Fictionophile’s MARCH 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

March turned out to be a productive month – reading wise. In the past month I’ve read twelve novels and two novellas.  There are many stellar reads here, and truth be told I enjoyed them all and none of them were disappointments.

My ‘Book of the Month‘ would have to be “Life Sentences” by Billy O’Callaghan. The novel speaks to the social injustices prevalent in Ireland in years past. It is also a story of Irish Catholic heritage and the strong bond between siblings, as well as that between parent and child. Highly recommended to those who like to read realistic, well-researched historical fiction. This book moved me like few others have.


I have three other favourites of the month – each highly different, but excellent reads. They are:

An Unwanted Guest” by Shari Lapena. A devilishly clever whodunit that kept me guessing. Loved it!

Exit” by Belinda Bauer. A quirky crime caper with liberal does of levity throughout. With a memorable and touching ending, this was… all in all, a great read.

Season of Second Chances” by Aimee Alexander. This is an uplifting and heart-warming read that was just exactly what I needed at the time. A novel of familial love, warm friendships, and fresh starts. Highly recommended women’s fiction!

Seven of these titles were read for ‘Reading Ireland Month‘ 2021.  I always enjoy a plethora of Irish fiction in March and this year my reads were particularly memorable.

I feel very lucky to have access to so many wonderful books. All the books above are reviewed here on the blog if you want to take a look.


Posted in Fictionophile report, Reading | Tagged , | 13 Comments

Fictionophile’s March 2021 #BookHaul #Bookbloggers #TBR

I’ve added seven review commitments to my TBR this month.

I received four of these titles from NetGalley.

Note! When I read the NetGalley description, I thought this was the first book in the series. Oh well, live and learn. I hate reading series out of order.

Note! I received a widget for this title in order to participate in a blog tour organized by Rachel’s Random Resources on April 25th

I have no commitment to review the titles I receive via ‘Amazon First Reads

Do any of these titles sound good to you?


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

“The Boatman’s Wife” by Noëlle Harrison – Book Review

Secrets. We all have them, yet some are more consequential than others. When young Lily Fitzgerald is widowed at the tender age of twenty-four, she discovers that her beloved husband has been harboring a serious secret indeed.

2017 – Lily is a lobster fisher who lives in Maine. All she has ever wanted to do was be out fishing in her father’s boat the Lily Mae. Because she didn’t go out on one particular day, her husband Connor (a cook) went in her stead. A freak storm came up and the boat was capsized. Connor, an inexperienced fisherman, was lost at sea.

Lily, wanting to let Connor’s grandmother back in Ireland know of his death, goes through his computer looking for her address.  Instead, she finds a disturbing email:

Bereft and distraught, with grief still raw, she travels from their home in Maine to the rugged coast of Western Ireland to try and find out what Connor was hiding from her.

1992 Niamh lives in Mullaghmore, a tiny village near the border with Northern Ireland. She and her mother Rosemary live alone after her father was shot and killed by terrorists. Her mother, Rosemary Kelly, takes his loss hard. After her father’s death, when she is only sixteen, she becomes involved with the IRA, a decision which will shape her life. Niamh meets and falls in love with an American man named Jesse who has come to Ireland to apprentice as a boat builder. She tries to sever her connections to the IRA, but her efforts are thwarted. She is a gunrunner – code name “The Boatman’s Wife“.  Feeling trapped and guilt ridden, she makes a profound decision.

This was a dual time-line story that grabbed me from the beginning. It was a story that evoked many emotions. You immediately assume you know how the two timelines will eventually come together, yet there are still surprises in store.

It seemed so unlikely that Connor, who seemed such a sympathetic character, could have a secret so serious that he would receive death threats. Mullaghmore, Connor’s tiny home town in Ireland seemed so beautiful, so benign, that it seemed implausible that someone who lived there could wish him ill. And more to the point, why, even after the residents of Mullaghmore know that Connor is dead, do they still threaten Lily and want her to leave?

Lily was such a strong character that it was difficult to read of her bereavement and suffering which was compounded by her anger at her father whom she blamed for Connor’s death.

The settings of this novel were two of my favourites. Anywhere near the sea is enticing to me as a setting and this one delivered twice – on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Besides being a tale of two women, their losses and their loves, it also contained more than a little suspense and intrigue. This is a story about the many stages of grief, of hope for the future, and of changed circumstances that inspire new beginnings.

