“Rizzio” by Denise Mina – Book Review @Pegasus_Books @DameDeniseMina #Rizzio #BookReview

A young Mary Queen of Scots witnesses the brutal murder of her private secretary David Rizzio during the bloody coup of Holyrood Palace in March of 1566.

The Murder Of David Rizzio – a painting by Friedrich Paul Thumann

Ever since reading the brilliant crime trilogy ‘Garnethill‘ several years ago, I have been an ardent fan of Denise Mina.

This time out, she has penned a novella that brings Scottish history vividly to life like no history text could ever do.

Mary Queen of Scots became a real person, and the writing of this book portrayed her in an authentic way. Set a few years after the Reformation, it depicts the brutal murder of David Rizzio and the violent coup of  Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland. At this time Mary Queen of Scots witnessed the brutal and bloody murder of David Rizzio when she was heavily pregnant and only twenty-three years old.

This is a vivid depiction of one of the major events in Scottish history. 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 Pegasus Books/Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss.

Publication date: September 7, 2021     Publisher: Pegasus Books

ISBN: 9781643138459  –  ASIN: ‎‎ ‎ ‎ B08X4YH478  –  128 pages

After a peripatetic childhood in Glasgow, Paris, London, Invergordon, Bergen and Perth, Denise Mina left school early. Working in a number of dead end jobs, all of them badly, before studying at night school to get into Glasgow University Law School.
Denise went on to study for a PhD at Strathclyde, misusing her student grant to write her first novel. This was Garnethill, published in 1998, which won the Crime Writers Association John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel.
She has now published 12 novels and also writes short stories, plays and graphic novels.
In 2014 she was inducted into the Crime Writers’ Association Hall of Fame.
Denise presents TV and radio programmes as well as regularly appearing in the media, and has made a film about her own family.
She regularly appears at literary festivals in the UK and abroad, leads masterclasses on writing and was a judge for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction 2014. Denise Mina has been awarded the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and the Gordon Burn Prize for “The Long Drop“.

Follow Denise Mina on Twitter @DameDeniseMina

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Historical fiction, Novellas | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

“Something To Hide” by Deborah Moggach – Book Review

This is a story set on four different continents featuring four different women who all have something to hide.  But then, some would argue, who doesn’t?

Petra – a woman in her early sixties whose children are grown and living far away. She lives alone in a large house in Pimlico, London. She is very, very lonely. Her best friend’s husband visits from Africa and the two strike up a friendship. That friendship blossoms into something more…

Lorrie – lives in Texas to a military man who is often posted overseas. She too is lonely. She has two children whom she loves, yet her time is long when her husband is away. She looks to make a little money so that the family can move to a new house and subdivision in a nicer area. Her plans go disastrously awry.

Li-Jing – lives in Shanghai with her businessman husband. The couple long for a child, but have found that they both have fertility issues.

Ernestine – lives in a tiny village in West Africa. She is married and the mother of several children. She sells beauty products to the local women and transports her shop about with her in a large box which she carries on her head.

I have never read anything by this author so really didn’t know what to expect. I found the writing especially readable and the narrative flowed smoothly despite it featuring different women’s stories.

This is essentially the story of London based Petra, though the other women’s stories overlap in some way.  I found Ernestine’s story to be interesting, but it had little to do with the other women’s stories and in my opinion could have been left out of the book with little negative effect. Lorrie’s story was one of desperation and I found it imminently sad.

This is a novel about loneliness, aging, betrayal, deception, desperation, and the vagaries of life.

Something To Hide” can be considered literary fiction as well as women’s fiction. It was a memorable novel that I found absorbing and fascinating in equal measure. I will definitely be on the lookout for more works by this author. 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 Harper Paperbacks via Edelweiss.

Publication date: May 3, 2016  Publisher: Harper Paperbacks

ISBN: 9780062427335    ASIN: ‎‎ ‎ ‎ B0166KW3J8    336 pages

Deborah Moggach studied English at Bristol University and is a British novelist and screenwriter. She has worked in journalism and has also been Chairman of the Society of Authors and worked for PEN’s Executive Committee, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Moggach has written nineteen novels, including The Ex-Wives, Tulip Fever (made into the film of the same name), These Foolish Things (made into the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Heartbreak Hotel.

She has two adult children and currently lives in Wales with her husband Mark Williams.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Literary fiction, Women's fiction | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = BURNING #WednesdaysWord #booklovers #bookbloggers #fiction

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 ‘BURNING‘. In this post I’ve selected 20 novels with the word ‘BURNING’ 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 | 7 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – September 21, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday @MattZWitten #TheNecklace @oceanviewpub #NetGalley

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 September 21, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This book was published September 7, 2021

Optioned for film—with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing

ISBN: 9781608094585 – ASIN: B08SR91BD4 –  304 pages

1)  The protagonist as ‘underdog’, hopefully triumphant in her quest.

2)  Adversity – protagonist’s fight against great odds.

3)  The all encompassing search for justice.

4)  I want to read the book before the film comes out.

“Sunday, April 7, Twenty Years Ago

“Which do you like better? Amy asked. “The purple dolphin or the pink duck?” “Here’s the fun part,” said Susan, ruffling her daughter’s silky hair. “We can get both.”

They were at the Soave Faire Craft Store in Glens Falls, picking out beads so Amy could make a necklace like her friend Kate’s. These long, leisurely Sunday afternoons together after church were Susan’s favorite part of the week.”

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 | 5 Comments

“Blood Loss” by Kerena Swan – Book Review

DI Paton is 48 years old and married to Wendy, who suffers from severe depression. He is the father to a teenage boy named Tommy who has Down’s Syndrome. Paton has recently moved to Perthshire, Scotland from England and is eager to prove to his new team that despite his family problems, he is committed to the job and to his team.

When a bloodied murder victim is found in a holiday cabin, Paton and his team face a challenge. None of them, Paton included, are that well versed in homicide inquiries. This is an opportunity to show the ‘higher ups’ just what they can do.  The only problem is there is little evidence to guide them… Even identifying the murder victim proves problematic.

Sarah – has fled Perthshire, bruised and bloodied. What started out as a lovers getaway has turned into a fatal attack. She drives south, toward her mother’s house in Milton Keynes. Once there, she finds her mother inebriated and the house a tip. Her mother has slowly declined ever since her father was imprisoned after murdering her mother’s co-worker. Dirty liquor bottles, dirty dishes, and dirty floors all serve to disgust Sarah. She sets about cleaning the place, then searches for some much needed employment. Sarah is a damaged and callous woman who has become very bitter at her lot in life.

Jenna – is 24 years old and a bit of a free spirit. She longs to travel the world. She dresses in long skirts and flipflops, and wears her hair in dreadlocks. She has a horse named Merlin who she dotes on. She lives with her mother who is not doing very well since the death of Jenna’s father. Jenna’s sister, Lucy, who is engaged to be married no longer lives in the family home. Lucy is planning a surprise 60th birthday party for their mother. A party that Jenna thinks is a bad idea. The sisters agree on very little and have literally nothing in common.

Having read and enjoyed this author’s previous novels “Scared to Breathe“,  and “Who’s There?“, and the D.I. Paton series prequel “Here She Lies“, I was in no doubt as to whether I would relish “Blood Loss“. I was in no way disappointed.

The protagonist in this police procedural is a caring man who has yet to show his ‘mettle’ to his new coworkers. He is a very authentic character who is less than perfect, though he continually strives to be better.

I’ll admit that while reading the first chapters of the book I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how Jenna’s character fit into the overall narrative. What could she have to do with the murder in Perthshire, Scotland?  The crime occurred in February, and Jenna’s story is set the following June. However, the author cleverly weaves Jenna into the mix, while illuminating just how damaged Sarah’s psyche really is.

Blood Loss” is a fine novel with which to begin a police procedural series. With a likeable protagonist, the book makes you want to follow him in further novels. The murderer’s motive would be considered to be somewhat implausible to some, but this murderer had a very damaged mind and a childhood bereft of affection and approval.

The book spoke to themes of loveless childhoods, nature vs. nurture, the effect of rejection on the psyche, and the protagonist’s struggle with his home/work balance. It also portrays a realistic look at the dogged persistence required in criminal investigation. In real life criminals are not found right away as depicted on television, and the job of the detectives involved is often fraught with frustrations.

At around the 75% mark, there was a plot twist that I didn’t anticipate (though perhaps I should have?)

The plot was intricately rendered. Kudos to Kerena Swan who kept the varied timelines and characters straight.

Recommended to all police procedural fans!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I was gifted a complimentary digital copy of this novel from the author.

Publication date: March 20, 2021  Publisher: Hobeck Books

ISBN: 9781913793241    ASIN: ‎‎ ‎  B08ZLPV615    382 pages

This title is currently available in Kindle format for FREE if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited!

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ was released on 3rd June 2019 by Bloodhound Books.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, England and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre. Her latest novel, “Who’s There?” is self-published.

Kerena has recently signed up with the publisher Hobeck Books.
Visit https://kerenaswan.wordpress.com/  and join her mailing list.

Follow Kerena Swan on Twitter.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Hobeck Books, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Today is National Read an eBook Day! @LibbyApp #eBookLove #NationalReadAnEBookDay

September 18th is National Read an eBook Day – the perfect time to dive into your new favorite book on Libby. Read an eBook Day has been celebrated by thousands of libraries across the country since it was created by Libby in 2014, including those in your own community! With Libby, readers can access thousands of free eBooks and audiobooks with just a library card. No library card? No problem! Users can create an Instant Digital Card in 30 seconds with just a phone number.

Seriously though, EVERY DAY is read an eBook Day for me. LOL

Today, September 18th, share what you are reading and how you are celebrating by using #eBookLove on social media for a chance to win Libby or Sora swag.

September is also National Library Card Sign-Up Month – the most popular time of year to sign up for a new library card. Libby has signed up more than 9,000 new users already this month and is donating to The National Forest Foundation for every new Instant Digital Card created. This is a month-long initiative that’s a win-win-win for libraries, readers, and trees everywhere!

Here is a link to the wonderful list of resources available at my own public library via the Libby App.  Check out what Libby has to offer at YOUR local library.I LOVE eREADING so much that I have read my last 500+ novels in digital format.

Share the #eBookLove today!

Posted in ebooks and ereaders | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

“Go Ask Fannie” by Elisabeth Hyde – Book Review

In this novel we become acquainted with the Blaire family. We come to know them first when Lillian and Murray Blaire are just starting out and have a young family of four children. Murray, a lawyer has political aspirations and runs for Congress as a Democrat in the mostly Republican state of New Hampshire. Lillian, an aspiring writer, shelves her writing to raise her children, run the household, and support her husband who is on the campaign trail.

Lillian, a very busy woman, would be flippant when one of her children asked “What’s for supper?“. She would answer “Go Ask Fannie“, alluding to the renowned cookbook.Jump forward 32 years in time. Now Murray, a widower, is eighty-one years of age. He has sold the family home in Concord and moved to the north of the state where he works a farm. He has dairy cows and sunflower fields.  Lillian and Daniel lost their lives in an automobile accident decades ago. Now Murray’s three remaining children gather at his home. Ruth, a lawyer, and the eldest of the siblings, worries for Murray’s well-being. She is married and has sons of her own. George, the middle child, is single and works as a registered nurse. Lizzie, the youngest of the siblings is also single and works as an underpaid university professor.

Lizzie arrives to the gathering late. She informs her sister and brother that the family heirloom cookbook has been gravely damaged by a boyfriend of hers. The family is distraught. For within the pages of this cookbook, their late mother wrote many notes. Not only notes to amend some of the recipes, but also notes on ideas for her writing.Lizzie, in retaliation for the ruined heirloom, inflicts both physical and property damage to her boyfriend. The police become involved…

This novel was about sibling relationships, a subject that is always fascinating to me as an only child. Also, the old Fanny Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook resonated with me. My own mother swore by this book. At present I have three different Fanny Farmer cookbooks, all different vintages.

This is essentially a novel about family. About the complicated relationships we sometimes have with the people we love the most. The book deals with love, loss, sacrifice, guilt, and regret.

I enjoyed getting to know the Blaire family, warts and all. They were depicted in a very authentic way. The novel was a ‘snapshot’ of their family life.  Recommended!

Click here to read the Fannie Farmer popovers recipe featured in the novel.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I was gifted a complimentary digital copy of this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Edelweiss.

Publication date: April 10, 2018  Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN: 9780735218567    ASIN: ‎‎ B075HZSYXF    304 pages

In the United Kingdom the title differs slightly. There it is called “Go Ask Fannie Farmer”.

Elisabeth Hyde is the author of six novels to date. Her first novel, Her Native Colors, was published in 1986.  Monoosook Valley followed quickly, then after a break when her three children were small, Crazy As Chocolate was finally published in 2002. Her big break came in the summer of 2006 with The Abortionist’s Daughter, when England’s Richard and Judy Show chose her book as one of its Summer Reads. In 2010 In The Heart of the Canyon was published. Colorado Humanities chose her most recent novel, Go Ask Fannie, as the winner of their 2019 Colorado Book Award in General Fiction.

Besides writing, she likes to hike with her dog, dabble in watercolors, and goof around at the dinner table with her family. She is passionate about the Grand Canyon, having gone down the Colorado River twice (one time as a guide’s assistant). Last but not least, she craves quiet reading time.

Elisabeth Hyde grew up in Concord, New Hampshire. Trained as a lawyer, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., before she started writing full-time. She now lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Family sagas, Literary fiction | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

“Bitter Edge” by Rachel Lynch – Book Review

DI Kelly Porter is faced with an important case in this, the fourth novel in the series. Jenna Fraser, a sixteen year old athlete, has jumped from a cliff in the Peaks. With everything to live for, Kelly is distraught at the thought of Jenna’s young, vital, life wasted.

When Kelly begins to investigate Jenna’s background, she discovers that two other teens have taken their own lives over the past few years. They all attended the same school, Derwent Academy.

Meanwhile, in another matter, Tony Blackman, one of the teachers at Derwent Academy has been accused of sexually assaulting one of his students.

Then, Faith Shaw, a fifteen year old student from Derwent Academy goes missing after attending a local fairground.

Pooley Bridge, Cumbria

On the home front, Kelly is now living in her riverfront house in Pooley Bridge. Her mother’s health continues to decline. Kelly and her half-sister Nikki continue to be antagonistic toward one another. Kelly is hesitant about confronting her birthfather with the truth of her parentage, AND she is trying to form a healthy relationship with her boyfriend Johnny’s teenage daughter.

Johnny is the one person who can always comfort her. He gives her the space she needs, yet is always there for her. He seems to understand the pressures of her work and they enjoy similar leisure activities.

On the work front, Kelly works with the following team:

D.S. Will Phillips (newly promoted from Constable)

D.S. Kate Umshaw – a single mother of three girls.

D.C. Emma Hide – a ‘plodder’ with tons of potential.

Bitter Edge” is the fourth novel in the D.I. Kelly Porter police procedural mystery series. The first in the series, “Dark Game” was a solid 5-star read for me and the following novels in the series maintain the quality. There is nothing quite so satisfying to me as reading a British police procedural crime thriller.  When it has an engaging protagonist, a Lake District setting, and a compelling and well rendered plot, then it is for me, reading bliss.

The thing I like most about this series is that Rachel Lynch has found that perfect balance between the protagonist’s personal life and the crime investigations. Just the right amount of attention to each makes for compelling reading.  I enjoyed the relationships between Kelly and her team, as well as the joys and strife of Kelly’s personal life.

The subject matter of this installment in the series is serious indeed. Teenage suicide, drug use and drug dealing, and the detrimental effect of social media on today’s youth. All current and important issues in modern society. Throw in the tensions of a missing girl the week before Christmas, and the team has more than they can handle.

The cases were all brought to a close in a satisfactory and realistic way.

Rest assured that I will be reading every installment in the DI Kelly Porter series. A must-read for those who enjoy well-written, character-rich, realistically plotted crime novels. 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 Canelo via NetGalley.

Publication date: February 25, 2019    Publisher: Canelo Crime

ISBN: 9781788632676      ASIN: ‎‎ B07KTQTW1L      250 pages

If it weren’t for my myriad review commitments I would like to ‘binge read‘ the rest of the series.  At present there are NINE books in the DI Kelly Porter series.

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years.
A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

You can follow Rachel Lynch on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#BookRecommendations with titles that start with the letter ‘I’ #GreatReads

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For September 2021, the ninth month, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘I‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five and a half years ago (when I retired). There are 16 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.

I Let You Go” by Clare Macintosh

I Found You” by Lisa Jewell

In Her Wake” by Amanda Jennings

The Ice Princess” by Camilla Läckberg

The Invitation” by Rachel Abbott

Into The Shadows” by Shirley Wells

In A Cottage In A Wood” by Cass Green

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things” by Iain Reid

In A Vertigo Of Silence” by Miriam Polli

In Dark Water” by Lynne McEwan

Invisible Girl” by Lisa Jewell

The Island Home” by Libby Page

I See You” by Clare Macintosh

The Ice Twins” by S.K. Tremayne

In A Dark, Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware

In The Sweep Of The Bay” by Cath Barton

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

When someone asks me to recommend a book…

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

“Rock, Paper, Scissors” by Alice Feeney – Book Review

“Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time.”

Adam and Amelia Wright drive from London to Scotland to celebrate their anniversary. Amelia ‘won‘ the trip via a contest she entered through her work.  Immediately the reader is made very aware that these two have BIG problems. Both are keeping secrets.

Once they arrive at the remote, ancient Scottish chapel, things take a sinister and creepy turn. The old place is locked, then it’s not. The rooms haven’t been cleaned. Strange noises, power cuts, and a macabre old crypt are just the beginning of their bizarre ‘getaway’.

Adam Wright is a successful screenwriter. His wife Amelia works in a dog refuge. They seem benign, but are they really? Adam is feeling trapped. Amelia feels neglected and under-appreciated.

Every year of their marriage Adam’s wife writes him a letter baring her soul to him. She doesn’t intend for him to every actually read them.

Meanwhile, there is a woman who lives a reclusive life in a small thatched cottage near the chapel. She keeps a keen watch on the Wrights and Blackwater Chapel. She has been expecting them…

What a compelling, convoluted, and completely engrossing story! I read this one in a day and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Having read Alice Feeney’s work twice before, I knew going in that I was in for some plot twists, but the sheer volume of them in this novel was staggering. The best part was that although there were indeed many twists, none of them seemed superfluous to requirements. They all flowed really well – each ratcheting up the tension…

The remote, wintry setting added greatly to the overall feel and ambiance of the novel.

This is a story of damaged and tortured individuals. A story of deception, secrecy, and loss of trust. A novel of infidelity and starting over. And, more importantly, if you are a lover of the thriller genre, this is a novel you shouldn’t miss.

Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I was invited to read by Claire McLaughlin and was offered a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Flatiron Books via NetGalley.

Publication date: Sept. 7, 2021    Publisher: Flatiron Books/Macmillan Publishers

ISBN: 9781250266101       ASIN: ‎‎ B08QGLNSFK        304 pagesHere are some of my favourite quotes from “Rock Paper Scissors” and I want to share them with you:

“Time can change relationships like the sea reshapes the sand.”

