Edelweiss Reviewer’s Group on Goodreads

Hello Lovely Bookbloggers!

Many of you know that I am a member of NetGalley and Edelweiss.  A while back I noticed that although there were a couple of Goodreads groups aimed at NetGalley reviewers, there didn’t seem to be any for Edelweiss reviewers. So I took it upon myself to create one.

At the time, many bloggers seemed to think that Edelweiss was not as user-friendly as NetGalley, though many improvements have since been made. If you are struggling with your Edelweiss experience, or if you are an expert and want to share some tips on the Edelweiss interface, please join our group.

So, just in case you weren’t aware of the Edelweiss Reviewer’s Group, I thought I would cordially invite you to join us. As of today, we are 273 members strong.

At the present time, here are my Edelweiss stats:

As you can see, I’ve been greedy here as well. I just can’t seem to resist all those lovely books…

As such, in 2020, I plan to have a month where I read ONLY Edelweiss titles. If YOUR Edelweiss stats are suffering like mine are, why not grab the graphic below and have you own EVERYTHING EDELWEISS MONTH!

Here’s hoping that you all have a productive and joyous holiday season!

Posted in Book bloggers, Edelweiss, Goodreads | Tagged | 13 Comments

“The Lies We Hide” by S. E. Lynes – #BookReview @Bookouture #blogtour

Carol’s story is set mostly in the mid to late 1980s. Desperate, after a final, almost deadly attack from her husband Ted, Carol secrets her two children away and takes them to live in a shelter for abused families. This action, though life-saving, had a dreadful impact on them all, the consequences of which will follow them throughout their lives.

Graham’s story is told in 1992 mostly through his interactions with a prison chaplain named Richard Crown. At this time, Graham has served six years in Lancaster Castle Prison. Richard is here to counsel some of the inmates and he finds himself drawn to the quiet and intense young Graham Watson. The two men become friends and find mutual benefit from their sessions together. Richard Crown’s story is also filled with poignancy.

“Guilt is not helpful. It is there to tell us when we have behaved badly and when we need to make amends, but other than that, it has no purpose.”

Nicola’s story was set in the present, in Merseyside where she has returned for her mother’s funeral. The youngest in the family, Nicola was studious and a wee bit oblivious to the turmoil of her early life. Now, a successful London barrister, she realizes – too late – just how much her Mother sacrificed for her in order that she might escape her roots and make a real success of her life.

“In families, we assume roles without even knowing we’re doing it. We fill in the blanks.”

S.E. Lynes has taken a departure from her usual thriller genre with this powerful work of literary fiction. When I was just barely half-way through this novel I knew it would be on my ‘Best of 2019’ list for sure. Brilliant!

It was the outstanding characterization that makes this novel a five star read. Told from three different points of view, each is told with such empathy and deep understanding that you feel you know the characters personally.

Carol’s story was heartbreaking, and all too real. Although this is a book about domestic abuse and its aftermath, it was told in such a compelling way that it had a unique impact.

Though the book is set in the Liverpool area, it could be set anywhere. It is the characters and their often tragic story that shines in this book. I was so mesmerized and engaged with these characters that I couldn’t put the book down until the final page was read. And then… already I missed the characters. I thought I’d list my favourite characters, then I stopped myself because really I loved them all with a special mention to Carol Watson, Jim MacKay, and Graham Watson. Oh, and I cannot fail to mention the heartwarming friendship between Carol and her next-door neighbour and best-friend, Pauline.

A novel about bravery, cowardliness, kindness, grief, loss, hope, contrition, self-sacrifice, shame, and endurance. It speaks to the resilience and love of family white at the same time lamenting how precious time is with the ones we love – and who love us.

Just because this novel is not a thriller does not mean that it can’t have plot twists. There are a few near the end that will satisfy most readers. Not shocking as such, just secrets revealed slowly over time, like peeling back the layers of an onion.

Highly recommended, memorable, literary fiction!