Highly recommended! I enjoyed this story so much that I already have the author’s “Island Girls” loaded on my Kindle.

I chose to read this title as part of my Reading Ireland Month 2021 challenge after reading glowing reviews from my fellow bloggers Carla and Joanne.

Carla’s review   –   Joanne’s review

I purchased “The Boatman’s Wife” in Kindle format from

Published by Bookouture

ASIN: B08LVYJ47T –  296 pages  –  ISBN: 9781800191983

Noëlle Harrison is an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. Her first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 and was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of Me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.

In 2014 she was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.

Her books have been published in over 12 different countries. She is also published under the pen name Evie Blake and her Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.

She currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats.

Follow Noëlle Harrison on Twitter @NoelleHarrison


Posted in Book Reviews, Bookouture, Reading Ireland, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Want the old Classic WordPress editor back? Here’s how…

Well folks, I have to say that this morning was frustrating and traumatic for me. Any access to my old WP editor had vanished completely and I tried to write a book review. Anyone watching me would have laughed. I was almost literally pulling out my hair.

First off, I hate using ‘blocks’. Then, I found I couldn’t paste text into the new editor without using the old Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V commands. (That’s a step backward surely?) And don’t even get me started on trying to wrap my text around a graphic. GRRRRRRRR.

Another thing was I found it beyond annoying to try to use a graphic that was already in my media library. When I searched for it, it just kept scrolling and scrolling and I couldn’t even find the one I wanted. This is such a simple process with the classic editor.

I tried searching for a solution online and learned that to use the classic editor I had to install a ‘plug-in’ – so I downloaded the plug-in. Then… I learned that to install the plug-in I needed the ‘Business Plan’ of WordPress (which costs $ 396.00 per year or $33.00 per month)

I lost it completely. Then, in a moment of divine inspiration I went on Twitter to VENT. A lovely bookblogger friend of mine heard my plea and instructed me on how to regain access to the classic editor. She literally saved my life.

So huge kudos have to go to Janet  From First Page to Last blog. Janet spent hours figuring this problem out and generously shared the products of her efforts.  As I know many of my fellow bookbloggers are struggling with this issue as well, I thought I’d share what she told me.

All thanks must go to Janet Emson. If you want to thank her, here is her Twitter handle @JanetEmson

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…. the instructions:

Now when you click on ‘Posts’ you will be given the option to use the old classic editor!

Hope those of you who have not already figured this out for themselves find the information useful. I know that I’ll always be grateful to Janet…


Posted in Book bloggers, ramblings & miscellanea | 51 Comments

“Season of Second Chances” by Aimee Alexander – Book Review

Grace Sullivan left her small Irish village to go to university in Dublin. She wanted to follow in her beloved father’s footsteps and become a doctor. While in the big city she met and fell in love with Simon Willoughby, who went on to become a well renowned plastic surgeon. Unlike his charming public persona, Simon was a very different man within the walls of his home. He abused Grace, both physically and emotionally until she could take it no longer. Over months, she planned her escape.

With her teenage children, Jack and Holly, she goes back to the coastal village where she grew up. He father has recently retired because he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She will take his place in the small village surgery where the locals come to call her ‘Young Doctor Sullivan’ despite her objections and the fact that she is forty-seven years old.


The locals treat her coolly at first, thinking she has ‘notions’, and they do not know her family circumstances. Her children, used to living an affluent life in the city, have huge adjustments to make – starting over in a tiny village, and living a middle class life. They live with their grandfather now, a man whom they do not really know as their father frowned on visiting him. Their granddad, a widower, is lonely. Much to the chagrin of his grandchildren, he has none of the mod-cons the children are used to such as Wi-fi and Netflix.

Grace’s daughter Holly is adopted by a lovely border collie named Benji, and he plays a pivotal role in Holly’s acclimation to the village and to the entire Sullivan clan.

I loved this wonderful book! After reading the last page I felt bereft and wanted to return to the fictional Irish village of Killrowan again as soon as possible.

Grace’s family were wonderful people who I delighted in getting to know. I loved the theme of ‘starting over’ and how Grace entrenched herself in the village dynamic and reunited with old friends.

The story related how domestic abuse affects its victims and those who love them.

The setting was so perfect – a small Irish village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

This is an uplifting and heart-warming read that is just exactly what I needed right now. A novel of familial love, warm friendships, and fresh starts.

Highly recommended women’s fiction! ♥I purchased “Season of Second Chances” in Kindle format from

ASIN : B086M7K4WX  –  349 pages  –  ISBN :9798633298635

Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.

Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur.

Follow Aimee Alexander on Twitter @aimeealexbooks

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, Reading Ireland, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

WWW Wednesday – March 24, 2021 #readingforpleasure #bookbloggers #WWWWednesday #bookworms

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

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

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

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

What am I currently reading?Season of Second Chances” is a title that I purchased in Kindle format and is one of my ‘Reading Ireland Month‘ titles.

What have I just finished reading? After the Rising” was a book that has been lingering on my TBR for a long while. I’m glad that I finally read it because it shed a lot of light on the history of the Irish conflicts over the years (conflicts that I had always found confusing). I was gifted a copy of this novel from the author and it is one of my Reading Ireland Month titles.

What will I read next?The Boatman’s Wife” is a title I purchased in Kindle format after reading some glowing reviews by fellow bookbloggers. It is my last Reading Ireland Month title.

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

Check out a few other WWW Wednesday posts:

Sheila’s WWW post

Cathy’s WWW post

 Sam’s WWW post

Dee’s WWW post

Emma’s WWW post

Ashley’s WWW post

Emma’s WWW post

Stuart’s WWW post

Pauliina’s WWW post

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report, Reading, WWW Wednesdays | Tagged | 5 Comments

“After the Rising” by Orna Ross – Book Review #ReadingIrelandMonth21

Twenty years ago, Jo Devereux fled Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, driven away by buried secrets and hatreds. Now she is back and needs to uncover the truth of what really happened between her family and their friends, the O’Donovans, during the bitter Irish Civil War of 1922.

The consequences of that conflict carried down into Jo’s own life, shattering her relationship with Rory O’Donovan, the only man she ever loved.

And driving her from her homeland, swearing she would never return.

Now, Jo’s estranged mother has died, leaving her a suitcase full of letters and diaries that raise searing questions about the past. Was her great-uncle really murdered by Dan O’Donovan, his best friend? If yes, why? And what part did her beloved grandmother play in this conflict that followed so soon after the Irish war of independence, when those who had won partial freedom for their country turned their guns on each other?

And why did nobody ever talk about that time?

Much to her own surprise, Jo finds herself staying on in Ireland, determined to disinter buried secrets and find the answers she seeks.

Over the course of a long, hot summer, she is astonished at the truths she uncovers about her grandmother and great-aunt, their part in Ireland’s fight for freedom, and the repercussions that resounded through her own life.

The consequences of a cold-blooded murder are still ricocheting down through the generations, as history begins to repeat itself. Rory, who still lives in Mucknamore and is mired in an unhappy marriage, draws Jo close again.

The strength of her feelings frightens her, but past pain makes her cautious, as does reading their shared family histories. She knows too well how the passion of rebellion sweeps people up — but has learned that the most important question is what happens after the rising.

Can Jo be true to herself, and also to the family she rejected when she was young and headstrong? Might this second chance of happiness reclaim the love once lost to them all?

After The Rising is a sweeping, multi-generational tale set in the 1920s and 1990s Ireland and 1970s London. It is the first book in The Irish Trilogy.

This book was very easy to get into. The first scenes depict Jo Devereux’s hasty return to Ireland just barely in time for her mother’s funeral. From there we discover a little about Jo’s life in the United States and a bit about the family’s dynamic. The Parles, her Catholic family, owned a pub and store in County Wexford which served as the hub of the village.

Then, when she is given the suitcase with all the letters and documents left to her by her late mother and grandmother, the novel goes back in time to her grandmother’s life – a time when Ireland’s history was tumultuous, bloody, and divisive.The book was hard to follow at times due to the myriad characters within its pages. The prose was very well rendered and the story put a personal slant to the Irish/English conflict. Looking toward independence from English rule, the Irish Republicans had a significant number of women contributing toward their cause, despite the socio-economic status of woman of that time. The letters and diaries of Jo’s Gran (Peg) were written around the time of the 1916 Easter Rising. Other papers relate to Peg’s later life and included snippets about her dear friend Norah, and her heroic brother Barney.

Peg went on to have a daughter, Máirín who was Jo Devereaux’s mother. Family ephemera and yellowed newspaper clippings relate the long conflict and violent history of Ireland from the Irish Civil War leading up all the way to the time of the ‘Troubles‘.Jo takes time off work and lingers on in her home town of Mucknamore where she compiles and organizes the contents of the suitcase to write her own family’s history as well as how it relates to the history of Ireland. Also, during that time she reunites with her first love, Rory O’Donovan, a man who has never forgotten her, yet is married to someone else and is a father.

I identified with certain aspects of the story, especially the scenes where Jo is a student in a school taught by nuns – as I was up until age fourteen.

The story was compelling, though the pacing was inconsistent. I found it raced by in places and dragged in others. The book was a blend of contemporary and historical fiction which shed a lot of light on Irish political and social history via the perspective of one family’s contribution to the events that enfolded.

After the Rising” was a compassionate, fictional tale of the impact of the Irish conflict on successive generations. Recommended for Irish history buffs and fans of multi-generational family sagas.

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

Orna Ross is an award-winning and bestselling novelist and poet who explores histories and mysteries through her poetry books and literary historical murder mysteries.

Born and raised in Co. Wexford, in the south-east of Ireland, Orna considers herself to be a world citizen. She now lives in London, where she and Philip Lynch, her husband of 30+ years, run ALLi together from their home office and the Free Word Centre in Farringdon, “a home for organisations interested in who gets to speak and be heard in society”.

When not running ALLi, penning poems, or conjuring tales about murderous families of centuries past, Orna enjoys yoga and meditation, jogging and dancing, cinema and theatre, trekking and traveling, and hanging out with her friends and her—surprisingly non-homicidal!—family.

Orna’s experience as an author-publisher working with thousands of other indie authors has made her a passionate advocate for self-publishing as artistic expression, as a viable business option for authors, and as a necessary skill for everyone in today’s digital, networked economy. A creative facilitator and advocate for creative independence through self-publishing and online creative business, she also writes (and publishes) publishing guides and creative business guides for authors and creative entrepreneurs.


Posted in Book Reviews, Family sagas, Historical fiction | Tagged | 3 Comments

“Here She Lies” by Kerena Swan – Book Review

Prequel novella to the novel “Blood Loss” which introduces DI Dave Paton and his son Tommy.

Harry was nineteen when his mother died. His sister Stacie was ten. Feeling unable to cope with acting as parent, Stacie was put into foster care through no choice of Harry’s. Now Harry is married and a father himself. Stacie has estranged herself from Harry since she started a relationship with her boyfriend Joshua.

Then, Stacie calls him in the middle of the night to tell him that she had a baby girl and that Joshua shot her and buried her in the woods. Distraught, Harry calls the police.

DI Paton is married to Wendy, who suffers from severe depression. He is the father to a teenage boy named Tommy who has Down’s Syndrome.

Paton has recently moved to Scotland from England and is eager to prove to his new team that despite his family problems, he is committed to the job and his team.

Having read and enjoyed this author’s previous novel “Scared to Breathe“,  and “Who’s There?“, I was in no doubt as to whether I would relish “Here She Lies“. I was in no way disappointed.

The protagonist in this police procedural is a caring man who has yet to show his ‘mettle’ to his new coworkers.

This short novella is a sound introduction to the characters that we will come to meet in “Blood Loss”, the first full length novel in the D.I. Paton series.

I am eager to make a better acquaintance with Paton, his family, and his team.

This digital novel is not available on Amazon, but you can download it for free by clicking on the following graphic.

If you are fond of reading police procedurals, I recommend you do.

Listen to an hour long interview with the author Kerena Swan TODAY on her publisher’s website.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 novella from the author.

Blood Loss” the first full length novel to feature D.I. Paton and his ensemble, will be available for purchase tomorrow, March 23, 2021.

Kerena Swan trained as a Social Worker and worked for Social Services for over 25 years. For the past 14 years she has owned and managed an ‘outstanding’ rated care agency for children with disabilities. Following serious illnesses she decided to fulfill her long-held ambition of writing a book and getting it published. ‘Dying to See You’, published by Bloodhound Books, was her debut novel.
After many years of writing professionally in the course of her work, Kerena has discovered the exhilaration and deep joy of writing fiction and can be found at all hours in front of her computer. Her second novel ‘Scared to Breathe’ was released on 3rd June 2019 by Bloodhound Books.
Kerena lives with her family in a small village in Bedfordshire, England and her books are set in the surrounding areas.
Drawing on her extensive knowledge and experience of the problematic world of social work and social studies, Kerena adds a unique angle to the domestic noir and crime genre. Her latest novel, “Who’s There?” is self-published.

Kerena has recently signed up with the publisher Hobeck Books.
Visit  and join her mailing list.

Follow Kerena Swan on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Hobeck Books, Mystery fiction, Novellas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cold Woods” by Karen Katchur – Book Review

Trisha moved from Chicago to the small Pennsylvania slate town when she was ten years old. She moved there with her mother and Lester, her stepfather, who was an abusive drunk.

She quickly made friends with two girls from her street, Carlyn and Danielle. The three girls were friends for years and called themselves “The Slate Sisters”.

When Lester’s abuse takes a step too far, Tricia defends herself – and will come to live with the consequences playing on her psyche for the rest of her life.  She distances herself from her friends, and they seem to abandon her as well.
She moves to Las Vegas where she steps out of the frying pan directly into the fire. She suffered years of degradation and abuse at the hands of her wealthy husband and became an alcoholic.

Then, three decades later, bones are found in the cold Pennsylvania woods near Trisha’s old home and she comes back to the town, and her Mother.

The second in the Northampton County series, “Cold Woods” is a police procedural with serious themes of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and guilt.  The pacing was faultless, and the descriptions well rendered.

Detective Parker Reed, was everything one could hope for in a protagonist, and as a policeman. His new partner Geena Brassard, was a welcome addition to the dynamic. I was sort of disappointed that Parker’s girlfriend Becca didn’t play much of a role in this novel, as I was quite taken with her in the first novel in the series, “The River Girls”.

One thing I really appreciated about this novel is that all assumptions the reader makes turn out to be false. Secrets carried an enormous weight on the characters involved. A crushing weight…

The narrative was told in chapters alternating from the present police investigation and the winter of 1986 when the girls were teenagers.

This is a crime novel but also a character study. It is a story of dysfunctional families, secrets, and moral dilemmas.  I am eager now to read the next book in this series. Overall, “Cold Woods” was a novel that I savored reading and that I can highly recommend!

I purchased “Cold Woods” in Kindle format from in order to pursue the Northampton series. You can read my review of “River Bodies”, the first title in this series HERE.

Karen Katchur is an award-winning suspense novelist with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a master’s in education. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Follow Karen Katchur on Twitter
or on Facebook

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

Cover Love: part 98 – Women in Green

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.

With St. Patrick’s Day, I’m sure that many women wore GREEN on the day. Thus, my choice for this, my 98th installment of Cover Love.

Well there you have it!  Lots and lots of women in green (which just happens to be my favourite colour). Have you read any of these titles?

There are 37 covers in this post and two of them share an identical graphic. Did you spot it?

Don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 97 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 19 Comments

“The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue – Book Review #ReadingIrelandMonth21

An intense and grim story about three days in a Dublin maternity ward during the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918. Influenza derives from the Latin word influentia, meaning “influence of the stars. The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people than the First World War – an estimated 3-6 percent of the human race.

The story takes place from Oct. 31 – Nov. 2nd, 1918 – a time when infant mortality in Ireland was 15%

This was an era of large Catholic families, many of them poor. There was a saying that “She doesn’t love him unless she gives him twelve” – and indeed one of Nurse Power’s patients was enduring her twelfth pregnancy at the tender age of just 33 years.

Julia Power – a single, 30 year old nurse who works in the Maternity/Fever ward of the Dublin hospital. When I say ‘ward’, I use the term loosely as it was a converted supply room. This is where they put expectant mothers who had succumbed to the Influenza. With just three beds, with only just enough room to walk around them, Julia worked tirelessly to care for her patients.

Bridie Sweeney – is assigned to help Julia Power when staff illness has left her alone in her ward. Bridie is to help in any way she can, if only to deliver messages, mop up spills etc.  Bridie was ‘around’ 22 years old. She did not know when her birthday was and had never stepped foot in a hospital before.  She was an orphan who had lived her entire life at the mercy of the Catholic nuns. She is quick to learn and becomes invaluable to Julia Power.

Doctor Kathleen Lynn(based on a real person) a vicar’s daughter, a suffragette, a socialist, and an Irish Sinn Féin politician. She labored tirelessly to help those suffering from Influenza and was staunchly supportive of Julia Power.

The patients in their care were a mixed lot. A privileged Protestant wife who was having her third baby. A poor Catholic woman on her twelfth. A married seventeen year old having her first, and an unmarried woman having her second.

This is definitely a novel that I will remember for a long time. Living through this pandemic, it was fascinating to see how people coped (or didn’t) through the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

The story itself reminded me a little bit of the television show “Call the Midwife”, so if you are a fan of that show you’ll enjoy this book.  The main characters were wonderful and were so easily imagined that they were a tribute to the author’s descriptive talent. The dire circumstances of the Dublin hospital and its loyal staff, were a testament to selfless medical personnel who sacrifice personal lives (and sleep) for those in their care.

Never was I made so aware of the grim day to day lives of the truly poor. Today we cannot imagine it, as there are now social services in place for the destitute, so that they have more advantages.

Nurse Julia Power was the star of the novel and she was a woman of strength and moral fiber. Bridie was my favourite character, and reading of her short life was heartrending.

The novel was paradoxical in that it was at once depressing and up-lifting. There were many scenes in which the antiquated medical practices and social mores made me shake my head in incredulity, while other scenes made me want to hug the characters.

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy skillfully rendered historical fiction.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley – at my request,  for my own reading enjoyment and the writing of this review.

ISBN: 9780316499019 – ASIN: B086JX8CFB – 304 pages

Emma Donoghue was born in Dublin in 1969 and studied English and French at University College, Dublin. She moved to England in 1990 and went on to gain a PhD from Cambridge University. She became a writer at the age of 23, and now lives in Canada. As well as writing stage and radio plays, she has written several novels and collections of short stories. Her novels include the award-winning Hood (1995); Slammerkin (2000), a historical novel; Life Mask (2004), which tells the true story of three famous Londoners in the late eighteenth century; and The Sealed Letter (2008), joint winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award (Lesbian Fiction).

Follow Emma Donoghue on Twitter @EDonoghueWriter

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical fiction, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Reading Ireland, What's In A Name Reading Challenge | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = GREEN #WednesdaysWord #booklovers

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.

My pick for Wednesday’s Word this week is a ‘no-brainer’. Since it is St. Patrick’s Day, how could I not pick the word ‘GREEN‘? In this post I’ve selected just a few of the novels with the word ‘green‘ in the title as a way of sharing my book love.

These titles cover a broad range of  genres – with literary fiction, mystery, historical fiction, thriller to name but a few.

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?

Which cover MOST APPEALS to YOU?
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 | 18 Comments

“Forgive Me” by Susan Lewis – Book Review

Widowed, Rebecca is a talented interior designer with her own business in London. She has a vivacious teenage daughter named Cara who has lost all her ‘spark’ since she married for the second time. Her new husband,  financier Marcus Huxley Browne, while at first attentive and loving, is now controlling, cruel, and emotionally abusive and most recently he has been arrested for fraud, insider trading and money laundering, and has gangland connections.

Rebecca sells her business and flees with her daughter and mother in the attempts to make a new life for the three of them. They change their appearance, and their names to Claudia and Jasmine, in the hopes that her husband’s reach does not extend far enough to place them in jeopardy.

They move to a small town in Northern England and begin to make friends and start having a life free from her domineering and abusive husband. But although he is in prison, she finds out that he can still cause her fear, and eventually jeopardize everything and everyone she holds dear.

At first this story presented almost like a romantic suspense novel. Then, at about the halfway mark, things took a more serious and unsettling turn…

The overriding theme of the novel is ‘restorative justice‘, something I’m personally not altogether comfortable with. The story made me think, and that is never a bad thing. Although I believe I’m an empathetic person, I cannot imagine the strength it would take to forgive someone who has harmed you and your family in a grievous way. It takes a mature and generous person to truly forgive. The narrative makes the reader aware of just how important it always is to hear and evaluate both side of any conflict.

The story, told with some alternating chapters from the point of view of nineteen year old Archie Coldbrook, were poignant and served to remind us that sometimes, though it is hard to accept, the perpetrator can be a victim as well. Knowing only poverty, crime and corruption his entire life, he was bereft of the opportunities that most of us take for granted.

The narrative moved along at a good pace and kept me engaged throughout. What I first felt was a romantic suspense novel turned into a fusion of domestic thriller and family saga. With a more than satisfying ending, this novel will be sure to have a strong appeal.


I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from William Morrow Paperbacks/Harper Collins via Edelweiss – at my request,  for my own reading enjoyment and the writing of this review.

ISBN: 9780062906625 – ASIN: B087QHLHN8 – 416 pages

A prolific and bestselling author, Susan Lewis is the author of over thirty novels.

Born in England in 1956, she lost her mother to cancer when she was only nine years old.  She now lives with her partner James and dogs in Gloucestershire, England.


Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

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

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For March 2021, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘C‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five years ago (when I retired). There are 11 books recommended here.

If the title begins with an initial article such as The, A, An etc., I will be using the second word.  For instance, “A Man called Ove” will be included in my M post. “The Silent Patient” will be listed in my S post.

Hopefully you’ll find something that interests you from these posts. As always, I’ve linked the book cover to Goodreads, and the title link will take you to my review of the book.

The Craftsman” by Sharon Bolton

The Chalk Man” by C.J. Tudor

The Crossing” by Matt Brolly

The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith

The Companion” by Kim Taylor Blakemore

The Child” by Fiona Barton

The Creak on the Stairs” by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae” by Stephanie Butland

The Child Garden” by Catriona McPherson

A Cold War” by Alan Russell

Child’s Play” by Angela Marsons

If you have already read any of these titles, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

When someone asks me to recommend a book…

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books | Tagged | 13 Comments

“Treacherous Strand” by Andrea Carter – Book Review #ReadingIrelandMonth21


This mystery, the second in a series set in Inishowen, is a well written mystery with likeable characters.  The protagonist is Ben O’Keeffe a country solicitor.  Her law practice is the most northerly solicitor’s office in Ireland. ‘Ben’ is short for Benedicta, though that is not her real name…  She has been in this small rural community for the past seven years following a family tragedy.  Here she has made friends. Leah, her secretary/office manager, Maeve her best friend who works as a veterinarian, Phyllis, who runs the bookshop, and of course Tom Molloy, a local Garda.  Ben lives just out of Malin town in a cottage which she shares with her black tomcat whose name, fittingly, is Guinness.  The reader is made aware that before she came to this small place, she worked in a large law firm in Dublin – and that she suffered a personal tragedy. Even after all this time she feels like an outsider, as the village is peopled with folk who have lived there for generations.One evening, just as Ben is preparing to leave her office for the day, a woman named Marguerite Etienne comes to her to ask to have a will drawn up. In a hurry, Ben fobs her off and tells her that she will see to it the following day.  But the following day, Marguerite’s body is found on the beach.

Ben is then riddled with guilt that she did not take the time to do what Marguerite had asked her. As time goes on, despite the fact that the local Gardai have deemed Marguerite’s death a suicide, Ben is convinced that Marguerite was murdered.Without consulting with Molloy, she begins doing what she does best…. snooping around…

Having read the first novel in this series back in 2018, I’m ashamed to say that it has taken me three years to get to the second one. After reading “Treacherous Strand” I realized that I shouldn’t have waited so long. I blame my lengthy TBR.

With themes of infidelity, bloodlines, redemption, and doomsday cults, this novel will keep you interested and the flow of the narrative is smooth. The setting is atmospheric, and the characters likeable.

My only personal quibbles with the story are 1) Ben should have known better than to put herself in some of the circumstances she found herself in; and 2) I’m not comfortable with reading about cults.

The author is a solicitor herself, so that part of the narrative is knowledgeable and convincing. Not gritty by any means, yet somehow more serious than a ‘cozy’. The frisson of romantic tension between Ben and policeman/Guard Tom Molloy only slightly impact the story, but in a good way.

I can see how Ben’s ‘nosiness‘ coupled with her line of work and her romantic interest in the town’s policeman will engender many more interesting stories for this series.  It is a series I intend to follow when time permits and I have just purchased the third novel “The Well of Ice” which I am greatly anticipating. Recommended. ♣

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Oceanview Publishing via Edelweiss – at my request, for my own reading enjoyment and the writing of this review.

ISBN: 9781608093984 –  ASIN:  B07TRD9Z31 –  316 pages

Andrea Carter graduated in law from Trinity College, Dublin. She qualified as a solicitor and moved to the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal where she lived and worked for a number of years. In 2005 she transferred to the Bar and moved to Dublin to practise as a barrister. She grew up in Ballyfin, Co. Laois.

Follow Andrea Carter on Twitter @andysaibhcarter

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction, Reading Ireland | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments