“The Bass Rock” by Evie Wyld – Book Review


Ruth – Recently married to a widower with two boys. She has just moved into the large house in North Berwick, and is finding herself alone more often than not. Her two stepsons are sent off to boarding school and her husband works away in London a lot. It is shortly after WWII, and Ruth is still mourning the loss of her beloved brother who was a war casualty. As time goes on, Ruth’s new marriage deteriorates. Her husband, Peter, treats her with disdain, condescension, and turns his lies on her – telling her that she is imagining it…  The locals are an eccentric lot, especially the Reverend Jon Brown.

Vivienne – Ruth’s granddaughter, lives alone in London. After the death of her father (Ruth’s stepson Michael), she is given the task of going to North Berwick, Scotland to inventory the contents of the family home. Recently, Vivienne had a breakdown which put her in a ‘hospital’ for a few weeks. Her father’s brother, her Uncle Christopher, pays her to inventory the contents of the house which is for sale. As he expects the sale to take quite a while, he enlists her to stay on there as a sort of caretaker. Vivienne meets an eccentric, flamboyant, and quite manic woman named Maggie, who is a self-proclaimed witch.

Sarah – centuries ago Sarah was deemed a witch. Young men were intent on raping her before burning her body. A preacher broke up the intended crime and gives her refuge in his home. Then, because of condemnation by their neigbours in the community, the family are driven from their home and made to go ‘on the run’, taking the girl Sarah with them.
The setting was absolutely spectacular. The large house on the North Berwick shore with the Bass Rock looming in the view from the windows.This is my first Evie Wyld novel and I found the writing to be an unusual and artistic blend of feminine angst, magical realism, and gothic melodrama – there is even a wee ghost.

Of the three women protagonists, I found Ruth’s story to be the most compelling. Her loneliness. Her husband’s abominable treatment of her…

Vivienne’s character was troubled, and reading her authentic voice was downright disturbing at times. She seemed deeply unhappy, drank to excess, and didn’t eat well. Her actions and thoughts were told in almost a stream of consciousness technique. Her interactions with the quirky Maggie felt almost ominous.

It bothered me that the women in this novel turned to drink at the slightest provocation. I don’t mind a drink or three myself, but their drinking seemed over excessive and made them seem weaker than they were.

Although this is not a crime novel, it did contain many crimes within its pages.

The theme of this novel covered several topics such as loss, loneliness, misogyny, and crimes against women over the years. It has an overall dark and unsettling tone, and reads as feminist fiction.  It expounds on the centuries of hurt that men have inflicted on women. It portrays men as mostly selfish and predatory. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but tarring all with the same brush made it seem as though the author belabored the vilifying of men.

The writing itself was beautiful in places. The atmosphere and pathos were astounding.

I realize that this story might not be for everyone. The tone, the subject matter, are not to everyone’s taste. This is award-winning, literary fiction, deserving of acclaim, yet it leaves this reader with an uncomfortable feeling. Perhaps it was meant to?

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Pantheon Books (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) via NetGalley.

Published: September 1, 2020    Publisher: Pantheon Books

ISBN: 9781101871881   ASIN:  B08272VCBZ    368 pages


Evie Wyld‘s debut novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, was shortlisted for the Impac Prize and awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Her second, All the Birds, Singing, won the Miles Franklin Prize, the Encore Prize and the EU Prize for Literature, and shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel awards. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, having previously been named by the BBC as one of the twelve best new British writers. She lives in Peckham, South London, England.

Follow Evie Wyld on Twitter @eviewyld

Posted in Book Reviews, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

#BookRecommendations with titles that start with the letter ‘E’ #booklovers #bookbloggers #GreatReads

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For May 2021, the fifth month, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘E‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five years ago (when I retired). There are 9 books recommended here.

If the title begins with an initial article such as The, A, An etc., I will be using the second word.  For instance, “A Man called Ove” will be included in my M post. “The Silent Patient” will be listed in my S post.

Hopefully you’ll find something that interests you from these posts. As always, I’ve linked the book cover to Goodreads, and the title link will take you to my review of the book.

Exit” by Belinda Bauer


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman


Evil Games” by Angela Marsons


Everything My Mother Taught Me” by Alice Hoffman


Exquisite” by Sarah Stovell


Epitaph” by Anita Waller


Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You” by Annie Lyons


Entry Island” by Peter May


Everything She Forgot” by Lisa Ballantyne

If you have already read any of these titles, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

When someone asks me to recommend a book…

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books | Tagged | 9 Comments

“Smoke Screen” by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst – Book Review

translated from the Norwegian by Megan Turney


This police procedural, set in Oslo, Norway, is the second to feature policeman Alexander Blix and blogger/journalist Emma Ramm.

Blix is a twenty year veteran of the Oslo police. Shortly after his career began he was involved in a fatal shooting that has now become part of the police academy’s syllabus.  Since then, his partner at the time, Gard Fosse, has risen through the ranks and is now Blix’s boss. While Fosse is a ‘by the book‘ type of policeman, Blix is more ‘by the gut‘. Blix is not ambitious for career advancement because he loves the investigative side of his work and would hate to leave that for a desk job.

On a personal level, Blix is divorced and the father of daughter named Iselin, who is in her early twenties.

Blix’s work partner, Sofia Kovic, is twenty-seven years old and has only been working with Blix for less than a year.

Emma Ramm is in her late twenties. A celebrity blogger/journalist for news.no, she has ties to Alexander Blix. Ties that make Blix feel somewhat responsible for her. Emma is an interesting character in that she keeps herself to herself and has a medical condition that she hides from everyone except her sister.  When Emma’s boyfriend is killed in a New Year’s Eve bombing, she turns to the solace of work as a distraction from her grief. Her inquisitive nature will bring her into mortal danger…



On New Year’s Eve in downtown Oslo, a bomb is detonated on the stroke of midnight. Hundreds of New Year’s revelers are watching the firework display. Five of them will die…

Ten years previously, a sixteen month old baby girl was abducted. The case was never solved… Is baby Patricia alive or dead?

With ingenious plotting, this book will explain how these two cases are inextricably linked.

It was great catching up with both the protagonists from the first novel in this series, “Death Deserved“.

Blix is clever, a born copper, who follows his gut instincts to conduct his behavior at work. His workaholic mentality has jeopardized his relationship with his wife and daughter. Now divorced, he lives in an impersonal flat in which he spends as little time as possible. This time out, his daughter Iselin moves in with him…

I enjoyed witnessing the evolving work partnership between Blix and Sofia Kovic and look forward to reading about more of their endeavors in future books.  The cleverly orchestrated, and very complex crimes in this book had me avidly turning pages.

In this novel Sofia Kovic is tasked with leading her first murder investigation when Blix is tied up with the bombing/abduction cases.

Emma, a driven and ambitious blogger journalist, is also very clever and presented as a sympathetic and empathetic character. Her childhood trauma and tragedy served to make her someone whom you just have to root for. In this book, she loses her boyfriend when he is a victim of the explosion on New Year’s Eve.

The Norwegian and Danish names of the myriad characters in the book were somewhat of a challenge to this solely English speaking reader.

The book covers some fascinating themes such as parental guilt, abduction, and revenge.

I am eternally amazed when I learn that two authors have co-written a book. The fact that two minds can cause a seamless narrative is astounding. Add in the fact that this book is written by two authors AND is a translation, makes the achievement even more astounding.

Smoke Screen” is an absorbing and engrossing crime thriller that I can highly recommend to all fans of the genre.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books via Karen Sullivan.

Published: December 18, 2020    Publisher: Orenda Books

ISBN: 9781913193560   ASIN: B08DTHMGJS     315 pages

Smoke Screen” is the second crime thriller jointly written by two internationally acclaimed Norwegian authors.

Thomas Enger is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of five books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 28 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Killer Instinct, another Young Adult suspense novel, was published in Norway in 2017. Rights have been sold to Germany and Iceland. Thomas Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Follow him on Twitter @EngerThomas or on Facebook www.facebook.com/thomas.enger.77


Jørn Lier Horst is a former Senior Investigating Officer at the Norwegian police force. He made his literary debut as a crime writer in 2004 and is now considered one of the foremost Nordic crime writers. His William Wisting series of crime novels has been extremely successful, having sold more than 1 million copies in Norway. The series has also been translated into thirty languages. Dregs, sixth in the series, was published in English by Sandstone Press in 2011. The next book, Closed for Winter, won Norway’s Booksellers’ Prize in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Riverton Prize. The Hunting Dogs, won both the prestigious Golden Revolver, for best Norwegian crime, and The Glass Key, which widened the scope to best crime fiction in all the Nordic countries, in 2013. He has a beloved dog named Theodor.

Follow him on Twitter @LierHorst or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JornLierHorst/


Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.

Posted in Book Reviews, Nordic noir, novels in translation, Orenda Books, Scandinavian | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

WWW Wednesday – May 12, 2021 #readingforpleasure #bookbloggers #WWWWednesday #bookworms

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

I’ve linked the book descriptions to the Goodreads site for the book.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?The Bass Rock” is a title published by Pantheon (Knopf Doubleday Publishing) that I downloaded from NetGalley.

What have I just finished reading?

Smoke Screenis the second in the Norwegian crime series by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. I love this series so far. I was gifted a digital copy of the novel from Karen at Orenda Books.

What will I read next?”

Web Of Lies” by Sally Rigby is a title I’m reading for a blog tour hosted by Emma – Damppebbles Blog Tours – on May 18th. The publisher, Top Drawer Press gifted me a copy via Emma.

and after that, I plan to read

The Guest Book” is a title published by Vintage (Random House UK) that I downloaded from NetGalley.


So that’s it!   How is YOUR reading week shaping up?

Check out a few other WWW Wednesday posts:

Nicki’s WWW post

Jacob’s WWW post

Cathy’s WWW post

 Sam’s WWW post

Emma’s WWW post

Ashley’s WWW post

Emma’s WWW post

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report, Reading, WWW Wednesdays | Tagged | 12 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – May 11, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers #AGingerbreadHouse @severnhouse

My new Tuesday post where I’ll ‘tease‘ you with the cover, blurb, and first paragraph of one of the advanced reader’s copies from my own TBR.

This one is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

I’m fully aware that many book bloggers have done something similar in the past, and acknowledge that this idea is not original.

Today, Tuesday May 11th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

A Gingerbread House” is written by Catriona McPherson. I’ve read several of this author’s novels in the past and have enjoyed them very much. Expected publication date is August 3, 2021

Publisher: Severn House/Canongate Books

ISBN: 9780727850010 – 288 pages

from the prologue:

There was no mistaking the smell. Except, come to think of it, that’s not true. It was all too easy to mistake the smell, to miss that one crucial note in the putrid bouquet. For a start, it was damp and there was a years-deep rind of mould coating the bricks, eating into the mortar, softening the cheap cement that, once upon a time, had been used to pour the floor.


Intrigued? I was. Was she just smelling mildew? Or, perhaps, a dead body?


Is this a title that you would consider adding to your TBR pile?

Why, or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , | 8 Comments

“Outside Looking In” by Michael Wood – Book Review

“When you’re on the outside looking in you see things a lot differently.”

DCI Matilda Darke is well named, for this is a woman who is in a dark place. It is almost the first anniversary of her beloved husband’s death, AND that coincides with the anniversary of a kidnapping case gone wrong where she was blamed for the loss of a young boy. She suffers from severe panic attacks, and is hanging on by a thread… Vilified by the press, and with her small murder team being shut down, Matilda is tasked with a brutal murder and attempted murder.

A man and woman were attacked in a quiet road. They were both married, but not to each other. Their spouses have rock solid alibis. Who could have done this?

Also, Sheffield is suffering from a spate of violent armed burglaries, making the budget cuts and depleted manpower a grave concern.

The spouses of the two attack victims are featured prominently in the book. The wife of the male victim has to come to terms with her husband’s death and his infidelity all the while trying to keep things relatively ‘normal’ for her young children. This dire predicament is exacerbated by the fact that a masked gunman enters her home demanding money.

I’ve been reading without break for the past three hours and to tell the honest truth, I’m suffering by what I call reader’s headache. I literally couldn’t put this book down.

Michael Wood has once again written a crime thriller that had me feverishly turning pages. With a somewhat complex plot, he brilliantly tied it all together in a seamless fashion.

I enjoyed getting to know DCI Matilda Darke just that much better since reading the prequel and first novel in the series. I was pleased to hear that in this book she inherits a vast collection of crime fiction books, many written by my own favourite authors.

Matilda’s team support her admirably, and I was happy to re-acquaint myself with them all. I enjoy reading the passages where she is accompanied by her best friend Adele Kean, the police pathologist.

The title is perfect. No one knows exactly how people are coping with their lives by being on the outside looking in. You have to be on the inside to fully understand.

This is a series that I highly recommend to all fans of the genre. If I had to compare him to another author, then I would say his writing reminds me of the work of Angela Marsons, and coming from me that is high praise indeed. I intend to complete this series as soon as time allows. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily. I purchased a digital copy of this novel from Amazon.ca  ISBN: 9780008190477 – ASIN: B01BS9XGOS – 378 pages

Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.  As a huge reader of crime fiction he decided to follow in the footsteps of his favourite authors. I, for one, am glad he did.

Follow Michael Wood on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Longlist – Theakston Old Peculier Crime novel of the Year 2021 #TheakstonAward #HarrogateFest #crimefiction #literaryaward

LONGLIST REVEALED FOR UK’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS CRIME WRITING PRIZE

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021

harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com | #TheakstonAward | @HarrogateFest |

Now in its 17th year, the most coveted prize in crime fiction, presented by Harrogate International Festivals celebrates crime writing at its best. This year’s longlist transports readers around the world from California to Sweden and Calcutta to a remote Irish island and explores every subgenre from Scandi noir to murderous families.

The line-up of returning champions is led by crime fiction titan Ian Rankin, who has received a nod for his A Song for The Dark Times, Mark Billingham, hoping for a third win with his Cry Baby, and Steve Cavanagh looking to beat the competition with Fifty Fifty.

 This year’s longlist recognises a number of authors who have previously never been listed by the prize. Hoping to claim the trophy on their first appearance are Lucy Foley with her No.1 Sunday Times Best Seller The Guest List, Chris Whitaker with We Begin at The End, Scottish author Doug Johnstone with The Big Chill and Liz Nugent with Our Little Cruelties, and Jane Casey with her latest Maeve Kerrigan instalment The Cutting Place.

 The longlist also features several previously nominated authors hoping to go one step further and clinch the trophy with Elly Griffiths securing her seventh pick for her much lauded The Lantern Men and Susie Steiner getting her third nod for Remain Silent and Brian McGilloway’s second nomination for The Last Crossing, and best-selling author Louise Candlish hoping to win on her second pick with The Other Passenger.

 Joining these outstanding names is the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime’ herself, Val McDermid with her newest Karen Pirie novel Still Life. Celebrated in the industry for her impeccable ability to select emerging talent for the annual New Blood panel at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, McDermid find herself competing against many New Blood alumni including: Will Dean for his latest Scandi noir Black River; Eva Dolan for the newest instalment of her critically-acclaimed Zigic and Ferreira series, Abir Mukherjee’s new Calcutta and Assam-inspired Death in the East, and finally Trevor Wood – who has gone from the 2020 New Blood panel to longlisted for Crime’s biggest award.

 The full longlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 is:

–          Cry Baby by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)

–          The Cutting Place by Jane Casey (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh (The Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)

–          Black River by Will Dean (Oneworld Publications, Point Blank)

–          Between Two Evils by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books)

–          The Guest List by Lucy Foley (HarperCollins, HarperFiction)

–          The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

–          The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (Orenda Books)

–          Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (Penguin Random House UK, Viking)

–          Still Life by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group, Sphere)

–          The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway (Little, Brown Book Group, Constable)

–          Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)

–          Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (Penguin, Sandycove)

–          A Song For The Dark Times by Ian Rankin (Orion, Orion Fiction)

–          Remain Silent by Susie Steiner (HarperCollins Publishers, The Borough Press)

–          We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker (Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre)

–          The Man on the Street by Trevor Wood (Quercus, Quercus Fiction)

Run by Harrogate International Festivals, the shortlist will be announced in June and the winner on 22 July, at the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – with the public able to vote for the winner on harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com.

 The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors.

 The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

 The public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles on www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, which will be announced in June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 22 July, and will receive £3,000, and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Top 5 Books on my Wishlist that I REALLY want to read #TBR May 2021

Honestly though… my book wishlist is VAST!  At present there are over 2.000 titles on my Goodreads TBR! (not to mention the 150 titles on my Amazon Wishlist!)

Picking 5 out of over 2,000 – HARD WORK!

TWO of these titles – ones I REALLY want to read – are titles that I cannot get.  I’m quite certain that their inaccessibility is partly why I want them SO BAD! Alas… none of these have review commitments which is another reason they are on the ‘back-burner’.


1.) “The Trawlerman” by William Shaw

This title is the fourth in one of my favourite series, which features D.S. Alexandra Cupidi and is set on the Kent coast. It is NOT yet available in Canada in any format. 😦

If it does become available here, I hope it is offered in Kindle format as that is the only way I read now.


2.) The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

I’ve read the first two titles in this fantastic crime series featuring Cormac Reilly and would really like to read the third installment.  It becomes available in Canada on August 31, 2021. I have it on pre-order! Yeah!


3.) “Make Yourself at Home” by Ciara Geraghty

For the longest time, this title was not available in Kindle format, yet when I checked again this morning, it WAS! Needless to say, I purchased it immediately. Now all I have to do is fit it in among my review commitments.


4.) “The Great Silence” by Doug Johnstone

This is the 3rd installment in the fantastic series featuring the Skelfs, a family who divide their time between their funeral business and their private investigation business. Set in Edinburgh, this series is one of my ‘must reads’ by one of my favourite authors.

Sadly, it is not available in Canada yet…


5.) “Buried Secrets” by Lisa Cutts

This title has been patiently waiting on my Kindle for quite some time.  The blurb sounds so intriguing. I’ve never read this author before, but I’m really looking forward to finding the time to read it.


Have you read any of these titles? If not, are they on your TBR?

Posted in Anticipated titles | Tagged | 15 Comments

Cover Love: part 100 – Balloons

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.

As this is my 100th installment of Cover Love, I thought I should feature something that has a celebratory feel. What better than BALLOONS?

 Have you read any of these titles?

Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 99 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

 

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 9 Comments

“Just What Kind of Mother are You?” by Paula Daly – Book Review

This novel is told via three voices:

Lisa Kallisto – a married mother of three who never has the time she needs for all she wants to do. Harried and often overwhelmed by her busy life and her job in an animal rescue shelter, she and her husband Joe are living day to day, paycheck to paycheck. She is constantly feeling guilty about not spending any ‘quality’ time with her kids: Sally aged 13, James, aged 11, and Sam, aged 7. When her friend Kate’s daughter Lucinda goes missing she blames herself. Lucinda was supposed to be staying the night at Kate’s house with her daughter Sally.

DC Joanne Aspinall – in her late thirties, Joanne lives in her own house in Windermere which she is now sharing with her Aunt Jackie.

The Abductor – young, charismatic, and well dressed, the abductor is an enigma throughout most of the book. He desires very young girls who have no blemishes or scars. Girls who look even younger than they are…

Set in a small, intimate village near Lake Windermere in the Lake District, this is Paula Daly’s debut novel – and what a page turner!

Told via the point-of-view of three characters, Lisa Kallisto, Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall, and, to a lesser extent the abductor, this story is about a missing thirteen year-old girl. What sets it ahead of other novels about missing children is the truly authentic voice of all the characters. They seemed like REAL people, with no artifice and brutal honesty.

These characters draw you in so that you become invested in their lives. Lisa’s work at the animal shelter was fascinating to me, and the scenes with the ‘rescues’ will be keenly appreciated by all animal lovers. DC Aspinall’s home life, and personal issues had me invested in her struggles as well.

The novel is primarily about parenting. Those who do it well, those who are struggling, and those who seem to be doing well, but are anything but. It explores how we never really know what goes on behind closed doors and how a person’s facade can be misleading. How parents, especially mothers, push themselves to be all things to all people. Perfect parents, perfect partners, perfect employees. The attempt is seldom, if ever, successful.

All in all, this was an enjoyable, character-driven read. Highly recommended!

Anna Friel who stars in the ITV television drama “Deep Water”

Published in 2013 by Penguin/Random House Canada.

ISBN: 9780802121622 – ASIN: B00B6OVPDA – 320 pages

This title has been patiently waiting on my Kindle for some time. I purchased it a few years ago, and chose to read it now because there will soon be a new television drama based on it and another Paula Daly title “The Mistake I Made“. The TV drama is called Deep Water and stars Anna Friel (of “Marcella” fame). I hope to read the second book before the show finally arrives in Canada.


Paula Daly is the acclaimed author of six novels. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award.

She was born in Lancashire and lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children, and dog Skippy.

Follow Paula Daly on Twitter @PaulaDalyAuthor

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

“How the Penguins Saved Veronica” by Hazel Prior – Book Review

Eighty-six year old Veronica McCreedy is wealthy, cantankerous, manipulative, stubborn, and very, very, lonely. She lost her parents during the Blitz, and her life since then has been filled with more loss and loneliness. She shies away from getting too close to people for fear of being hurt once again.

No wonder then, that she has a curmudgeonly demeanor. Veronica lives alone in a large mansion near the sea in Ayrshire, Scotland called Ballahays. Her only help is a well-meaning housekeeper/companion named Eileen, and a gardener.After re-discovering an old box of memorabilia, Veronica wonders if she has any family left. She enlists the aid of Eileen to see if she can trace anyone. She discovers that she has a grandson she never knew about.  His name is Patrick and she travels down to London to meet him. The meeting was not a success. Patrick had just broken up with his girlfriend and was at a low ebb. He was high on weed, unwashed, and lived in a grotty bedsit.After their disastrous meeting, Veronica decides that she must leave her vast wealth somewhere, so after watching a nature documentary about penguins, she decides that saving penguins will be her life’s mission. But she must check out the place first. She bravely travels to Antarctica to live at the penguin research station for three weeks. The scientists have told her not to come, but she doesn’t let that stop her.At once, Veronica falls in love with penguins. The two male scientists do not want her there, but the young woman seems friendly. After helping to rescue a baby penguin, the young woman (named Terry), seems like someone Veronica can finally confide in.What a delightful reading experience! I read the last pages very slowly… I just didn’t want the story to end.

Told via the alternating perspectives of Veronica and her grandson Patrick, the story was heart-warming, poignant, humorous, and up-lifting.

A story about caring, moral values, the ravages of war, environmentalism, human-animal connection, and love. It explores the possibility that even a heart that has been rusted shut for seventy years can be opened to love and connection.

This is a ‘feel-good’ novel that will stay in my heart for years to come.This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Berkley Publishing via Edelweiss  ISBN: 9781984803818 – ASIN: B07ZN3WXGX – 368 pagesThese passages from the book will help you to know Veronica a bit better:

“It can be an advantage being slightly hard of hearing. You can get away with not answering stupid questions.”

“Human company is necessary at times, I admit, but it is almost irksome in one way or another.”

and when Veronica feels like she might cry:

I find that my eyes are stinging severely. The second time today. Normally, they cause me no problems whatsoever. I hope this is not the beginning of some visual ailment.

“How the Penguins Saved Veronica” was also published under the title “Away with the Penguins”

I personally prefer the cover and title of “Away with the Penguins”.

Hazel Prior is a harpist based in Exmoor, England. Originally from Oxford, she fell in love with the harp as a student and now performs regularly. She’s had short stories published in literary magazines and has won numerous writing competitions in the UK. Ellie and the Harpmaker was her first novel andHow the Penguins Saved Veronicais her second.

Follow Hazel Prior on Twitter @HazelPriorBooks

or, visit her official website: https://www.hazeltheharpist.co.uk/

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Favorite books, Literary fiction, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = GARDEN #WednesdaysWord #booklovers

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.

My pick for Wednesday’s Word this week is ‘GARDEN‘. Spring has sprung in my part of the world and thoughts have turned to gardening. In this post I’ve selected 28 novels with the word ‘garden’ in the title as a way of sharing my book love.

These titles cover a broad range of  genres – with literary fiction, mystery, women’s fiction, and thrillers to name but a few.

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.

You might just find your next favorite book!And finally, two books that I fondly remember from childhood…

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

Which cover MOST APPEALS to YOU?
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

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

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 7 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – May 4, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers

I want to start a new Tuesday post where I’ll ‘tease‘ you with the cover, blurb, and first paragraph of one of the advanced reader’s copies from my own TBR.

This one is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

I’m fully aware that many book bloggers have done something similar in the past, and acknowledge that this idea is not original.

Today, Tuesday May 4th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

What You Can See From Here” is written by Mariana Leky and is translated from the original German language by Tess Lewis.

Expected publication date is June 22, 2021 – Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

When Selma told us she had dreamed of an okapi the night before, we all knew that one of us was going to die in the next twenty-four hours. We were almost right. It took twenty-nine. Death arrived a bit late and very literally; he came in through the door. Maybe he was delayed because he had put it off for a long time, even past the last possible moment.


Intrigued? I was. The first thing I had to do was go online and research what an ‘okapi‘ was. That is one of the things I love about reading international fiction. You always learn some interesting facts about the country of origin’s tradition, beliefs, and folklore.


I was surprised when I stumbled upon this description. Now I’m even more curious to read how this meshes with the book’s message…Mariana Leky was born in Cologne and currently makes her home in Berlin. After training as a bookseller, she studied cultural journalism at the University of Hildesheim. Though she is one of very few members of her family who are not psychologists, she still writes a monthly column for the magazine “Psychologie Heute.” Her books have earned numerous prizes, including the Allegra Prize, the Lower Saxony Literary Advancement Award, and the Advancement Prize for Young Artists from the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Before being published in 21 languages What You Can See from Here was named the German Booksellers’ Favorite Book of the Year and became a runaway bestseller.


Is this a title that you would consider adding to your TBR pile?

Why, or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in novels in translation, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged | 8 Comments

“Looking for Leo” by J.A. Baker – Book Review

About the book:

Lynda – is single and nearing retirement from her job as a school teacher. She lives alone and enjoys her own company. She has lived with regrets and guilt for most of her adult life. Her only friend is a neighbour, a former teacher named Moira.

Moira – a widow and a former school teacher. Her only friend in the neighbourhood is the self-contained Lynda. Moira lives alone in a large house and a garden which she tends with religious regularity and enthusiasm.

Sarah – is married to a philandering man who spends little time at home. She is childless, much to her deep disappointment. She lives in a lovely detached house which she keeps spotless. Lonely, she has no friends – mostly due to her abrasive and rather toxic personality. Sarah has far too much time on her hands, and is constantly speculating on affairs that are none of her business…

Emily – is newly divorced and is the mother to an eight-year-old boy named Joel. When she learns of Leo’s disappearance, she becomes increasingly fretful about her own son, especially when she is at work. Emily is in a new relationship with Mohammed, a lovely man who works as a taxi driver.

Ashton – has recently returned to his home village. When he was just eleven years old he sexually molested another boy at his school. He thought this was acceptable behavior because he had been constantly molested by his step-father for as long as he can remember. Now an adult, he realizes that what he did was a product of his upbringing and he desires more than anything, to ‘start over‘ and be a good person.

Leo – eight-years old, he is picked up at his school when his mother fails to collect him in time. The person who picks him up tells him that his mother is delayed at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Polite and loveable, Leo’s strength and confidence is tested over the course of the book.

Leo’s mother is reviled in the press and on social media. The public blame her for Leo’s abduction, despite the unavoidable circumstances which led to her failing to pick him up from school.

“When people are kept in the dark, they make up their own version of events. Whispers and rumours only worsen the situation.”

After reading “Her Dark Retreat” and the fabulous “The Woman at Number 19“, I was very eager to read more by the author J.A. Baker.  After reading “Looking for Leo” I’ve decided that I will make it my mission to read everything she has written to date.

Over the course of the book we come to know four neighbours of a small village in North Yorkshire. Two are in late middle-age and are best friends. Two are younger and don’t know each other very well. These women all have secrets and flaws, and their reactions to an eight-year old boy who goes missing in the next village are all unique to themselves.

Told from the points of view of several different characters, the narrative is well-rounded and rife with red-herrings. Just when you think you know what has taken place, you are forced to reassess your beliefs and ponder the next likely scenario.

I loved the North Yorkshire setting and the pacing of the story was just perfect. The ending revelations were memorable.

I urge all domestic thriller lovers to add this book to their TBRs. The sooner the better!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Bloodhound Books ISBN: 9781913942199 –  ASIN: B08SCPJD89  – 296 pages


Born in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, Judith A. Baker developed a deep appreciation of literature and reading from a young age after being introduced to it by her parents. Weekly visits to the library were the norm and after being handed a collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories by her father, her love for the darker side of fiction slowly grew. She is an avid reader of all books but is drawn in particular, to psychological thrillers.
After many rejections (too many to mention!) her debut novel, Undercurrent, was published by Bloodhound Books in March 2017 and made it into the top 100 Amazon chart in both the UK and Canada. J.A. Baker is the author of ten stand-alone thrillers.
J. A. Baker has four grown up children and lives in a village on the outskirts of Darlington with her husband Richard, and Theo, their barking mad dog.

J.A. Baker’s website: http://www.jabakerauthor.co.uk/

Follow J.A. Baker on Twitter and/or on Facebook.

Posted in Bloodhound Books, Book Reviews, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Spell the Month in Books – MAY #SpellTheMonthInBooks #BookRecommendations

I first saw this on Nicki’s Secret Library Blog and Carla’s Love to Read, but it originated from Jana at ‘Reviews from the Stacks‘.

Every month I will spell the month in books that I have already read, linking back to my reviews of the title. (Initial articles – The, A, An – will not be taken into account)


Mile Marker 139” by Cynthia Hilston


All Things Cease to Appear” by Elizabeth Brundage


The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


That was fun!

I’m always searching for ways to share my book recommendations.

We are currently under lockdown where I live, so all non-essential stores, businesses and services are closed.  Also, we are encouraged to stay in our own communities. Mother Nature has deemed that ‘spring has sprung‘ so my husband and I went for a walk in beautiful downtown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where we live.

Here are a few photos of the Cancer Survivor’s Daffodil Garden, where the daffodils are at their absolute best. These photos were taken last Thursday, April 29th. As you can see, there are not many people around – normally this park would be much more populated. You can’t read the inscriptions on the benches from these photos, but they are all positive cancer phrases. Two of which are: “The beauty of life after cancer is worth fighting for“, and “A scar is a badge of your strength“.

Cancer Survivors Daffodil Garden

As you can see from this photo taken earlier this year, the path in the center of the park is in the shape of a ‘cancer awareness’ ribbon.

Thanks for visiting. ♥

Posted in Book Reviews, Spell the Month in Books | Tagged | 15 Comments