“That Last Weekend” by Laura DiSilverio

“It had started with such promise and ended in tragedy, suspicion, and a police investigation. Horrible.”

Five young women, former college roommates, are the stars in this novel. The best of friends, they visit a country inn annually.  Until… the unthinkable happens and one of them is gravely injured.  Evangeline Paul survived her fall from the fifth floor balcony, but was paralyzed as a result.  Now, the women seldom keep in touch. The tragedy put them all under suspicion by the police and has put an indelible blight on their friendship.

Chateau

The story, for the most part is told through the eyes of Laurel Muir.  She is divorced, and a successful lawyer. Recently she has been appointed as a judge. In her late thirties, she longs for a child and a life beyond that which her career provides.  Ten years have passed since she and her former college friends visited “Chateau du Cygne Noir“.  Now, surprisingly, she receives an invitation to once again visit the inn in North Carolina along with her four friends during the first weekend of September.

Besides Laurel, the other women include Dawn Infanti (a gay artist), Ellie Ordahl (a married mother of college age sons), and Geneva Prost (a pregnant African American television reporter from Chicago).

tangerine envThe women have all received the trademark tangerine envelope with held an invitation to the inn.  And, despite the decade that has passed since they last visited, they all accept Evangeline’s invitation. They find that the inn has recently been sold and is to be turned into a nursing home. The caretakers, Mr. and Mrs. Abbott, have been let go and this is their final guest booking before they leave the inn permanently.  It really is “the last weekend“.

wheelchairNow in a wheelchair, Evangeline seems to have turned her life around. She says that a miracle cure from Mexico has enabled her to perhaps walk again. She is engaged to be married and wanted to share her happiness with her old friends.

“Strange, that, how “lasts” could happen without any fanfare or notice; they could be over and one with before you noticed their significance.”

Another tragedy mars their reunion. This time Evangeline is dead. The women are all under suspicion. Sheriff Judah Boone is leading the investigation.  The women all have motives, but “all of their motives were dusty with age”.  Laurel takes it upon herself to aid in the investigation.  Before their stay ends, many of her friends will be put in dire peril.my thoughts divider dark redThis is a classic ‘whodunit’ mystery.  A closed setting with limited suspects. Many motives to cast suspicion on them all.  The setting was atmospheric and the characters quite engaging.

Perhaps I’ve just read too many similar novels, because though I find it difficult to pinpoint just what left me less than enthusiastic, it was for me just a ‘mediocre‘ read. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I cottoned on quite early just who the guilty party was – though to be fair, the author did include a plot twist near the end that I did not anticipate.

I think this book will be enjoyed by many who like a suspenseful mystery with a dash of romantic suspense. F 3.5 star

Many thanks to Midnight Ink who supplied with a digital copy of this novel via NetGalley.

add-goodreadsLaura DiSilverio is a retired United States Air Force intelligence officer. She is married with two children. She is the national bestselling and award-winning author of 21 mystery, suspense, and young adult dystopian novels. Her 2015 standalone, The Reckoning Stones, won the Colorado Book Award for Mystery, and Library Journal named her recent title, Close Call, one of the Top Five mysteries of 2016.

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Wednesday’s Word = GRAVE

As a mystery lover, I was spoiled for choice in this Wednesday’s post. The word ‘GRAVE’ is frequently used in crime fiction titles. Also, it seemed a fitting word to use for the month of October, when all things dead, undead, spooky, etc. are forefront on our minds.

Of the twenty titles I’ve showcased here, they are all either ones I’ve already read, or are patiently waiting on my TBR.  Perhaps you’ve read a few of these.  I’d love to hear from you if you have.

That’s it!  I limited myself to 20 titles for this post, though there are countless more titles including the word ‘grave‘ in the title.  Can you recommend one that I haven’t included?

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 10 Comments

“The Visitors” by Catherine Burns

“…she wrapped her arms around Mother’s angular hips for comfort. Physical affection wasn’t encouraged, however, in the Zetland family, and she soon felt herself peeled off with extreme delicacy.”

In this compelling debut thriller we first meet Marion Zetland.  Born to wealthy parents, she has always lived in the house where she grew up in a northern English seaside town. For the majority of her life she was unloved, sometimes tolerated, but never appreciated. Marion is plain and not very smart. Now that her parents are both dead, she lives with her brother John. She has never worked, and her practice of watching daytime television while munching on sweets has made her overweight.  The large Georgian house has become dirty and neglected in the years since their parents death. The siblings meander through the squalor, hardly noticing…

At the age of fifty-four, Marion looks years older.  Sadly, she still sleeps in the twin bed she has always had. She is accompanied only by the myriad soft toys that she calls her friends. She has never had affection, romance, or even the attention of anyone other than her older brother John. He in turn is sometimes tolerant of Marion, though he is also bullying and emotionally abusive. She adores him and fears him in equal measure.

“Her brother once said if the human race in general shared Marion’s disposition, it was unlikely they would have evolved much beyond the level of jellyfish.”

Incredibly lonely, Marion resorts to a colourful fantasy world of daydreams. She imagines being pretty, being loved, having children of her own….

Marion and John exist on a diet of canned food and store-bought bread and biscuits.

The siblings live together year after year. Since John lost his job as a school teacher, he spends even more time in the house. Birthdays, Christmas, summer, winter, it is just the two of them….. except for the visitors.  John keeps his visitors in the cellar. Sometimes Marion forgets that they are there. Other times, like Mondays for instance, she is brutally reminded when she has to do their laundry.

“And if she was powerless to help, wasn’t it better not to know what things were really like down there? Compassion for the visitors struggled with the desire for ignorance, producing in Marion a paralyzing anxiety that she could relieve by striking her temples with her knuckles as if physically expelling the verminous thoughts from her head.”

Life carries on much as usual until John suffers a heart attack and is hospitalized.  Never having run the house by herself, Marion is adrift.  And what is to become of the ‘visitors’?

Don’t you just love it when you discover a new author that you plan to follow indefinitely? Well folks, Catherine Burns is just such an author.  I loved her writing which kept me immersed in the novel throughout. Her characters were vividly drawn and the setting remarkably ‘real’.  The protagonist was pitiable yet fearsome. To render that dichotomy requires skill.

Reading this book was quite disturbing yet I felt compelled to rapidly turn the pages to discover Marion’s ultimate fate.  If you read this novel, you will be as absorbed as I was. Poor, poor Marion…. but yet….

I cannot wait to read the next book by Catherine Burns. She has made a fan of me with her debut novel. Highly recommended!

I was lucky to have won a hardcover copy of this book from a fellow blogger last year. Thanks to Kerry ParsonsChat About Books blog   The copy I won holds pride of place on my bookshelves.

And… because I prefer to read on my Kindle, I received a pre-approved digital copy from Legend Press via NetGalley.  Thanks!

Born in Manchester, Catherine Burns is a graduate of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. She worked as a bond trader in London before studying at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography and teaching film theory at the University of Salford. The Visitors is her debut novel.

Follow Catherine Burns on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Favorite books, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

“CWA Anthology of short stories: Mystery Tour” edited by Martin Edwards

This exciting collection of short stories features crime writers working with a “mystery tour” or travel theme. Showcasing the diversity of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these 28 compelling stories will take you on a memorable trip – and you’ll not even have to leave your armchair.

This anthology includes:

  1. The Queen of Mystery” by Ann Cleeves
  2. Return to the Lake” by Anna Mazzola
  3. You’ll be Dead by Dawn” by C.L. Taylor
  4. The Last Supper” by Carol Anne Davis
  5. The White Goddess” by Cath Staincliffe
  6. High flyer” by Chris Simms
  7. Accounting for murder” by Christine Poulson
  8. Travel is dangerous” by Ed James
  9. Take the money” by Gordon Brown
  10. No way back” by J.M. Hewitt
  11. Mystery tour” by Judith Cutler
  12. Wife on tour” by Julia Crouch
  13. The naked lady of Prague” by Kate Ellis
  14. Snowbird” by Kate Rhodes
  15. The Repentance Wood” by Martin Edwards
  16. A mouthful of  Restaurant” by Martine Bailey
  17. Cruising for a Killing” by Maxim Jakubowski
  18. Three on a trail” by Michael Stanley
  19. The Riddle of the Humming Bee” by Paul Charles
  20. Writer’s Block” by Paul Gitsham
  21. Lady Luck” by Peter Lovesey
  22. A Postcard from Iceland” by Ragnar Jónasson
  23. A Clever Evil” by Sarah Rayne
  24. The Prodigy” by Shawn Reilly Simmons
  25. A Slight Change of Plan” by Susi Holliday
  26. Bombay Brigadoon” by Vaseem Khan
  27. Matricide and Ice Cream” by William Burton McCormick
  28. The Spoils” by William Ryan

It has been too long since I’ve immersed myself in a tome of short stories. I know that they are not for everyone.  Myself, I enjoy them a lot, I own a lot of anthologies, yet, inexplicably, I tend to read novels most of the time.

I read short stories to see how some of my favourite authors cope with the limited word count of the short story.  I also read short stories to discover potential new to me authors.

My favourite stories in this collection were:

Return to the Lake” by Anna Mazzola

High Flyer” by Chris Simms

No way back” by J.M. Hewitt

Mystery tour” by Judith Cutler

Many of these short stories had a astonishing ending.
The story that most shocked me was: “A Clever Evil” by Sarah Rayne

One story that I didn’t care for was:

Accounting for Murder” by Christine Poulson: a story told solely through a series of receipts for goods & services.  This might have been a clever way to tell a story, but it wasn’t to my taste.

New (to me) authors from this collection that I intend to read more of:

Anna Mazzola

Chris Simms

Ragnar Jónasson

These stories were concise and powerful. In my opinion, anyone who enjoys crime fiction will enjoy this collection, whether or not they are a fan of the short format.  Recommended!

I received a digital copy of this anthology from Trafalgar Square Publishing/Orenda Books via NetGalley.

Martin Edwards was born at Knutsford, Cheshire and educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University, taking a first class honours degree in law. He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and his first book, about legal aspects of buying a business computer at 27, before a career as an equity partner of a law firm, where he is now a consultant. He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm. A member of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers, Martin is Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and in 2015 he was elected eighth President of the Detection Club. He is also Archivist of the CWA and of the Detection Club.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Orenda Books, Short stories | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Cover Love: part 63 – Exploding flowers

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 63rd installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature exploding flowers on their covers. Who knew that this would even be a ‘thing‘ ?

Most of these titles I chose only for their covers.
I’ve only read one of them, but a few of them are on my TBR.
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?
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

Please let me know in the comments.

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 | 22 Comments

“In her Shadow” by Mark Edwards #blogtour #bookreview

This is the story of two sisters, Isabel (Izzy) and Jessica.  One dead, and one very much alive.

Jessica is still mourning the loss of Isabel who died when she fell from a balcony in her home five years ago.  Since she was drinking and had drugs in her system, the death was ruled an accident. Isabel was always the prettiest one, the smartest one, the one with so much going for her…  Jessica had always felt to be in the shadow of her older, more beautiful sister.

Now Jessica is married to Will, and the mother of ten-year-old Felix and four-year-old Olivia. The family live in the London suburb of Beckenham with their aging golden retriever, Caspar.

Since Izzy died just weeks after Jessica told her of her pregnancy with Olivia, her young daughter had never had the opportunity to meet her aunt Isabel.  Yet lately, Olivia has seemed obsessed with the auntie she never knew…  She suddenly seems to intuit things that only Isabel would have known.  She seems…. possessed.  Jessica wonders if her little daughter has chosen Isabel as an imaginary friend. Can she credit all that is going on to the overactive imagination of a four-year-old?  But would that explain all the weird coincidences and Olivia’s disturbing behaviour?  Olivia seems to predict certain dire events.  The death of the school’s dinner lady, the burning down of another school, the illness of a goat, etc. How CAN she know this stuff???  There seemed no rational explanation…  Olivia is acting out at school. Her room looks as if it had been ransacked and her soft toys have their eyes gouged out.

Jessica has always leaned toward belief in spirits.  Could Izzy be trying to tell her that she didn’t fall from the balcony five years ago?  Could she have been pushed??? Is Isabel using her young daughter as a conduit to communicate?

Also, Jessica has felt that she is being watched. Several times she spotted a grey Hyundai following her or parked up outside her house.

Could Jessica’s entire family be in the shadow of her late sister?

Once again, Mark Edwards has served a cunning cocktail of genres to his readers.  At any one time you are uncertain if this is a mystery? a thriller? domestic noir? or, as is easily assumed, a paranormal thriller.  Though I would never spoil it for future readers so you’ll have to discover the truth for yourself.

What I do know is that the author has a way of keeping the reader engaged. His devious plotting and very real characters make for an enjoyable read. His use of short chapters moves the narrative along.

The story is told mostly from Jessica’s point of view with a few chapters told by Isabel in the weeks leading up to her untimely death.

Having just read another of his novels “Follow you home” I feel I am well versed in his writing technique and can recommend his work to others.  Others who, like me, enjoy a good fast-paced thriller.

I received a digital copy of this novel from Thomas and Mercer (Amazon Publishing UK) via NetGalley. I was pleased to be asked to be part of this blog tour by Eleanor Hemming of MidasPR.

Check out some of the other great bloggers who have stops on this tour:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For(2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home (2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death (2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle(2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

“Follow you home” by Mark Edwards

Some real monsters are worse than any you can imagine…

A thirty-something London couple, Daniel Sullivan and Laura Mackenzie, have decided to go on one last big trip before settling down and having a family.  They have an adventurous time in Europe travelling with only their backpacks.

Then, whilst in Romania, they board a train. Daniel has ‘cheaped out‘ and bought tickets that did not include any sleeping accommodations – even though they are both bone weary.  They meet another young Romanian couple on the train called Ion and Alina. The couple tell them that there is a ‘sleeper’ compartment empty and that they should try to have a quick rest before resuming their travels. They do, and whilst they are sleeping, they are robbed of their money, their passports, their train tickets, and Laura’s phone.  Although their new friend Alina, translates on their behalf, the security guards evict them and Alina from the train in the middle of nowhere.

Distraught, they walk along the tracks to find some help.  After a while, Alina needs a bathroom break and goes into the woods for privacy. When she doesn’t return, Daniel and Laura follow her.  They find an ancient, disturbing house in the forest.  They hear a baby crying…  Immediately, Daniel feels that this is a bad place.  He was to be proved correct… 

When they escape from the house, they run to the nearest town where they seek help from the police.  The help is not forthcoming. Feeling that the police are sinister and quite likely corrupt they escape the town, leaving their backpacks behind.

Three months pass and Daniel and Laura are back in London.  They are now separated and both are suffering from PTSD.  What happened to them at that eerie and foreboding house? What happened to Alina? Neither of them will talk about their experiences in Romania. They feel denial of the events that took place there is the only way they can cope…

Then things take a bizarre turn. Laura feels she is being followed. Daniel’s flat is broken into. They feel like they are being watched.  Laura’s psyche begins to deteriorate. Daniel seeks the help of a therapist and he confides in his best friend Jake. Before long, even these avenues of support are removed…

The reader is now feverishly wondering – What happened in that sinister forest house?

How and Why did the evil follow them home?

The characters and setting were vividly described. The short chapters ensured that the reader feels like the already fast paced narrative was even faster.

Although the subject matter was at times quite disturbing, the author dealt with the topics in a skillful and well paced manner.

With a killer plot twist at the end of the book, this suspense-filled novel should appeal to even the most ardent thriller fans. A real page-turner and a perfect, creepy October read.

I received a digital copy of this novel from Thomas and Mercer via NetGalley for review purposes.

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For(2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home (2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death (2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle(2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

“Where the memories lie” by Sibel Hodge

“And when the memories lie, sometimes it’s best to let the truth stay hidden.”

Twenty-five years ago, Olivia Tate’s best friend Katie left their Dorset village, never to be heard from again.

Olivia Tate, her husband Ethan, and her twelve-year-old daughter Anna, live in a barn conversion on the outskirts of  a small Dorset village. Olivia loves her family, her house, and her life.  Her father-in-law, a builder, converted the barn twenty-five years before. Now, sadly, Tom has Alzheimer’s and is living in a nearby care home.

Olivia and the rest of the family visit Tom regularly. One day when visiting, Tom tells Olivia that he has killed someone. Shocked, but wary that perhaps this is just a delusion brought about by his condition, Olivia eventually goes to the police – who dismiss her concerns.

When Olivia begins to suspect that Tom is talking about her old friend, Katie, she does some amateur investigating. She learns that Katie had a horrible home life, possibly being abused by her parents. Olivia feels that she has let Katie down, not doing enough to help her escape her plight. She feels guilt that she has thought less and less about Katie over the past two decades.

“I think again about how far I’d go to protect my daughter, my family. The lies I’d tell. And I convince myself again that not all lies are the same.”

When, in one of his more lucid moments, Tom tells Olivia where the body is buried, she returns to the police… The results of her actions turn her loving family against her. Each family member reacting to the discovery of the body in different ways. Each unraveling the fabric of their once happy family. Trust is eroded, suspicion mounts.

“Everything we do, every event in our lives has a domino effect.”

“Love could be a viscous and destructive thing sometimes.”

Told exclusively from Olivia’s point of view, the story reveals Olivia’s strong moral character and how she deals with one seemingly insurmountable moral dilemma. Because of this, the story was very easy to follow and the descriptions brought the novel to life.

I really enjoy novels about family secrets and the repercussions that come about when they are revealed.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Sibel Hodge and I would definitely read more of her work.  She held my interest and I became invested in the plight of the Tate family. A must-read for fans of Whodunit mystery fiction.

I’m grateful to Thomas & Mercer (via NetGalley) for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for review purposes.

Sibel Hodge is the author of No. 1 Bestseller Look Behind You and most recently, Into the Darkness. Her books are International Bestsellers in UK, USA, Australia, and Germany. She writes an eclectic mix of genres, and she’s a passionate human and animal rights advocate.
Her work has been recognized by several literary awards.

Follow Sibel Hodge on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Hello October (Fictionophile updates and Sept. book haul)

October 1st and back home again!

To celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, my husband and I went on our first ever cruise!  We flew from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, British Columbia (4,444 km= 2,761 miles) where we boarded the Holland America Westerdam cruise ship. Then we sailed to ALASKA!

September was a very busy month for us.  Besides preparing for our trip, we redecorated the kitchen and bathroom at our little summer cottage.  Painting walls, replacing floors, etc.  The upshot of which is I got very little reading done.  The good news is I also didn’t add many new titles to my already packed TBR.

During the month of September I added only THREE titles to my TBR.



I downloaded 3 titles from NetGalley in September:


 

She Lies in Wait” by Gytha Lodge

This is the first title in a series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens

BLURB:

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last. And that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

I received this book from Random House via NetGalley


 

In the Silence” by M.R. MacKenzie

BLURB:

Anna hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years. And for very good reasons…

Anna, a criminology lecturer, returns to Glasgow from Rome during the coldest winter in memory. While out with her best friend from school, Anna has a chance encounter with a former flame, Andrew. Tragedy strikes later that night when Anna discovers Andrew stabbed and dying on a blanket of snow.

Soon Anna finds herself at the centre of the investigation as the star witness for the police, and embarks on investigating the case herself. But Anna doesn’t realise the danger she is in and soon finds herself in trouble.

When another body shows up, who has links to the first victim, it appears that the motive may lie buried in the past.

As Anna gets closer to the truth, the killer starts closing in.

But can she solve the gruesome mystery before the killer strikes again?

I received this book from Bloodhound Books via NetGalley.



A Bad, Bad Thing” by Elena Forbes

BLURB:

A highly effective police officer, albeit one who keeps her past carefully hidden, Eve West is suspended from duty after a police operation goes catastrophically wrong. Receiving help from an unexpected quarter – a criminal she put away many years before – Eve feels she has no choice but to agree to his request to investigate a possible miscarriage of justice in return. But why is a hardened criminal like John Duran so keen to help a fellow-inmate convicted of the murder of a stable-girl? And why has he chosen Eve to look into the case?

Teaming up with crusading journalist Dan Cooper, Eve begins to uncover disturbing flaws in the original investigation. But as her past is dragged to the surface, she comes to realize she has been plunged into a case more complex and sinister than she ever imagined…

I received this book from Severn House via NetGalley


So…. that’s it!   Three more review commitments!


I didn’t purchase any titles in September.  That HAS to be a first!


I’m delighted to report that there are now 2.927 people following this blog!


My Goodreads Challenge is doing okay

My NetGalley feedback ratio is still short of the coveted 80% (it seems I get just as many new titles from NetGalley as I review in a month – I’m just treading water…)

My Edelweiss feedback ratio is dismal…

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Poll results + A very brief hiatus – back in October…

Just wanted you all to know that because my husband and I are celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary the last week of September…. I’m taking a brief blogging hiatus.

Please forgive me if I don’t comment and Tweet your posts.  Everything will resume as usual around the first of October.

Thanks SO much for all your support.  I cherish being a part of such a generous book blogging community.


Poll Results

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 34 Comments

“The Clockmaker’s Daughter” by Kate Morton

Ever since reading “The Forgotten Garden“, I have been a huge fan of Kate Morton’s novels.  Since they have been published in 34 languages and have been international bestsellers, it would seem I am not alone.

The Clockmaker’s Daughter” has several different protagonists as the narrative is set over a vast span of years, from 1862 – 2017.  The story jumps back and forth between these different protagonists, yet the reader is constantly aware that they all are in some way linked.  The primary linking factor has to be the Berkshire manor house, Birchwood Manor. Situated near the bank of the River Thames, and built very close to one of Britain’s mystical ley lines, the isolated house was described so atmospherically that the author has made the house itself the main character. “It is a strange house, built to be purposely confusing. Staircases that turn at unusual angles, all knees and elbows and uneven treads; floorboards and wall panels with clever concealments.”

“Birchwood Manor was one of those places in which the threads of time slackened and came unstrung.”

How I imagined Birchwood Manor might look…

In 1862, a wealthy, talented, and charismatic young artist named Edward Radcliffe bought the house.  He was drawn to the way the house made him feel.  It was a place of refuge, contentment, security and belonging.  Although Edward, in his early twenties, was engaged to marry, he immediately fell in love with a girl he met whilst at the theater.  He was taken by her beauty and her obvious intelligence.  He asked her to be his model – his muse.  He took her, along with his sisters and a group of artist friends, the group called the ‘Magenta Brotherhood’, to Birchwood Manor to spend the summer there.  Though the summer began in an idyllic way, there would be no happy ending for Edward, or for his muse, Lily Millington aka Birdie Bell. Edward’s fiancée was shot dead – and the Radcliffe family heirloom, the Radcliffe Blue pendant vanished.


“There is a wound that never heals in the heart of an abandoned child.”

Birdie Bell was told her father had traveled to America to find work. She was taken in at the age of seven, and groomed to be a pickpocket and a thief under the name Lily Millington.  This was not her true nature though… she was the clockmaker’s daughter and retained memories of a time when she lived with her father. Her mother died with she was very young, so she and her father became very close.


Lucy Radcliffe had run a girl’s boarding school at Birchwood Manor. The school closed in 1901 after one of the students drowned in the nearby river.

In the early 1940s we meet Juliet Wright. Struggling in London during the war, she is a journalist and the mother to three children.  When Juliet learns of the death of her husband, AND, that her house has been razed to the ground in the Blitz, she packs up her three children and travels to Berkshire where she rents Birchwood Manor.

In 1980 the Manor was opened to the public.

In 2017, we meet Elodie Winslow who works in London as an archivist. She is engaged to be married, yet the reader senses that her fiancé is NOT the love of her life.  One day at work, Elodie discovers an old box containing a fine, bespoke leather satchel, a photograph of a beautiful woman, and an artist’s sketchbook. Within the sketchbook’s pages is a rendering of a house. Elodie immediately feels a strong sense of déjà vu.  The house reminds her of a house from a story she heard often as a child…


Also in the present day we come to know a woman who resides in the house. She remembers everything. She “stands outside time“.

“I miss touch. I miss being touched.” “I miss having a face. And a voice. A real voice that everyone can hear. It can be lonely in the liminal space.”

Kate Morton certainly knows how to weave a story. This time, she had her work cut out for her as there were so many threads that had to come together to make the whole.  The very many characters and time periods was a bit overwhelming at times, but at the end of the day, “The Clockmaker’s Daughter” was a very satisfying read.

More than just your usual historical fiction, it was a study of aging, regret, of loss, of great love, of parents and children, and of the different incarnations of one old house over many years. A great read for a stormy winter’s day.

I received a digital copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley for review purposes.Favourite quotes from”The Clockmaker’s Daughter”:

“Oh, but it is worst thing about getting old, time. There isn’t enough of it left. There is simply too much to know and too few hours in which to know it.”

“The truth depends on who it is that’s telling the story.”

“People value shiny stones and lucky charms, but they forget that the most powerful talismans of all are the stories that we tell to ourselves and to others.”

Kate Morton was born in South Australia, grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.

Kate Morton’s five previous novels – The House at RivertonThe Forgotten GardenThe Distant HoursThe Secret Keeper and The Lake House – have all been New York Times bestsellers, Sunday Times bestsellers and international number 1 bestsellers; they are published in 34 languages, across 42 countries.

Posted in Book Reviews, ghost stories, Historical fiction, Literary fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Cover Love: Part 62 – Under glass domes

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 62nd installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature glass domes on their covers. These books cover a wide variety of genres. Surely one of them will speak to you…

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?

Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

Please let me know in the comments.

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 | 16 Comments

19 Crimes + a myriad more…

Well folks it finally happened. I have found a perfect excuse to blog about TWO of my passions.  Most people who know me have long realized that I really appreciate a nice glass of red.  This summer I had a friend visit who brought me a bottle with a cool name.  She said she bought it because the name reminded her of the books I read. LOL.  However, the real bonus was that it was full-bodied and DELICIOUS!

An Australian red blend called “19 CrimesThe Banished. Although the inside of the bottle contains a very delicious wine, the outside of the bottle tells the story of James Wilson.

Because I loved “The Banished“, I splurged and bought another variety of “19 Crimes” namely the cabernet sauvignon.  Both bottles are highly recommended by me.


I took a photo of my two bottles of “19 Crimes” with just a few of my crime fiction anthologies.  Some I’ve had for many, many years.  One of them, which I bought at a thrift store is so old that it doesn’t have an ISBN.  It is the 1929 hardcover edition of “The Omnibus of Crime” edited by the infamous Dorothy L. Sayers which contains over fifty selections made by Dorothy Sayers, scholar and detective-story writer. (pictured between the wine bottles)

Some of the other anthologies in the photo are:

9780143053491  “The Penguin Book of Crime Stories” compiled by Peter Robinson

9780762437252The Mammoth Book of the World’s Best Crime stories” edited by Maxim Jakubowski

9780195182149  A New Omnibus of Crime” edited by Tony Hillerman, Rosemary Herbert, Sue Grafton, and Jeffrey Deaver

9780786707386  Crème de la Crime” edited by Janet Hutchings

9781555213503Ellery Queen’s Prime Crimes” by Ellery Queen

Just like “judging a book by its cover” doesn’t always have happy results, judging a wine by it’s label can sometimes disappoint.  This time however, I was pleasantly surprised.  Another time I chose a wine by it’s label was in the case of a “Mr. Black’s Little Book“, which turned out to be a very pleasant shiraz.   (I mean really… how could I NOT buy a wine with the word book in the name?) As with all wines though, the vintage can change the taste drastically.


And no… this doesn’t mean I’ll be doing more posts about wine.  This was a ‘one off’.

Do YOU have any favourite wines?  I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Posted in Short stories | Tagged , | 13 Comments

“Snap” by Belinda Bauer

Publisher’s Blurb: A taut, suspenseful new novel from award-winning thriller author Belinda Bauer in which a woman being menaced by a knife-wielding home invader is connected to a string of burglaries in a quaint bedroom community, and the brutal murder that left three children motherless three years before.
Summary from Goodreads:

 

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.

Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.

But the truth can be a dangerous thing …


In 2015 I read the novel “The Shut Eye” and quite fell in love with the curmudgeonly Detective Inspector Marvel.  In “Snap” my love affair continues.  That is not to say that this is a sequel to the previous novel. Readers can be confident that “Snap” can be read as a stand-alone.

“Dreams died, but the nightmare of reality went on.”

The three abandoned children in the novel tugged at my heartstrings. So traumatized, yet so resilient, each in their own way. Jack, livid with anger. Anger that he feels abandoned – anger that he shoulders WAY too much responsibility.  At the tender age of fourteen, Jack valiantly tries to keep the house going, the bills paid etc. so that the social services will not take his sisters away – Jack is plagued with dreams…

Joy, shut away beneath myriad piles of newspapers, quietly mourning how life used to be.
“For the first time, Jack felt sorry for her. For the first time he realized that Joy was not crazy – only heartbroken. And for the first time, he wondered if they were the same thing…”

Tiny Merry, full of life in an otherwise lifeless house, stoically loving her pet tortoise. Reading vampire books and mowing the lawn at the tender age of five…

“He couldn’t just abandon her because she’d already been abandoned. Twice. And that made him angriest of all…”

 

Catherine While, pregnant and so vulnerable, was a favorite character. The reader could empathize with her whilst wishing she had more of an emotional support system. She seemed so alone… Her fear was palpable.

The police team headed by DCI John Marvel was quirky yet worked well. Slovenly Marvel working with the fastidious Reynolds was a treat to read about. Marvel, with his old-fashioned policing methods based on logic, cunning, and gut instinct. Reynolds with his high IQ score, vanity, and insecurities. DC Elizabeth Rice was the perfect foil for Reynolds. DC Parrot, an older man comfortable in his job and rife with local knowledge, made up the fourth member of the team.

The Somerset/West Country setting really added to my enjoyment of the novel.

The outstanding writing brought the multi-layered plot together seamlessly.

At the risk of sounding gushy, I think Belinda Bauer is brilliant. She writes of serious crimes yet includes enough humour to lighten the narrative. Her characters are fully-rounded and memorable (at times lovable).  This wonderful thriller, which begins and ends on the hard shoulder of the M5 motorway was a delight to read. This title will without doubt be included in my list of favourite reads of 2018. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Grove Atlantic via NetGalley, who provided me with a digital copy of this novel in the understanding that I might write a review.

Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her books have been translated into 21 languages.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Readers find the magic

As a lifelong reader, I’ve always known that there is magic to be found within books.

So… I thought I’d share a few graphics that helps convey my feelings about reading.

(Some I’ve shared with you before – others I’m sharing for the first time.)

How many book nerds lifelong readers are there I wonder?

Posted in Reading | Tagged , , | 29 Comments