Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

What a relief to know that I am not the only person who looks out of a train window and makes up stories for the inhabitants, that is how we meet our chief protagonist Rachel. Sitting on a train commuting to London the train routinely stops at lights in one particular stop. Rachel spots a couple sitting on their makeshift roof terrace and assigns them names, Jessie and Jason, and an idyllic life to match. As we get to know Rachel better we begin to understand why this essentially imaginary couple are so important to her.  Rachel is unhappily divorced, living in a shared house and she’s an alcoholic but fear not this book while ensuring the consequences of her drinking are clear doesn’t play us endless scenes of her drinking herself into oblivion, it is far cleverer than that giving instead a taster of her morning and evening from a selection of days starting on 5 July 2013 and ending on 18 August of the same year.

When one routine morning she sees something that shatters her views of her imaginary couple and this event becomes an obsession as its significance is revealed. This is an ingeniously constructed story told not only from Rachel’s viewpoint, but those of two other women, Anna and Megan too. Megan’s story begins a year before Anna’s and although the relevance of her story isn’t immediately apparent I still wanted to know more about her. As the story progresses the way these three women’s lives are connected becomes apparent, and then the fun really starts with the action ramping up along with the tension. With the split in viewpoint perfectly timed so that the reader doesn’t feel that the switch has been purposely inserted to prolong the suspense, although it certainly does that.

I was hooked on this story, I trusted not one of the characters, I’ll be honest, none of them are people you’d aspire to be, rather they are people with issues, unfortunate personalities and they all picked up too many narcissistic genes from the gene pool, but the author manages to keep them the right side of caricatures, unfortunates among you may have met people just like them. The plot is full of sub-plots which almost compels you to judge these people and their behaviour which just served to fuel my suspicions about each and every one of them even more.

This is an accomplished debut written by an author who has exactly the right balance of ingredients for a psychological suspense novel, a well-plotted mystery, a handful of life-like characters, events revealed at the right time and an ending that didn’t disappoint.

I’d like to thank the publishers Transworld for allowing me to read a proof copy of this book ahead of publication date on 15 January 2015 and I sincerely hope Paula Hawkins has another book in the pipeline.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Girl With No Past – Kathryn Croft

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Leah lives on her own, surrounded by books, with a job in a library and no social life it is clear to the reader from page one that she is troubled by her past, but why is a mystery. Longing to make a connection with someone she begins lurking on a dating website where she meets moderator Julian and she starts to feel braver and for a while she believes she can leave the past behind her but everything changes on the fourteenth anniversary of the event she is running from when she receives an anniversary card. It is obvious someone isn’t going to let her forget.

I hadn’t heard of Kathryn Croft before I started reading this book, although I’ve since discovered this is in fact the third psychological thriller novel that she’s written, and the web of intrigue that she has invented for Leah certainly had me convinced. Right from the beginning of the book I could visualise Leah sat in her dismal flat, could picture her losing herself amongst the pages Of Mice and Men, her solitary dinners and then her lifeline to a more normal world, mere fingertips away on her laptop. As she begins to bond with Maria at the library I was urging her on, sure that whatever had happened couldn’t really justify a life half lived.

As well as seeing how Leah is living her life now, we also meet her as she starts secondary school, a new teacher, new friends, first Imogen and then Corey and then as they reach year ten, a new boy joins the school, Adam and Leah loses her fears that she will never be interested in boys. School life is notoriously hard to recreate in novels possibly because we look back with adult eyes, but Kathryn Croft pulls it off these sections convincingly so that these occasional chapters detailing Leah’s teenage years not only add substance to the novel, they also transported me back to my school days.

One of the problems with books that are marketed as ‘for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train’ is that it invites readers to make the comparison, and usually the book comes up wanting. This book is nothing like those two except that it is in the same genre, although unlike many with this tag-line, it is utterly gripping, well-written and engaging. By opening with a description of a car crash, it is likely that something awful will happen and with the structure of short chapters I was eager to find out what! With Leah understandable scared by the events that unfold in the present with the background of her past, the tension levels merely switched between taut and tauter until finally as taut as an elastic band that is going to ping you in the face at any moment. I don’t usually talk about endings but again, due to the weakness or sheer unbelievable elements that litter this genre, this one is convincing and I’m proud to say that for once I did have my suspicions, will you?

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bookouture for allowing me to read a copy of this book, in return for my review and to wish Kathryn Croft every success with this excellent read. The Girl With No Past was published on 15 October 2015.

Posted in Books I have read

Little Girl Gone – Alexandra Burt

Psychological Thriller 3*s
Psychological Thriller
3*s

Estelle Paradise woke up one morning to find baby Mia missing from her cot, not only that but her clothes, nappies and all the other paraphernalia that goes along with a small baby has disappeared too.

As the title doesn’t just beg comparisons, it actively behaves like a teenage cheerleader to make sure we don’t miss them, to the recent hit books in the psychological thriller/domestic noir genre of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, it would be remiss of me not to comment on them; this definitely fits into the psychological thriller genre, there is an unreliable narrator and someone is missing! That said, this is actually a far more thoughtful book, dealing with postpartum psychosis although efforts have been made to create the tension and twists and turns required to match these books. More of that later…

We first meet Estelle when she is in a hospital bed following a car accident, oh and part of her ear is missing! She has police guards at the door and her husband Jack is firing questions at her about what has happened to baby Mia, there is just one problem, Estelle has amnesia and can’t remember.

The media goes wild when the news breaks that Estelle didn’t report Mia missing and the assumption is made that one or both parents are involved in her disappearance, after all, what other explanation could there be? Estelle is quickly packed off to psychiatric hospital to help recover her memory and vast swathes of the book are taken up with her sessions with Dr Ari and Estelle and Jack’s history told through flashbacks. What the public doesn’t know and the reader does is that Estelle struggled with motherhood and her biggest fear is that she did have something to do with Mia’s disappearance, and as such this is a fascinating look at postpartum psychosis. So to the characters: I was quite ok with not liking many of the characters, I did have some sympathy with Estelle especially as her history was revealed, but I found Jack lacked depth, if you want a portrayal of the most emotionally absent husband, this is your book.

So back to the twists and turns, despite a strong start I found these to get progressively more far-fetched and at that point I found this book harder to engage with. The biggest surprise is when we find out the solution to the mystery the book carries on for a considerable amount of time, this to me felt like overkill and is the part that made me decide that I won’t be recommending this one to other readers, simply it should have finished at what I consider to be the right time.

I was lucky enough to receive my copy of this book through Amazon Vine in return for my honest opinion. Little Girl Gone also appears to being published under the title Remember Mia, which to my mind is a far more appropriate title, and is due to be published today, 24 September 2015.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Good Girls Don’t Die – Isabelle Grey

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

For anyone who thinks that the good old police procedural has had its day, think again. Isabelle Grey has come up with a cracking new novel which is the first in a new series featuring Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher.

Grace Fisher left her last posting in Maidstone after being driven out for grassing up a fellow officer, losing her job, home and husband in the process. Taking a demotion she joins the Major Investigation Team in Essex and starts on the day a student is reported as missing following the end of year exams. Anxious that her past hasn’t followed her Grace is keen to make her mark, but reluctant to tread on anyone’s toes in the process during the investigation into Polly Sinclair’s disappearance she meets up with an old friend who is a journalist on the local paper.
When a body of another student is found and the media turn on the police details only known to a favoured few are soon splashed across the local paper. Grace is under suspicion for leaking the news and Grace is soon fighting to avoid disciplinary action.

This is an intricately plotted story which has a number of threads that held my attention from beginning to the end. As in any good detective novel the red herrings are carefully placed and far from obvious, the motive believable and above all populated by a great range of characters. Grace is an appealing protagonist and one who despite her unfortunate start in Essex is more normal than many who populate this genre. Her partner Lance is equally affable although understandably cautious about Grace and the range of secondary characters from victims to suspects and everyone in between all realistically portrayed. As in real life there are the public faces and the private faces, none more so than the hack from the national paper The Courier, Ivo Sweatman who is easily the best secondary character to grace the genre for years.

I love the way the media activity is seamlessly integrated into the storyline with Ivo chasing his headlines in a ruthless manner which mirrors contemporary news stories rather too well. Ivo is clear that while the Senior Investigating Officer may want the truth he is chasing the story and sad though it may be, the longer the police take to find a suspect to charge the story will keep rolling, and as we know it doesn’t take long for the media to turn on the police. Isabelle Grey hasn’t ignored social media either keeping this story right up to date.
Isabelle Grey’s training in screenwriting shines through, this is well-written and engaging which despite the number of different lines of enquiry being followed as well as some sub-plots both past and present, is easy to follow where a lesser writer could have tripped themselves up on the knots.

This is a series I will be following without a doubt, particularly as the first book of the series can be far too much background and not enough present, this author has provided just the right combination of both. I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Quercus for allowing me to have a copy of the book ahead of publication on 9 October 2014 in return for this honest review.

Previous Books by Isabelle Grey:

Out of Sight

In a village in south-west France, a young Englishwoman, Leonie, meets a quiet, withdrawn man called Patrice. He has no wife, no child, and refuses ever to get inside a car.
Leonie is certain she can help this man, that her love will heal his emotional wounds. But Patrice will not tell her anything about his past. So she decides to search herself – unaware of what she’ll discover.
Five years before, Patrice was living in London. He was called Patrick, and he had a wife and child. And one fateful day in July changed his life for ever.

The Bad Mother

Recently divorced, Tessa Parker runs a successful B&B in a seaside town. During a surprise visit from Australia, a long-lost aunt lets slip a family secret that unsettles her fragile world.
In shock, and feeling betrayed by her whole family, Tessa confides in her ex- husband just as he reveals he has a new woman in his life.
Struck unexpectedly by jealousy; balancing her own turmoil against the demands of parenting, Tessa tries to trace her birth father, with devastating results. Yet she fails to see how this is a crucial moment in her children’s lives. If she gets things wrong, the consequences could be fatal.

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (July 2014 to July 2018)

 


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

July tends to be a bumper month for great books as I’m writing my reviews for all the fab books I read in June on holiday so some tough choices have had to be made!

 

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

My choice for July 2014 is Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I can’t believe I read this was a whole five years ago and it should be noted that having been turned into a TV series it is now marketed as Big Little Lies in the UK.

The stage is set at Pirriwee Public School at a und-raising Trivia Night where someone is dead. Who is killed is a mystery long before the reader is compelled to find out who the killer is. The brilliance of this book is the everyday setting, how dangerous can a school quiz night be after all? This alongside the observational humour, I guarantee you will recognise far too many of the character types involved.

An absolutely compelling read that shouldn’t be missed.

Blurb

Perfect families, perfect houses, perfect lives.
Three mothers, Jane, Madeline and Celeste appear to have it all . . . but do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.
—————————–
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus a secret she’s been carrying for five years.

On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease. They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.

But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.

It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder? Amazon

In July 2015 I was wowed by Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica , a story about a young woman with her child who is rescued from the streets by the kindly Heidi. Taking Willow and her young child into their home seems to her to be the right thing to do, but not everyone agrees. Unsurprisingly, the path ahead does not wind pleasantly.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the complex characters that drive the story on. The book being told from three separate viewpoints was a brilliant psychological examination backed up by a tension-filled plot.

Blurb

A chance encounter

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

An act of kindness

Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.

A tangled web of lies

As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures. Amazon

I’ve chosen a nonfiction read for 2016’s choice, The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins which takes us back to another age albeit not one as far back in history as those I usually explore in my true crime exploration.

We are in the gentile world of the rich, a time when doctors still went to call on their wealthy clients, the NHS having only recently come into being. Favoured doctors if they were lucky, and a charitable assumption could be that Dr Adams was very lucky, could be given bequests when their charges died. It was the death of one wealthy woman who started an investigation that led back to the 1930s which had the Metropolitan Police convinced that Dr Adams wasn’t quite who he seemed to be.

This was a well-researched and entertaining read that had me well and truly gripped.

 

‘Was rich Mrs Gertrude Hullett murdered at her luxurious 15-room home on Beachy Head? Detectives are tonight trying to establish the cause of the 50-year-old widow’s sudden death . . . ‘ Daily Mail, 1957

Blurb

In July 1957, the press descended in droves on the south-coast town of Eastbourne. An inquest had just been opened into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs Bobbie Hullett. She died after months of apparent barbiturate abuse – the drugs prescribed to calm her nerves by her close friend and doctor, Dr John Bodkin Adams.

The inquest brought to the surface years of whispered suspicion that had swept through the tea rooms, shops and nursing homes of the town. The doctor’s alarming influence over the lives, deaths and finances of wealthy widows had not gone unnoticed – it was rumoured that the family doctor had been on a killing spree that spanned decades and involved 300 suspicious cases. Superintendent Hannam of Scotland Yard was called in to investigate.

The Curious Habits of Dr Adams brilliantly brings to life the atmosphere of post-war England, and uses a wealth of new documents to follow the twists and turns of an extraordinary Scotland Yard murder enquiry. As expertly crafted as the best period detective novel, this book casts an entertainingly chilling light on a man reputed to be one of England’s most prolific serial killers. Amazon

 

My pick for 2017 is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time; Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown which explores what can be the closest of bonds, that between sisters.

Set on the Isle of Wight there are two sets of sisters; Ellie and Jess who were estranged for many years but are now looking to find the close bond they previously shared. To this end Jess moves in with Ellie to care for her daughter, Daisy. Daisy has a big sister, sixteen years old, she adores her half-sister and is devastated when Daisy disappears from her cot in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Brilliantly drawn characters along with a real feeling of depth to the story makes this a real winner for lovers of the genre.

Blurb

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before? Amazon

I had no hesitation at all in picking my winning read, reviewed in July 2018 – the prize goes unreservedly to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

This innovative read which explores the life (or rather lives) of one Ursula Todd born into the sort of idyllic family that could only exist in 1910 at the whimsically named Fox Corner. As multiple options are presented for Ursula to survive, or maybe die trying, we get to witness a whole heap of events, and characters that take us from one place to another. None of this would work if it were not for the author’s brilliant writing skills or the wonderful characters she provides as a vehicle to tell the stories. Most amazingly these characters grow throughout the novel no matter which circumstance Kate Atkinson chooses to place them in.

If you haven’t read this book, I truly urge you to do so.



Blurb

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves. Amazon

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018

Posted in Uncategorized

I Spy Book Challenge

I love a good challenge and, when I saw this one on Secret Library Book Blog written by fellow Jersey resident Nicki, and I knew I had to give this a go. After all I had those I-Spy books as a child and was always desperate to find the illusive items so hopefully I’ll do better here.

 

Find a book on your bookshelves that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!! (or longer if you have way too many books on way too many overcrowded shelves!)

1. Food

 

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

 

 

2. Transportation

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

 

 

 

3. Weapon

 

A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

 

 

 

4. Animal

The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy

 

 

 

5. Number

 

 

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

 

 

6. Something you Read

 

Postcards from the Past by Marcia Willets

 

 

 

7. Body of Water


The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

 

 

 

8. Product of Fire

 

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan

 

 

 

9. Royalty

 

The Lost Empress by Steve Robinson

 

 

 

10. Architecture

 

My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster

 

 

 

11. Item of Clothing

 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

 

 

 

12. Family Member

 

A Mother’s Confession by Kelly Rimmer

 

 

 

13. Time of Day

 

 

The Two O’clock Boy by Mark Hill

 

 

 

14. Music

 

Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett

 

 

 

15. Paranormal Being

 

The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davis

 

 

 

16. Occupation

 

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

 

 

 

17. Season

 

Dark Winter by David Mark

 

 

 

18. Colour

 

 

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

 

 

19. Celestial Body

 

Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

 

 

 

20. Something that Grows


Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

 

 

 

Yay all twenty items found but perhaps it took slightly longer than five minutes…

How many are on your bookshelf? Consider yourself tagged if you enjoyed this post!

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best – Five Star Reads (January 2014 to 2018)

5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. Later in 2018 I will be celebrating Five years of blogging and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

My choice of review for January 2014 is historical fiction. Wake by Anna Hope features  The Hammersmith Palais de Danse acts almost as a character in its own right. The ‘real’ characters are:
Ada, 45, whose son never returned from the war.
Evelyn almost 30 lives with a friend, another spinster and goes to work each day in the Pension Exchange interviewing the wounded.
Hettie who lives with her mother and shell-shocked brother Fred who is employed as a dancer at The Hammersmith Palais de Danse.

This was a beautiful, if incredibly moving read, bravely, published in the hundredth anniversary of the start of the war, containing far more anti-war sentiment than many set in this time period.

Blurb

Remembrance Day 1920: A wartime secret connects three women’s lives: Hettie whose wounded brother won’t speak; Evelyn who still grieves for her lost lover; and Ada, who has never received an official letter about her son’s death, and is still waiting for him to come home. As the mystery that binds them begins to unravel, far away, in the fields of France, the Unknown Soldier embarks on his journey home. The mood of the nation is turning towards the future – but can these three women ever let go of the past? Amazon

I read one of the biggest psychological thrillers of 2015 in January of the same year: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which although not the first big title featuring a ‘girl’ also helped to spawn a whole ream of other books with girls in the title.

My conclusion was that it is an accomplished debut, written by an author who has exactly the right balance of ingredients for a psychological suspense novel, a well-plotted mystery, a handful of life-like characters, events revealed at the right time and an ending that didn’t disappoint.

Blurb

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train… Amazon

I was a little bit further behind the times with my five star choice for 2016 as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent had been published in 2013. The story of Agnes Magnúsdótti, the last person to be executed in Iceland left its mark on me. This nuanced tale of a woman accused of murder living within a family whilst she awaited her fate is coiled with superstition and dread.

Blurb

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of her lover.

Agnes is sent to wait out her final months on the farm of district officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderer in their midst, the family avoid contact with Agnes. Only Tóti, the young assistant priest appointed Agnes’s spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her. As the year progresses and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’s story begins to emerge and with it the family’s terrible realization that all is not as they had assumed.

Based on actual events, Burial Rites is an astonishing and moving novel about the truths we claim to know and the ways in which we interpret what we’re told. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland’s formidable landscape, in which every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others? Amazon

January 2017 was always going to feature a book that is incredibly special to me (you can read why here). A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys is a historical tale set on an ocean liner at the brink of WWII. Not only is it a brilliant piece of social history, it has visits to far-flung places whilst encompassing a brilliant story with fabulous characters. The closed environment provides a somewhat combustible mix of characters, all bought brilliantly to life by the clothes they wear, their chatter over dinner along with how they chose to spend all their time while their new home, and life, inches closer – and there is a mystery – what more could you want?

Blurb

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go …

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs.
What has she done? Amazon

I always find it hardest to judge a favourite book closer to the time I read it but for the top review of 2018 I am choosing Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan which consists of a rape trial, Oxford University and Number 10 Downing Street. An explosive mix of the highly privileged and a scandal that has the power to destroy those in power. This is not only a triumph of impeccable timing given the state of politics and rape trials of the moment, it is also immensely readable.

Blurb

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes. Amazon

If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for January 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 13)

Weekly Wrap Up

An exciting week here in Jersey – I got a new bookshelf, one that I had been campaigning for over a period of months – there were books piled up all over the place, but I hadn’t got (quite) as far as under the duvet as one friend suggested, although it was a close call!

So I introduce the new 5 shelf bookcase

main-bookshelf-november-2016

This of course meant that the other three needed rearranging and so as not to feel left out here are two of them. So now I have many more of my TBR books on display so I can’t forget about them and there are a few spaces… not many, but a few!

bookshelf-november-2016bookshelf-2-november-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also completed my Goodreads Challenge for 2016 having read and reviewed 130 books!
 

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016.png

This Week on the Blog

Well disaster was nearly averted as I managed to get my dates wrong not only on the weekly posts but also schedule them for the wrong days – so for any of you who were confused, I’m sorry – it won’t happen again!

Following my TBR Book Tag of last week, Ian Hobbs of the Devon Book Club @BookDevon wrote his answers to the tag, but not having a blog asked me to post them on his behalf – his TBR isn’t quite as out of control as mine but I generously agreed, although I did give him the wrong name until he pointed it out – sorry Ian, I should have checked everything else at this point!

My review of The Museum of You by Carys Bray went up, I gave this five stars, a beautiful and yet not a saccharine read about a girl who creates a museum inspired display about her mother who she has never known.

My weekly post on Tuesday (which had the wrong date) was an excerpt from Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, a book that starts with a bomb (literally) in Coventry in 1939 and combines this with a story following the terrorist attacks in London in 2005. My review will follow soon!

On Wednesday my This Week in Books post which went out on Tuesday only to be taken down and reposted on Wednesday featured amongst others my upcoming read of In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings.

My review of Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, a collection of five novellas all with a manipulator at their heart was published on Thursday. This selection featured a wide range of characters and situations for the manipulator to operate in.

On Friday I published my review of While You Were Sleeping, the latest psychological thriller from Kathryn Croft which starts with a woman in bed with a dead man, who is not her husband – she has no idea what happened!

Yesterday my fourth review of the week was for Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, a book that is already sparking fierce debate before it is published. I really loved the comments I got for this review – if the book hadn’t given me enough to think about already, these did.

A Side Note

Now in addition to the scheduling issues over the last couple of weeks I’ve also started recalibrating my rating system. I’ve always gone with gut feel on finishing a book and chosen the number of stars that way, hoping that the words would guide the reader. However on reflection a wide range of books in terms of enjoyment, ended up in my four star pile, it was time for a change. I’ve always stated that my blog is for other readers and I felt I was perhaps tending towards the every book is excellent in terms of rating even if not in the content of the of reviews.

So from here on in I will be tougher – not meaner, but perhaps a little more discerning. As always I welcome your thoughts!

This Time Last Year

I was reading The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan one of the strong writers that has her crimes set in Ireland, this book concentrates on Missing People on both sides of the border, a book that I felt skilfully portrayed the reality of a community torn apart by violence in this book that poses a big moral question. See my review here

The Silent Dead

Blurb

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.

Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.

ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.

Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.

The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.

Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.

With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they? Goodreads


Stacking the Shelves

A truly tiny stack this week of just one book! Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you I am (a little bit) determined to drive the TBR in the downward direction…

You know me, I simply can’t resist the hyped psychological thrillers, I loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Widow and so when I heard about the new name for 2017, of course I had to read it – so I have a copy of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough which will be published on 26 January 2017.

behind-her-eyes

Blurb

Love at first sight can be blinding…

It’s said that the only people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the couple themselves. But what if even they don’t know the truth?

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

Louise, David’s new secretary, is intrigued and drawn into their orbit. But as Louise gets closer to each of them, instead of finding answers she uncovers more puzzling questions. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong – and how far a person might go to protect a marriage’s secrets. Goodreads

In a bid to reduce the TBR I was invited by Guy Savage of His Futile Preoccupations who had read of its woeful state although it is fair to say that some of the books only are on the TBR because of his fabulous reviews!

Guy has invited you to join the Goodreads group “Mount TBR 2017″.
Guy says, ” Just in case you’re interested”
To accept the invitation, please follow the link

So I’ve signed up to the Mount Vancouver which means I have to read 36 books that are on my bookshelf on 1 January 2017 by 31 December 2017. So of course instead of reading I have been transferring books from the trusty spreadsheet to Goodreads so that I don’t fall foul of the rules!

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, DNF 1, and managed to gain just 1 and so my TBR is standing at 178 books!

94 physical books
67 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 16)

Weekly Wrap Up

Thank you for those of you who sent lovely messages due to my absence, unfortunately I had a rather nasty bug followed by a business trip to Stockholm where internet access was an issue! I did however manage to make a trip to see my friend before flying back to Jersey. We talked about everything as best friends of too many years to count are wont to do but books got a mention, and as I’d lent her my copy of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (she really is a very good friend and can be trusted with my books) we decided that we’d watch the film at the cinema. It was a little disconcerting to see palatial homes backing onto train lines in the opening sequence instead of those I’d imagined from the UK scenery however all in all it was faithful to the book and far better than I’d feared. Plus it allowed us to rest our voices for a while so that a quick G&T soon had us chatting long into the night.

On my return to ordinary life I was delighted to see a quote from my review in the paperback edition of My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor which appeared alongside a number of other blogger’s wise words.

my-husbands-son-png

Picture courtesy by Abbie of Bloomin Brilliant Books

You can read the entire review here if you should so wish

This week I posted my review of Ward Zero by Linda Huber, a psychological thriller set in a hospital which kept me guessing. Sadly I think by the time I got to this one I’d overdosed yet again on the genre and have made a deliberate decision to step away for a while and have promptly fallen into a string of historical crime books, both fiction and non-fiction, so expect a different flavour on the blog while I review them all.

On Tuesday’s Post I featured an excerpt from The Two O’clock Boy by Mark Hill, a former book blogger and now a fully-fledged writer, which I’ve just started reading, and I have to say early impressions are very favourable indeed.

Wednesday’s post also had the addition of the Man Booker shortlist book His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet which I’ve now finished, a review will follow shortly.

I have also written and published my review for The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett which was excellently executed crime fiction, and the beginning of a series featuring David Hunter – I can see that I will be adding more books by this author to the TBR before too long.

This was followed on Friday with a review for a brilliant historical crime book, this one loosely based on an actual crime known as The Edgeware Road Murder in 1837. Debut novelist Anna Mazzola has added layers to the known facts creating an incredibly engrossing book, The Unseeing. I gave this one the full five stars with no reservations at all.

I then moved to the 1920s with a woman Private Investigator and my review of Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody reveals how well the author not only created a book that is set in such a good era but also has a cracking plot and a strong woman as the protagonist.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft an accomplished psychological thriller that had me captivated – it was one of those books where from the first page, there was no doubt that something awful is going to happen.

 

The Girl With No Past

Blurb

Years spent running from your past. Today it catches up.
A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.
Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.
Then, on the fourteenth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.
But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?
Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly. Amazon


Stacking the Shelves

maths-theoremSomehow despite not having read anywhere near as much as normal, see paragraph one, I am still acquiring books at a fair old rate – here is what’s appeared since by last wrap-up and I have an inkling there are a few more on the way with the postman. Discussing this in brief with fellow blogger Fiction Fan, we have decided that this is due to Cleopatra’s Theorem – the number of books that are acquired are always more than the reading rate, the slower you go the more that appear, it’s probably worked out using the picture to the right but since it’s a mathematical fact there is nothing to be done!

From NetGalley I had to request a copy of Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton because Liz of Liz Loves Books wrote such a tantalising review. I’m presuming I will be in the right frame of mind for some psychological thrillers by the time this is published in January 2017.

tattletale

Blurb

The perfect brother. The perfect fiance. The perfect lie.
One day changes Jody’s life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.
One day changes Mags’s life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit… NetGalley

In the post I received a copy of The Devils Feast by M.J. Carver from Penguin books, they couldn’t have known my genre of the month is historical crime – could they?

the-devils-feast

Blurb

London, 1842. There has been a mysterious and horrible death at the Reform, London’s newest and grandest gentleman’s club. A death the club is desperate to hush up.
Captain William Avery is persuaded to investigate, and soon discovers a web of rivalries and hatreds, both personal and political, simmering behind the club’s handsome façade-and in particular concerning its resident genius, Alexis Soyer, ‘the Napoleon of food’, a chef whose culinary brilliance is matched only by his talent for self-publicity.
But Avery is distracted, for where his mentor and partner-in-crime Jeremiah Blake? And what if this first death was only a dress rehearsal for something far more sinister? Amazon

And Harper Collins’ Carina offered me an exciting new debut, For All Our Sins by T.M.E. Walsh which is to be published later this month. This was original self-published by the author for the kindle so some of you may have read it.
for-all-our-sins

Blurb

Years ago there was a silent witness to an act of evil. Now, a twisted killer is on the loose fuelled by revenge.
Called to the brutal murder of a priest, it is immediately clear to DCI Claire Winters that the victim’s death was prolonged, agonising…and motivated by a lust for revenge.
The killer has been clever, there are no clues, no leads. But Claire Winters has never let a killer remain on the streets. Looking for an answer at any cost Claire begins to get closer to the victim’s family, but what it reveals turns her murder case into something far more sinister…
When one body becomes two, and then three, Claire finds herself in a race against time to connect the dots between a host of devastating secrets, before the killer strikes again. Amazon

Lastly I have a copy of Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel, a series of five novellas which is available for reading now.

manipulated-lives

Blurb

Five stories – Five Lives. Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret.
All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 4 books, and gained 4 and so my TBR remains steady at 181 books!

91 physical books
69 e-books
21 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleopatra Loves Books is Three Today

Birthday Cake 3 Years

Yes that’s right, three whole candles on my birthday cake to celebrate Cleopatra Loves Books birth three whole years ago!

Who could have predicted that when I started uploading my reviews onto this blog that it, and of course all you lovely readers, would become such a huge part of my life. It is no exaggeration to state that blogging has been a focus during difficult times, and the enjoyment I get from the interaction with other book bloggers is enormous. So this post is my thanks to all of you – your support, encouragement, warm wishes and of course all those lovely book recommendations has been outstanding.

Book MountainBlogging has also allowed me to ‘meet’ some of my favourite authors on social media and I would like to thank them, and the PR companies that write me emails offering me books to read which I might never have discovered. My reading has been truly enriched by blogging and I have a TBR mountain to show for it!
slice of cake

Please all help yourself to a virtual slice of cake!!

When I wrote my post to celebrate my first birthday I listed seven bloggers who I particularly enjoyed interacting with and I’m delighted to say all except one blog, are still going strong and still providing wonderful posts to delight me. Were you on the list?

Of course there are many more blogs that I follow and love to read, these range from long-established blogs to newer additions and boy do you all test my willpower!

So now to the facts and figures:

This is my 1,016th post over the three-year, although it should be said that the posts that go back to the beginning of 2013 were those I’d previously posted on Amazon for that year having been reviewing on there since 2010. So I should by now, know what a good review consists of – I’m not sure that I do, but I have a lot of fun writing them and I do hope you enjoy reading them.

The top five reviews on my blog over its entire life are… dum dum dum… in reverse order:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins from January 2015
Burnt Paper Sky Gillian Macmillan from August 2015
Disclaimer by Renee Knight from April 2015
Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott from March 2014
The Book of You Claire Kendal from February 2014

The Book of You continues to get almost daily views and has clocked up nearly 850 in its  lifetime as can be seen in the next list

The top five reviews on my blog over the last year, again in reverse order are:

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard from April 2016
My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor from June 2016
The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish from April 2016
Burnt Paper Sky by Gillian Macmillan from August 2015
The Book of You by Claire Kendal from February 2014

Of course I don’t just write reviews I participate in memes, tags and the yearly Reading Bingo in December where I look back over my books that have made an impact (or merely just fill one of the squares) which fear not, will be back again later this year.

One of the cleverest tags this year was the Book Spine Poetry which I found fiendishly difficult but I decided to have another stab at it. So I present a birthday poem for you all – thank you for being simply fabulous!

 

A Year of Wonders Spine Poetry

 

Year of Wonders

White Nights, plain truth,

Atonement

A fatal inversion

In the dark, raven black

Monday mourning

Hidden lives, bad blood.

Thank you all for making the decision to start this blog such a rewarding experience.