“Dry Bones” by Sally Spencer

Last year I read “The Shivering Turn” which was the first in the Jennie Redhead series. With “Dry Bones” we revisit private investigator Jennie as she attempts to solve three murders which took place decades apart.

For those who haven’t made Jennie Redhead’s acquaintance, she is from the northern county of Lancashire, studied at Oxford herself, and got her degree in English Literature. And guess what? She IS a redhead! She views the fact that her hair matches her name to be a curse she is forced to endure. The year is 1974 and Jennie travels about the city of Oxford on her trusty bicycle to ferret out information.

Jennie left the Thames Valley police when she discovered one of her superiors to be corrupt. She still has a few contacts within the police, one of whom is DS George Hobson, her friend and former lover. She turns to George again this time round, testing their friendship.

Jennie’s best friend, Lord Charles Swift, St. Luke’s College’s bursar, comes to Jennie with a problem. Wanting to preserve the college’s reputation, he tells her about two skeletons which were discovered in the cellar of one of the colleges. He wants her to determine WHO these skeletons were in life. He also says that the bones were removed to be scientifically tested – thus disturbing the possible crime scene. Of course this is against the law and could get them both in trouble with the police. Science has determined that one of the skeletons is much older than the other one… One was interred during WWI, the other during WWII.

Porter’s Lodge

 

When Jenny begins to investigate she is reacquainted with the college ‘porter’ who has a long and esteemed relationship with the University.  The ‘porter’ is the hub of the college, the man who facilitates much of what goes on withing the walls of St. Luke’s.

The reader is transported back in time to the periods when the murder’s took place – one of which was during Jennie’s friend Swift’s time at the college. A time when scandal was verboten.

Jennie wonders… could Charles be in any way implicated? The investigation takes Jennie to Northamptonshire and the Spanish island of Majorca.

Sóller Cemetery, Majorca

Set in the beautiful and historic city of Oxford, this series is extremely atmospheric. Adding to that is the fact that there were three time periods within the narrative, the most recent being 1974 during Jennie Redhead’s time.

The narrative examines the limits of friendship and the lengths to which those loyal to Oxford University will go to preserve its reputation. It gives the reader a glimpse into what life was like at Oxford during the great wars and how the University had to adapt to fewer students and being used as housing for the military.

The writing was adept and utilized humour and irony to further the story along. I enjoyed this novel very much, though not as much as the first installment of the series. To date, there are just the two titles, but I would read the third if such a book were written.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from the publishers, Severn House via NetGalley in consideration of my honest review.

Sally Spencer is a pen name, first adopted when the author (actually called Alan Rustage) was writing sagas and it was almost obligatory that a woman’s name appeared on the cover. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a teacher.

He lived in Madrid for over twenty years, and still considers it the most interesting and exciting city he has ever visited, but for the last few years he has opted for a quieter life in the seaside town of Calpe, Spain.

He has written twenty books featuring DCI Woodend (a character based partly on a furniture dealer he used to play dominoes with) and ten (so far!) about Woodend’s protegé Monika Paniatowski.

His DI Sam Blackstone books are set in Victorian/Edwardian London, New York and Russia, and the Inspector Paco Ruiz books have as their backdrop the Spanish Civil War.

Alan is a competitive games player who likes bridge and pub quizzes. It is only by enforcing iron discipline that he doesn’t play video games all the time.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Proud to be a #bookblogger

To quote another blogger who is just starting out “I’ve found my tribe“.  The book blogging community has made my retirement twice as enjoyable as it would have been otherwise. 

As I waste my time spend a lot of enjoyable hours playing with graphics, I thought I’d create some smart phone wallpapers that clearly state my pride in my blogging endeavors. Most of us have smart phones these days. Many of use have them ‘to hand‘ constantly. Some of us even read books on them. LOL

If you are a book blogger and you are proud to be one, feel free to download any (or all) of these graphics to use as your phone wallpaper.  It is my small way of saying thanks to all the lovely book bloggers out there who have been SO supportive of me.

To download, just ‘right click’ and save. Then install the saved file on your phone.

Here is what it looks like after installation:

If these graphics don’t strike your fancy, check out my Pinterest board with many, many more phone wallpapers that you might like better. Or, if you can’t find anything there, let me know YOUR idea and perhaps I can create you one.

I was requested to create an avatar size graphic so here it is: (this size is good for Goodreads profile avatars)  If you want me to add your blog’s name to the graphic I can give it a go.

Enjoy! and Happy Reading!

Posted in Book bloggers | Tagged | 29 Comments

“The Stranger Diaries” by Elly Griffiths

In the beginning we meet Clare Cassidy, an attractive, divorced, school teacher and single mum living in West Sussex with her teenage daughter and much-loved dog. She teaches creative writing in the English Department of Talgarth High, the same school that her daughter Georgie attends. Her ex-husband, Simon, is a lawyer who lives and works in London with his new wife and their two young children.

Clare’s world is rocked when she learns that her friend and colleague, Ella Elphick, has been murdered. As the police investigate the murder, Clare searches through her own diaries to try to spur her memory of an event that might be relevant to the investigation. When she does, she finds that someone else had written in her diary! She reports this to DS Harbinder Kaur. The two women become unlikely, tentative friends – despite themselves.

For some reason I imagined DS Kaur to look like the actress Archie Panjabi

We hear directly from DS Kaur. We hear about her home and work life. She is gay, in her mid-thirties, and living at home with her Sikh parents who still treat her like a child. She enjoys her mother’s Indian cooking and her father’s doting attention, though she spends most of her time at work so that she won’t be roped into serving at her parent’s convenience store. Harbinder is a former student of Talgarth High and loves books and libraries.

As a side “story within a story“, Clare is writing a book on R.M. Holland, an author who once had his office in the school where she works.   In particular, she writes about “The Stranger“, a short, spooky, gothic, crime story that he wrote. It soon becomes clear to all involved that the murderer is taking passages from that story to leave messages for Clare…

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”

Meanwhile, we hear from Georgie, Clare’s fifteen-year-old daughter. We learn of her older boyfriend, the creative writing class that she keeps secret from her Mum, and her postings to an online forum called “SecretDiaries.com”. Her creative writing teacher, Bryony Hughes, works at another school and identifies as a ‘white witch’. She gives each of her students a black obsidian stone to guard against evil spirits.

Then, there is a second teacher murdered at Talgarth High…

I have long been a fan of Elly Griffiths – in particular her fabulous Ruth Galloway mystery series. Therefore I was beyond excited to learn that she had written a new, stand-alone novel.

Stranger Diaries” has three distinct narrators and I was engaged with all three. I enjoyed how the three narrators sometimes spoke of the same event, so that you could learn their differing perspectives – both of the event and of each other. If I had to pick a favourite character it would definitely be DS Harbinder Kaur. A petite, though fierce, young policewoman, she is a force to be reckoned with. Her character was written with empathy and humour.

The setting of the novel was atmospheric in the extreme. Clare’s house was isolated and in the shadow of an abandoned factory. Talgarth High had a new school, and an old school which housed R.M. Holland’s study which was accessed up a Victorian spiral staircase.

Ullapool, Scotland

The ending of the story which took place in Ullapool, Scotland, was exceedingly suspenseful, and tied up all loose ends. The sign of a well-written, joy-to-read, murder mystery.

The book, though a ‘stand-alone’ was one which (in my humble opinion) could easily be morphed into a series. I really hope this happens. I want more of DS Kaur and Clare Cassidy.  Elly Griffiths…. are you listening?

Overall, I found this novel to be an intelligently written, literary murder mystery with an outstanding cast of well-developed characters.

Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary digital copy of “The Stranger Diaries” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Edelweiss. I was delilghted to provide a review.
Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa. She was born in London and now lives with her husband, two children and cat in East Sussex. Elly is the author of the popular Ruth Galloway mystery series and the Stephens and Mephisto novels. She read English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant 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.

Follow Elly Griffiths on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Discussion Post: Blog comments

As a book blogger, I love it when someone comments on one of my posts.  Therefore, I try to comment on other blogs whenever time permits and I feel I have an opinion to voice.  

Today, I received a comment on a post I wrote over two years ago. It was wonderful!

Also today, I tried to place a comment on an interesting post that was published only two days ago only to find that “Comments are Closed“.  Why?  Why would someone close down the ability to comment?  I’m curious.

Do YOU close your comments after an interval of time? Why? After how long?

Some bloggers do not allow comments at all.  I think comments are very valuable. They add input and opinions other than your own; they are a valid way to support other bloggers; and most of all they form the foundations of a ‘blogging community’.

For those of you who didn’t realize that this could even be done, here are my comment settings. You’ll find yours under WordPress Admin – Settings – Discussion

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  How do YOU feel about blog comments?

Posted in Book bloggers | Tagged | 81 Comments

Cozy Mysteries – do their covers do them a disservice?

I have several blogging friends and a couple ‘real life’ friends who adore ‘cozy‘ mysteries.

Definition of a ‘Cozy’ mystery (from Wikipedia)

Cozy mysteries, also referred to as “cozies”, are a sub-genre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.


I consider myself an ardent mystery fan, yet I only very, very, seldom read cozies. Which got me wondering…  do the covers on cozy mysteries do them a disservice?  I enjoy the frequent use of literary puns in the titles of these type of mysteries, but the covers leave me feeling that I shouldn’t take them seriously. Is it just me? Or, is that the whole point – they maybe don’t WANT to be taken seriously.

For instance if I saw this book cover:

I probably would skim over it – in other words it wouldn’t GRAB my attention. The artwork is well done, but it gives off a ‘cutsy’ vibe. However if I saw a cover for the same book with a cover that looked more like this (just a mockup cover that I created myself) I would more than likely take a second look.  

Is it that I just prefer photos over artwork for book covers?  Perhaps. Yet there have been many books that I loved that had artistically rendered covers.

Discussion: Are you a fan of cozy mysteries? Do you love their covers? Would any other kind of cover attract you more – or less? Does the first cover above seem more or less appealing than the one I created for comparison purposes?

Just wondering…

Posted in ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = Memory

Most readers will acknowledge that some words reappear time and time again in titles. Often these words are associated with a particular genre. Case in point: “The girl on the train” and “Gone girl” spawned countless thriller titles with the word ‘girl’ in the title.

This week I’ve chosen the word “MEMORY“. I know there are thousands of books with the word ‘memory’ in the title, but I’m featuring 20 titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love. Some of these titles I’ve read, the rest are on my TBR.

(I’ve limited myself to 20 titles as I tend to get carried away. LOL )

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?

If you’ve added even one of these titles to YOUR TBR, please let me know.

Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 19 Comments

“Bright Stars” by Sophie Duffy

Cameron Spark‘s life has not turned out as he had once hoped. He is the youngest of four brothers, whose dear Mum died when he was just an adolescent. Once he was the bright one, the studious, nerdy, asthmatic, clumsy one who was the only one in his family to attend university. Now, at age forty-six, he has gone home to live with his father in the three-story granite terrace house he grew up in. The reasons for this are twofold. He is (temporarily?) separated from his wife Amanda, and, he has been suspended from the job he has held for the last quarter decade.  Suspended, and under investigation due to an ‘incident’.

For the last twenty-five years, Cameron has worked for Skeletours Inc., a tour company working historic ‘Old Town‘ Edinburgh. Bringing history alive, he leads ‘ghost tours’, with myriad tourists following his every word and footstep.

Cameron is now seeing a therapist to work through his problems. To discover the ‘why’ behind the incident, and to get his life back on track. The therapist, Jeremy, coaxes Cameron to keep a journal detailing all the events in his life that led up to what happened. It is through this journal that the reader meets teenage Cameron. He has just left his home in Scotland to go to university in Lancaster, England. There is meets three friends that will shape the course of his life. 

Bex (Rebecca Stone), is a vibrant, strong, opinionated girl who is fierce in her beliefs and her loyalties. He loves her and is intimidated by her in equal measure.  Tommo (Ptolemy Dulac), a lanky, skanky rock musician who is alienated from his rich parents. Tommo is the popular guy, the guy who Cameron is least likely to befriend. And finally, Christie, a Canadian student who has the beauty and brains to take her far…

“And that would become the pattern of our relationship: Tommo taking me for granted, me being both flattered and annoyed.” “I felt privileged, I suppose, to be allowed into the Inner Circle of Coolness, nerd-boy that I was.”

The narrative skips from present day back to 1986 as Cameron relates the events leading up to his present circumstances.

“Myrtle believes herself to be a much bigger and less ridiculous-looking dog than she actually is.”

Back in Edinburgh, and the present day, Cameron attempts to deal with his situation aided by his loyal Dad and his father’s mouthy dachshund dog, Myrtle.

“Myrtle sits on my foot. She’s the weight of a small dinosaur rather than a ridiculous stumpy-legged, wee-and-poo machine.”

“Dad has been trying to get me to eat porridge all my life. I hate porridge. It makes me gag. This can be emasculating for a Scot.”

As Cameron awaits the verdict of the investigation his thoughts travel back in time to that fateful year, 1986.

“One act of recklessness, one ill-formed decision, can echo down the years.”

I always marvel when an author chooses to write a story with a protagonist of the opposite sex. It must be quite a challenge. Sophie Duffy has met this challenge with aplomb.

The novel is laced with humour, which I enjoyed tremendously. The characters were fully developed and believable. The settings were described with skill and obvious first-hand knowledge.

I’ll confess, the thing about this novel that I didn’t care for were the use of footnotes. To me they seemed surplus to requirements. Surely someone writing a journal would not use them? Also, they were not at the end of the page, but at the end of the chapter. This meant that you had often forgotten what the footnotes referred to by the time you got to them…

This is a novel about friendship, about a life-altering event, but mostly it is about guilt. Corrosive, devastating guilt. It is literary fiction that strives to make a point and succeeds. A novel that takes the often dour aspects of life and finds the humour hidden within. A novel with an ending that ties up the novel in a satisfactory way.

I very much enjoyed this book and will gladly read other work by this talented author.

I received a complimentary digital copy of “Bright Stars” from Legend Press via NetGalley in consideration of a review which I was only too happy to provide.Sophie Duffy is a Devon girl and currently lives in Dawlish, the seaside town with a railway train that tends to fall into the sea. She has three grown-up children who have partly fled the nest and is often to be found up the lanes dragged by two Tibetan Terriers. She’s had many jobs over the years, including working in Greenwich dole office and pounding the streets as an Avon lady, before becoming a teacher. She took a creative writing evening class which led to an MA which she did at Lancaster University by distance learning from 2002-2004. She got the writing bug and fell in love with the novel. To date she has written four books which have been well received.

Follow Sophie Duffy on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Literary fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hello December (Fictionophile updates & November’s #bookhaul)

During the month of November I added NINE titles to my TBR
3 purchases + 6 review commitments

I received 3 titles from NetGalley in November

River Bodies” by Karen Katchur

Blurb: A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.
The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca’s quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface – memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.
In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life – or end it.

I was pre-approved for this title from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley


For the Missing” by Lina Bengtsdotter

The award-winning, global bestselling Swedish crime debut about a missing girl, and the detective who must return home and confront her darkest secrets in order to find her.

I was approved for this title from Orion Publishing via NetGalley


The Widows” by Jess Montgomery

Inspired by the true story of Ohio’s first female sheriff, this is a powerful debut about two women’s search for justice as they take on the corruption at the heart of their community.

I received this title from St. Martins/Minotaur to facilitate a TLC Book Tour on January 24th


I received 2 titles from Edelweiss in November

The Suspect” by Fiona Barton

Blurb: When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth–and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.
As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…

I was pre-approved for this title from Berkley Books via Edelweiss


The Birds that Stay” by Ann Lambert

Blurb: In a small village in the Laurentians north of Montreal, a reclusive older woman is found strangled and frozen outside her home. Roméo Leduc, the enigmatic Chief Inspector for Homicide, is one day away from his first vacation in years, and reluctantly answers the call on the case. Roméo suspects a local biker gang is involved in what appears to be a robbery gone awry—or was the old woman a victim of a violent hate crime?

Marie Russell, a 58-year old writer and divorced mother of two, lives next door to the victim. Marie becomes an inadvertent detective when her mother, suffering from dementia, offers a startling clue that links the woman’s murder to a terrible incident that happened on Marie’s suburban Montreal street in the 1970’s. Together, Marie and Roméo discover that the murder goes even further back, to another crime during the darkest days in Hungary at the end of WWII. As they combine wits to find the killer, they are forced to face demons from their own pasts as they confront a cast of characters from the Quebec of yesterday and today; where no one and nothing is really as it seems.

I was pre-approved for this title from Second Story Press via Edelweiss


I received one title directly from the publisher, Head of Zeus

Forget my Name” by J.S. Monroe

Blurb: How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?
You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.
Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.
One of them is lying.


So… that’s it!  SIX more review commitments!

And, last but not least, I purchased 3 Kindle titles from Amazon.ca

Love you Gone” by Rona Halsall

published by Bookouture and only $1.99 in Kindle format.


His First Lie” by Mark Hill

previously published under the title:
“The Two-O’Clock Boy”.

Published by Sphere and only $1.99 in Kindle format.


Wildfell” by London Clarke

published by Carfax Abbey Publishing and only $1.30 in Kindle format


I’m delighted to report that there are now 3.016 people following this blog! A huge milestone reached in November and I’m very grateful to everyone.

My Goodreads Challenge is on track

♥♥♥ Wishing everyone a joyous December ♥♥♥

 

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 26 Comments

Who Is The Most Instagrammed Writer Of All Time?

Guest post and Infographic by Rebecca Armstrong

It’s pretty clear that social media has taken over the world, with people constantly sharing updates about their lives, their interests, and hobbies. And those interests definitely include reading!

Whilst we might think of networks like Instagram as more typically associated with selfies, fashion, celebrities, and travel, hashtags related to books and reading are actually incredibly popular. Bibliophiles are using hashtags like #books, #bookstagram, and #booknerd to share their love of reading with the world, and these hashtags have been used millions of time across the network. #Books alone has been used to tag close to 30 million posts, for everything from impressive bookshelves to inspirational literary quotes from a favourite author.

McGowan Transcriptions decided to explore this trend more closely to find out which writers are ‘gone but not forgotten’ in the age of social media. They’ve conducted their own study looking at which writers are the most frequently mentioned on Instagram. They have compared tagged posts for 27 classic authors, poets, and playwrights, and have analysed Google Trends data for the top five to determine which events and anniversaries cause search interest to rise and fall.

Take a look at the infographic below to see the full results of the research!

Posted in Guest post, infographics, Social networks | Tagged | 17 Comments

“Lies that Poison” by Amanda Fleet

Set on the outskirts of a quaint Yorkshire hamlet, this novel reads like a ‘cozy mystery’ at the beginning… but don’t be fooled.

Tom Bowman is a professional baker who has just moved to the area. He has purchased the middle cottage of three that lay situated on the edge of the village. He has just had a new second kitchen installed in which he plans to teach cooking/baking classes. A Michelin star chef, he has traded the stresses of his career for a more relaxed pace after an industrial accident and a relationship break-up.

As he is settling in to his new home, he meets his two neighbours. A young woman lives on one side of him, in the smallest cottage. Alys Peirson is rather prickly in nature, very secretive about her life, is an eccentric dresser and is very, very, thin. She tells him that she works at a co-op store a few days a week and spends the rest of her time tending to her chickens and making silk corsages to sell online. Alys seems to have had a troubled past which has left her with few financial resources and  little self-esteem.

On the other side of Tom is his second neighbour, Hannah Wilson. She is very elderly and apparently suffers from dementia. She often mistakes Tom for another man (long dead) called Edward Farley.  Tom takes her loaves of freshly baked bread and cakes when he drops in to see her. He worries that this vulnerable old woman lives alone, so he tries to check up on her frequently.

“The past was too crowded for both of them to stay there.”

As time goes on, Tom builds up his business and finds himself falling for the aloof and enigmatic Alys. Their relationship grows very slowly with much trepidation on both their parts. Meanwhile, the elderly Hannah warns Tom to stay away from Alys. She vehemently swears that Alys is a ‘poisoner’ who has killed several people in the past. Alys, on the other hand shares Hannah’s dislike and calls the older woman a “bitter, malicious, nasty piece of work.”

Who is Tom to believe? The woman he has grown to love, or a demented elderly lady?

The three neighbours are all very, very, lonely people. What lengths will they go to keep their loneliness at bay?

Is the poison of the title actual poison? OR, is it the type of poison that lies can inflict upon a person’s reputation and their life?

Then Hannah shows Tom a file she has compiled about Alys and the other names she has gone by in the past…

The cover features the byline “A gripping psychological thriller full of twists“. For that reason I was completely surprised when I began reading. It didn’t seem like a thriller at all. At first it reads like a cozy mystery, then later it leans toward a woman’s fiction type romance, then finally it turns the suspense up and you begin to think perhaps the byline was accurate after all…

The protagonist, Tom Bowman, was a very nice man. If anything he was too nice, with no discernible faults at all. I wish he lived next door to me. Alys Pierson was very enigmatic. The reader doesn’t know whether the woman is just damaged from a traumatic past, or, as the elderly neighbour suggests, that she is ‘evil’ and just hides it well.  Hannah Wilson, though likable, goes from demented thoughts back to lucidity several times per day.  She is a woman whose word you really cannot trust for that reason alone.

The setting was well described and I could imagine living in the remote Yorkshire hamlet. The writing was compelling and the characters well wrought. If I had to classify this novel it would be a blend of three equal parts:  thriller/cozy mystery/ romantic suspense.

The ending did have a plot twist, though due to my own personal skepticism, one which I guessed in advance.  This did not mar my enjoyment of the novel at all. In fact I would heartily recommend it and look forward to more books by this author.

I received a complimentary digital copy of “Lies that Poison” from Joffe Books via NetGalley in consideration of a review.Amanda Fleet is a physiologist by training and a writer at heart. She spent 18 years teaching science and medicine undergraduates at St Andrews University, but now uses her knowledge to work out how to kill people (in her books!). She completed her first degree at St Andrews University and her doctorate at University College, London.

She has been an inveterate stationery addict since a child, amassing a considerable stash of fountain pens, ink and notebooks during her lifetime. These have thankfully come in useful, as she tends to write rather than type, at least in the early stages of writing a book.

During her time at St Andrews, she was involved with two Scottish Government funded projects, working with the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi. While in Malawi, she learned about the plight of the many street children there and helped to set up a Community Based Organisation that works with homeless Malawian children to support them through education and training – Chimwemwe Children’s Centre. It was this experience that helped to shape the Malawian aspects in her first novel, The Wrong Kind of Clouds.

Amanda lives in Scotland with her husband, where she can be found writing, walking and running.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, romantic suspense | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Police procedural series I want to start – Part 1

What am I like???  There are SO many wonderful and compelling series that I’ve already begun which I want to finish, SO many that I’m dying to pursue, WHY would I want to start more? It is a terminal sickness. I can’t help myself. Police procedurals, particularly those set in the United Kingdom, are probably my favourite type of read.

I’m on Goodreads everyday. I read other blogs everyday. How can I NOT be tempted to start more?  For my first post in what could easily be a new blog series (Ha-Ha) I’ve listed the information on FIVE British Police Procedural series that I’m eager to start. Perhaps they’ll tempt you too?  If you’ve read any of these and can recommend them, I’ve included a poll at the bottom of the post so you can vote which I should read first out of these five.

So which is it to be?  Please vote below to share your opinion on which series I should read first.


 

Posted in 1st in series, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

“Our House” by Louise Candlish

Louise Candlish has taken domestic noir to new and disturbing heights!

We have all, at one time or another, misplaced our wallets, or had them stolen. We can all relate to the period of panic that that type of experience generates. Imagine then… what if someone stole your house???

We begin “Our House” with Fiona Lawson arriving home to find another couple moving in to HER house.  They say they’ve bought it!  Her distress, panic, hurt, and confusion is palpable. The house, located in a desirable area of London is worth more than two million pounds. With investigation, the sale is proven to be legal with estate agents and lawyers involved.

To Fi’s knowledge it was never for sale so how could this other couple own it? Where are all of her possessions? the furniture, clothing and children’s toys etc.? She loves her house. It is home to her and her two young sons.

Due to an act of adultery her husband Bram only lives at the house on weekends. The couple decided it would be best for the boys if they adopted what is called ‘bird’s nest’ custody. The boys staying in the house while the parents take turns living there with them. The idea is that this will be a less disturbing and more stable environment for the children. Their co-parenting seems to be working out well.

Yet now, when Fi needs him most, Bram is nowhere to be found. His phone seems to be turned off. No one has seen him. Left in an unimaginable predicament, Fi struggles to come to terms with this profound traumatic event.

“A marital atrocity so heinous it made adultery seem like charity…”

The days and weeks following this trauma show Fi participating in a podcast called “the Victim” in which her story is told from her point of view.  Understandably, she finds it almost impossible to get her head around the fact that her husband has betrayed her in this horrific way.

“just another unforgivable man”

Meanwhile, the reader is also privy to her husband Bram’s point of view. Filled with wrenching guilt he admits to his devastating betrayal of his family. He was driven to this betrayal by blackmail – his feeling of being trapped and terrorized culminates in depression, panic attacks, and ultimately…heartbreak.

As the reader realizes just what Bram did, and how events transpired to lead him to this point makes for a compelling story. A culmination of bad choices, indiscretions, and yes, even criminal acts, all added up to be more than one person could live with.

After the podcast, Fiona’s story is far from over. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, the author throws a few curve-balls your way.  Plot twists make you wonder just what more could possibly happen to this fractured family. Then, at the very end of the book, there is yet another twist that will chill you to the core.

This is my first Louise Candlish novel.  WOW!  What just happened?

This author is a master at portraying the devious side to human nature, as well as the profound weaknesses and strengths.  I thought I ‘should‘ be on Fiona’s side in the conflict, yet the author’s talented writing had me actually rooting for Bram at least half of the time.  He was a weak, weak, man. Charming but weak. You almost wanted to mother him. He completely takes responsibility for the tragic turn his life has taken. He knows that what he has done to Fiona and his two beloved boys is all down to him.

While reading this novel I felt a deep sense of unease, some might call it foreboding.

Many thriller novels come with the warnings that they contain plot twists. This one has the best twists I’ve read since reading Clare Mackintosh’s “I let you go“.  This is a thriller that checks ALL the boxes for me.  A very clever plot, characterization, setting, writing…. Kudos to Louise Candlish for making me a huge fan with just one novel.  I will definitely seek out her other work with relish. Highly recommended to everyone who has ever enjoyed reading thrillers of the ‘domestic noir’ variety.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Berkley Publishing/Penguin via NetGalley in consideration of a review which I was only too happy to provide.Louise Candlish was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband and daughter. She is the author of twelve novels.
Besides books, the things Louise likes best are: coffee; TV; cats and dogs; salted caramel; France (especially the Ile de Re); Italy (especially Sicily); tennis; soup; Vanity Fair magazine; ‘Book at Bedtime’; lasagne; heavy metal; ‘The Archers’; driving towards the sea (but not into it); anything at the Royal Opera House; white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar).

Follow Louise Candlish on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Recommended by Book Bloggers… Part 1

I am constantly adding to my TBR.

The reason for this?

BOOK BLOGGERS!

As the recipient of a lot of book blogger support, I try to repay in kind by visiting other book blogger’s blogs. Over the years I’ve naturally found some that I favour over others. Invariably, these are bloggers who have reading tastes similar to my own. So when a blogger whom I respect and admire praises a title highly –  it tempts me to add these titles to my own TBR.  It happens so frequently that I added a Goodreads Shelf that I called ‘Blogger recommendations‘.

As of today, this is what this Goodreads Shelf looks like:

If I listed all 152, this post would be way too long for anyone to be interested in reading. As a result, I’ve decided to list TEN of these recommendations that I hope to read sooner rather than later because most of these are backlist titles. Here goes…  Maybe you’ll want to add these to YOUR TBR as well.












As you can see, all of these novels have excellent Goodreads ratings.  Why not add one or two to YOUR TBR today? I’d love to know if any of these titles appeal to you.  Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Choosing what to read next | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Breaking down writer’s block: an infographic

I know that in addition to readers and bookbloggers, some of my followers are authors or aspiring to be authors. Therefore, when approached by Freewrite to post this infographic on Fictionophile, I readily agreed. The following is a guest post written by Freewrite’s Community Relations Manager, Jeff Oxford.Understanding Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can happen to anyone and at any time. While there are people claiming that this is just an excuse for the laziness to write, writer’s block is very much real and really leaves you in a creative slump. And different writers have different ways to overcome it.

But what exactly happens when you have writer’s block?

For some people, writing becomes impossible. They’d sit down in front of their laptops and try to get a sentence running but end up with a blank screen. But there are also those who still can produce some work while using a distraction-free typewriter—but it’s work that either doesn’t showcase their best abilities or is simply not good enough.

If you’re new to writing and haven’t experienced this yet, you’re in luck. However, it’s best to know what you may be in for should this psychological inhibition were to ever affect your writing flow. Otherwise, you may find yourself at a loss and unable to get out of the creative drought that stops all your productivity at work.

Understanding what could cause writer’s block is one thing but being able to identify the symptoms to it is of utmost importance as well. You may simply be distracted and unable to focus, feel like you lack inspiration, or draw a blank when trying to come up with a catchy sentence—or experience all these at the same time and not know that you’re already experiencing writer’s block.

So how can you overcome it? Find out how with this informative infographic, and if you should happen to be plagued by this curse called writer’s block, may your muse return to you soon.

Posted in infographics, Writing | Tagged | 10 Comments

So Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American blog friends.

Although Thanksgiving in Canada was last month, I have something to be very thankful for today.  Fictionophile has just met a huge milestone!

I wish to extend a huge thank-you to all my followers and blogging friends and wish everyone Happy Thanksgiving AND Happy Reading.

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged | 46 Comments