Teaser Tuesday – July 27, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday @thewriterjude #TheFaceOfClaraMorgan #bookbloggers @Bloodhoundbook

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

This book is a title I purchased from Amazon.ca

Today, Tuesday July 27, 2021 I want to introduce one of the titles on my TBR.

This book was published on July 19, 2021

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

ISBN: 9781914614101 – ASIN: ‎ B098P1BGG7 – 312 pages

1) I’ve read several of this author’s previous books and have enjoyed them all.

2) The cover is eye-catching and is contradictory to the title as we cannot see her face. This lends an element of suspense before you even open the book.

3) The blurb intrigued me and the Yorkshire setting is one of my favourites.

First paragraph of the prologue:

The noise ricochets around the room, silencing everyone. Time passes. An endless stretch of nothingness, the world in a lull.

The actual 1st paragraph:

Nina knew this was going to happen, could feel it coming. Ever since her baby boy slithered out of her body all those years ago, purple and bruised after a difficult labour. Ever since she held his tiny body, swaddled in blankets, his diminutive features scrunched up as he let out an ear-splitting scream that could shatter glass, she knew.

Have you ever read anything by this author?

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 Anticipated titles, Fiction, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Cover Love part 102 – Path to the Beach

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.

For my 102nd Cover Love post, I want to share some books that I’ve found with paths to the beach on their covers.

Have you read any of these titles?

Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 101 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Today, July 21st, I am undergoing abdominal surgery, so I prepared this post in advance. I will be taking a brief hiatus to recover, so will not be able to respond to your comments, or share your posts on social media for a week or so…

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 29 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – July 20, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers @AtriaBooks #TheFamilyPlot @ImMeganCollins

My 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 book is a title I downloaded from Edelweiss.

Today, Tuesday July 20th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This book will be published on August 17, 2021Publisher: Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)

ISBN: 9781982163846 – ASIN: ‎ B08LDVMHLZ – 320 pages

1) I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about this author’s work.

2) The setting evokes a frisson of suspense – a secluded island mansion… (I love novels set on islands)

3) Eccentric characters, dysfunctional families, twins…

“My parents named me Dahlia, after the Black Dahlia – that actress whose body was cleaved in half, left in grass as sharp as scalpels, a permanent smile sliced onto her face – and when I first learned her story at four years old, I assumed a knife would one day carve me up. My namesake was part of me, my future doomed by her violent death. That meant my oldest brother Charlie, who had escaped the Lindbergh baby’s fate by living past age two, would still be abducted someday. My sister, Tate, would follow in her own namesake’s footsteps, become a movie star, then become a body in a pool of blood. And my twin brother, Andy, named for Lizzie Borden’s father – I was sure his head was destined for the ax.”

Have you ever read anything by this author?

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 Anticipated titles, Edelweiss, Fiction, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

“The Marsh King’s Daughter” by Karen Dionne – Book Review

Helena Pelletier’s past comes back to haunt her when her criminal father escapes from prison. She has kept her past history a secret from her husband. Now, everything comes out into the open when Michigan State Police officers come to the door of her family home.

Helena realizes that the police will never find her father. He is an expert hunter and tracker of native Ojibwe descent. Though she has every reason to despise him for his treatment of her mother and herself, the little girl in her still holds some warped affection for the man who taught her everything he knows.

Tahquamenon Falls – The largest waterfall in Michigan (features in a prominent and memorable scene of the novel)

With her own honed skills as hunter/tracker, and her expert knowledge of her home territory in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she sets out to find her father and turn him in to the proper authorities. Leaving her husband and tiny daughters behind, she sets off in her truck with the company of her three-legged Plott Hound named Rambo.

Rambo (a Plott hound)

There have been several books written lately that feature characters who were abducted, or born into abduction. “The Marsh King’s Daughter” stands apart from the others. It was skillfully written with a unique slant on the trope.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading of Helena’s early history and her convoluted affections for the man who fathered her. For the first twelve years of her life, Helena lived in primitive isolation without electricity or running water. Conflicted, deprived, abused, she well may have been, but she was also intelligent, skilled, and a true survivor. For the most part, I rooted for Helena throughout the novel. The only thing I disliked about her was her childhood distorted views of her mother – a woman who she seems to have no respect or affection for. With this dysfunctional family dynamic, I understood why she felt that way, but didn’t condone it. As she matured, her thinking about her mother evolved.

While reading, I learned a little about the native Ojibwe legends, way of life, and the expert skills they developed for living off the land with none of the conveniences we have come to expect. It was fascinating.

Jacob Holbrook, Helena’s father was a cruel man. A narcissistic sociopath with no moral compass. He was also a man who was a talented artist and expertly skilled trapper, hunter, and woodsman who truly understood sustainability.

Interspersed throughout the narrative were snippets from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Marsh King’s Daughter”.

This novel was a skillful blend of psychological thriller and action/adventure story. It spoke to the topics of nature vs. nurture, and dealt with a strong young woman whose life seemed filled to the brim with difficult, if not impossible choices to make.

I look forward to reading more by this talented author.

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 G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Edelweiss  – Published June 13, 2017

ISBN: 9780735213005 – ASIN:  B01M34QFDA – 320 pages

Karen Dionne is the USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of the award-winning psychological suspense novel The Marsh King’s Daughter published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US and in 25 other languages, and The Wicked Sister (August 2020), also from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

The Marsh King’s Daughter was named a 2018 Michigan Notable Book, took home the Barry and the Crimson Scribe Awards for Best Novel, and was chosen as one of the best books of 2017 by many booksellers and reviewers.

In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls The Wicked Sister “A devastating, magic realism–dusted psychological thriller . . . Dionne paints a haunting portrait of a family hurtling toward the tragic destiny they can foresee but are powerless to stop.”

Karen enjoys nature photography and lives with her husband in Detroit’s northern suburbs.

Follow Karen Dionne on Twitter @KarenDionne

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

“The Beauty Of Broken Things” by Victoria Connelly – Book Review

Helen Hansard is a vibrant woman in her early thirties. A keen photographer, she is debating giving up her steady job in the city and making photography her primary focus. She wants to follow her dream. One tragic day, on her homeward commute, Helen’s commuter train crashes. She and ten other people die…

Helen’s loving husband, Luke, a builder, is overwhelmed with grief. He doesn’t know how to go on without Helen, the love of his life.

Luke goes online to visit Helen’s favoured social media site, Galleria. He knows that she was good friends with another photographer who goes by the handle BB. When a delivery arrives at his house, he realizes that this is a gift Helen had intended to send to her online friend. Through some study of her online photos, Luke narrows down where BB lives. He doesn’t know her real name, but ventures off to visit this woman and deliver Helen’s gift to her.

When a stranger arrives at her home, Orla Kendrick is frightened and disturbed. A recluse, she lives in a castle on Suffolk’s coast. For two years now, after a tragic event, Orla has not ventured out of her home except to walk her large dog on the beach behind her home.

Luke is not dissuaded, and stays on the grounds until Orla finally accepts Helen’s gift. Eventually, the two become wary friends. Luke works on the decrepit castle and stays in one of the rooms there.

The friendship between these two broken people blossoms, and turns out to be therapeutic for them both.What an enjoyable and heart-warming read. I relished getting to know the two main characters and found their story compelling.

This is a story about grief and how different people deal with their pain and loss. It was not a romance, but it did have the potential to be a love story.

The setting was magnificent. An atmospheric old castle in an idyllic setting. And that cover…. beautiful!

I also enjoyed the scenes that contained Orla’s overly large, one-eared dog. Aptly named ‘One Ear’ he added some canine joy to the narrative.

This lovely story was about finding the beauty where some think none exists. About embracing life, loss, friendship, and community.

Recommended to those readers who like character-rich novels with positive messages.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 Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley  – Published June 9, 2020

ISBN: 9781542008167 – ASIN: B07YKW2D3B – 316 pages

Victoria Connelly grew up in Norfolk and started writing her first novel when she was fourteen. She studied English Literature at Worcester University, reading the tragedies of Shakespeare and the novels of Thomas Hardy and knowing that she wanted to write stories with happy endings.

Her first novel Flights of Angels was bought in a bidding war between five publishers and was made into a film by Academy award-winning Ziegler Film.

She is also the author of three collections of short stories as well as two children’s novels, numerous novellas and the Mulberry Cottage series. To date, her books have sold over one million copies worldwide.

She lives in a 500-year old thatched cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of rescued hens.

Follow Victoria Connelly on Twitter @VictoriaDarcy

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

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

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For July 2021, the seventh month, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘G‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five years ago (when I retired). There are 10 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.

“Grief Cottage” by Gail Goodwin

“The Girl In The Red Coat” by Kate Hamer

“The Girls In The Garden” by Lisa Jewell

Gracelin O'Malley by Ann Moore“Gracelin O’Malley” / Ann Moore

“The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth

“Girl Unknown” by Karen Perry

“Get Well Soon” by Marie-Sabine Roger

“Grave’s End” by William Shaw

“Gone Without A Trace” by Mary Torgussen

The Girl In The Garden” by Melanie Wallace

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 | 7 Comments

“Sarah’s List” by Elizabeth Gunn – Book Review

This is the seventh installment in the Sarah Burke police procedural series set in Tucson, Arizona. Though I did not read any of the previous titles, the author included enough of the back story that “Sarah’s List” read well as a stand-alone.

The protagonist, Sarah Burke, was a great character. She was skilled in her job as a homicide detective, yet she wasn’t perfect and made some errors that would come back to haunt her. I enjoyed reading of her home life with her partner, mother, and niece.

The case she was working on was complicated and involved illegal drugs. I was interested in finding out how Sarah would solve the mystery.

The setting, a overly hot Tucson summer, was well rendered.

Anyone who enjoys a police procedural novel that is mostly about the ‘procedure’ will find this an entertaining read.

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 Severn House via NetGalley  – Published August 4, 2020

ISBN: 9780727890498 – ASIN: B086TZ27SM – 192 pages

A one-time innkeeper with a taste for adventure, Elizabeth Gunn has been a private pilot, sky diver, SCUBA diver, and live-aboard sailor. Extensive travel in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe led to a second career as a free-lance travel writer, during which she began writing a series of police procedural mysteries set in southeast Minnesota, where she grew up. Her books contrast the sometimes gritty routine of police work with the idyllic rural scenes around a mid-size city in the upper Midwest. Featured characters are a hard-working police detective named Jake Hines and his girlfriend, Trudy Hanson, a forensic scientist at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul.

In her new southwest series, Elizabeth follows Sarah Burke, a homicide detective dealing with cutting-edge problems in an ancient setting.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – July 13, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers #NetGalley @CazEngland #TheHouseOnTheWatersEdge

My 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 book is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday July 13th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This book will be published on August 11, 2021Publisher: Hera Books

ISBN: 9781912973767 – ASIN: ‎ B096THCDMH

1) I find the cover very alluring.

2) The author, C.E. Rose, is a pseudonym used by the author Caroline England.

3) The setting, the Norfolk Broads, is one I like and is usually very atmospheric.

4) The protagonist discovers some long held family secrets.

From the prologue:

“Distant sound breaks through her sludge of deep sleep. A baby is crying. No, not crying but bleating and whimpering, imploring and scared. Her instinct is to help but she’s too frightened to move and she doesn’t know why.”

The first actual paragraph:

“Ali? Mum’s dead.”

That was my sister, breaking the news all the way from Canada. It was the last day of June, a raw humid day, waiting for rain. The front door was open; the telephone yelled. I toyed with the idea of ignoring the call but put down the watering can on what felt like the final peal.”

Have you ever read anything by this author?

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 Anticipated titles, Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

“Magpie Lane” by Lucy Atkins – Book Review

“Damage is only damage, after all, when it is observed.”

Dee is a middle-aged Scottish woman living and working in the University City of Oxford, England. For the past two decades she has been a nanny to various visiting professors and college staff. Her past is riven with a deep trauma that she has not shared with anyone. She suffers from insomnia. When, by chance, she is hired by the newly hired Master, she immediately bonds with her small and vulnerable charge, Felicity.

“The main problem with my line of work is that children come with parents, and parents come with opinions, thoughts, urges and impulses – most of them entirely misguided.”

Felicity lost her mother at the tender age of four years. Now she is eight years old and has a new stepmother who is expecting a baby. Largely ignored by her father and stepmother, grieving for her mother, bullied at school, she suffers from night terrors, sleepwalking, and selective muteism.

Linklater is a middle aged house historian who has been hired by Nick Law to research the history of the Masters Lodging, an ancient and gothic pile located on Magpie Lane, Oxford. Linklater is very odd and eccentric, and through various outings with Dee and Felicity, he becomes very fond of them both.

Nick and Mariah Law – a narcissistic couple who have little time for the tiny Felicity. Nick is busy with his duties as Master of the college, while his wife, the beautiful Danish Mariah, has her own business restoring vintage wallpapers.

“Their lack of engagement in Felicity’s life was staggering. They seemed less like a family than a couple, reluctantly caretaking an inconvenient child.”

When Felicity goes missing, the police question Dee at length. For she is the most likely person to know anything about Felicity’s whereabouts. The most likely ‘suspect’ because of her personal history and criminal record…

This novel had everything I require in an excellent read. A setting that evokes atmosphere in spades, a protagonist with a secretive past, and a dysfunctional family that seem to have a hidden agenda.

The Oxford University Master’s Lodging house was an ancient gothic pile with creepy vibes. A house steeped in history – it even had a priest’s hole.

The nanny, Dee, was an eccentric and enigmatic woman. The allusions to her past evoked an aura of mystery and earlier trauma. Her brilliant mathematical mind lent her personality a certain gravitas. While she seemed a quirky, aloof person, she seemed very loving toward her small charge Felicity.

Felicity herself was an extremely troubled little girl with whom you couldn’t help but have empathy for.

The plot was clever and expertly executed. It was a cut above the typical ‘missing child’ thriller. The ending was perfect – somewhat ambiguous, but perfectly fitting for the book.

This psychological novel kept me captivated throughout. I have added all of Lucy Atkins previous novels to my TBR. Highly recommended!

I purchased this novel in Kindle format some time ago. My decision to read and review it now coincided with the paperback publication this month by Quercus Books.

Original publication: Feb. 1, 2020   Paperback publication: July 8, 2021

ISBN: 9781784293833 – ISBN: 9781786485571 – ASIN: B085TR1GVB –  354 pages

Lucy Atkins is an award winning British author and journalist. She has written four novels, most recently the critically acclaimed MAGPIE LANE. Many of her books are published internationally and THE NIGHT VISITOR (2017) has been optioned for television.

Lucy teaches on the Creative Writing Masters degree at the University of Oxford.

She studied English at Oxford University and was a Fulbright Scholar to the USA for an M.A. in English and American literature. She has lived in Boston, Seattle and Philadelphia, and is now based in Oxford, with her family and her dog.

Find Lucy on Twitter @lucyatkins or Instagram @lucyatkinswriter

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

20 Questions with mystery author Tina DeBellegarde #AuthorInterview @tdbwrites @levelbestbooks

1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your debut mystery novel “Winter Witness”, and I’m eager now to read the second book in the series. Congratulations on the positive reviews. What is the most rewarding thing about your writing journey so far?

By far, the most rewarding thing has been receiving positive reviews and feedback from complete strangers! When my dear friends and family praise my book, it is lovely and so welcome, but when a stranger does it, it’s validation. Sometimes someone will review my book in such a way that I realize that they totally “get” my book, that they understand my characters and what I was aiming to impart. That’s a remarkable feeling. And to top that off, because I have such wonderful fans and readers, WINTER WITNESS was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel! (Final voting takes place July 17th.)

2. After reading your book AND your bio, I see that several aspects of the book stem from events and/or characters in your own life. Your son is living in Japan, your cat is named Shelby, etc. Will you continue this trend in further novels?

WINTER WITNESS is the first in a series, so many of the existing aspects will definitely remain. In addition, I find my local community to be very rich in characters as well as situations, and they will continue to find a home in my books as well (in disguise, of course!) I plan on bringing Bianca to Japan in book three, so that aspect of Bianca’s life will resemble mine even more closely.

3. While reading your novel I was strongly reminded of the work of Louise Penny and from reading online, I am not the first to think this way. Do you think the setting is mostly responsible for this, or are you a fan of hers and soaked up some of the ambiance of her novels?

I do believe that the setting has something to do with the comparison to Louise Penny’s books. Did I mention that I never get tired of hearing that? I think my village has a similar feel – quaint and tight-knit but with enough simmering below the surface to keep it from being too comfortable. I think another point of comparison are the themes and the fact that her Three Pines and my Batavia-on-Hudson are cozy settings but are not cozy books. We are grittier than most cozies, so perhaps there is something there.
When I started writing WINTER WITNESS I did some online research and thought from the descriptions I found that I was writing a cozy. Then I read that cozies were dead and that I’d never get one published. I since have discovered that cozies are far from dead and that I wasn’t even writing a true cozy. Then I discovered Louise Penny and realized that there might be an audience for my book after all.

4. Do you have family and/or friends proof-read your novels, or do you depend on your publisher’s editorial staff? Who is the very first person to read your finished work?

My husband reads first. I trust him. He is an educator and knows how to critique. He’s also tender and wonderful so he is a safe place to start. After that, I revise, and then I have a few beta-readers who give me feedback. Then I revise again and do several close readings checking for certain things I am concerned about such as descriptions, humor, dialogue, continuity etc. Then I do a few close readings for editing/proofreading purposes. Then off to the editors.

5. You have based your mystery series in the Catskill/Hudson River area where you live. How important is ‘setting’ to your series?

Setting and character are my main reasons for writing this series. The setting dictates the ambiance, the types of problems the characters have. It also gives the reader a place to escape to. I want this series to be entertaining and thought provoking, but I also want it to be an invitation at the end of the day for someone to relax and unwind. Certain settings are better for that than others.

6. Your protagonist, Sheriff Mike Riley, seems to have a less than ideal marriage. Do you plan for him to have any romantic involvement with co-protagonist Bianca St. Denis in further books? (I hope your answer is yes…)

This is probably the most common question I get and I’m so glad. I always enjoy a little romantic tension in my reading and watching – subtle things that remind us how it feels to blush around someone. I intend to continue to put Bianca and Mike in each other’s way throughout the books and have them work out their feelings. I won’t give anything away, but they will need to keep dealing with each other…

7. I was tickled to learn that you worked in a public library – as I retired from a public library career five years ago. Was it exciting to see your own work on the library shelves?

Okay, so now that you mention it, maybe this answer should be in question number one. Because – Yes! Seeing my book on a library shelf was miraculous! Libraries have always been my favorite places in the world and to see my book take a spot on the shelf made me cry. Seeing it on bookstore shelves was a close second, but libraries are where my love of reading originated.

8. What was the hardest part of writing “Winter Witness”? The beginning, the middle, or the end? Do you create an outline first?

I am very visual, so as soon as I have a basic outline, I start with a whiteboard and map out the trajectory of the story. Then I develop a thorough outline. I also tend to revise as I go. I know that many writers consider this a no-no. It probably slows me down, but I feel much better tightening up my work as I proceed. Once I get past the middle hump I put the remaining scenes on index cards and work my way through, one at a time.
The hardest part is the middle, I think many writers will tell you that. Some call it the messy middle. You need to start tying things together and gearing up for the last third without boring your reader. It’s where I do the most cutting. My beginnings and my endings tend to be tighter from the start.

9. Reviews, both good and bad, are part of the writing experience. How important do you think they are to the success of a book? Do you think blogger’s reviews are honest and fair for the most part?

I certainly hope they are fair and honest. I get the impression that bloggers tend to choose to review what they are interested in, so I think a certain amount of winnowing out the negative starts there.
I write reviews of Japanese books in translation and you will find that I, as well as most of my colleagues on the Books on Asia website, write fairly positive reviews. What I think happens is that we will pass on a book that we aren’t enjoying rather than reading to the end and writing a bad review. There is so much good writing out there, there is no need to focus on what isn’t good. It appears to me that most honest reviewers will tell you what works for a book and why it gets the stars they give it while also telling you the shortfalls. Often these shortfalls are not enough for the reviewer to tell you not to read a book.
Today, more than ever, reviews are important. We have evolved into a culture that has access to so much that reviews help us make difficult choices. So I do think reviews contribute to the success of a book.

10. Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?

Mystery is always a favorite. I came to the genre via Martha Grimes, and I read all Louise Penny’s books and Julia Spencer-Fleming. I read literary fiction, especially foreign works in translation. I am deeply immersed in Japanese writing at the moment. I started out as a Murakami fan many years ago, and over the years I have discovered several others I enjoy. Female Japanese authors are finally getting their due and I’m very happy about it.
I have read all of Anne Tyler several times because she is a master at character development. I also love flash fiction, and write my own. If you write flash or want to try, visit my new blog where I am providing prompts.

11. If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a glass of wine with another crime novelist – who would it be?

Louise Penny and Tina deBellegarde

There are so many great answers to that question, but I would have to say Louise Penny. I have met her a couple of times and I have even chatted with her (lucky me, I found myself alone with her in an elevator once), but I would love the opportunity to pick her brain on the subject of small communities and their special entanglements. I would like to share ideas on bringing small town characters to life with all their flaws and aspirations.

12. Are there some books that you find yourself recommending to all your friends? Tell us two titles that you recommend. One mystery, and one other.

The Man with the Load of Mischief – the first in the Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes. Before Louise Penny there was Martha Grimes. A small town with interesting, quirky characters and well developed mysteries.
Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto is a treasure. Her ability to tell a long arc story with such well-developed characters in the confines of her setting is a miracle.

13. How long will we have to wait for the second installment in the Batavia-on-Hudson series?

Book 2 – DEAD MAN’S LEAP is due out April 2022. The first draft is done. I am now in revisions. I have done a broad outline for book #3. It is looking for a title but it will have Bianca traveling to Kyoto Japan.

14. How much input did you have in choosing the cover for your novel?

I was very lucky because my publisher was happy to work with the artist I wanted. Sachi Mulkey is so talented. She has done two covers for me now and the map of the village – which you will find in the opening of the book. She recently completed a colorized version of the map as well. I am so glad that Level Best Books liked her work because I had very clear ideas of what I wanted and I felt she could make them materialize for me. She gave me some terrific initial sketches based on my ideas, but the cover we went with was her idea completely. We designed the second cover with a similar feel. You will clearly see the continuity between those covers and we already have the third one in mind.

15. Has your novel been equally well received by readers in both North America and the United Kingdom?

Yes, so far I have been very blessed with positive feedback wherever the book has had exposure, but being with a smaller press means that getting the word out isn’t as easy. I have had some readers from all over, but most of my readers have been from the United States.

16. Do you imagine that someday “Winter Witness” will be made into a movie or television show? Who do you see playing the lead roles?

My son is a film maker and we have discussed this idea at length. We think Vera Farmiga would make a good Bianca. She has a feminine warm quality and seems down to earth. Clive Owen would be a good Sheriff Mike Riley. He is rugged and looks like a handsome version of the guy next door. Robbie Coltrane, better known as Hagrid, would be a must for Big Ben Sawyer. Kate Winslet would be a natural as Olivia Last, Bianca’s best friend. Rebecca should be played by the stunning Rachel Weisz. Between the two of us we have cast most of the many quirky characters in WINTER WITNESS.

Oh, I love your casting Tina. I’m familiar with all of these actors and think they would be perfect for your series.

17. What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known? (I like to ask this question because it gives me and my readers fodder for our TBRs!)

There is a ton of great writing coming out of my publisher Level Best Books. We are a smaller press, so we have to work harder to be heard. Take a look at what we offer and you would be very impressed. We are diverse and we also have a fairly new historical imprint. Keep your eyes open for Mally Becker’s series. Her first book The Turncoats Widow came out this year. It’s an American Revolution mystery. While Gabriel Valjan’s Shane Cleary series is a gritty noir following a Boston PI set in 70s Boston – think Robert Parker’s Spenser. Linda Norlander’s Cabin by the Lake Mysteries have a country, small town feel similar to my books. Those are just three of the many great new works coming out of Level Best Books.

18. I’m a retired public library cataloguer and have known for some time that mysteries/crime thrillers are some of the most read genres of fiction. Why do you think crime fiction is so popular?

I have no doubt that most people love a challenge and a puzzle. I know I do. In addition, most stories, even those not clearly labeled a mystery, often have a secret at the heart of the story – something that needs to revealed to the characters. Once this mystery or secret is revealed, it unravels other mysteries in the characters’ lives. We love secrets and puzzles and these books provide some of the excitement we crave but from a safe distance.

19. What interview question have you never been asked that you wish had been asked? What’s the answer?

What films influence me? I like this question because I’m a very visual person. My son Alessandro is a film maker and I often say to myself, how would he shoot this scene? My favorite film for its visual impact and storytelling are Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express. Also, Kore-eda’s family dramas are so poignant and demonstrate how impactful a simple everyday story can be. The television series Broadchurch was excellent at revealing motivations, secrets, and drama in such a visually stunning way.

20. How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’? Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?

I’d love it if readers would friend me on all those platforms. My blog is recently started with flash fiction writing prompts, so please play along. Write your own. Comment on mine. I would love the interaction. Here are my links:
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tinadebellegardeauthor/?ref=pages_you_manage
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tina.tersigni/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tdb_writes/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tdbwrites
Website: https://www.tinadebellegarde.com/ (sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of the main page)
Blog: https://www.tinadebellegarde.com/post/flash-fiction-on-the-spot-prompts-and-responses
Feel free to email me! tinadebellegarde@gmail.com

Posted in author interviews, Authors, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“The Island Home” by Libby Page – Book Review @libbypagewrites #TheIslandHome @orionbooks #NetGalley #BookReview

“Sometimes it is easier to stay away than to try to build bridges and fail. To let silences stretch over years rather than reaching a hand out across the vast and lonely emptiness.”

Lorna – Twenty-two years ago Lorna left her Hebridean island home when family life became unbearable for her. She was never given any praise or was made to feel lovable. She suffered emotional cruelty at the hands of her alcoholic father. She set out on her own at the tender age of eighteen and moved to London where she got a job in a bar. A few years later, with the birth of her daughter, Ella, Lorna successfully trained to become a school teacher. Now, after little to no communication with her family for over two decades, she is returning to the island to attend the double funeral of her parents.

“Often, I feel like my life is one long drive in a car with no steering wheel.”

Alice – married to Jack, Lorna’s brother, and mother to fourteen year old Molly, Alice keeps her little family together. Loving and nurturing to not just her own family, but her extended family too. And by that I mean all the islanders. She is a yoga instructor and the friend to many.

Kip – a tiny Hebridean Island, Kip is the home to just over one hundred residents, twenty cows, and fifty or so sheep. All of Kip’s residents seem to love where they live and they have a very strong sense of community spirit.

I had great memories of reading Libby Page’s previous novel “The Lido” so was really looking forward to “The Island Home“.

One of my all-time favourite settings for a novel is the Hebrides, and islands in general have always held a fascination for me. The fictional island of Kip in this novel is an almost idyllic place – a place I would love to live.

If I had to say anything negative about this lovely novel is that it was very predictable. However, in this case, I found that I didn’t care. It’s predictability made it comforting and the characters were all so wonderful that I enjoyed the journey with them, despite the fact that very early on I knew how it would all pan out.

This is a book with themes of homecoming, regret, forgiveness, hope, belonging, and community. It expounds on how strongly people can be linked to a ‘place’.

If you are looking for a feel good novel that also tugs at your heart strings, then this is the book for you. A lovely read that I can highly recommend.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 Orion Books via NetGalley UK – Published June 24, 2021

ISBN: 9781409188261 – ISBN: 9781409188278 – 480 pages


Libby Page is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lido and The 24-Hour Cafe. The Island Home is her third novel. Before becoming an author, she worked in journalism and marketing. She is a keen outdoor swimmer and lives in London with her husband. Follow Libby on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @libbypagewrites.


Posted in Book Reviews, Love stories, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = QUIET #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 ‘QUIET‘. In this post I’ve selected 22 novels with the word ‘QUIET’ 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!

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 | 21 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – July 6, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers #TheRiseOfLight @LibHawker #NetGalley #TuesdayBookBlog

My 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 book is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday July 6th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This book will be published on August 17, 2021

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing/Amazon Publishing UK

ISBN: 9781542022453 – ASIN: ‎  B08TWXG67S – 425 pages

In Canada, this title is available via Kindle Unlimited

1) I’m endlessly intrigued with exploring different family dynamics.

2) This novel showcases a dysfunctional family and the blurb alludes to some ‘unforgivable’ mysterious event.

3) I love novels that have themes of ‘starting over’ and family secrets.

4) I’ve not yet read any of this author’s work, and I’m always open to discovering new authors.

“June 1, 1975

It was the first Sunday of the month, which meant Fast and Testimony. Tasmin was stuck in the Rigby family pew, sandwiched between her eldest brother, Aran, to her left, and the twins Ondi and Brig, to her right. The twins had recently turned nineteen, so they were taut with expectation, expecting to receive their calls to missionary work. Ondi and Brig were dreaming already of the places they would go, the new lands that would open eager arms, desperate for salvation. Ondi was actually shivering. Tasmin could feel it, a vibration running all through her brother, as if his soul (whatever a soul was) couldn’t bear to keep still, even though his body remained calm and reverent, his back erect and his arms folded in the prescribed posture of sanctity.”

Have you ever read anything by this author?

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 Anticipated titles, Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“Please See Us” by Caitlin Mullen – Book Review

The once vibrant and bustling New Jersey hot spot is now tawdry and in a sharp decline. The once thriving casinos and hotels are starved for business – at least the ones that are left. The economy is in free fall and violent crime is on the rise. The hustlers, grifters, and sex workers are struggling to survive.Young women in New Jersey’s declining tourist mecca are going missing.

We meet two women struggling to survive under challenging conditions.

Lily, a well educated former art scout in New York, has returned to the city of her birth to recuperate after a bitter break up. She moves in with her widowed mother to start over completely. The break up with her fiance has left her without money or possessions, and has left her feeling used and betrayed. She procures a position in one of the remaining casino’s spas.

The other, Ava, is a sixteen year old girl who lives with her aunt Des, a woman to whom life has been less than kind. Des uses Ava’s youth to further her own agenda. She teaches her to steal when she is only seven, and when she is a teenager pimps her out to pay the bills. By day, Ava works under the name Clara Voyant. She is a psychic plying her trade on the boardwalk. She reads tarot cards and learns things about people that she’d rather not know.

Luis is a deaf mute man who works at the Casino as a janitor. His demeanor is such that he is prey to bullies. Rendered invisible by society Luis has come to hate the police who have ignored his pleas for help on more than one occasion.

Atlantic City beachfront with marshland in the background

Ava/Clara begins to have some disturbing visions. She suspects her visions are related to the missing girls. When the uncle of one of the girls comes to Clara, she is even more certain. She feels flies crawling over her….

Meanwhile… more than one Jane Doe lie dead in a marshy field out behind the seedy and downtrodden Sunset Motel. As their bodies deteriorate, flies crawl over their corpses. The women seem to cry…. “Please See Us“.
When circumstances conspire for Clara and Lily to meet, the two young women form a hesitant bond. Lily realizes that Clara’s visions are genuine and feels protective toward her. They band together to try to learn the fate of the missing women.
Dark subject matter and dire situations ensured that this is not a ‘feel good’ novel. Like the characters within the pages, an overwhelming impression of hopelessness prevails.

Both young women have stories that make you root for them, especially Ava. She is so young and has never had a nurturing or loving family.

We hear the final ‘thoughts‘ of the dead Jane Does… How tragic, will their killer be found?

This is definitely not a tourism advertisement for Atlantic City. It depicts the place as having suffered from extreme economic downturn. The tawdry neon lights masking the shabby and sleazy under-layer is brilliantly described. As is the marsh where the girls are lying… the reader can almost smell the mud and decay.

This is a dark and oftentimes disturbing debut crime novel. The writing was polished and the plot well developed. So much so that you realize this is a talented writer to watch.

Anyone who likes their crime novels to be dark and realistic with genuine characters then this is the debut for you.

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 Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster via NetGalley – Published March 1, 2020.

ISBN: 9781982127480 – ASIN: B07THDF4CS – 352 pages

Caitlin Mullen earned a BA in English and Creative Writing from Colgate University, an MA in English from NYU, and an MFA in fiction from Stony Brook University. She has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from the Saltonstall Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center.

She grew up in upstate New York and the Jersey Shore and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Please See Us is her debut novel.

Follow Caitlin Mullen on Twitter: @CaitEMullen

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

What a difference a cover makes – A reader’s discussion

Every once in a while, a circumstance causes me to pause and wonder… Do other readers feel the same way I do? Yesterday, I encountered just such a circumstance.

I saw this book cover in one of my ‘Kindle Deals’ emails.  I loved the look of it, and the title caused me to click on it to see what it was all about – which is exactly what a book cover and title are meant to do.
I love the colors used on the cover as well as the house. The cover, coupled with the title, gives off a thriller/domestic suspense vibe which greatly appealed to me.

When I visited Goodreads to read the blurb and some of the opinions of other readers, I at once realized that this book has an alternate cover. This alternate cover turned me off completely, and I no longer had any interest in either reading the blurb, or knowing what other readers thought of the book.This cover gives off a vibe of rather cheesy romantic suspense – which, though I realize the genre’s merits, is not one which I tend to enjoy all that much.

The first cover excited me to read more, investigate, and possibly add the book to my TBR.

The second cover completely quelled my interest in reading the book and affirmed that it will NOT be added to my TBR.

What a difference a cover makes!

Have you ever encountered a similar experience?

I love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Posted in Dustjackets, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged , | 49 Comments