Wednesday’s Word = HIDDEN (Cover Love redux)

This is a new spin on my Cover Love posts. Although I still plan to continue my Cover Love series, I just thought it would be sort of fun to concentrate on title words for a change – instead of pictures. 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 “HIDDEN“. I know there are thousands of books with the word ‘hidden’ 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.

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Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 12 Comments

“Brainstorm” by Matthew Drzmala

BLURB: Clinical psychologist Michael Eriksson makes a living from helping others, but after a series of events he is left fighting to pick up the pieces of his own shattered psyche.
When he is called to an attempted suicide on a stormy summer’s night, Michael has the chance to save a life, but will it be his own?

Michael Eriksson, a clinical psychologist in his early forties is struggling. He is going through a personal crisis and is also having nightmares which affect his daytime hours and his effectiveness of helping others.

Seven years ago, both his beloved parents died in a car crash. Still reeling from that loss, he faced another loss even closer to home…a loss that shattered his family.  He has a seventeen year-old daughter who he adores, yet their relationship is on tenterhooks and is growing more distant every day.  His secretary is becoming impatient with his erratic schedule and lessened work ethic.

Then, one rainy night, he receives a phone call telling him that there is another potential ‘jumper’ on the George Washington Bridge.  He has talked several suicidal people down from the bridge in the past – however this time it’s personal.  This time the experience will either make him or break him.

I’ve had this novella on my Kindle for a while now and I’m really happy that I finally got around to reading it.  For a story of only 42 pages, it was a great read. The author packed a lot of emotion in these pages and his characters were well-developed.

This novella serves as a well-written and perceptive examination of loss and depression. It shows how even the most healthy of us can meet their breaking point if enough life trauma is thrown at them.

I purchased this novella from Amazon.ca  For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can purchase this novella in Kindle format.
Born in Manchester, England, Matthew Drzymala is an author, workshop presenter and copywriter.  He mainly writes comedy books, as seen in his series, The Bumpkinton Tales. They are funny stories set in the rural village of Bumpkinton, packed with a cast of quirky, colourful characters.

Brainstorm is a darker story than his Bumpkinton releases and is centred around Clinical Psychologist, Michael Eriksson. Parts of that story happened in his life, mostly when he was in his late teens and early twenties, so it’s a personal story, but one he loved writing.

Follow Matthew Drzymala on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novellas | Tagged | 1 Comment

“The Fourth Victim” by John Mead

Today I’m delighted to take part in the Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour for John Mead’s mystery novel, “The Fourth Victim“.  It is a police procedural set in London’s Whitechapel, so it caught my interest right away.

BLURB: Three parks, three deaths, four victims, two grieving families, one murder investigation team and an unknown number of killers. Can an answer be found? Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of peace, tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder. Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight. And, it looked as it the inspector was already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with her head bashed in, down to a mugging `gone wrong’. The victim deserved more. But the inspector isn’t ruling anyone out; the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer…

What better setting than London’s Whitechapel for a serial murder novel? Set in the present day, this time the murders are puzzling in that they are committed in public parks, the victims are young women with little in common, and there seems to be no robbery, no sexual assault, just one deadly whack with a hammer to the back of the head…The police tasked with the investigation are struggling. Due to budget cuts, the manpower is less than would be optimal for this type of case, the lead detective, DI Merry, seems to be somewhat distant due to the fact that he feels he has reached a crossroads in his career.

The victims had little in common other than that they all worked, or were in some way linked to the nearby Berner Centre, a shopping mall.

Then, an attempted suicide by one of the worker’s at the Berner Centre leads them to a match for the fingerprints found on the blood covered plastic bag recovered at the murder scene. The woman who attempted suicide is mentally ill and suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Could this be their big break in the case – or, is this just more convolution in a case that is already muddled enough? One of the woman’s therapists, a Doctor Hassan is brought in to help with the case. As an old ‘friend’ of DI Merry, she is welcomed.

The Fourth Victim” is a decent police procedural with plenty of characters, an interesting premise, and a setting befitting a novel featuring serial murders. The routine investigation procedures of the police were well described and their frustration at low policing budgets and less manpower was palpable.

The main character, Detective Inspector Matthew Merry, was quite a worthy addition to the police procedural protagonists that I have read. His sidekick, DS Julie Lukula was interesting, bright, and ambitious.

The pace of the novel was spot-on. The research into the specific mental illness mentioned throughout the book was evident. The dialogue was well written and I enjoyed Merry’s understated sense of humour.

My main gripe with the book is how the author used the character’s names. One minute he was referring to them by their surnames, the next minute he was using their given names. It made for confusion on several occasions. As there were quite a lot of characters, referring to each by two different names was unwarranted in my opinion. In addition, there is a suspect with a multiple personality disorder, which adds several more characters vying for your attention. Also, he named his two head coppers Matthew and Malcolm. Seven letters each beginning with an ‘M’. Couldn’t one of them have a dissimilar name?  Forgive me… I rant. Some readers would find these things insignificant, but I feel I must relate my true feelings on the matter.

As soon as the character was introduced, it seemed obvious to me who the murderer was. I kept turning the pages to see if I was correct – and I was – partly. The ending of the novel tied up the loose ends in a satisfactory way and left me with a smile on my face.

Overall, I found “The Fourth Victim” to be a well-researched, and worthy addition to the police procedural sub-genre and I believe that readers who read this type of mystery will be well entertained by the read. Although British police procedurals are undoubtedly one of my favourite types of crime fiction, I’m undecided as to whether I will follow this potential series should there be another installment.

Publisher: The Book Guild Ltd.
ISBN: 9781912575367  ASIN: B07JP8WKYG

Purchase Links:

Amazon.com
Waterstones
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Google Books

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Rachel’s Random Resources.

Check out the other stops on this blog tour:

In his own words:

I was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built. I was the first pupil from my local secondary modern school to attend university. I have travelled extensively during my life from America to Tibet. I enjoy going to the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that I am an avid ‘people watcher’ and love to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in my novels are based on real incidents and people I have come across. Although I have allowed myself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

Follow John Mead on Twitter.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Rachel's Random Resources | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

“Deep Fear” by Rachel Lynch

DI Kelly Porter is back. 
But will this new case push her beyond her limits?
On a peaceful summer’s morning in the Lake District, a woman’s body is discovered outside a church. She’s been murdered and a brutal, symbolic act performed on her corpse. 
DI Kelly Porter is in charge of the team investigating the crime, and is determined to bring the killer to justice. But as more deaths occur it is clear this is the work of a disturbed, dangerous and determined individual. Can Kelly put the puzzle pieces together before the danger comes closer to home?

We meet up again with DI Kelly Porter as she is tasked with a murder investigation. A well-to-do, middle-aged woman is found dead in a churchyard. Naked, mutilated, and staged, it is clear that the woman is the victim of homicide.  Mere days later, Kelly lands another murder investigation. This time the victim is a young, poor, and drug addicted teenager. She was left in a remote area of the Lakes in Aira Force.

Aira Force – Lake District

Certain aspects of the cases link them incontrovertibly. Kelly, her newly qualified DC Rob Shawcross, and the rest of the ‘team’ have their work cut out…

A poem has been left in the body of both slain women. A poem by the Lakeland poets, famous for their knowledge of the Lake District. (William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Robert Southey). Because of the literary link, journalists have coined the murderer “The Teacher”.

Pooley Bridge, Cumbria

On the home front, Kelly is still living with her ailing mother. A situation she is finally remedying by her purchase of a riverfront house in Pooley Bridge. Her mother’s failing health does nothing to cure the antagonistic relationship between Kelly and her sister, Nikki.

Two cases become four and the pressure is on Kelly Porter to produce results. Not only are her higher-ups pressuring her, the press is having a field day, and the lucrative tourist trade in the beautiful Lake District is suffering as a result of the murders.

Then, Kelly’s sister, Nikki goes missing…


Deep Fear” is the second novel in the D.I. Kelly Porter police procedural mystery series. The first in the series, “Dark Game” was a solid 5-star read for me and the second novel in the series maintains the quality. There is nothing quite so satisfying to me as reading a British police procedural crime thriller.  When it has an engaging protagonist, a Lake District setting, and a compelling and well rendered plot, then it is for me, reading bliss.

The thing I like most about this series is that Rachel Lynch has found that perfect balance between the protagonist’s personal life and the murder investigation. Just the right amount of attention to each makes for compelling reading. The police procedural aspects of the story were very realistic as they displayed how tedious some of the work is and how results are not instantaneous like they are on television crime drama. I also enjoyed the relationships between Kelly and her team, between Kelly and the pathologist, and between Kelly and her boyfriend, Johnny.

Rest assured that I will be reading every installment in the DI Kelly Porter series. A must-read for those who enjoy well-written, grittily realistic crime novels. Highly recommended!

I received a digital ARC of this novel, FREE at my request, from the publisher Canelo via NetGalley. In return I have written this candid review.

I was happy to read that Canelo signed the first three books in the DI Kelly Porter series and Rachel is currently writing the fourth. Be assured I will be reading them all.

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years.
A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

You can follow Rachel Lynch on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Cover Love: part 65 – Covers ripped from side to side

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 65th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature ‘covers ripped from side to side‘.

Most of these titles I chose only for their covers.
I’ve read three of these – and a few more are on my TBR.
Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

Please let me know in the comments.

If you have a few minutes, visit any of the previous installments of
Cover Love – some of which I’ve updated recently.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 22 Comments

“Go to my Grave” by Catriona McPherson

Present Day: The story begins with the protagonist, Donna Weaver. She is hosting a family reunion weekend for eight people. Donna and her mother own and run “The Breakers” a refurbished guest house near the sea in Galloway.  Her mother is attending a trade fair, so Donna is left to host, cook, and clean for the event on her own.  She enjoys her job and takes the sudden turn of events as a challenge that she has every confidence of meeting.

She has a few qualms however when she meets the guests. They are an odd lot. Siblings and cousins, with spouses, they bicker and insult each other constantly.  They quickly realize that they have been in this house before… twenty-five years before… Despite their dire memories of the place, they are somewhat charmed by Donna’s efforts, the great food and drink, and the ambiance of the guest house which comes complete with wild black rabbits on the lawn and its own private beach.

The ensemble agree to surrender their ‘devices’ (laptops, phones, etc.) to Donna for the weekend in order that they can ‘chill’ and enjoy the family weekend. Things turn mysterious when several pranks develop.  No one will take responsibility for the pranks, which turn nastier and nastier, and which are upsetting to some of the guests more than others.  Donna realizes that perhaps they aren’t so antagonistic as they are afraid…

The ‘pranks’ turn deadly serious. Donna fears that her business is doomed from the first round of guests.

1991: “The Breakers” went by a different name back then. We meet two young local girls whose mother cleans for the guest house.  A rich family have rented it and are hosting a birthday party for their sixteen year old son. The two girls, Carmen (age 14) and Lyndsay (age 12) are invited to even out the numbers for the party. When they arrive they realize that the parents have gone off and left the teenagers to party unsupervised. As is predictable, they soon get out of control – then tragedy and trauma result…

Ever since reading “The day she died“, I have been a huge fan of Catriona McPherson. I’ve enjoyed all of her books, though none quite so much as that one.

The first half of this novel was a bit of a slog for me, but the second half more than made up for it.  I really enjoyed the ‘country guest house’ setting. Scotland beside the sea – what more could you ask for really?  I also enjoyed the tried and tested idea of the closed circle of suspects and the way that the protagonist put up with all their griping. I learned a lot about the hospitality industry, and admire anyone who chooses that as a career.  I really enjoyed the dual timeline in this case, though I suspected how they would be linked, and I was partly correct. The ending was not quite as cohesive as I would have hoped for, but that is just me. A novel of crimes kept secret, childhood trauma, and sweet revenge. Overall I would recommend this title to all who like a good mystery.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this title from Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in consideration of a review.

Catriona McPherson

Catriona McPherson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the author of the Dandy Gilver historical mystery series, which was nominated for a Macavity Award in 2012.   She moved to California in 2010 but she returns to Scotland every year for a wee visit to quell her homesickness.

She is now a full time writer.  When not writing, she is reading, gardening, cooking, baking, cycling , and running.

Follow Catriona McPherson on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Suspense | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

“Foe” by Iain Reid

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.  Junior and Hen are a quiet married couple. They live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t have a chance to miss him at all, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Hen will have company. Familiar company.

 

The setting? An isolated, rural farmhouse in the midst of genetically modified canola fields. Almost all of the book’s scenes are taken place here.

Time period? The near future. A time when driverless cars are the only kind there are. A time when there are ‘mega farms’, when it is against the law to own livestock.

The characters? Junior, his wife, Hen (Henrietta) and the odd stranger, Terrance.

A stranger arrives one evening with an unexpected and unsettling proposition. He says that Junior has won the lottery. He will have the coveted opportunity to travel to OuterMore, a space ‘Installation’. It has all been arranged…  The offer is only for Junior, he must leave Hen at home.

“You’ve been selected, Junior. You’ve been chosen. You’ll be going away. You’re going to be part of the Installation.”

The thoughts of this ‘conscription‘ like offer change the dynamic of the previously loving couple. The stranger goes away and only returns a few years later. Now he says that Junior has won the ‘lottery’ and he is to prepare the couple for the experience.

The couple do not sleep well anymore. Hen hears scratching noises in the walls.

There is a tenseness in the atmosphere. Terrance says he will staying at their house while preparing Junior and Hen for the experience. Hen begins to clean out the spare room for Terrance to stay in.  She finds a gigantic rhinoceros beetle in the closet…

Junior likes it when Hen plays the piano. But does Hen enjoy it? Their relationship seems strained.

Junior, unsure as to whether he wants this ‘experience’ goes for a walk in the canola fields after work.  He sees a barn burning. Knowing that fire is a dangerous event out here, he runs to try to put out the fire.  He is attacked and badly injured. It turns out that his attackers work alongside Terrance . They attacked him only to keep him ‘safe‘.  Safe for his journey to OuterMore which could take a long time – possible years, not months…

What is even more unsettling is the fact that they are told that Hen will not be left alone while he is gone. Someone will be living with her at the farm.  Someone very familiar.

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Foe‘?  What springs to my mind is the phrase “Friend or Foe”.  That phrase is very fitting here. All the while, the protagonist, Junior, wonders if this stranger named Terrance is his friend or his enemy.

I wondered while reading “Foe” why Junior and Hen didn’t protest more. Why they didn’t seek out the opinions of others regarding their live-changing offer? Were they frightened of this ‘top-secret’ government offer? Did they expect reprisals if they mentioned it?

What the publisher says is true. “Foe” is a “philosophical puzzle“. It examines some deep themes. Themes like the importance of ‘identity’, what it means to have control over your own life, make your own choices, how social isolation affects the human psyche, how each human being might be insignificant in the overall scheme of things… It questions if you can ever really know another person, or, if you can ever really know yourself. About not taking anything for granted – appreciating the little joys of life.

The only thing this novel had in common with Iain Reid’s first book “I’m thinking of ending things“, is the exemplary writing.  His prose is edgy, compelling, and, in this instance, permeated with a sense of foreboding. Oh, and another thing the two novels had in common? They both left the reader wondering… wondering what was true, what was engineered by the author to deceive the reader, what the H*** just happened?

All I know for sure is that if Iain Reid’s version of the future is correct, I want no part of it. I’ll be reflecting on this book for some time.  I have so many questions.

Where “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” was a creepy psychological thriller that left you brooding, “Foe” is a science fiction/dystopian horror/thriller genre melting pot. Not my personal choice of genre, but the writing and unique story kept me riveted throughout.  I’m pretty sure I will read everything this author writes. I have no choice but to highly recommend “Foe” which will appeal to many different readers for reasons known only to themselves…

I received a paperback ARC of this novel compliments of Simon & Schuster Canada.

Iain Reid (photo copyright Lucas Tingle)

Iain Reid (photo copyright Lucas Tingle)

Iain Reid is the author of two critically acclaimed, award-winning books of nonfiction, One Bird’s Choice, and The Truth About Luck, which was one of The Globe and Mail’s best books of 2013. In 2015, he received the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award. Reid’s work has appeared in a variety of publications throughout North America. He is the author of the very suspenseful and thought-provoking novel “I’m thinking of ending things“. Foe is his second novel. Follow him on Twitter @Reid_Iain.

Posted in Book Reviews, Horror, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

“The Blackbird Season” by Kate Moretti

It is spring in a small Pennsylvania mill town.  Ten years ago the mill closed its doors for the final time. Since then, the town has suffered a dramatic economic decline.

Nate Winters, the high school baseball coach is eager for his star player to be drafted by one of the major colleges.  During a pivotal game a freak of nature occurred. Hundreds of starlings fell dead to the ground. People were distressed and the game was cancelled.  This event seemed ominous, but it was only the beginning of worse to come for Nate Winters. 

Besides being the baseball coach, Nate teaches senior mathematics. He is dedicated to his students and tries to keep up with them on social media. He makes himself available to them after school etc.

“Everything now was so different: social media, the Internet, texting. It all sharpened people’s edges, made them the opposite of social. Turned them feral.”

Lucia Hamm is a high school senior. She is ‘different’ than her peers. The other students call her a witch. She is from a poor and dysfunctional family, delves in tarot, and has distinctive white hair. When things turn nasty at home, she turns to Nate Winters for help. He is there for her and pays for a motel room where she can keep away from her abusive brother.  Unfortunately, the press are still in town. They have been hanging around ever since the strange phenomena of the mass bird death. They catch wind of Nate and Lucia at a motel and this creates massive trouble for Nate. The upshot of it is… he loses his job, his wife and child, and of course his reputation. This is crushing for Nate on many levels.

When Lucia was younger she had a best friend. She spent a lot of time at Taylor’s house. Taylor’s Mom generously provided Lucia with many meals and even helped her pay for extracurricular activities. When the Mill closed, that all ended. Gradually, the girls’ friendship eroded away…

Nate’s wife, Alecia Winters, is at the end of her emotional rope. Once she was a vibrant working woman, busy in a public relations career. Now, the mother of an autistic son, her every waking moment is centered around his needs. As a result, her marriage has been suffering lately. When she learns of Nate’s involvement with the student, she wastes no time in kicking him out of the marital home. Alecia doesn’t know whether to trust Nate’s denials.

Next we meet Bridget Peterson. She is the literature teacher at the high school and a good friend of both Nate and Alecia Winters. A recent widow, she is still grieving for her husband. As such, she has been a less than attentive teacher lately. Lucia is her student.

Bridget too, delves in tarot readings.

“We all become what people expect us to be.”

When Lucia goes missing, the entire town is rife with speculation. Nate Winters is affected more than anyone. The last person to see the girl, he is suspected of murdering her. Even his best friend, police officer Tripp Harris has his doubts.

Set in a Pennsylvania mill town without a mill, this story is about many things other than what is immediately apparent. Themes of desperation, lack of trust, wanting to be accepted, the longing for love, female friendship, student-teacher relationships, marriage, living with an autistic child, all play a part in the narrative.

The characters were engaging. The setting well rendered. The denouement well executed. A slow-paced thriller that will be enjoyed by many. Recommended!

I received a digital copy of this title from Atria Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley for purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

written-with-american-flags

kate-morettiKate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of  Thought I Knew YouWhile You Were Gone, and Binds That Tie, and The Vanishing Year . She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life.
She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.
Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

“The House on Pine Terrace” a thriller short by Phillip Margolin

Blurb:

This be-careful-what-you-wish-for Thriller Short from bestselling author Phillip Margolin tells what happens when a cop meets the man of her dreams, who lives in the house of her dreams. Monica Esteban grew up poor, on occasion helping her single mother clean houses. That’s when she first saw the big house on Pine Terrace. Her mother called her princess and told her that one day she would marry a rich prince and live in a castle. The castle she dreamed of was the big house. But that would never happen on a cop’s salary. At least that’s what she thought until she received an inconceivable dinner invitation from the most unlikely man imaginable. Dinner is everything she hoped it would be. Dan Emery is a perfect gentleman, making the next two months pass like a fairy tale…until her dream comes to an end and she finds out just how much it costs to live in the big house on Pine Terrace. 

At only 24 pages, this little thriller packs a huge punch. It is a stellar little story with as many plot twists as a full length novel.
This thriller short showcases the huge talent of Phillip Margolin. I’ve read several full length novels of his in the past and was delighted to know that he excels at the short format as well.
Highly recommended to crime fiction fans.

From Wikipedia:

Margolin was born in New York City in 1944. After receiving a B.A. in Government in 1965, from American University in Washington, D.C., he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia until 1967.  He graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1970, and has worked for 25 years as a criminal defense attorney, an occupation of choice inspired by the Perry Mason books.He started to work in 1970 at the Oregon Court of Appeals.

He published his first story, a short story titled “The Girl in the Yellow Bikini”, in 1974, and became a full-time writer in 1996. 

Philip Margolin was married to Doreen Stamm in 1968. They had two children, Ami and Daniel. Doreen, also a defense attorney, died from cancer in January 2007.

Posted in Book Reviews, Short stories | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Hello November – Fictionophile updates and October book haul

October was a very sad month for our family because my step-father passed away. He was 93 and had little quality of life left, so for him it was a blessing. Anyone who has been through it knows that even when it is ‘expected’, it is still a difficult time…

During the month of October I added 13 titles to my TBR.


I downloaded 4 titles from NetGalley in October:


The Hiding Place” by C.J. Tudor

I loved her first novel, “The Chalk Man“, so I’m excited to have a copy of her second. (released in the UK as “The taking of Annie Thorne”)

Blurb: Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.
Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing.
It was the day she came back.

I received this book from Crown Publishers via NetGalley


Watching You” by Lisa Jewell

I’m always excited to see a new title by Lisa Jewell. She has become one of my favourite authors.

BlurbMelville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.
As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.
One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

I received this book from Atria Books via NetGalley.


Go to my Grave” by Catriona McPherson

I’ve read many titles by this author and I’m always excited to see another one. My favourite novel of hers so far is “The day she died“.

BlurbDonna Weaver has put everything she has into restoring The Breakers, an old bed and breakfast on a remote stretch of beach in Galloway. Now it sits waiting—freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers—for the first guests to arrive.
But Donna’s guests, a contentious group of estranged cousins, soon realize that they’ve been here before, years ago. Decades have passed, but that night still haunts them: a sixteenth birthday party that started with peach schnapps and ended with a girl walking into the sea.
Each of them had made a vow of silence: “lock it in a box, stitch my lips, and go to my grave.”
But now someone has broken the pact. Amid the home-baked scones and lavish rooms, someone is playing games, locking boxes, stitching lips. And before the weekend is over, at least one of them will go to their grave.

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley


BlurbMy mom would never leave me.
This has been Mariah Dunning’s motto. Her compass. Her belief. So when she glimpses her mother–who’s been missing for the past year–on the other side of a crowded food court, Mariah’s conviction becomes stronger than ever. Or is she losing her mind?
An unlikely coincidence?
When Beth Dunning disappeared without a trace, suspicion for her murder-despite the lack of a body or any physical evidence-immediately fell upon Mariah’s father. Until Mariah stumbles upon two other recent disappearances from Lakehaven. And all three women had the same name: Beth.
Or a sinister connection?
Mariah would give anything to find out what happened to her mother, and clear her father’s name. But the truth may be more devastating than she could have imagined…

I received a publisher’s widget for this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley

I downloaded 2 titles from Edelweiss in October:


The Hunting Party” by Lucy Foley

A new to me author – I was attracted by the blurb.

BlurbAll of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirty-something friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

I received this book from William Morrow via Edelweiss


The Secretary” by Renée Knight

I read this author’s “Disclaimer” and really enjoyed it. I’m keen to try another work by her.

BlurbFrom her first day as Personal Assistant to the celebrated Mina Appleton, Christine Butcher understands what is expected of her. Absolute loyalty. Absolute discretion. For twenty years, Christine has been a most devoted servant, a silent witness to everything in Mina’s life. So quiet, you would hardly know she is there.
Day after day, year after year, Christine has been there, invisible—watching, listening, absorbing all the secrets floating around her. Keeping them safe.
Christine is trusted. But those years of loyalty and discretion come with a high price. And eventually Christina will pay.
Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate such a steadfast woman. Because as everyone is about to discover, there’s a dangerous line between obedience and obsession.

I received this book from Harper via Edelweiss.


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

I purchased SEVEN titles in October.  I’ll confess, I am vulnerable to sale prices. All the following were purchased in Kindle format from Amazon.ca for a total expenditure of $9.96

 

The Inspector McKay series” by Alex Walters

All three titles were only $5.99

 


Our Little Lies” by Sue Watson

I purchased this title for only $1.99 after reading several favourable reviews by my fellow bookbloggers.


Inside the Whispers” by A. J. Waines

This is the first in the Samantha Willerby mystery series. I purchased it for only .99¢

 

 

 


In Harm’s Way” by Owen Mullen

I purchased this title for only .99¢ after reading these favourable reviews:

Sandy’s Book a Day

Between the Lines book blog

Novel Gossip

Emma B Books


Open Grave” by A.M. Peacock

This is the first title in the DCI Jack Lambert police procedural mystery series. It came to my attention while reading a review from Donna’s Book Blog and another from By The Letter Book Reviews.  It helped that the cover is absolutely stunning.

I got this novel for free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

 


I’m delighted to report that there are now 2.968 people following this blog!


My Goodreads Challenge is on track

My NetGalley feedback ratio is still short of the coveted 80% 
(I’m hoping I’ll get there before year’s end…)

My Edelweiss feedback improved slightly this month

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

“The Silent Companions” by Laura Purcell

I just had to end the month of October with a ghost story. And WOW, what a ghost story! Creepy, gothic, and utterly unique, this novel will remain in my memory for years to come.

With two historical timelines, set around two hundred years apart the novel begins with an inmate of an insane asylum.  They call her the “murderess’.  Mute and badly scarred, she exists in a tragic hell, both physically and in her own mind. It is the year 1866 and the conditions in the asylum are abhorrent.

The novel then takes us back one year as we join a young, pregnant widow as she travels to her country house for the first time.  The societal norms of the time dictate that she wear black for a year. Her recent widowhood, and the fact that this rural abode is far, far different from her life in London, makes Elisabeth “Elsie” Bainbridge miss her late husband all the more. She is accompanied only by her husband’s cousin, Sarah. Before her marriage, Elsie and her younger brother Jolyon, owned and ran a match factory in London.

author’s inspiration for The Bridge

The people of the nearby village are frightened of the house and will not work there. The meager staff comes from a village farther afield. Shortly after her husband Rupert’s funeral, Elsie attempts to learn more about the house she has inherited. Her explorations lead her to realize that the garret is locked. At night, a strange sound like a ‘hiss’ emanates from that location and Elsie is desperate to learn what is causing that maddening noise.  When she finally gains entry to the garret, she finds some peculiar standing figures. “Not a statue or a painting but somewhere in between“. Her husband called them the ‘silent companions‘.


The novel flashes back two centuries to the 1660s at ‘The Bridge’ when another young family lived within its walls. Josiah and Anne Bainbridge have three adolescent sons and one young daughter named Hetta. Anne was unable to conceive after her boys, so she uses her herbal skills and mixes up a concoction – the result of which was the birth of her daughter. Josiah calls Hetta an ‘aberration‘ for she is mute due to being born with a short and misshapen tongue. The family are staunch followers of the royal family and Hetta was named for Queen Henrietta Maria.  Word reaches them that the King and Queen will visit The Bridge. Lavish preparations are made. Knowing that the royal couple like curiosities, Anne travels to a shop and purchases some life-size wooden paintings called “silent companions’. She thinks the royal couple will be amused if she places them about the house.

Hetta was not allowed to attend the royal party, as her father didn’t want her gaining the notice of the King.  Something terrible happens during the royal visit. Something that will forever mar the relationships within the Bainbridge family.

“There was something wrong about The Bridge. The very fabric of the building was bad.”

Silent Companion

 

Forward in time again and Elsie Bainbridge is experiencing some traumatic and seriously creepy events. She comes to fear the ‘silent companions’ and has them all burned out in the yard. However, they seem to reappear throughout the house at their own whim. They move about when no one is watching…  She hates The Bridge and desperately wants to return to London. Which she does… for a time. Then, back at The Bridge, she meets with her undoing…

The finesse of the author’s writing had me wondering what parts of the plot were real and which were solely in the minds of the protagonists. And the ending? The ending will leave you with shivers going up your spine.

This book will chill you to the bone. Well written and obviously well researched, this historical novel will haunt you after you’ve read it. So many of the things mentioned were real. The atrocious working conditions in the Victorian match factories, the disgusting and distressing way that people were treated in insane asylums during those years – and yes, there really are ‘silent companions‘. Creepy right?

The rampant superstition of people during those years made the narrative work on an whole other level.  The gothic setting and atmospheric house made for some tense though enjoyable reading.  Oh, and I’ll seriously get freaked out by splinters in the future. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then read the book and find out for yourself.

This was a perfect read for a dark autumn evening.  Highly recommended to all who appreciate that things were not always better in ‘the good old days’, and those who can suspend belief in the intangible. Creepy, atmospheric, and macabre. A great read!

I received a digital copy of this novel from Penguin Books via Edelweiss for the purposes of this review.
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs.

Her first novel for Raven Books THE SILENT COMPANIONS won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs. It will be followed by THE CORSET in September 2018, and BONE CHINA and THE SHAPE OF DARKNESS in later years.

Follow Laura Purcell on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, ghost stories, gothic fiction, Historical fiction, Horror, Suspense | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan

A complex, character-driven police procedural mystery set in Galway, Ireland.

“In Irish, Rúin means something hidden, a mystery, or a secret, but the word also has a long history as a term of endearment.”

From the publisher’s blurb: “This unsettling small-town noir draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland, where corruption, desperation, and crime run rife. A gritty look at trust and betrayal where the written law isn’t the only one, The Ruin asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t—or won’t.”


The story begins in Mayo, Ireland in 1993. Garda Cormac Reilly has only been on the force for about a month. One of his very first cases involves the death by overdose of a young mother. He finds the woman’s body in a decrepit house with her two young children – Fifteen year old Maude and her little five year old brother, Jack. The children had clearly been badly neglected. The house was freezing and the children appeared abused.  As this was one of his first cases, it is one that he has never quite forgotten. He remembers taking the children to hospital where young Jack was treated, and where Maude ran away, never to be heard from again…

Galway, 2013 – Skip ahead twenty years and we meet a young doctor who is working toward becoming a surgeon. Aisling is dedicated in her work and very happy in her personal life. She is married to a great young man named Jack Blake. Yes, that same Jack who Cormac found all those years previous.

Cormac, has had a stellar twenty year career with the Garda, but has recently moved from Dublin to Galway.  He is now in a committed relationship with Emma who moved to Dublin for work. He followed her. Now, instead of working high profile cases, he is ostracized and put in charge of cold cases.  The only friend he has in the office is Danny who was his second in command in Dublin and whom he brought with him. Danny no longer reports to Cormac in the new scheme of things.

Aisling has just discovered she is pregnant which shocks both her and Jack. They are not ready to become parents. Jack goes out to let Aisling sleep after a long shift. He never comes home… His body is found – a suspected suicide.

Martha has recently returned to Ireland after living in Australia for the past twenty years. When she learns of her brother’s death, she is devastated. She is convinced that Jack did not commit suicide and tries valiantly to convince the police of her conviction.

Cormac is tasked with re-examining the death of Hilaria Blake twenty years ago. Meanwhile the other Garda from his office refuse to investigate further the recent death of Jack Blake.

Maude tries to convince Aisling that her beloved Jack was murdered… Cormac wonders where the truth lies.

Cormac Reilly is a tall, thoughtful, honorable, policeman. The fact that this is a debut novel astounds me. The writing is polished, the characters well developed and sympathetic. The plot is very believable and structured in a way that the reader compulsively turns the pages to find out the truth. And what a plot !!! Mixing a cold case with a current case is nothing new, yet this author has created a story that rings true and convinces the reader of its veracity.

Yes folks, I hope Cormac Reilly has a long, varied, and distinguished career with the Galway Guarda. I will be following his career closely and I have already pre-ordered the second novel in this new series (The Scholar). If you like impressive debuts with an outstanding police procedural mystery, then perhaps you should too.

Highly recommended!

I received a digital copy of this novel from Penguin Books via Edelweiss for purposes of this review.

In case you are interested, I’ve included the UK version of the novel’s cover.

UK cover with Irish spelling

Internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed writer, Dervla McTiernan is the author of The Ruin, her crime debut set in Ireland. The Ruin is the first in the detective Cormac Reilly series and has been published in the United States, the UK and Ireland, and in New Zealand and Australia, where it was a top ten bestseller. It has been named one of Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Crime Mystery and Thrillers of 2018 and an Amazon Best Book of July 2018 and has been optioned for TV by Hopscotch.

A lawyer, and now a leading crime writer, Dervla was born in Ireland and now lives in Perth, Australia with her husband, two young children, and a golden retriever.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Favorite books, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cover Love: part 64 – Silhouettes in the dark

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 64th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature ‘silhouettes in the dark‘  on their covers.

Given the topic, most of these titles are thrillers.

Most of these titles I chose only for their covers.
I’ve read four of these – two of which were favourites of mine.
Many more are on my TBR.
Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

Please let me know in the comments.

If you have a few minutes, visit any of the previous installments of
Cover Love – some of which I’ve updated recently.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 13 Comments

“The House on Foster Hill” by Jamie Jo Wright


Blurb:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.
A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

Set in small town Wisconsin, this novel is told via dual timelines with a decrepit old house as the linking factor.

March 1906 –  Ivy’s story

Ivy Thorpe, the daughter of a doctor, keeps a ‘death journal’. She records facts and feelings about the deceased so as to keep their memory alive.  Recently a young woman’s body was found in the hollowed out trunk of an old oak tree. Ivy feels great empathy toward the girl and after she learns that the young woman had recently given birth, Ivy is determined to learn the baby’s fate.  Ivy finds some diary entries written in the margins of an old copy of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens. Could these be the writings of the young dead woman? Her investigations lead her to be viciously attacked – in Foster Hill House…

Ivy suffers a crisis of faith. How could He allow tragedy to strike such innocent victims?

Present day – Kaine’s story

Kaine Prescott, a young widowed social worker, has just arrived in Oakwood, Wisconsin. She has purchased an old house, sight unseen, and is attempting to start over after her husband’s death and the subsequent traumatic events.  She learns that the house she bought is much more rundown than she was led to believe. She also learns that her great-great-grandmother Ivy had ties to the old place.

Kaine meets some new friends in Wisconsin, but soon finds that her former stalker has followed her here. It begins with innocuous things like some daffodils left on her front step. Then things turn more nasty when her dead husband’s name is written on the window in red paint.

The townspeople have never liked Foster Hill House. For centuries there have been sightings of strange lights in the house as well as many testimonies of piano music emanating from the place.

Kaine finds some pages from “Great Expectations” beneath the floorboards in the bedroom.

As traumatic events in Kaine’s new life escalate, she too suffers from a a loss of faith.

“Foster Hill House is holding secrets…”

I’m not even a little bit ashamed that I chose this book for the cover. It’s great isn’t it? The title resonated with me as well because ‘Foster’ is a family name on my mother’s side.  The cover makes you assume a creepy suspenseful read – maybe even a ghost story. You’d be wrong.  This book is essentially a romantic suspense story with a Christian bent.  For those reasons it wasn’t totally to my taste, so fans of romantic suspense will have to take my personal opinions with a grain of salt.  As Bethany House is a publisher of Christian fiction, I should have been more cognizant of that fact when I requested this title.

I read the entire novel, so it did hold my interest. I liked the dual timelines.  Blending historical fiction with a modern day story is done a lot and it is a favourite plot device of mine.  In this case, contrary to my usual choice, I liked the modern day part of the story more. Kaine’s plight seemed more genuine to me than that of Ivy whose story seemed more contrived somehow.  The old house was  a character onto itself as it held so many dark secrets.

This is the author’s first novel and as such was quite well written. I did find it formulaic at times. The emphasis on physical beauty of the protagonists. The strong male protector and the vulnerable female… typical of romantic suspense.  I tire easily of mentions of smoldering glances, broad shoulders, muscular arms, etc. All in all, I would recommend this to fans of Christian romantic suspense, but to readers like myself, it fell short of expectations.

I was grateful to receive a digital copy of this novel from Bethany House via NetGalley for purposes of this review.

Jamie Jo Wright is the author of three novels and a few novellas. Her Christian faith strongly influences her writing. As does her love of history and old buildings and artifacts. She is married with two children and resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense.

Posted in Book Reviews, Christian fiction, NetGalley, romantic suspense | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

“That Last Weekend” by Laura DiSilverio

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

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

Chateau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley, Suspense | Tagged , , | 14 Comments