“The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth – Book Review

“Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry. Blurred boundaries, I think, are what sisters do best.”
Rose and Fern Castle are the twenty-eight year old fraternal twins of a single mother. When the girls were twelve two traumatic incidents saw them put into foster care.

Rose Castle – is separated from her husband and works as an interior designer. She is the higher functioning of the two girls. She suffered psychological abuse from her mother and always took care of her sister Fern.

Fern Castle – works in a public library, is very intelligent, but is on the spectrum and exhibits most of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. She has always been under the thumb of her sister Rose. She remembers her childhood much differently than Rose does…

“People without sisters think it’s all sunshine and lollipops or all blood and guts. But actually it’s always both. Sunshine and guts. Lollipops and blood. Good and bad. The bad is as essential to the relationship as the good.”

What a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact ‘the good sister‘.

We must remember that each of the girls have different recollections of the same events. Whose is correct? Each sister displayed good and bad traits and their characters were complex and multi-layered. Is their sisterly relationship supportive and caring, or, is it manipulative and devious?

I’ll confess, I never really bonded with Rose despite the fact that she seemed caring and protective of Fern. Though being privy to her diaries made me sympathetic to her life and situation, I still had a feeling of unease about her.

I found myself loving Fern. Sure she was bizarre in many ways – but she was so genuine. Hyper-sensitive to sensory stimulus, socially inept, resistant to change, unable to maintain eye contact, and very literally minded, she nonetheless captured my heart. I also came to care for her boyfriend ‘Wally’ aka Rocco who understood and loved Fern for who she was.

This was an expertly written thriller that will doubtless make my list of Top Reads for 2021. A skilled character study masquerading as a thriller. Brilliant!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

ISBN: 9781250120953 – ASIN: B08BYCWK6T – 320 pages

.Sally Hepworth is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently The Good Sister (2021), which was an instant bestseller. Her novel, Mother In Law (2019) has been optioned for a TV series by Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler.
Drawing on the good, the bad and the downright odd of human behaviour, Sally writes incisively about family, relationships and identity. Her domestic thriller novels are laced with quirky humour, sass and a darkly charming tone.
Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 20 languages.
​Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
Follow Sally Hepworth on Twitter @SallyHepworth

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

WWW Wednesday – June 23, 2021 #readingforpleasure #bookbloggers #WWWWednesday #bookworms

Welcome to this week’s WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

I’ve linked the book descriptions to the Goodreads site for the book.

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What have you finished reading?
What will you read next?

What am I currently reading?

The Burning Girls” is a title published by Penguin Random House Canada that I  was unable to procure an ARC for, so I placed a hold on a digital library copy. My hold finally came in, so I have adjusted my TBR queue to accommodate it.

What have I just finished reading?

The Good Sisteris a title that I had heard a lot of ‘buzz’ about. Curious to see if the hype was merited, I downloaded a copy from St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan Publishing Group) via NetGalley.

By the way, the hype was well deserved!

What will I read next?”

I am a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan. Way back in July of 2015 I borrowed this title via Kindle Unlimited and never read it. I felt it was high time that I addressed this issue. Curiously, it is still on my Kindle, yet it is no longer offered by Amazon in Kindle format…. and after that, I plan to read

Please See Us” by Caitlin Mullen is a title I received from Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) via NetGalley.

So that’s it!   How is YOUR reading week shaping up?

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report, Reading, WWW Wednesdays | Tagged | 12 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 22, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers @CaneloCrime @LynneJMcEwan #InDarkWater

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 June 22nd, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR. This book will be published in just two days time and is the first novel in a proposed crime series featuring Detective Inspector Shona Oliver.Expected publication date is June 24, 2021

Publisher: Canelo Crime

ISBN: 9781800324312 – ASIN: B08ZD85G57 – 274 pages

From the prologue:

“I’m way past scared. Panic’s roaring through my veins like the first fix. Some punters like to see that you’re feart. They get off on it. Sick. Does my head in. But this evil bastard’s not a punter. He’s a psycho, screaming at me to tell him stuff I don’t know.”

The first actual paragraph:

“The call for assistance came into Kirkness Lifeboat Station on the Solway Firth on Saturday morning. Shona Oliver’s pager sounded just as she was placing the teapot down in the dining room. ‘Shout!’ she called to husband Rob. She dashed into the kitchen, gave him a quick kiss, grabbed her car keys and ran from the house. The two B&B guests stared open-mouthed after her.”

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 , , | Leave a comment

“Just After Midnight” by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Book Review

Faith – very recently separated from her emotionally abusive husband Robert, Faith is living at her family’s California beach house to re-access her life and come to terms with her new situation. She realizes that she has turned into a person who has great difficulty trusting others.

Sarah – a fourteen year old girl who is an expert dressage rider. Just weeks ago her Mum died. She is distanced from her Dad, and her beloved horse Midnight has just been sold. To say that she is going through an ultra traumatic time would be understating it.Midnight – a nine year old mare who, for the last six years was a one woman horse. Midnight loves her young owner, almost as much as her owner loves her. She is a very sensitive horse who has been lovingly trained in dressage.Having no particular knowledge of, or, interest in horses, I have had this novel on my Kindle for several years and am only now getting to it. I have to say, this novel will make a horse lover of everyone. Mostly though, this is a well written story of two people trying to get through some extremely difficult circumstances… together.

Set in a stiflingly hot California summer, the story follows Faith and Sarah on their interlude between trauma and starting over. Faith, who is in her late thirties and childless, takes Sarah into her life in a way that is equal parts motherly and friendly. Faith empathizes with Sarah in a way no one else can at just the right time in Sarah’s life to form a meaningful and long lasting connection.

As during part of the story the two main protagonists are living in an unused horse stall, I learned a lot about horses and the proprietorial lingo of ‘dressage‘.

Fresh starts, learning to trust your own instincts, self knowledge, having empathy for other people, and the kindness of strangers are the themes running throughout this story.

This is a novel that will be highly appreciated by readers who enjoy a good ‘overcoming adversity’ story as well as those who are interested in the equestrian world and animal lovers of every persuasion. Recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I purchased a digital copy of this novel from Amazon.com. This book was published by Lake Union Publishing in December of 2018.

ISBN:  9781503904859 – ASIN:  B07CRDZYBR – 331 pages

I thought it would be fun to include a link to a YouTube video of the Equestrian Dressage Individual Final from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A few of my favorite quotes from this novel:

“Sometimes people are scared of a thing that won’t hurt them. But they’re not scared for no reason. They’re just not scared for the reason they think they are.”

“When you really love someone, you want them to be happy. Even if it can’t be with you.”

“Sometimes I think we feel the most for the people who remind us of ourselves. It’s not the absolute best part of human nature. But it seems to be who we are.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. In addition to writing, she is an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in over thirty countries.

More than fifty of her short stories have been published in various anthologies and journals. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at www.catherineryanhyde.com   Follow Catherine on Twitter: @cryanhyde

Posted in Book Reviews, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

“The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael” by Beth Morrey – Book Review

“The outcome was always the same, alone in my barren old house, thinking of the people who’d gone.”

Missy Carmichael – lives alone in a large house in Stoke Newington, London. The rooms echo her loneliness. Her husband is gone. Her adult son, his wife, and her darling four-year-old grandson live in Australia. Her daughter (with whom she has never really gotten along) lives with her partner in Cambridge. In addition to being lonely, Missy is riddled by long-held guilt and regret. Also, she is bitter at how her life turned out. She was a scholar who gave up any sort of career to become a devoted wife and mother. Now, in her empty house, she wonders why…

“People who truly liked themselves seemed to have a greater capacity for friendship, for letting people in. Perhaps that’s why I, in the past, was always rather solitary.”

Angela – is an Irish born, thirty-something journalist and single mother. She happens upon Missy Carmichael by accident, and becomes her unlikely friend.

Otis – Angela’s small son, though a tad older than her grandson Arthur, reminds Missy of the joys of having a small boy about the place. Missy looks after Otis on occasion when Angela is off working.

Sylvie – a charming and gregarious woman, meets Missy via Angela. She welcomes Missy into her circle of eclectic friends and acquaintances.

and the star of the novel…

Bob (aka Bobby) – a mongrel with the colouring of an Alsatian, comes into Missy’s life much to her chagrin. She thinks she is not a dog person and that dogs are usually over exuberant and emotionally needy. She is cajoled into caring for Bob on a temporary basis as a favour to a friend. Little did Missy know then… Bobby would become ingrained in her heart.I thoroughly enjoyed making the acquaintance of Missy Carmichael. Probably because I am no longer a young woman, I could identify with her on a basic level.

She describes herself this way: “I thought about all the other things I was. A classicist, a librarian, occasionally a witch (and a bitch), a walker and a dancer, and – for now, at least – Bobby’s owner.”

She was an amalgam of all the years she had lived, and all the people who had come before her. She displayed all the wisdom, regret, insecurities, and loneliness that comes with ageing.

Anyone who has read and enjoyed such novels as “The Brilliant Life Of Eudora Honeysett“, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine“, or other such works of ‘UpLit‘ will surely find this novel heart-rending and entertaining in equal measure. A heart-warming, life-affirming novel of inter-generational friendships, and a must read for dog lovers of all ages. A fabulous debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Beth Morrey writes next.

4.5 stars rounded down for Goodreads and AmazonThis 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.

ISBN: 9780525542445 – ASIN: B07RGXJYZJ – 352 pagesThe cover and title are different – depending upon where you live:

North America vs. United Kingdom

Beth Morrey was inspired to write her debut novel, Saving Missy, while pushing a pram around her local park during maternity leave. Getting to know the community of dog owners, joggers, neighbours and families, she began to sow the seeds of a novel about a woman saved by the people around her, strangers who became friends. Saving Missy was a Sunday Times bestseller, and Beth was previously shortlisted for the Grazia-Orange First Chapter award.

Previously Creative Director at RDF Television, Beth now writes full time. Beth lives in London with her husband, two sons and a dog named Polly.

Follow Beth Morrey on Twitter @BethMorrey

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Someone We Know” by Shari Lapena – Book Review

This is my third time reading the work of Shari Lapena and she never disappoints. This time around we read of a suburban neighborhood in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Olivia Sharpe is married to Paul and the mother of sixteen year old Raleigh. She is dismayed when she learns that her ‘good son‘ Raleigh, has been breaking into the homes of her neighbors. He says that he didn’t ‘take’ anything. He was only testing himself to see if he could. It was an adrenaline rush. Also, he was practicing computer hacking. A wiz with technology, Raleigh wanted to see if he could break into other people’s password protected computers. Distraught, she writes anonymous letters of apology to her neighbors.

Little does Olivia know, but one of the houses he broke in to was the house of Robert and Amanda Pierce. The beautiful Mrs. Pierce’s body has just been found in the trunk of a submerged car. Her husband Robert seems shifty, and of course the first person blamed is always the husband. However, in this instance there are myriad possible suspects. And to make matters worse, it is quite likely “Someone We Know“!

Several of the neighbors are hiding salacious secrets. Sixteen year old Raleigh has discovered some of these secrets during his forays into their homes…  At the time of her brutal murder, Amanda was twelve weeks pregnant.

The author has created a seemingly typical suburban neighborhood and peopled it with  seemingly typical families – by and large they are nice people. However… what goes on behind closed doors in this neighborhood is far from typical. Everyone seems to have something to hide.

Some of the themes touched upon are adultery, parenting of teenagers, deception, friendship, and loyalty. It examines just how far a person will go to protect those that they love.

The characters are very realistic, and the situations believable. Shocking at times, but believable. It aptly demonstrated just how stressful, arduous, and heart-breaking it can sometimes be to parent a teenager. The personalities of the police were not really fleshed out, but they were not the primary focus of the book. It was the various neighbors that were the stars of the show.

After the whodunit story-line was brought to a satisfying conclusion, the author threw in another final twist that will please most readers.

A page turner, this domestic thriller kept my enthralled. I highly recommend this novel to all fans of the genre.

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 at my request from Pamela Dorman Books/Random House  via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9780525557654 –  ASIN:  B07NCJCDKQ –  304 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, Canadian fiction, Edelweiss, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

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

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For June 2021, the sixth month, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘F‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five years ago (when I retired). There are 13 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.

The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton

The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell

For The Missing” by Lena Bengstdotter

Five Night Stand” by Richard J. Alley

From The Cradle” by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant” by Kayte Nunn

Foe” by Iain Reid

Fatal Promise” by Angela Marsons

The Fortune Teller’s Promise” by Kelly Heard

Follow You Home” by Mark Edwards

The Forgotten Girls” by Sara Blaedel

and last, but definitely not least, the first two titles in the fabulous Matilda Darke series:

The Fallen” and “For Reasons Unknown” by Michael Wood

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 | 15 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 15, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers @LibbyPageWrites #TheIslandHome

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 June 15th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

The Island Home” is written by Libby Page.Expected publication date is June 24, 2021

Publisher: Orion Publishing Group

ISBN: 9781409188261 – 384 pages

Euston station, 8:30 p.m. It’s midsummer and London sweats and steams, clutched in the middle of a heatwave. The after-work crowds have thinned but the concourse is still busy, figures in damp, crumpled suits staring at the announcement boards where times and destinations flash in orange letters. Families huddle in groups, mothers fanning young children and handing out water bottles as they wait, perched on piles of luggage.

I read Libby Page’s “The Lido” and thoroughly enjoyed it. This new novel is about ‘starting over’, a trope that I usually like. The setting is also attractive to me. I love books set on islands – and if the island is in Scotland, then all the better.

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 Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

“The Skylark’s Secret” by Fiona Valpy – Book Review

Told via two separate timelines, this story relays the story of a mother and daughter.

The mother, Flora, was a WREN during WWII. She drove ambulances when her small croft fishing community was commandeered by the Home Fleet as a strategically important naval base. Flora, a gamekeeper’s daughter fell in love with the son of the ‘big house’.  Alec, the love of her life, was a naval officer who risked life and limb to fight for his country.The daughter’s story was set during the late 1970s. Lexie Gordon, who had a lovely voice, left the small community to become a singer of some renown in London. Her partner has deserted her, and her singing voice ruined by lesions on her vocal chords. Now she has returned to the small lochside village of her youth with her own small baby girl. With her mother now dead, she moves into the cottage where she was raised, and delves into her mother’s story to find out long held secrets.

The Skylark’s Secret” is the second novel I’ve read by Fiona Valpy, and, like “The Beekeeper’s Promise“, it was another well researched historical novel written in a dual time line format.

This novel was set in Loch Ewe, Scotland, which was a temporary base of the Home Fleet and was also used as an assembly point for the Arctic Convoys during WWII.  The fictional rendering of the part this area played in WWII illustrated just how important Loch Ewe was strategically to the allies during the war.

The characters of both time lines were fully fleshed out and captured my heart. The novel spoke to the importance of a tight-knit community and how it often takes a village to raise a child. It also stressed the importance of traditional music in the history of Scotland. It did what good historical fiction is meant to do. It brought history to life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and hope to read many more books by this author. 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 Amazon Publishing UK via NetGalley.

Published by Amazon Publishing UK on September 29, 2020

ISBN: 9781542005159  ASIN: B07X3NMHXJ      315 pages

This title is available to read in Canada for FREE via Kindle Unlimited!

Fiona Valpy spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007. Her love for the country, its people and their history has found its way into the books she’s written. She draws inspiration from the stories of strong women, especially during the years of the Second World War, and her meticulous historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place.

Fiona now lives in Scotland, but still enjoys regular visits to France in search of the sun.

Follow Fiona Valpy on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical fiction, Love stories, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“Summer At Sandcastle Cottage” by Christina Jones – Book Review

Kitty has had a rough run of luck. After a hurtful breakup, the subsequent result is that she has lost her home, her car, and her job. Now, though, she couldn’t be happier. She has found a new home, albeit a temporary one, in a charming former seaside B&B which she shares with a motley group of friends, a small child, and two rescue Staffordshire terriers.Kitty is working at a fish & chips shop. Her housemates include Jemini, a young Asian woman who works in an estate agent’s office, Jemini’s toddler daughter Teddy, and Apollo, a chef. Their life cohabiting is quite idyllic.

While walking the dogs on the beach one morning, Kitty meets an enigmatic and gorgeous man and immediately falls in love. Though her unguarded mouth, and other misunderstandings keep her from forming any kind of relationship with him.

And… Kitty and her housemates are only too aware that their time in the wonderful seaside community is limited. The owner of Sandcastle Cottage will soon be returning to claim her home.I was in the mood for some romance, but truth be told this was just too light and unrealistic for my taste. I prefer a love story with a little more substance, more heft. I can’t quite immerse myself in a story that presents a ‘perfect’, happily ever after scenario, with story outcomes that are so improbable.

Given my own personal reservations, I have to concede that for many readers this would be a perfect beach read. Light, happy, and bordering on the idyllic, it was just too idealistic for me. A fluffy, romantic, escapist romp through the sand…

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from the publisher Headline Accent via the Secret Readers app (Hachette UK)

Published by Headline/Accent on March 18, 2021

ISBN: 9781786157287  ASIN: B08TWHNHZ2      234 pages

Christina Jones has written all of her life (as well as having millions of proper jobs (including factory worker, secretary, nightclub dancer, blood donor attendant, barmaid, waitress, civil servant and fruit picker) Christina first had a short story published when she was just 14 years old. She has written for teenage and women’s magazines – fiction and non-fiction – for a number of years, had her own humour column in The Oxford Times, and has contributed to national newspapers.

Follow Christina Jones on Twitter  @ChristinaJ2021

Posted in Book Reviews, Love stories, Secret Readers (Orion), Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

“Look What You Made Me Do” by Nikki Smith – Book Review

This is the story of two sisters who are both adults with children of their own. The sisters have always had a somewhat rocky relationship. This is largely down to the fact that the eldest daughter Caroline was her mother’s obvious favourite, whilst Joanne has always been her father’s favourite. The sisters are constantly competing for the love of their parents.

 JOANNE – is married to Paul, a web designer, and is the mother of two young girls, Grace and Livvie. The family have relocated from Bristol back to Jo’s hometown in order that Jo can work as the accountant for her father’s estate agency firm. When her father asked her to come back, Jo felt she couldn’t say no.

Jo has struggled her entire life with anorexia, and now that her beloved father has just passed away, her symptoms resurface. Jo is hiding a devastating secret and she is ridden with guilt.

Now, to compound matters, her husband Paul is acting distant, and she knows he is hiding something important from her. His secrets are fracturing their relationship and threatening their marriage.

Her mother and her sister are anxious that the family business be sold, whilst Joanne feels that her father would have wanted it kept under family ownership.

Their family is being threatened AND someone has been in their house while they were out…

CAROLINE – is married to Rob and is the mother of Adam, a young man in his late teens. Her husband Rob is bullying, cruel, controlling, devious, and at times sadistic. Though she presents to the world as having a perfect life, her circumstances couldn’t be further from perfect. Caroline works in the office of the family run estate agency. Her son Adam is abroad traveling – a fact that she is grateful for, as she wants him as far away from his abusive father as possible.

Caroline is hiding something from her husband under the mattress in the spare room of their house…

After reading this author’s brilliant debut last year, I was super excited to see if she could follow it up with another great read. I needn’t have worried, because “Look What You Made Me Do” was a corker!

The novel eloquently explores the idea that two people, living in the same house, sharing the same experiences, can have memories of those people and events that are completely different from each others. Almost as if they had lived different lives altogether.

The title of course refers to victim blaming. This was foremost a story about spousal abuse where the husband blames the wife for ‘making’ him abuse her both emotionally and physically. In addition, it also delves into the subjects of sibling rivalry, parental favoritism, and guilt.

The characters were fully developed and treated in an understanding and empathetic way. The scenes were vividly written evoking a tense revelation of the hidden dysfunction in an outwardly ‘perfect’ family.

This, the author’s second novel, has affirmed that I will follow her writing career avidly, reading each of her novels as fast as she can write them.

Highly, highly, recommended to all fans of domestic thrillers.

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

Published by Orion Books on April 1, 2021

ISBN: 9781409193029  Pbk. ISBN: 9781409193043      336 pages

Nikki Smith studied English Literature at Birmingham University, before pursuing a career in finance. Following a now or never moment, she applied for a Curtis Brown Creative course where she started writing her first novel. She lives near Guildford, Surrey with her family and a Burmese cat called Saffi who thinks she’s a dog.

Look What You Made Me Do” is Nikki Smith’s second novel following her debut thriller “All In Her Head“.

Follow Nikki Smith on Twitter @Mrssmithmunday

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 8, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers #TheDevilsFjord @canongatebooks

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 one is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday June 8th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

Devil’s Fjord” is written by David Hewson.Expected publication date is August 5, 2021

Publisher: Canongate Books

ISBN: 9781838853761 – 288 pages

He was on the roof of their little cottage mowing the thick and umber turf, briar pipe clenched tightly in his teeth, happy and a little lost in his own thoughts, when his wife called from the front porch to say the killings were on the way.

Fascinated? I was.  First off… mowing the roof painted quite a picture in my mind. Then “the killings were on the way“? Wow. Plus… I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in the Faroe Islands. Love armchair travel.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 NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , | 4 Comments

“The Woman In The Park” by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist- Book Review

Sarah Rock is an emotionally unstable woman in her late thirties. She is married and the mother of two children: Jason aged fourteen, and Darcy, aged twelve. From an upper class background, Sarah lives in a gothic style apartment building on Park Avenue.  She sees a therapist regularly and takes Prozac. Her point of view is suspect because she experiences blackouts, has terrible nightmares, and suffers from paranoia. She hates that her children don’t need her as much anymore, and she dislikes that they are away from her during the week at boarding school. Sarah is convinced that her husband Eric is having an affair with his younger co-worker Juliette. She has a lot of time on her hands, and her imagination is working overtime.I continue to be amazed when I learn that a book was written by two different authors. How that can share such a personal creative endeavor is beyond me.

I am curious about this novel because it seemed to have two distinct parts as well. At about the halfway mark it changed in tone and feel.

Sarah was not a very likeable protagonist, but one cannot fail to sympathize with her.

This is not a murder mystery, yet a murder does occur.The overriding themes of the novel include childhood trauma, loss, and the psycho-therapist/patient relationship. It explains how an emotionally fragile psyche can be influenced by a therapist, not always in a positive way.

The ending of the novel brought about closure to the plot, yet it did have an ending twist that seemed superfluous to requirements in my opinion. Though, to be fair, some readers might find the ending twist chilling…

All in all, an okay 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 Beaufort Books via Edelweiss.

Published: August 26, 2019    Publisher: Beaufort Books

ISBN: 9780825308994 – Ebook ISBN: 9780825308093 – 224 pages

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cover Love part 101 – Keyholes

“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”― Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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 101st Cover Love post, I want to share some books that I’ve found with keyhole shapes on their covers. Reading fiction is like peeking through the keyhole into other lives.

Have you read any of these titles?Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 100 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

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“The Choice” by Gillian McAllister – Book Review

Joanna Oliva is a happily married thirty year old woman who lives in a basement flat in London. She adores her husband Reuben, and enjoys her job working on one of London’s mobile library buses. She goes out one night to a bar for a ‘catch up’ with a girlfriend. A patron of the bar asks for a ‘selfie’ with them, then makes himself generally annoying by not leaving them alone. He is tall, dressed in black and is wearing bright red trainers.

After a while, the two women leave the bar and part ways. Then, as Joanna is walking toward home, she hears footsteps behind her. The footsteps follow her down the rain slick steps toward a canal path. She glances behind a moment and sees bright red trainers… She knows that it is the man from the bar. When he gets very close, she turns quickly and pushes him down the steps…

What follows is one of two vastly different scenarios:

REVEAL – One in which Joanna calls the police and confesses what she did, is charged with ‘grievous bodily harm’ and is subject to a bail hearing and a possible jail sentence. In this scenario she is ashamed, loses her job, has trouble communicating with her husband and gains weight. She feels unworthy and wonders if the people she loves will stand by her.

CONCEAL – The other scenario is where Joanna flees the scene. Afterward she is plagued by guilt and remorse. She loses weight. Her guilt is like a cancer eating her from the inside out. She tells lie after lie, and furtively lives her life wondering if, and when, the police will catch up with her.

“My body is flooded with cold, cruel fear. I never realized it before, but fear is the worst of all emotions. With sadness, you cry. With grief, you miss somebody. But fear. Fear gets under your skin. And you can do nothing but feel it.”

In a word TENSE. That clenched, panicky feeling kept me turning pages rapidly. Women everywhere have known that feeling. Walking alone, then you hear footsteps behind you. You are just not thinking rationally due to fear and anxiety.

Our protagonist, Joanna lashes out in her fear and what follows is a dire moral quandary. Should she call an ambulance? Or, should she walk away?

The author brilliantly explores both choices – dividing this novel into chapters labelled ‘Reveal‘ and ‘Conceal‘. It evokes a feeling of ‘between a rock and a hard place’, because either way Joanna decides, she cannot really cope with her decision…  Although I liked the alternate chapters format in some ways, it was also a bit off-putting at times. I was just getting into the story, when OH NO! now we’re exploring the other scenario.

Joanna herself was a young woman that I empathized with, but yet couldn’t really warm to. She seemed very immature for her thirty years, but they say thirty is the new twenty… She was prone to procrastination and unreliability.

This novel covers themes of guilt, atonement, secrets, and moral dilemmas. It explores the fact that one decision, one quick moment in time, can change your entire life.

3.5 stars rounded up for Amazon and down for GoodreadsThis 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/Penguin Publishing Group via Edelweiss.

Published: June 2, 2020 Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN: 9780593188002 – ASIN: B07Z2TWQY6 – 368 pages

Note: This novel was published under a different title in the United Kingdom.

North American versus United Kingdom

Gillian McAllister is the author of The Good Sister, as well as several Sunday Times bestsellers in the UK. She lives in Birmingham, England, where she worked as a lawyer and now writes full time.

Follow Gillian McAllister on Twitter @GillianMAuthor

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers, Suspense | Tagged , , | 5 Comments