Banish the Backlist 2020 – a bookblogger self-challenge

Twenty BACKLIST titles I plan to read in 2020:Although I hate to make New Year’s resolutions, I have promised myself that I will seriously tackle my lengthy backlist of review commitments in 2020. Time flies. I’m not sure how I’ve been so remiss as I should have had these titles read and reviewed long ago…
Anyway, here are TWENTY of my personal backlist titles that I want to make sure I read in 2020:

1. “Something to Hide” by Deborah Moggach


2. “In the Silence” by M.R. MacKenzie


3. “I Know My Name” by C.J. Cooke


4. “The Marsh King’s Daughter” by Karen Dionne


5. “A Bad, Bad Thing” by Elena Forbes


6. “Broken Promise” by Linwood Barclay


7. “Weycombe” by G.M. Malliet


8. “The Sisters” by Claire Douglas


9. “99 Red Balloons” by Elisabeth Carpenter


10. “The English Boys” by Julia Thomas


11. “Dead and Gone” by D.L. Michaels


12. “The New Neighbors” by Simon Lelic


13. “Witness” by Caroline Mitchell


14. “The Birds that Stay” by Ann Lambert


15. “A Murder of Crows” by Ian Skewis


16. “What my Sister Knew” by Nina Laurin


17. “All These Perfect Strangers” by Aoife Clifford


18. “The Betrayals” by Fiona Neill


19. “Tell Me A Secret” by Samantha Hayes


20. “Dear Amy” by Helen Callaghan


Have YOU left any titles simmering on your ‘backlist‘ burner for too long?  Join me and try to BANISH YOUR BACKLIST in 2020. Go on… I dare you! Find 20 of your backlist titles and commit to reading them this year.

Posted in Anticipated titles, reading challenges | Tagged , | 24 Comments

December 2019 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 December of 2019 I purchased FOURTEEN new ebooks from Amazon.ca

The total of my expenditure for these 14 novels was $ 14.23 Cdn.  If you do the math and average out the price, that works out to be about $ 1.02 each !!!  BARGAIN!

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.

$1.99


$1.32


.99¢


.99¢


FREE


.99¢


.99¢


$1.69


$1.31


.99¢


.99¢


.99¢


.99¢


FREE

Don’t be mislead into thinking that FREE Kindle books are not great reads. Remember, they often put first of series on sale at bargain prices (or free) to introduce readers to the series. Also, sometimes the publisher just wants to ‘push’ a certain author. Check out the Kindle deals available to you in your region. And no… I am NOT affiliated with Amazon in any way.

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 , | 17 Comments

Fictionophile’s December 2019 Book Haul

Despite my valiant efforts to NOT take on any more review commitments…

Here are the SEVEN new titles I received in December.

From Edelweiss I downloaded TWO new titles:

Seven Lies” by Elizabeth Kay (published by Pamela Dorman Books)
ISBN: 9781984879714


The Dilemma” by B.A. Paris (published by St. Martin’s Press)
ISBN 9781250151360

AND from NetGalley, I received FIVE new titles:

NetGalley feeds my reader

Vanishing Girls” by Lisa Regan (published by Grand Central Publishing)
ISBN: 9781538734117


Please See Us” by Caitlin Mullen (published by Gallery Books)
ISBN: 9781982127480


Nine Elms” by Robert Bryndza (published by Thomas & Mercer)
ISBN: 9781542005685


The Crossing” by Matt Brolly (published by Thomas & Mercer)
ISBN: 9781542006156


The Other Mrs.” by Mary Kubica (published by Park Row/Harlequin Trade)
ISBN: 9780778369110


Do any of these seven titles pique your interest?

Also, this month, I will be posting two cover reveals for

on January 11th I’ll be revealing the cover for “Cottage in a Cornish Cove” by Cass Grafton

and on January 22nd I’ll be revealing the cover for “The Cottage on Wildflower Lane” by Liz Davies

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Fictionophile’s Top 20 Reads of 2019 #GreatReads #BookRecommendations

This is, hands down, the most difficult post of the year to write. In 2019 I read 108 novels. Many of them were superb reads and it was VERY hard to narrow my favourites down to twenty titles. Here they are in no particular order – and not all of these were published in 2019.

 

Here are links to my reviews of my TOP TWENTY reads of 2019:

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
  2. The Whisper Man” by Alex North
  3. The Lies We Hide” by S.E. Lynes
  4. Breakers” by Doug Johnstone
  5. Deadland” by William Shaw
  6. Blood Orange” by Harriet Tyce
  7. The Woman at Number 19” by J.A. Baker
  8. The Scholar” by Dervla McTiernan
  9. The Secretary” by Renee Knight
  10. Scared to Breathe” by Kerena Swan
  11. The Woman in the Dark” by Vanessa Savage
  12. The Lying Room” by Nicci French
  13. The Nanny” by Gilly MacMillan
  14. Watching You” by Lisa Jewell
  15. The Lightkeeper” by Cole Moreton
  16. Her Sister’s Bones” by Geraldine Hogan
  17. Perfect Remains” by Helen Fields
  18. For Reasons Unknown” by Michael Wood
  19. The Peacock Summer” by Hannah Richell
  20. How Will I Know You?” by Jessica Treadway

And, of these 20 favourites, I managed to cull them down to FOUR of my very favourites:

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic DI Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons. I attempted to read one book in the series every month in 2019 for my #MarsonsOfTheMonth and can honestly say it is a stellar crime series. If you are a crime fiction aficionado, then you must read this series!

I’m currently reading #10 in the series, “Dead Memories” which will be my last read of 2019. What a way to end the year!

How was YOUR reading year?

Have you read any of my favourites?

Posted in Favorite books, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 29 Comments

“The Whisper Man” by Alex North – #BookReview #Thriller @CeladonBooks @writer_north

“If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.”

Tom Kennedy and his seven-year-old son Jake, move to the village of Featherbank to escape the traumatic memories contained within their old house. Tom’s wife and Jake’s mother, Sarah died in that house a short ten months ago – and they both are still reeling with grief. Featherbank sounds like a positive change for them both.

However… it is possible they chose the wrong village. Twenty years ago, young boys had gone missing and were later murdered. The man responsible is now in prison. Yet… now another young boy has disappeared. An accomplice of the first murderer? A copycat?

Jake hears a man whispering outside his bedroom window.  Tom awakens one night to hear Jake talking to someone outside their front door. That someone is reaching through the letter slot…

The police in charge of the missing boys’ investigation are at their wits end. DI Amanda Beck is officially in charge, but DI Pete Willis is called in because he was on the case of the first spate of murders twenty years ago… He has never gotten over the case despite the fact that the perpetrator was arrested and imprisoned.

Tom is distraught. He and Jake seem to be drifting apart. Jake talks to his imaginary friend, a little girl. Also, Jake seems to know things about this house that he couldn’t possibly know. He is getting into trouble at his new school.

Then, to make matters worse, Tom learns that the man who lived in the house before them was murdered…

I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for this novel, so thought I just had to read it in 2019. I’m SO glad I did. It delivered on every level and I can honestly say that all of the hype surrounding it was very well deserved.

The characters, both of Tom and Jake Kennedy and the police officers were all fully fleshed out and were empathetic. The creepy tone of the story was consistent throughout which kept me turning the pages long past my bedtime. I wanted to finish the book to find out how it was resolved, yet… at the same time, I didn’t want it to end because it was SUCH a good book. What a dilemma!

Told via multiple points of view, the story gives a well-rounded rendition of events.

DI Pete Willis, who is a sad man with many regrets both personal and professional. Willis has been battling alcoholism most of his adult life. He feels like a failure and thinks his life has been worthless. (BTW… my favourite character in the book)

DI Amanda Beck, a hard-working detective who works long hours and is driven to succeed in apprehending the person who took a young boy named Neil Spencer. She admires Pete Willis, but fears that this case will break him – once and for all…

Tom Kennedy, a novelist who is struggling with his raw grief while trying to be a single father to his son.

Jake Kennedy, a precocious and clever little boy who thinks too much, misses his Mom, and would rather draw and read than play outside with other children.

The Whisper Man, a man of damaged psyche, traumatic childhood, and a deranged mind.

Besides being a mesmerizing crime thriller, this novel is a story about fathers and sons. Fathers present, fathers absent, sons who are loved, and sons who crave love. A pervading sense of menace is prevalent throughout the entire story.

“The Whisper Man” is a successful melding of psychological thriller, police procedural, and domestic drama.

I’m confident that Alex North will have a long and illustrious career as a novelist and I am eagerly anticipating his next novel which is, as of today, still untitled. Kudos on your debut novel Alex North! Well done!  Highly recommended!

I wanted to make sure I got to read a copy of this novel before the end of the year. I purchased a Kindle copy. SO glad I did!

Celadon talked with North about his writing routine, father-son relationships, and the incredible buzz around this dark, suspenseful thriller.

Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department. “The Whisper Man” is his debut novel.

Follow Alex North on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Favorite books, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

“Christmas at the Edge of the World” by Kate Hewitt – Book Review

Laurel West is thirty-five years old. She lives in York with her cat Mistral for company. She hasn’t given up on love exactly, but she is content with her life.

When Laurel’s sister contacts her with a plea to look after her fourteen year old son Zac while she is in rehab, Laurel’s world is turned upside down.  Laurel and Abby have been mostly estranged for years now, and she barely knows Zac. She travels to London to stay with Zac, but her sister’s flat seems austere and cold after her cozy home in York. Zac gets thrown out of the school he attends, he is sullen and uncommunicative, and he is glued to his smartphone.  Laurel comes up with the bright idea of taking Zac out of his unhealthy environment and travelling to Orkney, where Laurel’s aunt lives. There they might get to know one another, and with only days to go before Christmas, perhaps Laurel can show Zac just what Christmas should be. And, as an added bonus, there is no wifi signal at the cottage so Zac just might have to do something other than play with his phone.

But Laurel’s vision of the perfect holiday retreat is soon shattered. Her aunt isn’t there and the cottage has been closed up for weeks. It would seem she has her work cut out to make this cottage as cozy as she remembered from her own childhood…

You can usually depend on Kate Hewitt to write a heart-warming, and romantic story and she has delivered both with this novella.

The characters and the setting were very vividly portrayed. Though you could predict the ending, it was nonetheless an enjoyable tale. Archie, the sheep farmer, was a positively yummy romantic interest.

This charming Christmas romance will appeal strongly to those who prefer to read romantic fiction.  The story was perhaps more romantically driven than my usual reading material.  That being said, I really enjoyed the characters and the setting AND, most importantly, it provided me with some enjoyable escapist fiction during this busy holiday season. Recommended!

This novella length (165 pages) book was published by Tule Publishing. I purchased it in Kindle format from Amazon.ca     ASIN: B07WJRFNNG

written-with-us-and-british-flagkate-hewittKate Hewitt was born in Pennsylvania, went to college in Vermont, and has spent summers in the Canadian wilderness. After several years as a diehard New Yorker, she now lives in the lovely Cotswolds in England with her husband, five young children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.

You can follow her musings on village life at her blog, http://www.acumbrianlife.blogspot.co.uk.

or on Twitter @katehewitt1

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Christmas, Love stories, Novellas, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

What’s in a Name? – Reading Challenge – 2020

The What’s In A Name Challenge is being hosted again for 2020 by Andrea at Carolina Book Nook.  Andrea took over in 2019 from Charlie at The Worm Hole who hosted previous years’ challenges.

  • The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.
  • Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each of the six categories.
  • Don’t use the same book for more than one category.
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!
  • You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.

Visit Carolina Book Nook’s post to sign up.

The categories below are links to each category sign up link.  Add your book review for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.

Here are the categories for 2020 – followed by the book that I plan to read to complete the challenge:

 

 

 

I heard of this challenge via Carla’s post on Carla Loves To Read.

I’m participating in FOUR reading challenges in 2020.

  1. My annual Goodreads Reading Challenge.
  2. My annual March challenge “Reading Ireland“.
  3. My own, ‘Bookbloggers Fiction Reading Challenge.
  4. this one ‘What’s in a Name? 2020 Reading Challenge.

How many challenges are YOU signing up for in 2020?

As for my 2019 challenges?

I pledged to read 100 books for my Goodreads Challenge in 2019 and I am now reading my 108th book.

I pledged to read five historical fiction novels for the Historical Fiction Challenge. I completed this challenge by reading:

  1. The Widows” by Jess Montgomery
  2. Blackberry & Wild Rose” by Sonia Velton
  3. The Phantom Tree” by Nicola Cornick
  4. The Poison Thread” by Laura Purcell
  5. The Binding” by Bridget Collins

In 2019 I read eleven novels set in Ireland. Six of them I read in March for the Reading Ireland Challenge.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Happy Reading!

Posted in Anticipated titles, reading challenges | Tagged | 13 Comments

Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – from Nova Scotia, Canada

I’ll be away from my computer for a few days celebrating with my family. This year we have a LOT to celebrate.  A new baby grandson, a new job for my daughter (who has a Christmas Eve birthday), and much joy and laughter to look back on.

Meanwhile, I’m sending out wishes that everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.

and just because….

a photo of our favourite little Santa’s Helper

Thanks for your wonderful support over the past year!

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged | 41 Comments

“Why She Ran” by Geraldine Hogan – Book Review

Eleanor Marshall, a troubled teenager witnesses a brutal murder and goes on the run to escape from the confines of Curlew Hall, the facility where she resides with other ‘problem’ teens.

The main issue for the police is that not only do they want to find her because she may have witnessed (or perpetrated?) a brutal attack, but she might also be in dire need of medical attention as she suffers from epilepsy. The woods where they believe her to be is unforgiving.

The problems for Iris and her team are many. Finding young Eleanor safe and sound. Discovering who killed the care worker Rachel McDermott, while all the time being cognizant of the fact that Eleanor’s father is a rich and powerful man who has connections throughout Limerick – Ireland’s most dangerous city.

The Corbally Murder Team:

D.S. Iris Locke – Twenty-nine years old and a born policewoman. Single, she is devoted to her career and has always wanted to follow in her esteemed father’s footsteps. However, events from the first book in the series have turned her life upside down in such a fashion that she can no longer believe anything she once thought to be true…

This time out, still emotionally reeling from her previous case, Iris is put in as temporary Detective Inspector in the murder case of a young woman who worked at a facility that houses troubled teen girls.

D.S. Ben Slatterey – In his late fifties, Slatterey is a cynical, ‘old school’ copper who is devoted to the job in equal measure to his devotion to drink. His two obsessions has alienated him from his wife and daughter. He once got on Iris’s nerves, but she now knows that his curmudgeonly persona hides a keen intellect and a warm regard for her and her welfare. She, on the other hand, is respectful of  his work and his connections but more importantly is beginning to think of him as almost like family.

D.C. June Quinn – a diligent officer and a widow in her early fifties. The single mother of two teenage sons, she balances her home and work life quite admirably. She now tries to ‘look out’ for Ben Slatterey, though she tries to do this unobtrusively…

D.S. Tony Ahearn – an ambitious, fast-talking copper whom Iris feels is a ‘smarmy wanker’ who is not to be fully trusted.

D.I. Coleman Grady – has been seconded to Dublin for a case. Iris Locke is stepping in as his temporary replacement.


The second installment in the DS Iris Locke series was a more than worthy follow-up to the first. (My review of “Her Sisters Bones“) It was an example of the type of police procedural novel that I like most. An interesting ‘case’ for the police to work on and a lot of back story about the police officers themselves. I like getting to know the police team and becoming invested in their lives both at work and at home.

Characterization is key in this series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the added tidbits I learned about the characters in this second book.

I enjoyed the writing and the descriptions of the characters. “His voice had dipped further, his eyes as near puppy dog as any wolf can go.”

The title fits the book perfectly. The whole premise of the novel is for the reader to discover “Why She Ran“.

A novel whose main themes are the many permutations of ‘family’ and what avarice can cause some people to do, it is a police procedural that I can confidently recommend.

I now eagerly anticipate the third book in the series which just might find Iris at a new stage of her life.

Published by Bookouture. I purchased this novel in Kindle format on it’s publication day, Dec. 19th, and was delighted to be asked to participate in this blog tour.

ASIN: B07YB8ZS1B                                295 pages

Check out some of the other stops on this tour!

Geraldine Hogan (aka Faith Hogan) gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
Faith Hogan was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.  Her debut novel, ‘My Husband’s Wives,’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin.

Faith Hogan was born in Ireland and still lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children, and an overweight cat.

Follow this author on Twitter: @GerHogan

NOTE: This author uses the pen name Faith Hogan for her women’s fiction titles and Geraldine Hogan for her crime fiction titles.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Bookouture, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“The Secretary” by Renée Knight – Book Review

In her mid-twenties, Christine Butcher goes to work as a secretary for Mina Appleton, the heiress of a large supermarket chain. Christine is married and has a young daughter but her obsessive work ethic leaves her little time or thought for her family.

“I was always a better secretary than a mother”

Mina Appleton is a wealthy, entitled, ambitious, demanding yet charming woman whose moral ethic is sorely lacking and her own ‘image’ of paramount importance. She conducts her life like an egotistical dictator. She takes her upstanding family business and sullies it with her greed and cunning.

“Mina Appleton’s image has always been her most precious possession. A sacred object she’d do anything to protect. The rest of us paid the price.”

Over their eighteen years of working together the two women share many secrets – yet theirs is not a ‘friend’ relationship. Their relationship was not equal enough to be that of a friend. More like mentor/ingenue or, to be more accurate that of narcissist/enabler.

Back in June of 2015 I read and reviewed this author’s “Disclaimer” which I thoroughly enjoyed – therefore I was highly anticipating this novel to be of high quality. It was! “The Secretary” belies my notion that you have to ‘like’ at least one of the characters in a novel to truly enjoy it. This was a stellar read – yet I didn’t really like either of the main characters. Mind you, both women evoked emotion while I was reading it. Mina Appleton made me feel disgust and anger with her bullying, manipulative actions, while Christine Butcher made me feel impatient with her neediness, her spinelessness and blind devotion to her employer.

I admired Christine’s work ethic and her loyalty, however misplaced. Unfortunately she took these admirable traits to a whole other level which made her seem like a willing participant in her own victimization.

The settings in the novel were vividly rendered, the characters likewise. This would make a great movie. (Sandra Bullock would be great as Christine Butcher).

This was a novel that explores how a person’s childhood shapes the adult they will become. It also scrutinized the way that guilt and betrayal can warp the human psyche. It was a novel of betrayals and lies.

This is a ‘twisty’ thriller that doesn’t surrender its secrets until the last third of the book. I’m sure that most fans of the psychological thriller genre would enjoy this novel. Highly recommended! Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to reading Renée Knight’s next book.


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

ISBN: 9780062362353
304 pages

Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries before turning to writing. She has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy “Writing a Novel” course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Cover Love: part 84 – Typewriters

In my 84th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about typewriters on book covers. Although now an antiquated way to compose prose, the typewriter was for many years THE way to write letters, books, and any other important documents.

Though not all of these are mysteries, I realized while composing this post that there are a LOT of mysteries included here. Perhaps as a subliminal salute to the ‘golden age’ of mystery/Agatha Christie, et. al?

I’m of the vintage that learned to type on a typewriter. One of those old heavy black Remington models. Manual, no easy electric typewriters for me. LOL

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!

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

I couldn’t resist adding a quote from one of my favourite authors.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 17 Comments

Bookbloggers Fiction Reading Challenge for 2020 – #FFRC2020

It’s that time of year again folks. Reading Challenges are everywhere on the internet. Some are competitive, some are just for fun. Some have ‘link-ups’ where you can share your review, some are just for personal challenges so that you can read something you might not have ordinarily.

This year I’ve decided to create a Bookbloggers Fiction Reading Challenge.

The 4 rules are simple:

  1. You must read a fiction title that fills each criteria (any genre)
  2. Whenever possible, the books you use for the challenge should be ones that you already have on your TBR (as part of our ongoing TBR takedown)
  3. You snag the graphic below to use on your post to announce your intentions to take part in the challenge with a link back to this post.
  4. When you read and review a book for the challenge, post the link to your review on Twitter and add the hashtag #FFRC2020

At the end of each month I’ll attempt to write a post that includes links to the reviews provided with the Twitter hashtag #FFRC2020

REMEMBER!

If you don’t use the hashtag, I won’t be able to find your review to link to it.

All bookbloggers/booklovers welcome to take part. Have fun!


Here are my personal selections for this challenge:

 

And… if you are a glutton for reading challenges, here are many more that begin in January 2020. The Master List of Reading Challenges for 2020.

 

Posted in Choosing what to read next, reading challenges | Tagged , | 31 Comments

“Blackberry & Wild Rose” by Sonia Velton – Book Review

Inspired by the life of Anna Maria Garthwaite, “Blackberry & Wild Rose” is a fictional rendering of  the mid-eighteenth century silk industry in Spitalfields, London.

Esther Thorel – married into money and privilege, she is an Englishwoman in her late twenties.  Her husband Elias is a master silk weaver who married her to the displeasure of his Huguenot family. Vain and self-centered, he becomes increasingly dissatisfied with Esther when she fails to provide him with a child. Esther herself is an artist, but her talent is dismissed by her husband as the trivial pastime of a mere woman… Their marriage, which began with affection has turned into a convenience layered with cold contempt.

Sara Kemp – in her mid-teens, is coerced into prostitution by a wicked old woman who runs a brothel in a tavern. Sara seems to have been easily led, and assumes that she has got the fate that she deserves. Lacking in any self esteem, she accepts her lot in life – until… one of her ‘customers‘ almost kills her and opens her eyes to her dire predicament.

Sara earlier came to the notice of the lady, Esther Thorel. So she now escapes the brothel to work as a maid in the Thorel household thinking that perhaps she can earn back her reputation. Though the two women are like oil and water, they eventually come to form some mutual regard.

“Virtue had a price, which turned out to be relentless hard work and tedium”.

I thoroughly enjoyed my voyage to the past with Esther Thorel and Sara Kemp. Both were women who for various reasons were challenging to like, nonetheless their tragic story was compelling.

With themes of the appalling class divide, child labour, and lack of social support that was prevalent in the eighteenth century, the story speaks to the history of women while centering the story around the actual silk weavers revolts that took place in the 1760s.

The silk weavers laboured from sun-up until sundown to produce about a yard of silk. If someone cut a piece of silk it was considered serious enough to merit hanging.

Well written and well researched “Blackberry and Wild Rose” was an outstanding debut novel. The author took actual events and spun them into a fictional story which will delight readers who appreciate historical fiction. Highly recommended.


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

ISBN:  9781538507759
352 pages

Sonia Velton talks about the pioneering woman whose designs inspired her recently-published novel set among the silk weavers of Spitalfields, Blackberry and Wild Rose.

Sonia Velton grew up between the Bahamas and the UK. After graduating from university with a first class law degree, she qualified as a solicitor at an international law firm, later going on to specialise in discrimination law. Sonia relocated to the Middle East in 2006. Eight years and three children later she returned to the UK and now lives in Kent. Blackberry and Wild Rose, inspired by real characters and historical events, was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize as a work in progress, was longlisted for the Mslexia novel competition, and is Sonia’s first novel.

Follow Sonia Velton on Twitter

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Historical fiction | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Christmas titles on my TBR #festiveread

Finally! I’m starting to actually get in the mood for Christmas.  If I had my way, I’d be reading nothing BUT Christmasy titles from now until the 25th of December.

However… seeing as how I’m a bookblogger I feel that a) I should be reading some of the many titles I have review commitments for; and b) I should fit in a few more titles that were published this year before I compile my ‘best of’  list for 2019.

I am allowing myself ONE Christmas title though and it is “Christmas at the Edge of the World” by Kate Hewitt.Watch for my review of this title within the next two weeks.

Some of the other festive reads on my TBR are:

Perhaps you’ve read one or more of these titles – if so, let me know what you thought. They’ve been simmering on my TBR for a while now…

TWO Christmas themed titles that I HAVE READ and thoroughly enjoyed were:

Read my review of “Seven Days of Us

AND

Read my review of “A Snow Garden and other stories

Happy Christmas Reading everyone!

 

Posted in Anticipated titles, Christmas | Tagged | 11 Comments

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides – Book Review

Theo Faber contrives to work at a forensic psychiatric hospital in North London so that he might get the opportunity to work with Alicia Berenson. Her case is interesting in that following the murder of her husband, she has not spoken a word since. Now heavily medicated, the staff have all but given up on her…

Theo’s methods are more successful that those tried previously on Alicia and the two form a rapport, though mostly one-sided due to Alicia’s silence.

We learn about Theo’s home life. He is madly in love with his wife, though he discovers that she is being unfaithful…

The only way we know anything about Alicia is via her diary entries from the time leading up to her murdering her husband, whom she loved dearly.

I really wanted to make sure I read this book in 2019 as so many of my fellow readers thought so highly of it. I’m glad I did.

The author was inspired by the Euripedes story concerning Alcestis, who sacrificed herself to the Underworld then was ultimately restored to life, but mute.

The characters were interesting, though I wanted to learn more about Alicia. It seemed that Theo’s point of view dominated the novel.  The plot was compelling as I was interested in learning the reasons WHY Alicia was silent for so long and WHY she murdered the man she professed to love so much.

The writing held my attention throughout with the small exception of the middle of the book which slowed down a bit. The last third of the book fairly flew by. It was this last third of the book that increased my regard for the novel – as I do enjoy a good plot twist and there were a few good ones here.  That being said, I felt that these twists were not wholly unexpected and perhaps engineered for shock value?

Ultimately, this is a psychological thriller that I’ll remember for some time. One which will please a lot of readers of this genre. I think it would make an awesome movie, should they ever decide to do that. Recommended!

I purchased this novel in Kindle format. ASIN: B07D2C6J4K
Published by Celadon Books/ Macmillan Canada – 297 pages

Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother. He studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. His first novel is the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Silent Patient.

Follow Alex Michaelides on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments