WWW Wednesday (April 23)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Philips who created this labour of love based upon the true life tale of a man who preyed on American ladies in the early 1930′s using the personal columns as a way of making contact.  This is a book of two halves, the first where we meet Asta Eichner and her family, the second where we follow the investigation from the point of view of Emily Thornhill a reporter on The Tribune.

Quiet Dell

I have just finished Before You Die by Samantha Hayes where DI Lorraine Fisher returns to her home town for a break with her sister only to get involved in what at first sight, appears to be a new spate of suicides.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Before You Die

Next I am going to be reading Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly which I’m really looking forward to, after all what would you do if your friend stole your life?

Keep Your Friends Close

Blurb

Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty’s oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears – just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France – Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.
Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty’s husband has fallen in love with Eve. He’s sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over.
With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.
And then she receives the note.
Eve has done this before, more than once, and with fatal consequences…

What are you reading this week?

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Teaser Tuesday (April 22)

Teasing Tuesday CB

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to

My Teaser this week is from Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

Quiet Dell

Blurb

In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, a widow with three children, is lonely and pressed for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who ultimately promises to marry her and to care for her and her children. Asta agrees to go with him to West Virginia to see his house there, and then to bring her children. Weeks later, all are dead.
Emily Thornhill, a bold, independent journalist, one of the few women in the Chicago press, covers the case and becomes deeply invested in understanding what happens to this beautiful family – especially the highly imaginative youngest girl, Annabel – and determined to make sure that Powers is convicted. She also falls in love with the Chicago banker who funds the investigation, wracked by guilt himself for not saving Asta from her tragic end.
Quiet Dell is mesmerising, the retelling of a grisly crime at a moment in American history when women were powerless and vulnerable and newspapers were just beginning to make national stories of local crimes. It is a tour de force of obsession and imagination. NetGalley


My Teaser

They were out of the door, into the car, rolling down the windows and remarking on the plush seats. Grethe saw that Mr. Pierson, Cornelius, she must call him, was still in the house. Perhaps he had forgotten the note. But there he was on the porch and down the steps, and they were all clapping and cheering.

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Before You Die – Samantha Hayes

Psychological Thriller  3*'s

Psychological Thriller
3*’s

D.I. Lorraine Fisher, one of the characters from the excellent Until You’re Mine, returns to her home town, Radcote, to visit her recently separated sister Jo and her nephew Freddie. What happens next means that the policewoman isn’t in for much of a holiday. The town had been shocked by a spate of teenage suicides eighteen months previously and so when a young homeless man, Dean complete with suicide note is found dead after a motorcycle crash the tension rises as the community closes in on itself not wanting a repeat of the past.

Lorraine and her youngest daughter, Stella are transported to a household on the edge, Freddie is depressed and distant from his mother, even the delectable Lana not enough to make him venture outside his bedroom and Lorraine is at a loss on how to help, especially as her sister’s reckless affair with a local man, has in her opinion, created some of the outcome.

At the centre of the tale is the Hope Homeless Shelter where Sonia Hawkeswell, mother to Lana and whose son Simon had been found hanged during that dreadful time where the town lost so many of its young, helps to run while simultaneously urging her daughter on to become a doctor. Living with them in a converted barn is her autistic Brother-in-Law Gil who is a gifted artist. When Lorraine meets Gil who shows her a picture she begins to realise that the local Police may not have carried out a diligent investigation into the bike crash and with the help of her husband Adam, she is keen to show them the errors of their ways.

So the cast are assembled, the clues numerous and sometimes misleading and the grief unending which for me was one of the elements that made this book harder to read than some of Samantha Hayes previous books. Grief-stricken characters when realistically portrayed are hard to reach and I just didn’t connect with some of the main characters which caused less tension than I would have liked, although there are plenty of other themes that are explored including; on-line bullying, homelessness, relationships of all kinds and secrets.

I received an advance review copy of this book in return for my honest opinion from the publishers, Random House UK ahead of publication on 24 April 2014.

Samantha Hayes has written five previous books which cover a wide range of domestic and emotional topics which often feed into every mother’s worst fears.

Previous Books by Samantha Hayes

Blood Ties - January 1992. A baby girl is left alone for a moment. Long enough for a mother to dash into a shop. Long enough for a child to be taken.

Unspoken – Mary has a past Julia knows nothing about, and it’s come back to haunt her.

Someone Else’s Son – What would you do if your teenage son was stabbed to death in the school playground?

Tell-Tale - story of three women bound together by a shocking secret…

Until You’re Mine - You’re alone. You’re vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost …

Read a synopsis of these books here

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The Telling Error – Sophie Hannah

Psychological Thriller 5*'s

Psychological Thriller
5*’s

The Telling Error is the ninth in the Culver Valley series which features the extremely clever but somewhat odd Simon Waterhouse and his wife Charlie who solve the fiendishly complex psychology to explain an equally intricately planned crime.

The book starts with a post on Intimate Connections website with a post entitled “Looking For A Secret”, the post then goes onto describe a murder-scene and appealing to the murderer who the author is certain is female. Who would post the question and would anyone be compelled to answer? This opening had me hooked, which is not unusual for one of Sophie Hannah’s books and I was like a fish on the end of the line until the last page.

In The Telling Error a well-known controversial columnist Damon Blundy is found dead in mysterious circumstances and the police trail leads back to Nicki Clements. Nicky to be fair, doesn’t help matters by taking a detour to avoid a policeman she recognises, although as a reader you may have little sympathy when you read about her cyber secrets. Nicky is a misguided woman who seems to have a bit of a wimp of a husband who has turned to the internet for a bit of excitement which unsurprisingly threatens to blow her world apart. Nicky also reveals a worrying past where it appears she longs to be loved for who she is, but tellingly has been wary of revealing the truth to any of the normal candidates including her best-friend or her husband.

One of the things the author does really well is an intricate plot (sometimes far too intricate) giving a sense of satisfaction as the pieces slot into place revealing some fairly outrageous motives, in this book, just on the right side of believable. On another level this book examines the recent phenomenon of cyber relationships, long-kept secrets and sibling relationships. Even while describing unusual characters the author handles this with a surety which gives quite an insight into human behaviour while simultaneously entertaining the reader with a complex puzzle.

Although the Police are constant throughout the series their own stories don’t over shadow the main action which means that anyone of these books can be picked up and enjoyed as a stand-alone read.

I was delighted to find that this was one Sophie Hannah’s better novels. I have read them all and enjoyed the majority, although I struggled with her last book so this one was approached with a caution which was completely unfounded.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the publishers Hodder & Stoughton ahead of publication on 24 April 2014.

Culver Valley Series
1. Little Face
2. Hurting Distance
3. The Point of Rescue
4. The Other Half Lives
5. A Room Swept White
6. Lasting Damage
7. A Kind of Cruel
8. The Carrier

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Friday Finds (April 18)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

First up today is The Hidden Girl by Louise Millar, I really enjoyed her last novel Accidents Happen and her debut The Playdate so I’m hoping this will be equally good.

The Hidden Girl

Blurb

Hannah Riley and her musician husband, Will, hope that a move to the Suffolk countryside will promise a fresh start. Hannah, a human rights worker, is desperate for a child and she hopes that this new life will realise her dream. Yet when the snow comes, Will is working in London and Hannah is cut off in their remote village. Life in Tornley turns out to be far from idyllic, who are the threatening figures who lurk near their property at night? And why is her neighbour so keen to see them leave? Plus Will’s behaviour is severely testing the bonds of trust. Hannah has spent her professional life doing the right thing for other people. But as she starts to unbury a terrible crime, she realises she can no longer do that without putting everything she’s ever wanted at risk. But if she does nothing, the next victim could be her . NetGalley

If this sounds good to you too it is due to be published on 22 May 2014 by Macmillan

I have also got a copy of The Murder of Harriet Krohn by Karin Fossum. I’ve not read anything by this author before so this will be a new to me read.

The Murder of Harriet Krohn

Blurb

Charlo Torp has problems.
He’s grieving for his late wife, he’s lost his job, and gambling debts have alienated him from his teenage daughter. Desperate, his solution is to rob an elderly woman of her money and silverware. But Harriet Krohn fights back, and Charlo loses control.
Wracked with guilt, Charlo attempts to rebuild his life. But the police are catching up with him, and Inspector Konrad Sejer has never lost a case yet.
Told through the eyes of a killer, The Murder of Harriet Krohn poses the question: how far would you go to turn your life around, and could you live with yourself afterwards? NetGalley

This is due to be published 5 June 2014 by Random House Vintage.

Next is a book by Sabine Durrant, Remember Me This Way. Her previous book Under Your Skin has been on the TBR for a long while so if I enjoy this I will have to read that one too.

Remember Me This Way

Blurb

Everyone keeps telling me I have to move on. And so here I am, walking down the road where he died, trying to remember him the right way.
A year after her husband Zach’s death, Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place.
As she makes her way along the motorway, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changed since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.
At last she reaches the spot. And there, tied to a tree, is a bunch of lilies. The flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been there before her.
Lizzie loved Zach. She really did.
But she’s starting to realise she didn’t really know him.
Or what he was capable of . . . Amazon

Due to be published on 17 July 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton.

I Read Novels has a great review of The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay by Andrea Gillies, another author whose debut novel, The White Lie, hit all the right spots is firmly on my TBR

The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay
Blurb

Nina Findlay, alluring, accomplished, deluded, always the heroine of her own life, has found an irresistible safety in being adored by two men, brothers she’s known since childhood. But when her sister-in-law becomes gravely ill, the triangle that Nina’s depended on becomes catastrophically unstable. The life she’s known begins rapidly to unravel, and odd things begin to happen which those around her insist are all in her mind. Separated from her husband, she goes on holiday to a tiny Greek island, the honeymoon island of 25 years earlier, and is involved in a serious road accident. There, while recuperating, she becomes close to her doctor, who’s also on the point of divorce. A new relationship seems possible – but what’s real in the situation, and what’s imagined? Pressed in at all sides by other people’s truths, how can Nina be sure of identifying her own? A diary that was her mother’s proves to be a turning point. Perhaps romantic love is always a kind of undiagnosed madness. Face to face with the facts behind her assumptions, the time has come for Nina to unravel the taut knot of her past. Amazon

My resolve weakened and I bought a copy of Snarl by Celina Grace, the fourth in the Grace Redman Mystery series.

Snarl
Blurb

A research laboratory opens on the outskirts of the West Country town of Abbeyford, bringing with it new people, jobs, prosperity and publicity to the area – as well as a mob of protestors and animal rights activists. The team at Abbeyford police station take this new level of civil disorder in their stride – until a fatal car bombing of one of the laboratory’s head scientists means more drastic measures must be taken…
Detective Sergeant Kate Redman is struggling to come to terms with being back at work after a long period of absence on sick leave; not to mention the fact that her erstwhile partner Mark Olbeck has now been promoted above her. The stakes get even higher as a multiple murder scene is discovered and a violent activist is implicated in the crime. Kate and the team must put their lives on the line to expose the murderer and untangle the snarl of accusations, suspicions and motives. Amazon

What have you found to read this week?

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WWW Wednesday (April 16)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah this is the ninth book in the Culver Valley Series.

The Telling Error

Blurb

Stuck in a traffic jam, Nicki Clements sees a face she hoped never to see again. It’s definitely him, the same police officer, stopping each car on Elmhirst Road. Keen to avoid him, Nicki does a U-turn and makes a panicky escape.
Or so she thinks. The next day, Nicki is pulled in for questioning in connection with the murder of Damon Blundy, controversial newspaper columnist and resident of Elmhirst Road.
Nicki can’t answer any of the questions detectives fire at her. She has no idea why the killer used a knife in such a peculiar way, or why ‘HE IS NO LESS DEAD’ was painted on Blundy’s study wall. And she can’t explain why she avoided Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her life.
Because although Nicki is not guilty of murder, she is far from innocent . . . Amazon

I have recently finished The Last Boat Home by Dea Brøvig

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Last Boat Home

 

Next I am going to read Before You Die by Samantha Hayes

Before You Die
Blurb

Oh God, please don’t let me die.
It has taken nearly two years for the Warwickshire village of Radcote to put a spate of teenage suicides behind it.
Then a young man is killed in a freak motorbike accident, and a suicide note is found among his belongings. A second homeless boy takes his own life, this time on the railway tracks.
Is history about to repeat itself?
DI Lorraine Fisher has just arrived for a relaxing summer break with her sister. Soon she finds herself caught up in the resulting police enquiry. And when her nephew disappears she knows she must act quickly.
Are the recent deaths suicide – or murder?
And is the nightmare beginning again? NetGalley

What are you reading this week?

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Teaser Tuesday (April 15)

Teasing Tuesday CB

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read

• Open to a random page

• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to

My Teaser this week is from The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah

The Telling Error
Blurb

Stuck in a traffic jam, Nicki Clements sees a face she hoped never to see again. It’s definitely him, the same police officer, stopping each car on Elmhirst Road. Keen to avoid him, Nicki does a U-turn and makes a panicky escape.
Or so she thinks. The next day, Nicki is pulled in for questioning in connection with the murder of Damon Blundy, controversial newspaper columnist and resident of Elmhirst Road.
Nicki can’t answer any of the questions detectives fire at her. She has no idea why the killer used a knife in a way that involved no spilling of blood, or why ‘HE IS NO LESS DEAD’ was painted across Blundy’s study. And she can’t explain why she avoided Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her life.
Because although Nicki is not guilty of murder, she is far from innocent . . .Goodreads

Choosing a teaser from one of Sophie Hannah’s books is a tough call as you are never quite sure what constitutes a clue so I’ve chosen one from the begging of the book  where a message is posted on the internet…

My Teaser

When alive, he was well known and – though this might well have nothing to do with anything – strikingly attractive in a stubbly, cowboy-without-hat kind of way. If I were to include his name in this account, I think most people would have heard of him.

 

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The Last Boat Home – Dea Brøvig

Psychological Thriller 4*'s

Psychological Thriller
4*’s

Dea Brøvig conjures up a desolate and harsh debut novel which is mirrored by the unforgiving Norwegian winters which is described so vividly that I longed to pass the young Else Dybdahl yet another jumper to keep her warm on her ferry home from the town at the end of each school day.

The story is split a past that covers the time from 1974-1976 and the present day, 2009, where Else is forced to confront those memories she had hoped were safely buried when her boyfriend returns to the island to live in his family home with his young wife and children.

We know that Else is the mother to Marianne, and Grandmother to eleven year old Liv who she lives with in the same town that she grew up in but what we don’t know is how Else came to have a baby which is where the narration begins, at an early age. A shocking event especially considering how important the church is to the inhabitants.

This is a bleak story as we peek behind the door to the realities of the Dybdahl household, one where the family turn up to church no matter how many bruises Else’s mother Dagny has to cover with powder, a household ruled by the ups and downs of an alcoholic father and husband. The descriptions of the hardships that feature in the daily life of the Dybdahl’s along with the cold and wet feet from snow and ice only serve to make this an almost unbearably claustrophobic read.

Brøvig cleverly keeps the pace slow reflecting the long and cold days as Else and Dybdhal struggle to keep life moving forwards with the small relief of a visit from a travelling circus, so that the reveal happens when the tension has been ramped up to the maximum. Else has school to distract her but she is ever mindful of the cow that needs milking as well as the pressures her boyfriend, Lars, heaps on her to sneak out join him. With the fire and brimstone sermons seemingly aimed at the inhabitants by the fearsome Pastor, Brøvig accurately captures the desires and fears that rule Else’s days not least the shame she would heap on her family if caught.

A book which is thought-provoking, rather than enjoyable, this would work well as an interesting, if somewhat harrowing, book club read.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK in return for this unbiased review.

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The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

Literature 5*'s

Literature
5*’s

I fell in love with this book from the first page, the beautiful writing far outweighs the somewhat depressing underlying story of the end of the affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah. This tale is told from the protagonist’s viewpoint, interestingly, some years after this defining mark in his life and it is quickly apparent that Bendrix (he is a man known by his surname) is still trying to make sense of the strong feelings, of both love and hate he still harbours.

The quality of Graham Greene’s writing was simply brilliant. My copy had an introduction by Monica Ali that I was reading out of curiosity soon after receiving the book and despite already having started another book I turned to the first page and I simply couldn’t stop reading, fortunately this is a fairly slim book at only 160 pages or so.

So if the quality of the writing that had me hooked, this was closely followed by the description of life in London at the time of, and immediately after, the Second World War which for me was fascinating. Parkis the Private Detective who along with his son trail Sarah on Bendrix’s behest, finds the person she is visiting by the powdering of a doorbell which is so much more romantic than rummaging through her rubbish or hacking into Facebook.

I’m grateful for Lady Fancifull for suggesting this book to me; it is as the back cover says ‘One of the most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody’s language’ William Faulkner. The truth is in part because this novel holds up as a mirror a myriad of human actions that all of us have surely observed, and too many of us have participated in… How quickly love can turn from:

“…the moment of absolute trust and absolute pleasure, the moment when it was impossible to quarrel because it was impossible to think.”
to
“I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end. I could name the very moment when it had begun, and one day I knew I should be able to name the final hour.”

When at this point Bendrix begins sabotaging the affair, pressing Sarah for more, imagining her unfaithfulness with others can only hasten the end that he so fears.

I struggled more with the aspect of Catholicism that threads through the book, there is lots of philosophising about God which would normal have me closing the book, but because this was a book I was experiencing rather than simply ‘reading’ the quote that follows made me think more deeply about why encountering strong religious views has the power to affect me so much as much as it does…

“I hate you, God. I hate you as though you actually exist.”

I am going to finish my review here (because I need to stop somewhere and I could write about this book for ages) with a simply statement: if you haven’t read this book, you should, there is simply so much power packed between the pages of this slim novel it blew me away and I know that this is one book I will be re-reading very soon.

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Tigers in Red Weather – Liza Klaussmann

Historical Fiction 3*'s

Historical Fiction
3*’s

How far back do you need to go to find the seed that was planted that lead to an event? Liza Klaussmann tells us a story that starts in 1946 with two young cousins preparing for a new life following the end of the war and ends with an event some twenty-five years later.

Nick is off to Florida to meet her husband Hughes whilst Helena is off to marry Avery in Hollywood, a man summed up by her cousin as a charlatan. Along the way both women have a child each, Daisy is the daughter of Nick whilst Helena has a son Ed. Nick and Helena have the sanctuary of Nick’s family home Tiger House to meet up in the summer with their two children.

I enjoyed the structure of this book as it spans the years 1945 to 1969 told from five characters viewpoints: Nick, Daisy, Helena, Hughes and finally Ed. This was done well with the story building up in layers as we get a clear picture of some of the events, not least the murder of a maid which took place. I felt the story started fairly strongly with an insight into what life for a housewife was like in the late 40’s and early 50’s, especially for one who expected her life to be one big adventure. What wasn’t so good was that the next three parts are fairly tedious in places with little happening except an awful lot of drinks being made and served. The characters simply weren’t very nice or may I say, terribly interesting most of the time. Section five picks up the pace and I enjoyed this part the most but ultimately the ends should be tied together at this point, and they were partially, but there were so many of them that this was less of a neat knot and more of a half unravelled piece of knitting.

This was not the historical novel that I expected, there are some events that lead back to the war but this is more a novel about how people deal with the hand that life gives them. The book does offer contrasting views of how these characters filled the gaps between their expectations of life and the reality but as I hadn’t really connected with any of them this felt more contrived than it should have done.
An ambitious debut novel which had a lot of potential but fell a little flat for this reader.

I received my copy of this book from Amazon Vine in return for this impartial review.

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