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 Sarah Hardy and Bookouture via NetGalley in order that I might participate in the Bookouture Blog Tour for this new title.

367 pages

ISBN: 9781838881863

After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London for a couple of years before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a Radio Producer at the BBC before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with teaching at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington, Middlesex.

Follow S.E. Lynes on Twitter

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Bookouture, Favorite books, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cover Love: part 83 – Churches

In my 83rd installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about churches on book covers. Many people find comfort and solace through religion, especially at this time of year. We must remember too just how many crimes were committed, and wars waged – all in the name of religion.

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.

These titles encompass a wide variety of genres.  Enjoy!

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

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

You might just find your next favorite book!

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

Please let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 82 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 5 Comments

Hello December 2019 – Fictionophile updates

Wow! 2019 is almost over and there are SO MANY more books I wanted to get read this year.
December is always such a busy month that I hope I can squeeze a few more reads in.

I’m pleased to report that I have completed my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge

and my ‘NetGalley November‘ efforts paid off.  I read nine NetGalley titles in November bringing my NetGalley feedback ratio up three points!

By far, my most popular post this month was a discussion post on star ratings.
This post garnered 441 views – almost double any of my book review posts.

I’m very happy to report that Fictionophile now has 3,694 followers and I’m very grateful to each and every one of them.  If I get to 4,000 followers I plan to host a draw for an Amazon gift card.


On a personal note, today I finished writing all my Christmas letters for overseas. I have 35 first cousins in England, though I’m only really in touch with eight of them on a regular basis.

And, my dear little grandson went to visit Santa for the very first time.

He is the light of my life…

Hope you all have a joyous and productive month of December.

Thanks so much for your support over the past year.

 

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged | 28 Comments

“The Woman in the Dark” by Vanessa Savage – Book Review

Sarah and Patrick are married and have two children, Joe who is seventeen and Mia who is fifteen. Since Sarah’s mother passed away, she is riddled with guilt and her emotional state is fragile. Now, she is told she tried to commit suicide. But surely she didn’t. She loves her family too much to contemplate such a thing.

Patrick wants to buy the old seaside Victorian house he was brought up in. Sarah objects for two reasons. Firstly they cannot afford such a house and secondly… this house was the site of the murder of an entire family. It is known locally as “The Murder House”.

Patrick is insistent. He says that a move to this house would be a fresh start for their family. Sarah could make it the idyllic house of his childhood memories. So, with the addition of the entire amount of money Sarah’s mother bequeathed to her, they buy the house.

Immediately upon moving in Sarah knows that this move was a dire mistake. The children hate the house. Patrick is acting unlike himself. Moody and volatile, he is drastically changed… And, it seems as though someone is watching the house. Could it be the murderer of the family who once lived here?

With no money for redecorating, the house is dreary. Peeling wallpaper, moldy and damp, the house has cold spots. Sarah can never feel warm. And she is sleeping her days away…

Sarah, unable to face her present predicament, turns to her art as a form of escape. She was in university when she met Patrick but dropped out to marry him. Now, after many years, she wants to return to her painting.


One day she comes home to discover Patrick in the backyard – burning her sketches. A whole lifetime’s worth of sketches of her beloved children…. turned to ash.

This is just one of many betrayals and acts of emotional sabotage.

Will Sarah and her family survive living in “The Murder House”?

WOW! “The Woman in the Dark” was my 100th read this year and what a brilliant thriller!

Compelling writing and continuous tension ensured that I was riveted to the story for the entirety of the book. A debut domestic thriller that reads like the work of a much more experienced author.

A thriller chock-full of lies, secrets, family dysfunction, and menace.

The Welsh seaside setting, the macabre house, and the protagonist, Sarah, all combined to make this novel one of my favourite reads this year!

Highly recommended!  Now, I can’t wait to read Vanessa Savage’s second novel “In the Woods” due to be published in January 2020 by Sphere.

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 Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

352 pages

ISBN: 9781538714294

Vanessa Savage is a graphic designer and illustrator. She lives in South Wales with her husband and two daughters.

Her debut novel, The Woman in the Dark, was bought at auction by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US and was published as a lead title in January 2019. Her second novel, The Woods, will be published in January 2020.

Follow Vanessa Savage on Twitter.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Favorite books, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

November #bookhaul redux

Yes, I know… I’ve already posted about my Kindle purchases this month. There were only thirteen of them – don’t judge me.  They were selfish purchases with no review commitments attached.

Now, I’d like to share with you the seven novels I received this month which I have committed to review.
As many of you know, I have refrained from requesting anything from NetGalley due to my long list of books from them that I’m trying to catch up on.

My ‘NetGalley November‘ plan worked well, bringing my feedback ratio to 83%

I received one title directly from  Yvonne of Hookline Books:

A Pair of Sharp Eyes” by Kat Armstrong


And, Kerena Swan sent me a digital copy of her latest novel


And from Edelweiss, I downloaded 5 titles!

A follow-up to “The Widows” which I read and reviewed in January 2019


I read and reviewed Jennifer Hillier’s “Jar of Hearts” last February and want to read more by this author.


Historical fiction from a ‘new to me’ author, Kayte Nunn.


I read and reviewed this author’s “The Widow’s House” back in 2017


I read and reviewed this author’s “Grief Cottage” back in 2017 and look forward to her latest title.

So… SEVEN more review commitments in November.

Do any of these titles appeal to you?

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 11 Comments

“The Retreat” by Mark Edwards – Book Review

Lucas Radcliffe has written a best-selling horror novel. Since the accidental death of his girlfriend, his writing has been therapeutic, a way to momentarily forget his loss. Now his publisher is waiting for another bestseller – only there is one small problem. Lucas is suffering from writer’s block. As a way of overcoming his block, he decides to go to Wales where he has agreed to live at a writer’s retreat. Coincidentally, the retreat is very close to the small town where he lived as a child.

The retreat is a large, white painted stone house called Nyth Bran. It was once the site of a slate mine – something which was a major industry in North Wales.

When he arrives, he meets the other writers and the attractive proprietor, Julia, who lives alone in the house with her ginger cat, Chesney.  She has also suffered a great loss, her husband drowned two years ago, and even worse, her young daughter disappeared that day too. The police think that young Lily drowned along with her father yet unlike him, her body was never found. Julia refuses to believe that Lily is dead. It is only this hope that keeps her sane and functioning.

Meanwhile, the locals think that Lily was taken by “The Widow“, a folk legend in which every thirty-five years a woman who feeds on children’s blood, takes a child. Lily disappeared exactly thirty-five years after the last little girl went missing.

Lucas goes for walks in the nearby wood to gain inspiration for his new horror novel. He finds an old stone hut that would make perfect fodder for his novel.Once ensconced in the retreat, Lucas and some of the other writers begin to experience strange and eerie events. They hear a childlike singing within the walls. Items disappear. Voices are heard…  Lucas, unlike some of his fellow residents, does NOT believe in the supernatural even though there seems to be no other plausible explanation…

Though he finds himself in the perfect setting to work on his book, Lucas is distracted by Julia’s story. Could her daughter still be alive? He begins to investigate…

This is not the first novel I’ve read by Mark Edwards, but it has confirmed the notion that I will be avidly following this author in the future. I was completely immersed in “The Retreat” and found it to be quite the page-turner.

That is not to say that it wasn’t over-the-top at times, but strangely, in this case, it did not in any way detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I guess it was the perfect storm of plot/characters/setting. There was a pervasive sense of malice lingering throughout the narrative.

Vivid descriptions of the North Wales locale portrayed a setting that was absolutely dripping with atmosphere. The story was unsettling, mysterious, sinister, and downright creepy in places, though the character of Lucas was level-headed and refused to believe that the bizarre events surrounding him had any basis in superstition.

Interspersed throughout the novel were chapters from young Lily’s point of view in the days leading up to her disappearance.

The ending chapters explained the mystery in a satisfactory way though it also had its creepy factor – a crucial plot device in a thriller. The book speaks to the immense power of superstition and irrational beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation.

This is a novel that would be a great read on a dark and stormy night. The stuff that nightmares are made of….  Readers will enjoy this great amalgam of suspense, paranormal, horror, and mystery. Highly recommended!

Rated 4.5 stars – rounded up to 5 stars for NetGalley, Amazon and Goodreads.

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 Thomas & Mercer (an imprint of Amazon Publishing UK) via NetGalley.

335 pages

ISBN: 9781477805176

Mark Edwards is the author of psychological thrillers, each of which concerns ordinary people who encounter terrifying events, and police procedurals with Louise Voss. Edwards lives in Wolverhampton, England.

In 2010, Mark was given a Kindle. Around the same time, he read about some writers in America who were having success self-publishing. Some of them had even gone on to get traditional book deals.

So Mark decided to self-publish a solo book he had written years earlier, The Magpies. Following its tremendous success, Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s crime fiction publishing company, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Because She Loves Me, his first book with Thomas & Mercer, was also a bestseller. T&M are also now publishing Mark’s books with Louise Voss, and he is finally a full-time writer.

Follow Mark Edwards on Twitter and/or Instagram

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Horror, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Fictionophile’s November Kindle book purchases #bookhaul

Question: What happens when you put an obsessed bookblogger on a NetGalley request hiatus?

Answer: She BUYS MORE books!

 

I bought thirteen Kindle books this month!  So many that I thought they deserved their own post. (I’ll still do a book haul post for my review commitments).

These are all commitment free and my total expenditure was only…. $25.55 Cdn.

What  BARGAINS!!!!

Here is a list of the titles and authors with links to their Goodreads descriptions in case you want to add them to YOUR TBR.

The Snow Killer” by Ross Greenwood (1st in a series)

Knife & Death” by Jay Gill (1st in a series)

The Last Stage” by Louise Voss

The Confession” by Robert Whitlow

I Could be You” by Sheila Bugler

These Little Lies” by Gretta Mulrooney (1st in a series)

A Shadowed Livery” by Charlie Garratt (1st in a series)

The Anglesey Murders: Unholy Island” by Conrad Jones (1st in a series)

Dark Deception” by Amanda James

Fireside Gothic” by Andrew Taylor

Deadly Silence” by O.M.J. Ryan (1st in a series)

and

Midwinter Mysteries: a Christmas Crime Anthology

Also… after reading a post by Mairead of Swirl and Thread, I purchased “Bloody Christmas” by Caimh McDonnell. Proceeds of this sale goes to the Peter McVerry Trust which aids the homeless.

 

Posted in Anticipated titles, ebooks and ereaders, Fictionophile report | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

“Death by Dark Waters” by Jo Allen – Book Review

Meet DCI Jude Satterthwaite, the protagonist in a crime series set in the English Lake District. Serious, sharp and impatient, he’s a hero to some and Judas to others. Jude’s doing a job he loves in the county where he was born and raised, but job satisfaction comes at a price. His dedication to his career has put his former best friend in prison, his intransigence has cost him the love of his long-time girlfriend, Becca Reid, and he struggles to be a surrogate father to his troublesome younger brother, Mikey. And all the while, he’s running the villains to earth…” – from author’s websiteThirty-five year old DCI Jude Satterthwaite is on a hike with his brother when he spies smoke in the distance. Another fell fire…  But this time, in addition to the fire services, his own team will be called in. A body has been found in a burned-out abandoned barn…

When forensic examination determines that the body is that of a child, Jude thinks that identification will prove easy. A child will be missed… This is not the case. When the body is identified, Jude and his team begin a weeks long murder case.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite – Professional, brusque, attractive, and three years out of a romantic relationship that he just can’t seem to let go of. Becca, his ex, just couldn’t understand how his job had to take precedence over his personal life. He is much respected by his team and he knows how to play to their strengths on the job.

DI Chris Dodd – Jude’s, second-in-command. Clever, quiet, gay, religious, and a chain smoker. Doddsy is the model of common sense.

DS Ashleigh O’Halloran – new to the team, intelligent, beautiful, and a copper who works on intuition and instinct. Newly separated from her husband, she has moved from Cheshire to Cumbria to make a fresh start.

DC Aditi Desai – Hard-working, intelligent working mother.

DC Chris Marshall – single, young, enthusiastic, and very talented at data mining and doing the other mundane office-centered chores the others would find boring.

Tammy – CSI investigator.

The team works out of the Penrith Station:

The scenic setting of the Lake District is what initially tempted me to read this novel. That and the fact that I love police procedurals and I’m always keen to discover new series.

The characterization of this novel was strong. The personalities were prominent to the narrative and were a welcome foil to the distressing murder(s).

This is a promising start to a crime fiction series. It is a novel about deceit, revenge, infidelity, and psychological power-plays. With just a hint of romance, this novel will be sure to be enjoyed by many readers. This is a series I will more than likely pursue.

Rated 3.5 stars – rounded up to 4 stars for NetGalley, Amazon and Goodreads.

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 Aria via NetGalley.

248 pages

ISBN: 9781789543049


Death at Eden’s End, second in the DCI Jude Satterthwaite series, will be published by Aria Fiction on December 12 2019 and is currently available for preorder.

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

Follow Jo Allen on Twitter

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cover Love: part 82 – Cutlery

In my 82nd installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about cutlery on book covers. We bookworms devour books, so I guess the imagery is fitting…

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.

These titles encompass a wide variety of genres.  Enjoy!

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

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

You might just find your next favorite book!

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

Please let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 80 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 12 Comments

Twitter #hashtags for #Bookbloggers revisited

A while back I composed a post which gave some suggestions on which Twitter hashtags were the most useful for bookbloggers.

What is a hashtag, and what are they used for?

A hashtag is a label for content. It helps others who are interested in a certain topic, quickly find content on that same topic. In other words, it is a SEARCH TERM.

On Twitter, the pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords.

After all, Twitter and Instagram are just huge databases. They hold a LOT of content. If you want to search that content without going through countless results, use can use a hashtag search term to narrow those results.  For instance, if you want to see what people are saying about a certain TV show, put the title of show in the search box preceded by a hashtag.  Eg: #ThisIsUs

 

I’ve noticed that many bookbloggers use the hashtag #Review when posting their book reviews to Twitter. Although this is not technically wrong… you are not doing anyone any favours.

When you do this, anyone who searches Twitter with #Review will get reviews for books  BUT… they will also get reviews for televisions, health care services, children’s toys, automobiles, skin care products, insurance brokers, hotels, cosmetics, etc. etc. etc……

With a few extra keystrokes they can consolidate prospective searches.

Use #BookReview and the search will be much more efficient and user friendly. The searcher will ONLY get results for book reviews.

And if you want to narrow your search even further, use more than one search terms.

#BookReview and #thriller will get you a list of tweets that have BOTH these terms within the tweet.

I guess that is the retired library cataloguer in me coming out.  Why do a broad search when a more specific one narrows down the search results?

For instance if you visited your local library to find a book about training your spaniel you wouldn’t search for Animals–training (which would be too broad a search and you’d have to look through results on training cats, elephants, rabbits, etc.)

You would search for Dogs–training (the more specific search with refined results)

If the library didn’t put any subject headings in the catalogue record, no one would be able to find anything via subject.

If Twitter users don’t use hashtags in their tweets, this renders the tweet unsearchable. So, if you’ve just written the best review you’ve ever written – and you don’t add any hashtags – then no one will be able to find the link to your great review. And that would be sad…

My rant for today. Thanks for listening.

Do YOU use hashtags? Why/Why not?

Have you ever searched for content using hashtags?

Posted in ramblings & miscellanea, Social networks | Tagged | 17 Comments

“The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves – Book Review

The first novel in a new series which introduces Detective Matthew Venn. Two Rivers book one.

“Now he could hear the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain. These were the noises of home.”


Detective Matthew Venn has just returned to the place where he grew up. He has been estranged from his parents for years. Strictly religious, and members of a puritan-like ‘Brethren’ community, they shunned Matthew for his opposing religious views. Now he has returned to the area for work, and he is newly (and very happily) married to Jonathan. Yet another reason for his mother to disapprove of him…

Jonathan is the manager of the Woodyard, a community center that houses a cafe, instructs adult learning classes, and runs a day center for mentally challenged adults.

Problematic perhaps for Matthew who wonders if his perusing the case will be seen as a conflict of interest due to the fact that various crimes seem to be connected to the Woodyard in some way. One of the volunteer workers was murdered, and now one of the vulnerable adults who attends the Woodyard’s Day Center is missing.

Why do all the connections seem to lead back to the Woodyard?

“We all need secrets, just to keep sane, to feel that the world doesn’t own us.”

I first encountered the work of Ann Cleeves when I read the first novel in her Shetland series some years ago. I’ve been a fan ever since. When I learned that her latest book was the beginning of yet another series, I couldn’t wait to read it.

The protagonist this time out is quite unlike other police inspectors in that he is soft-spoken, solitary, introspective, fastidious, and… he is married to another man. He reminded be a little of P.D. James’ Inspector Dalgliesh, except for the fact that Venn is gay. His relationship with his parents was a troubled one, and he carries that around as baggage.

Matthew Venn’s team were an interesting bunch, especially the flamboyant DS Jen Rafferty who is at constant battle with her work/life imbalance. Escaped from an abusive marriage, Jen is the single mother of two teenagers. She is lonely for male companionship. Because she married young, she is now making up for lost time. Matthew disapproves of her life choices – yet feels she is the best detective he has ever worked with.

Also prominently featured was DC Ross May. In his late twenties, Ross is competitive, brash, and happily married, Ross is the DCI’s golden boy so Matthew Venn feels he must tread carefully around him.

The setting of “The Long Call” was well described. Both the scenes on the coast, where Matthew Venn lives and where the murder took place, as well as the scenes at the police station in Barnstable.

Barnstable Police Station

The ending was satisfactory, though not completely surprising. Altogether, “The Long Call” was a slow burn. An engaging police procedural which should appeal to fans of the genre. Recommended!

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 Pan Macmillan via NetGalley.  ISBN: 9781509889570     384 pages

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Wishful Wednesday… books I would like to request from NetGalley

So many times my finger has hovered over the Request button

Then, I remind myself that I already have over 70 titles from NetGalley already that I
haven’t read yet.  I repeat the mantra “I must not be greedy”,  “I must not be greedy”, “I must not be greedy”, “I must not be greedy”

and it is even HARDER when the button looks like this:

Here are TEN of the titles that I would request – WANT to request, but I’m holding myself back until I’m a bit more caught up.  I hope they’re not gone when I get around to requesting them…  But then, if they’re gone, maybe I should view that as a ‘sign‘. LOL












Honestly… don’t they ALL look fabulous?

Have you read any of these?

Don’t be afraid to let me know. I won’t be jealous…

Posted in Anticipated titles, NetGalley | Tagged | 31 Comments

Introducing…. “Who’s there?” by Kerena Swan #CoverReveal and #AuthorInterview

A while back I read and reviewed Kerena Swan’s “Scared to Breathe” and really enjoyed it.

So, I was excited to learn that she has a new book out – a novel which she believes is her best work to date.

So now… without further ado….

Introducing….

“Who’s There?”

Arnold Eastwood is thrilled when social services allocate him a flat all of his own. Independence hasn’t come easily to a young man with Downs Syndrome but now he has the chance to live free from his mum’s nagging, find a girlfriend, watch endless movies and make new friends.

Meanwhile a London drug gang is setting up a supply line in Arnold’s town. They’re looking for someone to deliver drugs for them and somewhere to set up a base of operations.

Soon Arnold and his flat are in the drug gang’s sights. Drawn into the dark underworld of crack cocaine and modern slavery, Arnold soon discovers that friends can in fact be deadly enemies.

The question is: can he break free?

Kerena has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions about her new book AND has shared some of her favourite reads over the past few years.

Q – What inspired you to write this particular book?

Kerena – I‘ve had the privilege of working with children and adults with disabilities for the past thirty-seven years and have found it rewarding and meaningful. Whilst most of this time was with Social Services, I’ve spent the last fifteen years as owner and manager of an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children. As part of my ongoing professional development I attended a course funded by the local council and police and presented by ‘Safer London’. This alerted me to the exploitation of vulnerable adults by city drug gangs setting up in smaller towns. I decided to raise awareness of this social issue and the dangers for young people by bringing information to readers in an interesting and accessible format.

Q – Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route this time around?

Kerena – I submitted Who’s There? to a few publishers and agents but it seems the story is just a bit too different to fit into their categories and standard lists. I wrote the book two years ago and believe it showcases my best writing. It was a challenge to get inside the head of a man with Down’s syndrome but using my lifetime career experience I worked hard to create a realistic character deserving of respect. I love to explore the many facets of people’s personalities and give the reader the opportunity to understand motives for behaviour, good and bad.

I’ve used the royalty money I received from my two earlier novels, Dying to See You and Scared to Breathe, to give Arnold, Chip and Saskia a chance to have their voices heard. If a handful of readers look at people with disabilities or drug users and runners with a little more empathy and understanding then I will have achieved my goal.

Q – Who did you get to edit your book since you have no publisher or affiliated editor this time?

Kerena – When I first begin writing fiction I signed up to the Writing magazine’s Novel Writing course in the hope of ticking off ‘writing a book and getting it published’ on my bucket list. Having just survived major cancer surgery I was even more determined than usual. My tutor was Lesley Eames. She guided me through the frustration and exhilaration of learning the craft and once I finished my novel I commissioned her to edit it for me. Lesley has now edited four books of mine. She’s tough but fair and brings out the best in me.

Q – What made you decide to write a protagonist that has Down’s syndrome? 

Kerena – I’ve met many people with Down’s syndrome in my career and love their feisty characters, stubbornness, sense of humour and love of life. I decided that a man with Down’s would have the right qualities to stand up to a drug gang. Arnold may seem vulnerable to people who don’t know him but he has an inner strength.

Q – Do you have any personal acquaintance with a Down’s syndrome adult?

Kerena – Many years ago I managed a residential home for 25 adults with learning disabilities. Arnold is a fusion of the people I cared for. The dedication at the front of Who’s There? is for Bobby Lord, a man with Down’s who was a joy to spend time with. He donned his chef’s hat and apron when we cooked barbeques, his painter’s overalls when we decorated rooms and involved himself in activities with enthusiasm and generosity. Sadly, Bobby panicked when on a bus and, realising he didn’t have enough money when he saw the conductor coming, jumped off the bus and into an oncoming car. His life support was switched off and his organs donated to live on. Bobby is still vivid in my memory and I feel affection for my character Arnold as a result.

Oh Wow… I was unprepared for that heart-breaking reply.

Q – Who designed the fabulous cover for “Who’s There“?

Kerena – I’ve been working closely with Tim Flanagan from Novel Design Studios. I described the cover I wanted and within an hour or two it arrived in my inbox exactly as I had envisioned. Tim has also designed the covers for my giveaway short stories – Finders Keepers and Scammed – that are available for free download on my website www.kerenaswan.com. He designed my website, set up a mailing list and has helped me create a marketing strategy. He’s an absolute find!

Q – Can you recommend some favourite books that you’ve read over the past few years?

Kerena – Some of the books I have loved are:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Night Rainbow by Claire King

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

After the Fall by Charity Norman

Hold My Hand by Serena Mackesy (Alex Marwood)

The Not So Perfect Mother by Kerry Fisher

The Regret by Dan Malakin

All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

And many, many more…

Q – Who is your favourite novelist working today?

Kerena – This is a tie between Robert McCammon for his Matthew Corbett series and Michael Robotham for his Joe O’Loughlin series. These are the authors that inspire me. I’d love to write as well as them.

Q – Who do you think is the most underrated novelist writing today?

Kerena – I’m surprised more people haven’t heard of Michael Robotham. His characters leap off the page and sit on the sofa with you. Sean Barratt narrates his audiobooks and brings them to life. My dream is to have Sean read Who’s There? too.

Who’s There?” will be available for purchase in Canada on December 13, 2019

You can pre-order here


Or, buy from Amazon.com


Or, purchase from Amazon.co.uk


 

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. She has recently completed her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ which is being released on 3rd June 2019 by Bloodhound Books.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, England and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre.
If you would like to hear more about new releases, read Kerena’s blogs and download a free short-story – the prequel to Dying to See You – then visit https://kerenaswan.com and join her mailing list.

Follow Kerena Swan on Twitter.

Posted in Anticipated titles, author interviews, cover reveals | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell – Book Review @AtriaBooks

A wealthy young family own a mansion in a desirable Chelsea neighbourhood. As their affluence wains, they eventually invite another family in – supposedly as a temporary measure. The patriarch of this family has other plans however. This family upstairs will eventually become toxic to all involved.

“I was nearly eleven when they came, and my sister was nine. They lived with us for more than five years and they turned everything very, very dark.”

Both families have two children, a boy and a girl each. The younger girls, Lucy and Clemency, become fast friends. The elder boys, Phinn and Henry, however do not. Although, it has to be said that one of the boys is absolutely obsessed with the other. More than a natural teenage obsession – as we come to find out.

 

“And when I was sixteen, and my sister was fourteen, the baby came.”


Adopted as a baby, Libby has just turned twenty-five when she gets a letter from a solicitor. It seems that she – a girl who sells custom kitchens – has inherited a multi-million pound mansion in Chelsea which has been vacant for over twenty-four years.

She learns that this is where her birth-parents lived – and, this is where she was found. While three adults lie dead on the kitchen floor downstairs, she was a happy, healthy baby who was found in her crib upstairs with only a rabbit’s foot as company.

She does some investigation and finds an old newspaper article titled: “The Mysterious Case of Serenity Lamb and the Rabbit’s Foot“.  It would seem that she, Libby Jones, is actually Serenity Lamb.

Libby contacts an investigative journalist who helps her unravel more of the mystery of her early life.

When I open a book by Lisa Jewell I know that I’m in for a rewarding reading experience. “The Family Upstairs” was an engrossing psychological thriller.

The first chapters of the book were a tad confusing as there were a lot of different characters introduced – some of them going by more than one name. Once I got the characters straight in my head it was pure enjoyment from then on.

The events that took place in that Chelsea mansion were disturbing and unforgettable. All the more memorable because it was so plausible. You hear about such happenings in the news.

Told via dual timelines, and from three perspectives, the story came alive. Libby, Lucy, and Henry each add a viewpoint that fully rounds out the narrative. Lucy’s story was particularly poignant.

The characters were well drawn and some of them were quite chilling. There was a pervading sense of menace emanating from the David Thomsen character.  The descriptions of the house, and what went on there, were vivid so as to make the reader transported to the scene.

And the ending, well it was very satisfying, though as with many thrillers, I found myself with goosebumps after the final line…

Highly recommended to all those who enjoy an expertly crafted psychological thriller. Lisa Jewell never disappoints.

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 Atria Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.  ISBN: 9781501190100     352 pages

Links to my reviews of some earlier titles by Lisa Jewell:

Watching You

Then She Was Gone

I Found You

The Girls in the Garden

 

 Lisa Jewell was born in London in 1968.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further ten novels, as is currently at work on her twelfth.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

Follow Lisa Jewell on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , | 22 Comments