“The Woman at Number 19” by J.A. Baker – Book Review

About the book:

“Her thoughts are all she has. They are hers and hers alone.”

Esther Nesbitt seems like an old woman, yet she is only 45 years old. A mere shadow of her former self, she has diminished since her husband and children were killed in a car accident. Once a schoolteacher, now she is semi-reclusive, and suffers from blackouts.

Her only friend is a young neighbour named Amy who works as a nurse and comes to visit Esther on her way to work.

Sometimes Esther’s sister Charlotte visits but she is not welcome. Esther hates Charlotte because of Charlotte’s relationship with her late husband.

Esther has a direct view of the living room window of #19, across the street. She sees some suspect behaviour by the woman who lives there. She views the woman as a monster who  is clearly manipulative and mistreats her children. Esther begins to takes notes of dates and times so that she can report the unstable woman to the authorities.  She becomes obsessed with the activity of the woman at number 19…

Through her obsession with her neighbour, Esther gradually recovers memories of her own, but makes her wonder who, if anyone, she can trust.

The Woman at Number 19 – Attractive, married, and the mother to two children. She seems to have everything – yet – she suspects that her husband is having an affair. She resents her children, thinking that her marriage was much stronger before they came along. As a result, she abuses them – both physically and emotionally.

Always craving attention, especially that of her husband, she deliberately makes her young son very ill.

“Once they became parents, any time they had for each other was stripped away until they became virtual strangers. So she guesses it’s only right and fair that the kids pay a hefty price for it.”

After reading “Her Dark Retreat” last winter, I was very eager to read more by the author J.A. Baker.  When invited by Bloodhound Books to take part in the blog tour for her latest novel, I jumped at the opportunity. WOW! What a corker this one turned out to be!

The Woman at Number 19” was in every sense a true ‘page-turner’. Though I did suspect what the outcome might be, that didn’t stop me from feverishly turning the pages in order to either confirm or discount my suspicions.

The epitome of  the ‘psychological thriller’ which explores the darkness of the mentally unstable mind, giving reader’s an insight into the thought processes of the psychotic and clinically depressed. I’m confident that even the most hardened reader will find empathy for these characters.

With themes of child abuse, mental illness, forgiveness, and healing, this novel is highly recommended by me. I am now eager to read all of J.A. Baker’s backlist titles. I urge all domestic thriller lovers to add this book to their TBRs. Now!

Published by Bloodhound Books ASIN B07V5M2VYV

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 and/or on Facebook.

Posted in Blog Tour, Bloodhound Books, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = TREE

Most readers will acknowledge that some words reappear time and time again in titles. Often these words are associated with a particular genre. Case in point: “The girl on the train” and “Gone girl” spawned countless thriller titles with the word ‘girl’ in the title.

I know there are hundreds of books with the word ‘TREE’ in the title, but I’m featuring a small selection of titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love.  I’ve read five of the following titles and several more are on my TBR.  It just so happens that one of my all-time favourite novels has the word ‘tree’ in the title, so of course I’ll lead off with that one: “Tree of Hands” by the late, great, Ruth Rendell.

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?
Have you read one of these titles and absolutely LOVED it?

If you’ve added even one of these titles to YOUR TBR,
Please let me know in the comments.

Posted in Dustjackets, Wednesday Word | Tagged | 16 Comments

“Girl Last Seen” by Nina Laurin – Book Review

“Everyone has scars. Even if they’re not on the outside.”

Our protagonist is Ella Santos – though now she goes by the name of Laine Moreno. When she was just ten years old she was abducted and held hostage for three years – bound – in a cellar. Raped repeatedly, she was finally driven to a roadside and released. Thirteen years old, pregnant, and permanently damaged…

“My life ended in that basement. It’s just that my body forgot to die for some reason.”

We meet her ten years later. She often has suicidal thoughts, she abuses drugs and alcohol, and she is alone – very alone. She works in a Seattle grocery store by day and at night she works as a bartender in a strip club. She lives a solitary life broken by episodes of being high. She wears long sleeved clothing and boots all the time to hide the scars on her wrists and ankles.  She trusts no one and alienates anyone who tries to befriend her.

Then one day she sees a flyer with the photo of another ten year old girl who is missing. The girl reminds her of herself.

The detective on the case is Sean Ortiz. The very same detective who found Laine on the roadside after she was released at age thirteen. The first face she saw after years in captivity.

If you like reading novels that explore the darker side of human nature, this just might be the book for you. With themes of abduction, rape, drug abuse, and more, this novel won’t leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling that is for sure.

The rainy Seattle area setting was perfect as the setting exacerbated the dark subject matter.

Considering this was the author’s debut novel, I thought the writing was outstanding. The book was dark yes, but the pace was fast and the characters well rendered. Sad, to the point of despair – yet even though we cannot fully understand the protagonist’s psyche, we can empathize with her – and we do.

If you like novels that depict very flawed characters, I’m sure you will enjoy “Girl Last Seen”. Laine is one of the most flawed protagonists I’ve read recently – and that is saying something.

I found myself riveted to the book, much to my dismay at times. It was SO dark, so twisted…  Now I find myself very much looking forward to reading this author’s other two novels. They are both on my TBR. 

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing who provided my with a complimentary digital copy of this novel via NetGalley. My apologies to them for taking such a long time to read and review it.

Nina Laurin is the author of two bestselling psychological thrillers, both out with Grand Central Publishing. Arriving in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, she speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English, but writes her novels in English. She wrote her first novel while getting her creative writing degree from Concordia University, and GIRL LAST SEEN was published a year later in 2017. The follow-up, WHAT MY SISTER KNEW, came out on June 19th 2018 to critical acclaim. Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she’s always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.

Nina Laurin was interviewed recently in “The Big Thrill” magazine. Check out that interview here.

Follow Nina Laurin on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Canadian fiction, debut novels, NetGalley, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“The Light Keeper” by Cole Moreton – Book Review

“The stories we tell define us. So do the stories we don’t tell and the ones we never finish.”

Sarah and Jack Bramer are a young couple who are desperate to have a child. Or at least Sarah is… After seven years of disappointment, their relationship has reached a crisis point. Sarah is a mixed race British woman. Jack is an American. Lately, his love for her has taken a sour turn. Sarah knows that this is her last chance to become pregnant. She wants to know, yet she doesn’t …. She runs away to her favourite place on the South Downs to come to terms with her rampant emotions. Jack, goes in search of her. He is distraught, manic, and increasingly desperate.

His name is Gabriel Keane, but they call him the ‘Keeper’. A man in his forties, he lives alone in a decommissioned lighthouse located at Beachy Head, East Sussex. He is a raggedy, handsome, and battered man.

The Keeper does not keep a light. He keeps sorrow, heartache, and a crippling sadness. He mourns for his love – Maria an artist, who went by the name of Rí (rhymes with free).

“It’s so hard to be here without her, but he can’t leave, because she is still here, at least in his head. His heart. Her things in the tower, the art she made.”

Before he came here, the Keeper was a war correspondent, then an investigative journalist. Now, he questions no one. All of the sad stories he keeps locked away in his mind. From long experience, he is a good listener.

When the grieving Keeper meets up with the emotional fragile Sarah, both lives will be forever changed.

The place. The striking white chalk cliffs of the South Downs. A place where people come to admire the beauty. A place where others come to end their lives. In fact, this area is the third most common suicide location in the world! So many people come to this area to commit suicide that there are regular patrols to try to locate and stop potential cliff jumpers.

What a delightful surprise this novel was. Slow-paced, literary fiction that cover themes of loss, hope, childlessness, suicide, and most of all… the ways that grief and bereavement can shape a life.

The characters are written with deep empathy and compassion. The setting was rendered with affection which caused the reader to feel as if they are ‘there’.

“My place. There is a symmetry that appeals. The sea and the sky. The white and the green, the chalk and the down. The drop and the rise. Falling and rising.”

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who reads and cherishes moving, well-written, thoughtful, literary fiction.  Loved it!

Add this novel to your Goodreads TBR

The Light Keeper” will be available for purchase on August 15, 2019.  You can pre-order your copy today!

I received a complimentary digital copy of “The Light Keeper” from the publisher, Marylebone House, via NetGalley in consideration of my review.

Cole Moreton is an award-winning British interviewer, writer and broadcaster exploring who we are and what we believe in. He writes, talks and tells stories about the arts, politics, cultural identity, faith, spirituality and life, but above all, people.

His Radio 4 series The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away told the story of a modern medical miracle and won Audio Moment of the Year at the Arias and Best Writing at the World’s Best Radio awards in New York. It also became a book and stage show. He won bronze for Best Speech Presenter at the Audio Production Awards in 2018.

His debut novel (and fifth book), “The Light Keeper” will be published in August 2019.

Follow Cole Moreton on Twitter or contact him via email: colemoreton@gmail.com

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Literary fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Cover Love: part 77 – Barns

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.

In my 77th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that have barns on their covers.

One might assume that books with barns on the cover would be pastoral fiction, but there are several genres included here.  You’ll find mysteries, women’s fiction, horror, literary fiction, thrillers, and historical fiction.   Enjoy!

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.This last book, “The Auctioneer” by Joan Samson, is a book I read many, many, years ago. It remains in my memory as one of the most chilling books I’ve ever read.  It would be a perfect October read.

You might just find your next favorite book!

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

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 15 Comments

“Stone Cold Heart” by Caz Frear – Book Review

“I’ve become so adept at fooling people that sometimes I even fool myself.”

Detective Constable Cat Kinsella lives alone in South London – across the river from the pub where she grew up.  She loves her job almost as much as she loves her home city. She loves her boyfriend, Aiden Doyle, even more than both of those.  Cat is always cognizant of the fact that she has kept vital secrets from those she works with. Secrets, that if revealed might jeopardize her police career.

Naomi Lockhart, the victim, was a twenty-two year old Australian girl who came to London for adventure. She worked as a PA to Joseph Madden’s sister-in-law. Young and  quiet, Naomi had recently dyed her hair an attention getting lilac colour in order to overcome her shyness.

Joseph Madden, the key suspect in Naomi’s murder, is a serial liar, a narcissist, a fantasist, and a womanizer. He is an odious man who likes to control others, who aspires to be more important than everyone else.

I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s “Sweet Little Lies” which I read in May of this year. Therefore, when I was approved by HarperCollins to read the second novel in the series I was thrilled. Rightly so, as I enjoyed this title even MORE than the first one.

The protagonist, twenty-seven year old police constable Cat Kinsella is a refreshing change as most police procedurals feature more seasoned police with higher ranks than Cat’s. Also, Cat hides her transgressions from her police team. She is very secretive, and valiantly tries to keep her home and work life completely separate. With little success. Her fear of her superiors finding out her ‘secrets’ add a layer of tension over the day-to-day investigations.

Cat’s family, like a lot of families, is quite dysfunctional. She is estranged from her Dad who has some worrisome connections to the criminals it is her job to apprehend. She has little in common with her older sister Jacqui, and she outright dislikes her brother Noel, and she adores her young nephew Finn.

Aiden Doyle, Cat’s Irish boyfriend, is the love of her life. She must keep her relationship secret from her family due to past family transgressions.

Cat works out of Holborn Police Station. Her police family are an interesting lot. Detective Sergeant Luigi Parnell (who she calls her ‘work-Dad’) , and her diminutive yet commanding Detective Chief Inspector (who is aptly named Steele), add interest to Cat’s daily life.  DCI Steele, is greatly admired by Cat who views her as a mentor.

“Me and Steele doing an interview. Like duetting with your favourite pop star and them insisting you sing the lead.”

All the characters in the novel are fully fleshed out. So much so that you feel you can vividly imagine them and almost hear their voices. I particularly enjoyed the witty banter between the colleagues.

A true police procedural, the narrative dealt heavily on the ‘procedure’ aspect. We, the readers are privy to how the police hypothesize while trying to think out the logistics of their case. Also, the novel included police interviews and we are privy to how the police approached these with the aim of getting at the truth, so as to ultimately get a conviction.

I really enjoyed the writing style which reminded me of a cross between Susie Steiner and Angela Marsons. Brilliant plotting, well rendered characters, and a very engaging protagonist make this a stand-out read. Now I cannot wait for the third installment in the series.

Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

Caz Frear grew up in Coventry, England, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the second finally came true. She has a degree in History & Politics, and when she’s not agonizing over snappy dialogue or incisive prose, she can be found shouting at Arsenal football matches or holding court in the pub on topics she knows nothing about.

Follow Caz Frear on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

ELEVEN well-known books that were inspired by dreams

Introduction by Brigid Ludwig

Did you know that Stephen King dreamed the entire plot of ‘Misery’ on a plane?

If you’ve ever been unable to put a great book down, you know how easy it is to get lost in a story. The interesting characters, the fascinating plot points, and enthralling description can keep you turning page after page. Authors work very hard to craft compelling stories that their readers will not only enjoy, but love. For many this takes years of hard work and planning. It may even mean hundreds of rejections, thousands of edits and loads of re-writing. For a lucky few, however, they don’t have to work so hard at all.

Authors of famous books like Frankenstein and Jane Eyre claim to have come up with the ideas for their novels in their dreams. And these aren’t the only cases, either. You’d be surprised how many famous books throughout history began as dreams. It makes sense. Dreams are often a reflection of what we most often think about, so it makes sense that authors who are trying to come up with fresh ideas and unique twists might have their best epiphanies in their dreams.

For a full list of books that began as dreams, or for some tips on how to leverage creative ideas for your own projects, check out this infographic below by Sleep Advisor:

Posted in Authors, infographics | Tagged | 20 Comments

2019 – Halfway reflections on my TBR : Part 2

Halfway through the year and I’m starting to wonder how I will get all the reading done that I really want to do. So far, I’ve read 58 books in 2019.

Yesterday I shared ten titles that I want to read that I don’t have any review commitments for. So… today I thought I would share TEN TITLES that I really want to read this year that I DO HAVE commitments to review. Titles that I am particularly looking forward to reading.

Have you read any of these fantastic titles?  Do you have plans to?

Posted in Anticipated titles | Tagged | 10 Comments

2019 – Halfway reflections on my TBR : Part 1

Halfway through the year and I’m starting to wonder how I will get all the reading done that I really want to do. So far, I’ve read 57 books in 2019. Many of the 57 were absolutely great reads. Near, perhaps even at the top of my list of favourites so far was “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. Have you read it yet?

After reading some excellent reviews of “The Whisper Man” by my fellow bloggers, I realized that there are several titles that I want to read before year’s end.  Titles that I don’t have review commitments for, so ones that I usually ignore in favour of those that I DO have review commitments for.

I thought I would share TEN TITLES that I really want to read this year. Just because they greatly appeal to me personally. Titles that I have no commitment to review, but will review of course, as I review everything I read.

  1. The Whisper Man” by Alex North

2.”Deadland” by William Shaw

3. “Dirty Little Secrets” by Jo Spain

4. “Lying in Wait” by Liz Nugent



5. “The Murder of Harriet Monckton” by Elizabeth Haynes

6. “A Gift for Dying” by M.J. Arlidge

7. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

8. “Breakers” by Doug Johnstone

9. “Rubbernecker” by Belinda Bauer

10. “Dead End” by Rachel Lynch

Have you read any of these fantastic titles?  Do you find yourself conflicted about balancing those books you want to read for personal reasons and those you have review commitments for?

Posted in Anticipated titles, Choosing what to read next | Tagged | 12 Comments

Hello July – Fictionophile updates

Many of you have inquired about my new little grandson, and I’m happy to report he is improving daily. Our family went through many sleepless nights and worry-ridden, stress-filled days following his surgery, but he has turned out to be a little fighter.

On May 28th my 34-year-old son was rushed to hospital with acute appendicitis. He was operated on at 7:00 am.  Meanwhile, my daughter-in-law, his wife, was undergoing a cesarean section to deliver their first child, and my first grandchild, a boy. This was tragic timing as the baby was one month premature and was in breech position.

My son was distraught that he couldn’t be with his wife during the birth. They were in different hospitals.  Though things were a little rocky at first, all seemed mostly well with the baby.

My son, discharged from hospital just six hours after surgery due to these special circumstances, met his son for the first time.

Since then, the baby has undergone surgery to have a portion of his bowel removed. Tragic for him, his loving mum and dad, and his doting grandparents.  It was a waiting game, to see how his recovery would go. As of June 1st, he was not eating, or breathing, on his own.

But, with the strength that only tiny people seem to have, he rallied.

The first week after surgery was very tense for those who loved him.

But now, he is one month old. He has made terrific strides in his recovery! Remember, he was one month premature, so really he is just due to be born now!

And… I’m delighted to report that on Tuesday, June 25th, he was released from hospital!

Thanks for all of your kind and caring comments. I appreciated each and every one.

As for the blog, I’ve been quite remiss in answering your comments and also I’ve not visited as many of your blogs as I usually do.  Hopefully this will improve in the near future.

I did manage to get a vegetable garden put in at our cottage. And flower gardens of course…

Now, I’m hoping to be able to spend more time with our little grandson, work in the garden, and of course read and attempt to fulfill my myriad review commitments.

Happy summer everyone!  And to those who live in the great country of Canada like I do,

Happy Canada Day!

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged | 43 Comments

“Dead Souls” by Angela Marsons – Book Review #MarsonsOfTheMonth

For some time now I have noticed that the D.I. Kim Stone series has been highly praised by my fellow book bloggers. Therefore, I decided that despite my lengthy TBR, I would read the series in its entirety, one title every month. What a wise decision I made!

D.I. Kim Stone – An acerbic, brusque, and driven young woman who works as a Detective Inspector for the West Midlands Police, the second largest police force in the country. She is socially inept, and has been known to break the rules, as well as to disregard instructions and protocols in her search for justice. An insomniac, she is fueled by nervous energy and lots of coffee, and is beautiful, but she works hard to hide it. She is 34 years old, brilliant, hot-headed, and damaged. As a child, she suffered horribly, and was shunted from foster home to foster home. Only once did she experience a nurturing, loving relationship – and that was very short lived…. Now, when not working, her favourite thing to do is work at restoring vintage motorbikes. Bikes are her passion, and she uses a Kawasaki Ninja as her regular form of transport.

Other than her second in command, Bryant, she is friendless. Her one real weakness is her fondness for her adopted dog, Barney.

“Barney wasn’t keen on other people and certainly not on other dogs. Kim often wondered what had happened in his early years to make him such a complex little character. She supposed he wondered the same thing about her.”

Her team respect her and are very loyal.

Police team

D.S. Bryant, twelve years her senior, is Kim’s partner and dearest friend. He is married and the father of daughters.
D.S. Kevin Dawson, young, vain, fit, and impulsive. Each book in the series shows his growing potential to be a great police officer. This time he works directly with Bryant in Kim’s absence.
Constable Stacy Wood, a diligent and hard-working local girl who excels at online research and data-mining which is often invaluable to the team’s success. Stacy is black – and because of this she plays a pivotal role in this novel.
D.C.I. Woodward (Woody) is Kim’s long-suffering superior. Like the rest of her team, he is loyal and stands up for her when the higher-ups would have her removed from the case. In this novel, Woody assigns Kim to work with a neighboring police force and leave her team to fend for themselves.

In DI Kim Stone’s sixth outing we find her working a cold case alongside a former colleague.  Some human bones have been found and they are located on the border of two police jurisdictions. Despite years of animosity, Kim is ordered to work with Travis, the DCI of the neighboring police force, in a joint investigation.

Meanwhile, Kim’s team are investigating a recent spate of hate crimes. Blacks, Polish, Pakistanis, Gays, no one is exempt. Bryant and Dawson are out in the field, while Stacy Wood is working at the office behind her computer screen. She resents the attitude of her co-workers who want to shelter her from the ugliness of the case because she is black. She investigates on her own, without telling her co-workers or her superiors. This will prove to be a grave mistake on her part…

The narrative of “Dead Souls” alternates between the cases of Kim and Travis, and that of Bryant and Dawson.

Kim is striving to understand why she and Travis have been unable to get along despite the fact that they were once friends and partners on the job.

The two cases converge when DS Stacey Wood is abducted.

This sixth novel in the series has proved to be a worthy successor to the first five.  It was interesting to see how Kim’s team manage to work without her. At the same time, it shows a little more of Kim’s history before we met her in the first book.

This novel exemplified the intolerance possible in human interaction. It opened my eyes to just how evil we can be to each other… It spoke to racism and xenophobia.

“The internet makes it much easier to hate”.

As I finished this sixth novel in the series, I felt certain that this entire series is one I will certainly recommend to all lovers of gritty crime fiction. Lucky for me I purchased the entire series in order that I might read one installment every month for my “Marsons of the Month” blog series. I look forward to reading the seventh book, “Broken Bones” in July. Oh, and in case you didn’t already guess… “Dead Souls” is highly recommended by me.

I purchased “Dead Souls“ in Kindle format.

Angela Marsons discovered her love of writing at Primary School. She wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner, she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries. She self-published two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
After many, many submissions she signed an eight book deal with Bookouture as their first crime author. Her D.I. Kim Stone novels have sold 3 million copies.

Angela Marsons is from Brierley Hill in the West Midlands and is a former security guard at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. She continues to live in the Black Country with her partner and their bouncy Labrador and potty-mouthed parrot.

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookouture, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fictionophile’s June 2019 #Bookhaul

Although I’ve been trying to curtail (or at least cut down) on how many books I add to my review commitment queue – I find that I continually add more. I am weak…

During the month of June I amassed EIGHT more review commitments!

Six of those titles I got from NetGalley:

The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves

This is the first in a new series by one of my favourite authors. I’m really looking forward to this one!


Little Voices” by Vanessa Lillie

This is a ‘new-to-me’ author, but the blurb captured my interest.

The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell

I’ve so far never been disappointed by any of this author’s books. I love her writing and I’m greatly anticipating this read.

Ellie and the Harp Maker” by Hazel Prior

I’ve not yet read anything by this author, but I’ve read some reviews that have tempted me to request the book.

The Companion” by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Another author I’ve never read before. Again, it was reviews by my fellow book bloggers that spurred my interest in this novel.

Mosaic” by Caro Ramsay

I am auto-approved by Severn House so this was a temptation I couldn’t pass up.

As of today, here is my NetGalley feedback ratio standing:

The woman at Number 19” by J.A. Baker I got directly from Bloodhound Books in order that I could participate in the official blog tour on July 18th

I’ve read this author before and really enjoyed her writing.

I received “Missing in Wales” by Jenny O’Brien via Rachel’s Random Resources in order that I could participate in a blog tour on July 22nd

I’ve not read this author before, but frankly with this cover I was hooked.

And… because I don’t have anything to read…  LOL

I purchased TEN Kindle books from Amazon.ca

Ten books for an expenditure of $11.27 Cdn.  Not bad!











SO… eighteen more titles for my TBR in June. Have you read any of these? Do you plan to?  Do you think that adding eight review commitments in one month is too many?

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 21 Comments

“Holy Island” by L.J. Ross – Book Review

“People kill each other all over the world.” “Sure, but Lindisfarne — it’s holy.
It’s like killing someone in church.”

Holy Island” was the winner of a poll I created to let my fellow bloggers and followers vote on which police procedural series I should begin next. Well I have to say that you all have excellent taste in reading! For the third time, you have chosen for me a 5* read!

D.C.I. Ryan is recuperating on Lindisfarne, aka Holy Island. With only two hundred residents, the island is cut off from the mainland of Northumberland twice a day, at high tide. Ryan is on sabbatical after a case that saw his own sister dying in his arms. It is the week leading up to Christmas.

When a local woman, walking her dog, discovers the body of a young woman in the grounds of the ancient Priory, she runs to Ryan for help. There is no police presence on the island and Ryan is the closest thing she can think of.

After convincing D.C.S. Gregson, his superior at the Northumbria Police, that he is fit to be the senior investigating officer on the case, Ryan devotes 100% of his time and expertise to the murder case.

Given the strange markings on the girls body, in addition to where and how she was placed in the priory, his superior, Gregson, suggests that he needs an expert in ancient religions, symbolism, and ritual murder. He sends for Dr. Anna Taylor, a local girl who has been living off the island for some years.

Despite the fact that Ryan is leery at first, he and Anna find themselves both feeling a strong attraction for each other.

Then, when the murder investigation proceeds slowly, there is a second murder on Holy Island. Then a third…  All seemingly to be ‘ritual’ murders.

I plan to eagerly follow the D.C.I. Ryan series. The first novel has proven to be a well-balanced blend of police procedural with great characterization and just enough romance to make you even more invested in the plight of the characters.

The protagonist, D.C.I. Ryan was handsome, intelligent, and troubled. What more could you want?

The setting of Lindisfarne Island during the week before Christmas couldn’t be more atmospheric. Plus, it has the added bonus of making the mystery a sort of ‘locked room’ type affair because the island is cut off from the mainland during high tides twice each day. I personally find isolated settings a real draw when it comes to murder mysteries.

The story deals with the murders from the police point of view, while maintaining empathy for those more personally affected. The ancient religions of the area play a part in plot development, as does the small town dynamics. It was a fast-paced read with short chapters and pages that almost turned themselves.

And the epilogue… memorable, astounding, and totally unexpected. Marvelous.

As this series is now comprised of twelve novels, it would seem that I have a lot of enjoyable reading in store. Highly recommended to all readers who enjoy police procedurals, atmospheric settings, and just a sprinkle of romance.

I purchased a Kindle copy of the novel after learning that it was my poll winner.

L.J. Ross (Louise) is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over four million copies worldwide.

Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released further novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and a further nine #1 UK bestsellers. Louise has garnered an army of loyal readers through her storytelling and, thanks to them, several of her books (Cragside, Dark Skies, Seven Bridges, The Hermitage, Longstone, The Infirmary, The Moor and Penshaw) reached the coveted spot whilst only available to pre-order ahead of release.

Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and then abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a lawyer for a number of years until taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write. Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

In addition to her DCI Ryan series, Louise has created a new series of thriller novels based around the central character of ‘Dr Alexander Gregory’, whose work as a psychological profiler takes him around the world, available at the end of 2019. She is also writing several standalone romantic suspense novels featuring strong female protagonists which will be available in 2020.

Follow L.J. Ross on Twitter

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Christmas, Favorite books, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Cover Love: part 76 – Daisies

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.

In my 76th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that have daisies on their covers.

One might assume that books with daisies on the cover would be light-hearted fiction, but there are several genres included here.  Along with women’s fiction, there are thrillers, romances, and historical fiction.   Enjoy!

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from Goodreads.
You might just find your next favorite book!

Are you tempted by any of these covers?
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 75 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 9 Comments

Guest Post – N. Lombardi Jr. discusses the story behind his latest novel “Justice Gone”

Having written two novels which were both cross-cultural adventure stories, and seeing them flop, I realized that I was not conscious of the current interests of today’s readership. I knew I had to write something that would have general appeal in order to attract book lovers without producing merely trendy pulp fiction (yet avoid esoteric literary prose) in order to achieve reasonable sales, not necessarily for commercial success, but to attain the affirmation I was seeking. Justice Gone, while still not yet generating impressive sales figures, did at least assert I was on the right track, as it has just won the National Indie Excellency Award, and is currently being considered for two more fiction prizes.

I can’t recall exactly how I came across this story: a homeless man beaten to death by police. What struck me about this incident were a number of details that warranted taking note of. For one, the man was Caucasian, and I had already been conditioned by the news media that African-Americans were the chief victims of police actions involving excessive force. Secondly, the unfortunate individual was not a violent thug nor hardened criminal, but a rather frail person whose only offence was that he was an eyesore. Shirtless, with an unkempt beard, his crime was loitering.  And of course, the manner of his death, being pummeled to death, stands notoriously apart from the usual police shootings.

I thought to transform the victim in the novel into an African American, but ultimately decided I should stick closer to the real story, and not be too exploitive of current events involving police sanctioned racism. I also wanted to support the views of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, when he stated that police brutality was a class problem, not solely a race problem.

The story also raises the question concerning the nature of justice. Is vigilante-style behavior an answer to our legal system? How does the legal system work? What role do ordinary citizens play, and to what degree is the system politicized?

The novel makes no attempt to beat the reader over the head with moral messages, but tries to present an engrossing story with a cinematic flavor. I hope it accomplished at least that much.

The blurb:

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Visit his Goodreads page

Visit his Facebook page.

Posted in Authors, Guest post, Legal thrillers | Tagged , | 4 Comments