The House at the Edge of Night

The House at the Edge of Night
The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

Good As Gone

Good As Gone
Good As Gone by Amy Gentry

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner- Feature and Review


A sweeping saga about four generations of a family who live and love on an enchanting Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy—combining the romance of Beautiful Ruins with the magical tapestry works of Isabel Allende.

Castellamare is an island far enough away from the mainland to be forgotten, but not far enough to escape from the world’s troubles. At the center of the island’s life is a café draped with bougainvillea called the House at the Edge of Night, where over generations the community gathers to gossip and talk. Amedeo Esposito, a foundling from Florence, finds his destiny on the island with his beautiful wife, Pina, whose fierce intelligence, grace, and unwavering love guide her every move. An indiscretion tests their marriage, and their children—three sons and an inquisitive daughter—grow up and struggle with both humanity’s cruelty and its capacity for love and mercy.

Spanning nearly a century, through secrets and mysteries, trials and sacrifice, this beautiful and haunting novel follows the lives of the Esposito family and the other islanders who live and love on Castellamare: a cruel count and his bewitching wife, a priest who loves scandal, a prisoner of war turned poet, an outcast girl who becomes a pillar of strength, a wounded English soldier who emerges from the sea. The people of Castellamare are transformed by two world wars and a great recession, by the threat of fascism and their deep bonds of passion and friendship, and by bitter rivalries and the power of forgiveness, in this richly written and powerful novel.

Catherine Banner has written an enthralling, character-rich novel, epic in scope but intimate in feeling. At times, the island itself seems alive, a mythical place where the earth heaves with stories—and this magical novel takes you there.

Advance praise for The House at the Edge of Night
 “My admiration for The House at the Edge of Night is boundless. Catherine Banner’s writing is preternaturally mature, distinct, clear, and strikingly beautiful. As I read on, I felt the resonance of classic legend and myth, the stuff of Homer, building around this world that is timeless, yet utterly its own. A gorgeous, deeply moving novel of life across a sweep of time and generations.”—Peter Nichols, author of The Rocks

“To the long, eclectic tradition of the island novel, Catherine Banner has made a sparkling addition. She has created a vast world unto itself of the fictional island of Castellamare, intricately compressed and marvelously textured. Her storytelling evokes the rural tales of the great Sicilian author Giovanni Verga, the Abruzzian Ignazio Silone, and the multifarious Italian Folktales compiled by Italo Calvino. But this is very much a modern story by a young Englishwoman, beautifully written, spanning over a century, framing and interweaving the fates of countless characters while conjuring a fictional chronicle that merges with, and enhances, history as we know it—a feat reserved for the most ingenious and intuitive of writers. That this is Catherine Banner’s first adult novel makes it all the more remarkable.”—Nicholas Christopher



The House at the Edge of NightThe House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner is a 2016 Random House publication.

This book came highly recommended by several of my Goodreads friends who described the book as a family saga, so I knew I had to check it out.

This story is centered around the Esposito family living on the island of Castellamare in Italy. The island is remote, but has its own fiefdoms, power struggles, and is fraught with personal family dramas and scandals.

Beginning with Amedeo Esposito, who arrives on the island as the first doctor the island ever welcomed, but eventually opens ‘The House at the Edge of Night’, a bar/café which becomes a center point of the island where the residents gather for fellowship, communication and of course gossip.

The story follows Amedeo, his wife, Pina, and their children as they go through wars, conflicts, financial fallouts, and personal issues within marriages and families, which entails sibling rivalry, jealousy, love won and lost, and found again.

I absolutely love, love, love, family sagas! Sadly, sweeping sagas are far and few between these days, but perhaps wonderful stories, like this one will inspire more interest it them.

This is a beautiful story, rich in details with incredibly well drawn characters which makes it so easy to become immersed in the story and to care for the Esposito family. I found myself completely wound up in their dramas, the amazingly beautiful setting, the culture, and the realistic portrayal of human beings with all their foibles and strengths.

This is a powerful and lush story filled with charm and enhanced with folk tales and tradition. I never wanted the story to end, but was so happy with the family’s perseverance in the face of adversity, the way they came together and remained committed despite the challenges they faced.

I was impressed with the storytelling here and believe this is a story anyone can enjoy. I wish there were many more novels like this one!!



Catherine Banner was born in Cambridge, UK, in 1989 and began writing at the age of fourteen. She studied English at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before moving to County Durham where she worked as a secondary school teacher. She has published a trilogy of young adult novels, The Last Descendants.

Her debut adult novel, The House at the Edge of Night, tells the story of the 2008 financial crisis and 95 years of European history through one family and their bar on a tiny Mediterranean island.

Her work is translated into 22 languages. She lives in Turin, Italy, with her husband.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry - Feature and Review


Thirteen-year-old Julie Whitaker was kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night, witnessed only by her younger sister. Her family was shattered, but managed to stick together, hoping against hope that Julie is still alive. And then one night: the doorbell rings. A young woman who appears to be Julie is finally, miraculously, home safe. The family is ecstatic—but Anna, Julie’s mother, has whispers of doubts.  She hates to face them. She cannot avoid them. When she is contacted by a former detective turned private eye, she begins a torturous search for the truth about the woman she desperately hopes is her daughter.

Propulsive and suspenseful, Good as Gone will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and keep readers guessing until the final pages.


Good as GoneGood as Gone by Amy Gentry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good as Gone by Amy Gentry is a 2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication.

This novel is deeply consuming and thought provoking.

At the age of thirteen, Julie is kidnapped, while her sister, Jane watches from her hiding place. Her parents, Tom and Anna, struggle for years, caught in the limbo between hope and the reality of Julie’s probable death, which Jane pulls out of the stops just trying to live up to her sister’s mythological perfect, just trying to be noticed.

But, when Julie suddenly reappears, the apparent victim of sexual abuse a trafficking, the family is once more thrown into an unusual tailspin as hope once more contrast with disturbing information about Julie’s sudden return and the truth of how and why she was kidnapped.

For Anna, the only way to reestablish a relationship with Julie and hopefully heal the rift with Jane someday, will be to uncover the grim truth, not matter what that might be.

Once again, we have the ‘Gone Girl/Girl on a Train’ comparison from the publisher, and once again, I’m going to tell you to blow that off.

This is a solid and compelling psychological thriller, very moody and atmospheric, and emotional. I was impressed by some of the unique tactics the author used to weave the complex tale of Julie’s past together, but the switches in time and directions occasionally jarred. I also guessed some of the plot twists before they were revealed, but could not have worked out all the details and so it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book.

This is an effective and compelling read, and is a notable debut. I will definitely read more books by this author.




Amy Gentry is the author of the debut thriller Good as Gone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2016. She frequently contributes book reviews to the Chicago Tribune, and her freelance writing has appeared in Salon, Fusion, The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, Austin Chronicle, Gastronomica, The Best Food Writing of 2014, and many more. Amy holds a doctorate in English from the University of Chicago and lives in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Killing Game by J.S. Carol- Feature and Review


Publicist JJ Johnson is having lunch when a masked, armed gunman walks in and takes everyone hostage – including Hollywood’s hottest stars. JJ can make any problem disappear and turn ordinary people into global superstars. But this is one situation way out of her control.

As word spreads of the siege, the hostage victims are bargaining for their lives against a twisted individual who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

With the bomb designed to detonate if the gunman’s heart rate changes, killing him is not an option. But with only four hours to stop him, JJ will have to think fast to stop a terrifying nightmare becoming reality.



The Killing GameThe Killing Game by J.S. Carol
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Killing Game by J.S. Carol is a 2016 Bookouture publication.

The book cover says it all: “A tense, gripping thriller you DON’T want to miss”

Alfie’s is an upscale restaurant in Los Angles catering to movie stars, agents and producers. But, when the clientele are taken hostage by masked gunman wearing explosives that will detonate if his heart rate gets too low, the media descend, determined to cash in on the situation.

JJ, a publicist, was at the restaurant to keep an eye on her client, but soon finds herself fighting for the lives of the hostages as she attempts to figure out what the gunman’s motives are and how to get them out in one piece.

Wow! Anytime a story is centered around a hostage situation, it’s always tense and suspenseful. What does the gunman want, who will make it out alive, and what will be the aftermath? It’s a formula that never fails to grab my attention.

However, when you add in the celebrity element, when the hostages are famous people, it makes the story even more interesting.

The thriller aspects of the book are top notch, with the gunman seemingly having way too much fun with the situation, proving himself to be one of the most ruthless bad guys I’ve read about in a long time.

But, what stood out for me was the scathing portrait of the media who covered the situation in typical fashion. Talking heads, experts, and misinformation from start to finish!!

The author was spot on with this wickedly dark parody of twenty -hour news stations, and how the media works. This is subject, of course, is a timely one as the media has come under a great deal of scrutiny and criticism as of late.

I thought the idea of putting spoiled celebrities who think they can talk or buy their way of anything, mixed with the soulless unconscionable media, facing down a terrorist attack was pure genius.

The feverish pacing, the moral dilemmas, the psychological mind games and the personal demons that surface made this a riveting and fast paced, white knuckle thrill ride.

A tense, gripping thriller, you DON’T want to miss? Correct! If you like thrillers and top notch suspense, this book is for you!



James Carol was born in Scotland in 1969, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.

When he’s not writing, James spends his time training horses and riders. An accomplished guitarist, he relaxes by writing and recording music. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers- Feature and Review


Every great song has a fascinating backstory. In Anatomy of a Song, based on the ongoing Wall Street Journal column, writer and music historian Marc Myers brings to life five decades of music through oral histories of forty-five transformative songs woven from interviews with the artists who created them.

Bringing readers inside the making of a hit, Anatomy of a Song includes the Isley Brothers' memorable song "Shout," Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," and R.E.M's "Losing My Religion." After receiving his discharge from the army in 1968, John Fogerty does a handstand and reworks Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to come up with "Proud Mary." Joni Mitchell remembers living in a cave on Crete with the "mean old daddy" who inspired her 1971 hit "Carey." Elvis Costello talks about writing "(The Angels Wanna War My) Red Shoes" in ten minutes on the train to Liverpool. And Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, the Clash, Jimmy Cliff, Roger Waters, Stevie Wonder, Keith Richards, Cyndi Lauper, and many other leading artists reveal the emotions, inspirations, and techniques behind their influential works. Anatomy of a Song is a love letter to the songs that have defined generations of listeners.



Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and PopAnatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop by Marc Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anatomy of a Song by Marc Myers is a 2016 Grove Press publication.

I love books about music and pop culture and so I was convinced this book would be up my alley.

Sure enough, I thoroughly enjoyed this look back at some of the most iconic songs that made up the pop music landscape from the fifties all the up to the early nineties.

I didn’t know every one of these songs, but I did know most of them. Many of them I had completely forgotten about over the years. But, what really sets this book apart from others with similar formats is the backstory of each song.

The forty-five songs that are listed tell a fascinating story about how the song was written, or the way it was produced, or how it almost didn’t get recorded and what impact it had on the music scene, who influenced the writer of the song, along with personal interviews and recollections.

There are classic R&B songs, pure pop songs, plenty of Motown, songs that changed the landscape of music, especially in the sixties, soul music, country music, anthems, folk music, soundtrack hits, dance tunes, new wave, punk, classic rock, MTV icons, and everything in between.

This is a delightful piece of nostalgia and pop culture, with carefully chosen songs, all them representing various trends and the climate of the era in which they were first recorded and became hits.

Be aware that Myers’ doesn’t always pick the most popular song by a band or performer. Instead, he goes for the most iconic or personal songs, the ones with longevity, and the ones with the best stories attached to them. I few times I scratched my head at his selections, but by and large his choices were very thoughtful, which kept the format from becoming stale.

The book is chock full of enthralling facts and stories and fun tidbits of trivia, but the interviews were my favorite part of each song featured. Some of the interviews were funny, but a few were poignant as well, revealing personal loss and various struggles along the way.

 I told Alexa to play these songs for me and enjoyed listening with a new perspective, now that I know more about them.

The author did a great job of organizing the material, sticking to a chronological timeline, and there are pictures which helps puts names with faces if you are not familiar with the song or the performer.

I had a hard time hunting down a copy of this book, but thankfully found it on Hoopla. It was definitely worth the wait.

I found this book to be both an informative and entertaining list book, which can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.



Marc Myers is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, where he writes about rock, soul, and jazz, as well as the arts. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book Why Jazz Happened, and posts daily at, the two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Blog of the Year award. He can be reached at

Friday, January 13, 2017

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia- Feature and Review


Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront...and she inches closer and closer to her death.

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good citizen. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of her small town community. Local sheriff Del Goodman, a family friend of the Hoffmans, vows to find her killer, but trying to solve her murder yields more questions than answers. It seems that Hattie’s acting talents ran far beyond the stage. Told from three points of view—Del, Hattie, and the new English teacher whose marriage is crumbling—Everything You Want Me to Be weaves the story of Hattie’s last school year and the events that drew her ever closer to her death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?



Everything You Want Me to BeEverything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia is a 2017 Atria/ Emily Bestler Books publication.

Very suspenseful, atmospheric, and absorbing.

This is a cleverly written novel of suspense featuring not one, not two, but three first person perspectives.

Hattie has grown up in Pine Valley, and is bursting to break free. She has played a variety of roles in her life, and can easily transform herself into the person people want her to be. She’s a good daughter to her parents, a good friend, a sweet girlfriend, a good student…

But, when she is found brutally stabbed to death, the shocking facts about her secret life come bubbling to the surface and will shock the town and devastate lives for a long time to come.

Peter, who is Hattie’s high school English teacher, gives us his perspective, as he explains how he came to live in Pine Valley with his wife, Mary.

Mary’s mother is gravely ill, but she refuses to sell the farm, leaving Mary no choice but to stay and take care of her and the farm. Peter, however, feels like an outsider as Mary’s focus on her mother’s health becomes morosely obsessive, leaving little room for Peter.

Del is the head of Pine Valley law enforcement and walks us through the investigation into Hattie’s murder. His story is raw, and conflicting as he must maintain professionalism while delivering bad news to one of his best friends and grieve the loss of a girl he watched grow up.

But, the most haunting voice is Hattie’s, who tells us her story posthumously. She’s a chameleon in many ways, a teenager with a bright future, a little too advanced for her small-town classmates and friends, who needs more a challenge. She has big dreams and hopes and nothing is going to get in her way of what she wants...

For me, this story was deeply absorbing and hard to put down. The focus is firmly on the characterizations, but that doesn’t compromise the mystery and suspense elements. There is an understated quality to the story, as it moves toward what appears to be an inevitable outcome. I was so consumed by the characters’ emotions and actions, I never saw the twists coming. But, once they start, they just keep coming, with one shock wave after another.

This is the first book I’ve read by Mindy Mejia and I have to say I’m pretty impressed. I loved her writing style and her ability to pull me so deeply into the story, building suspense at just the right pace. I love it when a book is unpredictable and challenges me, really making me work for it, and just when I think I have it all worked out, pulls the rug out from under me.

Good stuff! I recommend it to all mystery, suspense and thriller fans!



Mindy Mejia is a fiction writer, finance manager, weekend jogger, wife, and mother of two. She writes what she likes to read--contemporary, plot driven novels that deliver both entertainment and substance. She lives in the Twin Cities and is currently working on a project that might or might not be a trilogy. Learn more about Mindy at

Thursday, January 12, 2017

She's Not There by Joy Fielding- Feature and Review


A vanished child, a family in turmoil, and a fateful phone call that brings the torments of the past into the harrowing present . . . the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Is Watching weaves these spellbinding elements into a gripping novel of psychological suspense—a must-read for fans of Laura Lippman and Mary Higgins Clark.

“I think my real name is Samantha. I think I’m your daughter.”

Carole Shipley’s heart nearly stops when she hears those words from the voice on the other end of the phone. Instantly, she’s thrust fifteen years into the past, to a posh resort in Baja, Mexico—and the fateful night her world collapsed.

The trip was supposed to be a celebration. Carole’s husband, Hunter, convinced her to leave their two young daughters alone in their hotel suite while the couple enjoyed an anniversary dinner in the restaurant downstairs. But returning afterward, Carole and Hunter made a horrifying discovery: their two-year-old girl had vanished without a trace.

What followed were days, weeks, and years of anguish for Carole. She was tormented by media attention that branded her a cold, incompetent mother, while she struggled to save her marriage. Carole also had to deal with the demands of her needy elder daughter, Michelle, who was driven to cope in dangerous ways. Through it all, Carole desperately clung to the hope that Samantha would someday be found—only to be stung again and again by cruel reality.

Plunged back into the still-raw heartbreak of her daughter’s disappearance, and the suspicions and inconsistencies surrounding a case long gone cold, Carole doesn’t know whom or what to believe. The only thing she can be sure of is that someone is fiercely determined to hide the truth of what happened to Samantha.



She's Not ThereShe's Not There by Joy Fielding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

She’s Not There by Joy Fielding is a 2016 Ballantine publication.

Emotionally intense psychological thriller!

Fifteen years ago, Caroline and her husband, Hunter and their two children, join friends and family in Mexico to celebrate their anniversary.

When special plans are in jeopardy due to a babysitting problem, Hunter convinces Caroline to leave the children unattended so they can enjoy dinner together, she reluctantly agrees on the condition that they check on them often.

However, Caroline’s worst nightmare is realized with her two year old daughter, Samantha, is stolen away in the night.

Now, fifteen years later, Caroline and Hunter are divorced and their teenage daughter, Michelle, is troubled. Then out of the blue, Caroline receives a phone call from a girl who believes she may be Samantha. Is this a sick joke? A ploy for money? Or could this young girl really be Samantha?

The premise of this book mirrors the real life abduction of Madeline McCann, whose parents did exactly what Hunter and Caroline did while on vacation, by leaving their child unattended while they went out for dinner. So, you could say this was a ‘ripped from the headlines’ kind of story.

I thought the author did a great job of building suspense, while highlighting the emotional trauma the family dealt with after losing their daughter and the determination of a mother to never stop searching or believing her child could still be out there somewhere, even if everyone else has tried to move forward with their lives.

Any parent can empathize with Caroline and although Michelle is a real pain, and was very difficult to like, I often felt sorry for her, sensing she was in deep emotional pain.

There are plenty of suspects and plenty of possible motives, although some parts of the plot are implausible, the story was still riveting and I found myself wrapped up in it despite its flaws.

So, in the end, I had to admit I liked the story, and was pleased with the outcome.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read and will appeal to those enjoy light psychological thrillers.



Joy Fielding is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Still Life, Charley's Web, Heartstopper, See Jane Run, and other acclaimed novels. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Guests on South Battery by Karen White- Feature and Review

New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more. 

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission. 

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street. 

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....



  The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street, #5)  The Guests on South Battery by Karen White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Guests on South Battery ( Tradd Street #5) is a 2017 Berkley publication.

All our familiar friends, family, and frenemies are gathered together once again. We also make a few new friends along the way too.

This series has been a delight from the very beginning and is one my very favorites.

I do recommend reading the previous installments to understand the dynamic between Melanie and Jack, as well as the supporting cast. For those who are following along, this is a solid addition to the series and I think you are going to enjoy it immensely.

This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the full review, click on this link:



I grew up being a voracious reader and it was a natural step to turn my interest to writing. I have published award-winning and bestselling novels including my latest release, FLIGHT PATTERNS, a multi-generational story of love, loss and mystery set along the gulf coast of Florida in Apalachicola. FLIGHT PATTERNS was released by Penguin Random House in May, 2016.

I write what others have termed "grit-lit"--southern women's fiction, as well as a contemporary paranormal mystery 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. 

On January 10, 2017, THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY--the fifth book in the Tradd Street series, will be released. I'm so excited to be continuing Melanie and Jack's story--with a whole host of characters, both old and new. 

In April, 2017 THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT will be released. Set in suburban Atlanta in the fictional town of Sweet Apple, this is the book I'm calling my "Steel Magnolias" meets "The Girl on the Train." Spanning from the Depression era to modern day, it's a story of three very different women, and the true meaning of friendship.

I live near Atlanta, Georgia with my husband, two children, and two of the cutest Havanese dogs, Quincy and Sophie. Readers may recognize Quincy as General Lee in the Tradd Street series. 

Happy reading!