“Drift, Stumble, Fall” by M. Jonathan Lee – Book Review @HideawayFall @MJonathanLee #DriftStumbleFall #NetGalley #BookReview

Richard –Richard is an accountant. Married to Lisa, he is the father of eight year old Hannah and toddler Oscar. He loves his children very much, but… Richard feels claustrophobic – absolutely stifled and trapped by his life. He longs for a quiet life with no children around. He looks out his window at Bill’s house across the street and covets Bill’s life.  Richard goes so far as to plan his ‘escape‘, fantasizing about a new life away from England. He dreams of a solitary life in the American midwest. The monotony and suffocation of his family life constantly suffocate him. Torn, he waffles between wanting to escape, and longing to stay for his children.

Bill –

Bill spends a good part of his day gazing out his front window at the house across the street. A house filled with noise, life, and love – or so he thinks. He secretly wishes for Richard’s life.

At eighty-seven years old, Bill’s life is a quiet and sedentary one. He lives with his beloved wife Rosie, and is the father of two daughters. Victoria, the eldest daughter, disappeared over thirty years ago – never to be heard from again. Both Bill and his wife keep vigil for her return. They never go out at the same time so that there’s always someone home in case Victoria were to return home…  Samantha, their youngest, passed away several years ago leaving a grieving husband behind. Samantha’s widower, Kevin, has been a godsend to Bill and his wife. Kevin is attentive to their needs and acts like the son they never had.

The suburban street where Richard and Bill live is under several feet of snow after a recent storm. They are snowed in, and it is just a week before Christmas…

If ever there was a good example of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the street“, it is eloquently depicted in “Drift, Stumble, Fall“.  It is human nature to pine for what we don’t have.

Bill and Rosie’s story was one of such deep sadness, while Richard and Lisa seemed not to appreciate each other, to be just ‘going through the motions’.

I have to say, that this is a book about not much at all, but it is written with such empathy and understanding of human nature that being inside Richard’s head proved to be riveting reading.

The whole time I was wondering whether Richard would stay or go. Also, wondering just what would MAKE him stay? what would MAKE him go?

At the end of this powerful little novel I wondered… just how many people around us, who appear to be adjusted and content, are really living lives of quiet desperation?

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 BooksGoSocial via NetGalley.Publication date: April 12, 2018
Publisher: Hideaway Fall – BooksGoSocial

ISBN:9780995492349 ASIN: ‎ B079KHL5B1    324 pages

Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author who was born Yorkshire where he still lives today with his second wife, five children, two cats and a dog.

His debut novel, The Radio was shortlisted for The Novel Prize 2012. He has spoken in schools, colleges, prisons and universities about creative writing and storytelling and appeared at various literary festivals including Sheffield’s Off the Shelf and Doncaster’s Turn the Page festival.

His second novel, The Page was released in February 2015.

His much anticipated third novel, A Tiny Feeling of Fear was released in September 2015 and tells the story of a character struggling with mental illness. All profits from this novel are donated to charity to raise awareness of mental health issues.

In 2016, he signed for boutique publishers, Hideaway Fall and his fourth novel Broken Branches was released in July 2017, winning book of the month in Candis magazine for September.

He is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness and writes his own column regularly for the Huffington Post. He has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe. Drift Stumble Fall was released in Spring 2018, while his sixth novel 337 was published in 2020.

Visit M. Jonathan Lee’s website and/or follow him on Twitter @MJonathanLee

Posted in Book Reviews, NetGalley | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – January 18, 2022 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday @CenturyBooksUK #TheLongWeekend @GillyMacmillan

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 January 18, 2022 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This novel will be published on February 3, 2022

Publisher: Century Books / RandomHouse UK

ISBN: 9781529135367 – ISBN: 9781529158007 ASIN: ‎ B0983LK135 –  400 pages

It will be published in North America by William Morrow on March 29, 2022 and has this cover:

1)  The author!  Gilly Macmillan has written several thrillers which I have enjoyed.

2)  The setting! A remote dwelling on a moor in Northumbria.

3) Wanting to know what these three modern women will do with no internet, no phone service and no way to contact the outside world – how it will affect their friendship.

4) Wondering WHY? What have they done to incur such drastic measures? Such wrath?

“John shouldn’t be driving, they discussed it with the doctor yesterday, but Maggie sees the look in his eyes and puts the key into his outstretched hand. His fingers snap closed around it.

Is this a title that you would consider adding to your TBR pile?

Why, or why not?

Have you read anything else by this author?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Anticipated titles, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

January 17, 2022 – Blue Monday? Books are the cure for that.

Yup! Today, January 17th, 2022 is Blue Monday. A term (in the northern hemisphere) that describes a Monday in January, typically the third Monday of the month, that is characterized as the most depressing day of the year.

To battle the blues, I decided to embrace them. I scanned my Goodreads TBR to see how many of them have blue covers. I found 34! 

If anything looks interesting to you, just click on the cover and it will take you to the Goodreads description.

How could I be BLUE with all of these great titles yet to read?


Posted in Dustjackets | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Sunday Sampler – what I’ve been up to Jan. 10-16, 2022

We are in our fourth wave of Covid-19 here in Nova Scotia, with many new cases of Omnicron daily. For that reason, most all of what I’ve been doing lately has been very close to home.

I recently purchased a new Ninja Foodi and I’m on a steep learning curve to master the beast. So far I’ve air fried, sauteed, and pressure cooked. It also dehydrates, broils, steams, bakes, and roasts.

If any of you out there owns a Foodi, I’d be grateful if you could share your tips and recipes.

This week my husband and I finished watching the most recent season of “Yellowstone“. I love that show!
We began watching a great thriller called “Vigil” starring Suranne Jones. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen her in.
We also started watching the 3rd season of “After Life” starring Ricki Gervais. I love these quirky characters.

My son had a birthday this week, so of course we celebrated that!

And, of course, I was

I finished “One Step Too Far” by Lisa Gardner. I LOVE the character of Frankie Elkin and I’m sad I’ll probably have to wait another whole year before I can read the next book in this fabulous series.

I also finished “The Last House on the Street” by Diane Chamberlain, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

I’m now finishing up M. Jonathan Lee’s “Drift, Stumble, Fall“, a title from my NetGalley backlist. I’m liking this one way more than I thought I would. My review will be posted within the next few days. After that, I plan to read Rosamund Lupton’s “The Quality of Silence“, another title from my NetGalley backlist.

I’m determined to read and review more backlist titles this year!

I have begun playing the new online game WORDLE and I’m totally hooked! I’ve played five times so far. The first four times I played I got it in three tries. Today it took me five tries… Here are the instructions for the game, just in case you want to click on the link above:    What are the rules of Wordle?

  1. You have to guess the Wordle in six goes or less.
  2. You begin by entering any five letter word.
  3. Every word you enter must be in the word list.
  4. A correct letter in the right place turns green.
  5. A correct letter in the wrong place turns yellow.
  6. An incorrect letter turns gray.
  7. Letters can be used more than once.

Now I’m waiting for tomorrow’s turn:

We had a snowstorm yesterday…. so there’s that….

What have YOU been up to this week? Let me know in the comments. ♥

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged | 16 Comments

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

Last year I started going through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For January 2022, the thirteenth month of my endeavor, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘M‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began this blog. There are 15 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.

Magpie Lane” by Lucy Atkins

A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

A Measured Thread” by Mary Behan

Malagash” by Joey Comeau

Mercy House” by Alena Dillon

The Missing Ones” by Patricia Gibney

Mile Marker 139” by Cynthia Hilston

The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce

Miss Benson’s Beetle” by Rachel Joyce

Margreete’s Harbor” by Eleanor Morse

Miller’s Valley” by Anna Quindlen

Murder, Forgotten” by Deb Richardson-Moore

Missing, Presumed” by Susie Steiner

My Name is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout

My Kind of People” by Lisa Duffy

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

“One Step Too Far” by Lisa Gardner – Book Review

“If you hoard other people’s tragedies, does that make your own easier to bear?”Frankie Elkin is, in her own words, a scrawny, middle-aged white woman. She is a drifter, an excellent bartender, and an alcoholic. For the past decade, Frankie has been sober and devoting her life to finding missing persons. Usually people who are minorities, whose cases have gone cold. She has found many of these people, though not all of them alive.

“Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing. We mourn the ones we’ve lost, but we agonize over the pieces of ourselves they took with them.”

Now Frankie finds herself in a Wyoming National Forest, the Popo Agie Wilderness Area to be exact. Her people skills won’t help her here. This is a whole new ballgame.

Popo Agie Wildnerness

Frankie gets herself involved in a search for a young man who went missing five years previously. The young man’s mother is dying of cancer and she wants her son’s body found so that they can be buried together.

Frankie accompanies a team comprised of the young man’s father, a local wilderness guide, three of the man’s friends, a bigfoot hunter, a search and rescue dog handler and her search/cadaver dog, Daisy.

Frankie is courageous, lonely, wise-cracking, impulsive, driven by her demons, and most of all…. broken. She shuns personal possessions and travels light. At all times she lives by her instincts, and is an outsider wherever she goes… She is adept at judging the character of the people she meets and appreciates kindness.

“In this day and age, we all talk too much and hear too little.”

Frankie Elkin is unique, damaged, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story when I read “Before She Disappeared“. I feel the same way now… Frankie is so endearing in her own stubborn, slightly reserved way. She is fast becoming my all-time favorite fictional character.

She is out of her usual urban element and it tests her in ways both physical and emotional. Driven by some unknown compulsion to bring back the body of a young man to his mother, she risks life and limb in her efforts.

I adored the writing in this book. The dreadful and disturbing circumstances which were lightened with levity and sarcasm. Many themes run through this page-turning narrative, the most predominant ones being guilt, remorse, loss, and human connection.

This is a character-driven thriller and an epic adventure of wilderness survival wrapped up into one.

Gosh… do I have to wait until next January to read more Frankie Elkin? Write faster Lisa Gardner!

Highly recommended! ALL THE STARS!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Cornerstone/Random House UK via NetGalley.Publication date: January 20, 2022
Publisher: Century/Cornerstone/Random House UK
Publisher in North America: Dutton

ISBN:9781529135565  ISBN: 9781529157895

ASIN: B094V9CQWQ    410 pages

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

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

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

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


Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, NetGalley, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Throwback Thursday – “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” by Natasha Solomons

The Throwback Thursday meme was created by Renee over at It’s Book Talk. She made this meme to share some of her old favorites. Although all bookbloggers have an endless TBR pile, we seldom take the time to reflect back and post about some of the great reads from a few years ago. Sharing book recommendations is one of my most favorite things to do!

I originally reviewed “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” in the summer of 2020, but it was published in December 2015.

“Home wasn’t a place. Home was music.”

Hartgrove Hall is a house with nine bedrooms, five reception rooms, a suite of attics and half a dozen ramshackle barns.

Reading “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” I knew that I was being introduced to my latest favourite author. Having finished the novel, I will now add everything she has written to my TBR.

A literary historical novel, “The Song of Hartgrove Hall” is written in dual timelines with a single protagonist, Harry Fox-Talbot, a musical composer and conductor and, most importantly, a song collector.

We first meet Harry (or Little Fox) as he is known, in 1946 when he is a very young man. He was too young to have served in the war like his two older brothers. Their ancestral manor house/farm, Hartgrove Hall, was requisitioned by the British Army during the war and they are just reacquainting themselves with its grandeur and its decrepitude. The house is in dire need of a large influx of cash which they do not have.

Edie Rose, a jewish wartime singer comes to stay at Hartgrove Hall and she makes a profound impact on all of the brothers and the very house itself. Partly in tribute to the great house, and partly in honour of Edie, Little Fox composes a symphony called “The Song of Hartgrove Hall”. A song that will help keep the house in the family for the following fifty years.

In the present day timeline we meet up with Fox when he is in his eighties. His beloved wife has recently died and he is grief stricken. He is a self-confessed ‘old fogey’ who lives alone in the vast Hartgrove Hall. When he discovers the musical genius of his five year old grandson, Robin, it proves as a turning-point in his life.

Harry was a character that I’ll remember for quite some time. He was a very ‘real’ man with his own obsessions, guilt, and immense talent. His great love for one woman, his ancestral home, and his music are the driving forces of his life.

A novel that is an homage to music also includes themes of forgiveness, betrayal, family, aging, bereavement, and affinity for place. It is my belief that anyone who enjoys the novels of Kate Morton or Rosamund Pilcher will adore this one. 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 Plume Books (an imprint of Penguin Random House) via NetGalley.

Publication date: December 29, 2015 Publisher: Plume Books

ISBN: 9780147517593 eBook: 9780698407022 494 pages

Note: This novel was also published under the title: “The Song Collector

Natasha Solomons is a screenwriter and novelist. She lives in Dorset with her husband, the award-winning children’s author David Solomons, and their two children. She is the New York Times best-selling author of four novels and her work has been translated into seventeen languages.
If she’s not writing in the studio, she can usually be found playing hide-and-seek in the garden.

Follow Natasha Solomons on Twitter and/or visit her website.

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical fiction, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Last House On The Street” by Diane Chamberlain – Book Review

1965 – Ellie Hockley  is a young white woman who risks her family’s scorn and disapproval to work towards helping black North Carolinians to register to vote. Her commitment to the cause and her ardent beliefs cause such friction that, after one fateful summer, she leaves her home and family and goes to live in California.

2010 – Kayla Carter is a twenty-eight year old widow and mother to a three year old daughter. An architect, she and her late husband designed a beautiful home in a new development in Round Hill, North Carolina.  Now with her husband gone, she has many misgivings about moving into the new home, but feels that she has no choice due to the fact that her husband invested so much love and effort into building it.

Once she and her young daughter do move in, she encounters many factors that want her to leave the house at the end of the street. When she meets up with 65 year old Ellie Hockley, who has returned from California to care for her ailing mother and brother, she begins to learn some of the dark and distressing history of the land upon which her new home has been built…

Many years ago, I read this author’s “Keeper Of The Light” which I loved. She has written many, many book since then, yet oddly, I have not read any of them. I decided it was high time that changed, so was delighted when I received a digital ARC of “The Last House On The Street“.

Now I remember why I liked her writing so much. The narrative flows easily, the characters were likeable, and the subject matter was engrossing. This time out she sheds some much needed light on North Carolina’s dark history. It is sad but true to realize that events such as those portrayed in this novel actually took place only about sixty years ago.

This is a novel about social justice, deep seated prejudices, forbidden love, and one family’s tragic secret history. Written at a time when we are still stressing that “Black Lives Matter”, it is a relevant, yet entertaining work of family secrets, social history, and yes… mystery. A winning combination. Highly recommended!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan via NetGalley.

ISBN: 9781250267962    ASIN: ‎  B092T7TFP2    352 pages

DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels published in over fifteen languages. Her books include Big Lies in a Small Town, The Stolen Marriage and The Dream Daughter. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole.

Follow Diane Chamberlain on Twitter @D_Chamberlain and/or
on Instagram @diane.chamberlain.author

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – January 11, 2022 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday @CenturyBooksUK #OneStepTooFar @LisaGardnerBks

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 January 11, 2022 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This novel will be published on January 20, 2022

AND it is the follow-up to last year’s brilliant “Before She Disappeared“.

Publisher: Century Books / Penguin UK

ISBN: 9781529135565 – ASIN: ‎  B094V9CQWQ –  416 pages

1)  The protagonist! I read the first novel in the Frankie Elkin series last year and it was a firm favourite of mine. I can’t wait to read the second installment.

2)  The remote and rugged Wyoming setting.

3) Intriguing premise – what is IN those woods?

4) One of the characters is a cadaver dog named Daisy.

“The first three men came stumbling into town shortly after ten a.m., babbling of dark shapes and eerie screams and their missing buddy Scott and their other buddy Tim, who set out from their campsite before dawn to get help.

Is this a title that you would consider adding to your TBR pile?

Why, or why not?

Have you read anything else by this author?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Anticipated titles, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Miserly Monday (#Kindledeals Ebook bargains) January 10, 2022

It has been over two months since I did a ‘Miserly Monday’ post, so I’m long overdue. Today I’m letting you know about 9 bargain Kindle purchases. (one of which is a box-set of four titles)

These books might vary in price from Amazon.ca to Amazon.com to Amazon.co.uk but they are all still BARGAINS!  Probably about what you would pay for a cup of coffee.

I purchased these 12 books for a total expenditure of $14.59 WOW! (that works out to be approximately $1.22 per title)

NOTE: The price tags reflect the Canadian prices. 

Click on the price tag to go to the Amazon.ca link for the book. (there will be a link to redirect you to your own country’s Amazon site)

Note: I do NOT receive any remuneration from Amazon.  These are just Kindle deals that I have found and want to share with my fellow book lovers. 

So, here are my Miserly Monday deals…

Have YOU found a great Kindle bargain lately?

If so, please share in the comments.

Posted in Kindle deals, Miserly Monday | Tagged | 6 Comments

“The Life She Wants” by Mel Sherratt – Book Review

Juliette and Danny – make the decision to relocate to the country to make a fresh start. They have recently lost their young daughter to meningitis, and feel that escaping their London life, with all its memories, would be good for them both. Juliette works from home and Danny commutes back and forth to the city. They both instantly fall in love with their new home which only has one flaw… the rather odd and suspicious next-door neighbours.

Richard and Sarah – Richard is a talented artist who is also a handsome and charming psychopath. He abuses all of his partners by manipulative, undermining, and coercive behaviours. Richard has several dark secrets which he wants to keep from the world. Sarah thought Richard was the answer to her every prayer. She came from a lower class, dysfunctional city family. Living here in Richard’s spacious home seems idyllic… at first.
“Too much went on behind closed doors that never got talked about. Never reported, often to the detriment of someone who couldn’t defend themselves.”
I’ve heard a lot of positive praise for this author from several of my fellow bookbloggers and have wanted to read her work for some time now. What took me so long? After reading “The Life She Wants“, I’ll now know to expect quality writing and an engaging plot.

The setting, down a rural lane in Staffordshire, was easily imaginable and gave the book a somewhat creepy vibe due to its remote location.

The characters were well developed, though not all were likeable. The character of Richard was easy to hate, while his partner Sarah was despicable at first but once you learned her backstory you couldn’t help but empathize with her. Louise’s character was just pitiable. Juliette and Danny were a likeable and sympathetic couple.

The book moved along at a fast pace, partly due to its short chapters and partly due to its engrossing storyline.

The novel delves into themes of domestic abuse, coersive control, dysfunctional families, and parental loss. All dark and bleak themes, but written in a way that produced an engaging domestic thriller.

I plan to read more of this author’s work when time permits. 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 Bookouture via NetGalley.

ISBN: 9781803140049    ASIN: B09F9H45QT    306 pages

Mel Sherratt lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and she makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

She is not sure which she’s most proud of – being on the list of Stoke-on-Trent’s top 100 most influential people 2017-2020, or after years of rejection going on to sell over 1.5 million books.

Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, her inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Mandasue Heller, Kimberly Chambers, Lisa Jewell and Clare Mackintosh.

“The Life She Wants” is her seventeenth novel.

Follow Mel Sherratt on Twitter @writermels

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookouture, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

“The Girl Upstairs” by Georgina Lees – Book Review

The story of two young women living in an Islington house. Both single, they antagonize each other as neighbours. Both seem lonely in the congested metropolis that is London.

Suzie, our protagonist, complains to the Council about the anti-social behavior of her upstairs neighbour Emily. A short time later Emily goes missing…

From the start, I just knew that this would be an absorbing read. The protagonist, Suzie Arlington is a sad and lonely woman of thirty-five. She works ‘in marketing‘ and owns the ground floor flat of a house in Islington, London. She longs to return to her family home in Hove, Sussex. However, her attachment to the memories of her husband Ben, in the flat where she lives, override her longing for home.Still grieving the loss of her husband, she refuses to enter her bedroom since he left two years ago. She sleeps on the sofa, or in a chair in her living room. SHE IS NOT COPING! She isn’t looking after herself and she seems absolutely overwhelmed by the sensory overload that is London life. The noise, the smells, the light, the people. This is exacerbated by her upstairs neighbour Emily, who selfishly plays her music too loud, and generally seems to make as much noise as is physically possible. This in a house where sound travels effortlessly so that everything from opening drawers to going to the bathroom is clearly audible.

The book has a sad, but immensely creepy vibe. Sad because both women seemed so lonely, yet they were immersed in a highly populated urban center. They might have been friends if they could have looked past their differences. One needed quiet, the other needed noise to stave off her loneliness. Creepy because Suzie had an aura of ‘unreliable narrator‘ about her… For the first half of the book I was all the time wondering if she was a narrator that I could trust.

When I found out what happened to Emily at the end, I was surprised (though perhaps I shouldn’t have been?) Suzie’s story ended in a most satisfactory way.

The writing kept me engaged throughout the book. I could easily visualize the house, the flats, and the occupants. The setting was a major force in the narrative. With overriding themes of grief, loss, and loneliness, this book cast a lingering look at lives of single women in the big city.

This is a debut psychological thriller and one which I highly recommend. Georgina Lees is a talented author, and  I plan to keep an eye out for her future titles.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 One More Chapter/HarperCollins UK via NetGalley.

Georgina Lees studied creative writing and film at university and has since pursued a career in video-games journalism, covering some of the most popular games in the world. Her psychological thrillers are inspired by her surroundings, from the congested London streets to the raw English countryside. She can be found playing games, writing stories, and reading anything from fantasy to crime fiction.

Follow Georgina Lees on Twitter @GLees_author

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Throwback Thursday – “Her Dark Retreat” by J.A. Baker

The Throwback Thursday meme was created by Renee over at It’s Book Talk. She made this meme to share some of her old favorites. Although all bookbloggers have an endless TBR pile, we seldom take the time to reflect back and post about some of the great reads from a few years ago. It’s been over two months since I did a Throwback Thursday post, so I thought I’d remedy that because sharing book recommendations is one of my most favorite things to do!

I originally reviewed “Her Dark Retreat” in February of 2019.

For me, this novel was the perfect storm. Setting, characters, and plot converged into a stellar read!

BLURB: The coastguard’s residence Chamber Cottage, which sits high up on the North Yorkshire cliffs, overlooking The North Sea, holds many dark secrets.
Alec and Peggy are struggling to overcome their marital problems. Both damaged by issues from their childhoods, they are trying to get on with their lives. But this is hard for them to do when they both believe they are being watched. As a result, Peggy, who has terrible scars on her face, becomes more agoraphobic.
To make matters worse, Peggy discovers her estranged mother is stalking both she and Alec, claiming she has a dark secret that is putting Peggy in danger.
What caused the scars on Peggy’s face? Is Alec really the monster Peggy’s mother believes him to be? And what secrets does Chamber Cottage hold?

The brief prologue of the novel portrays the fear, desperation, pain, and anguish of a woman who awakens to find that she has been buried alive!

Chamber Cottage – built in the 19th century, it is perched on the top of a cliff in North Yorkshire overlooking the North Sea. Once an old coastguard’s cottage, it keeps its secrets and its dark history to itself.

Then, with the first chapters we are introduced to the various characters:

Peggy – 35, married, childless, and a crime novelist. Facially scarred, she displays many agoraphobic traits.  She works from home, in the atmospheric Chamber Cottage. Peggy has little social contact and is estranged from her mother and sister. Her many miscarriages have made her despondent and loathe to have any intimacy with her husband.

Alec – Peggy’s husband. Charming and handsome, he works as an assistant headmaster at a local school.  Alec had a horrific childhood. He was abused by his father and subsequently was put into foster care.  It becomes clear that both Alec and his wife had traumatic childhoods which have influenced them in a negative way. Now, their marriage is floundering.

Audrey – Peggy’s mother. A retired widow who drinks too much to assuage the guilt and despondency she feels at being estranged from her two daughters. She fills her empty days with alcohol, anger, guilt, and suspicion.

Maude – Peggy and Alec’s next door neighbour. Elderly and in the throes of advanced dementia, Maud’s moments of mental clarity are becoming few and far between…

Brenda – Maud’s adult daughter who lives with her and cares for her. By day she works as a nurse.  Tired both emotionally and physically, she returns home to wonder if even a portion of what Maud says is actually true.

Rachel – A bank cashier whose sister, Sheryl, has disappeared. As the days pass, she is becoming more and more concerned for her sister’s plight.

Then, about halfway through the book, we learn the identity of the woman who is buried alive.   But WHO put her there? WHY? And… which of the characters we have now come to know is responsible?This novel has been on my TBR from the first moment I saw the great cover and read the review by Diane at Sweet Little Book Blog. I knew immediately that this book was exactly ‘my cup of tea‘, and I was right.  I LOVED IT!

Though old and damp, Chamber Cottage could quite possibly be my utopia of settings. I could hear the violent waves and the constant wind’s roar.

Told from various points of view, the reader is made privy to the thoughts of many different characters, all portrayed sympathetically. All engender the reader’s empathy on some level.

A sense of foreboding underlays the narrative in a subtle way. As insidious as the disgusting smell that emanates from the cellar of the cottage…

The ending was well executed with a suspenseful climax and realistic outcome. I did suspect the villain slightly ahead of time, but that in no way marred my enjoyment of the novel.

A novel of guilt, self-loathing, and toxic relationships, “Her dark retreat” is the perfect title.  Peggy with her dark retreat from the world via her agoraphobia and crime writing. Audrey with her dark retreat from her guilt via her drinking. Maude, with her dark retreat from sanity into the clutches of dementia. Brenda, with her dark retreat from work to a home that takes more of an emotionally toll than she is able or willing to give…

I plan to read ALL of J.A. Baker’s novels and will keep an eagle eye out for any new releases.

I purchased “Her Dark Retreat” in Kindle format. In my opinion, it was exceptional crime fiction. Highly recommended!

Published by Bloodhound Books     ASIN B08749P7LV

I understand that this novel has since been re-titled “The Retreat” and can be found on Amazon and Kobo.

Born in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, Judith A. Baker developed a deep appreciation of literature and reading from a young age after being introduced to it by her parents. Weekly visits to the library were the norm and after being handed a collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories by her father, her love for the darker side of fiction slowly grew. She is an avid reader of all books but is drawn in particular, to psychological thrillers.
After many rejections (too many to mention!) her debut novel, Undercurrent, was published by Bloodhound Books in March 2017 and made it into the top 100 Amazon chart in both the UK and Canada. J.A. Baker is the author of five stand-alone thrillers, the latest of which The Uninvited was published in late 2018. She is currently working on her sixth novel, The Cleansing, due to be published April 2019.
J. A. Baker has four grown up children and lives in a village on the outskirts of Darlington with her husband Richard, and Theo, their barking mad dog.

J.A. Baker’s website: http://www.jabakerauthor.co.uk/

Follow J.A. Baker on Twitter: @thewriterjude

Posted in Bloodhound Books, Book Reviews, Psychological thrillers, Throwback Thursday | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Anticipated! 22 thrillers being published in 2022 #anticipatedreads #NewBooks #thrillers #crimefiction

Although I enjoy literary and historical fiction, I’ve come to realize that mysteries and thrillers are my genre of choice.

For that reason, I’m excited to share 22 new thrillers that will be published this year!
One Step Too Far” by Lisa Gardner
to be published on January 20th by Century/Random House UKThe Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill” by C.S. Robertson
to be published on January 20th by Hodder & Stoughton
The Overnight Guest” by Heather Gudenkauf
to be published January 25th by Park Row

Woman Last Seen” by Adele Parks
to be published on February 1st by MIRA

The Lighthouse” by Fran Dorricott
to be published on February 3rd by Avon
The Long Weekend” by Gilly Macmillan
to be published on February 3rd by Century/Random House UKYou Never Said Goodbye” by Luca Veste
to be published February 17th by Hodder & Stoughton
Beneath The Stairs” by Jennifer Fawcett
to be published February 22nd by Atria Books

Twelve Secrets” by Robert Gold
to be published March 3rd by Sphere/Little Brown Book Group UK

The Younger Wife” by Sally Hepworth
to be published April 5th by St. Martin’s Press
Mrs. England” by Stacey Halls
to be published April 12th by MIRA
Into The Dark” by Fiona Cummins
to be published April 14th by Pan Macmillan

Magpie” by Elizabeth Day
to be published May 3rd by Simon & Schuster
The Murder Rule” by Dervla McTiernan
to be published May 10th by William Morrow

The Rising Tide” by Sam Lloyd
to be published May 17th by Penguin/RandomHouse Canada

Iris In The Dark” by Elissa Grossell Dickey
to be published June 7th by Lake Union Publishing

Local Gone Missing” by Fiona Barton
to be published June 14th by Penguin Canada

The Guest House” by Robin Morgan-Bentley
to be published June 23rd by Trapeze

The Birdcage” by Eve Chase
to be published July 19th by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The Retreat” by Sarah Pearse
to be published July 19th by Pamela Dorman Books

Stay Awake” by Megan Goldin
to be published August 9th by St. Martin’s Press

Daisy Darker” by Alice Feeney
to be published August 30th by Macmillan

Posted in Anticipated titles, Choosing what to read next | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

“The Great Silence” by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

“The monsters in our lives don’t look like monsters, horns and slavering fangs. The worst deeds in the world are done by people who like like any of us.”

We pick up one year after the events of the second book in the Skelfs series, “The Big Chill“.

The Skelfs have two businesses which they run out of their large Victorian house in Edinburgh. They run a funeral parlour AND a private detective agency.

It is up to the three strong Skelf women to carry the legacy of Jim Skelf, now deceased. Three generations of women, each with their own distinct set of hopes, fears, biases, and opinions – tied together with deep affection.

“Grief never died, it lay dormant then surprised you with painful waves at random times.”

Dorothy Skelf – 71 years old and Jim’s widow. She grew up in California, but has lived in Edinburgh for the past fifty years as Jim’s wife and business partner. She is very fit for her age due to her love of yoga and her passion for playing the drums. Despite her continued grief for her late husband, Dorothy is a strong matriarch who keeps her family and the business on track. She does so with the help of D.I. Thomas Olsson, a black, Swedish policeman fifteen years her junior, yet increasingly important to her both personally and professionally. Though they are now lovers, Dorothy still feels that she is betraying her late husband’s memory…

In this book while in the park walking her dog, Einstein finds a severed human foot.

Jenny – Dorothy’s daughter is a 46 year-old divorcée.  She works more on the private detective side of the business than the funeral side. Still reeling from the events of the previous book, Jenny is lonely and regretting parting ways with Liam. In this book Jenny is hired by twin siblings who think their mother is a victim of a handsome Italian man who acts as caregiver for her.

Hannah – Jenny’s daughter and Dorothy’s granddaughter, is 21 years old. She is in a solid lesbian relationship with Indy, who works for the family firm and is training to be a funeral director. Hannah has recently earned her PhD in astrophysics. She now works part-time in both family businesses. In this book Hannah is investigating one of her fellow physicists who thinks someone is pranking him with messages from aliens.

Also, Hannah and Indy encounter a jaguar while on one of their walks. It is assumed to be escaped from a local zoo or other wildlife refuge and it is terrorizing Edinburgh’s green spaces.

Abi – is a teenage runaway whom Dorothy took in during “The Big Chill”. Now fifteen years old, she is in a band and plays the drums. Her personal history comes to visit the Skelfs during this book.

Schrödinger – the Skelf family’s ginger tabby, is a welcome diversion throughout the novel. Aloof, yet affectionate, Schrödinger is outwardly disdainful of Einstein, the canine member of the family, yet he cares for him in his own catty way.

Einstein – the newest member of the Skelf family is a one-eyed collie who Dorothy adopted in a unique way. He is devoted to Dorothy.

After reading the first two books in Doug Johnstone’s Skelf series, I was very much anticipating this follow-up. If anything, I found it even more enjoyable than the first two books, due to the fact that now I’m familiar with the characters, and they have become almost like friends. If ever there was a ‘character-rich’ series, this is it.

With a unique family dynamic, and an even more unique family business, this series had me hooked from the beginning. The Skelf women are memorable, moral, and authentic.

In addition to the family’s personal stories, I enjoyed following the cases they were working on throughout the book, and how the women support one another.

Set in Edinburgh, the novel explores themes of loss, grief, avarice, and our collective longing for interpersonal connection. The author’s obvious affection for his home city permeates the entire novel.

Written with empathy and skill, this crime novel displayed a richness in characterization along with unique and clever plotting that makes this series stand out from its peers.  The books read like a pleasing cross between crime thriller and literary fiction. I found the three strong female protagonists fascinating, and I am eager to read more about their lives and exploits in further books. Guess you could say I’m an ardent Skelf fan.  The ending was fitting in every respect.        Highly recommended!

I purchased this novel in Kindle format from Amazon.ca for my own reading and reviewing pleasure.   It was published by Orenda Books on June 19, 2021

ISBN: 9781913193836 –  ASIN: B097C6RXKN  –  346 pages

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had nine novels published, most recently Fault Lines. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and
regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is drummer, vocalist and occasional guitarist for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

Follow Doug Johnstone on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, Orenda Books | Tagged , , | 4 Comments