Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 28)

This Week In Books

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 have just finished The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett which is a good old fashioned police procedural, the only caution being is not to read the early chapters of this if you suffer from queasiness!

The Chemistry Of Death

Blurb

Finding refuge in a quiet rural backwater, Dr David Hunter hoped he might at last have put the past behind him. But then they found what was left of Sally Palmer…
It isn’t just that she was a friend that disturbs him. Once he’d been a high-profile forensic anthropologist and all too familiar with the many faces of death, before tragedy made him abandon this previous life. Now the police want his help. But to become involved will stir up memories he’s long tried to forget. Then a second woman disappears, plunging the close-knit community into a maelstrom of fear and paranoia. And no one, not even Hunter, is exempt from suspicion. Amazon

I am now reading The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola which I’ve seen stunning reviews for so I’m delighted it has finally reached the top of my pile. This book seems to have it all, a historical crime for fans of Sarah Waters and a book full of secrets and hidden desires!

The unseeing

Blurb

Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.

After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death? Amazon

Next up I plan to read Pariah by David Jackson, regular followers of this blog will know how impressed I was with the first in a new series by this author; A Tapping at my Door, and so now I’m starting with book one of The Detective Callum Doyle Series.

Pariah

Blurb

Where can you turn when your very presence brings death to those around you?

That’s the question Detective Callum Doyle is about to face. It begins with the calculated murder of his partner on a vacant lot. But more death is to follow, and when the chilling anonymous messages arrive, Doyle is left in no doubt that this is about him.

You cannot go near your friends, your colleagues, or even your family. Because if you do… they will be killed.

To save others, Doyle is forced to cut himself off from society. But with the investigation getting nowhere and his isolation becoming unbearable, Doyle has to ask himself how much he’s willing to sacrifice to get his life back. Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (September 27)

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.

In readiness for the book tour which starts on Monday, today I am featuring the opening chapter from Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody.

death-at-the-seaside

Blurb

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.
Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.
Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.
And they say nothing happens in August . . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

One

On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Felicity Turner made a plan. From then on everything fed into The Plan, Felicity’s Plan. On her birthday, a guinea postal order arrived from her godmother and a Scottish five pound note from her father. She put the money in her saving bank book. Added to the existing balance of two shillings and ninepence, this gave her six pounds, three shillings and ninepence towards The Plan.

Granted that doesn’t give us a lot to go on, but I think I’m going to look forward to hearing more about Felicity Turner and The Plan and how that led to her disappearance.

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your links, comments etc. in the envelope below

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Lo Blacklock has won the office prize! Her boss Rowan is unable to take a cruise on a luxury boat to see the Northern Lights, so after ten years of doing travel journalism she’s finally going to have an expensive trip to write about. The trip on the Aurora promises fine dining and pampering aplenty and Lo will just have to file some pieces extolling its virtues! What could possibly go wrong?

Sadly, Lo has a traumatic experience just before setting off which indirectly led to a split with her boyfriend who she’s been holding at arm’s length. Not the best start when the boat isn’t a huge cruise-liner but a compact yet bling encrusted yacht with populated by other journalists, the billionaire owner and his wife and a smattering of the great and the good. Despite her personal problems Lo is determined to make this trip count, to make her mark and hopefully bag the stand-in role for Rowan when she takes her maternity leave. She’s pleased to meet a former boyfriend Ben on the boat, especially due to the anxiety that she’s suffered for years which has been made worse by the trauma of days before she drinks too much and quite frankly doesn’t really pull off the ambitious yet capable journalist look she was going for.

After retiring to her cabin she believes she hears a scream, followed by a big splash. The partition separating her verandah from the one in Cabin 10 is smeared with blood and the girl she saw in there earlier has disappeared. Lo fears she’s been tipped into the water and begins to raise the alarm, but it seems she’s not going to be believed.
The setting on a boat is great for this closed house type mystery and the lack of phone signal and the Wi-Fi being down completes the isolation from the rest of the world, and crucially stops Lo from doing what she’d like, which is to escape. Denied safety and panicking more than ever, unsurprisingly as she believes she’s on a boat with a killer, Lo tries to investigate herself. What follows is a fairly twisty turny read that is claustrophobic in the extreme. The style is underpinned by crisp writing, although we have an insight into Lo’s anxiety issues they are not endlessly dwelt upon so the plot moves along at a fair old pace.

I often say I don’t have to like the characters to enjoy a book and in The Woman in Cabin 10, it wasn’t that I actively disliked Lo but I didn’t really have it in me to whole-heartedly sympathise with her – this left me feeling more than a bit mean as I’m sure I wouldn’t enjoy being on a boat with no means of escape with a killer, but it did leave me feeling a little bit at odds with the book which was disquieting.

There is no doubt that Ruth Ware has come up with a book that is a modern twist on the locked house scenario. There are very few opportunities for this type of setting in the modern world where we can access someone the other side of the world with ease but the boat setting was entirely believable (although such an exclusive setting is one that I suspect few of us have experienced. From a fairly sedate start the pace slowly mounted to reach an action-packed finale, no sitting around passively while the detective pronounces the killer in this version!

If I’m honest I did prefer this author’s debut novel In a Dark Dark Wood, maybe because the setting and characters were far more familiar to me than those presented in this book. I like being able to relate to the characters in particular, even if I wouldn’t want to spend time with them but the mixture of sycophantic journalists and wealthy businessmen really don’t feature that heavily in my life. If you want a book with a bit of escapism with high drama, this is well-worth a read.

I’d like to thank the publisher Random House UK for allowing me to read a copy of this book which was published on 30 June 2016. This honest review is my thank you to them.

First Published UK: 30 June 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 25)

Weekly Wrap Up

Another horrendously busy week here, so sorry that I haven’t kept anywhere near up to date with your comments & tweets, I will get around to them all today, I hope.

Last Week on the Blog

Following last weekend’s blogathon for Agatha Christie’s birthday Monday continued the theme with a review of The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a fictionalised account about the Queen of Crime.

My excerpt on Tuesday came from The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, the second psychological thriller I’ve read this year set on a ship, the first being Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Wednesday’s post captured my reading for the week – all crime this week!

Friday saw me post a review one of the books I didn’t get to in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

The last review of the week was one of my own books; A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward which I had to buy because In Bitter Chill, her first book, was an exceptional read.

 

This Time Last Year…

Coincidently last year I was reading the second book by Kimberly McCreight, Where They Found Her which tells the tale of a fledgling reporter who investigates the death of a small child whilst being conflicted by personal issues.

A snippet from my review indicates that she coped!

A very satisfying and intricate novel which I really enjoyed, this is very much a character driven novel and although the police are involved to be honest it is lucky for them that they have someone who is as keen to get answers as Molly because they don’t seem to have much of a sense of urgency, or even the most basic detection skills.

Where They Found Her

Blurb

Motherhood hasn’t come at all easy for Molly Anderson. But she’s finally enjoying life as mother to five-year-old Ella and as Arts reporter for the small but respectable Ridgedale Reader. That is, until a body is found in the woods adjacent to Ridgedale University’s ivy-covered campus. This is a discovery that threatens to unearth secrets long buried by the town’s most powerful residents, and brings Molly to two women who are far more deeply connected than they have ever realised.

Where They Found Heris a riveting domestic thriller which offers a searing portrait of motherhood, marriage, class distinctions and the damage wrought by betrayal.

 

Stacking the Shelves

Well it was the annual book sale here on the island, held to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sadly rumour has it that this is the last one and consequently there were fewer books than normal as they are running down the stocks rather than adding to them. Even so I managed to add a few to the stack, all in a good cause of course.

booksale-2016An Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple – The Thirteen Problems
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill – the only book I could find by this author, this being the 11th in the Dalziel and Pascoe Series
The Island by Victoria Hislop because I visited the former leper colony Spingola on my holiday to Crete this year
The Murder Room by PD James for  nostalgia’s sake
I’ll Be There For You by Louise Candlish for a lighter reading moment
and a portrait of Henry James written by Colm Tóibín in The Master
The London Train by Tessa Hadley, I’ve already read so this can go to the charity shop!

I also was a winner! From Linda’s Book Bag, a blog really worth following for the sheer breadth of books she reviews,  I won a copy of The Conversation’s We Never Had by Jeffrey H. Konis

the-conversations-we-never-had

Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

I was delighted to get a copy of Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch through the post with a lovely message from the author! This book will be published on 26 January 2017.

her-husbands-lover
Blurb

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? Goodreads

I also did a bit of shameless begging for the latest, long-awaited book, by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly called He Said/She Said. This book has a publication date of 23 February 2017 and as you can see is still awaiting its cover design.

he-said-she-said

Blurb

He said it was consensual.
The woman said nothing.
But Laura saw it…
… didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.
Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.
When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.
As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.
But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. Amazon

From NetGalley I was incredibly excited to receive a copy of The Fifth in the Kim Stone Series, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons which will be published on 4 November 2016. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got time before the latest episode is released!

blood-lines

Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them… NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have only read 2 books, and gained 10 and so my TBR now totals a diabolical 180 books!

90 physical books
70 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Books I have read, Books I want to Read, Five Star Reads

A Deadly Thaw – Sarah Ward

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

The second in the Francis Sadler series set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire is written in Sarah Ward’s trademark style of an easy read in a book full of complexities.

After being released from prison Lena Fisher moved back into the family home with her younger sister Kat. The two girls had been close up until the close of their teenage years in the 1980s when Lena withdrew and pulled away from her sister but following her release from prison the two live in the large house bequeathed to them both following the death of their professional parents. Despite Kat’s ambivalence towards the house, because Lena feels a connection, the prospect of it being sold is slim and Kat’s job as a counsellor simply can’t fund the repairs desperately needed to stop the house crumbling further.

Once again the novel has its roots in the past with the convicted murderer, Lena Fisher, committing her crime in 2004. Lena murdered her husband by suffocating him in their marital bed and served twelve years in prison for her crime. The problem is that a man found in a disused World War One mortuary, fabulously named Hale’s End, appears to be the very same Andrew Fisher – now that’s a mystery as one man simply cannot die twice!

But before the body is formally identified Lena goes missing causing Kat to worry. Kat herself is sure she is being watched and maybe followed, and that feeling only intensifies when she is given strange gifts by a teenage boy. The first such gift is a gun dating back to the war. Meanwhile unsurprisingly the local police force are themselves being investigated into how a woman was convicted of killing the wrong man, so tensions are running high as DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer find they need to delve back to the past in order to have any chance of working out what has happened in the present. As an aside, although DI Sadler gets to give his name to the series, in A Deadly Thaw the police’s actions are mostly seen through Connie’s eyes, herself a complex character and although there is rivalry between her and Damian Palmer the book doesn’t get bogged down in endless police politics, yet accurately reflects a close working relationship with all its pitfalls.

As I found in the Sarah Ward’s first book, In Bitter Chill, not only is the plot complex, the characters are a delight. Although I found Lena the most difficult to understand there is a wide range of people that walk and talk like real people do! The author takes real care to ensure that not one of the characters feels like they’ve been designed to move the plot along, these are people who matter in their own right and when we are not looking are moaning about the day they’ve had or that they forget their umbrella! As a reader we get the full picture through the eyes of Kat and the police. This author is determined to keep you hooked with the chapters often ending on a revelation which because the time period and often the point of view changes you have to hold that thought until you catch up with the thread a few chapters later. Sarah Ward owes me some sleep – I simply couldn’t put this book down.

Sarah Ward is most definitely in the bracket of female writers of crime fiction that use issues as a theme to underpin their storylines but manage to do it without reiterating every other page what that is. These are books that get under your skin as well as giving you a fantastic puzzle to solve. I’m really hoping we will be seeing more of Francis Sadler and his team before too long.

First Published UK: 30 August 2016
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Kate Baron is a successful litigation lawyer and single mother to Amelia. Despite her hectic life Kate has made a success of their small family with time put aside to concentrate on Amelia to make up for the hours spent working late. Amelia used to have the company of her nanny who had looked after her since she was a small child but at fifteen Kate was persuaded by Amelia who argued she was too old.

One day Kate gets a call from Amelia’s school while she is in one of the most important meetings of her career, Amelia has been suspended, the matter to be discussed in person with the Headmaster. Later that day Amelia is found dead; soon classified as suicide but then Kate gets a text that claims that her daughter’s death wasn’t suicide at all. Kate sets about what really happened to Amelia and the texts, emails and social media pages, including a blog will make the most hardened adult wince.

This book quickly drew me in to the heart of the tale which is Kate’s belief that she knew her daughter but as soon as she starts investigating, she finds out that Amelia had secrets, lots and not just from Kate but from her best friend too. Female teenage friendships are complicated at the best of times but in the progressive American High School that Amelia attended there were also secret societies complete with initiation tasks and a complete stink, rather than a mere whiff, of bullying about them. Could membership, or not, really be behind the loss of life, of all that potential?

As the gap between mother and daughter is laid bare, the tension mounts as Kate is determined to uncover the truth and it would seem that there is more than one person who is determined to obfuscate what really happened that day. And the author manages that tension superbly with only too realistic text exchanges between Amelia and Ben, a friend from out of town, revealing one version of events whilst an anonymous blog is busy revealing the secrets of many of the pupils to all and sundry telling a slightly different one. We also get Amelia’s perspective of her life in the lead up to the fateful day as well as Kate’s in the present, and in the past – be warned, keep your eye on the dates that head up each narration to be sure where you are on the timeline!

This was a far more engaging read than I expected and there were plenty of secrets to discover but this is one of those reads where I think you have to go with the flow and not question some decisions and actions too closely, if you do you may find yourself wondering quite how likely some of the scenarios posed really are. This is a dramatic read, one that could make parents of teenage girls get into a spin and worry themselves stupid about the dangers of social media, but in many ways, although the book uses social media as a vehicle to illustrate Amelia’s life, at the heart of the book is a young girl’s loneliness and her need to be accepted by her peers, and that story definitely pre-dates facebook, mobile phones and emails. One thing is for sure Kimberly McCreight has created a haunting story which won’t be forgotten in a hurry!

First Published UK: 20 June 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 21)

This Week In Books

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

The Woman in Cabin 10 by the talented Ruth Ware tells the tale of Lo Blacklock who is on the trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights as a perk of her job as a travel journalist. Just before she was due to leave on the trip Lo’s home was broken into while she was there, she’s justifiably traumatised so when she thinks she witnesses a murder while on board the boat, she’s not sure what to believe. Is she on board with a murderer or has she imagined it?

The Woman in Cabin 10

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt from the first chapter in yesterday’s post.

I have just finished A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward, my review of this, the second in the superb Inspector Francis Sadler series, will be posted soon.

a-deadly-thaw

Blurb

Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .Amazon

Next I plan to read Ward Zero by Linda Huber which will be published on 1 October 2016

Ward Zero

 

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.

Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again. Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (September 20)

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.

In the spirit of trying to tackle the number of requests I have outstanding for review on NetGalley and because I really did love In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware I have picked The Woman In Cabin 10 for my Tuesday post this week.

The Woman in Cabin 10

Blurb

This was meant to be the perfect trip.

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.

Except things don’t go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.

Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness… NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

PART ONE
Friday 18 September

1

The first inkling that something was wrong was waking in darkness to find the cat pawing at my face. I must have forgotten to shut the kitchen door last night. Punishment for coming home drunk.
‘Go away,’ I groaned. Delilah mewed and butted me with her head. I tried to bury my face in the pillow but she continued rubbing against my ear, and eventually I rolled over and heartlessly pushed her off the bed.
She thumped to the floor with an indignant little ‘meep’ and I pulled the duvet over my head. But even through the covers I could hear her scratching at the bottom of the door rattling it in its frame.
The door was closed.

Well that’s got off to a great start so I’m off to read the rest!

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your links, comments etc. in the envelope below

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Woman on the Orient Express – Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Historical Fiction 4*s
Historical Fiction
4*s

The synopsis gives us a flavour of what The Woman on the Orient Express has in store for us, promising secrets not easy to unravel on a journey on the iconic train line. The subject, ‘The Woman’ is Agatha Christie, the reason for the trip is an escape from England after the end of her marriage to Archie, the secrets… well it would appear that more than one passenger has something to hide.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling a certain amount of discomfort when starting to read one of these factional tales, if for no other reason than it is not always clear where the lines between fact and fiction lie.

The plot is very much one of the time it is set in, being the 1928, a time when it was surely less usual for a single woman to be travelling to Baghdad but Agatha has that covered, she is travelling under the assumed name of Mary Miller. For her she wants to be well away from her home when Archie marries his second wife and with her daughter Rosalind at boarding school there is little to make her stay. Being a writer she can use the trip to come up with some plots for the books.

The chapters set on the train, are headed up with the legs of the journey, and it isn’t long before Agatha meets another young woman, Katherine Keeling who is a widow, making the journey to join the archaeological dig at Mesopotamia under the esteemed archaeologist Leonard Wooley. Later in the journey another young woman is introduced, one who is fleeing her abusive husband to stay with her cousin in Baghdad.

The book was far more evocative of both time and place than I expected, the descriptions of both the train and the destination of Baghdad giving this reader a flavour of what the trips that Agatha Christie did make, were like. The time period was underlined by the way the women conducted themselves with little interaction with others on the journey except those employed by the train company. Despite being in close quarters each of the women held key secrets back from each other which are only revealed once they arrive at their destination.

This isn’t a murder mystery tale, more like historical fiction with the three women at a crossroads in their life, all needing to face some truths from their past and then to find a way forward. That said, it is a very engaging story, with enough intrigue to keep this reader turning the pages to find out exactly what the outcome would be – reader be warned, this isn’t some saccharine sweet tale where everything turns out rosy! The book has a few scenes that are full of action which seem out of place in what at times feels like a woman’s fictional novel (and I don’t use that phrase in a derogatory manner), which indicates how hard it is to categorise this book. One of the jarring points was, as much as I love Poirot, the fictional Agatha hearing both the Belgium detective and her mother talking to her throughout the book was most off-putting, perhaps because I deem our heroine far too certain to have to listen to imaginary voices before taking any course of action.

Earlier on I mentioned the difficulty with identifying the artistic licence in this kind of writing so I’m pleased to report that at the end the author makes it clear which parts she took liberties with and which sources she used for the factual elements.

A surprisingly enjoyable read which gives a flavour of a key point in Agatha Christie’s life by weaving a story around her trip that felt reasonably credible.

I’d like to thank the publishers Lake Union Publishing, who allowed me to read an advance copy of The Woman on the Orient Express ahead of publication on 20 September 2016. This unbiased review is my thank you to them.

First Published UK: 20 September 2016
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
No of Pages: 330
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 18)

Weekly Wrap Up

This week I got some great news from the publishers Bonnier Zaffre
My Husband's SonDear Cleo,

I hope all is well with you. Just getting in touch to tell you something that I hope you might like.
As you may know, My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor is coming out in paperback on 6th October and I’ve just received copies of this stunning book. I wanted to let you know that a quote from your review has been included in the first page of the book!

I hope this makes your day! 

Many thanks and best wishes,
C

Did it make my day? Hell yes! It also guarantees that some of my dear friends will receive this book as a gift!

Last Week on the Blog

Well I managed to celebrate two author’s birthdays on the blog this week:

First up was the wonderful Roald Dahl who I met as a child as he lived fairly close to where we lived in Buckinghamshire and he did a talk at our local library. Roald Dahl would have been 100 on 13 September 2016 and Audible had a promotional post of his audio books – including one the great man read himself.

I then too part in the Agatha Christie Blogathon timed to coincide with Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday, my choice was to revisit Miss Marple after over thirty years of shunning her for not being anywhere as delightful as Hercule Poirot – you can read my thoughts on The Murder at the Vicarage here

I was also extremely lucky to receive an ARC of The Trespasser by Tana French, the sixth in the Dublin Murder Squad series which I reviewed on Monday.

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith got plenty of coverage this week featuring in my First Chapter, First Paragraph post on Tuesday and later in the week I reviewed the book.

Wednesday highlighted my reads for the week, including The Woman on the Orient Express by Lyndsay Jayne Ashford; another entry for Agatha Christie, this time in a book inspired by the Queen of Crime.

On Friday my post was a book tag, this one about all things NetGalley – you can read my responses here

This Time Last Year…

I reviewed the psychological thriller, Can Anybody Help Me by Sinéad Crowley, a real tale of our time that involves an internet site for mothers – remind you of anything? This book is swiftly paced to say the least and proved to make for some compulsive reading!

 

Can Anyone Help me

It was crazy really, she had never met the woman, had no idea of her real name but she thought of her as a friend. Or, at least, the closest thing she had to a friend in Dublin.

Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself.

When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman?

But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne’s missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they’re all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

There were just two books added to my shelves this week – I know, I can hear those gasps of amazement and awe at my self-restraint.

First is Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham which has a publication date on NetGalley of 7 February 2017 but actually this book is already available to buy here in the UK, having originally been published in 2012.

rush-of-blood

Blurb

In the standalone novel Rush of Blood, internationally bestselling author Mark Billingham puts a sinister twist on a deceptively innocent topic: the beach vacation.

Three British couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on Easter Sunday, the last day of their vacation, tragedy strikes: the fourteen-year-old daughter of an American vacationer goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves. When the shocked couples return home to the U.K., they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find. Buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some unusual kinks and unpleasant vices. Then, a second girl goes missing, in Kent—not far from where any of the couples lives. Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?

Ambitiously plotted and laced with dark humour, Rush of Blood is a first-rate suspense novel about the danger of making new friends in seemingly sunny places. NetGalley

I was also delighted to be approved to read The Trophy Child by Paula Daly, an author that has entertained and delighted me with each of her three previous novels Just What Kind of Mother Are You?Keep Your Friends Close and The Mistake I Made The Trophy Child will be published on 7 March 2017 by Grove Press.

the-trophy-child

Blurb

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighbourhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behaviour. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child. NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 5 books, and gained 2 and had I located a read book left on the spreadsheet so the total is now a fairly respectable 172 books!

82 physical books
70 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?