“The secret diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1⁄4 Years Old” by Hendrik Groen

The novel opens with: “Another year, and I still don’t like old people. Their walker shuffle, their unreasonable impatience, their endless complaints, their tea and cookies, their bellyaching.  Me? I am eighty-three years old.”

Considering that the basis of this novel is the observations of an elderly man who resides in an Amsterdam nursing home, I should be a bit guilty for chuckling through most of it. I did this so much that my husband thinks that I have ‘lost the plot’.

Hilarity via truisms! In other words? A dramady.

The book, written in the form of a diary, holds acutely astute observations on what it is to be ‘old’. Rendered in a direct and simple way, without artifice, the book just works.

Hendrik, at 83 years old, is one of the youngest residents of his nursing home.  He definitely has all his wits about him, though he admits to a failing memory, but that could be true of a lot of us. Along with his wits, he has a sometimes scathing, always intelligent sense of humor.

“Of the five senses, my nose still works best. Which is not always a blessing in here. It smells of old people.”

To make the days less monotonous, and to make something of what life they have left, Hendrik and a few of his friends set up the ‘old-but-not-dead club’ aka ‘The Rebel Club’. Hendrik’s life has been a tragic one, yet, for the most part, he approaches what life he has remaining with good humour. All the more poignant because Hendrik NEVER has any visitors. His only friends live in the nursing home with him.

“Friendship is the essential ingredient for a good life.”

Hendrik’s friends in the club are all folks that I would like to meet. Especially Eefje Brand, the woman he learns to love. She brings banter and true affection back into his life – at least for a short while…

Even though Hendrik’s observations are of a Dutch care home, they are in many ways universal. People are people, wherever they live.  Nursing home issues, whether they be as mundane as the daily monotony, as base as the financial cutbacks, or as dismal as the prevalence of depression among the elderly, all resonate with elder folk everywhere.

“The older the people are, the more scared they are. At our age, surely, there’s nothing left to lose, so why not be fearless?”

Because Hendrik finds walking more and more difficult, he invests in a mobility scooter. This gives him great pleasure and a sense of freedom he had forgotten.

This is a book that resonates with me personally.  I spend a good two afternoons a week visiting my stepfather who is in just such a nursing home. I must confess I wish he were a little more like Hendrik…  Sadly, his wits are not always about him…

“Something exciting to look forward to is crucial to keep up one’s zest for life.”

I enjoyed the descriptions of Amsterdam, and I loved the tales of the excursions enjoyed by “The old but not dead” club.

I can only hope that I can age with as much dignity and panache as Hendrik.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1⁄4 Years Old has been translated into over twenty languages. And… good news folks!  There is a sequel to Hendrik’s story! “On the bright side” is now available for your reading pleasure.

I received a digital copy of this novel for free – at my request – from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley. This review is my way of saying thanks for a great read.

The book has been adapted for the small screen in the Netherlands.  I thought you’d appreciate seeing a still from the show featuring Kees Hulst, the Dutch actor who plays Hendrik Groen.Director Tim Oliehoek teamed up with creator Peter de Smet, writer Martin van Waardenberg and creative producer Anton Smit to make the story work on the screen.”

Hendrik Groen , pseudonym of Peter de Smet , is a Dutch writer . He is the author of the book ” Something to make something of life” published in 2014 : The secret diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ years . That book was awarded in 2016 with the Audience Award for the Dutch Book . The sequel As long as there is Life: The new secret diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 years old  (aka “On the bright side”) appeared in 2016.

For years it was unknown who was hiding behind the pseudonym. Hendrik Groen started his diary on the literary website of Torpedo magazine. He says about his novel: “There’s not one sentence that’s a lie, but not every word is true.”

The secret diary of Hendrik Groen, 83¼ years won the Audience Award for the Dutch Book in 2016. This prize was not personally collected by the author.

Posted in Book Reviews, Literary fiction, NetGalley, novels in translation | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

“Redferne Lane” my TBR addition that you might be interested in…

Hi bookworms!

I thought I’d let you know about a title that I just added to my TBR.  I got a copy of this novel from the publisher directly, but it is available now on NetGalley.

BlurbEzra had it all when he died. A good job. A nice house. His loving wife, Grace. 

Grace doesn’t even realise she’s struggling to keep herself together. Until Torin turns up in Redferne Lane. It’s been nearly two years since Grace has seen Torin. Since Ezra’s funeral. Now Torin is back in her life, emotions from the past are resurfacing and Grace begins to realise elements of her life are going wrong. She’s not sure she can take control. 

But Grace isn’t the only one with problems in Redferne Lane. Josie has a husband and young family to contend with. Ada is facing the difficulties of old age. Jerome thinks he’s found the perfect girl. Eliza just wants to grow up. And Torin isn’t sure he should have what he wants. They all begin to turn to Grace for answers. Can Grace look beyond her own difficulties and help those around her, even while she’s trying to save herself?

Sounds great doesn’t it?  Does it tempt you?

And… I think the cover is stunning!

It will be published March 29, 2018 by Thistle Publishing   (330 pages)

ISBN 9781786080530Sarah Scholefield initially trained as molecular biologist gaining a BSc (Hons) in Biology from The University of the West of England. After realising she wasn’t cut out to spend her life in a laboratory she worked in numerous schools across the West Country.

She has always enjoyed making up stories in her head and finally began to write them down. In 2014 she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University during which she started a version of Redferne Lane.

She lives in Somerset with her husband and three children.

Posted in debut novels, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Daily writing routines of 20 famous authors

Hidden beneath every sentence of your favourite book lies the author’s inspiration and creative machinery. Many writers rely on a writing routine to keep them working at an optimal level. Psychologically, writing routines can provide a sense of comfort and familiarity which helps to establish a fertile writing mind. There is a sense of taking charge of the process, which can make beginning easier.


Each writer’s routine can be as unique as the writer. Flannery O’ Connor kept her two hours of writing each day as productive as possible by facing her wood dresser to prevent distraction. Edith Wharton, in contrast, needed to face a window in order to write. Maya Angelou wrote in a rented hotel room which had no decorations or paintings, and even cancelled housekeeping, all to avert distraction. Karl Marx wrote at night, while smoking, and visited the British Museum Reading Room during the day for inspiration. Virginia Woolf liked to wake up at the same time every morning, eat breakfast with her husband, and then start to write at 9:30am.

GlobalEnglish Editing has compiled a fun infographic that describes the writing routines of 20 famous authors. Do you see your favourite author’s writing routine?

Posted in infographics, Writing | Tagged , | 10 Comments

“Full circle” by Regina Timothy (#bookexerpt and #giveaway)

ISBN: 978-1981839438


Price Mass Market Paperback: $14.75

Price E-Book: $2.99

Buy Link: http://amzn.to/2EdNl5L


Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.

The author has generously agreed to giveaway a .mobi digital copy of her book!  This international giveaway is open to all who place a comment on this post saying they would like to read this book. Comment must be placed before March 1st, when I will draw a name of the winner using the Random Name Picker web tool.

“Full Circle” Excerpt

For hours, Samia sat next to her Aazim’s bed like a zombie, clutching his hand. She did not cry, she just sat there – staring into space with his cold hand in hers. A few times she tried praying for her son, but nothing came to mind. So she gave up on the idea. Instead, she thought. She thought of the first day her uncle came to her when she was thirteen. She looked like she had been run over by a train by the time he was done with her, and it was months before she was able to shed her abaya. She thought of the day she found out she would have Aazim; she was barely a woman, engulfed in paralyzing fear and the endless pit of loneliness. She thought of her daring escape in the middle of the night aided by her best friend Mannar and auntie Menna when they found out her brothers planned to stone her the next morning. She thought of her journey to Turkey and her terror when she got to Mardin refugee camp. She thought of the relief she felt standing in the refugee camp when she was given her refugee papers to fly to America. She thought of the first time she set foot in the United States – tired, hungry, homesick, and three months pregnant. She thought of the first time she had been called the enemy, the first time her son had been called a terrorist. Now they were the enemy.

“How am I going to make it without you, Aazim?” she asked aloud. “I’ll be lost without you, you know? How will I get rid of this pain in my chest? It’s so hard for me to accept that after today, I will never see you again, hear your voice, feel your touch, see your smile across the room, or even hear your infectious laugh. Oh, the laugh! God, will I miss that.” She sighed.

“A part of me feels like I made all these sacrifices in vain. Like all the lives that were destroyed were for nothing, and all I did was make it worse. That part of me is angry. Angry at you for not realizing or acknowledging all my sacrifices to give you a better life; angry at me for not working harder to keep you safe, to protect you from the evils of this world, and my mistakes, and my past – like my brother Adham; and angry at Adham for bringing you into all this, sucking you back to a world I thought I had left behind, a world filled with lies, betrayal, and bloodshed, all in the name of God and honor. That angry part of me makes me feel like wrapping my fingers around your neck and squeezing with all my strength until there is no more life in you.

“But then there is also this part of me that is disappointed. Disappointed that, despite my best efforts, I did not protect you from my past, from my mistakes, and the struggles of your people. You had to pay the price for a war that had nothing to do with you. ‘Casualty of war’ is what your uncle called you. Just another fallen soldier of the struggle, a mere statistic. All that means nothing, because this is not what you signed up for; this was not your war to fight.

“You are my son, and you are forever gone from me. There is not a damn thing I can do about it, and I don’t know how to accept that.

“How do I say goodbye? Do I shake your hand, kiss you on the cheek, or just walk out?”

Regina Timothy lives in a picturesque village in Kenya where she enjoys amazing landscapes, exotic wildlife, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. She always had an active imagination. By chance, she started blogging in 2010, which rekindled her love for writing and telling stories. When not writing she enjoys watching classic movies (she’s a movie buff), going to the theater and auto shows.

You can join her on the following platforms:
Goodreads – Librarything – Twitter – Blog

Posted in book exerpts | 3 Comments

Cover Love: part 50 – Books

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 50th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature books on their covers.  Hey – you know we all love books, so to mark the 50th post, I thought I’d celebrate our bibliophilia.

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 | 34 Comments

“The darkest lies” by Barbara Copperthwaite

It is a parent’s worse nightmare. You think you know your child, you think you can protect them, then the unimaginable happens…

how I imagined Wiggins (one of my favourite characters)

Beth Oak is almost fourteen.  She lives in a Lincolnshire village with her mother, Melanie, and her father, Jacob.  Oh, and their russet spaniel, Wiggins.  They are the happiest of families. Until…

Beth tells her Mum that she is staying overnight at her friend Chloe’s house. Melanie walks with Beth to the end of her friend’s road, then turns back toward home.  The next morning Melanie discovers that Beth never went to Chloe’s at all.  She is missing! Panic stricken, the frantic parents call the police, who after a search find Beth, floating in the fens, injured, hypothermic, and near death.

Beth is rushed to hospital where she is put into an induced coma.  Then Melanie’s real trial begins. Unable to watch her much-loved only daughter in such a state, with wires and tubes snaking from her young body, and dissatisfied with the progress the police are making, Melanie decides to discover who has harmed her daughter. She enlists the ‘help’ of an old school chum, Glenn Baker. She can talk to Glenn. He is a good listener, he seems to understand. She doesn’t want to talk to her husband Jacob because she feels he already has enough on his plate.  He has his own distress over Beth’s condition, and he has to work every day as well as spend his nights at the hospital.

As days turn into weeks, with no improvement in Beth’s condition, Melanie turns to Glenn more and more.  Also, she turns to the comfort and oblivion of alcohol.  So much so that her family feels compelled to intervene.

In the evenings, Melanie and Jacob sit by Beth’s bedside trying to will Beth back. They attempt sensory stimulation, trying to rouse Beth with music, smells, and other stimuli.

“We had tempted fate with our happiness.”

Days find Melanie increasingly out of control. She is desperate to find the person who hurt Beth, and she accuses many of her fellow villagers.  They on the other hand, are harbouring their own secrets.

The cold and windy Lincolnshire fens were almost a character unto themselves. I was chilled just reading about it.  This county is a setting close to my heart, as my own mother (a war-bride) was born in Boston, Lincolnshire.

The story was told via three different points of view.  Melanie’s (told in the second person), Beth’s (during the time preceding her attack), and that of an unidentified manipulative psychopath. This third POV was of a person who is harbouring a compulsive blood-lust.

To be perfectly honest, I was not a fan of the way the book was written in the second person.  I found it off-putting that Melanie was ‘speaking’ to Beth throughout the narrative.  Kudos to the author though, as I imagine it must have been very difficult to maintain the second person throughout. Also, I had a real hard time liking Melanie most of the time. It bugged me that I didn’t like her more.  Poor thing had suffered an immense trauma, who am I to judge her coping skills?

This is a story of secrets, lies, manipulation and human weakness. It illuminates the inherent selfishness of most people.

Despite my reservations about Melanie’s character, I did really enjoy this thriller.  The atmospheric setting, the overall storyline, were engaging and compelling. The novel was written in short chapters, which I find really moves the plot along at a good pace. Although I guessed the identity of the person who represented the third point of view, this did not at all spoil the book for me.  There was an astounding plot twist that I didn’t see coming, and the ending?  It was brilliant!

I received a digital copy of this novel, FREE, at my request from Bookouture via NetGalley. It was my pleasure to share this candid review.Barbara Copperthwaite has spent over twenty years as a journalist, interviewing real people who have been victims of crime, either directly or through the loss of loved ones. As a result of people bravely and generously sharing their experiences with her, she knows the emotional impact of violence and wrongdoing.

In her spare time, she can be found hiding behind a camera, taking photographs of wildlife.  Nature and the environment are passions of hers.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Fictionophile’s major #TBR trim

Last year I wrote six posts that reflected my attempts to cull my TBR down a bit, to make it more reasonable, more manageable.  The sixth attempt left me with 1,848 titles remaining on my Goodreads TBR.

With so many wonderful titles coming out every month, my total number didn’t seem to be changing very much because I keep hearing about books that sound SO GOOD… so I have to add them…. don’t I ?? Reading other glowing reviews by book bloggers, seeing tempting titles on NetGalley and Edelweiss, as well as receiving tempting offers from authors and publishers, well… it can get a bit overwhelming.

Drastic!  Here is what I did.

I sorted my Goodreads “To Read” list by Goodreads rating.

Then I removed all the books that had more than 500 ratings and less than a 3.50 rating score.

Now I have 1,774 titles on my “To Read” list.

That is a reduction of 74 titles!  Result!

Of the 1,774 titles I have review commitments for 175.

I’m not getting any younger, and removing five or six at a time just wasn’t very effective for me.   Have you ever taken any drastic measures to decrease your TBR?

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , , | 42 Comments

The Fiction Gender Gap

A fiction gender gap?

Yes there is one!

Surveys taken in Canada, the United States and England suggest that men account for only about 20% of the fiction market!  Why is this so?

Warren Adler writes: “There is ample statistical evidence showing that adult women read more novels than men, attend more book clubs than men, use libraries more than men, buy more books than men, take more creative writing courses than men, and probably write more works of fiction than men.”

Emma Cueto writes: “When it comes to fiction, though, most readers have something in common: Most of them are women. About 55 percent of women have read a work of fiction in the past 12 months, compared with only 33 percent of men. Fewer women read nonfiction, but female nonfiction readers still outnumber male nonfiction readers. In fact, women make up a greater share of readers in just about any category, be it novel, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, or plays.”

My hypothesis:

Women are more empathetic than men – making it easier for them to immerse themselves in fictional settings and plots.  Women want to figure out the world and what other people are thinking and feeling. Fiction gives them the opportunity to enter different lives and situations thus giving them a broader view. Women readers use much-loved novels to support them through difficult times and emotional turbulence, and for support and inspiration.

real-men-read-t-shirtReaders of fiction tend to want their emotions stirred.  It is curious that men over 50 read more fiction than younger men.  Is it that by that age they are more comfortable with themselves and more in touch with their feminine side?  My stepfather didn’t begin to read fiction until he was in his early ’70s.  Now he wonders why he didn’t before.  I belong to a bookclub with roughly 25 members.  Two of those are men (both over 50).

There is a stigma (at least in the minds of men) that reading fiction is a pastime not worthy of men’s valuable time. Ask the average man and he’ll admit to reading non-fiction, newspapers and magazines, but rarely will he admit to reading fiction.  When he does admit to reading fiction it is usually ‘manfiction‘.  That is macho adventure thrillers by such authors as Clive Cussler, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Jon Land and the like.

Hey guys…. you don’t know what you are missing!

There is also a gulf in the more specific genres that men and women choose, with men tending to read history, biographies and memoir and science fiction, while women are more likely to choose mystery, thriller and crime, romance and other fiction.

Fiction can be just as educational as non-fiction and most times a lot more enjoyable.  Novelists (good ones at least) put countless hours into researching their novels.   It is proven that lessons hidden in stories stay with us longer than those relayed in lectures.  What if reading fiction made you smarter, more empathetic, and more savvy in social situations, as well as in relationships? Is fiction the key to success? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic?  Why do YOU think fiction is read by more women than men?

Posted in Fiction, Men's fiction, Reading, Women's fiction | Tagged , | 46 Comments

“The case of the missing bubble gum card” by R. Weir

This short story introduces the reader to Jarvis Mann, a struggling private investigator living in Denver, Colorado.  In his mid-thirties and single, Jarvis fancies himself a bit of comedian, though his sarcastic wit often only entertains himself. To save money, Jarvis works from his home, though ‘homey’ it is not.

When a sixteen year-old African American approaches him about his missing baseball card, Jarvis is at first hesitant, then he tells himself he isn’t busy, so what the hell! The young man did say the magic word ‘Please’ after all. The baseball card in question in worth over a thousand dollars and he wants to help the young man, who fears his father’s wrath over losing the card.

In Jarvis’s old Mustang they retrace where the boy went with the card, interviewing some of his friends along the way.  When they discover what happened to the card, the story comes to an end in a satisfying way.

I think the title and the cover do the story a disservice.  It should have been called “The case of the missing baseball card” in my humble opinion.  And maybe a young African American man shooting hoops on the cover?  Anyway, I wasn’t consulted. LOL!

The Case of the Missing Bubble Gum Card took away some of Jarvis Mann’s cynical and jaded attitude. I enjoyed the read, which ended on a positive note – paving the way for further investigations for Jarvis Mann.

This series prequel short story is available in Kindle format FREE on Amazon!

R. Weir lives in the Mile High city with his wife, daughter and dog, where the Rocky Mountain High isn’t always achieved with an herbal substance. When not glued to the computer for work and writing, he relaxes by enjoying the outdoors; playing tennis, travelling in their motor-home and riding a motorcycle wherever the wind takes him. His writing beckons back to the days of detectives and dames, but with modern plots and twists. His protagonist, PI Jarvis Mann is tough, resourceful and a man with as many faults as virtues.

Posted in Book Reviews, Men's fiction, Mystery fiction, Short stories | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

“The French girl” by Lexie Elliott

“My mind skitters to that week in France, to Seb, to Tom, to Lara, Theo, Caro, Severine, and the spider’s web that entangles and binds us all.” 

Ten years ago, six friends, all Oxford University students, went to France for a week of rest and relaxation. Theo’s parents had offered to let them stay at the charming farmhouse which they used as a holiday home. The week will have long lasting repercussions however, as the beautiful girl who lived next door to the farmhouse was never seen again…

They were young, emotions ran high, some paired off into couples, some others wished they were part of that couple, summer weather, alcohol, cocaine. Looking back, memories are not as accurate as they should be. But Severine, the beautiful French girl, had somehow upset the dynamic, and she paid the ultimate price.

Now, we meet our protagonist, Kate Channing. At the tender age of thirty-one, single, a former lawyer, she runs her own business as a legal headhunter. Located in Bloomsbury, with just two employees, Kate is floundering, the fledgling firm not yet the success that Kate wants it to be.

Just when Kate sees some hope on the horizon with a promising new lucrative contract, she is contacted by the French police requesting an interview. Stymied as to what they could want after a decade, Kate approaches the interview with a clear conscience.  Apparently Severine’s body has been found – at the bottom of the well of the farmhouse where they stayed.  The case has been reopened.  All the friends have been called. Except Theo, who was killed in the war.

Caro requests that they all meet up again to welcome Seb and his wife back to England. He had been living in Boston, U.S.A. and now has returned home. Kate has very mixed feelings about this as she hasn’t seen Seb since they broke up directly after that fateful week in France. Once the friends all reunite, they find that their memories shift and some suspicions arise.

“It makes me uneasy, or even more uneasy. I can’t remember when I was last at ease.”

The French detective, Modan, remains in England pursuing his inquiries and romancing Kate’s best friend Lara. The longer he stays, the more tenuous Kate’s position seems. Nothing is as she first thought it was. The friends she thought she knew turn out to all have their own agendas, their own secrets.

Kate is called into New Scotland Yard for a further interview.

“I need a lawyer. Which ought to be funny given I’m a legal headhunter, except that it’s not funny at all. Because I need a lawyer.”


This novel asks the age-old question.  Does anyone ever truly KNOW anyone? People that you think you know well can turn out to be duplicitous, jealous, prideful, and class conscious.  Everyone has their own self-centered agendas and misunderstanding are rampant.

I really enjoyed “The French girl”.  Although it took me a while to warm up to Kate’s character, once I did, my enjoyment grew.  The story was well wrought, the writing, in particular the characterization, was well rendered.  I personally didn’t like the fact that Kate kept ‘seeing’ Severine’s ghostly presence.  I think I know why the author included it though, as it DID make Severine more ‘real’ to the reader, thus making you more empathetic towards the crime victim and more invested in the case’s outcome. “The French girl” is a slow-paced thriller and a solid debut novel.  I will be eager to read more by this talented author.


I received a digital copy of this novel from Berkley/Penguin Random House (via Edelweiss) for free – at my request, and I provided this review voluntarily.

The French Girl will be published on February 20, 2018

Lexie Elliott has been writing for as long as she can remember, but she began to focus on it more seriously after she lost her banking job in 2009 due to the Global Financial Crisis. After some success in short story competitions, she began planning a novel. With two kids and a (new) job, it took some time for that novel to move from her head to the page, but the result was The French Girl.
When she’s not writing, Lexie can be found running, swimming or cycling whilst thinking about writing. In 2007 she swam the English Channel solo. She won’t be doing that again. In 2015 she ran 100km, raising money for Alzheimer Scotland. She won’t be doing that again either. But the odd triathlon or marathon isn’t out of the question.

Follow Lexie Elliott on Twitter!

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cover love: part 49 – Lips

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 forty-ninth installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature lips on their covers.

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?

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 | 24 Comments

“Girl unknown” giveaway winner! + Poll results

 Hello everyone!

I want to wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

As many of you know, I ran a giveaway that coincided with the blog tour for “Girl Unknown” by Karen Perry.  The giveaway, which was open to residents of the United States only as stipulated by the publisher Macmillan, had many entrants.

There were 95 people who ‘liked’ the post; 8 people who commented on the post; 11 people who shared the post on Twitter.

That is 114 people – THEN – I had to discern how many of those people resided in the United States.  (Not as easy as you might think – it took almost two hours!)  Not everyone puts their country of residence on their WordPress Gravatar, so I had to visit some Goodreads accounts, some blogs, and some Twitter accounts to leave messages.  Honestly, if another publisher stipulates a region for a giveaway, I’ll think I’ll pass.

Anyway, to the best of my knowledge, with the information I was able to discover, of those 114 people, only 48 reside in the U.S.  So, the chances of winning were 1/48.

Using the website Random Name Picker, I can now announce the lucky winner!

Brenna has a great Crochet blog, and she is a follower of Fictionophile and an avid reader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Congratulations Brenna!


If anyone is interested in the results of the polls I posted last Friday, here are the results as of today…

I am VERY pleased with this result.  I try to make a habit of sharing other blogger’s posts and re-tweeting, yet I only seldom actually write a Thank-you tweet.  I do suffer some guilt over this practice, but now I know that I can do so with an easier conscience.

This result surprised me twice!

  1. I thought the Cover Love posts would win out, but to my delight Book Reviews won by a good margin.  Wonderful considering that book reviews are what my blog is all about.
  2. I thought that others would enjoy the Author Interviews, but they didn’t get a single vote!

Thanks SO much to everyone who voted and commented on Friday’s post.

As always, I appreciate your patronage and hope you’ll stick around as Fictionophile continues to evolve.

Posted in Fictionophile report, Giveaways | Tagged | 17 Comments

“How to stop time” by Matt Haig

“Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old history teacher, but he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen it all. As long as he keeps changing his identity he can keep one step ahead of his past – and stay alive. The only thing he must not do is fall in love . . .”

Some might classify this as a fantasy novel, I really don’t.  My personal reading choices seldom ever include fantasy or science fiction.  But… one topic that ALWAYS intrigues me is TIME.  How it seems to speed up sometimes, how other times it seems to drag… how it remains a mysterious commodity. For that reason I enjoy time travel novels, any stories that feature people in time that is beyond or before their expected natural life span.

“How to stop time” is just such a novel.  The protagonist is alive today, but he was born in March of 1581.  He has seen many historic events, he has had many occupations, known countless people.  Yet he is painfully lonely. Now he lives alone in a flat with just a rescue dog for company. He has just begun in a position as a history teacher in a London school.

Tom’s rescue dog named Abraham. (breed=Akita)

“I take Abraham for a walk. He had spent the night eating the arm of the sofa but I don’t want to judge him. He has enough issues already.”

They say that ‘with age comes wisdom’.  Well, if that’s the case then Tom Hazard, the protagonist of “How to stop time” is very wise indeed.

Tom has loved only three people in his very long life.  His mother, his wife, and his daughter.  Because of him, his mother was deemed to be a witch and drowned.  His wife died of the plague in 17th century London.  His daughter is like him, and because of this she has disappeared.  For people like him, ‘albas’ are always on the run. They never stay in one place more than eight years because people would then question how they never seem to age…  But they are not immortal, they do age, only much, much, much, slower than regular people.  Because Tom has been around for SO long, he now finds himself wanting out.

In addition to his loneliness and his encroaching depression, he suffers from debilitating headaches. All the time. These headaches arise from the competing memories, the jumble of time, the stress of having lived many lives, yet just one.

“All you can do with the past is carry it around, feeling its weight slowly increase, praying it never crushes you completely.”

Tom is a member of the Albatross Society.  Every eight years people like him have to move and create a new identity, so as not to be noticed by the general public.  This nomadic life has grown tiresome…

“Hendrich Pietersen founded the society in 1867 as a means of uniting and protecting us – people like us – the ‘albatrosses’ or ‘albas’ – from outside threats.” “When it becomes public – either because we decide to tell people, or people find us out – then we are in danger. And the people we care for are in danger. We are either locked away in a madhouse, pursued and imprisoned in the name of science, or murdered by the servants of superstition.”

Tom still mourns for his wife, Rose who perished in 1603. 

“she died and I lived and a hole opened up, dark and bottomless, and I fell down and kept falling for centuries.”

The only thing that has kept him going these many years is the search for his daughter, Marion.  Like him, she is constantly moving so as to escape the notice of those who would cause her harm.

What a book! A genre that I don’t often enjoy, this novel expanded my mind to a lot of different themes.  The mystery of time – of course, coping with grief, history with the unique perspective of someone who has lived it and is now in the modern world and can reflect upon it, the emotional appreciation for music and how it has always been a universal way of communication. With many references to the wisdom of the writings of  the French philosopher, Montaigne, it made me wonder why I had never read his works.  “How to stop time” is also a modern commentary on our worldwide social condition.

“Places don’t matter to people any more. Places aren’t the point. People are only ever half present where they are these days. They always have at least one foot in the great digital nowhere.”

All in all, I would classify “How to stop time” as entertaining, didactic fiction. I’m glad I read it, which is testament enough I think. Recommended!

I received a digital copy of this novel from Viking (via Edelweiss) for free – at my request, and I provided this review voluntarily.

As a side note: When I first read the blurb for this novel it reminded me of a short-lived television show named “Forever”.  For that reason, the entire time I was reading this novel I imagined the protagonist to look like that show’s star, Ioan Gruffudd.  Hey, don’t judge me. LOL


Matt Haig is a British novelist and journalist. Born in Sheffield, he now resides in Brighton, East Sussex with his wife and two children. He is the author of the internationally bestselling memoir Reasons to Stay Alive, along with six novels and several award-winning children’s books. His work has been translated into thirty languages.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Historical fiction, Literary fiction | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Polls: What do YOU want from Fictionophile?

We bookbloggers are a ‘different’ lot.  We read, we read, we read, but… we also blog. That means that much time is spent at the keyboard.  Not just writing posts, but also trying to maintain communication with other bloggers who you support and who support you. As we are a few months in to 2018, I thought I’d put out ‘feelers’ as to what you want from my labour of love, Fictionophile.


And since I’ve been wondering, another short poll about Twitter etiquette.

And, just for fun, because this post is sort of self-centered, I thought I’d continue the theme with a photo of my grand-dogs.  I don’t have any grand-children, so they’ll have to do. LOL

Oakley on the left is a rescue dog. Kooper on the right has been spoiled with love since puppyhood. They are the best of friends. In case you were wondering, they are Cavalier King Charles spaniels.

Posted in Book bloggers | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

“Home” by Amanda Berriman (#Home #blogtour #BookReview)

Seldom do you come across a debut novel that has such an impact as “Home“.  Written entirely from the viewpoint of a tiny, four-year-old girl, the novel touches on issues with important social observations.  At first I was taken aback by the way she spoke, but after a few pages I could actually hear her little voice, and the pages flew by.

(how I imagined Jesika might look)

Jesika Petrowski lives is a run-down, derelict apartment building. She lives with her Mummy, Tina, and her baby brother, Toby.  Their flat is a damp, squalid place with broken windows, mould on the walls, an oven that doesn’t work, and heating that is undependable.  In her innocence, Jesika draws pictures on the wall by joining up the dots of mould.

“…our house is shivery-cold and all our breathing is coming out of our mouths like smoke.”

Jesika’s mother, Tina Petrowski, is a tragic figure. A young woman with no family support, she is forced to rely on strangers for help.  And help she needs.  With no financial help from the children’s father (who has returned to their native Poland to live), her despair is palpable. Both she and her baby son, Toby have chest infections and Toby’s condition is worsening on a daily basis. He coughs and coughs until he vomits up his milk. Tiny lives up many flights of stairs and must haul Toby’s ‘buggy’ up and down those stairs every time she goes out.  She has to go out a lot as there are no laundry facilities in the building and Jesika attends preschool in the afternoons. Feeling poorly and despondent, her temper is sometimes shorter than it should be.

“Mummy does big noisy swallowing and then she says, “There’s no one to help, Jesika. I’m on my own and no one can do anything for us and I don’t know how much more I can take.”

Jesika’s innocent observations make for many bittersweet moments.  Her simple joy at being fed jam sandwiches, a kindly grocer who pulls a ‘magic’ strawberry from behind her ear, the beautiful rainbow she finds in an oily puddle during a rainstorm.

Sometimes, because Toby is poorly, Jesika’s Mummy cuddles him more that she cuddles Jesika, which makes the little girl jealous and sad.

“Mummy only wants to cuddle Toby”.

Jesika makes friends with Paige at preschool. But Paige has troubles of her own – dire troubles indeed…

Then, just when you thought circumstances for the little family couldn’t get any worse, baby Toby is rushed by ambulance to the hospital.  Whilst there, Tina is also diagnosed with pneumonia and admitted – leaving young Jesika to go into foster care.

“I have to live somewhere else and it might be so so far away that Mummy will never find me.”

Jesika’s overwhelming fear of abandonment is understandably escalated by these traumatic events. She waffles between fearing her mother will never come back, to the childish certainty that she WILL come back.

“Mummy is coming back to get me. She’s coming to get me when she’s not poorly. She won’t make me find a new Mummy cos I’ll be helpful and good and I’ll never shout at her ever, ever, ever again and I’ll always eat all my pasta even with no cheese. She’s coming to get me soon. She is.”

The story, told in the innocent and naive voice of Jesika is heart-rending to the adult reader who views it with an all too vivid clarity.

The book succeeds on a variety of fronts.  It causes the reader to have more empathy for young children, as we quickly forget what it is like to live in the world as a child sees it.  It strikes upon many socially relevant issues: poverty, low-income housing, child abuse, etc.

All-in-all, I loved Jesika’s story and recommend it to all who appreciate fiction that at once entertains and educates. “Home” spotlights the very best, and the very worst, of human nature. Didactic and heart-breaking, yet heart-warming. Even though tears will likely be shed, “Home” is still a lovely read.

I am honoured to be writing this review as part of the official Transworld blog tour.  My thanks to Transworld (Penguin UK) via NetGalley for providing me with the opportunity to read “Home” for both enjoyment and review purposes.

Amanda Berriman was born in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She works as a primary school teacher and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two children and dogs.


Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Literary fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments