“The Girl Without a Name” by Sandra Block

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

We meet Dr. Zoe Goldman, a Yale graduate and psychiatric resident at a large hospital in Buffalo, New York. She is in her last year of residency, and is on probation (due to circumstances that occurred in the first book?). Like all residents, she is often tired due to the long hours they work, and to the fact that they are often ‘on call’ even when not working. Zoe, who is working her child-psych rotation, is a ‘Type A’ personality and is also ADHD, so is trying to find a good balance of meds for herself. Ironically, though Zoe is training to be a psychiatrist herself, she also has regular appointments with one.

On a personal level, Zoe has a serious boyfriend, Mike, who is also a doctor, though he is in a medical field and not a psychiatric one like she is. Zoe also has a close relationship with her brother, Scotty who works at a coffee bar. Zoe and Scotty have recently lost their mother so their bond is strengthening. Zoe also has a very mischievous labradoodle named Arthur who adds some levity to the novel.

Though in a solid relationship, Zoe is attracted to the new attending psychiatrist on her floor, as are all the nurses. Dr. Tad Berringer is tall (taller than Zoe who is six feet), smart, charming, handsome, and married.

They have a new patient. Jane (because she doesn’t know her name) was found by police wandering the streets of Buffalo. Mute and dazed, Jane is an African American teenager whom they guess to be around 13-14 years of age. She is catatonic. Eventually, after weeks of treatment, Jane ‘wakes up’ and tells them her name is Candy, but she can’t remember much else except that she was chasing after a limousine.  Then, a few weeks later, she seems to have a completely different personality and calls herself Daneesha. Who IS this girl and what trauma has she suffered to have succumbed to this disorder?

This novel has been on my TBR for some time now. As it is the second novel in the Zoe Goldman series, I was waiting for the opportunity to read the first novel in the series first. Well folks, with review commitments that never happened. SO, I decided to bite the bullet and dive in the series at number two.  The experience was rewarding. I don’t think that the read was in any way diminished by not reading the series in order.

Zoe Goldman was an engaging character whom I liked immediately. I enjoyed her rapport with the hospital staff, her boyfriend, her brother and the police detective, Frank Adams.

Although I did guess who the ‘bad guy’ was somewhere around 2/3 of the way in the book, this did not ruin the story for me. I was still compelled to read more and find out his ‘backstory’ and how Zoe would learn the truth.

The medical setting was different from what I’ve been reading lately, so that too was a nice change. I think the author captured the frustrations and the fatigue of medical residents and accurately showcased some of the more dominant mental illness varieties suffered by young people.

The ending had a very satisfactory resolution, though perhaps it is not what some readers might expect. All in all, I enjoyed this novel very much and would recommend it to others.

I will keep an eye out for other books in this series of which there are now three titles.

Dr. Zoe Goldman series by Sandra Block

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Sandra Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York, for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan and lives at home with her family and Delilah, her impetuous yellow Lab. She has been published in both medical and poetry journals. Little Black Lies is her debut, a finalist in the International Thriller Awards, and The Girl Without a Name and The Secret Room are the other books in the Zoe Goldman series. Her latest stand-alone novel What Happened That Night comes out in June 2018.

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Winner of my second Police Procedural series poll

I found that polling you guys for my next police procedural read was a huge success the first time. I read the first poll winner “For Reasons Unknown” by Michael Wood and loved it.

SO… I decided to do it again.  Twenty-nine people voted this time.

Here is the result of my second poll:

The front-runner of the poll this time was “Perfect Remains” by Helen Fields.  This is an author I’ve not read before and I’m really looking forward to enjoying this novel.
I’ll be reading “Perfect Remains” in March.

As you can see by the Goodreads statistics, it has been enjoyed by many.

Have YOU already read this book? Or, do you plan to?

On another matter…. I just found out that a second blogger has BLOCKED ME on Twitter. Be honest with me guys… WHY is this happening? I try to share your posts. What have I done?


Sincerely, hurt and perplexed, Lynne.

Posted in 1st in series, Anticipated titles, Choosing what to read next | Tagged , | 34 Comments

Fictionophile’s February #TBR – a plan

I surprised myself and actually read ELEVEN titles in January. (My usual is about eight)

In the attempt to tame my rather wild TBR (190 titles with review commitments), I plan to read another TEN titles in February. I thought that by sharing them with you, my commitment will strengthen….. Here goes…

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

a NetGalley title that has been waiting far too long for me to read it – READING NOW

a NetGalley title that seems to ‘fit’ the month of February

a NetGalley title that I’ve been really looking forward to

the Edelweiss title that has been on my Edelweiss queue the longest

my own book – 3rd in a series I’m really enjoying

1st in a series that I received from Wunderkind PR

an older NetGalley title

my second “Marsons of the Month” title. (Loved the first one!)

an older Edelweiss title

my own book that I’ve been looking forward to for some time now

Have YOU read any of these?

I’ve decided that I’m going to be kinder to myself in 2019 and intersperse a few of my own titles amongst the titles that I have review commitments for. I’ve included THREE this month!

Does a reading ‘PLAN’ help you read more?

Posted in Choosing what to read next, Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 37 Comments

“Salt Lane” by William Shaw

I loved this author’s “The Birdwatcher” so much that I just had to read this title which features Detective Sergeant Cupidi of the Serious Crimes Directorate in Kent.

Alexandra Cupidi has moved to Kent from London where she worked for the Metropolitan Police. After a dead-end affair with a married colleague, she ‘up-sticks’ with her teenage daughter and moved to Dungeness. She is a workaholic and devoted to her job. As a result her teenage daughter Zoë is often left to her own devices.  Zoë harbours a lot of anger at her mother for taking her out of South London and away from all of her friends. Much to everyone’s surprise Zoë has taken an eager interest in birdwatching, after being introduced to the pursuit by the protagonist of “The Birdwatcher”.  As a result, the local ‘birders’ often double as child-minders for DS Cupidi.

“The sheer scale of nature here was awesome; disturbing.”

Things are busy in the Kent Police. They are short-staffed and now there has been two gruesome murders which took place about five miles apart from each other. Are they linked? But how?

A middle-aged woman is found in a drain culvert. She was dead before being put in the culvert but the pathologists cannot determine what killed her. Cupidi and her team discover where the woman was living, in a caravan behind a house in a nearby town. They discover a photograph of another caravan with two small boys in front…

A man’s body is discovered immersed in a farmer’s slurry pit. There is evidence that he was in hiding and the police presume he was an illegal immigrant.

What could possibly connect these two murders?

And… the dead woman was not who she claimed to be. How could two women share the same identity? The past holds all the secrets.

Impulsive and driven, Alex Cupidi puts herself in mortal danger to determine the truth.

Touted as the first novel in the D.S. Alex Cupidi series, I can only say that I will be eager to read every one of the future novels. Although technically a police procedural, this title was more about the crimes and the protagonists than police procedure per se.  Although Alex Cupidi was introduced in the novel “The Birdwatcher”, it is not at all necessary to read that one first – though I personally enjoyed this book’s veiled references to the earlier book. I truly hope that William South, the protagonist of “The Birdwatcher” might make a future appearance in one of the Cupidi novels.

I relished the references to Cupidi’s personal life. Her relationship with her daughter and her mother especially, but also her growing rapport with her female constable, Jill Ferriter, and her superior, DI McAdam.

“the world was full of desperation”

The crime was well researched and was very relevant to current social problems. The prevalence of ‘gangmasters‘, illegal immigrants and illegal workers is one which is mentioned every day on the news. The author has shed some light on the issue, causing the reader to feel more empathy for those directly affected. The author reveals humanity in all its guises, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The writing was superb and the plot moved along at a quick pace. The setting was atmospheric. The resolution was believable and realistic. Well done William Shaw! Highly recommended!

I purchased this novel in Kindle format. It is published by Quercus.

from the author’s Goodreads bio:

William Shaw photo ©Ellen Shaw

William Shaw is the author of the Breen & Tozer series set in London in 1968-9 and has a new book in the series called “Sympathy for the Devil” which is soon to be published.
In 2016, he published a standalone called “The Birdwatcher” .
The non-fiction books he wrote include Westsiders , an account of several young would-be rappers struggling to establish themselves against a backdrop of poverty and violence in South Central Los Angeles, Superhero For Hire , a compilation and of the Small Ads columns he wrote for the Observer Magazine, and Spying In Guru Land , in which he joined several British religious cults to write about them.
William Shaw lives in Brighton, Sussex and plays music with Brighton Ceilidh Collective.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Hello February 2019 (blog updates & January #bookhaul)

February is my birthday month. Here in Nova Scotia, it is often the worst weather month of the year, so I can be forgiven for planning a month of snuggling up with some really good books… right?  I really, really, really tried to not request any ARCs in January.  Despite my efforts, I ended up adding FIVE titles to my long list of review commitments. But look at these titles – you can’t blame me right?

From Edelweiss I received two titles:

I was pre-approved for this title on Edelweiss by G.P. Putnman’s Sons

I was pre-approved on Edelweiss for this title by Blackstone Publishing

From NetGalley I received three titles:

I received this title compliments of Canelo Publishing via NetGalley

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

I was sent a NetGalley widget from St. Martin’s Press

The last time I got YOU to vote for my next police procedural read, it paid off in spades!  I absolutely loved “For Reasons Unknown” and now I can highly recommended it too.

The poll was SO successful for me that I tried it again in January.  If you haven’t yet voted for my next police procedural read, you can find the poll to VOTE HERE.

Kindle titles I purchased from Amazon.ca

Even though I added four titles to my review commitments, I also purchased 6 Kindle titles in January.  I’ve put the price I paid underneath the graphic. Just click on the cover to find out more on Goodreads.  Total price for six books = $ 7.25 Cdn.  NOT BAD!

$ .99 published by Aria Books

$1.99 published by Thomas & Mercer

$ .99 published by Orenda Books

$1.30 published by Thriller Bests

$ .99 published by Bloodhound Books

$ .99 published by Bloodhound Books

TLC Blog Tours sponsored a GIVEAWAY of the novel “The Widows” by Jess Montgomery. To qualify, you had to live in either Canada or the U.S.A. Although 27 people kindly shared my book review on Twitter, only six of these lived in the qualifying countries. So the chances were 1/6.  Not bad!Congratulations to Tina Woodbury!  She has won a print copy of the book!

Thank-you to all the book bloggers and other followers who supported me so strongly when I was blocked on Twitter by another blogger. This community of ours is not to be taken granted.  One bad experience morphed into a lot of blogger love coming my way, which worked well to warm my heart.  The blogger in question never did respond to my (polite) message – so her blog will no longer be ‘liked’ or ‘tweeted’ by me. She was on my list of Top Twenty book bloggers so I used to support her faithfully… Oh well… she obviously doesn’t need me.

Hope everyone has a delightful February with lots of Valentine love thrown in for good measure. And remember…

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 27 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = TIME

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.

One thing that bookworms never seem to have enough of is “Time to Read”, so for that reason I chose the word ‘time‘ as this week’s Wednesday’s Word.

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

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

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

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

Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 19 Comments

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

“abandoned, hungry and cold”

North Carolina 1952 – We meet little six-year-old Kya Clark on the day her mother walks out of their marsh ‘shack’ for the last time. Covered in bruises, Kya’s mother has left her drunken, abusive husband and five children. In the weeks that follow, the four older children also leave to find greener pastures elsewhere – leaving Kya and her father alone in the shack. Her father, when drinking to excess, often goes away for days at a time. Kya is alone, fending for herself. We weep for her as she tries to exist on lumpy grits that she has cooked herself and Crisco shortening spread on saltines. When the truant officers come for her, she goes to school for just one day. The other children laugh at her attire and the fact that she is barefoot. She does not return to school, and no one follows up. She knows no affection and spends her every waking moment either tending to the chores or out on her beloved marsh.  She maintains hope that one day her mother will return for her…

“Life had made her an expert at mashing feelings into a storable size.”

One time, when her father took her into town, a young girl sees her and attempts to befriend Kya. The girl’s mother quickly grabs the girl away, admonishing her that Kya is ‘dirty’ and not to go near her. The townspeople call her “The Marsh Girl”.

“strange and feral barefoot girl”

Kya is conflicted. She hides from other people, yet she yearns for physical touch, affection, and love.

She loves the marsh and all that inhabits it. She collects feathers and shells. She paints the beauty of nature that she finds on her doorstep.

“Being alone was a feeling so vast it echoed”

Eventually, there comes a time when Kya’s father no longer returns. She is alone. Growing tall, svelte, brawny, and… illiterate.  She keeps herself by selling mussels and smoked fish to the old man who sells her gas for the boat.

When Kya is fourteen, someone leaves her a beautiful feather on a mossy stump near her shack. The eyebrow feather from a blue heron. Delighted, Kya watches the old stump every day and finds several more treasures left for her. Eventually, she meets the boy who has left her the gifts. He will become very important to Kya.



North Carolina 1969 – A local man named Chase Andrews has been found murdered beneath the fire tower in the marsh. A man from a prominent family, a star quarterback, and a married man who is also known to be a womanizer.  There is no evidence – no footprints, no tire tracks, no fingerprints…

The locals speculate who could have killed Chase Andrews. Maybe it was the ‘crazy woman’ who lives out on the marsh…

Where the Crawdads Sing” is written in beautiful prose that is very hard to read. I found myself having little reading ‘rests’, especially during the first chapters. My heart broke for little Kya in her solitary plight. She was such a forgotten soul. During this time there were very few social agencies that would help – a time when segregation was still practiced, a time before ‘welfare’ checks, a time when a tiny girl could get lost right in front of everyone’s noses.

Not many readers could even imagine Kya’s life. She was socially isolated. Completely self-reliant from the age of six. She lived her life with no instruction, no telephone, no electricity. She never had a birthday party, never had a Christmas tree, dinner, or gifts.

I was very surprised to learn that this is a first novel. The author has published a few non-fiction books before this, so obviously she has honed her writing skills before her fiction debut. The characterization and imagery were nothing short of outstanding.

This novel highlights the strength and resiliency of the human spirit as well as the more negative aspects of prejudice and bigotry. It is a book about loss, hope, friendship, and human kindness. It clearly demonstrates the profound impact of social isolation.

This literary fiction novel was as much of a treasure as Kya’s beloved feathers. A rare treat for fans of the genre. A masterpiece. Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin via Edelweiss for reading enjoyment and review purposes.

Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa including Cry of the Kalahari.

She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and many others.

She currently lives in Idaho. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Favorite books, Literary fiction | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

“Silent Scream” by Angela Marsons

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

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

Police team

  • D.S. Bryant is Kim’s partner and dearest friend. He is married and the father of daughters.
  • D.S. Kevin Dawson, a good copper, but young, vain, and not yet mature.
  • Constable Stacy Wood, a diligent and hard-working local girl.
  • D.C.I. Woodward (Woody) is Kim’s long-suffering superior. Like the rest of her team, he is loyal and stands up for her when the higher-ups would have her removed from the case.

Kim and her team are tasked with solving two recent murders. The linking factor between the two is that both victims were former staff at Crestwood, a home for abandoned, unwanted, and troubled children.  A university professor has been persistently seeking permission to dig up the grounds of Crestwood in order to search for antique coins.  He is thwarted at every turn and even threatened…

“Someone did not want that ground excavated.”

Kim realizes that the grounds surrounding Crestwood must hold the key to solving the murders and she arranges for the grounds to be scoured by forensic experts. What they find there will chill the blood…

Now, more former staff members of Crestwood are being murdered… Where will it end? What horrific crime is being hidden here?

Seldom have I ever read a novel with a protagonist who worked so hard at being unlikable. D.I. Kim Stone is brusque, taciturn, and often outright rude…. yet, I loved her.  As the reader is slowly made aware of her background, and the dire circumstances of her youth, it becomes impossible not to feel a deep empathy for her.  Not pity, because she would not abide that.

I enjoyed the camaraderie between Kim and her police partner, Bryant. They worked perfectly together and thoroughly understood each other. I liked that despite this, they were platonic friends only. I enjoyed reading about how Kim and her ‘team’ worked together in their collective aim to find the villain.

I loved the way the author describes people: “The wrinkles in his forehead did not revert to a resting position and judging by their depth she guessed this guy had been born pissed off.”

I feel it only fair to warn prospective readers that there were scenes in this novel that were VERY disturbing – the stuff of nightmares. The horrific child abuse described will remain in my memory for some time. Yet, you must know these things to fully understand Kim Stone.

This novel can be accurately termed a ‘page-turner’. The fast pace and riveting subject matter consumes the reader and provides an intense reading experience.

By the time I finished the novel, I was left with the feeling that I wanted MORE Kim Stone. Lucky for me that I purchased the entire series in order that I might read one installment every month for my “Marsons of the Month” blog series.  I look forward to reading the second book, “Evil Games” in February.  Oh, and in case you didn’t already guess… “Silent Scream” is highly recommended by me.

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

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

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

“The Widows” by Jess Montgomery #blogtour #giveaway

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

A story of two courageous, hard-working, and thoroughly admirable women, this story is set in an Appalachian mining community where a mine called “The Widowmaker” has proven its name on three separate occasions…

“The sisterhood of widows. Such a sorrowful sisterhood Lily has joined.”

Lily Ross – Wife of the Sheriff, Daniel Ross, pregnant and with two young children, she is widowed at the tender age of twenty-six. Approached by the deputy and offered the position of temporary sheriff, Lily accepts. She aims to find out how and why her beloved husband was killed. They have underestimated Lily’s strength and obstinacy.

Marvena Whitcomb – Widow of a miner, mother to two girls, and former lover and lifelong friend of Daniel Ross. The thirty-five year-old Marvena, having suffered many losses due to the dire conditions in the mining industry, is a union organizer. She is also a moonshiner during the lean years of prohibition.

“So many believe women are too sensitive for life’s brutal truths. That’s only, Lily thinks, because they’ve not experienced the brutal truths life gives particularly and uniquely to women.”

The women overcome mistrust to merge together to combat desperate conditions and corrupt men of power. And, most importantly, to find out the hows and whys of Daniel Ross’s murder.

Though I seldom read historical fiction, when I do, I never cease to marvel at all the research that must have been done to make the book possible. It is obvious that Jess Montgomery didn’t stint on her meticulous research. She crafted two fictional woman who became flesh and blood to the reader. Vividly described places and situations expound on the extreme poverty and resilience of the coal mining families in the 1920s. A time when the ‘company’ owned the houses the miners lived in, owned the schools the children attended, employed the only doctor for miles, and owned the store the miners shopped at. It was a time when young boys worked in the mines as early as the age of eleven. Also, it was a time when the Pinkerton Agency was just a band of ‘thugs for hire’.

The women overcome the odds in a time when women had little, if any, socioeconomic power. In addition to the dangerous and downright criminal practices of the mining company, they expose kickbacks, organized criminals, and murder. All the while tending to their children, cooking, cleaning, and more.  These women will remain in my memory for a very long time.

This fiction debut by author Jess Montgomery proves that she has a writing talent to be reckoned with – and should be a firm favorite of all lovers of historical fiction. Highly recommended.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Chapters/Indigo | Google Books

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in order to participate in this TLC Blog Tour.


JESS MONTGOMERY is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

Connect with Jess Montgomery

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

Check out some other stops on this TLC Blog Tour:

TLC Blog Tours has generously provided me with one copy of “The Widows” to GIVEAWAY! (open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only)

To enter the giveaway you must share this review on Twitter during the month of January 2019.  I will choose a winner via the Random Name Picker web tool and the winner will be announced in my “Hello February” post.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Historical fiction, NetGalley, TLC Book Tours | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = END

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.

One of my favourite authors has a new book coming out with the word ‘end‘ in the title, so that is what spurred me to make that word the subject of this post. 

I know there are thousands of books with the word ‘end’ in the title, but I’m featuring 20 titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love. Five of these titles I’ve read, most of the rest are on my TBR.

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

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

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

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

Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Wednesday Word | Tagged | 21 Comments

“The Dark Lake” by Sarah Bailey

BLURB: The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama. As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her? Rosalind’s enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets—an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.

We meet Gemma Woodstock when she is in a bad place, personally. She lives with Scott, the father of her three-year-old son, yet she does not love him. She has just suffered a miscarriage of a baby conceived with her married lover and police partner, Felix McKinnon. And… she has never recovered from the suicide death of her first love, Jacob.

“I felt the deep guilt of someone who wished for a different life.”

Now, an old schoolmate/nemesis of Emma’s is found dead in the lake backing on the high school. A jogger found the body lying near the shore – covered in long-stem red roses.   The woman, Rosalind Ryan, was a well-liked teacher at the high school. She was, and had always been stunningly beautiful…

“I knew how far in I was again, how comprehensively her death could undo me.”

Emma and Felix are tasked with the homicide investigation. Emma makes light of her previous associations with the dead woman so that her boss will allow her to work on the murder inquiry. Secrets. Secrets. Secrets.  Who would have wanted to murder Rosalind Ryan? Was it someone at the school – a teacher, a student? Could Jacob’s younger brother be in some way involved? Could it have been one of Rosalind’s wealthy family members?  As Emma and Felix investigate, Emma becomes more and more morose. She is revisiting her past. A past when she, Rosalind, and Jacob were part of a love triangle.

Emma receives a bouquet of red roses at her home. The card reads “Beautiful things are hard to keep alive“. Then, the case becomes even more personal when her tiny son is kidnapped… The setting of this novel played a huge part in the story. The small town of Smithson, New South Wales, in December. The lead up to Christmas – and they are suffering a real heat spell. Smithson is a factory town. The local cannery employs most of the residents. Emma Woodstock is a very interesting, very flawed character. She lost her mother suddenly at the age of thirteen. Then, when she was only seventeen, her boyfriend Jacob commit suicide. These were both traumas that have affected her every waking moment. I usually like damaged characters, yet, despite my wanting to care for her more, I found that something about Emma was ‘off’. I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel this way.

The writing was spectacular and the book did not read like the debut novel it is. The characters were written with empathy and the imagery was such that the heat was palpable. The murder mystery was well executed, with a resolution that made sense.

In summation, I do recommend this novel. I feel that it will be a favourite of many. There was just something that for me personally, made it a 4-star read. I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Grand Central Publishing via Edelweiss. This review is my small way of saying thank-you.Sarah Bailey lives in Melbourne, Australia. She has two young sons and one very old cat. She currently works as a director of creative projects company Mr Smith. Over the past five years she has written a number of short stories and opinion pieces. The Dark Lake is her first novel. She has recently released the sequel to The Dark Lake called Into the Night.

Follow Sarah Bailey on Twitter

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Blue Monday? Books are the cure for that.

Yup! Today, January 21st is Blue Monday. A term (in the northern hemisphere) that describes a Monday in January, typically the third Monday of the month, that is characterized as the most depressing day of the year.

To battle the blues, I decided to embrace them. I’m showcasing some titles from my TBR review queue that have blue covers.  As of today, I have 187 titles that I have agreed to review, so thought it would be interesting to see how many of them have blue covers. I found THIRTEEN! (8 from Edelweiss, 2 from NetGalley, 1 from the author, and 2 directly from the publisher.)

If anything looks interesting to you, just click on the cover and it will take you to the Goodreads description.

from Pushkin Press via Edelweiss

from Pamela Dorman Books via Edelweiss

from Scribner via Edelweiss

from Witness Impulse via Edelweiss

from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley

from the author

from Bloodhound Books

from Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley

from Harper via Edelweiss

from Inspired Quill

from Biblioasis via Edelweiss

from Atria Books via Edelweiss

from Yucca via Edelweiss

How could I be BLUE with all of these great titles yet to read?

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Police Procedural series I want to start – Part II

I can’t help myself. Police procedurals, particularly those set in the United Kingdom, are probably my favourite type of read.  Part I of this blog series was SO rewarding, that I thought I’d give it another go.

Last time, the poll winner was Michael Wood’s DCI Matilda Darke series. I read the prequel and the first novel in the series and loved them both. Can’t wait to read more in the series soon.

You guys make such stellar recommendations that I want your opinion again!

I’m on Goodreads everyday. I read other blogs everyday. How can I NOT be tempted to start more?  For my second post in what could easily be a new blog series (Ha-Ha) I’ve listed the information on FIVE Police Procedural series that I’m eager to start. Perhaps they’ll tempt you too?

If you’ve read any of these and can recommend them, I’ve included a poll at the bottom of the post so you can vote which I should read first out of these five.

So which is it to be?

Please vote below to share your opinion on which series I should read first.

Posted in 1st in series, Choosing what to read next | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Hashtag symbol in WordPress tags?

I love doing discussion posts because I always learn something – or at least I have another question to ask. LOL

This time I have a question for all of you WordPress bloggers.

Ever since I have been blogging I’ve been using categories and tags on my WordPress posts.  Both are useful to me (and hopefully to others) to categorize my posts.

A comment from my previous post about using Hashtags brings up this question:

Should we be using the # symbol in our WordPress tags?

I never have… but should I have been?

Thanks in advance.I have SO much to learn!

UPDATE: I received an answer to the question.

Benjamin Thomas (The Writing Train) says:

“It isn’t necessary to use # with WordPress for blogging. Unless, you wanted to track your site/blog by using a plugin. The use of categories and tagging is sufficient if you want to have your site optimized by search engines and ranking higher for easy access.”

Thanks SO much to everyone who weighed-in on this subject.


Posted in Book bloggers | Tagged | 63 Comments

Twitter #Hashtags… Do you use them #Bookbloggers?

Much has been said about the use of hashtags over the past few years. As a relative Twitter/Social Media newbie, I have attempted to incorporate hashtags whenever appropriate. I do think they are valuable, especially for bloggers.

As a former library cataloger, I love using any tool that will help with categorizing data. Hashtags help to categorize your tweet & enable others to search via the hashtag term.

I have noticed that some of the bloggers I follow use them to advantage, while others do NOT use hashtags very often – if at all.  SO… to that end… I have compiled a list of Twitter hashtags that book bloggers can incorporate into their Twitter posts to (hopefully) get more traffic and more readership.

I have created these lists as graphics so if you want you can just save them to your device for future reference.

And when you want to get genre specific…

and always try to include the title of the book you are reviewing as a hashtag.  For instance, “The possible world” by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz would be entered as


AND if you are posting on Tuesday on a bookish subject please use the hashtag


Anyone who blogs and has a post that features books (book reviews, cover reveals, book tours, new releases, author interviews, book tags etc) can use the hashtag.

and, here are a few others I’ve occasionally used:

If you feel uncertain about hashtag usage, then perhaps this post will enlighten you to some of the ways they are used on Twitter and how they can help you!

I hope you found this post useful. If any of you more expert and proficient Tweeters have other hashtags that can be useful to bookbloggers please let me know and I will add them to this post.  Thanks.

Do YOU use hashtags?  Why? Or… Why not?

Posted in Book bloggers, Social networks | Tagged , | 60 Comments