“The Last Thread” by Ray Britain – Book Review @Ray_Britain #TheLastThread #BookReview #policeprocedural

The Last Thread puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex murder investigation with all the political and operational pressures that investigations engage.”

In addition to his paid supervisory role, DCI Doug Sterling works as an unpaid negotiator for the Worcester Police. Just when he is preparing for an important meeting, his morning is interrupted with a call to a bridge where a teenager is threatening to jump. The morning turns tragic when the teen falls and dies. A journalist, in the right place at exactly the right time, takes a photo just when Sterling loses his grip. As a result, an internal police investigation is started and Sterling is put on leave. The investigation is to be head by Chief Inspector John Ballard, a man who has an axe to grind with Sterling, which could result in his career being sabotaged.

A few weeks later, a brutal and vicious murder takes place. Low on manpower due to it being the Easter weekend, Sterling is called in to head the investigation. A complicated and costly murder inquiry that will last almost two weeks before being brought to a conclusion.

Luckily for Sterling, he is blessed with a team that he trusts and respects, who in turn trust and respect him. His second in command, DI Edwards always has his back. DS Heal, who manages the day-to-day of the investigation is hard-working and loyal to a fault.

The murder victim was a despicable, vile man whose sordid personal life ascertained that there is no shortage of viable suspects in his death.

In the meantime, Sterling is in a new relationship with a beautiful lawyer named Ayesha and is confronted with an old flame, a policewoman who has been called in to work the case on Sterling’s team.

This was the ‘real deal’ when it comes to police procedurals. Written by a former police detective, he writes realistically of his work experience and knowledge of police procedure.

The plot was complicated, though the various threads were joined eventually until the ‘last thread’ brought the various story-lines together.

This was quite a long novel, sometimes delving into the minutiae of police procedure.  It was also a novel which realistically portrayed the plight of real-life police who in addition to working long hours on their cases, must factor in tight police budgets, endless paperwork, low manpower, complicated decision making, all the while having to be cognizant of police hierarchy despite incompetent, untrustworthy men in supervisory roles. Never mind their personal lives…

It took me a few chapters to become fully immersed in this story, but once I did the pages almost turned themselves. Neither fast nor slow paced, it moved along well. I could have done with a few less pages of the day to day procedure, but all in all it was a satisfying read.

I plan to read the next DCI Doug Sterling novel in due course. (A novel which hopefully will divulge his real name.) He was an interesting and complex protagonist whom I want to get to know better.

Recommended to those readers who enjoy realistic police procedural mysteries.


I purchased a digital copy of this novel from Amazon.ca after reading a review by Cleo Bannister on her blog.  Since then, the author has gifted me his second novel, which I am anxious to read when time allows.Publication date: October 2017
Publisher: Ray Britain

ISBN: 9781999812218    ASIN:B075CWW1J4    578 pages

As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray Britain led many specialist investigations. He was also a Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role, that saw him involved in hostage situations, many firearms operations and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily. In those specialist roles he supported national counter-terrorism capabilities, and traveled to the USA, India, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. He received several Commendations for his work.He also worked with the Serious Fraud Office and the Home Office, London, and the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police. Ray’s real-world experience gives an authentic edge to his stories, immersing the reader in the grim realities, uncertainties and frustrations of crime investigation, and of human nature. If not writing Ray might be found mountain hiking, watching rugby, skiing, reading, sailing or in the gym.

The Last Thread” is his debut novel. His second novel to feature DCI Doug Sterling is called “Forgotten Lives” and it was published January 2021.

Follow Ray Britain on Twitter @Ray_Britain or visit his website: https://raybritain.com/

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, debut novels, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Same book – Different title (a bookworm’s gripe) #BookTitles #bookworms #booklovers #readingcommunity

NOTE: Originally published in March of 2017, this post was last updated on January 24, 2021

My RANT continues…

I personally prefer the UK cover and title on the left

I take umbrage when publishers, in their infinite wisdom, decide to rename a book which already has a perfectly acceptable title.  This has occurred time and time again with books on my own personal TBR. For some unfathomable reason, publishers on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean seem to think that we readers differ and will be attracted by different covers and titles.

I prefer the UK title on the right – eye-catching

I prefer the cover and title on the left

again, I prefer the cover and title on the left

I think I prefer the title and cover on the right

I actually had BOTH of these on my TBR until I realized they were the same book!

I actually BOUGHT both of these. URGH!

I personally prefer the cover and title on the left. I’m not sure I would have even picked up the cover on the right.

I prefer the cover and title on the left

again, I much prefer the cover and title on the left

I prefer the cover and title on the left

the left hand cover wins again

cover on the left wins again

Bookworms everywhere must have encountered this issue on more than one occasion. Readers who follow authors or series rather than titles, fall victim to this ploy regularly. I even purchased the same book twice because of it.  (Maybe that is their evil plan….)

Yes, I actually bought BOTH of these. I remember being SO excited that Peter Robinson had a new book out!

the decision to change the word ‘close’ to ‘alley’ for North American audiences is one that I find ludicrous. Anyone who follows Rankin’s Rebus wants to read #15 in the series regardless Also, they know what a ‘close’ is.

And don’t even get me started as to how much I hated it back when I was working as a library cataloger.  The library would have a book, patrons would place holds on that book. Then… another patron would hear about a book and place a ‘suggestion for purchase’. We’d buy that book and that title would generate holds being placed on it.  Then, when I catalogued it I would discover that book B was the SAME BOOK as book A.    URGHHHH! Our means of handling the problem was enough to give a cataloger nightmares.  We merged the two records together!!!!  GASP!  The reason for this was so that ALL the patrons who had holds on the book would be in one queue.  This in turn led to all sorts of mayhem, as when they came to pick up their book, they thought they were getting the wrong one!

This has happened a few times with one of my favorite authors, Louise Penny. On her website, Penny writes:
“The publishers did this not, as you might suspect, to be annoying but because they genuinely feel their readers respond to different titles.”

As I’ve mentioned, this practice of having one book with two different titles is a nightmare for library staff, and I expect, bookstore staff as well.  Some of the titles are so completely different that one would never guess it is the same book.  Some have common words and are changed only slightly.  What is the point? (other than to give library workers and bookstore employees grey hair)

It happened to one of my all-time favorite novels!

and one of my all-time favorite novelists, Ruth Rendell

and another of my favorite novelists, Fredrik Backman

It has happened with books by one of the world’s best-selling novelists!

It happened to the “Queen of Crime”

it has happened to Graham Greene

It has happened to Diana Gabaldon (“Outlander” is such a better title…)

and Sophie Hannah

and Ariana Frankliin

and Jonathan Tropper

and Tess Gerritsen

and Jessica Treadway

and P.J. Tracey

and Kathleen Kent

and Richard Montanari

and Joseph Finder

and Diane Chamberlain

and the award-winning Lawrence Hill

along with myriad others that I don’t have time to name….

As a reader, what are YOUR thoughts on this issue?

Also, I’d love to hear what authors feel about this practice.

I’d love to hear your stories about books that are published under two different titles.

Post a comment!

Posted in Dustjackets, ramblings & miscellanea, Reblogged | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Goodreads ratings – use them? ignore them? are they valid? #discussionpost

I am a member of Goodreads. Not only am I a member, but I am also a Goodreads librarian.  I sometimes think that no one uses Goodreads more than I do as I’m on the site several times each day. I use Goodreads to keep track of my vast TBR, find like-minded readers, search out series information and much more.

I’ll admit, that I have often used Goodreads ratings to help me choose the sequence of my TBR.  If a book has thousands of ratings and still has a score of over 4.0, then in my opinion the book must have merit.

For example, here is one of the titles on my TBR:With over two thousand ratings, the fact that this book still got a score of 4.45 means that a whole lot of people enjoyed reading it.


I am leery of the accuracy of the rating if say only five or six people have rated it and the score is high. You have to factor number of ratings into the validity of the score.

However, and yes I’m finally getting to the subject of my post…. How can a book that is not yet published, which has no ARCs in circulation, get a score?  And how horrible for the author if that score is very low!

Case in point.  Last year I read a marvelous first novel by Elizabeth Kay called “Seven Lies“. (my review here) As it was a 5 star read for me, I thought I’d check to see if she had any new books coming out.

When I searched Goodreads, I found this:This is SO UNFAIR to the author. Words fail me. Why would anyone rate a book one star without reading it? Am I missing something?

Also, when someone likes one of my reviews on Goodreads, I am inordinately pleased if it is a review that I’ve taken pains to write. I’m chuffed to bits.

HOWEVER, many people ‘like‘ my reviews when I haven’t even read the book, or written my review yet.  How can they ‘like’ something that doesn’t yet exist?  Are they just approving my choice of reading material?

So, I pose the questions to you, my fellow readers, book lovers, and bookbloggers…

How much credence to YOU give to Goodreads ratings? Do they at all influence your TBR?

What do YOU use Goodreads for?

Do you think it is fair to publicly rate a book without reading it?

Do you think it is valid to ‘like’ someone’s review when they haven’t yet written one?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Posted in Goodreads, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged | 66 Comments

“Before She Disappeared” by Lisa Gardner – Book Review

Frankie Elkin is, in her own words, a scrawny, middle-aged white woman. She is a drifter, an excellent bartender, and an alcoholic. For the past decade, Frankie has devoted her life to finding missing persons. Usually people who are minorities, whose cases have gone cold. She has found 14 of those people.

Now Frankie finds herself in Mattapan, an ethnic neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. The area is the home to many residents of Haitian descent, and many new Haitian refugees who came to the U.S. after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. This time, Frankie is searching for a Haitian teenager named Angelique Badeau. Eleven months ago the teenager went missing.  Not your average missing teen, Angelique is fifteen years old, a top student, a loyal sister and friend, who was studying hard to get into medical school.

Frankie gets herself a job in Stoney’s Bar and rents a room above the bar which she shares with the sitting tenant, a feral and hostile cat named Piper.

Noticeably the only white face in the area, and certainly in the bar, Frankie works hard to become accepted in order that she can spend her free hours searching for Angelique.

Frankie is courageous, lonely,wise-cracking, driven by her demons, and most of all…. broken.Frankie Elkin is a one in a million character. So unique, so broken, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story.

That being said, she could, potentially return in further books (she said with her fingers and toes crossed). However, I want Frankie to stop drifting and stay in Boston, working at Stoney’s bar, going to AA meetings with Charlie, chewing the fat with Viv, and teaming up with Boston Police Detective Lotham.

I adored the writing in this book. The dreadful and disturbing circumstances which were lightened with levity and sarcasm. This is my very first Lisa Gardner book, and now I want to read her previous work.

The book brings home the truism that people all over are really the same. Regardless of their social standing, ethnicity, religion, or other persuasion, people all want enough food to eat, a safe place to live, someone to care for, someone who cares for them.

This novel also spoke to the plight of illegal immigrants in this modern world. It told of inner city teens striving to better themselves and their situations in any way they can.

I adored this book much more than I expected to. It is all Frankie Elkin’s fault.

Highly 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 Cornerstone/Random House UK via NetGalley.Publication date: January 21, 2021
Publisher: Century/Cornerstone/Random House UK

Publisher in North America:Dutton
ISBN: 9781529124415    ASIN: B08CTDKYKD    400 pages

Check out the other stops on the blog tour:

Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times bestselling thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has transformed her interest in police procedure and criminal minds into a streak of internationally acclaimed novels, published across 30 countries. She’s also had four books become TV movies (At the Midnight Hour; The Perfect Husband; The Survivors Club; Hide) and has made personal appearances on TruTV and CNN.

Lisa’s books have received awards from across the globe. Her novel, The Neighbor, won Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers, while also receiving the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle in France. She was also recognized with the Daphne du Maurier Award in 2000 for The Other Daughter. Finally, Lisa received the Silver Bullet Award from the International Thriller Writers in 2017 for her work on behalf of at-risk children and the Humane Society.

Lisa lives in New Hampshire where she spends her time with an assortment of canine companions. When not writing, she loves to hike, garden, snowshoe and play cribbage.

Follow Lisa Gardner on Twitter @LisaGardnerBks ; or visit her website: https://www.lisagardner.com/

 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Favorite books, NetGalley, Page turners | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Do YOU choose books by their covers?

I’m certain that most of you know by now that I really appreciate book cover art. What with my long standing ‘Cover Love‘ series of blog posts, and my ‘Wednesday’s Word‘ series, it would almost seem I’m crazy obsessed.

That got me thinking… I went to my Goodreads TBR and looked through it to see what books I would choose to read today if I was  using the COVER ONLY as a basis for my choice. After doing this little exercise, I came to four overall conclusions.

Here are the 32 titles that I chose

(with links to Goodreads in case they appeal to you too)

Conclusions?

I love

a) houses which overlook the sea

b) brooding skies

c) creepy old houses

d) sea views

I wonder what would be the overlying themes of your cover choices?

Posted in Anticipated titles, Dustjackets | Tagged , , | 39 Comments

“The Night Swim” by Megan Goldin – Book Review

Rachel Krall, a successful podcast journalist travels to a small, conservative coastal town in North Carolina to cover a rape trial. Intelligent, curious, and a champion of justice, Rachel’s podcast signoff is “I’m Rachel Krall and this is Guilty or Not Guilty, the podcast that puts you in the jury box.”

On her way there she is contacted by a woman named Hannah Stills who wants Rachel to investigate the death of her elder sister which took place in the town twenty-five years earlier.

The town is very divided – with many of the townsfolk championing the victim, and all that she has suffered – and many of them championing the accused, and his aspiration to be an Olympic swimmer.  Both lawyers are charismatic and very skilled. They both used wily theatrics to further their arguments.The trial goes on for two weeks, with the victim being traumatized by her cross-examination on the stand.

Meanwhile, Rachel continues to receive letters from Hannah Stills, who tells the story of her sister’s fate in excruciating detail.

“Sometimes a man has to speak up or be responsible for the repercussions of his silence”.

This novel had me absolutely riveted throughout. Both story lines were compelling, but my favorite of the two was the story of Jenny and Hannah Stills.

The book covered many social problems. It spoke to how ‘justice’ can sometimes be bought. That if you want a decent defense you have to pay through the nose. It shows the disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. It also touched on the subject of ‘victim blaming’, a common occurrence in rape trials. It chronicled how very important reputation is to the psyche, and how social media has ascertained that everyone wants to voice their opinion, whether they are based on facts…. or not.

The setting, coastal North Carolina was fabulous and I could almost smell the briny air. The characters were well drawn and the plot tight and believable.

In my opinion, the ending was very satisfactory and it also left the narrative open enough that this could potentially be the beginning of an interesting series – though I have no idea if the author intends to bring Rachel Krall back in further books.

This was an easy 5-star read for me. No question. I’ve not read this author before, but she will now be one I look out for. Highly 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 St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

Publication date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250219688    ASIN: B0818N4HC8    348 pages 


Prior to becoming an author, Megan Goldin worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia, where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs.

The Night Swim is Megan Goldin’s third novel following the best-selling The Escape Room (2018) and The Girl in Kellers Way (2017).

Follow Megan Goldin on Twitter, and/or visit her Facebook page.

Posted in Book Reviews, Legal thrillers, NetGalley, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

The Book Themed Art of Pawel Kuczyński #BookishArt #PawelKuczynski #BookThemedArt

I haven’t done an art related post in a while, so when I came across this artist’s work on Pinterest, I thought it was a perfect time to remedy that. Kuczyński cleverly uses satire to portray today’s social, political and cultural reality.
Pawel Kuczyński features books a lot in his work. In addition to book themes he has used his art as a social commentary on politics, war, social media, and much more. I urge you to see his full body of work on the Pictorem.com site

Meanwhile, here are a few of his art works with book related themes:

“Journey with Sharks” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Climbing” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Deeper” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Break in Transmission” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Harp” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Iceberg” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Life” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Audiobook” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Pearl” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Library” by Pawel Kuczynski

“Ocean” by Pawel Kuczynski

I couldn’t find the title for this piece, but I love it, so just had to add it.

Paweł Kuczyński is a Polish born political art satirist and philosopher who holds anti-war sentiments as one of many of the themes for his contemporary, surrealist art.

He was born August 12, 1976  in Szczecin, Poland and studied art at the University of Fine Arts in Poznań.

He is best known for his graphic design, drawing and painting.

Follow him on Facebook.

Posted in Art with book themes | Tagged | 24 Comments

“The Descent” by Matt Brolly – Book Review

Birnbeck Pier

DI Louise Blackwell – 39 years old, unmarried, and lonely. She recently had a severe career setback at her previous posting in Bristol due to a betrayal from a co-worker. Now, she lives in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare and is trying to find a place for herself there. She has few friends and lives in a dated terraced house formerly owned by an elderly lady.  Louise’s brother Paul is the widowed father of a five year old girl, Emily. Louise adores Emily and visits her whenever she can because her brother is not coping well without his wife. He is an alcoholic, who frequently neglects his parental duties – leaving his parents and his sister Louise to pick up the slack. In this book, Paul has gotten himself into real trouble and has absconded with his tiny daughter in tow.

DI Louise Blackwell is tasked with the investigation of two apparent suicides who have disturbing commonalities. Both young women were isolated and had little to no social contact or family support. The case escalates as more cases pile up. All the bodies of the recently deceased have traces of a drug called DMT in their system.

A charming and manipulative man, Jay Chappell, has created an on-line chat group which he populates with lonely and depressed young women.  The group meets in person periodically and he serves them Ayahuasca tea – a tea that contains the drug DMT.

One member of Jay’s ‘group’ is a young woman named Amy Carlisle. Lonely, grieving, and riddled with guilt, she is the perfect target for Jay’s manipulations. She is completely enthralled by Jay, yet a tiny part of her begins to have doubts about Jay’s methods.

Louise Blackwell makes for an engaging protagonist, and the beautiful and atmospheric setting is an added bonus. In this book we learn more about what makes Louise tick. Conflicted and intriguing in equal measure, Detective Louise Blackwell of the Avon & Somerset Police is fast becoming a favourite series character of mine in this her second outing. Louise is fighting herself in this novel, trying to be there 100% for her work as well as for her family. As one would expect, she fails and mistakes are made. It is distressing to realize that Louise does not trust her own judgement.

This plot featured social outcasts and a charismatic man who preyed upon their vulnerabilities. It was so disturbing to be reminded that there are many people we see every day who are ‘invisible’, people who have no one to really miss them if they were to disappear…. How lonely and desperate they must be.

The setting – Weston-super-Mare, a seaside tourist town in Somerset, England and the backstory of the protagonist added much to the narrative.

In case you haven’t yet guessed, I loved “The Descent” just as much as its predecessor “The Crossing“, and can’t wait to read the next novel in the Louise Blackwell series which is called “The Gorge”. Highly 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 Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.

Publication date: July 23, 2020

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (an imprint of Amazon Publishing UK)

ISBN: 9781542017008    ASIN: B0838ZYNWB    368 pages

Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels Dead Water, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time; the acclaimed near-future crime novel Zero; and the US-based thriller The Controller. Matt also writes children’s books as M. J. Brolly.  Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find more out about Matt at his website MattBrolly.co.uk or by following him on Twitter: @MattBrollyUK

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

Cover Love: part 95 – Bathtubs

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. What is so appealing about ‘bathtubs‘ on a book cover? Why is it chosen so frequently? You be the judge.

Things to note!

Three of these covers use the same photo!

Well there you have it!  Lots and lots of bathtubs.  Some inviting… and some not so inviting.  Were there more than you imagined?  Have you read any of these titles?

Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 94 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

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

“Double Deceit” by Julienne Brouwers – Book Review

The premise is intriguing. Jennifer Smits and her husband Oliver have gone away for the weekend for a break in attempts to heal the rifts in their marriage. However, Oliver goes for a walk after a row, and then is found dead.

The police, who rule Oliver’s death accidental, tell Jennifer that he was wearing women’s red velvet underwear at the time of his death. Intriguing, certainly. Then she finds out that Oliver was having an affair during the months leading up to his death…

Later, Jennifer begins to suspect that the powerful law firm where her husband worked are hiding something…

The first chapter of this novel was gripping and I had high hopes for the novel. Then, when Jennifer begins to become unraveled by events, I started to think that my interest in her fate was unraveling as well…

Why wouldn’t she leave well enough alone? Why not spend her energies on looking after her toddler son and working at her medical practice? As a medical doctor she showed very few decision-making skills and acted often times in a rash and foolhardy manner.

While reading this thriller, I couldn’t decide whether I was torn between admiration that Jennifer would persevere in looking into the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death, or, whether she was crazy to do so.  Her actions required the reader to stretch their credulity to accept on many occasions.

The Amsterdam setting is one which I was very interested in, and I was fascinated by how the characters seemed to travel almost everywhere by bicycle – even when dressed up for a night out – wearing stilettos!The plot was rife with red herrings, and this fact alone will attract many readers. In my personal opinion the story was rather too far-fetched and didn’t quite live up to the outstanding premise. The true villain, when revealed, came as a surprise to me, but I felt the ending was rushed and tied up a tad too neatly. My opinion seems to be in the minority as many others thoroughly enjoyed the read. I urge you to read it and decide for yourself.

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 the publisher via Chris Nijs of JB Publishing.

ISBN: 9789083034836  ISBN: 9789083034829274 pages

 

Julienne Brouwers worked as a pharmaceutical scientist and medical physicist before becoming a writer. She lives in the The Hague in the Netherlands, with her husband and three children, where she has published two successful thrillers in Dutch. For “Double Deceit” she worked closely with editor and translator, Sarah Fencott.

Follow Julienne Brouwers on Twitter @JulienneAuthor, or on Instagram @JulienneBrouwers

Posted in Book Reviews, Legal thrillers, novels in translation | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Spell the Month in Books – JANUARY #SpellTheMonthInBooks #bookbloggers #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)

Jar of Hearts” by Jennifer Hillier


All in Her Head” by Nikki Smith


Now You See Him” by Eli Gottlieb
(which I originally reviewed for the online magazine “Gumshoe Review“)


Underwater Breathing” by Cassandra Parkin


Alex” by Pierre Lemaitre


Retriever of Souls” by Lorraine Mace


The Yellow House” by Patricia Falvey


That was fun! I’m always searching for ways to share my book recommendations and plan to make this little exercise a monthly feature on Fictionophile. However, I must say up front that I’m doing this only for one year. There are just some letters that reoccur too often LOL – (R,Y,J,E )     Thanks for visiting. ♥

Posted in Book Reviews, Spell the Month in Books | Tagged | 4 Comments

“The Secrets of Strangers” by Charity Norman – Book Review

“A gunshot rings out in a London cafe and the lives of five strangers will never be the same again. The only thing that’s certain is that nothing is as it seems”

D.I. Eliza McClean – a forty-five year old policewoman working for the Metropolitan Police in their serious crime unit by day, a hostage/crisis negotiator on the side.  Eliza loves her work and thrives on the intensiveness of her position. Eliza is married and is the mother of two. An anxious adolescent and a toddler. She must disappoint her eldest child in order to be present for the hostage drama unfolding in a London café.Neil Cunningham – a homeless man who lives on London’s streets. His life was not always this way, he was once married, a father, and a qualified school teacher. Now, he and his faithful dog, Buddy sleep rough and live day to day. When a kind person puts £4 in his cup, Neil decides to go to the café for some warmth and a bite to eat.

Mutesi Nkunda – a grandmother from Rwanda who now lives in London and works as a carer at a rest home. She is very loving, caring, and positive. She adores her grown son, daughter-in-law, and six-year-old grandson, Emmanuel. After working a night shift, Mutesi meets her daughter-in-law and grandson at the café.

Abi Garcia – a successful criminal barrister, is in her late twenties. She and her partner are trying for a baby via IVF and have had many disappointments. Her career is what keeps her sane. She is due in court for an important hearing, but decides to stop for a cappuccino on the way…

Paige and three-year-old daughter Lily – pregnant Paige and her daughter are accompanying an elderly neighbour, Arthur Beaumont, to a medical clinic. They stop for a coffee on the way…

All of these everyday people will have their lives forever changed by Sam Ballard.

Sam Ballard – is a farmer from Sussex who is married and in his mid-twenties. He has a three-year-old daughter named Julia, who he adores. He has come to the café, Tuckbox, in order to confront his lifelong nemesis. Desolate and desperate, he will come to regret bringing his shotgun into the city…

It is true that you never really know another person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. After spending several hours in a small London café with the characters in this book, I have come to know them. And love them.

This is one of those novels that I’m sure I’ll think about for years to come. Though it is only January, I’m also certain it will make my end of 2021 Top Reads list.

Superb characterization and deep human understanding make this novel stand heads above the rest.  The author’s own career as a lawyer and crisis line mediator shines through in this book via the narratives of Eliza and Abi.

The novel takes place over the course of one very long day. It is by times, tense, emotional, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. I’ll never be able to hear Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man‘ again without thinking about this book.

My favourite characters were definitely Sam and Mutesi.  Characters that are ordinary people yet are larger than life, characters whose stories moved me to tears.

Highly, highly 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 the author. She kindly gifted me a copy after learning that her book is NOT available from Amazon.ca

ISBN: 9781911630418  – 364 pages

Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive drafty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specializing in crime and family law in the northeast of England. Also a mediator and telephone crisis line listener, she’s passionate about the power of communication to slice through the knots. In 2002, realizing that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. Her first novel, Freeing Grace, was published in 2010. Second Chances (After the Fall) was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice and World Book Night title. See You in September, her last book, was shortlisted for Best Crime Novel in the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Crime Fiction. The Secrets of Strangers is her sixth book.

Follow Charity Norman on Twitter, Instagram, or on Facebook.

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Crime and Mystery fiction that is in the Public Domain

What is Public Domain?

The public domain consists of all the creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply.

A public-domain book is a book with no copyright, a book that was created without a license, or a book where its copyrights expired or have been forfeited.

In the United States, every book and tale published prior to 1926 is in the public domain; American copyrights last for 95 years for books originally published between 1925 and 1978 if the copyright was properly registered and maintained.

In Canada, the copyright period for works is 50 years after the year the author has died.

In the United Kingdom copyright protection for published works can last up to 70 years after the author’s death. After copyright expires, the work is in the public domain.

The works of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Edgar Allan Poe are in the public domain worldwide as they all died over 100 years ago.

Technically, books under public domain should be FREE. However, many are not. You can however, read them for free in digital format via the Project Gutenberg site.

Many crime/mystery fiction titles are under Public Domain! Here are a few examples:

Whose Body?” by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Thirty-Nine Steps” by John Buchan

The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins

The Man in the Brown Suit” by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie

The Innocence of Father Brown” by G.K. Chesterton

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Mystery of Edwin Drood” by Charles Dickens

The Red House Mystery” by A.A. Milne

The Circular Staircase” by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Works of Edgar Allan Poe“: the Raven edition

If you have never taken advantage of the books available via Project Gutenberg, you should really check out the site. They have over 60,000 free eBooks!  Happy Reading!

 

 

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“The Affair” (a short story) by Emma Kavanagh – Book Review @EmmaLK #ShortStory

A couple have been found dead in their living room.
Was it a simple domestic misunderstanding or is there more to it than meets the eye…?

This Kindle freebie short story introduces journalist Charlie (Charlotte) Solomon who works for the Swansea Times.

It is touted as being a prequel of sorts to Emma Kavanagh’s novel “Hidden“, but as a fan of short stories, I have to say that it was very enjoyable in its own right and could stand alone on its merits.

We meet Charlie while she is standing outside a house where a married couple have been found dead. This is one of Swansea’s less savory neighbourhoods. Curious neighbours and thrill seekers are standing outside the house along with Charlie. Eager to get a ‘scoop’, she curiously observes the crowd… then the rain starts to pour in earnest…

In just 28 pages the author sets an easily imagined scene, which turns quite chilling on the final page.

Highly recommended to those who enjoy crime fiction in the short story form. It is still available for free on Kindle and Kobo, so why not give it a read?


Emma Kavanagh was born in Wales in 1978 and currently lives in South Wales with her husband and their one year old son. She trained as a psychologist and after leaving university, started her own business as a psychology consultant, specialising in human performance in extreme situations. For seven years she provided training and consultation for police forces and NATO and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe.

Follow Emma Kavanagh on Twitter.

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“Winter Book Bingo” #booklovers #bookbloggers #bookworms #BookBingo

Last summer I created a book bingo that proved more popular than I anticipated. Due to the world’s ‘new normal’, many of us are sticking close to home this winter. Also, those of us who like to read are doing so MORE than ever before.

Just for fun I created a WINTER BOOK BINGO.

If you want to take part, and complete a line, just email me (fictionophile@gmail.com) with the word BINGO in the subject line and list the books that brought about your BINGO – with links to your reviews of those books.

Rules: Any line (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal) will do it.

I will write a BINGO wrap-up post the first week of May with everyone’s winning BINGOs.

Have FUN!

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