“Child’s Play” by Angela Marsons – Book Review

Despite my best efforts last year, I didn’t quite finish the D.I. Kim Stone series as I had hoped. This is the 11th novel in the series, I SHOULD have read and reviewed it in November 2019 and I’m only getting to it now. Woe is me…

I read this book while traveling on the plane to Florida. The perfect distraction from my uncomfortable seat as it was an engrossing read.

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

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

“No matter what the day held, Barney’s welcome was enough to put a smile on her face.”

Her team respect her and are very loyal. And no wonder – Kim never asks her team members to do anything that she would not do herself. She is fiercely protective of people she cares about and has an overriding passion for her job.

Police team

D.S. Bryant, twelve years her senior, is Kim’s partner and dearest friend. Devoted to his wife and daughters, Bryant is the glue that holds Kim’s team together.  Their banter is a delight to read.
Constable Stacy Wood, a diligent and hard-working local girl who excels at online research and data-mining which is often invaluable to the team’s success. Stacy is in a lesbian relationship and lives with her girlfriend, though in this novel her relationship is at a crossroads…
D.S. Austin Penn, is the newest member of the team, but not a complete stranger as he has worked with them twice before for short terms. Penn arrives at work every morning carrying a ‘man-bag’ and a tupperware container of cakes. Penn is slowly becoming accepted as one of the team. When not working, he cares for his mentally challenged brother. This time out, Penn has been seconded to his previous workplace to testify at a trial for one of his earlier cases. The case is found to be full of holes and Penn is determined to see it through to a satisfactory conclusion. In doing so, he inadvertently endangers the life of his brother, Jasper.
D.C.I. Woodward (Woody) is Kim’s long-suffering superior. Like the rest of her team, he is loyal and stands up for her when the higher-ups would have her removed from the case.
Tiffany, filling the vacancy created by Penn’s absence, is seconded to the team. She has a sunny disposition and is at first underestimated by Stacey. She comes to prove herself with her online investigative skills.

Kim is emotionally invested in this case because many of the victims, like her, have undergone severe emotional cruelty as children. The victims are all linked to an annual tournament for gifted children/child prodigies.

In DI Kim Stone’s eleventh outing, the relationships between siblings and parents of exceptional children is the prime subject. Brilliance comes in many forms and being the sibling or parent of a brilliant child comes with its own unique set of challenges. Topics covered are sibling rivalry, parental neglect, mental cruelty, and deception.

Murders are being committed with a unique signature. All the victims are found posed in a ‘playful’ atmosphere. Some in playgrounds, some near games of some sort.

Marson’s characters are becoming more and more like family to me. The series just seems to go from strength to strength. I highly recommend though that this series be read in order to fully realize its brilliance.

As I devoured this 11th novel in the series, I felt just as invested in the characters as I was with the previous ten titles. I will certainly recommend the series to all lovers of gritty crime fiction. Lucky for me I purchased the entire series in order that I might read one installment every month for my “Marsons of the Month” blog series. I look forward to reading the future installments in this brilliant crime series. Oh, and in case you didn’t already guess… “Child’s Play” is very highly recommended by me.

I purchased “Child’s Play“ in Kindle format.

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

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

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookouture | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Safe – a lovely break in these stressful times

After almost three weeks away, we have arrived home safe and healthy. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and then boarded a cruise ship which stopped at Curaçao, Aruba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatamala, Mexico, and then on to San Diego, California where we disembarked. Flew from San Diego to Toronto – missed our connection due to a delay – then flew on home to Nova Scotia.

We traveled a total of 5,050 nautical miles on our cruise and flew approximately 4,827 miles before and after!

Despite the world’s worries and concerns about the deadly Corona virus, we encountered no delays because of it. Scarily, in San Diego airport, no one asked us if we had been on a cruise ship, or where we had traveled. There were no signs or warnings about the virus, and no ‘Purell’ stations with which to disinfect our hands. (luckily we travel with our own supply). In Toronto, where we went through customs, no one made mention of the virus, or our previous destinations. The same in Halifax.

Willemstad, Curaçao waterfront

The Queen Emma Bridge is a pontoon bridge across St. Anna Bay in Curaçao

above ground cemetery in Aruba

a natural bridge in Aruba

aloe farm in Aruba

Our cruise was a marvelous experience where we discovered many different cultures that were new to us. We had lovely weather the entire time (sometimes too lovely – it was 97F / 36C degrees for three days straight). We went on several interesting excursions. We saw Mayan antiquities, famous cathedrals, beautiful monastery ruins, live volcanoes, ethnic dancing and crafts, scary critters such as crocodiles etc., beautiful birds, and experienced the Costa Rican rain forest close up (we crossed three hanging bridges and the views were nothing short of incredible!) We visited an aloe farm and a jade factory. We sailed through the magnificent Panama Canal – one of the seven wonders of the world.

view from high up in the rain forest – Costa Rica

crossing a hanging bridge in the Costa Rican rain forest

fruit vendor stalls on a Guatamalan street

we went on a tricycle ride through the streets of Corinto, Nicaragua – In 97 degree heat, our driver worked hard pedalling us around

Nicaraguan craftswoman making sturdy baskets out of pine needles

going through the first lock of the Panama Canal. Our large ship had only two feet of clearance on each side!

We visited the UNESCO heritage site of the antique city of Antigua. Wow!

Santa Catalina Arch, Antiqua

the ruins of the Iglesia del Carmen

we saw many Tuk-Tuks (peculiar little three-wheeled motorized vehicles)

Santo Domingo Church and Monastery is a ruined monastery in Antigua Guatemala

Mayan street vendors – Guatemala

interior and exterior views of the cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Peurto Vallarta, Mexico (everything you see that is gold is REAL GOLD!)

within the cathedral they were making a beautiful carpet made of sawdust! They do this on the streets during their feast days only to have the people walk on them and destroy their beautiful work!

We did experience two days of rather rough seas, but I was unfazed. I well and truly had my ‘sea-legs’.  Here are a few photos taken aboard our ship:


I took literally hundreds of photos, but just had to share a few of them with you.

All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable trip. We arrived home just in time to evade the new restrictions on international travel. Whew!  Although we feel absolutely healthy and fine, we are self-quarantining ourselves for the recommended fourteen days, just to be safe.

I managed to read four books while I was away and will post my reviews sometime soon.

Posted in Fictionophile report, personal | Tagged | 40 Comments

Cover Love: part 86 – Telephones

In my 86th installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I thought I’d do a post about telephones on book covers. Telephones have evolved drastically over the years. The older phones evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Back then, telephones were the only fast method of communicating with another person – unlike today with the internet, social media, texting, etc.

Due to my ‘ancient’ age, I can remember many of the different permutations of the phone. When I was VERY small, we lived in a rural area and had an old wooden phone with a party line.  Then as I started school, we had one of those rotary dial wall phones with long curly cord. When I went out with my friends, my mother always made sure I had a dime in my penny loafers so that if I needed to, I could call home on a pay phone. When I was a teenager,  I had what they used to call a ‘princess’ phone with push buttons. Now, I along with millions of others, have a ‘smart’ phone with instant access to the internet, which takes photos, etc.

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

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

These titles encompass a wide variety of genres.  Enjoy!

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

Please let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to check out any of the other previous 85 installments of Cover Love, many of which have been updated since they were first published.

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets | Tagged | 10 Comments

Wednesday’s Word = SEA

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

I know there are hundreds of books with the word ‘sea’ in the title, but I’m featuring a small selection of titles that appeal to me personally, as a way of sharing my book love.

As you view this post, I am literally at sea. So therefore I thought the word ‘sea’ would be particularly apt for this week.

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?

So many fabulous ones here. 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.

The graphic below shows where I am right now, so it might take me a week or so to respond…


Posted in Wednesday Word | Tagged | 4 Comments

Goodbye February – Fictionophile update and #BookHaul

As followers of this blog will know, I am currently on vacation and have prepared this post a few weeks ago. As a result I am unable to respond to comments or interact with you socially until I return in mid March.

As I wasn’t home for a big chunk of February, my book haul this month is quite small. My TBR is relieved. LOL

I added FIVE review commitments in February:

From Edelweiss I downloaded ONE new title:

AND from NetGalley, I downloaded THREE new titles:

NetGalley feeds my readerSUPER EXCITED about this first one!

Don’t you just LOVE this cover?

And… I received “The Memories We Bury” directly from the author, H.A. Leuschel

Before I left on my trip, I managed to purchase FIVE new Kindle books at great prices which I have included below the cover graphics.






See how we’re doing with the Edelweiss Reviewer’s Challenge so far…

It’s not too late to join in as the challenge goes to Dec. 31, 2020

Click here to join us in reading and reviewing Edelweiss titles!

Just HAD to share this photo of my little grandson on Valentine’s  Day

As you read this post I am cruising through the Panama Canal…. I’ll be back to blogging full time on March 13th.  Hope you drop by then.

Posted in Anticipated titles, Fictionophile report | Tagged | 5 Comments

“The Birds That Stay” by Ann Lambert – Book Review

Anna Newman, a woman in her eighties is found dead outside her home in rural Quebec. An accomplished artist, the woman has lived almost like a recluse. The police department don’t seem overly interested in finding out about her death, so homicide detective Roméo Leduc feels duty bound to find who took her life – and why.

The protagonists are both of the ‘sandwich generation‘. They struggle with dealing with the problems of their adult children and the dilemma of aging parents.

Roméo Leduc – is a Detective Chief Inspector working for the Sûreté du Québec, who works out of an office in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.  Roméo is a workaholic and has little to no personal life. He is a secret vegetarian and has just given up smoking. Forty-nine years old, divorced, and the father of two adult children, Roméo is lonely.

Marie Russell – is an author of nature books. Since separating from her husband of over twenty years, Marie has no one to share her life. She is now in the unenviable and traumatic situation of having to put her mother in a nursing home.

Secondary characters:

Louis Lachance – 86 years of age, is a local handman who works for seasonal residents and locals as well.

Ennis Jamieson – an affluent estate planner and investment advisor, is married to a beautiful woman and is the father to two young children as well as being step-father to his wife’s son from a prior relationship. Ennis has received several threatening letters recently which disturb him greatly – because Ennis has a secret…

Susie – is seeking revenge for the death of her teenage sister over twenty years ago.

With well wrought descriptions of Quebec’s Laurentian region, this novel has a strong sense of place. The primary setting is a village of about eight hundred people about an hours drive from Montreal.

The novel incorporates many social observations and cultural references within its pages. With themes of anti-Semitism, Nazi war criminals, ageism, identity fraud, and family secrets, this book held my interest throughout. This is NOT a fast-paced mystery as it delves into many of the character’s back stories and thoughts. Most of the time I thoroughly enjoyed these digressions, but occasionally I found them to ‘bog down’ the narrative somewhat.

This novel is comprised of complex characters who take what life deals out to them with stoicism and acceptance. Leduc and Russell were characters that I want to read more of in future books. The second novel in this series, “The Dogs of Winter” will be published in October of 2020. I can highly recommend this novel and this potential series to readers who enjoy a more hefty, literary, slow-paced mystery.

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 Second Story Press via Edelweiss.         ISBN: 9781772600919  –  ASIN: B07NHJSBLN  –  224 pages

Ann Lambert has been writing and directing for the stage for thirty-five years. Several of her plays, including The Wall, Parallel Lines, Very Heaven, The Mary Project and Two Short Women have been performed in theatres in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. In the spring of 2019, she launched a new theater company called Ouest End in Montreal. Ann is also the vice-president of The Theresa Foundation. She has been a teacher of English literature at Dawson College for almost twenty-eight years in Montreal, Quebec, where she makes her home.

Posted in 1st in series, Book Reviews, Canadian fiction, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

20 Questions with Robert Crouch – #AuthorInterview @robertcrouchuk #crimefiction

Today I am delighted to feature an interview with crime fiction author Robert Crouch. Over to you Robert…

RC – Thank you so much for letting me answer your questions. They were challenging and great fun at the same time, and probably the most interesting questions I’ve answered. And thank you for being so thorough in your research.

F – Congratulations on your crime fiction series featuring Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer. After reading your bio, I discovered that you worked in this field for many years. What was it about the job that you thought lent itself to crime solving?

RC – Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) are law enforcement officers. We protect public health, safety at work, hygiene in restaurants, that kind of thing. This means we have the skills and experience to investigate offences and take prosecutions. We follow the same rules and procedures as the police, and often work with them. While we don’t investigate crimes like murder, we gather evidence, interview suspects and so on.

I started thinking how much fun it would be to have an EHO solving murders. After all, if an elderly lady from St Mary Mead can do it, why not an EHO? We have extensive contacts in the community and local business world and work with many other agencies – as I try to show in my books. This gives EHOs access to lots of information and knowledge.

It also offers a different, if not unique slant on crime and crime fiction, which I hope readers will enjoy.

F – I understand that you started writing at a very young age. Could you tell us a little about your career path as a novelist?

RC – I won a national short story competition when I was 12. I asked for a typewriter for my 13th birthday, which raised a few eyebrows. After saving money from my paper round, I bought a portable typewriter and wrote my first novel at the age of 17. I sent it to a children’s publisher and received a very complimentary letter back, but no offer. I didn’t tell them I was only 17. I was worried they might think I was some precocious kid.

Maybe I should have told them…

After leaving school, life, work, marriage and building a home pushed writing into the background. My writing was piecemeal and lacked any direction or purpose. With hindsight, I realise I wasn’t writing about what mattered to me. That realisation didn’t arrive until the late 1980s when Inspector Morse and Miss Marple were on TV. Then I read A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, and discovered PI Kinsey Millhone.

At last I knew what I wanted to do.

I created EHO, Kent Fisher, and wrote three novels. An agent advised me the characters weren’t strong enough so I revised and revised, but I was never happy with the results.

In 2006, I quit smoking, not realising it would mean an end to writing as the two were intrinsically linked. Nine months later, the urge to write returned. I started a humorous blog about my experiences as an Environmental Health Manager. In an effort to disguise myself, I used Kent Fisher to relate the tales and called it Fisher’s Fables. This is now a book that contains every blog post.

Five years into the blog, I realised what was staring me in the face – I’d found my author voice.

I rewrote two of the original novels. An author friend introduced me to a publisher, who read the first chapter of No Accident and offered me a contract. It was published in June 2016 and the adventure began.

F – You have set the Kent Fisher novels in East Sussex – your home turf. Do you think an author can write a successful novel if they’ve never visited the setting of their book?

RC – I’m sure they can, but I’ll bet they can write a better novel if they know an area well. I’ve never taken Kent anywhere that I haven’t visited, including the local police custody unit and an embalming room at an undertaker’s. If he ventures beyond the South Downs, it’s always to somewhere I know reasonably well.

F – Though I haven’t yet read the Kent Fisher novels, I’ve learned from reading reviews that he is quite the rebel who bends the rules on occasion. Are any of Kent Fisher’s experiences your own?

RC – Kent often acts the way I wanted to, but couldn’t without breaking rules. But I could still be creative in my solutions to real problems, as long as no one was hurt or adversely affected by my actions.

Many of my experiences from hygiene inspections, infectious disease investigation and more mundane issues find their way into the stories to add a little colour and give people a window on a world they know little about. For instance, I’ve investigated several fatal workplace accidents in my career. I used these experiences to create a murder disguised as a work accident. That’s how Kent investigates his first murder. But the accident is completely fictitious.

All the experiences I use in the books are fictionalised for two reasons –

1. I don’t want to upset or offend anyone.
2. They are much more exciting and fun to write.

F –  I see from your website that you have a sweet little dog, a West Highland terrier named Harvey. Has Harvey ever inspired one of your plots?

RC – Harvey’s yet to inspire a plot, though he features strongly in all the books as Columbo. He’s instrumental in helping Kent solve murders, especially in the climax to No Bodies. Columbo is also Kent’s sounding board, which allows me to reveal what he’s thinking and deducing in a more interesting way. Readers seem to enjoy this relationship and love Columbo, of course.

F – At present, there are five Kent Fisher novels with two other books that feature this character. Do you think there will be many more Fisher novels, or has this character run his course?

RC – My aim has always been to write credible novels that offer a fresh approach to crime fiction. In real life, EHOs don’t investigate murders, which raises the challenge I call ‘Jessica Fletcher syndrome’. I don’t want people to be murdered wherever Kent goes. Neither does he set out to investigate murders. He’s drawn into these investigations, sometimes reluctantly, which makes them more believable and realistic, I hope.

As I don’t plan the novels, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Neither can I plan ahead as each new book depends on what happened in the one before, if that makes sense.

Then there’s the backstory, which is Kent’s personal and work lives, his animal sanctuary and the characters close to him. What happens to them also influences the books that may follow. Sometimes, Kent and other characters surprise me by not doing what I want them to do. This can take parts of the story in a different direction, which in turn will influence what happens in the backstory and the next novel.

All I can say is that as long as I can put Kent through the wringer in an entertaining murder mystery, I’ll keep writing about him.

F – If you attended a crime writer’s convention and all of your favourite novelists were in attendance, who would you most like to meet?

RC – I’d love to have a good natter with many of the novelists I’m friends with on social media. Who would I most like to meet? It would have to be Louise Ross, who writes the Inspector Ryan series as LJ Ross. The books are easy to read, entertaining in so many ways and the right blend of character and plot. I’ve been told we have similar writing styles, so it would be interesting to find out how she plots and works.

F – Writers also tend to be avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?

RC – Crime fiction, would you believe?

I rarely depart from crime as there’s so much to choose from and I love discovering new authors. Police procedurals tend to be my favourites, especially Peter James, who sets his novels down the road in Brighton. Sue Grafton is my favourite novelist of all time and the inspiration behind Kent Fisher. I prefer the cosy end of the market to gritty and violent stories. There’s enough of that in the world already without adding to it.

F – If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a drink with another crime novelist – who would it be?

RC – I was lucky enough to have a conversation on Facebook Messenger with Sue Grafton a couple of years before she died. As well as offering an insight into her life and writing, it was a wonderful experience that made me wish I could meet her in person.

I met Elly Griffiths at a talk a few years ago. She was a hoot – very funny and such a lovely person. I managed to get a few words with her and left wishing we could spend more time together, talking crime and writing.

F – What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known?

RC – Apart from me? LOL.

There are so many good writers to choose from. Looking back over the authors I’ve read in the last couple of years, the one I’ve enjoyed reading the most is Cheryl Bradshaw. She writes a series featuring private eye Sloane Monroe, who reminds me of Sue Grafton’s, Kinsey Millhone. The series is set in the US, where she may be well known, but I’m not sure many people have heard of her in the UK.

F – What has been YOUR favourite crime fiction title read recently? (I ask so that we can all add that title to our TBRs.)

RC – I’ve just finished an advance copy of Bury Them Deep by James Oswald. The story ticked along at a measured pace with the plot slowly spreading out like ripples on a pond. The further I read, the better it became as the missing person plotline grew into something far more sinister and complex. It’s a brilliant example of how to build momentum and complexity through credible, engaging characters and a plot with more depth than you first realise.

F – Do you have family and/or friends proof-read your novel, or did you depend on your publisher’s editorial staff?

RC – My wife, Carol, is the first to read my revised and edited first draft. She always gives me an honest appraisal and flags up any errors or concerns. A couple of beta readers also give me honest feedback before my professional editor, Liz, gives me her valuable input. Then it’s up to me to apply the final polish.

I have to say I love editing and revising, polishing and improving the story.

F – Do you read all the reviews of your work? How important are reviews to YOU as a novelist?

RC – Always. It’s the best way to find out what works and doesn’t work for readers. My books will never appeal to everyone, so it’s good to know what works. Reviews can also help readers who haven’t tried your books before.

All authors want reviews. It’s good for visibility and hopefully encourages new readers to read our books, which is why bloggers like you make such a positive difference to authors like me.

F – What part of being a novelist do you dislike the most? Re-writes? Book promotion? Pushy bloggers? LOL

RC – Easy – writing a synopsis. Agents and publishers always want them. I understand this, but I can’t write them as I don’t plan my novels. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I did, they wouldn’t be as exciting to write.

When I became an indie author, I solved that dislike, only to create another – writing the blurb. It’s not easy condensing 85,000 words into a short, eye catching pitch that grabs readers. I do my best, but I’m always looking to improve it where I can.

F – Do you find the prospect of maintaining a series daunting?

RC – Each book can be daunting if I think about it too much. I worry about the stories becoming hackneyed and repetitive. Then readers tell me each book is better than the last, which means the bar keeps getting higher, increasing the pressure. That’s why I focus only on the story I’m writing. I listen to my inner voice, which soon tells me if something isn’t working.

I do the best I can and hope each book gives the reader as much fun and enjoyment as it gave me when I wrote it.

F – I am a huge fan of cover art and have been working on a blog series called “Cover Love”. How much input do you have in choosing the covers for your books? Why is there a raven on the cover of each book?

RC – It’s a partnership with my cover designer, Jane. I wanted a distinct brand that said murder mystery. The photograph in the background is one I took and used for every book. I then suggest the foreground images which change for each book, along with the title, strapline and blurb, of course. Everything else is down to Jane, who came up with the font, the layout, the styling and the shades we use.

The crow is symbolic of murder, so I thought it would be fun to have it on every cover. There’s also a Westie on the spine of the paperbacks to let people know the books sit at the cosy end of the crime fiction market.

F – I have long been a fan of the British police procedural – yet I live in Canada. (My excuse is that my Mum was a war-bride from Lincolnshire). Do you find you have as many fans in North America as in Britain?

RC – Unfortunately, I don’t, which is why I’m delighted to be interviewed by you. It would be brilliant to be discovered by your fellow Canadians. If they’d like to spread the word to the guys south of you, I might be able to give you a different answer.

F – How long does it normally take you to write a book from start to finish?

RC – It can take anywhere between 4 and 8 months to write the first draft. Then I put it to one side for 4-6 weeks to clear it out of my system before editing and revising, which usually takes about a month, occasionally longer.

F – I’ve recently retired from a library career and have known for some time that mysteries/crime thrillers are some of the most read genres of fiction. Why do you think crime fiction is so popular? Why did YOU choose this genre?

RC – It’s about life and death, I guess. People are fascinated by murder and love to see the killers hunted down and brought to justice, which is what we all want in real life, but don’t always get. Fictional crime is also much safer, but still exciting and gritty, if that’s what you like.I chose to write crime fiction because I love mysteries, cryptic crosswords, word games and puzzles. I want to write murder mysteries as complex and baffling as the ones produced by Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter. Imagine my delight when readers and bloggers compare my books to those by Agatha Christie.

F – What interview question have you not been asked yet that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

RC – I don’t know if there’s a question I wish people would ask, but there’s one I’ve anticipated but have not been asked yet.

Why do you write?

The simple answer is because I have to.

I love to tell stories as much as I love to read them. Fiction was always more appealing than reality when I was a child. My father died when I was eight and we were poor. Reading gave me an escape, a chance to escape into wonderful new worlds where anything was possible.

Writing allowed me to create my own worlds and dreams. When I discovered that others liked my stories, I knew I wanted to entertain people, to let them share my dreams and world. That’s why I always kept going, even when the rejection slips suggested I would never make it as an author.

In the end, I did make it and there’s nothing better than knowing others enjoy the story you wrote.

That’s why I write.

F – Thank-you SO much Robert! I enjoyed your responses as I imagine my blog’s followers will as well.

If you want to add the Kent Fisher series to your Goodreads TBR just click on this icon:

Visit the website of Robert Crouch
Follow Robert Crouch on Twitter

After a long career as an environmental health officer, Robert Crouch now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. You can often find him walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, researching his settings. The peace and beauty of those rolling hills and sheer white cliffs always inspire him, filling him with ideas for future Kent Fisher mysteries.

Posted in author interviews, Authors | Tagged , | 6 Comments

“Old Lovegood Girls” by Gail Godwin – Book Review

“The story of two remarkable women and the complex friendship between them that spans decades.”

About the book:

When the dean of Lovegood Junior College for Girls decides to pair Feron Hood with Merry Jellicoe as roommates in 1958, she has no way of knowing the far-reaching consequences of the match. Feron, who has narrowly escaped from a dark past, instantly takes to Merry and her composed personality. Surrounded by the traditions and four-story Doric columns of Lovegood, the girls–and their friendship–begin to thrive. But underneath their fierce friendship is a stronger, stranger bond, one comprised of secrets, rivalry, and influence–with neither of them able to predict that Merry is about to lose everything she grew up taking for granted, and that their time together will be cut short.

Ten years later, Feron and Merry haven’t spoken since college. Life has led them into vastly different worlds. But, as Feron says, once someone is inside your “reference aura,” she stays there forever. And when each woman finds herself in need of the other’s essence, that spark–that remarkable affinity, unbroken by time–between them is reignited, and their lives begin to shift as a result.

Luminous and literary, Old Lovegood Girls is the story of a powerful friendship between talented writers, two college friends who have formed a bond that takes them through decades of a fast-changing world, finding and losing and finding again the one friendship that defines them.

Two very different young women are paired up to be roommates at a prestigious women’s junior college in 1950s North Carolina.  The unlikely pair will remain lifelong friends.

“Secrets are the only personal assets some of us have.”

Merry Jellicoe – the much loved daughter of tobacco farmers, is pleasant, optimistic, transparent, and easy to be with. Merry has a strong moral compass which influences her own life and the lives she comes into contact with.  Her life is detoured by circumstance and tragedy.

Feron Wood – reserved, competitive, ironic, with a dry humour comes from a dysfunctional family background. A successful writer, Feron eschews personal possessions and lives keeping her emotions and her secrets to herself.

“Some of us want to learn so we may be looked upon by others as learned, which is ridiculous vanity; others of us desire to learn so that we may morally instruct others, and this is love; and lastly there are those of us who wish to learn so that we may become enlightened ourselves, and that is prudence.”

A beautifully written, cerebral novel which is a fine example of literary fiction. The characters were easily imagined, and all too human.

The passage of time is portrayed partly through correspondence between the two vastly different women. Theirs is a friendship which doesn’t require constant nurturing. Years go by without them seeing each other, yet when they do meet up – it is as if they had spoken only the day before. They never run out of conversation.

Both women are talented writers with very different life stories upon which they draw to write their books. Tragedy, happiness, sickness, loss, success and failure all contribute to their lives – and their friendship.

The book touches on psychological and philosophical themes. As our lives unfold over the years are we actually many different versions of ourselves? Do we all hold back a certain private part of ourselves which no one else ever discovers? Does the way we deal with disappointment and uncertainty shape the way our lives pan out? Why is it that two different people can remember the very same event in such a vastly different way?

If you are looking for a fast-paced novel, you will not find it here. Literary analogies, repetition, and philosophical debate permeate the narrative. Intellectual, slow-paced, literary fiction with a poignant ending. 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 Bloomsbury Publishing via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9781632868220               352 pages

Gail Kathleen Godwin is an American novelist and short story writer. She has published one non-fiction work, two collections of short stories, and eleven novels, three of which have been nominated for the National Book Award and five of which have made the New York Times Bestseller List.
Godwin’s body of work has garnered many honors, including three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts grants for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Five of her novels have been on the New York Times best seller list.
Gail Godwin lives and writes in Woodstock, New York.

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Literary fiction | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

“The Cottage in a Cornish Cove” by Cass Grafton – Book Review

An unexpected inheritance of a lovely old cottage in an idyllic Cornish setting makes the perfect jumping off point for this charming romance.

Anna Redding leaves her boyfriend, her job, and her housemates in Yorkshire, and moves to Cornwall to make a fresh start.  The cottage she has recently inherited from her ‘Aunt’ Meg was the site of many memorable and happy summers during her childhood.  Once there, she comes to love the old house anew, adopts a stray kitten, and slowly becomes immersed in village life.  Her old childhood flame is back in the village as well, and Anna finally gets a chance to get to know him.

To help fill her time, she takes a part-time typing job for a local author. Pleased with how her life is going, Anna is the happiest she’s ever been. Until… her newfound home and her life in Cornwall becomes under threat.

I’m a huge fan of the television series “Doc Martin” and I must confess that the entire time I was reading this novel, I imagined the setting to be Port Isaac, Cornwall where the series is set.  In many ways idyllic, the setting played a huge part in this novel.

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove” is the first novel in a series set in the fictional village of Polkerran and based upon the setting AND the stellar characters I plan to read the next book in the series.

This was a ‘feel-good’ modern romance story.  Romance is not usually my preferred genre, but I must say this was very entertaining and held my rapt attention throughout. Yes, it has a predictable outcome – yes, it has a happy ending… BUT it was still a very enjoyable novel and a great escapist read. I love a great ‘starting over’ theme, and this fit the bill admirably. Recommended highly to all romance lovers.

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 Rachel’s Random Resources in order that I might participate in the blog tour.

ASIN: B083H2Q5V9     ISBN:  9781696199353          350 pages

Purchase Links

GIVEAWAY!  Win ONE OF THREE Paperback Copies of The Cottage in a Cornish Cove (Open internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for fulfillment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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An avid bookworm since childhood, Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and imaginary cats, and England, where she lives with her characters.

Cass Grafton’s Blogs






Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Love stories, Rachel's Random Resources | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

“Mile Marker 139” by Cynthia Hilston – Book Review

There is a rest stop near Mile Marker 139 on the Ohio Turnpike. It is here that we come to meet the characters of this compelling novel. Lost souls all, they come to find themselves through friendship and empathy.

Disparate and unique, these characters consist of a real cross-section of humanity. We are privileged to get to know them a little as they experience some very tough life challenges.

Mike Popkins – a sixty-something widower, works as a janitor at the rest stop. Lonely, out of shape, and still grieving for his wife who passed away five years ago. He lives alone and seldom visits his grown son and grandsons.

Russ Jacobs – a handsome though solitary trucker who has just celebrated his fortieth birthday. Years ago, Russ was betrayed in love and he has been wary of relationships ever since. He drives his rig long distances to forget is heartbreak.

Sarah Wilcox – a young recent university graduate, she works selling coffee to the myriad customers who stop during their travels. Sarah wants more from her life, yet she cannot decide which direction her life should take. She is deeply dissatisfied with living at home with her parents. She wants to travel the world – much as her beloved grandfather did before he recently passed away…

Each of these three characters come to notice Shelley, and attempt to befriend her, causing their own lives will be impacted in a dramatic fashion.

Shelley Parkinson – a mystery – an enigmatic woman who arrives during the middle of the night at the rest stop. Shelley might once have been attractive, though now her appearance seems ravaged from her inner turmoil. Her once long hair has been shorn by manicure scissors. She sits outside, chain-smoking, at one of the picnic tables no matter what the weather. She sits alone – for hours on end muttering to herself “One thirty-nine. Three fourteen. Eight-twenty”.

Why does she come to this rest stop every night? What has caused her so much emotional distress? The other characters can sense how very ‘broken‘ she is. Will one, or all of them, be able to bridge the chasm and really get to know her – and her story?

From the very first pages I was completely immersed in this novel. The characters all came to life and I was anxious to learn more about them, and how their lives might intersect.

The narrative jumps from one character to another, yet this does not in any way deter from the enjoyment of the read. All of the characters were written with deep understanding and empathy showing that loneliness can be experienced by anyone – not just by those who are actually ‘alone’.

As we go about living our messy, busy lives, this novel serves to remind us that every person we encounter has their own story to tell. Their stories are often tragic, so we must practice kindness whenever we can. Ordinary people, yet all extraordinary in their own way.

A rare little gem of a novel that I probably wouldn’t have picked up if not for being approached to take part in the blog blitz. For that reason I wish to express a huge thank-you to Rachel’s Random Resources and the author, Cynthia Hilston for a fantastic read which I shan’t soon forget.  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 Rachel’s Random Resources in order that I might participate in the one-day blog blitz.

ASIN: B07Y7MJQM4   ISBN:  9781695005662          275 pages

Cynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay-at-home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction.
In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Social Media Links –  www.cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cynthiahilston

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorcynthiahilston

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, Favorite books, Literary fiction, Rachel's Random Resources | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

♥ Happy Valentine’s Day ♥ – Seeing RED

I thought I’d do something new this Valentine’s Day. Inspired by my ‘Blue Monday‘ post from January, I thought I’d showcase books with RED covers from my Goodreads shelves for February.  These are all books I’ve either already read or plan to read in the future.

Hope one or two of these appeals to you.

Perhaps you’ll find something new for your TBR…

Posted in Dustjackets | Tagged | 15 Comments

20 Questions with James McEwan – #AuthorInterview

Today I’m delighted to have the privilege of interviewing James McEwan, author, blogger, and army veteran.   I’ve followed James’ blog for quite some time.

F: You are a Scot living in Lanark, Scotland. How important is your country of birth to your writing?

My reading experience began with Just William, The Famous Five, and novels by Robert Louis Stevenson. I won a book as a school prize, Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott, which at the time was intense reading for a twelve-year-old. I was more influenced by the descriptions of the countryside in those books rather than the characters. The Scottish landscape and towns are important in my writing as it is a way of discovering the history and atmosphere that may pass by in everyday life.

In my book, The Case of the Mahjong Dragon, the short story “Murder at The Falls” takes place around the Corra Linn Falls on the River Clyde, New Lanark and along the areas where I frequently go for long walks. Areas of Glasgow also feature in many other stories.

F:  March is Short Story Month. How long did it take you to complete the stories for your anthology “The Listener”?

 I selected the stories for The Listener from a collection of my work, which I originally did not consider publishing. The project came about from a challenge by some friends to compile the stories into a book. This took about three months. I changed the cover twice since 2014 and made some editorial corrections after the initial publication. This was my early learning process in self-publication and a great experience. Afterwards, I published two short stories and poetry books for the Lanark Writers.

F: You feature ‘Flash Fiction’ frequently on your blog. How important is flash fiction to YOUR writing experience? What is your own personal favourite flash fiction of those you have featured on your blog?

 I take part in the online Friday Fictioneers, the site posts a picture as inspiration for a 100-word story. For me, this is an exercise in concise writing where I take the fiction beyond the immediate illustration and create a world where the reader’s imagination explores alternative possibilities. The response and brief feedback are excellent as it allows me to judge if I have captured and conveyed the story’s emotion succinctly.

F: Your novel “Missing” is touted as “A subtle, psychological revelation of a family’s secrets”.  What inspired you to write this novel?

 I have only recently returned to live in Lanark after working abroad for most of my time. At a family gathering I met some people I started primary school with. I always thought of them as my cousins, in fact they were my father’s cousins. This sparked an idea about family history and how little I knew about my wider group of relatives. What other revelations would I learn about our family from the archives? (I add, the story in Missing is not about my family).  I came up with the idea; what if you were not who you thought you were?

F: I’ve been following your blog for a while now. Do you think your blog in any way influenced your literary success?

 Writing on the blog has given me the confidence to try out different styles and ideas and has become a weekly pleasure. Success is subjective and to me it means when people find my work entertaining and enjoy the stories.

F:  There is a widely held opinion that authors should ‘write what they know’. Have you followed this advice? Why? Or Why not?

 I let my imagination and creativity take over; it feels liberating, particularly in the initial draft of writing which I follow up with research to fill in the knowledge gaps and background detail. However, writing what you know adds credibility to the story and authentic gems borne out of experience. I write my stories for the Lanark Writers Group based on my childhood experience in the countryside as it stimulates interest and discussions about their lives.

F: If you attended a writer’s convention and all of your favourite novelists were in attendance, who would you most like to meet?

Bernhard Schlink; author of The Reader. It fascinated me on how he conflicted both individual and national guilt using his character of a female guard from a concentration camp in WWII.

F: Writers also tend to be avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?

 I do not have a specific genre but will read what catches my attention. I will always pick up a Tartan Noir – I absorb Ian Rankin’s Rebus books, James Oswald’s The Inspector McLean Mysteries. Other authors I read are Alex Grey, Chris Brookmyre, Val McDermid and Lin Anderson.

I also enjoy James Paterson, Clive Cussler, Stephen King and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series.

I frequently will read novels that never reach the limelight, for instance – Ramshackle by Elizabeth Reeder, and The Healing of Luther Grove by Barry Garnell.

This week I am reading, I’ll Keep you Safe by Peter May.

F: If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a drink with another novelist – who would it be?

 So many; I would like to meet Denise Mina, she comes across as entertaining company. Her Garnethill crime series of books were a dark period of my reading.

The Garnethill trilogy is a personal favourite of mine too James.

F: What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known?

Diane M. Dickson is a writer of crime novels and I have enjoyed all of her books, Leaving George and Pictures of You, to name two. (publisher -The Book Folks mystery suspense thriller publisher).

I first met Diane when we used to write and comment on a Shortbread Stories. An online site run from Dundee University with support from Robin Pilcher – son of Rosamunde Pilcher. (The site is no longer available).

Diane and a few friends from the Shortbread Site have set up their own short story site https://literallystories2014.com. Where they have attracted hundreds of writers and publish a new story every day.

F: What has been YOUR favourite fiction title read recently? (I ask so that we can all add that title to our TBRs.)

 Unfashioned Creatures by Lesley McDowell.

F: Did you have family and/or friends proof-read your novel?

 I avoid letting my friends and family read my draft work, although I appreciate their views on the finished work. I had a contact from Glasgow University who critiqued and proofread my novel Missing.

F: Do you read all the reviews of your work? How important are reviews to YOU as a writer?

 I love Amazon and Goodreads reviews; it means someone has thought about the book and taken the time to say something. I have no qualms about critical reviews and respect that every reader has an honest opinion. As a new writer, these reviews are important as they help to pin-point areas in my writing ripe for improvement.  I have received complementary e-mails from readers of Missing; these were an uplifting bonus.

F: What part of being an author do you dislike the most? Re-writes? Book promotion?

 I enjoy all aspects of writing, publishing and getting people involved to create the book. (Editing and re-writes). I find book promotion uncomfortable and there are a series of hurdles in the process I am working on to leap over. My stumbling block is self-promotion where I feel awkward talking about myself to an audience.

I attend an Indie Authors World Group in Glasgow. At one meeting I promoted my book with a trailer video and a reading. It went well, although I did not enjoy being stared at, but since most of the onlookers were aspiring authors, I felt this was the wrong audience for book sales.

 F:  Other than flash fiction on your blog, what are you working on right now?

 I am writing a collection of short stories about relationships, where conflict exists because of unresolved expectations.

F: I am a huge fan of cover art and have been working on a blog series called “Cover Love”.  How much input do you have in choosing the covers for your books?

For my book Missing I received advice from a cover designer from Indie Authors. We considered what genre market to aim for, and colour scheme. I sourced the images and produced three draft covers. I wrapped them around some books to give the impression of a published product and gathered opinions from the Indie Authors Group in our Waterstones book shop meetings. The final cover was darker than I originally intended and I am not comfortable with the red waterfall.

F: Have you ever ‘people-watched’ to gain inspiration for any of your characters in your novel “Missing”? And, how did you pick your character’s names?

 In the novel Missing, the story is one of discovery and a family history search for the main character Laura. I created a complete family tree going back three generations in a small village and farming community. I selected the names at random, but I could visualise the characters and related them to real people I knew. For instance, I had an Aunt Margaret who enjoyed gardening, and I also knew a woman who spent most of her time in Wellingtons looking after horses. I based Charlie Dawson on a bad-tempered farmer who lived alone. The main character Laura came from observing a person on my school bus journeys. She would sit in the front seat and rarely spoke to anyone.

The mannerisms for Detective Sergeant Jackson were an exaggeration of a one of my college lecturers who spent most of his afternoons in the local pub.

 Since I started writing I observe people more closely, watching how they behave and speak in various situations. When creating a scene, I imagine how this person may appear and act – how they think is pure fiction.

F: Do you write every day? Tell us a little about your writing practice.

 I like to work from a spider diagram to collect ideas until I can see a story emerge. This could be a piece of poetry for the writers’ group or flash fiction. I have the end in mind and work backwards to form an outline with a list of words or short sentences before I write. My writing then becomes an irritative process where new ideas emerge, and the outline expands.

When writing Missing I focused and wrote most days until I completed the project. A typical day would start with a reviewed outline of the next chapter with the aim to complete relevant scenes, (I do not use word count targets and each writing day would range from 500 to 2000 words).  I spent my time at weekends checking facts, editing and correcting. My research is always basic at the outline stage as not all the detail is relevant in the first draft. I do further research on my second draft with rewriting and making changes throughout.

F: Other than writing, what are some of your favourite leisure activities?

 The Glasgow Concert Hall has some great music events and recently I went to see and listen to Belle and Sabastian. I also enjoy hill walking off the beaten tracks and keeping relatively fit with 5 – 10 mile runs.

I enjoy visiting the cinema for the large screen, also it is less disruption than watching films on the television at home.  “Joker” was the most recent film I attended.

I have played golf in the past and intend to get out more.

F: What interview question have you not been asked yet that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Why do you write?

 I took up writing after a 40-year career in Military Telecommunications, (from the mechanical teleprinter to the solid-state information age), to keep myself active. I see this as a retirement career where I can explore ideas and challenge myself to learn a wide range of subjects and to keep learning. I have resisted the temptation to write about my Army experience as there are many excellent books in the genre already.

Thanks SO much James for taking the time to answer my questions. It has been a treat to learn more about you and your books.

Check out James McEwan’s blog

Posted in author interviews, Authors | Tagged | 5 Comments

TBR poll results – What I’ll be reading soon

Earlier this month I shared a poll with you all that listed a dozen novels that I very much want to read. Because I have SO many review commitments, I am limiting myself to read just one of the twelve for now – and I let YOU choose which one. Thanks to the thirty-six people who were kind enough to vote.

The poll ran from Feb. 2nd to Feb. 12th and here are the results:


It looks as though my next ‘selfish read’ will be “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing

Thanks for weighing in and helping me choose.

Watch this space for my review of “My Lovely Wife” which will be coming soon…

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

“The Sea of Lost Girls” by Carol Goodman – Book Review

“People are mysteries, sometimes the people we thought we were closest to are the biggest mysteries of all.”

When teenage Lila Zeller is found dead at the bottom of a seaside cliff, Tess’s life is thrown into turmoil.  Lila was Tess’s son Rudy’s girlfriend AND she was tutored by her husband, Harmon. Tess herself doesn’t know for sure if either her son or her husband could have committed this crime, but she wants to protect them both. Not easy for her because she was very fond of Lila herself…

The policeman who is investigating Lila’s death went to school with Tess many years ago. The school where Tess and her husband teach is an elite boarding school on the scenic Maine coast. Haywood has a long and dark history of girls going missing and never heard from again…

Rudy has just about always a troubled boy. He doesn’t like to be touched, can lash out violently, was the victim of bullying, and suffers from precarious moods.

Tess’s relationship with her son Rudy is a volatile one. Tess is hiding a tragic secret from her son and all who know her. A secret which could destroy everything they have.

This is not my first Carol Goodman novel, but it is by far my favourite. I’m not sure if it’s because of the compelling plot or the atmospheric setting, but this book worked for me on just about every level.

The coastal Maine setting was very vivid, probably because the Maine scenery is very similar to that of where I live in Nova Scotia. I’ve visited Maine many times and love the coast. The fictional boarding school of Haywood was also very easy for me to picture in my mind.

Tess, her family, friends, and acquaintances were all portrayed realistically.

A novel of family secrets, crimes against women, guilt, courage, hidden truths, and the lengths parents sometimes go to protect their offspring. A book which shows how we sometimes create our own stories by choosing to remember events a certain way.

This novel will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy crime fiction with tight plots, vivid settings and sympathetic characters. 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 William Morrow Paperbacks/HarperCollins via Edelweiss.

ISBN: 9780062852021               320 pages

Carol Goodman is the critically acclaimed author of fourteen novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches writing and literature at the New School and SUNY New Paltz.

Follow Carol Goodman on Twitter
visit her website

Posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Page turners, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

“The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley – Book Review

What Happens When You Tell Your Truth?

Monica – 37 years old, a former corporate lawyer, she now owns and runs “Monica’s Cafe” in Fulham, London.  Monica is in her mid-thirties and her biological clock is ticking louder and louder every day. She dislikes herself for her truth, the fact that she wants to be a mother, married, and in charge of her future.

Julian – an elderly widower, he was once a socially busy artist. Now he is lonely, and lives in squalor. Julian finds the green notebook on a tomb in the cemetery he visits regularly.

Hazard – 38 years old, works in finance. It has been a long, long, time since Hazard has not been under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. His life is spinning out of control… He finds the green notebook in a wine bar.

Riley – 30 years old, a gardener and surfer from Perth, Australia. Blond, tanned, and very fit, Riley finds the notebook in his backpack while flying to London.

Alice – posts on Instagram how fabulous motherhood and her life is.  She is a social media ‘influencer‘. Her truth is that she is finding life, and being a mother to her four-month old daughter, overwhelming. She fears her marriage is in trouble and that her own identity seems to be slipping away. Alice finds the green notebook on the baby swing at the park.

Lizzie – 65 years old, a grandmother, retired maternity nurse, and now works part-time at a day-care center for mothers with addictions. Lizzie finds the green notebook on the floor of the day-care. Because of her curious nature, Lizzie will have a great impact on some of the people who have written in the book.

This little green notebook will – without even trying – change the lives of all of those who encounter it…

“Does anyone want to know the truth? Really? The truth often isn’t pretty. It’s not aspirational.”

This story affirms how we all think that the grass is greener – that everyone else’s lives are better than our own – and how very misleading appearances can be. Also, how, by telling the bald truth, several disparate and flawed characters come together in friendship. A ‘feel-good’ read that confirms that happiness is possible but it sometimes requires more effort than a lot of people are willing to expend. Or sometimes perhaps, it is just ‘kismet’.

This might seem like a light story, but it has several important messages. Didactic fiction wrapped up in empathy and humour, this is a story about hopes, dreams, addictions, parenthood, social media, friendship, and community.

I loved these characters and this story. With astounding clarity and transparency, Clare Pooley has written her own truth via a fictional story that will be sure to touch the hearts of its readers. 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 Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley.

ISBN: 9780735238435               368 pages

A former advertising executive with a successful husband, three healthy children, and a beautiful West London home, Clare Pooley was living a perfect life, or so it seemed. In 2015, she created an anonymous blog titled Mummy Was a Secret Drinker. She revealed herself to be the author in 2017, once she had landed a book deal. Her memoir, The Sober Diaries, published that year by Hodder in the U.K., examined her drinking problem and how she had started with a glass of wine in the evening and later found herself downing seven to 10 bottles a week.

The Authenticity Project was a more laborious effort. Born out of a writing workshop, the novel follows six disparate characters (most of them Londoners) brought together by a diary that falls into each of their hands by happenstance. This, her debut novel, was acquired in England for six figures by Transworld after a six-way auction, the novel was nabbed in an equally competitive situation in the U.S. Pamela Dorman bought it in a two-book deal, for her eponymous imprint at Viking, for a sum rumored to be in the high six figures.

Clare Pooley spent twenty years in the heady world of advertising before becoming a full-time mother. Pooley writes from her kitchen table in Fulham, London where she lives with her husband, three children, dog and an African pygmy hedgehog. She is currently at work on her second novel.

Follow Clare Pooley on Twitter.

Posted in Book Reviews, debut novels, Favorite books, Literary fiction, NetGalley, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments