Coffin Scarcely Used

Coffin Scarcely Used
Coffin Scarcely Used by Colin Watson

Dreams of Falling

Dreams of Falling
Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Coffin Scarcely Used By Colin Watson- Feature and Review


In the respectable seaside town of Flaxborough, the equally respectable councillor Harold Carobleat is laid to rest. Cause of death: pneumonia.
But he is scarcely cold in his coffin before Detective Inspector Purbright, affable and annoyingly polite, must turn out again to examine the death of Carobleat’s neighbour, Marcus Gwill, former prop. of the local rag, the Citizen. This time it looks like foul play, unless a surfeit of marshmallows had led the late and rather unlamented Mr Gwill to commit suicide by electrocution. (‘Power without responsibility’, murmurs Purbright.)
How were the dead men connected, both to each other and to a small but select band of other town worthies? Purbright becomes intrigued by a stream of advertisements Gwill was putting in the Citizen, for some very oddly named antique items…
Witty and a little wicked, Colin Watson’s tales offer a mordantly entertaining cast of characters and laugh-out-loud wordplay.


Coffin Scarcely Used (Flaxborough Chronicles, #1)Coffin Scarcely Used by Colin Watson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coffin Scarcely Used by Colin Watson is a 2018 Farrago publication. (This book was originally published in 1958)

What a wonderful find!!

I am happy this rather obscure mystery series has been rediscovered and propelled into the digital age.

I was unfamiliar with the series, to be honest, and was equal parts excited and skeptical about reading it. Described as a humorous mystery, and published in the fifties, I was worried it might be too silly, or too dated. I’ve also grown a little wary of mysteries or detective novels written back in this era due to extreme sexism. (Which is to be expected to some extent, and I do take the time frame into consideration, but some older titles are just too abusive in one way or another for me to be able to enjoy it.)

However, I needn’t have worried. This mystery/police procedural is an absolute delight!

Small towns are often deceptively wholesome. Flaxborough is a fine example of that. It is a small, sleepy seaside community, quite dignified, but it is hiding a shocking secret.

When a man passes away, the cause of death is barely remarked upon, it certainly didn’t raise any criminal alarms, but when his neighbor dies shortly thereafter, under rather odd circumstances, Detective Inspector Purbright is called in to investigate. What at first appeared to be an unusual way of committing suicide, may have been murder. It’s up to Purbright and Sargent Love to solve the puzzle.

This really is an exceptional mystery novel. It deals with some rather seedy topics without being graphic. In fact, one must read between the lines, since it isn’t stated outright. Still, there were conversations, about other issues that had yet to become hot button topics in the average house hold.

The humor is dry and witty, and the dialogue is razor sharp. This first installment is fairly short, and I easily read it in one sitting. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and once again, I am grateful this series is getting some recognition. Any mystery lover will appreciate this story and will be charmed by Love and Purbright. The ending was phenomenal, and a complete and rather shocking surprise!

I believe there are twelve installments in this series and I sincerely hope all of them will be formatted to digital. I am quite impressed with this little gem and would love to read every book in the series!





Colin Watson was educated at the Whitgift School in South Croydon, London. During his career as a journalist he worked in London and Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was a leader-writer for Kemsley Newspapers.

His book Hopjoy Was Here (1962) received the Silver Dagger Award. He was married, with three children, and lived in Lincolnshire. After retiring from journalism he designed silver jewellery.

As well as a series of humorous detective novels set in the imaginary town of Flaxborough, featuring Inspector Purbright, Watson also wrote and later revised a study of detective stories and thrillers called Snobbery with Violence.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dreams of Falling by Karen White- Feature and Review


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night the Lights Went Out comes an exquisite new novel about best friends, family ties and the love that can both strengthen and break those bonds.It's been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads--and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin's mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family's ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.



Dreams of FallingDreams of Falling by Karen White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dreams of Falling by Karen White is a 2018 Berkley publication.

So far, my summer reading experience has been second to none. I’ve enjoyed some great romances, thrillers, mysteries, and even touched base with my favorite series, and beach reads. So, Karen White faced some pretty stiff competition by the time I got around to reading this book. But, hands down this is my favorite book of summer.

Larkin is called home, from New York, to South Carolina, after a lengthy absence because her mother, Ivy, suffered a horrible, life threatening fall, under mysterious circumstances, which opens up a Pandora’s box of old family secrets. Meanwhile, Larkin must confront her painful past, and come to terms with the complicated relationship she has with Ivy and her father, and the horrible embarrassment she suffered back in high school.

Along the way, she will embark on a journey of self-discovery as she begins to decipher a decades old mystery surrounding her late grandmother.

Southern lit is a lot like indulging in good southern food. It always feels a little more succulent, a little more decadent, a lot more sinful, and much heavier and meatier. It’s also very comforting and always leaves me feeling peacefully gratified. Karen White’s southern dramas has the same effect on me as having consumed a huge southern style meal, a nice bottle of red wine, a rich dessert, and lovely cup of strong coffee to sip on, while I kick back and savor the feeling of satisfaction, absorbing and digesting all the various angles of the story, the characterizations, and the big emotions her stories often bring to the surface.

This book is no exception- but, this time, Ms. White has taken it to a whole new level. I have often lamented the death of those fabulous family sagas, wishing that someday, someone would come along and refresh the genre to fit into our busy lives, where huge ‘doorstopper’ tomes don’t quite fit anymore.

Karen White pulls that off with a novel that covers several generations but manages to wrap everything up in one book in just a little over four hundred pages.

Only a veteran, seasoned author could pull off this type of prose, using a variety of narrative options, going back and forth in time. Again- White stitched together an intricate web that kept me transfixed from beginning to end. There was never even the tiniest blip. If I had to make a complaint, I have to say I wish I had gotten a clearer picture of Bitty, and I wish Ivy’s past had been a bit more fleshed out, with a deeper analysis regarding her flightiness.

Other than that, this is a near perfect representation of southern lit. Long buried family secrets, a mystery, a small paranormal tint, eccentric characters, a wide range of voices and moods, lots of high drama and waves of emotions, strong familial ties and equally strong bonds of friendship, with a tender and sweet romance to cap it all off.

Naturally, one doesn’t want to over indulge in large, heavy meals and rich desserts too often, because too much of a good thing can be bad. However, the opposite is true with good southern dramas. Over indulgence is good for you. It nourishes the mind, spirit and soul- so, in this case- you can never have too much of good thing.



I grew up being a voracious reader and it was a natural step to turn my interest to writing. I have published 24 award-winning and bestselling novels including my latest release DREAMS OF FALLING published by Penguin Random House in June, 2018. Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry in the 1950s and contemporary time, this is a book about lifelong friendships and family, and the sacrifices we're willing to make for those we love.

I write what others have termed "grit-lit"--southern women's fiction, as well as a contemporary paranormal mystery series (The House on Tradd Street is the 1st book in the series) set in Charleston, South Carolina. All of my books are set in the US South, and feature a female protagonist at a crossroads in her life. 

I have two grown children (one of whom appears in several of my books under the alias of Meghan Black), and live near Atlanta, Georgia with my husband and two of the cutest Havanese dogs, Quincy and Sophie Belle. Readers may recognize Quincy as General Lee in the Tradd Street series. 

Happy reading!

For more about me and my books, please visit my website at or connect on social media: Facebook:, Twitter: @KarenWhiteWrite, Instagram: @KarenWhiteWrite and Pinterest: KarenWhiteBooks.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Us Against You by Fredrick Backman- Feature and Review


After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.



Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is a 2018 Atria Books publication.

A sullen, yet optimistic examination of a town suffering an identity crisis and the residents who must learn to adjust to a new normal-

While many of us became fans of Fredrik Backman because of his unique ability to weave whimisical stories, featuring quirky, but loveable characters. This method of presentation often softened the darker tones. With Beartown, however, Backman didn’t sugarcoat the darker elements and created an edgier story than some were accustomed to, but one that truly resonated with many people.

Us Against You is the follow-up novel to Beartown and deals with the fallout and ramifications of the events that transpired in the first book, beginning with Maya’s assault accusations, which turned her family into pariahs.

When Peter learns that Beartown’s hockey team will be dismantled, he finds himself at the mercy of local politicians with their own shady agendas. The team players are offered positions with the rival town of Hed. This creates a division, on top of the tensions surrounding the situation with Maya, ultimately exposing a gap in priorities, and shines a bright spotlight on misogyny, and the lack of diversity. As a new team begins to form, the competition between the two towns reaches a fever pitch.

Meanwhile, Peter, Kira and Maya struggle to find balance in their lives again. For Peter, hockey is all he has ever known, and he has no idea how to give it up- not without a fight- even if he must make certain concessions. Kira is once again in the position of putting her career, her marriage, and herself in second place so that Peter can still pursue hockey- while both of them struggle to come to terms with what happened to their daughter.

Eventually, the tensions boil over- with devastating results…

As I said in my review of “Beartown” you don’t have to understand anything about hockey to ‘get’ this book. You can substitute a number of things for hockey, instead. Here in Texas, high school football is a molten god and many small towns depend on it for their revenue, their very identities, which was a parallel I immediately related to, but it doesn’t even have to be about sports- it’s whatever issue or situation that becomes an obsession. In this case it's blowing a sport, or a fun pastime out of all proportions, turning it into something else entirely.

The characters in this novel are complicated, raw, and so very human and so very real. Backman has a real knack for nailing human frailties, exposing the most sensitive fears and conflictions, as well as understanding the dynamics of small towns everywhere. While the story is bleak, the town and characters suffering setbacks and dissension, progress is not completely off the table. We’ll see people go to hell and back, face their darkest demons, take bold strides in combating ignorant bias and destructive attitudes and behavior, which will provides that allegorical explanation of the book’s title. Backman’s characters are pragmatist, occasionally cynical, often reflective, but also optimistic and tenacious, eventually leading them to a destination they were long overdue to arrive at.

In so many ways, Beartown points a mirror back at all of us- It’s me- it’s you- it’s every town, every city, everywhere. Once again, Backman nails it. This is a very thought provoking read, and expansion of Beartown that left me in a very contemplative mood, but also one of peace, and with a feeling that these characters can only go upwards from here.



Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE'S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty five territories. His latest novel is BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog:, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

Friday, July 13, 2018

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Doubting Abbey- by Samantha Tonge- Feature and Review


Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke! 

The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion. 

So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.

Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…



Doubting Abbey (Doubting Abbey, #1)Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge is a 2013 Carina Press publication.

Absolutely charming!!

On a rare occasion, I have read one of those sweet, adorable stories with the cute titles and charming cover art. ( I love Rebecca Raisin) But, recently I’ve noticed these books are starting to gain momentum and are becoming more and more popular. I’ve been dying to indulge in one or two, especially since I’ve been trying to de-stress a little.

However, there are so many of them to choose from, I couldn’t make up my mind which one to read first- until I stumbled across this book. The ‘Downton Abbey’ related title, coupled with that lovely cover, was just too good to pass up!

Gemma bears a striking resemblance to her roommate, and best friend, Abbey. While Gemma is a ‘commoner’, Abbey is burdened with aristocratic duties, which means she must appear on a reality show to help raise money to save her extended family’s country estate. But, Abbey has other philanthropic plans with her boyfriend, and implores Gemma to stand in for her. With Lady C. on hand to tutor Gemma on being a ‘Lady’, what could possibly go wrong?
Naturally, hilarity ensues, as Gemma finds out how out of her element she really is. Her attempts to ‘sex up’ the reality show hoping to ramp up the ratings provides an on air ‘upstairs/downstairs’ drama, but off camera, it’s Abbey’s proper cousin who catches Gemma off guard, slowly capturing her heart, in what seems like an unlikely match.

Gemma is a riot! I loved her vernacular so much, I have caught myself declaring ‘That’s Amaaaaaaaaazin’ on more than one occasion. The storyline is hardly original, but the author certainly puts her own delightfully fresh and unique spin on it.

This is a wonderful, highly entertaining, endearing romantic comedy which was cathartic and just all -around good fun! I just found out there is a sequel to this book, so I am going to have to hunt down a copy.

I do believe I could get used to reading more of those books with the cute titles and adorable cover art. I foresee more heartwarming romantic comedies will be added to my mountainous TBR pile.



Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women's magazines. 
In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry- Feature and Review


From the bestselling author of My Husband's Wife, a new thriller featuring three girls, one accident, and a lifetime of lies.Three little girls set off to school one sunny morning. Within an hour, one of them is dead. 

Fifteen years later, Kitty can't speak and has no memory of the accident that's to blame. She lives in an institution, unlikely ever to leave. But that doesn't keep her from being frightened when she encounters an eerily familiar face. 

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. She's struggling to make ends meet and to forget the past. When a teaching job at a prison opens up, she takes it, despite her fears. Maybe this is her chance to set things right. Then she starts to receive alarming notes; next, her classroom erupts in violence.

Meanwhile, someone is watching both Kitty and Alison. Someone who never forgot what happened that day. Someone who wants revenge. And only another life will do. . .



 Blood SistersBlood Sisters by Jane Corry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry is a 2018 Pamela Dorman Books publication.

Squeaky clean school shoes
Shoulder bags bobbing
Blonde plaits flopping
Twopairs of feet. One slightly larger.
‘Come on. We’re going to be late.’
Nearly there. Almost safe.
Pavement edge.
Another pair of feet.
A scream.
Blood seeping on the ground.
Spreading and spreading.

A tragic accident left Kitty with severe brain-damage and her older sister, Alison physically and emotionally scarred.

Years pass, and Kitty remains institutionalized, unable to remember anything about the accident, locked inside herself, unable to communicate with anyone. Alison has no close relationships, barely makes ends meet, but has taken up Kitty’s passion for art. In dire need of more funds, Alison applies for a job at a prison where she would teach art to the inmates. Little did she know what the ramifications of that fateful decision would be…

This is a very ingenious psychological thriller. The pacing is a little slow at first, with only a few interesting developments that almost had me sighing in boredom for a while. I also found myself balking at the improbability of some of the situations presented to me. But I had the feeling I should play along, and would be glad I stuck around for the ending of this one. I’m glad I followed my instincts!!

This is a very well written novel- twisty, sinister, and almost darkly humorous in some ways. It is just the type of book this genre, which is in danger of becoming a parody of itself, desperately needs. I’d go so far as to say this book is one of the most unique psychological thrillers I’ve read this year.

If you know me, you have heard me complain long and loud about seeing the twist coming or guessing whodunit too early in the story, and with psychological thrillers, in particular, the plots being too similar- almost interchangeable. But, that didn’t happen with this novel- not even close.

Corry lulled me into complacency ,at first, with the deceptive pacing, but I vastly underestimated her skills, and found myself taken by surprise time and time again. The plot is much more intricate than it appears on the surface. The story is a very cleverly woven web of suspense that caught me off guard and kept me that way until the bitter end. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated and respected the author for giving my brain a real workout. I turned the last page nodding my head with approval, with a wry smile on my face, because she fooled me-she got me good, especially with that last dollop of relish on top. Ordinarily, I'd complain about that too, but the understated quality of the book kept the twist coming at just the right intervals so that it was never in danger of being too over the top. Very well done!



Jane Corry is a writer and journalist who has written regularly for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Daily Telegraph Weekend section, the Mail on Sunday and Woman. She has spent time working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men- an experience that helped inspire My Husband's Wife, her début thriller. 'I love twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end! My husband says I'm a nightmare to watch dramas with as I love to work out who did it before the final revelation!'

Jane runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals all over the world, including The Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until her recent move to Devon, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University. She is also an associate member of the Royal Literary Fund. 

Many of Jane's ideas come during her morning dog-jog along the beach followed by a dip in her wetsuit. (She's an all-year-round swimmer provided the sea isn't dangerous.) Jane also loves tennis, walking, reading, yoga, the 'Quiet' train carriage (a great 'office' for writing) and her family. She's still coming to terms with being an empty-nester but makes up for it with lots of long-distance nagging! Jane's second husband was a bachelor family friend who is also Godfather to her children. He makes her laugh every day although they can't agree on how to load the dishwasher!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe- Feature and Review


Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family's enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn't know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt's beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original "turtle lady," Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.



 Beach House Reunion (Beach House #5)Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe is a 2018 Gallery Books publication.

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a visit to Cara Rutledge’s beach house!

Just when you think this series couldn’t get any better- it does!

It’s been three years since Cara’s life turned on dime… again. After a huge emotional gut-punch, Cara rose to the occasion and battled to find her way again. Despite her determination and bravery, I still felt her fragility permeating from the pages, even though we left her in a very stable frame of mind and in a good place.

But, I was still very relieved when I found out we would get a chance to check in with Cara again. However, I never would have imagined the course her life has taken since we last touched base with her.

Cara FINALLY gets her chance at motherhood after adopting a child. She knows deep in heart she wants Hope to be raised at home, with her friends and family nearby, at her beloved beach house, where the spirit of her mother still lingers. So, she leaves Tennessee and heads back to South Carolina where life brings her even more challenges and a few wonderful surprises.

This story covers three generations- Lovie, whose spirit still haunts the beach house, her choices and decisions still reverberating as Cara learns all about motherhood, and Cara's niece, Linnea, struggles against old school southern mores, hoping to break the chain of destructive family traditions and create a new path for her family that will give her the chance to pursue her dreams and make her family proud.

I love this series! The beach house is truly one of my favorite places to escape to.

As I said in my review of the first book in this series, where Lovie's actions were revealed, this family dynamic is very realistic. In this novel, Mary Alice Monroe examines fathers passing macho- strong-man- qualities down to their sons, placing the women in their lives in certain set roles they dare not deviate from, which tragically ends up becoming a vicious cycle unless someone steps up and challenges that authority and begins to chip away at traits that bring misery and unhappiness to everyone.

As always, each chapter begins with an interesting and related detail about the turtles. This story, while working to dispel generations of bad traditions, still upholds and passes on the strong Turtle club traditions that Linnea embraced, and will no doubt pass on to future generations, as Cara will do with Hope. I really loved the correlations between Linnea and Cara. Cara was a wonderful influence on Linnea, and her choices gave Linnea the courage to make a stand.

It never occurred to me that Cara would have, or even consider having, a second chance at love, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized who her love interest would be! I LOVED this! I also enjoyed seeing how everyone else is doing and was quite pleased with Linnea’s romantic interest as well.

Previous installments in this series have touched on many important issues. The ecology and climate changes are gently addressed, as is the importance of respecting sea creatures, especially in a tourist environment. The family unit, relationships, the curveballs life throws at us are realistically portrayed, and never fails to evoke a gamut of emotions from frustration and anger to heartbreak to laughter and immense pleasure at seeing these strong southern ladies prove their mettle.

But, never has a story in this series crackled with this level of taut suspense. One stormy scene, in particular, had me on the edge of my seat. It was absolutely riveting, unnerving, and incredibly intense. While there were some edgier moments in this one, the ‘beach read’ atmosphere is still intact, with the calm after the storm restoring a long overdue peace, which is inspirational and rejuvenating. The conclusion could not have been any more fitting!

Do not hit the beach this summer without this book!!



Mary Alice Monroe is known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives and keen eye to setting. Monroe brings to life the many colorful people and the compelling story layers of her home--Charleston and the the beaches of the lowcountry. 

Mary Alice Monroe's books have achieved several best seller lists including the New York Times, SIBA, and USA Today. Mary Alice has received numerous awards, including the 2014 SC Book Festival Award for Excellence in Writing, the 2015 SW Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, The RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She serves on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her children's books received several awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh award. 

Her recent novel is the final book in a trilogy set in the lowcountry: THE SUMMER GIRLS, THE SUMMER WIND, and THE SUMMER'S END. Her next novel, A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING, continuing the popular series, will be released in May 2016. Monroe's novel, THE BEACH HOUSE, will be made into a Hallmark film starring Andie MacDowell. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell - Feature and Review


She was fifteen, her mother's 
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. 
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

It’s been ten years since Ellie 
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up 
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. 
Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide?




Then She Was GoneThen She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a 2018 Atria Books publication.

Well, this was certainly different!

Missing persons tropes are common in mysteries and thrillers, and the theme has been written and explored in many predictable ways, but also in many clever, even shocking ways. But, no matter how it is presented, it is a scenario that never fails to draw me in. But, I must say, this novel puts an entirely new and fresh spin on the missing persons mystery-

The story begins like so many others-

Ellie, a conscientious teenager, and the apple of her mother's eye, left to visit the library and was never seen or heard from again. Laurel, Ellie's mother, couldn’t understand how her other children and her husband were able to move on with their lives without knowing what happened to Ellie. Laurel's life stalled, her marriage fell apart and the relationship with her two remaining children is strained.

But, finally, after years of just going through the motions of life, Laurel meets Floyd, a single dad with a young daughter named Poppy. The connection between Laurel and Floyd is immediate and heady. But, when Laurel finally gets to meet Poppy, she is unnerved by the uncanny resemblance to her daughter, Ellie. She even smells like Ellie, which kicks Laurel's natural maternal instincts into high gear. This and another small coincidence, puts new thoughts into Laurel’s head, prompting her to do a little amateur sleuthing.

She never in a million years could have predicted the shocking revelations her inquiries would uncover or the personal epiphanies that would change Laurel's life forevermore. Is it possible that Laurel could, at long last, find all the answers about her daughter’s disappearance?

This story was very dark, gloomy, and creepy, but also quite emotional and poignant. Laurel's voice is so realististic, raw, and sympathetic, she nearly had me believing she was a real person and that this was a true story. Her emergence from a tortuous state of limbo and her fierce determination to get to the truth, and begin truly living life again was an amazing transformation.

I think Lisa Jewell has written a chilling novel of suspense, but it is also a book about the power of maternal love, forgiveness and healing and never giving up.

This could be Jewel’s first tentative  steps towards advancing up to the literary thriller category. I was impressed with this novel as it held my rapt attention from start to finish. It gave me goosebumps in more ways than one.



Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of over twenty novels, including The Girls in the Garden, The House We Grew Up In, and The Third Wife. To find out more, visit, or follow her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK