20 Books of Summer 2015!

20-books-of-summer-master-image

Cathy at Cathy746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2015 and running until 4 September 2015, and this year I’ve decided to join her. I had already rationed myself from requesting quite so many review copies so the choices I make will be in addition to those that I have obligations to read and review.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf that I already own with at least half being physical books. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from…

The only drawback with this challenge is I want to experience choosing a book that fits my mood so I have decided to begin by choosing a spread of genre to list the first ten books for my summer reading.

Summer Reading May 29

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young

Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey

The Maul and the Pear Tree – P.D. James & T.A. Critchley

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

Every Secret Thing – Emma Cole

Dancing for the Hangman – Martin Edwards

Rutherford Park – Elizabeth Cooke

Under World – Reginald Hill

The Whicharts – Noel Streatfeild

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hastag #20booksofsummer and I will provide (a yet to be decided logo) to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 Books of Summer image for those of you who feel aiming for 20 is quite frankly ridiculous. Visit Cathy to get the full details here

So what do you think to my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

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Falling – Emma Kavanagh

Psychological Thriller 5*'s

Psychological Thriller
5*’s

I really enjoyed Hidden by this author and pondered over both the plot and its execution so I was really keen to read her debut novel Falling which was published last year.

This book opens with us meeting Cecilia Williams a flight attendant based in Wales, a place she never intended returning to. That very morning she had packed her bags leaving her husband and young son. Without a backward glance, convinced she has made the right choice she prepares to board the flight, directing the passengers to their seats before take-off. And then both passengers, crew are in the terrifying scenario of a plane falling from the sky. As the plane comes to settle on a snowy hillside torn in two with only a handful of survivors, everything has changed, or has it?

Parallel to this story is that of retired Police officer Jim who on visiting his daughter’s home finds her missing. Jim visits the police station hoping to find his old friends and is instead confronted by a board duty officer more interested in his phone that taking down the details or being remotely interested in the disappearance of Libby, a Community Support Officer. Once the crime is finally reported the man who leads the investigation into her disappearance is Cecilia’s husband Tom.

We also hear from Freya, the daughter of the deceased pilot where she reflects on her life with a rather distant father yet at the same time supporting her younger brother and her distraught mother. There are secrets in this family too, some better hidden than others.

This book is populated by a wide selection of characters, some more likeable than others. I found it difficult to sympathise with Cecilia in particular but as the storyline progressed I came to understand, if not like her. But these characters don’t act in isolation they all have relationships with others and sometimes crossover between the individual stories that I found myself immersed in. Like the characters the relationships cover the range, from close and caring to distant and remote with a scattering in-between. The relationship between Tom and Jim was both authentic and touching, a lovely touch that is often overlooked in this genre of books. The richness of both characters and plots didn’t fail to engage me and I was desperate to piece together all the various elements.

And then there is a setting which in the depth of winter, those cold days that are currently thankfully behind us, gives an added chill to the various mysteries that populate the pages of this intriguing and fresh feeling novel.

This book is multi-layered, complex and deals with difficult issues but it does it so very well. The different viewpoints give a depth to the stories being told and lifts what could be one very confusing sets of episodes into a tautly and engaging read. It is billed as a psychological thriller and the psychological element is definitely present, I’m not quite so sure it fits into the thriller genre being one of those books to ponder over rather than one that gets your heart racing.

I’d like to thank the publishers Landmark who are publishing this book in the US under the title After We Fall on 2 June 2015, for allowing me to read this book in return for an honest review.

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Time of Death – Mark Billingham

Crime Fiction 5*s

Crime Fiction
5*s

This is DI Tom Thorne’s thirteenth outing and although I haven’t read the entire series I’ve dipped in and out over the years. This is a great example of the strength of the characterisation and plot that this author produces and is reads successfully as stand-alone novel.

Tom Thorne and his partner Helen Weeks are having some time away for a romantic break in the Cotswolds although Tom has stipulated a ban on walking and antiques shops, but still it is a break. Not for long though because when the news comes through of a crime is committed in Helen’s home town, Polesford, her ears prick up. When she finds out that one of her old friends is the suspect’s wife she rushes to support her. This leaves Tom at a loose end and he just can’t resist carrying out his own investigation – a true busman’s holiday.

I do love crimes that are set in small communities, there is something very distinctive about the way they operate, with everyone knowing so much about each other’s lives, the suspicion of outsiders, the gossip and the protection and tolerance of their own, up to a point. That line is drawn when two girls go missing and Linda’s husband is taken in for questioning based upon some strong evidence and the race is on to find the missing girls.

Unusually for a crime novel this book is as much about what happens to the family of a suspect when they are arrested as it is about the victims as well as the who, how and why element, and I really enjoyed it. Linda has two teenage children, trapped in an unfamiliar house while their own is combed by the scenes of crime officers, the tension between them all is palpable especially as they are being ‘looked after’ by the police and gawped at by the press camped outside the door. It takes a true story-teller to manage a disparate group of characters and maintain some of the most authentic dialogue I’ve read in quite some time.

There are revelations about many of the characters, some truly ingenious reasoning by Hendricks, the pathologist and friend of Thorne and Weeks, some terrifying excerpts from the victim and a real mystery to be solved. Mark Billingham gives the reader a fair shot with the clues but he doesn’t half muddy the water by manipulating the reader to look the other way whilst they are revealed.

This was a thoroughly satisfying read, one that made me want to go back and read those that I have inexplicably missed earlier on the series.

I’d like to thank the publishers Grove Atlantic for allowing me to read this wonderful book which is already available for the kindle but will be published in paperback on 2 June 2015.

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This Week In Books (May 27)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum

The Drowned Boy

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post

I have recently finished Falling by Emma Kavanagh, a wonderful multi-viewpoint book written following a plane crash.

Falling

Blurb

A moody, intense debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist, this debut novel explores four lives that fall apart in the tense aftermath of a plane crash, perfect for fans of Tana French, S. J. Watson, and Alice LaPlante. Unravelling what holds these four together is a tense, taut tale about good people who make bad decisions that ultimately threaten to destroy them. Debut author Emma Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down. NetGalley

my review will follow soon

Next I plan to read The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

The Other Me

Blurb

Eliza Bennet has the life she’s always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she loves.
But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia – one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from. NetGalley

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 26)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My current read is The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum which will be published on 4 June 2015 by Random House UK

The Drowned Boy

Blurb

He’d just learnt to walk,’ she said. ‘He was sitting playing on his blanket, then all of a sudden he was gone.’
A 16-month-old boy is found drowned in a pond right by his home. Chief Inspector Sejer is called to the scene as there is something troubling about the mother’s story. As even her own family turns against her, Sejer is determined to get to the truth.

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter 1
The dizziness hit him in short, sharp bursts that overwhelmed him, and even though he fought against it, he lost his balance. This is not good he thought, in desperation, this is it. He tried as best he could to stay on his feet, managed somehow to get over to the mirror on the wall and studied his face with keen eyes. No, I can’t ignore it any more, it must be a tumour, why should I get away with it, I’m no better than anyone else, not in the slightest. Of course it was cancer. That’s what we die of these days, one in three, he thought, even one in two, if we live to be old enough. And soon I’ll be an old man, I’m halfway to a hundred. But I’m probably going to die now.

This is the eleventh in the Inspector Sejer series and a new one to me. This opening doesn’t have any direct correlation to the synopsis but would you keep reading?

Do you want to know more?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the comment box below

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Beyond Evil – Nathan Yates

True Crime 3*s

True Crime
3*s

Having to make an unexpected visit to my brother who is heavily into true crime, I had a wealth of horrific true murders to choose from for my bedtime reading and I picked up this book having vividly remembered the TV reports back in 2002 where we all desperately hoped that Hollie Wells and Jessica Chapman would be found alive, sadly it wasn’t to be.

This true crime book is written by a journalist who was at the scene reporting for the Daily Mirror, I have to confess my expectations were fairly low. Although this isn’t the best example of this type of book, it is far from the worst and not quite as sensational as the title might suggest; full title is Beyond Evil: Inside the Mind of Ian Huntley, the Wickedest Man on Earth.

Nathan Yates expertly reconstructs the afternoon when the two ten-year-old girls set off for a walk well within their permitted boundaries in Soham, Cambridgeshire, and the horror only too easily imagined when both sets of parents realised they were missing. This book also reported how Huntley inserted himself into the search and became an unofficial spokesman for the locals while the hunt for the girls continued. He quickly volunteered the information that he’d seen the two as they passed his house. Hollie and Jessica knew Huntley’s girlfriend Maxine Carr and it seems likely that they asked after her. Only Ian Huntley actually knows what happened next and Nathan Yates is unable to add anything that wasn’t already in the public domain.

The book is cleverly constructed flipping between days to make the pertinent points which was especially useful to demonstrate that while Huntley thought he was covering up his crime, the police already had their suspicions although Nathan Yates, unsurprisingly, gives much of the credit to the media!

The part of this book that was more informative is the role that Maxine Carr played in the covering up of the crime, again she has steadfastly claimed she didn’t know what her boyfriend had done and so provided an alibi to save him from suspicion. Unfortunately for her once Ian Huntley was under suspicion, the fact that she was miles away in Grimsby at the time the girls went missing, was quickly proved. The author provides quite comprehensive background to Maxine’s earlier life which allowed me to come to my own conclusions about her motivation for providing him with an alibi.

This book which claims to know more about the perpetrator’s thoughts than is possible having had no access to him or even those close to him, reads like a fairly long newspaper report. As such it provides broad background to a shocking case but adds little in the way of real insight into the crime. What it does really well is to give the reader a real sense of those two girls whose lives were cut short in what appears to be a classic case of crossing the path of a man who acted on impulse in the most terrible way.

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Stacking the Shelves (May 23)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

Well after no new books last week I have one addition from NetGalley this week with The Tears of Angels by Caro Ramsay chosen because I enjoyed The Night Hunter by the same author.

The Tears of Angels

The Tears of Angels is due to be published 1 September 2015

Blurb

Past crimes cause new murder in this tense and twisting psychological thriller.
A few days before the summer solstice a 92-year-old woman is found burned to death in her home. On the same day, a man’s mutilated corpse is discovered in a field, his arms ripped from their sockets, a Tarot card depicting The Fool inserted in his mouth.
When the victim is identified as someone for whom the police have been looking for almost a year, detectives Anderson and Costello find themselves caught up in a case where nothing is as it seems. Was the dead man really responsible for three child murders? And what is the connection with the death of the elderly woman?
The investigation leads to the tranquil shores of Loch Lomond where Anderson and Costello will finally uncover the shocking truth. NetGalley

I also have a copy of Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff courtesy of Amazon Vine.

Fates and Furies

Blurb

Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart. Amazon

Lastly I have one purchase; The Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth

They Did it with Love

Blurb

Secrets lurk under the smooth surface of a wealthy Connecticut neighborhood, until a murder reveals all
Sofie and her husband have left Manhattan in search of a more tranquil life in the suburbs. But when a member of Sofie?s new neighborhood book club turns up dead, things get messy. She discovers that everybody has something to hide, including her own husband. Her neighbor Priscilla has been married to Gordon for fifteen years, but the love left their marriage a long time ago. Susan is Priscilla?s biggest supporter until she has to choose between loyalty to her friend and telling the truth. Ashley is eager to fit in, but her youth and status as a second wife keep her on the outside. She may know more than they think she does, though. Julia seems to have it all?the perfect house, job and husband. But her untimely death has people questioning how perfect her life really was. Through this swamp of suburban secrets, Sofie must wade to find the truth behind Julia?s murder and the state of her own marriage. They Did It with Love is a delightful, twisty, and twisted exploration of the things we?ll do for love. Goodreads

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below

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All The Little Pieces – Jilliane Hoffman

Crime Fiction 4*s

Crime Fiction
4*s

What would you do if you were in a car with your young daughter and a young woman knocked on your window and asked for help? Would you risk letting her into your car? Or would you, as Faith Saunders did, ignore the plea even though the girl in question was soon joined by two men. The moral dilemmas posed by this novel present the reader with a superb premise and this promise is realised in the execution.

This is a story of how a single lie by omission can have devastating consequences. Faith kept quiet unaware that Maggie aged just four had seen everything, and when the truth comes out Faith doesn’t only have to explain to the police why she kept quiet but to her husband Nick.

The girl who asked Faith for help was found dead in a field and Detective Bryan Nil is convinced that the perpetrator is a serial killer but no-one else in Palm Beach police department is convinced, but as links are made to previous bodies and with the help of Maggie’s testimony a series of shocking events are revealed. When the media run with the story Faith’s guilt for not acting sooner is magnified. All The Little Pieces manages to recreate the way that the media follow the public; at first the murder of a girl who is a dancer in a gentleman’s club wouldn’t be newsworthy, but as soon as they realise that the witness is a four-year old girl the focus switches and it isn’t long before everyone Faith knows is making judgement on her decisions.

Jilliane Hoffman expertly avoids falling into clichés or stereotypes with a book that is much about the witness as the hunt for the perpetrator. It soon becomes apparent that Faith’s personal life was far from that she presented to the world before the drive that catastrophically changed her life. This is an unusual take on crime fiction, the witness usually serves their purpose by giving a statement so it was great to read a book which concentrates on a different perspective.

With a mixture of viewpoints including Faith, the perpetrator and DI Nils the reader gets to see the story from multiple angles. I particularly liked DI Nils who came across as a level-headed investigator determined to get to the bottom of the mystery but not unsympathetic to the woman who had delayed it.

At first the author felt the need to over-emphasise certain points by means of repetition which I always feel is unnecessary and slightly annoying especially as this book clocked in at just under 450 pages a few of which could easily have been discarded. I was pleased that this tendency lessened as the pace picked up and the author trusted her readers to remember the key bits of information.

This is a superb thriller, well-written with a great array of characters. The tension is there from the start but ratchets up to unbearable levels as the story progresses to its satisfying conclusion.

I want to say a big thank you to Lovereading UK who arranged for me to receive a copy of this book in return for my review. All The Little Pieces is due to be published on 4 June 2015.

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This Week In Books (May 20)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Time of Death by Mark Billingham

Time of Death

Blurb

The astonishing thirteenth Tom Thorne novel is a story of kidnapping, the tabloid press, and a frightening case of mistaken identity.
Tom Thorne is on holiday with his girlfriend DS Helen Weeks, when two girls are abducted in Helen’s home town. When a body is discovered and a man is arrested, Helen recognizes the suspect’s wife as an old school-friend and returns home for the first time in twenty-five years to lend her support. As his partner faces up to a past she has tried desperately to forget and a media storm engulfs the town, Thorne becomes convinced that, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, the police have got the wrong man. There is still an extremely clever and killer on the loose and a missing girl who Thorne believes might still be alive. Goodreads

I have recently finished reading All The Little Pieces by Jiliane Hoffman

All The Little Pieces

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post, my review will follow soon

Next up is Falling the debut novel by Emma Kavanagh, I thoroughly enjoyed Hidden by this author and read good reviews about this when it was published last year.

Falling

Blurb

A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.
Jim is a retired police officer, and worried father. His beloved daughter has disappeared and he knows something is wrong.
Tom has woken up to the news that his wife was on the plane and must break the news to their only son.
Cecilia had packed up and left her family. Now she has survived a tragedy, and sees no way out.
Freya is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. But as she delves into his past, she may not like what she finds.
‘Before the plane crash, after the plane crash, such a short amount of time for the world to turn on its head.’

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 19)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My intro this week is from All The Little Pieces by Jilliane Hoffman

All The Little Pieces

Blurb

She could have stopped an awful crime. She could have saved a life. She tried to forget about it. But now, the truth is out.
The terrifying new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Retribution and Pretty Little Things.
Faith Saunders is the perfect wife, mother and sister – loved and admired by all who know her. One night will change everything. As she drives home in the pouring rain, a dishevelled young woman appears out of nowhere, pleading for help. The isolated stretch of road is dark, and with her four-year-old daughter Maggie asleep in the backseat, Faith refuses to let the stranger in. What she sees next will haunt her forever. When the missing-person posters go up, Faith’s guilt consumes her. Then the girl’s body turns up, and her perfect life begins to unravel. Because it turns out Maggie wasn’t asleep that night and – unlike her mother – she’s not afraid to speak up. Maggie’s testimony leads to an arrest, but Faith is the only one who can identify a second man who was at the scene of the crime. She has one chance to convince a jury of what happened. If she fails, two murderers will go free – two men who have killed before and who will undoubtedly kill again. And they know exactly where to find Faith and her family… Goodreads

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

The rainy night air smelled toxic – burnt and bitter – like a house fire a day after being put out, its charred remains smouldering in puddles full of water and chemicals. The thick taste coated her throat. No matter if she spit or swallowed, there was no getting rid of it.

What do you think? Do you want to know more? Would you keep reading? Have you read Pretty Little Thing or Retribution?
Please leave your thoughts and links in the comment box below

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