“Our memories of the past can make liars of us all.”

“Sometimes the dust of our memories is best left unswept.”

“…words don’t come with gift receipts and you can’t take them back.”

“Silence can stretch time so it feels longer.”

“Believing in someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, it’s free and the results can be priceless.”

“We’re all responsible for casting the stars in the stories of our own lives.”

“Memories are shape-shifters and dreams not bound by truth.”

“Words can’t fix everything, no matter how fond you are of them.”

“Trust can’t be borrowed, if you take it away you can’t give it back.”

“That’s the problem with following in someone else’s footsteps; if you leave a bigger mark than they did they tend to get upset.”

Alice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 15 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

Alice is has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband.  She writes in her shed with her dog; a giant black Labrador who is scared of feathers.

Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was a New York Times and international bestseller. It has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Ellen DeGeneres and Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Her second novel, I Know Who You Are, was published in 2019. His & Hers is her third novel which is soon to be made into a TV series starring Jessica Chastain. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel.

You can connect with Alice @alicewriterland on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Flatiron Books, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

“Not A Happy Family” by Shari Lapena – Book Review

Wealth doesn’t ensure happiness…

The Merton Family:

Fred Merton – the wealthy, malicious, manipulative and controlling patriarch of the family. He made his fortune at his Robotics company. His is an egotist who is disappointed in all three of his children.

Sheila Merton – the matriarch of the family has little backbone when standing up to her domineering husband. Her children hold little respect for her because of her weakness.

Catherine Merton – the oldest child, is married to Ted. She is a physician who has retained her maiden name. She is conservatively elegant and dresses in a classy manner. She aspires to one day inherit the beautiful family home when her parents pass away.

Dan Merton – married to Lisa.  Dan is the middle child. He earned his MBA with the goal of one day taking over the family business from his father. Meanwhile, his father having no respect for his abilities, sold the company. Now, six months afterward, Dan and Lisa are in financial difficulties. He deeply resents his father for selling the company.

Jenna Merton – the youngest child is a sculptor. Though quite talented, she still depends on her father to subsidize her financially. She prides herself on her unpredictability and likes to shock her parents with myriad partners and a somewhat bohemian lifestyle.

We meet the Merton family assembled all together to have Easter dinner. At this tense and uncomfortable feast, Fred Merton announces that they are selling their home and downsizing. This announcement cuts Catherine to the quick. All three children and their partners leave the dinner abruptly, before dessert is served.

Some other peripheral characters:

Audrey Stancik is Fred Merton’s sister. She missed attending Easter dinner because of a nasty flu bug. As she lies in bed, she is happy despite her illness. The reason? She is expecting a windfall.  A windfall she feels she is owed, since she has kept the family secrets for all these years.

Irena Dabrowski – formerly the family nanny  is now the part-time housekeeper. She essentially raised all three Merton children and considers herself to be part of the family.

Rose Cutter is Catherine Merton’s best friend and she is under stress. She works as an attorney and has recently done something she deeply regrets. A mistake that she must find a way to remedy herself…

Ellen Cutter, Rose’s mother is worried about her daughter. Ellen is a good friend of Audrey Stancik.

The real story begins when Irena goes to the Merton residence on the Tuesday after Easter to clean the house. She finds both Fred and Sheila Merton brutally murdered.

The Merton siblings are shocked when they hear the news. But more than that… they are RELIEVED!

“Being pleased that someone is dead isn’t something you admit to…”

All of the Merton siblings are harboring long-standing secrets.

They all will all have a big surprise when their parents wills are read…

And finally, the police detectives investigating the double homicide:

Detective Reyes is married with children. He prides himself on his work-life balance.

Detective Barr is single, thirty years old and Reyes’s partner.

What a page turner! This is Shari Lapena at her very best. The narrative fairly races along as the Merton siblings fall into dissension. They are riddled with mistrust and suspicion. Lies and deception abound. Avarice is rampant.

Although at first it was thought the double murder was a robbery/home invasion, the spotlight quickly turns to the Merton offspring as there are millions of dollars to be split between them. But could one of them have commit such a brutal crime?

This is one novel where I have to say that I didn’t much care for any of the characters. That didn’t stop be rapidly turning pages though. It was like rubbernecking at a train wreck… You just HAD to find out who murdered Fred and Sheila Merton!

The story is told with serpentine twists throughout. You literally don’t know whether you’re coming or going.  The novel is told via multiple viewpoints, so you get to discern a little of what is going on in each of their minds. This is an addictive whodunit featuring a seriously dysfunctional family. It would make a fantastic movie. 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 Doubleday Canada via NetGalley.

Publication date: July 27, 2021    Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada

ISBN: 9780385695046       ASIN: ‎‎ B08V4TQ98H        368 pages

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know and The End of Her. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Follow Shari Lapena on Twitter @sharilapena

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Cover Love part 105 – Sneakers

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 105th Cover Love post, I want to share some books that I’ve found with sneakers on their covers. At least that is what I’ve always called them. I’ve also heard them called trainers, running shoes, athletic shoes, tennis shoes, etc… What do YOU call them?

If you are vigilant, you might spot three of these covers that are amazingly similar.

Have you read any of these titles?

Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 104 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 19 Comments

“Painting The Light” by Sally Cabot Gunning – Book Review

Painting the Light is set on a sheep farm in Martha’s Vineyard in 1898.

Ida Russell is an artist who lives in Beacon Hill, Boston with her parents. Then her young life is beset by loss. First her father and two brothers are drowned – then her mother, overcome with grief kills herself by drowning as well.  Alone, Ida is living in the house where she was raised, distraught, grieving, lonely, and vulnerable.

When… along comes Ezra Pease. With charming promises of security and affection, he marries her and moves her to his sheep farm on Martha’s Vineyard. Once ensconced on the farm, Ida realizes too late Ezra’s true colors. He has used her money from the sale of her Boston house for his own nefarious schemes. Ostensibly he works with his partner Mose in the salvage business, but he has other cards up his sleeve. He is cold and condescending to Ida and she quickly learns that marriage does not preclude loneliness. She works the sheep farm arduously – she has no more time to paint.Then, Ezra too is drowned while sailing to Boston on business. This time, Ida feels little in the way of grief. She feels unencumbered without her surly husband.

Ezra’s partner’s brother is the executor of the estates of both men. His name is Henry and he helps Ida and befriends her. A carriage maker, he introduces her to riding a bicycle, an activity she loves for its sense of freedom.

Meanwhile, Ezra’s old aunt Ruth, the actual owner of the sheep farm, is very disdainful of Ida’s newest endeavors. She does not approve of Ida’s ‘carrying on’, of her association with Henry (a married man), and her scandalous bicycle riding.

“Another memory, not even that old, but already so frayed and brittle Ida had refused to pull it out too often in case it caused an irreparable tear.”

Ida learns of Ezra’s many secrets…

Secrets and lies.

Meanwhile, there is a new movement to secure women’s rights to vote! Ida is all in favor and champions the suffragette cause.

What a marvelous story! From the first pages I was immediately living the life of the protagonist, Ida Russell. I was sharing her losses, her anger, her frustrations, and her joys. I was transported to her world.

The back-breaking work of life on a sheep farm was skillfully rendered, and the animals added greatly to my own enjoyment of the novel. I also appreciated the friendships Ida made following Ezra’s demise.

This historical novel had many serious themes such as betrayal, duplicity, loneliness, and the history of women’s rights.

I will remember “Painting the Light” for a long, long, time. 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 William Morrow via Edelweiss.

Publication date: June 1, 2021    Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780062916242       ASIN: ‎‎ B08H25G8CZ        368 pages

Sally Cabot Gunning lives in Brewster, Massachusetts, with her husband, Tom. A lifelong resident of New England, she is active in local historical organizations and creates tours that showcase the three-hundred-year history of her village. She is the author of three “Satucket novels” (The Widow’s War, Bound, and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke), as well as the historical novels Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard and Monticello.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Historical fiction, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

“The Sanatorium” by Sarah Pearse – Book Review

Elin Warner has been on leave from her police career in the U.K. after a traumatic case has left her questioning her own abilities.

Now, her brother Isaac has invited her and her boyfriend, Will to visit a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps to attend his engagement party. Once there, some of the old antagonisms resurface, for her relationship with her brother has always been overshadowed by what happened when they were children. When their younger brother drowned…

Shortly after they arrive, Isaac’s fiance disappears. This is just the beginning of what turns out to be a horrific experience for Elin and all the rest of the residents of the hotel. Bodies turn up. Someone is killing in a ritualistic fashion. They wear masks on their face… masks like those used years ago, when the hotel was a sanatorium.

Severe January weather, coupled with an avalanche, prohibit the police from coming to the hotel. Elin investigates on her own, the best she can…

Anyone searching for an adrenaline packed read will adore this book!

To say it was atmospheric would be an understatement. The renovation of the old sanatorium was done in a minimalist style, with lots of glass walls. This evoked a cold, and oftentimes menacing feeling – even without the grisly murders.

The protagonist was a likable character though deeply flawed both mentally and physically. She suffered from a childhood trauma, a more recent work-related trauma, and as a result she had panic attacks which exacerbated her already present asthma.

The short chapters made for an intense and rapid reading experience. There were several plot twists and red herrings that will appeal to many readers, but I found some of them to be rather improbable at times.

If I had to pick a flaw in the novel, it would be that I didn’t feel the motive for the killings was sufficiently strong to merit the actions of the killer.

This book was touted as a ‘gothic thriller’. Yes, it was thrilling, but I found little to credit the word gothic. Perhaps if the hotel hadn’t been renovated? Even then, I don’t think so…

Overall, this was a fast read for me. One I did enjoy, but found lacking in some small ways. The ending felt rushed and yes, implausible.

I thoroughly enjoyed the remote and isolated locale which turned this thriller into a ‘locked room mystery’ as well. I would read another book featuring DS Elin Warner, just to see if she evolves more as a character.

An immersive read perfect for a cold, snowy, winter’s day.

I borrowed a digital copy of this novel from my local public library via the Libby app.

Published: February 2, 2021         

Publisher: Penguin Random House (Pamela Dorman Books)

ISBN: 9780593296684 – ASIN: B08D8K4Y1N – 400 pages

Sarah Pearse grew up in Devon, UK, and studied English literature and creative writing at the University of Warwick before completing a postgraduate diploma in broadcast journalism. She lived in Switzerland for several years before returning to the UK. The Sanatorium, her debut, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and was selected as a Reese’s Book Club Pick. The Retreat is her second novel.

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahVPearse and Instagram @sarahpearseauthor

Posted in Book Reviews, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

The NetGalley Shelf app – Grrrrrrr #NetGalleyShelf #bookbloggers @NetGalley

I have been a NetGalley member since 2013.

In that time I have read and reviewed 424 titles using my Kindle.

Recently, I’ve come across two titles that did NOT have the option to ‘send to Kindle‘, so I had to download the NetGalley Shelf app to read them.
Today, I opened up the app to read one of the titles only to find that it had expired! As I take all my review commitments very seriously, I will now have to purchase the title.
Also, the other title has only a week left, so I will have to read that title pronto!

My first impressions of the app?
The font is very small and there is not way to enlarge it that I know of.
More importantly, as a reviewer I use the highlight feature on my Kindle constantly when reading a book for review. With the NetGalley Shelf you CANNOT HIGHLIGHT! Also, I can find no way to take notes. These two features are a deal breaker for me.

Have you used the NetGalley Shelf app yet? What are your experiences? Do you have any advice to share?

Posted in ebooks and ereaders, NetGalley, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged | 57 Comments