be bound to, and the ties to such families live in our hearts.”

The story of Arthur Truluv” is a touching work of literary fiction.  Told in a way that is not at all ‘sappy’, the book explores the themes of loneliness, aging, and family.  I’m certain it will resonate with readers who enjoyed “A man called Ove” and “The storied life of A.J. Fikry“. I know it will be near the top of my ‘Best of 2017’ list. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read it. Highly recommended!

This wonderful novel is due to be published this coming November,
but you can pre-order it now!

My heartfelt thanks to the author via Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for review purposes.  The enjoyment was gravy!

Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome HereThe Year of PleasuresThe Art of MendingSay WhenTrue to FormNever Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleepwas short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Elizabeth Berg is also the author of a nonfiction work, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Literary fiction, NetGalley title | Tagged , | 10 Comments