Cover Love: part 87 – Cameras

In my 87th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about cameras on book covers. Cameras have evolved drastically over the years. The older cameras evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Back then people used film, which then had to be developed, sometimes an expensive endeavor. Also, once the prints were developed, there was no guarantee that it was a good shot. Then, of course, if it was an indoor photo, you had to make sure you had some flash bulbs.

We are so spoiled in this digital age when it comes to cameras. We take thousands of photos. If it isn’t a good shot, then we just delete it and try again.  Smart phones have assured that we almost always have access to a camera, so many more everyday moments are captured than in times past. Then, about the only time you carried a camera was if it was a special occasion, or if you were travelling.

They say you can never have a second chance to make a good first impression. A book’s cover does just that – gives a first impression. A good cover can make a reader pick up a book. A bad cover can leave the book at the very bottom of a dusty pile.

The covers of novels entice the reader to enter a different world. Covers are, after all, the way the publisher ‘hooks‘ the reader into choosing one book over countless others.

These titles encompass a wide variety of genres.  Enjoy!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?

Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

Please let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 86 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 2 Comments

“The Garden of Lost Memories” by Ruby Hummingbird – Book Review @Bookouture @BOTBSPublicity

Sixty-two year old Elsie Maple is living a small, solitary, insular life.  Alone in the house for the past twenty-eight years, she has become a creature of habit, ritual, and routine. She has become so set in her ways that she dislikes any disruption from her planned activities. Even her jigsaw puzzle has a time slot on her “To Do” chalkboard. She crosses things off the list as she does them. No one ever visits. She has no friends – only acquaintances.Until…. Samantha and her ten-year old son, Billy, move in next door. Samantha is a single mum who works irregular shifts in a restaurant. She enlists Elsie to babysit Billy after school.  This unremarkable request will spark a cosmic change to both their lives. For one thing, despite adhering to her scheduled tasks, Elsie finds herself not following them quite so closely. AND, after getting Billy to help her in the garden, she discovers that he is quite ‘green-fingered’ which creates a bond between them.Billy is one unhappy boy. His Mum has made him move to this small village away from all his friends in London. They seem to be poor all of a sudden. Billy’s Mum will not buy him a mobile phone and they don’t even have a television! He feels particularly hard done by and this is exacerbated by the fact that he is being bullied at his new school.

Initially he is loathe to spend time with the crotchety old lady, but once he discovers her garden he begins to warm to spending time next door.Until that is… one day he digs up an old, rusty, red tin. When Elsie sees what he has unearthed, she yells at him and he vows to not go there again.Elsie, upon seeing the tin, is overcome with emotion. The tin holds her secrets. Secrets she has been holding close to her chest for almost three decades.

I thoroughly enjoyed accompanying Elsie and Billy as their relationship evolved over time. This was a ‘feel-good’ novel about ordinary people coming to terms with loss, loneliness, change, regret, and memories.

A delightful mixture of literary fiction and women’s fiction, this story will warm your heart.  Yes, it was fairly predictable, but the characters were so engaging that it didn’t really matter. The pace was fairly slow, yet it almost seemed as though you were experiencing the events with the characters. And that’s what good fiction strives for, surely.

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 and Sarah Hardy in order that I could participate in this blog tour

     ISBN: 9781838881801 –  ASIN: B084R9DP3T –  310 pages


Check out some of the other stops on the tour!Ruby Hummingbird is a novelist based in the English countryside. She loves nothing more than writing uplifting and heartwarming fiction that gets her readers reaching for the tissues. When she isn’t storytelling, she can be found tending to her beloved sunflowers or sipping on hazelnut lattes.

Follow Ruby Hummingbird on Twitter.

Follow Ruby Hummingbird on Instagram.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Bookouture, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Book Spine Poetry for Strange Times

Cathy, over at 746books.com has composed a very clever post for April, National Poetry Month. Check out her very apt and timely Book Spine Poetry!

April is National Poetry Month and spurred on by a recent post by Bookish Beck, I thought I would indulge in some Book Spine Poetry!

It’s been a while since I did this on the blog but it can get a bit addictive once you get going! I’ve decided to use the book at the top of each pile as the title and I’ve taken a few liberties with the punctuation. You’ll see that both are quite heavily influenced by our current predicament!

Book Spine 1

Notes From An Apocolypse

This changes everything.

Days without end

Clock without hands

we are not in the world.

Some rain must fall.

Retreat to innocence,

Smile.

Still, life.

Book Spine 2

You Must Remember This

The heavens,

flights,

the language of birds.

All the days and nights

lit up inside.

The wild laughter,

this is happiness.

Anyone else fancy having a go? Naomi over at Consumed by Ink

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Posted in Book Spine Poetry | 9 Comments

The bookish art of Jonathan Wolstenholme

We bibliophiles are a funny lot. Not only do we love BOOKS, but we love looking at photos of books, and of course ART featuring bookish themes.

Over the last few years I’ve featured eleven artists on Fictionophile who use books, and book-related themes as their subjects. I hope you have a few minutes to check them out!

In this, my 12th bookish art post,
I’d like to feature the art of Jonathan Wolstenholme

The artist has produced a prolific body of work, but I have chosen fourteen of my personal favourites to share with you..

Are you a fan of this artist’s work? Which one of the above works is YOUR favourite?

Let me know in the comments.

Born in 1950 Jonathan Wolstenholme attended his local grammar school in Purley before graduating from Croydon Art College. He still lives in Surrey with his wife Margaret and young son George.

He has been a successful freelance illustrator for many years, working for a number of major advertising agencies, publishers and a great variety of magazines.

Jonathan has exhibited in both national and international shows with several one-man exhibitions in London.

Wolstenholme paints exquisitely detailed still lifes of books in watercolour .He is fascinated by the world of antiquarian books and paraphernalia from a bygone age when craftsmanship was highly prized. He works in watercolour in such exquisite detail that it is possible to read every word in the books that he paints.

Posted in Art with book themes | Tagged | 15 Comments

Fictionophile’s March #BookHaul

Confession time.  I went a little crazy this month and amassed a whopping 14 new review commitments. I am going to blame my greed insanity on self isolation, because well…. I can’t blame myself, can I? These fourteen titles all look amazing and I can’t wait to read them. Looks like I’ll have extra reading time, so that will help.

Anyway, here is my latest book haul via the bubble:

NetGalley

Here are the EIGHT titles I downloaded from NetGalley in March


A newly engaged woman is summoned to her aunt’s storybook mansion in the Catskill mountains – her beloved aunt has been killed in a tragic car accident and her uncle is gravely ill and at the end of his life, to the scene of her sister’s mysterious and traumatic disappearance sixteen years earlier. She discovers that some family secrets will not stay buried and sometimes old ghosts haunt forever.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pub date: September 2020

I’ve read and enjoyed this author’s work in the past and the cover drew me in…


Hope Close: a leafy, tranquil backwater in the heart of the English countryside. But when Andy Meyer moves in, it soon becomes clear that picture-perfect homes can hide less-than-perfect lives. Fresh from rehab and with no interest in meeting his neighbours, Andy erects forbidding gates to keep the ghosts of his past—and any prying eyes—at bay.
Next door, in the grandest house, Layla is unhappily married to a much older man and desperately misses her young son, who has been banished to boarding school. When lonely Nicole from over the road confides her own secret heartache to Layla, the two women form an unlikely bond—until one of them attracts the attention of their mysterious new neighbour.
The only person to sense something dangerous about Andy is busybody Joan. But will her suspicions bring her more than she bargains for?
As the past catches up with the residents of Hope Close, it becomes clear that the intriguing new neighbour isn’t the only one with something to hide…

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pub Date: March 2020

The cover was what first attracted me, then the blurb cinched the deal! A ‘new to me’ author.


Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.
When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown―the sleepy countryside village where she grew up―Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.
DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.
One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna’s and Jack’s points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pub Date: July 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s “Sometimes I Lie”, so I’m anxious to read more of her work.


Freddy left her childhood home in Newhaven twenty-two years ago and swore never to return. But now her parents are dead, and she’s back in her hometown to help her brothers manage the family fishmonger. Nothing here has changed: the stink of fish coming up from the marshes; the shopping trolleys half-buried by muddy tides; the neighbours sniffing for a new piece of gossip.
It’s not what Freddy would have chosen, but at least while she’s here she’ll get to see her childhood best friends, Toni and Mags. At school, the three of them were inseparable. The teachers called them the Mermaids for their obsession with the sea, and with each other.

Then Mags goes missing, and Freddy must decide. Go back home to her new life, or stay in Newhaven and find her friend?

Publisher: Head of Zeus
Pub Date: May 2020

I really liked this author’s “The Detective’s Daughter” and was interested to read her latest, stand-alone novel. I’ll be taking part in the official blog tour for this title on May 11th.


That’s the thing about old friends… they never let you forget.
The first time Jemma and Matt were invited to Polskirrin – the imposing ocean-view home belonging to Matt’s childhood friend Lucas Jarrett – it was for an intimate wedding that ended in tragedy. Jemma will never forget the sight of the girl’s pale body floating listlessly towards the rocky shore.
Now, exactly one year later, Jemma and her husband have reluctantly returned at Lucas’s request to honor the anniversary of an event they would do anything to forget.
But what Lucas has in store for his guests is nothing like a candlelight vigil. Someone who was there that night remembers more than they’ll admit to, and Lucas has devised a little game to make them tell the truth.
Jemma believes she and Matt know nothing about what happened to that woman… but what if she’s wrong? Before you play a deadly game, make sure you can pay the price…

Publisher: Bookouture
Pub Date: April 2020

A ‘new to me’ author that I’ve heard great things about from my fellow bloggers.


With its winding high street lined with a greengrocers, post office, pub and church, Melstead St Mary is the perfect Suffolk village. Neighbours look out for neighbours, and few things trouble the serene surface of the community.
But when residents start to receive anonymous letters containing secret information about their pasts – secrets that no one else is meant to know – life in Melstead St Mary is about to change, possibly forever…

Publisher: Orion
Pub Date: April 2020

I was invited to take part in a blog tour for this title and the synopsis won me over. I’ve never read anything by this author before. Watch for my blog tour review on April 22nd.


Just because you feel ordinary doesn’t mean you aren’t extraordinary to someone else.
Sixty-two-year-old Elsie knows what she likes. Custard creams at four o’clock, jigsaw puzzles with a thousand pieces, her ivy-covered, lavender-scented garden.
Ten-year-old Billy would rather spend his Saturdays kicking a ball, or watching TV, or anything really, other than being babysat by his grumpy neighbour Elsie and being force fed custard creams.
If it was up to them, they’d have nothing to do with each other. Unfortunately, you can’t choose who you live next door to.
But there is always more to people than meets the eye…
Elsie doesn’t know that Billy’s afraid to go to school now, or why his mother woke him up in the middle of the night with an urgent shake, bags already packed, ready to flee their home.
Billy doesn’t know that the rusting red tin he finds buried in Elsie’s treasured garden is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode her carefully organised life. And that when he digs it up, he is unearthing a secret that has lain dormant for twenty-eight years…

Publisher: Bookouture
Pub Date: April 2020

I was invited to take part in a blog tour for this title. Watch for my review on April 3rd.


When Fern Douglas sees the news about Astrid Sullivan, a thirty-four-year-old missing woman from Maine, she is positive that she knows her. Fern’s husband is sure it’s because of Astrid’s famous kidnapping—and equally famous return—twenty years ago, but Fern has no memory of that, even though it happened an hour outside her New Hampshire hometown. And when Astrid appears in Fern’s recurring nightmare, one in which a girl reaches out to her, pleading, Fern fears that it’s not a dream at all, but a memory.
Back home in New Hampshire, Fern purchases a copy of Astrid’s recently published memoir—which may have provoked her original kidnapper to abduct her again—and as she reads through its chapters and visits the people and places within it, she discovers more evidence that she has an unsettling connection to the missing woman. As Fern’s search becomes increasingly desperate, she hopes to remember her past so she can save Astrid in the present…before it’s too late.

Publisher: Atria Books
Pub Date: August 2020

Another ‘new to me’ author. The synopsis is what spurred me to request this one…


Here are the SIX titles I downloaded from Edelweiss in March

Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.
The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protestant, and determined to identify the murderer—faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in this tight-knit community. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community’s secrets, like the snowfall itself, threatens to obliterate everything.

Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Pub Date: October 2020

I’ve not read anything by this author before and since he is so highly acclaimed, I thought it was high time I did.


Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr. Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the disease in the caves beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.
Forty years later, Hester arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralyzed and mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try to escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers her new home may be just as dangerous as her last.

Publisher: Penguin Books
Pub Date: June 2020

I’ve read several books by this author and her dark, gothic thrillers never disappoint.


It’s the end of a night out and Joanna is walking home alone. Then she hears the sound every woman dreads: footsteps behind her, getting faster. She’s sure it’s him—the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. So Joanna makes a snap decision. She turns, she pushes. Her pursuer tumbles down the steps and lies motionless, facedown on the ground. Now what?
Addictive and compelling, The Choice follows the two paths Joanna’s future might take, depending on the choice she makes. If she calls the police right away, she can save the man’s life. Yet doing so puts her own innocence at risk, as she waits for judgment on a charge of assault and the hope that her husband and everyone she loves will stand by her. But if she runs and goes home as if nothing has happened, no one will ever know. No one saw her do it, and it’s only up to Joanna to keep quiet…forever.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pub Date: June 2020

This novel was originally titled “Anything You Do Say” and I’ve wanted to read it for ages.


England, 1970. On the one-year anniversary of the Harrington family’s darkest night, their beautiful London home goes up in flames. Mrs. Harrington, the two children, and live-in nanny Rita relocate to Foxcote Manor, ostensibly to recuperate. But the creeping forest, where lost things have a way of coming back, is not as restful as it seems. When thirteen-year-old Hera discovers a baby girl abandoned just beyond their garden gate, this tiniest, most wondrous of secrets brings a much-needed sunlit peace, until a visitor detonates the family’s tenuous happiness. All too soon a body lies dead in the woods.
Forty years later, London-based Sylvie is an expert at looking the other way. It’s how she stayed married to her unfaithful husband for more than twenty years. But she’s turned over a new leaf, having left him for a fresh start. She buried her own origin story decades ago, never imagining her teenage daughter would have a shocking reason to dig the past up–and to ask Sylvie to finally face the secrets that lead her back to Foxcote Manor.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pub Date: July 2020

I’ve long been a fan of Eve Chase and I’m always on the lookout for any of her new titles.


Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.
Among this year’s incoming class is Ines Murillo, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. Even the school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves within the formidable iron gates of Catherine. For Ines, it is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had. But the House’s strange protocols soon make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when tragedy strikes, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda within the secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Publisher: Custom House
Pub Date: May 2020

There is just something about a boarding house tale that attracts me every time. This is a ‘new to me’ author.


All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.
Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.
But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.
They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Hilary hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.
They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

Publisher: William Morrow
Pub Date: February 2020

I’ve read several books by Sophie Hannah in the past and enjoyed them. And THIS PREMISE captivated my interest.


Have you read any of these stellar titles yet?  Do you plan to?

Let me know in the comments. ♥

Posted in Anticipated titles, Edelweiss, Fictionophile report, NetGalley | Tagged , | 12 Comments

“Firewatching” by Russ Thomas – Book Review

Set in and around Sheffield, England, this debut novel introduces a unique and somewhat unusual team of police officers.

D.S. Adam Tyler – keenly observant and very sharp witted, a taciturn loner, gay, conflicted, and emotionally damaged. The son of a policeman, Tyler now works on cold cases following an altercation with a co-worker. Very tall and handsome, Tyler is lusted after by his female colleagues even though they know about his sexual preference for men. Some of his male colleagues slyly demean him via innuendo and he is not popular. Behind his back they call him “Homo-Cop”: part faggot, part robot.

D.I. Jim Doggett – a contemporary of Tyler’s father who has requested Tyler work on this case with him. Although he appreciates Tyler’s outstanding record when it comes to solving cold cases, he keeps Tyler on his toes with his snarkiness and sarcasm. Doggett is known to have bent the rules on occasion to procure his desired result.

D.C. Amina Rabbani – a young Indian constable who still lives at home with her parents. She is fiercely intelligent and very ambitious. She has lived in England all her life and has a strong Geordie accent. Requested for by D.S. Tyler, this is her first time working as a plain clothes detective, something she has long aspired to do.

D.C.I. Diane Jordan – another contemporary of Tyler’s father and also Tyler’s godmother. Jordan is famous for her ‘hands-on’ approach which makes her unpopular with some of her staff.

Their first outing sees them investigating a cold case in which a body has been discovered by workers renovating a fire damaged house. They soon discover that the body was bricked up behind a basement wall while still alive – some six months before the fire that damaged the dwelling.

Tyler’s first suspect just happens to be the victim’s son Oscar, and by coincidence is also the man Tyler had a one-night stand with the night before.  After almost leaving it too late, Tyler confesses his conflict of interest to Doggett, yet Doggett dismisses his concern and keeps him on the case. Tyler wonders why….

Edna Burnside and Lily Bainbridge – Two elderly spinsters whose cottage backs upon the “Old Vicarage” where the body was found. Also, they cared for the young Oscar regularly after his mother deserted the family many years ago.  Now quite feeble, they know something that could help Tyler and his team, yet are unable or unwilling to do so.  Edna is dying of cancer and Lily is suffering from mild dementia. She knows she should be able to remember something important, but the memories have escaped into the ether of her illness. Lily begins to receive threatening letters, yet she cannot fathom what they pertain to.

Meanwhile, a pyromaniac is burning things in Castledene, and Tyler feels that these fires have some connection to his case – he is just not sure what.

Also, a Lowry painting, found hanging within the burnt-out house intrigues Tyler. He wonders what part the painting plays in the crime… if any. The painting’s name? “The Firestarter”.

I found D.S. Tyler a bit hard to warm up to at first, but once I did there was no going back. He is withdrawn, a flawed and damaged loner, who just happens to be an extremely handsome, gay, police sergeant. The author has brought Tyler and his team to life vividly. The two elderly ladies were portrayed with empathy and understanding.

The evolving and complicated relationships amongst the team were a delight to read and I cannot wait to see how the personalities develop and coalesce in future books. I’m eager to read more about Tyler’s intriguing backstory and how it has shaped the man he is now.

The pacing was nigh on perfect with the interruption of the narrative caused only by the insertion of blog posts by the ‘Firestarter‘ – and these were essential to the plot.  The entire story took place in just under a week which made for compelling reading.

A strong police procedural with themes of family secrets, arson, and perversion which reads more like the work of a seasoned and successful novelist, rather than the debut novel which it is.

The ending explained everything, though not quite in the way I expected – which is a good thing.

I was delighted to learn that this is the first in a new series of police procedurals, one which I intend to read more of. Highly, highly recommended. Brilliant debut!


This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Edelweiss.       ISBN: 9780525542025 –  ASIN: B07SKSKSNG –  368 pages

Firewatching” has vastly different covers –
depending on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live on.

Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. He grew up in the 80s reading anything he could get his hands on at the library, writing stories, watching large amounts of television, playing video-games, and largely avoiding the great outdoors. He spent five years trying to master playing the electronic organ and another five trying to learn Spanish. It didn’t take him too long to realize that he’d be better off sticking to the writing.

After a few “proper” jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of book-selling, where he could talk to people about books all day.

Firewatching is his debut novel and the first book in a new series of crime thrillers set in Sheffield.

Follow Russ Thomas on Twitter.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

March 2020 Kindle ebook purchases #bookhaul

Anyone who knows me, or follows this blog knows for sure that I have more than enough to read. I’ll never run out of great reading material.

However, like most bookworms, bookbloggers, and all other book obsessed people, I cannot seem to stop purchasing more books.  It is a sickness.  Also… I cannot resist a bargain. I use the excuse that Ebooks don’t take up any physical space. LOL

In March 2020 I purchased FOURTEEN new ebooks from Amazon.ca

The total of my expenditure for these 14 novels was $ 28.62 Cdn.  If you do the math and average out the price, that works out to be about $ 2.04 each !!!  BARGAIN! It was even more of a bargain for me because I used the $25.00 Amazon gift card I got for my birthday.

I’ve linked the covers to Goodreads so that you can read all about the book if it seems like it might appeal to you.  I’ve listed them from cheapest to most expensive.

FREE

FREE

.99¢

.99¢

.99¢

.99¢

.99¢

.99¢ for all three!

$ 2.88

$ 2.99

$ 7.99

$ 8.79

Check out the Kindle deals available to you in your region. And NO… I am NOT affiliated with Amazon in any way.  I just like to keep my Kindle full – it is my security blanket.

If I dropped everything else in my life and spent every waking moment reading, I still couldn’t get through every book I want to read before I died of old age. And that’s not even considering all the new titles that continue to come to my attention every day…

 

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 7 Comments

♣ Crime Fiction set in Ireland ♣ #BingeReadSeries #crimefiction #bookseries

It’s almost the end of March, and as my small way of celebrating everything Irish I thought I’d highlight 20 crime series set in Ireland.  I normally participate in “Reading Ireland Month“, but this year, due to being away for half the month, I opted out.

The Cormac Reilly series by Dervla McTiernan


The Inspector Tom Reynolds series by Jo Spain

 


The Detective Lottie Parker series by Patricia Gibney

 


The Katie Maguire series by Graham Masterton

 


The Nora Gavin series by Erin Hart

 


The Inspector Devlin series by Brian McGilloway


The D.S. Lucy Black series by Brian McGilloway

 


The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French

 


The Dr. Kate Pearson series by Louise Phillips

 


The Jack Lennon investigations by Neville Stuart


The DCI Serena Flanagan series by Neville Stuart


The Sean Duffy series by Adrian McGinty


The Paula Maguire series by Claire McGowan


The Cathy Connolly series by Sam Blake


The Jack Taylor series by Ken Bruen


The D.S. Claire Boyle series by Sinéad Crowley


The Quirke series by Benjamin Black


The Joe Swallow series by Conor Brady

 


The Dublin Murder mysteries by Valerie Keogh


The Maureen Lyons series by David Pearson


Have you read any of these series?
Which do YOU recommend?

Are you intimidated by a series that has more than four or five books in it?

Posted in Mystery fiction, Series order | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

“The Suspect” by Fiona Barton – Book Review

Kate Waters is a journalist in her mid forties. She is married to an oncologist and is the mother of two sons. Devoted to her work, she is very good at what she does.

When old friend D.I. Bob Sparkes calls to let her know about two British teenage girls who have gone missing in Thailand, the story captures her attention because it is a slow news period, AND, most importantly, Thailand is where her eldest son Jake has been living for the past two years. She and her husband have had little contact with Jake since he left and she is desperate to reunite with him again.

When she arrives in Bangkok the story escalates to reveal many inconsistencies, police corruption, and even more troubling – Jake seems to be a central player in the sordid story. Kate finds herself on the other side… she is no longer the ‘reporter’, she is now the ‘mother’ and a person her fellow reporters want to interview. She learns how her interviewees feel, and it is not always pleasant. She arrives at the painful truth that she is a better reporter than she is a mother…

“Everyone wants to know the truth. Except those who don’t.
Those who stand to lose by it. I know that now.”

Meanwhile, in some chapters, we learn the story of the missing teenage girls. Their story is distressing to say the least.

Though this is technically the third novel to feature journalist Kate Waters, I can heartily assure you that this novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. I have now read and enjoyed  all three novels in the series.

Told via multiple points of view, “The Suspect” picks up some two years after the action in the last novel in which Kate’s oldest son Jake, had dropped out of university and left the country to ‘find himself’ in Thailand – a course of action that Kate strongly disapproved of.

The action in this book takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Southampton, England. It has elements of police procedural, but it also gives equal time to the families and their reactions to the developing story.

I greatly enjoyed reading about D.I. Bob Sparkes and his terminally ill wife. He became a much warmer and real personality for me. Kate Waters’ personality was also delved into a great deal in this book.  She learns a lot about herself, and just what lengths she will go to protect her children. We learn more about the youngest staff reporter who works with Kate. Joe Jackson, whom Kate calls her ‘office son’.

The scenes in the book that told Alex O’Connor’s story (one of the missing girls), were poignant, unsettling, and in many ways terrifying. Alex’s character was very sympathetic.

As with her previous two titles, Fiona Barton has concocted a compelling story that is plausible and oftentimes distressing. The author’s many years of experience in journalism ensures that the story feels very authentic. The skillful writing causes the reader to become invested in the characters despite the complex police inquiry.

In summation, “The Suspect” is a worthy successor to the previous two titles, and I highly recommend the series to readers who enjoy thrillers that hold a ring of truth.

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 Berkley Publishing via Edelweiss.       ISBN: 9781101990513 –  ASIN: B07DZLGLX2  –  416 pages

Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at the Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. Born in Cambridge, England, she currently lives in southwest France.

Connect with Fiona Barton on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

“Silent Cry” by Jenny O’Brien – Book Review

DC Gaby Darin has just moved to Pembrokeshire, Wales after a difficult work-related experience in Swansea. She is teamed up with DCI Rhys Walker, a man who seems to have hidden secrets but is a copper that she respects.

Bucket

Izzy Grant has tried to move on with her life. She now runs a cottage industry which supplies knitted goods. She lives alone with her rescue cat, Bucket. Five years ago, her partner and one week old daughter vanished without a trace. At the same time, her friend, Grace Madden disappeared. Now, while doing some Christmas shopping, Izzy spots Grace in a busy Cardiff street.

Naturally, Izzy tells the policeman who was on the case five years ago… DCI Rhys Walker. He and the new to the area DC Gaby Darin re-investigate the cold case.

Gaby is increasingly aware that her partner, DCI Rhys Walker has personal feelings for Izzy.  She tries to keep this knowledge on the back burner whilst working the case.

Meanwhile, Izzy does more than a little amateur sleuthing herself.

Izzy receives a postcard from Charlie, her daughter’s father:

With renewed hope that her daughter might still be alive, Izzy makes every effort to determine what happened five years ago. Her efforts put her in grave danger.

I was pleased to make the acquaintance of a new female police protagonist. DC Gaby Darin was an interesting character. Bright, brash, overweight, lonely, and very good at her job.

The Pembrokeshire setting was well-described and the plot contained more than one ‘red-herring’ which will please most mystery readers. One of these had me thinking that I had the story all figured out – I was dead wrong. Another red-herring led the story down a path that I felt wasn’t resolved as much as it should have been. Finally, I put my own brain in gear and guessed the outcome of the story. I was nearly at the end of the book, but as they say ‘better late than never’. LOL

I am convinced that “Silent Cry” will be well-received by all those readers who delight in a well-written police procedural mystery. I look forward to the sequel which has DC Gaby Darin starting out again at a new police station  – this time in Llandudno.

“Silent Cry” was previously published under the title “Missing in Wales”
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 HQ Digital via NetGalley.       ISBN: 9780008390150 –  ASIN: B07ZLW2844  –  384 pages

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Jenny O’Brien says she is a wife and mother first – a writer second. She has written romance, thrillers, and children’s books.

Jenny currently resides on the island of Guernsey with her husband, children and cats. She works as a nurse and writes in her spare time.

Readers can find out more about Jenny and her books on her blog

Follow Jenny O’Brien on Twitter and Instagram

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Mystery fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Companion” by Kim Taylor Blakemore – Book Review

At a tender age, Mary Blunt used deception to wheedle her way into a position as maid at the mansion of the Burton family, in mid-19th century New Hampshire. It is a household with six servants who work for Mr. Burton, a textile tycoon.  His wife is blind, and retains a ‘companion’ by the name of Rebecca. Mrs. Eugenie Burton is childless and has resorted to taking laudanum to make her days more palatable.

When Lucy is summoned to take care of Mrs. Burton when Rebecca is temporarily absent, she gets a taste for the ‘easy’ life of a companion. No more skinning rabbits, emptying bedpans, scouring pots. Also, Lucy finds herself mightily attracted to the engaging Mrs. Burton. Who could blame her if she once more uses deception to secure the companion’s position on a more permanent basis?

However… Rebecca has her own agenda and is not to underestimated…

Twenty-four year old Lucy Blunt sits in a damp and dismal prison cell. She is awaiting death by hanging. She is said to have murdered two women, but pleads innocence.

“I am not a thief, though I have stolen. I am not a murderer, though I have killed.”

One must always be cautious when hearing a story told by a single narrator. After all, this narrator is bound to be biased in their own favour….  Such is the case of Lucy Blunt. Can we believe everything she says? Do we want to?

In my case, YES, I did. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her plight due to her tragic and sorrowful personal history. Her life had been filled with loss, drudgery and struggle, with little experience of love. So, if she was less than truthful – it was understandable, yet not wholly unforgivable.  Despite the more unsavory aspects of her character I found myself rooting for Lucy throughout the entirety of the book.

This is a story of lies and deception. Of a precarious balance of power, and questionable affections, betrayals, jealousies, and suspicion.

The characters were not thoroughly likeable, but in this case, I could overlook that. The atmospheric descriptions of the mansion, the servants, and the time period added to my enjoyment of the novel greatly.

I recommend this debut novel to readers who have enjoyed the work of Laura Purcell, and those who like character-driven, atmospheric historical fiction.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley.       ISBN: 9781542006392 –  ASIN: B07NL358MX  –  272 pages

Kim Taylor Blakemore writes dark and twisty historical novels that feature fierce and often dangerous women. She writes about the thieves and servants, murderesses and soiled doves, grifters and flimflam girls – women with tangled lies and hidden motives. The Companion is her adult debut in historical mystery. Her second novel for Lake Union, After Alice Fell, will be released in January 2021. She is also the author of the YA historicals Bowery Girl and the WILLA Literary Award winner Cissy Funk.

Recipient of a Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award, WILLA Literary Award, and three Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) grants, she is also a novel coach with her company Novelitics and is a member of Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Outside of writing, she is a veteran saber fencer, history nerd, gothic novel lover. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon and loves the rain. Truly. Except in the middle of winter and when walking the dogs.

Visit Kim Taylor Blakemore’s website.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Historical fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Anybody out there? Thoughts from the isolated bubble…

This is not the same world that it once was. We are ALL feeling the effects of the terrifying Covid-19 pandemic. Once thought to be the subject of science fiction, our reality proves once again that what was once a writer’s grim imagination, has become only too REAL.  How are YOU coping?

We traveled recently, so when we came home we put ourselves in ‘isolation’ for the mandated two weeks.  Today is day twelve…  But that is not the end of it.  Will it really be any different after day fourteen? I think not.  In fact, I’m wondering if it will EVER be back to the way it was.

Yesterday our province has declared a ‘state of emergency‘ and has mandated that ALL incomers, included those who are just coming from another province within Canada must also ‘self-isolate’!  Residents can be fined up to $1,000.00 if they do not adhere to social distancing or self-isolation. Businesses can be fined up to $7,500.00 dollars. Social gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. Things we took for granted are no longer possible. Things like visiting long-term care homes, visiting hospital patients, walking in the park, hosting a birthday party, getting a hair-cut, going to the dentist, eating out at a restaurant, riding a bus… to name but a few.

What CAN we do? Well, we can interact with those within our homes. Teach children new skills. Not everything they learn should come from their schools. Play games, teach them how to cook, sew on a button, READ.  We have the opportunity to make the time at home ‘Quality Time’, so let’s take advantage of that opportunity. Reaching out to others is more important than ever, though we can only do it via telephone and social media.  It is difficult for people like me, who are affectionate. I miss the hugs of friends and family. My poor husband is getting more than his fair share of hugs. LOL

I saw this graphic on Instagram and thought I’d share it in case you’ve missed it:


In case you’re in the mood for a little time waster, I’ve created a word-search puzzle for all you book lovers out there. It contains 40 book related terms that can be in any direction, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

You can do it the ‘analog’ way with paper and pencil by simply downloading this graphic and print it.

At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat. The entire world is affected.  That holds its own kind of perverse comfort – knowing that you’re NOT alone.

Just some of the things I’m worrying about are:

How will this affect the economy in the long term? (and our families finances in particular)

Will people working in the hospitality industry, in restaurants, the entertainment industry etc, be able to endure through the bad times without going under?

What kind of world will my grandson grow up in?

Will international travel be a thing of the past after this is over?

Will those living ‘paycheck to paycheck‘ be able to cope emotionally and financially?

Will our elderly populations suffer emotionally in such a way that they won’t be able to come back from it?

Are the people who are dying from the coronavirus dying alone? (without family and friends to comfort them)

Posted in personal, ramblings & miscellanea | Tagged | 39 Comments

“A Dark Matter” by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

We meet the Skelfs on the day that they are saying goodbye to their patriarch, Jim. They are doing this in a somewhat bizarre way. Though they run a funeral home, they are having an illegal funeral pyre in their backyard – as requested by Jim…

Jim’s passing greatly affects those he has left behind.  For one thing, the business must go on and the fact that the family are surrounded by death on a daily basis makes the loss of Jim even more poignant.

“Maybe life is just a succession of diversion tactics, moments to keep you busy, stop you thinking about the big stuff.”

 

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.

Now that Jim has passed away, it is up to the three strong Skelf women to carry on his legacy.

Dorothy Skelf – 70 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. Jim’s passing has left her reeling. Apparently Jim had kept secrets from her, and now she is unsure of everything. She had thought that they shared everything, but now… she doesn’t know what to think.  Grieving, and feeling betrayed by her husband’s lies, she enlists her friend Thomas, who just happens to be a policeman, to help her discover just what Jim was up to for all those years.

Jenny – Jim and Dorothy’s daughter is a divorcée in her early forties. A freelance journalist, she finds out that she has lost her job on the day of her father’s funeral.  With rent to pay, she reluctantly joins the family firm. She hasn’t lived at home for twenty-five years, and she finds the adjustment is a challenge. She works more on the private detective side of the business than the funeral side.

Hannah – Jenny’s daughter and Dorothy’s granddaughter, is 20 years old. She is in a lesbian relationship with Indy, who works for the family firm and is training to be a funeral director. Hannah goes to university and is studying quantum physics. She is devastated when Melanie, her flatmate and fellow student goes missing…  She enlists her family’s private detective agency to investigate, doing some of the legwork herself.

Schrödinger – the Skelf family’s ginger tabby, was a welcome diversion throughout the novel. Aloof, yet affectionate, Schrödinger was fond of bringing home dead birds for his family…

 

“…we all compartmentalise, we make excuses to ourselves, justify decisions, ignore the awful things we do because the alternative is to accept that we’re bastards.”

After reading Doug Johnstone’s brilliant “The Breakers” last year I was more than eager to read his next book.  “A Dark Matter“, the first book in a new series, more than met my expectations.

With an unique family dynamic, and an even more unique family business, this story had me hooked from the beginning. And what a beginning!  The first line reads “Her Dad took much longer to burn than she expected.”

In addition to the family’s personal stories, I enjoyed following the cases they were working on throughout the book.

The novel explores how we have many sides to our personalities and how we display these different sides to different people – at different times – throughout our lives.

Written with an engaging dark humour, this crime novel displayed a richness in characterization along with unique and clever plotting that made the story stand out from its peers.  With themes of betrayal, family secrets, deception and loss, the book reads as a pleasing cross between crime thriller and literary fiction. The three strong female protagonists captured my interest and the I am eager to read more about their lives and exploits in further books in the Skelfs series.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Orenda Books.         ISBN: 9781912374984  –  ASIN: B07X9X2J4X  –  300 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.

I was saddened to hear via Twitter that Doug Johnstone has recently suffered from a stroke. Please join me in wishing him a speedy and complete recovery!

 

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Orenda Books | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

“Through His Eyes” by Emma Dibdin – Book Review

Jessica Harris, a transplanted Brit, finds herself given an opportunity that just might make or break her career as an entertainment journalist.  She splits her working time between employers, NEST, an online home decor brand, and an entertainment website. When she is offered the chance to interview her own teenage idol – now a Hollywood A-lister, she cannot believe her luck. As she comes to know Clark Conrad, she comes to realize that her superficial knowledge of him came no where close to the man he is now – damaged, egotistical, and all too human…

I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I found this novel to be unoriginal, with stereotypical and somewhat cardboard characters.  Sure, some of the material covered was topical (think the ‘Me Too’ movement) but the salacious subject matter just didn’t endear me to the book. The first two-thirds of the book dragged and I found myself skimming – and I hate skimming. The ending was less than satisfactory.

Perhaps it was the timing of the read. With all that is going on now in the world, reading about the false glamour, social media trends, sound bites and shallow/superficial concerns of the Hollywood scene just didn’t resonate with me. I found it to be a sad commentary about our modern society which is overly preoccupied with the false and illusory world of celebrities.

This is escapist, frivolous fiction. If that is your cup of tea, then jump in with both feet. Perhaps that is just what some readers need right now… It just wasn’t for me.

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Head of Zeus Publishers.     ISBN: 9781786694058 –  ASIN: B077T96HX2   368 pages


Emma Dibdin grew up in Oxford, and now lives in New York. She is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Total Film.

Follow Emma Dibdin on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, romantic suspense | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

“The Boatman: and other stories” by Billy O’Callaghan – Book Review

“Everyone has to decide for themselves what happiness looks like.”

Twelve outstanding and often poignant stories from one of Ireland’s master storytellers. The stories cover a wide range of topics, but many deal with tragic situations, regret, death, and loss.

My favourite story in the collection was “Beginish“, a tragic tale that because of its imagery, will remain with me for a long, long, time.

When I find myself constantly highlighting passages when I am reading, I always know that I’m indulging in high quality, literary fiction.

Highly recommended to all those who enjoy reading meaningful prose in a short story format.Some of my favourite quotes from this collection are:

“Everyone is marked in permanent ways, and those marks make us ugly to some eyes but they don’t stop us from living.”

“Everything that has gone before seems redundant now, all the efforts at survival, the love, the wasted laughter.” “Because in the end there’s always death, and always broken hearts. Happy stories, at least, get to hold the air of magic.”

“I always have an old paperback in my pocket. It’s about filling the spare moments, I think, blocking out the spaces between acts.”

“Our surroundings are there as we perceive them, and our dead are at once gone and everywhere.”

“When you don’t fear death then you fear nothing. Except living. And when you can simply exist, in full acceptance of your lot, then you are immense. Fear is what brings us down and makes small things of us.”

“Regret, we’d both come to realise, was a far greater burden to bear than guilt. Guilt hadn’t the permanence of regret, and could be kissed and laughed away.”

“So much of life is waiting, but even ruined as we are, waiting at least makes room for dreams.”

“There are times when denial is the only protection available to us.”

“Life is always hard, isn’t it? No matter what you get, there’s always some precious piece either missing or soon to be taken away.”

“We’re sponges, really. We soak up everything that happens, everything that’s said and done and everything we see and hear, and we hold it in our hearts. And that can be a lot to bear. Ignorance is too often the better and easier bliss.”

“The passing years are supposed to soften what has gone before, but they don’t. Because for most of us, the past has nowhere to go. The best we can do is live beneath its weight.”


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 HarperCollins via Edelweiss.     ISBN: 9780062856593 –  ASIN: B07QG5D4YF   240 pages

Billy O’Callaghan was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1974, and is the author of three short story collections: ‘In Exile’ (2008) and ‘In Too Deep’ (2009), both published by Mercier Press, and ‘The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind’ (2013) published by New Island Books, which won a Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Award and which is forthcoming in a Chinese translation from CITIC Press in the summer of 2017. His first novel was “The Dead House” and his most recent novel “My Coney Island Baby” was published by HarperCollins and is available now. His stories have been broadcast nationally on RTÉ Radio’s ‘The Book on One’​, Sunday Miscellany and the Francis MacManus Awards series, and have appeared in more than 100 magazines and literary journals around the world.

Follow Billy O’Callaghan on Twitter.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Short stories | Tagged , , | 13 Comments