“That Birds Would Sing” by Joanna Franklin Bell – Book Review

April Jones – a high school freshman lives with her parents and younger brother, Alfie, in a suburb of a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland.  She longs to ‘fit in’, but doesn’t even really know where she wants to ‘fit’. She has wild, curly hair and little in the way of a figure, so she longs to look different. She plays the trumpet in the band, and she loves it, yet she is fearful that this will make her seem ‘nerdy’. Most of the kids walk to school every day, but she lives too far out and has to take the bus. On the second day of school another girl arrives at the bus stop. She is pretty, vivacious, and wonder upon wonder, she befriends April! Her name is Jasmine.

And Jasmine has a huge secret…

Though I found this story very slow paced, it turned out to be a pleasurable read. A coming-of-age story where we meet April Jones when she is starting high school as a freshman. A new school, new friends, new experiences, all serve to make April the woman she has become.

We follow April though the stressful days of trying to fit in, having her first real crush, going to her first wild party, all the while trying to keep up her good grades and look after her little brother, who is being bullied.

The novel reminded me of my own school days. The loners, the cliques, the popular, the nerds, the outcasts, the loyalties, the betrayals, the friendships, the embarrassments, and the overwhelming insecurity.

The book discusses the merits and drawbacks of mainstreaming special needs children into the school system. It also touches upon the issue of transgender teens. Mostly though, it celebrates how different, and very special, each human being is.

Anyone who likes a fast-paced novel will not be happy with this one. The pace was so slow in places that it seemed like I was reading it in ‘real time’. However, if you bear with it, you’ll be rewarded with an acute study of a young girl trying to find her place in the world.

I’ve had this title on my Kindle for a few years now. I read it via my Kindle Unlimited subscription. All opinions are my own.

ISBN: 9781511589918 – ASIN: B00UG9S2D2 – 348 pages

Joanna Franklin Bell is a writer living outside of Baltimore, Maryland. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College and a BA in English from Dickinson College. Her nonfiction work has appeared in Baltimore Magazine, Scary Mommy, Motherwell, P.S. I Love You, Elephant Journal, and Medium.

Posted in Book Reviews, Kindle Unlimited Read | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Halfway Through 2021 – A Fictionophile #Bookblogger Update

As July 2nd is the midway point in 2021, I thought I’d post an update on my reading and blogging so far this year.

I have read 74 novels:Of those 74 titles, 35 were from NetGalley – here is my NetGalley Reading Challenge status:

and my NetGalley Feedback ratio is as follows:Hey, at this rate I might even get my ‘500 Reviews‘ NetGalley badge by this time next year! LOL

Of those 74 titles, 16 of them were from Edelweiss – here is my Edelweiss Reading Challenge status:

I have completed my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

I’ve read 5 of the required 8 titles to complete the Bookblogger’s Fiction Reading Challenge:

I’ve read 3 of the required 6 titles to complete the What’s In A Name Reading Challenge:

On a personal note, I am going to have surgery on the 21st of this month, so will be on at least a week long hiatus from my blog and social media. Hope you are all having a marvelous summer!

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Spell the Month in Books – JULY #SpellTheMonthInBooks #BookRecommendations

I first saw this on Nicki’s Secret Library Blog and Carla’s Love to Read, but it originated from Jana at ‘Reviews from the Stacks‘.

Every month I will spell the month in books that I have already read, linking back to my reviews of the title. (Initial articles – The, A, An – will not be taken into account)


Just After Midnight” by Catherine Ryan Hyde


Unsound” by Toby Neal


The Light Keeper” by Cole Moreton


You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson


That was fun!

I’m always searching for ways to share my book recommendations.

Thankfully, Nova Scotia is now in Stage 3 of opening after our lockdown. I am fortunate enough to have received both of my Covid vaccines…  Happy Summer!

Also, I have this terrific little guy in my life. My grandson:

Thanks for visiting. ♥

 

Posted in Book Reviews, Spell the Month in Books | Tagged | 16 Comments

Fictionophile’s JUNE 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

In the past month I’ve read thirteen novels.

I honestly cannot pick a ‘Book of the Month‘ for June. Of the 13 titles I read, there were SIX standout, 5 star reads!

Here, I will tell you a little bit about the SIX novels I most enjoyed in  June.

The Searcher” by Tana French

The plot was a page turner which divulged that even the most bucolic places often hide dark and nasty underbellies. The masterful and eloquent writing evoked the menace and unease which contrasted greatly with the tame and idyllic setting. The book spoke to how justice is not always clear-cut, and that sometimes rural justice is a different kettle of fish altogether…
There was one shocking plot revelation that surprised me as much as it did the protagonist, Cal Hooper.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and though I know it is a stand-alone novel, would love to see the characters of Cal Hooper and Trey Reddy return in later books.

The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth

What a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact ‘the good sister‘.
We must remember that each of the girls have different recollections of the same events. Whose is correct? Each sister displayed good and bad traits and their characters were complex and multi-layered. Is their sisterly relationship supportive and caring, or, is it manipulative and devious?
This was an expertly written thriller that will doubtless make my list of Top Reads for 2021. A skilled character study masquerading as a thriller. Brilliant!

Look What You Made Me Do” by Nikki Smith

The novel eloquently explores the idea that two people, living in the same house, sharing the same experiences, can have memories of those people and events that are completely different from each others. Almost as if they had lived different lives altogether.
The title of course refers to victim blaming. This was foremost a story about spousal abuse where the husband blames the wife for ‘making’ him abuse her both emotionally and physically. In addition, it also delves into the subjects of sibling rivalry, parental favoritism, and guilt.
The characters were fully developed and treated in an understanding and empathetic way. The scenes were vividly written evoking a tense revelation of the hidden dysfunction in an outwardly ‘perfect’ family.
This, the author’s second novel, has affirmed that I will follow her writing career avidly, reading each of her novels as fast as she can write them.
Highly, highly, recommended to all fans of domestic thrillers.

Someone We Know” by Shari Lapena

The author has created a seemingly typical suburban neighborhood and peopled it with  seemingly typical families – by and large they are nice people. However… what goes on behind closed doors in this neighborhood is far from typical. Everyone seems to have something to hide.
The characters are very realistic, and the situations believable. Shocking at times, but believable. It aptly demonstrated just how stressful, arduous, and heart-breaking it can sometimes be to parent a teenager. The personalities of the police were not really fleshed out, but they were not the primary focus of the book. It was the various neighbors that were the stars of the show.
A page turner, this domestic thriller kept my enthralled. I highly recommend this novel to all fans of the genre.

The Skylark’s Secret” by Fiona Valpy

A well researched historical novel written in a dual time line format.

This novel was set in Loch Ewe, Scotland, which was a temporary base of the Home Fleet and was also used as an assembly point for the Arctic Convoys during WWII.  The fictional rendering of the part this area played in WWII illustrated just how important Loch Ewe was strategically to the allies during the war.
The characters of both time lines were fully fleshed out and captured my heart. The novel spoke to the importance of a tight-knit community and how it often takes a village to raise a child. It also stressed the importance of traditional music in the history of Scotland. It did what good historical fiction is meant to do. It brought history to life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and hope to read many more books by this author. Highly recommended.The Burning Girls” by C.J. Tudor

There are many themes running throughout the novel. Abandonment issues, nature vs. nurture, complicity, and the lengths some people with go to preserve their social standing and reputation.

This novel seems to defy genre. Part suspense thriller, part folk horror, part missing persons mystery, it serves to make a very enjoyable and compelling read. Highly recommended!

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 , | 18 Comments

Fictionophile’s JUNE 2021 #BookHaul #Bookbloggers #TBR

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

I received four of these titles from NetGalley.


Claire McLaughlin, from Flatiron Books kindly sent me a NetGalley widget to download this one. I loved this author’s debut novel, “Dear Child“, so I look forward to reading this one.


The first book in a new mystery series, always exciting!


Canongate Books (an imprint of Allen & Unwin) kindly approved my request to read this one:



I downloaded FOUR titles from Edelweiss this month.
After reading “The Winter Sea” in May, I was excited to get a copy of “The Vanished Days“. It is touted as being a ‘companion’ novel to “The Winter Sea”.Atria Books invited me to read and review this title.


HarperCollins allowed me to review this book:


I absolutely loved Sarah Winman’s previous novel “Tin Man“, so I was delighted to be approved by G.P. Putnam Sons to read her newest book, “Still Life“.


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

My June choice was:


Do any of these titles sound good to you?

Are any of them on YOUR TBR?

 

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 29, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers #GeraldineVernesRedSuitcase @JaneRileyAuthor #PublicationDay

My Tuesday post where I’ll ‘tease‘ you with the cover, blurb, and first paragraph of one of the advanced reader’s copies from my own TBR.

This book is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday June 29th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

This book is published TODAY!

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing/Amazon Publishing UK

ISBN: 9781542017350 – ASIN:  B08P1GPWZR – 304 pages

1) More and more I find that I’m enjoying novels featuring older protagonists. (I wonder why? LOL) Up-Lit is one of my new favourite genres.

2) I can identify with Geraldine Verne as she retired from the library in 2012 while I retired in 2015.

3) I love novels that have themes of ‘starting over’ and female friendship.


“If much of life is about showing up, I’d say I’ve been doing okay. Not only have I been putting in an appearance for the past three months, I’ve established a routine. Now my days are reassuringly the same. Far more so, even, than they were before retiring from the library in 2012, which I always love to say was the same day Sweden won the Eurovision song contest.”


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

Why, or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

“The Burning Girls” by C.J. Tudor – Book Review

The widowed Reverend Jack (Jacqueline) Brooks and her fifteen year old daughter have recently been transferred to the small rural parish of Chapel Croft in Sussex. After a scandal put her in the newspapers in Nottingham, Jack’s superior deemed it advisable for her to relocate. Her daughter, Flo, is unhappy with the move ‘to the sticks‘. She misses her friends and her city school.

When they arrive they find a somewhat neglected old cottage next door to what can only be described as a ‘creepy’ old church. A box has been held for her, a sort of housewarming gift. In it are the makings of an exorcism kit… Jack learns that the previous vicar tried to burn the chapel down.Jack learns that in this tiny village, the social hierarchy prevails. The rich family of the parish seems to wield all the power. There are secrets in abundance, and Jack feels that everyone knows something that she does not know… Ancient history and superstition coupled with some more recent disappearances haunt the village.

When her daughter Flo, encounters the local bully, she becomes troubled. Then, when Flo falls through the floor of the old Chapel, her interest is well and truly piqued…

“If you see the burning girls, something bad will befall you.”

First of all, I have to say that I really liked the character of Rev. Jack Brooks. Unconventional doesn’t even begin to describe her personality. She drinks, smokes, and enjoys listening to “The Killers” at full volume – not exactly the kind of person you associate with a woman of the cloth. I also liked the relationship she had with her daughter. Flo seemed like a level-headed girl with an ardent interest in photography – even developing her own film. Despite the usual generational conflicts, they seemed to rub along well together and had a mutual caring and respect.

The furtive and oftentimes mendacious villagers give off an unsettling vibe. And as for the Harpers, the powerful and wealthy village family, some members of them are downright frightening.

There are two stories going on here and both are taking place in the present day. Jack and her daughter’s move to the village and the secrets they unearth, AND, Jack’s brother Jacob, who has recently been released from prison. Their stories connect in a profound way.

There are also some paranormal vibes throughout the novel as both Jack and her daughter have sightings of ‘burning girls’.

I was surprised by a few of the plot twists within the story, and I was reminded once again that people are not always what they seem on the surface. The book causes the reader to ponder on whether people can be born evil, or whether their lives have shaped them that way.

There are many themes running throughout the novel. Abandonment issues, nature vs. nurture, complicity, and the lengths some people with go to preserve their social standing and reputation.

This novel seems to defy genre. Part suspense thriller, part folk horror, part missing persons mystery, it serves to make a very enjoyable and compelling read. Highly recommended!Some favorite quotes from this novel:

“I remind myself that old age is not a disease but a destination.”

“Guilt is a little like grief. A cancer of the soul. They both hollow you out from the inside.”

“We all have our hiding places. Not just physical ones. Places deep inside where we put away the things we don’t want others to see.”

“Bad memories are like splinters. Sometimes painful, but you learn to live with them. The problem is, they always work their way up to the surface eventually.”

“We think of love as being unconditional, but very few of us ever want to put that to the test.”

“I think again how unprepared we are for illness and old age. How we trundle toward it unthinkingly, like lemmings toward the edge of a cliff. The tiny humans we coo over at the start of their lives, we shudder to look upon at the end.”


I borrowed a digital copy of this novel from my local public library via the Libby app.

Published: February 9, 2021 Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 9780385694216 – ASIN: B087PL8B2S – 352 pages
C. J. TUDOR is the author of The Other People, The Hiding Place, and The Chalk Man, who won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and her daughter.  The Burning Girls is her fourth novel.

Follow C.J. Tudor on Twitter

and/or visit her Facebook page: https://Facebook.com/CJTudorOfficial/

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

“The Good Sister” by Sally Hepworth – Book Review

“Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry. Blurred boundaries, I think, are what sisters do best.”
Rose and Fern Castle are the twenty-eight year old fraternal twins of a single mother. When the girls were twelve two traumatic incidents saw them put into foster care.

Rose Castle – is separated from her husband and works as an interior designer. She is the higher functioning of the two girls. She suffered psychological abuse from her mother and always took care of her sister Fern.

Fern Castle – works in a public library, is very intelligent, but is on the spectrum and exhibits most of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. She has always been under the thumb of her sister Rose. She remembers her childhood much differently than Rose does…

“People without sisters think it’s all sunshine and lollipops or all blood and guts. But actually it’s always both. Sunshine and guts. Lollipops and blood. Good and bad. The bad is as essential to the relationship as the good.”

What a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact ‘the good sister‘.

We must remember that each of the girls have different recollections of the same events. Whose is correct? Each sister displayed good and bad traits and their characters were complex and multi-layered. Is their sisterly relationship supportive and caring, or, is it manipulative and devious?

I’ll confess, I never really bonded with Rose despite the fact that she seemed caring and protective of Fern. Though being privy to her diaries made me sympathetic to her life and situation, I still had a feeling of unease about her.

I found myself loving Fern. Sure she was bizarre in many ways – but she was so genuine. Hyper-sensitive to sensory stimulus, socially inept, resistant to change, unable to maintain eye contact, and very literally minded, she nonetheless captured my heart. I also came to care for her boyfriend ‘Wally’ aka Rocco who understood and loved Fern for who she was.

This was an expertly written thriller that will doubtless make my list of Top Reads for 2021. A skilled character study masquerading as a thriller. Brilliant!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.

ISBN: 9781250120953 – ASIN: B08BYCWK6T – 320 pages

.Sally Hepworth is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently The Good Sister (2021), which was an instant bestseller. Her novel, Mother In Law (2019) has been optioned for a TV series by Hollywood actress and producer, Amy Poehler.
Drawing on the good, the bad and the downright odd of human behaviour, Sally writes incisively about family, relationships and identity. Her domestic thriller novels are laced with quirky humour, sass and a darkly charming tone.
Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 20 languages.
​Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
Follow Sally Hepworth on Twitter @SallyHepworth

Posted in Book Reviews, Favorite books, NetGalley, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

WWW Wednesday – June 23, 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?

The Burning Girls” is a title published by Penguin Random House Canada that I  was unable to procure an ARC for, so I placed a hold on a digital library copy. My hold finally came in, so I have adjusted my TBR queue to accommodate it.

What have I just finished reading?

The Good Sisteris a title that I had heard a lot of ‘buzz’ about. Curious to see if the hype was merited, I downloaded a copy from St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan Publishing Group) via NetGalley.

By the way, the hype was well deserved!

What will I read next?”

I am a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan. Way back in July of 2015 I borrowed this title via Kindle Unlimited and never read it. I felt it was high time that I addressed this issue. Curiously, it is still on my Kindle, yet it is no longer offered by Amazon in Kindle format…. and after that, I plan to read

Please See Us” by Caitlin Mullen is a title I received from Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) via NetGalley.


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

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report, Reading, WWW Wednesdays | Tagged | 12 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 22, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers @CaneloCrime @LynneJMcEwan #InDarkWater

My Tuesday post where I’ll ‘tease‘ you with the cover, blurb, and first paragraph of one of the advanced reader’s copies from my own TBR.

This book is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday June 22nd, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR. This book will be published in just two days time and is the first novel in a proposed crime series featuring Detective Inspector Shona Oliver.Expected publication date is June 24, 2021

Publisher: Canelo Crime

ISBN: 9781800324312 – ASIN: B08ZD85G57 – 274 pages


From the prologue:

“I’m way past scared. Panic’s roaring through my veins like the first fix. Some punters like to see that you’re feart. They get off on it. Sick. Does my head in. But this evil bastard’s not a punter. He’s a psycho, screaming at me to tell him stuff I don’t know.”

The first actual paragraph:

“The call for assistance came into Kirkness Lifeboat Station on the Solway Firth on Saturday morning. Shona Oliver’s pager sounded just as she was placing the teapot down in the dining room. ‘Shout!’ she called to husband Rob. She dashed into the kitchen, gave him a quick kiss, grabbed her car keys and ran from the house. The two B&B guests stared open-mouthed after her.”


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

Why, or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Just After Midnight” by Catherine Ryan Hyde – Book Review


Faith – very recently separated from her emotionally abusive husband Robert, Faith is living at her family’s California beach house to re-access her life and come to terms with her new situation. She realizes that she has turned into a person who has great difficulty trusting others.

Sarah – a fourteen year old girl who is an expert dressage rider. Just weeks ago her Mum died. She is distanced from her Dad, and her beloved horse Midnight has just been sold. To say that she is going through an ultra traumatic time would be understating it.Midnight – a nine year old mare who, for the last six years was a one woman horse. Midnight loves her young owner, almost as much as her owner loves her. She is a very sensitive horse who has been lovingly trained in dressage.Having no particular knowledge of, or, interest in horses, I have had this novel on my Kindle for several years and am only now getting to it. I have to say, this novel will make a horse lover of everyone. Mostly though, this is a well written story of two people trying to get through some extremely difficult circumstances… together.

Set in a stiflingly hot California summer, the story follows Faith and Sarah on their interlude between trauma and starting over. Faith, who is in her late thirties and childless, takes Sarah into her life in a way that is equal parts motherly and friendly. Faith empathizes with Sarah in a way no one else can at just the right time in Sarah’s life to form a meaningful and long lasting connection.

As during part of the story the two main protagonists are living in an unused horse stall, I learned a lot about horses and the proprietorial lingo of ‘dressage‘.

Fresh starts, learning to trust your own instincts, self knowledge, having empathy for other people, and the kindness of strangers are the themes running throughout this story.

This is a novel that will be highly appreciated by readers who enjoy a good ‘overcoming adversity’ story as well as those who are interested in the equestrian world and animal lovers of every persuasion. Recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I purchased a digital copy of this novel from Amazon.com. This book was published by Lake Union Publishing in December of 2018.

ISBN:  9781503904859 – ASIN:  B07CRDZYBR – 331 pages

I thought it would be fun to include a link to a YouTube video of the Equestrian Dressage Individual Final from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A few of my favorite quotes from this novel:

“Sometimes people are scared of a thing that won’t hurt them. But they’re not scared for no reason. They’re just not scared for the reason they think they are.”

“When you really love someone, you want them to be happy. Even if it can’t be with you.”

“Sometimes I think we feel the most for the people who remind us of ourselves. It’s not the absolute best part of human nature. But it seems to be who we are.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. In addition to writing, she is an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in over thirty countries.

More than fifty of her short stories have been published in various anthologies and journals. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at www.catherineryanhyde.com   Follow Catherine on Twitter: @cryanhyde

Posted in Book Reviews, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

“The Love Story Of Missy Carmichael” by Beth Morrey – Book Review

“The outcome was always the same, alone in my barren old house, thinking of the people who’d gone.”

Missy Carmichael – lives alone in a large house in Stoke Newington, London. The rooms echo her loneliness. Her husband is gone. Her adult son, his wife, and her darling four-year-old grandson live in Australia. Her daughter (with whom she has never really gotten along) lives with her partner in Cambridge. In addition to being lonely, Missy is riddled by long-held guilt and regret. Also, she is bitter at how her life turned out. She was a scholar who gave up any sort of career to become a devoted wife and mother. Now, in her empty house, she wonders why…

“People who truly liked themselves seemed to have a greater capacity for friendship, for letting people in. Perhaps that’s why I, in the past, was always rather solitary.”

Angela – is an Irish born, thirty-something journalist and single mother. She happens upon Missy Carmichael by accident, and becomes her unlikely friend.

Otis – Angela’s small son, though a tad older than her grandson Arthur, reminds Missy of the joys of having a small boy about the place. Missy looks after Otis on occasion when Angela is off working.

Sylvie – a charming and gregarious woman, meets Missy via Angela. She welcomes Missy into her circle of eclectic friends and acquaintances.

and the star of the novel…

Bob (aka Bobby) – a mongrel with the colouring of an Alsatian, comes into Missy’s life much to her chagrin. She thinks she is not a dog person and that dogs are usually over exuberant and emotionally needy. She is cajoled into caring for Bob on a temporary basis as a favour to a friend. Little did Missy know then… Bobby would become ingrained in her heart.I thoroughly enjoyed making the acquaintance of Missy Carmichael. Probably because I am no longer a young woman, I could identify with her on a basic level.

She describes herself this way: “I thought about all the other things I was. A classicist, a librarian, occasionally a witch (and a bitch), a walker and a dancer, and – for now, at least – Bobby’s owner.”

She was an amalgam of all the years she had lived, and all the people who had come before her. She displayed all the wisdom, regret, insecurities, and loneliness that comes with ageing.

Anyone who has read and enjoyed such novels as “The Brilliant Life Of Eudora Honeysett“, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine“, or other such works of ‘UpLit‘ will surely find this novel heart-rending and entertaining in equal measure. A heart-warming, life-affirming novel of inter-generational friendships, and a must read for dog lovers of all ages. A fabulous debut novel. I can’t wait to see what Beth Morrey writes next.

4.5 stars rounded down for Goodreads and AmazonThis review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from G.P. Putnam’s Sons via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9780525542445 – ASIN: B07RGXJYZJ – 352 pagesThe cover and title are different – depending upon where you live:

North America vs. United Kingdom

Beth Morrey was inspired to write her debut novel, Saving Missy, while pushing a pram around her local park during maternity leave. Getting to know the community of dog owners, joggers, neighbours and families, she began to sow the seeds of a novel about a woman saved by the people around her, strangers who became friends. Saving Missy was a Sunday Times bestseller, and Beth was previously shortlisted for the Grazia-Orange First Chapter award.

Previously Creative Director at RDF Television, Beth now writes full time. Beth lives in London with her husband, two sons and a dog named Polly.

Follow Beth Morrey on Twitter @BethMorrey

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Edelweiss, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Someone We Know” by Shari Lapena – Book Review

This is my third time reading the work of Shari Lapena and she never disappoints. This time around we read of a suburban neighborhood in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Olivia Sharpe is married to Paul and the mother of sixteen year old Raleigh. She is dismayed when she learns that her ‘good son‘ Raleigh, has been breaking into the homes of her neighbors. He says that he didn’t ‘take’ anything. He was only testing himself to see if he could. It was an adrenaline rush. Also, he was practicing computer hacking. A wiz with technology, Raleigh wanted to see if he could break into other people’s password protected computers. Distraught, she writes anonymous letters of apology to her neighbors.

Little does Olivia know, but one of the houses he broke in to was the house of Robert and Amanda Pierce. The beautiful Mrs. Pierce’s body has just been found in the trunk of a submerged car. Her husband Robert seems shifty, and of course the first person blamed is always the husband. However, in this instance there are myriad possible suspects. And to make matters worse, it is quite likely “Someone We Know“!

Several of the neighbors are hiding salacious secrets. Sixteen year old Raleigh has discovered some of these secrets during his forays into their homes…  At the time of her brutal murder, Amanda was twelve weeks pregnant.

The author has created a seemingly typical suburban neighborhood and peopled it with  seemingly typical families – by and large they are nice people. However… what goes on behind closed doors in this neighborhood is far from typical. Everyone seems to have something to hide.

Some of the themes touched upon are adultery, parenting of teenagers, deception, friendship, and loyalty. It examines just how far a person will go to protect those that they love.

The characters are very realistic, and the situations believable. Shocking at times, but believable. It aptly demonstrated just how stressful, arduous, and heart-breaking it can sometimes be to parent a teenager. The personalities of the police were not really fleshed out, but they were not the primary focus of the book. It was the various neighbors that were the stars of the show.

After the whodunit story-line was brought to a satisfying conclusion, the author threw in another final twist that will please most readers.

A page turner, this domestic thriller kept my enthralled. I highly recommend this novel to all fans of the genre.

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 at my request from Pamela Dorman Books/Random House  via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9780525557654 –  ASIN:  B07NCJCDKQ –  304 pages

Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House, An Unwanted Guest, Someone We Know and The End of Her. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Follow Shari Lapena on Twitter @sharilapena

Posted in Book Reviews, Canadian fiction, Edelweiss, Page turners | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

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

This year I plan to go through the entire alphabet, one letter per month. For June 2021, the sixth month, I’m listing all of my favourite novels that begin with the letter ‘F‘. I am choosing these titles from the books I’ve read since I began blogging seriously – five years ago (when I retired). There are 13 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 Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton


The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewell


For The Missing” by Lena Bengstdotter


Five Night Stand” by Richard J. Alley


From The Cradle” by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss


The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant” by Kayte Nunn


Foe” by Iain Reid


Fatal Promise” by Angela Marsons


The Fortune Teller’s Promise” by Kelly Heard


Follow You Home” by Mark Edwards


The Forgotten Girls” by Sara Blaedel


and last, but definitely not least, the first two titles in the fabulous Matilda Darke series:

The Fallen” and “For Reasons Unknown” by Michael Wood


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 | 18 Comments

Teaser Tuesday – June 15, 2021 #NewBook #TeaserTuesday #bookbloggers @LibbyPageWrites #TheIslandHome

My Tuesday post where I’ll ‘tease‘ you with the cover, blurb, and first paragraph of one of the advanced reader’s copies from my own TBR.

This book is a title I downloaded from NetGalley.

Today, Tuesday June 15th, 2021 I want to introduce one of the ARCs on my TBR.

The Island Home” is written by Libby Page.Expected publication date is June 24, 2021

Publisher: Orion Publishing Group

ISBN: 9781409188261 – 384 pages


Euston station, 8:30 p.m. It’s midsummer and London sweats and steams, clutched in the middle of a heatwave. The after-work crowds have thinned but the concourse is still busy, figures in damp, crumpled suits staring at the announcement boards where times and destinations flash in orange letters. Families huddle in groups, mothers fanning young children and handing out water bottles as they wait, perched on piles of luggage.


I read Libby Page’s “The Lido” and thoroughly enjoyed it. This new novel is about ‘starting over’, a trope that I usually like. The setting is also attractive to me. I love books set on islands – and if the island is in Scotland, then all the better.

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

Why, or why not?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Fiction, NetGalley, Teaser Tuesday, Women's fiction | Tagged , , | 3 Comments