“Nine Elms” by Robert Bryndza – #BookReview #NineElms @RobertBryndza @AmazonPub

Kate Marshall – a former police detective, now works in a university as a lecturer in criminology alongside her young and talented research assistant. Kate is a single mother whose teenage son lives with his grandmother, Kate’s own mother. Though she has been sober for the past six years, she continues to battle against the alcoholism which almost derailed both her work and home life. Now she lives in a cottage overlooking the sea in which she swims every morning, no matter the weather.

Tristan Harper – an intelligent and astute young man in his twenties. He is the perfect foil for Kate and their relationship wields an admirable balance.An elderly couple enlist Kate and Tristan’s help in finding their daughter who disappeared many years ago. The couple realize that their daughter is most probably dead, but with no body ever found they long for closure.  Kate pities their situation and agrees to help. This sets off a string of events that will eventually bring Kate’s past life and present life in a course that is destined to collide with disastrous effect for herself and those she holds dear.

WOW! What an enthralling read! I hope that “Nine Elms” is the first in a very long series. Rich characterization and a page-turning plot makes for a fast-paced, though at times gruesome read. (Anyone who dislikes graphic violence should give this one a miss.)

I enjoyed Kate Marshall’s character and her relationships with her neighbour/sponsor, her assistant, her mother and her son. All were rich and believable. Kate has more baggage than most women in their forties and she is working hard to leave it behind her – including her longing for alcohol. A ‘day at a time’ battle that she is determined to overcome.

The narrative is well-balanced. In addition to Kate’s perspective we are also privy to that of the original serial murderer who is now in prison and to that of the copycat killer who is in the midst of his murder spree.

The original serial killer case was thoroughly believable. The copycat killer was another twisted ‘sicko‘, but he stretched incredulity a bit far. He was just too connected, too rich, too cunning. That didn’t mar my enjoyment though. For a longish book of almost 400 pages, I whipped through it in record time.

In addition to the fascinating serial killer investigation, this novel was also a study of the  “nature vs. nurture” debate.

“Nine Elms” is my first read from Robert Bryndza and now that I’ve read it, I’m eager to read his earlier series as well.

Highly, highly recommended to all lovers of gritty crime 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 Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.

Publication date: December 1, 2019      Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

ISBN: 9781542005685    ASIN: B07PJKBZDH    396 pages

Robert Bryndza began his career training at the Guildford School of Acting. He spent six years as an actor, doing all kinds of strange jobs in between, which was the perfect training for being an author. He began to write during a long period of unemployment, first comedy sketches, a show which he took to the Edinburgh Festival, and then four romantic comedy novels which he self-published, and they became Amazon charts bestsellers selling over 250,000 copies.

His debut crime thriller The Girl in the Ice was the first book in his Detective Erika Foster series. It has sold over 1 million copies in the English language, and won the Dead Good Reader Award for best kick-ass female character at the 2016 Harrogate Crime Festival. Erika Foster has gone on to kick-ass in five further books; The Night StalkerDark WaterLast BreathCold Blood and Deadly Secrets. The series was twice nominated in Goodreads Choice Awards (Mystery and Thriller category) in 2016 for The Girl in the Ice, and in 2017 for Last Breath.  Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language, and have been translated into 29 languages.

Nine Elms, the first book in his new Kate Marshall private detective series was first published late in 2019 and was an instant Amazon USA no.1 bestseller, an Amazon UK top 10 bestseller and topped bestselling charts around the world. The second book in the series, Shadow Sands, will be published in November 2020. Robert is British and lives in Slovakia.

Follow Robert Bryndza on Twitter – or, visit his website.

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Book Reviews, NetGalley, Page turners | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

4,000 Followers Giveaway – and the winner is….

In June, Fictionophile reached the 4,000 followers milestone.  To celebrate, and to thank you all for supporting my blog, I hosted a

The winner receives an Amazon gift card

I used the “Random Name Picker” web tool to choose from the 41 people who entered the draw by commenting on my post.

Congratulations to Kelly Van Damme who lives in Belgium!

She is the winner of an Amazon.co.uk  gift card in the amount of £15.

Check out her great book blog: From Belgium with Book Love

I thank all who commented on my blog post and all the others who follow Fictionophile.  I appreciate each and every one of you! ♥


And the first person to get a ‘BINGO‘ in my Summer Bingo Game was Virginia Williams (Rosepoint Publishing Blog)  She read the following books to get her ‘BINGO’ left to right diagonally:

The Incredible Key West-Caribbean Race” by Michael Reisig

Out of the Red and into the Black” by Shane Ahalt Sr.

“FREE”

Speakeasy” by A.M. Dunnewin

The Mockingbird’s Song” by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Posted in Book bloggers, Fictionophile report, Giveaways | Tagged | 11 Comments

Half-way – Fictionophile 2020 biannual report

Yes, folks we are now halfway through 2020. And what a year it has been! Unprecedented for all of us. Who would have thought that the world could have taken such a divergent path?

As everyone in the world will attest, 2020 has been a memorable year for most people, and not in a good way…  Our family has been hit particularly hard with illness this year, not Covid-19, but the other big C – cancer.

We do have lots to be thankful for as well. Our darling grandson turned ONE year old in May.  After a very rocky start, he is thriving and doing SO well!So, pushing negative thoughts aside, I thought I’d recap my book blogging efforts so far in 2020.

For starters, this blog finally reached the incredible milestone of having 4,000 followers in June!  So delighted about that! Thanks everyone.

I have hosted a giveaway to celebrate this milestone and I was delighted to discover that 41 people entered my draw.  A name has been chosen and contacted and I will feature a blog post on July 2nd to announce the lucky winner of an Amazon gift card.

So far in 2020, I have read and reviewed 52 books.

Here are some graphics to show how I’ve been faring in my various reading challenges.

My NetGalley Readers challenge:

My Edelweiss Readers challenge:


My self created #FFRC2020 challenge:The “What’s In a Name?” readers challenge:My own ‘Banish the Backlist’ challenge:


I have read NINE titles toward my #20BooksOfSummer20 Reading Challenge:

(you’ll note that there are 28 books in this graphic – I hope to read them all before Sept 1st)


I have chosen my TOP TEN reads for 2020 so far.  Of the 52 titles I have read, here are my ten favourites:All the reviews for my 10 favourites can be found on Fictionophile.

I read TWO titles that I wish I hadn’t spent my precious time on. So 2/52 is not so bad…
My two least favourite titles were “Catherine House” and “Poor Little Rich Girl”.


So far in 2020, I have participated in nine blog tours.

I have posted to the blog times 108 times and my “Cover Love” and “Wednesday Word” posts remain the most popular. I sometimes wonder why I even bother to review books. LOL


Wishing everyone a safe, happy & restful summer.

and because I am inordinately proud to be this little guy’s ‘Gran‘, here is another photo of my beloved grandson:

And… to all my fellow Canadians

 

Posted in Fictionophile report, reading challenges | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Fictionophile’s June 2020 #BookHaul

I’ve added ELEVEN titles to my TBR this month.

I was auto-approved for four titles, my requests were approved for four more, and three are titles that I was invited to review.

I was approved for ONE title from Edelweiss in June:

 

Blackstone Publishing  304 pages
Publication date: August 18, 2020


AND… I downloaded TEN titles from NetGalley in June:












Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 10 Comments

“The Ghost in the House” by Sara O’Leary – #BookReview @doubledayca #TheGhostInTheHouse @saraoleary

“I have broken the natural laws by my return. And there are, as always, consequences.”

“I shouldn’t have ever had to see him with someone else, but I have.”

When Fay returns to her marital home after being dead for five years she finds that her husband has remarried, her beloved Vancouver home has been redecorated, and that shockingly… she is DEAD.

“I can go anywhere that I have already been. I can have that time back again.”

At first, only her husband’s troubled thirteen year old step-daughter can see her, then eventually her husband can see her too…

“This is impossible, Fay. Untenable. I can’t live in this house with two wives, like some Noël Coward character.”

Fay becomes increasingly jealous of her husband’s new wife, Janet.

“Janet needs to know this is still my house.”

Let’s face it, we all wonder whether there is life after death. If not ‘life‘ then we wonder just what does happen after we die. The author uses dark humor and pathos to imagine coming back to your home after you die. Original and oddly compelling.

The entire time I was reading of Fay’s foray back to her marital home, I was wondering what would become of her. This kept me turning pages. Ironic because she was already dead.

I loved how one of the things she regretted is that she never got to finish her Denise Mina novel (and I know just the one). Fay’s love of literature was palpable.

I enjoyed the writing, the pacing, and the humour. I did feel a profound sympathy for Fay and wondered how her death came about at the tender age of thirty-seven. I could easily imagine how torn her husband was. Also, I could feel Fay’s frustration at being able to witness events, see things and people, yet not be able to touch – hug – or feel…

This novel was an original examination of all things existential. Of leaving a life you loved – much too soon. Of how regret, grief, memories, love and loss shape our lives, and of selfishness vs. selflessness.  Sure it was imaginative, and ‘out there‘ to a great extent, but I really enjoyed sharing in Fay’s journey. This was a fast and enjoyable 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 Doubleday Canada/Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley.

Publication date: July 7, 2020      Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 9780385686259    ASIN: B073P9FQHV    208 pages

Sara O’Leary has a degree in screenwriting from the University of British Columbia and teaches at Concordia University in Montreal. She was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and first studied writing at the Saskatchewan School of the Arts. She has written a number of critically acclaimed books for children, including This is Sadie, which was adapted for the stage by New York City Children’s Theater. A former literary columnist for The Vancouver Sun and CBC Radio, she also writes short fiction. The Ghost in the House is her first novel. Visit her online at saraoleary.ca or on Twitter @saraoleary

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Book Reviews, Canadian fiction, ghost stories, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

“Poor Little Rich Girl” by Phyllis Mallett – Book Review

Blurb:

Just hours after her beloved mother’s funeral, Elaine Carson discovers she was adopted at birth, and that her real mother is Carrie Williams, a best-selling author.
Feeling lost and alone, and with nothing solid tying her to her life in Essex, Elaine travels to Cornwall to trace her birth mother.
She meets Frank Templeton, the owner of a local antiques shop and Carrie’s husband, who informs her his wife is away on business.
Elaine is forced to stay quiet for now, but hopes to pass the time peacefully, working as Frank’s assistant.
However, Elaine’s new life becomes even more complicated when she grows attached to Adrian, the widowed owner of a local riding school, and his son Lee.
As the past she has left behind refuses to let her go, her secret threatens to tear her fresh life apart.
Will Elaine find the courage to reveal all?
Or does she stand to lose her new-found happiness?

The blurb, coupled with the beautiful cover are what first attracted me to this book. My assumptions were mislead as this turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment.

I knew going in that it was a romance novel, and I was in the mood for a light read. What I didn’t expect was just how “Mills & Boon” like it would be, and how the stilted writing made me cringe at times. “emotion darted through her breast”.

The protagonist, twenty-three year old Elaine Carson, was at times wise beyond her tender years, and at other times, though her actions were warm, she left me cold.

All in all, this is not a book that I can fully recommend – even for the most diehard romance lovers.

I purchased this short novel in Kindle format.

Publication date: October 2015     Publisher: Lume Books

ISBN: 9781444816143    ASIN: B016ON2ZE0    208 pages

Phyllis Mallett is the author of over twenty romance fiction titles.

Posted in Book Reviews, Love stories | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

“Seven Lies” by Elizabeth Kay – #BookReview @PamelaDormanBks @AnyOtherLizzy #SevenLies

Two lonely little girls met in school at the age of twelve. From then on they were inseparable – finding in each other someone to share their innermost thoughts. As is often the case, the girls were opposite in many ways that matter. Jane was small and dark, loved routine and repetition, and was an introvert. Marnie on the other hand, tall and blonde, was a gregarious extrovert.

This friendship survived being separated during their years at university and rekindled just as strongly after they graduated.  Then… they got married…  and as one would guess, their friendship was never quite the same since.

I think this is the first time I’ve read a book that reads as a confession. The entire novel was written in the first person and did just that! Our protagonist, Jane, had a lot to confess – as the titles suggests she told seven lies that served to influence her life.  Needless to say, she did some unforgivable things, yet somehow I felt real empathy for her. She was lonely her entire life. She just went about remedying her loneliness in ill-advised ways.

It takes real talent to create a fully rounded character and Elizabeth Kay did so in this novel. Although we know just how devious Jane can be, we also know how loyal she is, her strong sense of familial duty. Some readers might think Jane is a psychopath, but I don’t agree. Jane is a girl with obsessive-compulsive tendencies who has had some major emotional trauma in her life. This has affected her psyche – in a detrimental way.

With themes of jealousy, loss, widowhood, female friendship, and obsession this novel kept me riveted throughout.  It is one of those books that I loathe to say too much about for fear it will ruin the reading experience for others. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it to the extent that I will be keeping an eagle eye out for this author’s second novel.

A clever and very compelling psychological thriller which I 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 Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin Publishing Group via Edelweiss.

Publication date: June 16, 2020      Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

ISBN: 9781984879714    ASIN: B081Y3VP6R    352 pages

Elizabeth Kay started her career as an assistant at Penguin Random House. She is now a senior commissioning editor there and is simultaneously pursuing her passion for writing.

She won first prize – in a short story competition judged by Jacqueline Wilson – aged eight, and has been writing ever since. She lives in London and has a first-class degree in English literature.  “Seven Lies” is her debut novel.

Follow Elizabeth Kay on Twitter or, visit her official website.

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Recent Kindle Ebook purchases #bookhaul #KindleDeals

I’ve been fairly restrained lately when it comes to buying books, but of course there were a few deals that I just couldn’t pass up. LOL

Here are a few titles that I’ve picked up in recent weeks.

Total expenditure $13.44


Water’s Edge” by G.R. Jordan  $4.99

Highlands & Islands Detective series Book 1

A body discovered by the rocks. A broken detective returns to a scene of past tragedy. Will the pain of the past prevent him from seeing the present?

Detective Inspector Macleod returns to his island home twenty years after the painful loss of his wife. With a disposition forged in strong religious conservatism, he must bond with his new partner, the free spirited and upcoming female star of the force, to seek the killer of a young woman and shine a light on the evil beneath the surface. To do so, he must once again stand in the place where he lost everything. Only at the water’s edge, will everything be made new.

The rising tide brings all things to the surface.


Murder the Boys” by Judith Cutler     .99¢

D.S. Kate Power series Book 1

THE DETECTIVE
Introducing Birmingham Detective Sergeant Kate Power, exiled from London’s Metropolitan Police by personal tragedy and making a new start in the distant outpost of Birmingham CID. Many of her new colleagues are good men but some won’t leave their new female colleague alone long enough to get on with her job. Kate is anxious to lose herself in her work, and before too long a case comes along that will consume her in a way she could never have imagined.THE CASE
Boys are being abducted, abused, and murdered on her patch, and Kate feels intense personal and professional pressure to catch those responsible. Are her colleagues being deliberately obstructive or simply dragging their feet? Who is behind the vile crimes?SHE WON’T LET THE BULLIES STOP HER. KATE WILL RISK HER CAREER AND HER LIFE TO BRING JUSTICE TO THE VICTIMS.Set in the late 90s in England’s second city, this is the first in a series of compulsively readable crime thrillers.

I Am Dust” by Louise Beech     .99¢

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…


Rabbit Hole” by Jon Richter       $1.49

How far would you go to solve a murder?

Elaine Napier, an investigative journalist who is made redundant from her job, decides to record a true-crime podcast.  All she needs is a story.

When Elaine stumbles upon the five-year-old cold case of Katrin, she begins an investigation that will quickly become a fixation.

After an early breakthrough, Elaine’s investigation leads her to Hannibal Heights, an apartment building that Katrin helped to design. The building is home to a sinister taxidermy museum, a host of intriguing residents, and more than its share of secrets.

But despite the obvious danger, Elaine’s obsession continues to grow.

As her investigation threatens to spiral out of control, Napier receives threats and police pressure to shut the broadcast down.

Can Elaine solve the mystery and keep her own sense of right and wrong intact?

Or will the shocking truth distort everything Elaine holds dear?


Folly” by Stella Cameron      .99¢

Alex Duggins mystery series Book 1

MURDER IN A BEAUTIFUL COTSWOLDS VILLAGE
Following the breakdown of her marriage, Alex Duggins has returned to the village of Folly-on-Weir in the Cotswolds. She is starting again, buying the local pub in the area where she grew up.But on a wintery walk in the hills above Folly, Alex stumbles across a frosted corpse buried in the snow. The dead man has a dart piercing his neck.Then the questions start.

And Alex finds herself top of the suspect list.

Can she clear her name and find the real murderer?

As she begins to peel back the layers of deception that have long concealed one of the town’s darkest secrets, she becomes the target of a ruthless killer who has nothing left to lose.

Will Alex be the next snow-covered body to be found in the beautiful hills above the town?


The Crackie” by Gary Collins    $3.99

Jake is born at the turn of the twentieth century on a small outport island on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. He is distinguished from everyone else by a full head of red hair. And to single him out further, Jake has a pronounced speech impediment. Scorned, abused physically and mentally by his father for his stuttering tongue and especially for his questionable parentage, Jake endures. Then still a boy, Jake is found alone in a punt upon an empty sea, on the fishing grounds without his father, whose fate is suspect.

Jake lies about his age and secures a berth aboard the SS Stephano, captained by the famous Old Man of the seal hunt, where he witnesses the SS Newfoundland disaster of 1914. On the ice, Jake comes face to face with one of the Newfoundland’s sealers known as the Culler. He is a mirror image of Jake—complete with red hair. With the other sealers, the Culler is ordered to leave the Stephano despite the brewing storm. Jake doesn’t know if he survived the ensuing disaster or was among the many victims.

Returning from the seal hunt with fewer dollars than he expected, Jake learns that evidence has been hauled from the sea which could incriminate him in his father’s death. Again he lies about his age, this time to earn real money by fighting overseas in the First World War. In the diseased filth and terror of a Gallipoli trench, he learns that sometimes a salary can come the hard way. Thoughts of a girl back home keep him motivated to push on through the horrors of war.

On returning home, Jake learns the Culler had not only survived the Newfoundland disaster but is now living on his island, where the two are destined to meet again in a dramatic conclusion.


Posted in Fictionophile report, Kindle deals | Tagged , | 7 Comments

“Blood Red City” by Rod Reynolds – #BookReview #BlogTour @OrendaBooks #BloodRedCity @Rod_WR

“A witness but no victim; a crime but no crime scene;
too many questions without answers.”

Thirty-four year old Lydia Wright works as a celebrity/entertainment reporter for a London tabloid newspaper. She is aggrieved by her loss of her ‘real‘ reporting job as an investigative journalist. When an ex-colleague sends her a video of a crime committed on the London Underground she senses an opportunity to get back into serious journalism. Unable to verify the video, Lydia begins to investigate – both the victim’s identity and the identity of the person who filmed the crime. When odd things happen surrounding her, she becomes increasingly paranoid. She should be paranoid, as this investigation leads Lydia into mortal danger.

A ‘fixer‘, Michael Stringer, learns of Lydia’s interest in the video and he quickly ascertains Lydia’s identity. He works freelance but has ties to some very dangerous people including billionaires, mobsters and oligarchs. Because he tends to resort to violence and unethical means, one would assume that he was a ‘bad guy’, however he also seems to have a heart underneath his cold exterior. His familial ties and backstory made me warm to him. He came across as a thug with a conscience.

When the two characters meet, there is a frisson of chemistry spiced with some deep-seated mutual distrust.

This compelling crime thriller shows the reader a seedier side to the magnificent city of London. A London sweltering in a summer heat-wave.Blood Red City” was a fast-paced crime story in which all characters were interesting and had some redeeming qualities.  I love that sort of balance.

Very much a modern thriller, set in 2018, the plot features scary, though plausible situations. The writing style held my interest throughout and I found myself rooting for Lydia and her investigation. Stringer’s associates and mission were rather convoluted and I found parts of this sub-plot difficult to follow.

A gritty urban noir crime story which reminded me greatly of the television series “Ray Donovan” another ‘fixer’ who shows both his good and his bad sides to great effect. The novel featured subjects of money-laundering, extortion, paranoia, bribery, murder and more.

Highly recommended to those who prefer fast-paced, gritty crime thrillers with interesting characters and situations.This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Publishing via Anne Cater in order that I might participate in the official blog tour for this title.

Publication date: June 11, 2020      Publisher: Orenda Publishing

ISBN: 9781913193249    ASIN: B082P734LB    300 pages

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

Follow Rod Reynolds on Twitter.

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Orenda Books, Random Things Tours (Anne Cater) | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

“The Girl from Widow Hills” by Megan Miranda – Book Review

Olivia Meyer works as a hospital administrator in North Carolina. She is a solitary woman in her mid-twenties who lives outside town in a semi-rural location. One day she receives a box containing some things that belonged to her mother from whom she has been estranged for several years. Along with the box comes word that her mother has died… some seven months previously.

“How could you become someone new when everyone kept pulling you back to the person you once were? How could you fight that sort of gravity?”

It is now just two months away from the twentieth anniversary of Olivia’s childhood trauma which occurred when she was just six years old. She has never been able to remember exactly what happened to her during the three days she was lost. Though to this day she cannot stand being in confined spaces like elevators and she avoids feeling ‘trapped’ by places and by people.  Since receiving the box with her mother’s possessions, Olivia begins to sleepwalk again – as she did as a child.  One night she awakes to find herself outside her house standing over the dead body of a man…

Olivia’s traumatic past and current predicament make her paranoia quite understandable. She is an empathic character, though for some reason I didn’t completely warm to her.  She has always felt like a ‘commodity’. To her mother who gained financially after writing a book about the trauma, to the town who benefited, to everyone. She yearns for the friendship of people who do not know about her past, people who accept her for ‘her‘.

The setting of the novel was well described and easy to visualize. The writing held my attention throughout with pacing that was neither too fast nor too slow.

The compelling factor for me was that Olivia was under the scrutiny of the police as a potential murder suspect, while Olivia herself was unsure if she had committed the murder or not… Riddled with self-doubt, she doesn’t trust herself.

Various themes run throughout this suspenseful novel. Trust, self-doubt, blackmail, parent and child relationships, narcissistic personalities.

This is the first novel by Megan Miranda that I have read, and though not a personal favorite, I would definitely read more by the author and recommend “The Girl from Widow Hills” to other readers.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 Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss.

Publication date: June 23, 2020      Publisher: Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781501165429    ASIN: B07Z44CWT4    332 pages

Megan Miranda is the New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, The Perfect Stranger, and The Last House Guest, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. She has also written several books for young adults, including Come Find Me, Fragments of the Lost, and The Safest Lies. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.

Follow Megan Miranda on Twitter.

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Cover Love: part 90 – Roads

In my 90th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about roads on book covers.  Since this pandemic is causing many of us to have ‘staycations’, you might find yourself  ‘on the road’ this summer.

In this compilation, you’ll find country roads, town roads, paved roads, dirt roads, coastal roads and more. All of them hopefully leading us down the road to a great read.

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!

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 89 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 8 Comments

“Remain Silent” by Susie Steiner – Book Review

“Human beings cannot bear too much reality.”It has been my absolute JOY this week to read the third novel in the Manon Bradshaw series. And, no surprise, it was just as wonderful – if not more so!
Remain Silent” will, without a doubt, be included in my favorites list for 2020. And Manon Bradshaw? Well, she may very well be my favourite character, EVER!

Manon Bradshaw, a Detective Inspector with the Cambridgeshire Police, is now forty-six years old. She shares a house with her adopted son, Fly, her common-law husband Mark Talbot, and her their four year-old son, Teddy.

Manon is content working on cold cases three days a week since she came off maternity leave.

Davy Walker, once Manon’s sergeant, now equals her in rank. Davy is engaged to be married – a status he is not sure he is completely comfortable with.

Manon and Davy have a wonderful rapport and mutual respect.

When Manon and Teddy discover an immigrant hanging from a tree in a local park, the apparent suicide leads Manon down a path that sheds light on the unethical treatment of Lithuanian migrant workers, men who came to the UK for a better life, but are instead treated abominably, with disgusting living conditions, debt bonding, and emotional and physical abuse of all kinds.

The author creates a personal story around these workers which makes their plight all the more impactful.

“Most nightmares end if you only give them time.
This too will pass was a good enough motto to live by.”

The police case involves migrant workers.  Although the case was compelling, for me it was by far overshadowed by the wonderful characters in this novel.  Manon is a brilliant policewoman trying to attain the always illusive home/work balance. She loves her children like a fierce ‘Mamma Bear’.  Fly is a wonderful boy who at age sixteen is facing his GCSEs and is an excellent big brother for Teddy.

What I love about Steiner’s novels is that she creates the perfect balance between the case in hand and Manon’s personal life.  The case this time highlights the abhorrent treatment of Lithuanian migrant workers in the United Kingdom.  A very real problem that ‘Operation Pheasant‘ is trying to address.

On the personal side, Manon is struggling with parenting, middle age, police budget cuts and most importantly a cancer diagnosis for her partner Mark. She adores the people in her life and her humour filled relationship with her best friend Bri is a joy to read.

This novel is about normal people just trying to get by in a world that often feels adversarial.   It is about parenting, and the love of family in all its permutations. A skillfully written novel that contains empathy, pathos, and humour. In short, I loved this book. I’m already yearning for another glimpse into Manon’s world.

I wish everyone could read this fantastic series. Highly, highly recommended!

F 5 star

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 Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Publication date: June 2, 2020      Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9780525509974    ASIN: B07XM84SCD    320 pages

susie-steinerSusie Steiner is a former Guardian journalist. She was a commissioning editor for that paper for eleven years and prior to that worked for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and the Evening Standard.

Susie has written extensively about losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is registered fully blind and lives in London with her husband and two children. In May 2019 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour (Grade 4 Glioblastoma) and has spent most of 2019 undergoing treatment: six hours of brain surgery, chemo radiation, and six cycles of chemotherapy.

She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Follow Susie Steiner on Twitter.

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Celebrating 4,000 followers! #Giveaway time!

I am beyond delighted to report that Fictionophile has just passed the 4,000 follower milestone.  When I retired from my library career, in early 2017, I had only 52 followers, so the blog has come a long way since I’ve had more time to devote to it. As my way of saying THANK-YOU to each and every one of you, I would like to host an international giveaway.  I live in Canada, but the majority of my followers reside in the United Kingdom and the United States so it would be most unfair of me not to go international.

I am going to give away an Amazon gift card.  Due to the fact that all currencies are not created equal, the amounts seem different but are close to being the same value.

So as the graphic would suggest, the prize is $25.00 Canadian dollars or $20.00 U.S. dollars or£15. pounds sterling in value.

To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this post in the space provided below.

If you have time, mention how long you have been following this blog and what your favourite and least favourite aspects of it are. (I’m always looking to improve)

I will put the names of all those who comment in the ‘Random Name Picker‘ and the winner will be contacted by email.

Good luck everyone!

Posted in Fictionophile report, Giveaways | Tagged , | 87 Comments

Susie Steiner – author extraordinaire

In the summer of 2016 I read a fantastic novel called “Missing, Presumed“. WOW! What a series debut!  The characterization was nothing short of stellar. Here is a brief quote from my review of “Missing, presumed“:
“And the police… I LOVED the police in this one! Central to the story is single, thirty-nine year old Manon Bradshaw. I loved the bones of her. So human, so flawed, yet all the more likable because of it.”

I was fortunate to interview Susie Steiner on Fictionophile. Click the graphic below to read the interview:Since then I have read the second Manon Bradshaw title “Persons Unknown” and enjoyed it just as much. My review of “Persons Unknown“.

Now, I am 60% of the way through Susie Steiner’s “Remain Silent“, the third novel to feature my all-time favourite protagonist, Manon Bradshaw.  As is my usual practice, it is at about this juncture that I start to plot out my review and research the author a bit more.

It was kismet when I logged on this morning to discover an article in the Guardian which features Steiner.

Needless to say, I was blown away – both by the tragic news that Susie Steiner has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma and the fact that she is also going blind!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Guardian article as it described in some part how she went about the research and preparation for her newest Bradshaw novel “Remain Silent“. It also expounded on how reading books helped her endure her ordeal.

All fans of Susie Steiner should read the Guardian article. It will make you realize that some people have almost insurmountable challenges in their daily lives and it will make you feel grateful to be alive and realize that your problems are not as bad as you thought they were.

susie-steinerSusie Steiner is a former Guardian journalist. She was a commissioning editor for that paper for eleven years and prior to that worked for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and the Evening Standard.

Susie has written extensively about losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is registered fully blind and lives in London with her husband and two children. In May 2019 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour (Grade 4 Glioblastoma) and has spent most of 2019 undergoing treatment: six hours of brain surgery, chemo radiation, and six cycles of chemotherapy.

She lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Follow Susie Steiner on Twitter.

Posted in Authors, Favorite books | Tagged | 10 Comments

“The Sea Gate” by Jane Johnson – Book Review

“The house is full of secrets, and sometimes they come out and whisper together in the night.”

A wonderful story that switches between dual timelines featuring two strong, courageous, and resilient women artists.

1943 – Olivia Kitto is sixteen years old and finds herself maintaining the large cliff house on her own while also caring for a small girl, their housekeeper’s daughter, who was left behind by her mother. Olivia’s parents are both off fighting the war and she feels bereft. Her beloved beach and surrounding farms have been taken over by the war effort.  Living off meager rations, Olivia has only the house and her father’s “Flying Eight” car.

“Flying 8”

Prisoners of War have been housed at a nearby farm. When two of these POWs escape, Olivia’s life is irrevocably changed.

Present day – Olivia Kitto is now 93 years old and in hospital. She will only be released if she has someone to care for her, and if her home is renovated to accommodate her frail state.

“Cousin Olivia is, like Chynalls, stuffed with secrets, and I feel compelled to find out what I can.”

Rebecca, a cancer survivor herself, has just cleared out her mother’s apartment after her recent death. She discovers correspondence from one of her mother’s cousins – Olivia Kitto.  The elderly lady wants Becky’s mother to travel down to Cornwall to save her beloved house.

“There are times when considering the renovation of someone else’s decrepit old house is more attractive than dealing with your own reality.”

Gabriel

Feeling betrayed and unenthusiastic about her current romantic relationship, Becky decides to travel to Cornwall in her mother’s stead. She finds a decrepit old house, with no indoor plumbing, a leaky roof, no cell phone signal, and… something completely unexpected, a foul-mouthed African grey parrot named Gabriel.

Becky visits the old lady in hospital and finds herself quickly feeling affection for the irascible Olivia. She does her utmost to prepare the house for Olivia’s return. She hires two Algerian builders to do the work.

“There’s still so much fire in her, so much character, a sort of fierce, frail heroism. I wish I’d known Olivia when she was younger.”

The two women in this saga were both strong and resilient. They had many things in common despite their sixty+ year age difference.

The house, Chynalls, (Cornish for ‘the house on the cliff’), was almost a character unto itself. Imagine it, on a cliff overlooking a Cornish beach, complete with secret tunnels, and a colorful and precarious history. When reading this book, one can’t help but think of Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca”. The setting coupled with the one of the protagonist’s names – how could you not?

The story set during the war years was vividly rendered and well researched. The present day story was also quite compelling, including themes of family secrets, blackmail, and  elder abuse.

The ending wrapped up the book perfectly. Poignant and hopeful in equal measure.

To be honest, anytime a novel is set in Cornwall it grabs my attention. It seems so idyllic. This time round I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there via the pages of “The Sea Gate” and can highly recommend it to readers who enjoy the work of Rosamund Pilcher, Kate Morton, Harriet Evans, and the like.

Loved it!  Every minute of it!  A sure contender for my 2020 Top Reads list.

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 Head of Zeus via NetGalley. Thanks to Vicky Joss for inviting me to take part in this tour.

Publication date: June 4, 2020    Publisher: Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781789545142    ASIN: B084G9K9BY     416 pages

Posted in 20 Books of Summer, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Head of Zeus, Historical fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments