“The things we keep” by Sally Hepworth – Book Review

“I like it when people remember that I’m a person, not just a person with Alzheimer’s.”

Anna Forster, a vibrant woman in her mid thirties who works as a paramedic, rides motorcycles, and loves life, is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She enlists the aid of her twin brother Jack to install her in to ‘Rosalind House’, a private assisted living facility. It is a large Georgian house which houses twelve residents and various staff. Ten of the twelve are geriatric. Anna and another man named Luke are still young. Both Luke and Anna are fighting the battle of their lives. It would only stand to reason that under these circumstances they become more than friends.

Eve Bennett had it all. A loving husband, a beautiful daughter, loads of money and a gorgeous house. Then, one tragic day she discovered that her husband had orchestrated a Ponzi scheme. They lost everything – it was more than he could deal with…

Now Eve is a single mother, living with her daughter in a very modest one bedroom apartment. She applies for a job as a cook at Rosalind House because it will enable her to keep her daughter Clementine in the school where all her friends go.

Eve, a gourmet cook, is hired not only to cook, but to clean up after the residents. It is a mighty step-down from her former life. Her friends don’t want anything to do with her. Some of them lost their money via her husband’s Ponzi scheme. Some are just to snobbish to associate with her since her fall from grace.

Clementine Bennett, aged seven, is trying to deal with her Daddy’s death, her reduced circumstances, and the teasing and taunting of her friends.  She goes to Rosalind House with her mother before school and again after school. The residents enjoy her presence. She shows them her Irish dance and sings for them. Her youthful innocence and questions are a welcome change from the sameness of their existence.

I’ve had this book on my TBR for quite some time. I guess I knew it would be a difficult read and I was hesitant to put myself through the heartbreak.  It IS hard to read, I mean, how could it not be? The story is about a woman in her late thirties who has early onset Alzheimer’s.  A woman of that age living in an assisted living facility with geriatric patients is a fate that causes me to weep. I’m almost three decades older than Anna’s character and I would find the situation abhorrent, even for someone my age.

The story of the deceived single mother, Eve Bennett also tugged at my heart-strings. And Clementine Bennett was a delight.

The writing was skillful. The situation tragic and all too believable. Believe me – more than one tissue was required in the reading of this novel.

The title fit the book perfectly as is evidenced by this quote: “When you get to my age, you don’t waste time with regrets. In the end, you just remember the moments of joy. When all is said and done those are the things we keep.”

It is a novel that teaches you to find joy even when situations seem horrendous and insurmountable.

This novel broke my heart – and healed it simultaneously. A wonderful love story that is a also a prime example of fine women’s fiction. Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Love stories, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

12 common confusing words – an infographic

My love of the English language knows no bounds. That being said, it can pose some formidable challenges at times.

Below is an infographic from GrammarCheck.net that lists some of the most challenging word usage hurdles.  The one I’m most guilty of committing is #4 on the list: anymore vs. any more.

Are you guilty of any of these mistakes?

Which one is the most problematic for you?

 

Posted in infographics, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

“The Easter Make Believers” by Finn Bell – Book Review

Tobe White is a forty+ year veteran of the police force. He accepts the bad and the good inherent in human nature with a placid, philosophical approach. He lives with his octogenarian mother who is a retired psychiatry professor.

Nick Cooper is in his mid-thirties and works with a less positive outlook than his senior partner. He is often anxious and has a profound caffeine addiction. He is in love with an elementary school teacher who refuses to marry him on the grounds that he is a policeman like her father was – and that is not the life she wants.

Together, Nick and Tobe work for the Gang Intelligence Centre for the Southern New Zealand Police which deals with gang-related organized crime.

When they are called out to a hostage situation, it is highly unusual for them. This anomaly is the beginning of a case which will turn out to be life-changing for them both.

“Too much hope can make you stupid.”

Why were SO many gang members all in the home of a respected and law-abiding Chinese family?

“I wonder how the biggest killing of gang members in the south happens without us knowing a thing? When it’s our job to know. How come we have nothing? Not who, not how or even a vague, general clue as to why.”

The hostage situation rapidly deteriorates when the house explodes… the wife is shot, and the father is kidnapped by one of the gang members.

Then, the biggest blizzard New Zealand has experienced hits the area…

A police procedural that is uniquely different. Why? Well for starters, the detectives are so vastly different and the author waxes philosophical through their characters. Fundamental philosophies about honesty, integrity, parents, children, crime, hope, evil, and justice.

The relationship between the two detectives was a joy to read.

“Morality is not the doctrine of how we make ourselves happy, but how we make ourselves worthy of happiness.”

The setting is the area of New Zealand near the Glendhu Forest. It is Easter weekend in the end of March, so just at the very beginning of their winter season.

The title seemed so bizarre for a novel about gangs and police. However, when you read the book, you’ll find that the title is PERFECT.

As is the case of many thrillers, this one has a plot twist. This one really surprised me, but made perfect sense and was not far-fetched.

This is my first read by Finn Bell, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel directly from the author almost two years ago. My apologies for only getting to it now. My honest review is my way of saying thanks. Finn Bell won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel (for ‘Dead Lemons’). I have added “Dead Lemons” to my TBR.

Visit award-winning Finn Bell’s website.

Finn Bell on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

April 2019 #TBR – a plan

(as is my usual custom I have linked the cover graphic to Goodreads so that you might learn more about the book)

I read twelve novels in March, so I thought I’d attempt to read eleven April. Here are my choices for this month:

an older NetGalley title

an older Edelweiss title

my own hardcover book which I’m reading for my A-Z of those I own challenge

A new Edelweiss title which had a 21 day time limit

an old NetGalley title

a book I’m reading for a Blackbird Digital Books tour

a new NetGalley title

my own ebook which I’m reading for my Marsons Of The Month challenge

a really old NetGalley title

a title I received directly from Bonnier Zaffre

a fairly recent Edelweiss title with time limit attached

Wish me luck!  I’m going to need it.  It should be interesting reading a ‘REAL’ book again. The last 200+ books I’ve read on my Kindle… But I just had to bite the bullet. I pledged my A-Z Challenge way, way back in December of 2017 and I’m only reading the A book now… Sad, I know.

Posted in Anticipated titles, Choosing what to read next | Tagged | 22 Comments

Hello April (Fictionophile updates & March #bookhaul)

I am inordinately proud of myself that I read twelve books and blogged 28 times in March! I know this pace will not continue once the good weather kicks in and the temperatures lure me outside.

Twelve titles I read in March


I took part in Reading Ireland Month again this year and read SEVEN titles that were either written by Irish authors or were set in Ireland.

I read the second winner of my Police Procedural series poll.  It was an amazing beginning to a series I definitely want to pursue – “Perfect Remains” by Helen Fields.  This polling lark has been so successful for me the first two times that I created a 3rd poll.  The winner this time was not so clear cut as the first two polls. It was a close race, but “Holy Island” by L.J. Ross was the winner. I will be reading this title in June.

As usual, just click on the covers to go to Goodreads to read more about the title.

I received FOUR titles from NetGalley in March:

I LOVE Backman SO much that I requested this title from Atria and was, thankfully, approved.

I was auto-approved by Severn House

I received a publisher’s widget from Lake Union Publishing

a ‘Read Now’ title from Joffe Books

I received FIVE titles from Edelweiss in March:

I was pre-approved for this titles from Berkley

I was pre-approved for this title from G.P. Putnam’s Sons

William Morrow approved my request for this one

I was pre-approved for this title from Dutton

William Morrow approved my request for this title (which expires in 21 days! Gulp!)

Even though I added nine titles to my review commitments, I also purchased 7 Kindle titles in February.  I’ve put the price I paid underneath the graphic. Just click on the cover to find out more on Goodreads.  Total price for seven books = $ 16.72  This is excellent because I got a $25.00 Amazon gift card for my birthday so I still have money to spend!

$1.99

$3.99

$ .99

$2.99

$3.78

$ .99

$1.99

All bookish (and not so bookish) comments welcome.

Hope April is not too rainy where you are – unless you like to curl up
with a good book on a rainy day. LOL

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 36 Comments

“Lost Girls” by Angela Marsons – Book Review #MarsonsOfTheMonth

For some time now I have noticed that the D.I. Kim Stone series has been highly praised by my fellow book bloggers. Therefore, I decided that despite my lengthy TBR, I would read the series in its entirety, one title every month. What a wise decision I made!

D.I. Kim Stone – An acerbic, brusque, and driven young woman who works as a Detective Inspector for the West Midlands Police, the second largest police force in the country.  She is socially inept, and has been known to break the rules, as well as to disregard instructions and protocols in her search for justice. An insomniac, she is fueled by nervous energy and lots of coffee, and is beautiful, but she works hard to hide it. She is 34 years old, brilliant, hot-headed, and damaged.  As a child, she suffered horribly, and was shunted from foster home to foster home. Only once did she experience a nurturing, loving relationship – and that was very short lived….  Now, when not working, her favourite thing to do is work at restoring vintage motorbikes. Bikes are her passion, and she uses a Kawasaki Ninja as her regular form of transport.

 

Other than her second in command, Bryant, she is friendless. Her one real weakness is her fondness for her adopted dog, Barney. Her two nemeses are cooking (which she is spectacularly bad at), and a local journalist by the name of Tracy Frost.

 


Police team

  • D.S. Bryant, twelve years her senior, is Kim’s partner and dearest friend. He is married and the father of daughters.
  • D.S. Kevin Dawson, a good copper, but young, vain, and not yet mature.
  • Constable Stacy Wood, a diligent and hard-working local girl.

D.C.I. Woodward (Woody) is Kim’s long-suffering superior. Like the rest of her team, he is loyal and stands up for her when the higher-ups would have her removed from the case. Kim gives him lots of reason to use his stress ball.


In DI Kim Stone’s third outing we find her and her team working a child abduction case. Two nine-year-old girls have been taken after their swimming lesson at a leisure centre. Kim and her team work under the enforcement of a media blackout. They use one of the wealthy parents’ home for their command post, commandeering the dining room for the purpose. They are joined by a hostage negotiator and a criminal profiler. Six people working in one room under almost intolerable pressure…  To make matters worse, the negotiator, Matt Ward, is equally as infuriating, emotionless, and driven as Kim herself.

This case is made even more difficult by the fact that the choice of the girls appears to be random, and based on a newspaper article in which a photo of the two girls was featured in addition to information about their wealthy parents.

The case bears uncanny similarities to another case thirteen months previous, in which only one girl came home…

This third novel in the series has a rather dark and grim cover which alerts the reader to the fact that once again there is some very graphic violence, so the squeamish readers should probably give this series a pass.

This was another stellar installment in what is fast becoming a favourite crime series. The only quibble I had with the novel was that the villians, one in particular (Symes), was just SO inhumane that he was almost unbelievable. If I believed anyone was that bad, I would lose faith in my fellow man altogether.

The criminal mastermind of this case, once revealed, really surprised me. I hadn’t suspected a thing…. Were there clues?  Kim Stone’s brain is much more advanced than my own.

By the time I finished this third novel in the series, I was left with the feeling once again that I wanted MORE Kim Stone. Lucky for me I purchased the entire series in order that I might read one installment every month for my “Marsons of the Month” blog series.  I look forward to reading the fourth book, “Play Dead” in April.  Oh, and in case you didn’t already guess… “Lost Girls” is highly recommended by me.

I purchased “Lost Girls” in Kindle format.

Angela Marsons discovered her love of writing at Primary School. She wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner, she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries. She self-published two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
After many, many submissions she signed an eight book deal with Bookouture as their first crime author. Her D.I. Kim Stone novels have sold 3 million copies.

Angela Marsons is from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands and is a former security guard at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. She continues to live in the Black Country with her partner and their bouncy Labrador and potty-mouthed parrot.

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Cover Love: part 71 – Bluffs

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 71st installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that have bluffs on their covers.  If I had my choice of ideal home location, it would be on a steep bluff overlooking the Atlantic ocean. For that reason, I am always personally attracted to book covers that feature bluffs. And if it is a house on a bluff, then I’m sure to check it out.

These seem to encompass a wide variety of genres.  Enjoy!

I read four of these and most of the rest 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.

And don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 70 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 15 Comments

Throwback Thursday – “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin – Book Review

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favorites. This week I’m showcasing a novel that I read over five years ago. “The storied life of A.J. Fikry” was a title that I got from my local library. It was, for me, a FIVE STAR read.


What a gem!  A little book with a big heart.  It grabbed me right away.  I didn’t want to put it down because that would mean it was over…. I even read the acknowledgments to prolong the inevitable when I would have to let it go.  “The storied life of A.J. Fikry” did everything a work of fiction aspires to do.  It made me think, it made me laugh, it made me weep."The storied life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin

This is the simple story (in that all lives are simple – yet vastly complicated at the same time) of bookstore owner A. J. Fikry who resides on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts.  When we meet him he is a widower whose raw grief over the loss of his wife is ruining his life.  He drinks to excess, alone.

Then one day – while drinking – he decides to take out his prized possession.  An invaluable copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Tamerlane’.  He is so drunk he gets sick and passes out.  When he awakes the next morning his rare book is missing!  Also, suspiciously… his kitchen has been cleaned up.  He reports the theft to the police.   Since he now feels that he owns nothing of any real value, he begins to leave his door open when he goes out.  One day he returns to his bookstore to find that someone has left a baby.  The little girl is accompanied only by a brief note and a stuffed Elmo.

This abandoned child will come to forever change A.J.’s life.  Maya is a charming, intelligent, beautiful and oh so precocious girl.  He lovingly calls her his ‘little nerd’.

Another person who will rock his world is Amelie, a publishing sales representative.  When first they meet he is bitter and still grieving his wife.  He make a less than positive impression.  Despite the rough start, over the years, their friendship develops into something more.

A.J. Fikry, his family and friends, have left an indelible mark on this reader’s soul.   A.J. Fikry believes you know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?   Well A.J.  I think your story is mine.   A love letter to the world of books, booksellers, and life in general.  Filled with quotes and wisdoms that will delight every person who considers themselves to be a bibliophile, Gabrielle Zevin‘s novel will set the bar for other novels.

I completely agree with the publisher’s statement that the novel is  “an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.”

Can’t recommend it enough…

Published by Viking Books in Canada / Algonquin Books in the U.S.A. here are the three different covers of this book

F 5 star


Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Older female protagonists

Earlier this month I published a post in praise of older male protagonists.

Because March is Women’s History Month, I thought it only fitting that I also publish a post in praise of older FEMALE protagonists.

After all, old ladies DO have a lot of history. LOL

The cover graphic will take you to the Goodreads site for the book .

Starting with the four I’ve already read:

Followed by the ones patiently waiting on my TBR:

Which of these titles have YOU read?

Please share in the comments.

 

YOU GO GIRLS!

Posted in Women's fiction | Tagged , | 35 Comments

“From a Low and Quiet Sea” by Donal Ryan – Book Review

Part I- Farouk

The war is Syria has escalated and finally reached the town where Farouk, a doctor, and his wife Martha, a biologist, and their young daughter live. When a boy is crucified in public, this serves as a catalyst for Farouk to seek escape from the war’s horrors. He pays a man well to aid him in his departure from Syria. The man though is corrupt. After a dreadful journey he finds himself alone in a tent. A tent among many in a refugee camp. He assumes that Martha and Amira are somewhere else in the vast camp. His hope keeps him going… to believe anything else would kill him. Denial is how he survives.

Part II- Lampy

Lampy is twenty-three years old and lives with his mother Florence, and grandfather in a small town in Ireland. He works at a nursing home, changing beds, cleaning, and sometimes driving the residents to their appointments on the bus. He feels trapped in a life he didn’t plan.

Lampy is set to a day of driving the bus, but his mind is on the things that a young man would think of. What he will do after work, if his girl will let him have sex with her, if he has enough petrol in his car… Lampy is a sad young man. He has always been thus. He also entertains thoughts of driving the bus over a bridge…

Part III – John
“My father lost his first and best-loved son and shortly after started buying land. As though to allow accommodation for the breadth and expanse of his sorrow.”

John is not a likable man. He learned from a young age how his circumstances could be manipulated with lies. He knows that if a lie is told often enough, it will eventually become truth. He became a lobbyist and put his skills of manipulation and persuasion to use for himself.

Now old, John is making his first true confession in decades, perhaps his entire life…


Part IV – Lampy discovers a terrible oversight. When you learn what that is and who the people are who are involved, your breath will catch at the tragedy of it all..

Although the cover clearly states that this is a novel, it doesn’t really read like one. It is comprised of four distinct parts.  Three separate stories, with a fourth story tying them together to make one cohesive whole.

“Armoured they came from the east, From a low and quiet sea. We were a naked rabble, throwing stones; They laughed, and slaughtered us.”

The title is very fitting when you read the above lines. The entire book was about people who were defenseless against their fate. Thrown about life like flotsam on a beach.

The fourth and final part of the book ties the disparate stories together in a profound way. A way that made my breath catch.

The writing was skillful and the prose almost beautiful in parts. Imagery was crisp, and characterization strong. “From a low and quiet sea” was sad, but very compelling literary fiction. In summation, a very worthwhile read which I would definitely recommend. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Penguin Books via Edelweiss.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Literary fiction, Reading Ireland | Tagged , | 9 Comments

“The Rebels: and other short fiction” by Richard Power – Book Review

“A beautifully crafted collection that reflects the best of the Irish short story tradition.”

The stories

The Rebels – It was a time when corporal punishment and segregation in Irish schools was the norm. A time when schoolboys brought a turf to school to keep the schoolroom warm during damp, frigid winter days.

But some of the boys were rebellious…


Saving the Bacon – “Being the owners of a pig gave us a certain prestige at school. We were men of property, even if the property had to be fed twice a day.”

When the pig belonging to two brothers becomes sickly, they decide to hold a card game raffle in the hopes that they will recoup something…


The Threshold – A young Irish Catholic boy learns that a man he has befriended on the beach is going to die. It is his first experience of death. He fears for the soul of his friend who was not always a ‘good’ Catholic and he learns that his friend had deceived him.


Peasants – The tale of an Irish cattle drover bringing his herd to the town for market – only to find that the gate is locked and a new tariff of a shilling per head of cattle is now being enforced.


The Letter – An eighteen year old Irish man receives a letter from a girl. He wants to open it somewhere private. He bicycles out to the sea wall near the red lighthouse and goes for a swim in the bay. He ponders whether the girl will have responded positively to his own letter to her in which he laid his soul bare.

He procrastinates opening the letter as he chats to the older man enjoying the warm Irish Sunday afternoon.


Summer Evening – Irish teenage reservists escape their dreary day-to-day lives and go skinny-dipping one summer evening. Afterwards, they go to the Town Hall for a local dance and discuss their experiences with the girls there.


Deór na hAithri – This story earned the author his first literary prize. This story is the Irish translation of  ‘The Tears of Prayer” which is featured next in this collection.  Needless to say, I didn’t read this Irish language version as I am unable to read Gaelic.


The Tears of Prayer – An impoverished Irish woman pines for her husband who has abandoned the family. Meanwhile she resents having to resort to the charity of the ‘Vincent‘ man, and is struggling to cope her many children.


Republicans – Jackie Dempsey’s obituary is in the paper. People from all walks of life attended the Catholic funeral. Though many attended, Jack Dempsey was mourned by few.


Neighbors – Michael and Margaret are a young couple living in a one room Dublin flat. They are poor but happy. The noise of the city and their many friends fills their room. Then, their circumstances improve and they purchase a bungalow outside the city.  Michael realizes that with prosperity comes mortgage payments, responsibilities, tinkers for neighbors, and…. silence.


A Pilgrim – A lone tinker meets two men who have just come from Lough Derg, the penance island. He is intrigued by their time there so decides to visit it himself. He leaves his tent, his donkey, and all of his worldly possessions and hitchhikes to Lough Derg.


LAUNCHING THE CURRACH by Tony McNally

The Land of Youth – Padraig and Bairbre were once engaged to be married. Then Bairbre’s head was turned by another man and Padraig could never forgive her. They maintained a life-long feud – and that is really something when you live on a small Irish island. As they each endure a hard life, and it is nearing the end, they each see a vision. But their visions are very different…


An Outpost of Rome – A rural Irish priest plans to have a new altar installed in his parish church. He wonders if his parishioners will find the money to fund it.  Meanwhile, he invites the young city man (who wants to sell him the marble altar) to lunch at the vestry.


The Pill – Mr. and Mrs. Casey were up in Belfast overnight. Their nosy neighbours were scandalized to see a young man leave the Casey’s house at the same time the milk was delivered.  Who could have spent the night with young Siobhán Casey?
Siobhán is a canny wee girl.


Night Thoughts – A father takes his three young boys for a night of camping only to find one hurdle after another to skew his plans.
It is the first time that the four ‘men’ of the family are on their own overnight and he ruminates on how lucky he is to be a father.


The Mohair Boys, Part II – Set in Mississippi, this story tells the tale of a graduate student finishing off his thesis. The student, from Ireland, is suffering from culture shock and homesickness. He has brought his young family with him to America and it is an experience of a lifetime. (I’m sure this story is partly autobiographical, as Richard Power himself took his young family to Iowa to work on his PhD for two years.)

It seems only fitting that my latest read for this year’s Reading Ireland Month Challenge, should be written by a man so important to Ireland’s literary history.  Truth be told, I enjoyed reading the lengthy introduction (written by James MacKillop) just as much as I enjoyed the stories. The introduction is a brief biography of the author – and what a man he was! At the time of his death, he left behind his loving wife Ann and six children, aged three to thirteen. Not to mention trunks full of unpublished stories.

My favourite story from this collection was “The land of youth“. Like the small Irish island upon which it is set, it encompasses all the qualities, both good and bad, of humankind.

The stories in this collection brought the Ireland of yesteryear vividly to life. Recommended to those who appreciate Irish literature and short stories, or those who admire tales featuring a good cross section of Ireland’s citizenry.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from Syracuse University Press via Edelweiss.  This honest review is my thanks to them.

Richard Power was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1928. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and was a champion of the Irish language (he studied Irish in the Aran Islands). He worked as a civil servant. Married to Ann, and the father of six children, Power’s body of work is astounding in that he died at the very young age of 43. He wrote in both English and Irish and his work comprised of novels, poetry and screenplays. His most famous work was the novel “Hungry Grass” which had a place on the Irish best seller list.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Reading Ireland, Short stories | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“A Cold White Fear” by R.J. Harlick – Book Review

When Meg hears someone at her door during a blizzard, she is at first hesitant to let them in. She is miles from her nearest neighbour and has only a twelve-year old boy and a small puppy with her. However, her conscience overrides her trepidation when she learns that one of the two men outside is badly injured.

Shoni

She should have never let them in!!!! It turns out that they are escaped prisoners, and one of them has a gunshot wound.  They enlist her aid in trying to patch up the injured man, and threaten harm if she doesn’t comply. The uninjured man is tall with myriad snake tattoos on his neck and face. Though the obvious name for him would be Viper, the injured man calls him “The Professor” because he was once a professor at McGill University.

Phone service is out and so is the electricity. Meg sends Jid, who was outside stocking the woodpile, to go get help.

At her first opportunity, Meg puts the puppy in a backpack and escapes by snowshoe. Though it is dark and the blizzard is worsening, she wants to reach civilization and report the two men.

After trudging through the storm for ages, she encounters another man who has her young friend Jid hostage.  Of course, he is an accomplice of the two men at her house, and he insists they return there. Turns out he is one of the leaders of a notorious biker gang and that the three men escaped custody together. When they return to the house, they tie Meg to a chair…

Circumstances worsen when the blizzard sends a tree crashing into the house…

Will Meg, Jid, and Shoni survive this ordeal?

I been reading a lot of books set in the U.K. lately, so thought it was high time I read one set in my home country of Canada. Mind you, this is a Canada very different from my own. For one thing, it is set 2,500 km north of where I live. For another, it is located next door to an Algonquin community.

When I first requested this title from NetGalley, I didn’t realize it was the seventh book in the Meg Harris series, but this time I can fully assure you that it reads very well as a stand-alone novel.

The setting was very well portrayed and I could easily imagine the dreadful weather, the beautiful house, and the frightening plight that Meg Harris finds herself in.  I loved her references to the puppy, Shoni, and to the young native boy, Jid.

I grew impatient that the men were with Meg so long – yet that was the point. I’m sure Meg Harris thought the time was dragging as well. The story was suspenseful, and the ending satisfactory. Fraught with danger and suspense – and spiced with Native lore, this novel is sure to be enjoyed by many.

3.5 stars which I will be rounding up for Goodreads, NetGalley, and Amazon.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Dundurn Press via NetGalley.

R.J. Harlick’s love for Canada’s untamed wilds is the inspiration for the Meg Harris mystery series.

In her former career R.J. Harlick worked for major computer corporations such as IBM and DMR Group, then with her own management consultancy practice. She was a member of the Canadian Institute of Management Consultants and held the CMC designation.

She is an avid supporter of environmental causes and worked for several years on the board of the Ottawa Valley Chapter of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

Originally from Toronto, and an alumna of the University of Toronto, she, her husband, Jim, and poodle Sterling divide their time between living in Ottawa and West Quebec.

Follow R.J. Harlick on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Canadian fiction, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Suspense | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Mystery Writer’s of America – shortlist for Edgar Allan Poe Awards

The Mystery Writer’s of America have just released the finalists for the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards!

I was surprised to learn that this year I have only read one of the top five titles. See my review of “The Liar’s Girl” by Catherine Ryan Howard. Have you read any of them?

Posted in award winners, Mystery fiction | Tagged | 7 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = LITTLE

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.

I know there are thousands of books with the word ‘LITTLE’ in the title, but I’m featuring a small selection of titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love. Four of these titles I’ve read, most of the rest are on my 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?

If you’ve added even one of these titles to YOUR TBR,
Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 16 Comments

“The lost child” by Patricia Gibney – Book Review

I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels in Patricia Gibney’s Lottie Parker police procedural series.  They were fantastic! I’ve been meaning to read the third in the series for some time now – I’m SO glad to report that it was just as good as the first two.

Those of you who haven’t yet made the acquaintance of Lottie Parker, I’ll recap.
Lottie Parker is a Garda Síochána detective inspector who lives and works in the fictional town of Ragmullin in the Irish Midlands.

Lottie is one of those wonderful ‘flawed’ protagonists.  Four years after his death, she is still grieving for her late husband, Adam. Lottie throws herself into her work – often to the detriment of her home life with her three teenage children and newborn grandson who she loves fiercely. In her forties, Lottie has an addictive personality and she valiantly tries to stay away from booze, Xanax, and cigarettes. She doesn’t eat properly, is always tired, and her nerves are frayed. Although she is surrounded by people, both at home and at work, Lottie is very lonely.

Lottie Parker’s second in command, Mark Boyd remains loyal to Lottie at all times – though she makes it very difficult for him at times.

Annabelle O’Shea, Lottie’s physician and good friend, has horrific problems of her own. Problems that no one knows about. Problems that are hidden behind the doors of her home.


The third book finds D.I. Lottie Parker and her team investigating the murder of Tessa Ball, a retired solicitor, who was killed in the home of her middle-aged daughter, Marian Russell. Marian herself is missing. Emma, Marian’s teenage daughter is staying with a friend up the road. The case is compounded when Marian turns up at the hospital, horribly mutilated after having been obviously tortured.  Lottie instructs her team to put a watch on Emma, the teenage daughter, but Emma disappears as well…

A second narrative is set back in the 1970s. Twins are living with their abusive, drug-addled mother who sets their cottage on fire.

Simultaneously with her present heavy workload, Lottie is trying to discern what drove her policeman father to suicide when she was just four years old. She suspects that there is much more than the story she has been given – so she has been asking questions and interviewing old people in nursing homes who had once had dealings with her Dad.

Then a local journalist approaches Lottie saying he has proof of what happened back then..

In the first few chapters of this book, I was a tad impatient with Lottie Parker’s self-destructive behaviours. Then, as I got into the book, I realized that those things that I was frustrated with were the very same things that make Lottie Parker so special to me. She has an abject fear that the darkness she encounters daily in her work, will permeate into her home and put her beloved children in danger.

This is a crime novel rife with sad and tragic family histories. A novel that will challenge the Garda team to the max, and one in which Lottie will be put in physical mortal danger. In addition, it is a case that will change how Lottie views her own family history.

The way the myriad threads of the plot are woven together so succinctly, are a marvel. Clever plotting that makes sense is something I really admire.

The descriptions of the Irish locale in late October ensured that it is not the prime season for tourism. The wind and the lashing rain made the characters so soggy that even the reader needs a rain jacket.

Excellent characterization and compelling plots are the highlights of this series, and this third book is true to form. With themes of child abandonment, gruesome murders, insane asylums, corruption, and the illicit drug trade, it was an extremely difficult read at times.  I highly recommend this novel, and this series, to readers of crime fiction who are not deterred by graphic violence, and emotionally draining circumstances. I hope that not too much more time passes before I get the opportunity to read the 4th novel in this stellar series.

I purchased this book in Kindle format.

Read what the author has said about her character, Lottie Parker.

Read my review of the first title in the Lottie Parker series: “The missing ones”.

Read my review of the second title in the Lottie Parker series: “The stolen girls“.

Patricia Gibney is a widow and the mother of three children. She lives in Mullingar, Ireland. She started writing, for therapy, when her husband Aidan died.
She secured an agent in January 2016 and she joined The Irish Writers Centre. She loves reading crime thrillers. Her novels feature Lottie Parker and a host of credible characters. They are all part of her extended family, you know the kind – people you love one minute and want to kill the next!

Follow Patricia Gibney on Twitter or, visit her website.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Page turners, Reading Ireland | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments