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The Bookish Naughty List Tag

 

The Bookish Naughty List Tag
Time to confess all of my bookish sins!
The tag was originally created by A Page of Jenniely and I was tagged by Minmac Reviews to do it. So, let’s go…

QUESTIONS:

1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it?

Yes most usually those that come unsolicited through the post but I will admit to having a very few old NetGalley books unread and unreviewed. The most common reason is I didn’t read the synopsis properly before requesting.

2. Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley?

No! I’ve got a rating of 92% at the moment and to my knowledge haven’t been below 80% ever!! I’m hoping that now I’ve read and reviewed so many books (318) that it would take a spectacular lack of control to push my rating down that low!

3. Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)? 

I do have books read before I started reviewing that just have a rating but since I have a strict order for review posting – I read, review on my blog, then NG if necessary, Amazon and then Goodreads this doesn’t happen to me.

4. Folded down the page of a book?

No!!! I’m super careful reading my books, so much so when I took a selection into work for other people to take (my bookshelf was too full) everyone said but these books have never been read!! Someone I work closely said, they’ll be from Cleo all her books look like that!!

5. Skim read a book?

Ooh the questions are tough! Not an entire book but if a book gets particularly technical about something I’m not interested in I will be tempted to skim read parts, but not an entire book!

6. DNF a book this year?

I have had one DNF already this year, it was one of my own books and we just didn’t gel… I used to finish every book I started but no more. If a book doesn’t work I put it aside. Sometimes I will try again as it may have been wrong timing but others get passed onto to someone who will appreciate them more.

7. Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it?

No, I am tempted to collect other books in a series so that I have a set of the same but I always intend to read them. I think this may be to do with the fact I don’t read the ‘prettier’ genres of books so I’m not so easily swayed – I’m sure if I did this could easily become another bookish obsession.

8. Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else?

All the time but reading is so fun and the jobs I am not doing are so boring – housework/reading? There is just no contest! I have frequent cooking disasters where I try and squeeze a few pages in when the recipe says stir constantly – I not only don’t follow instructions very well, I forget what I’m supposed to be doing when I have a book in my hand.

9. Accidentally spilled on a book

I have… and it always makes me so sad! This usually happens when I can’t bear to put a book down to read and then the inevitable (for me) happens and spills occur.

10. Completely missed your Goodreads goal?

No but probably because I set my goal slightly lower than I expect to read anyway! At the moment I am on target for my 2018 reading goal!

11. Borrowed a book and not returned it?

I do have some books that have taken up long-term residence in my house often because I can’t remember who lent them to me! I do say when people hand over a book, that there are lots in my house and if they want it back just to remind me!

12. Broke a book buying ban?

All the time although I would like to stand up and say that the last book I bought was 29 December and therefore I calculate that this book buying ban has lasted a massive 42 days! That definitely deserves a Tigger bounce!

 

13. Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about?

Part of my 2018 resolutions for blogging which I’ve kept is to write my reviews when finishing a book. It’s not so much I forget what has happened but character names, well names of anyone and everyone, are not something I ever remember so I’ve been spending a lot of time backtracking to writer reviews.

14. Wrote in a book you were reading?

Are you crazy?? No I never write in books, never!!

15. Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads?

Possibly because Goodreads is the last bit of book admin I usually do! While we are on the subject of Goodreads; is it just me that spends about an hour to get it to populate the dates read these days? It upsets me to have my book challenge displaying my reads in the wrong order!

 

I won’t TAG any specific bloggers/blogs but feel free to join in if you want to confess your bookish sins!!

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The Classics Club

I’ve joined The Classics Club today and therefore aim to read the following list of 50 books by 27 January 2023.

Fortunately the rules are simple, the definition of a classic book is not set in stone, so I have used the easy formula that if a book was published before 1970 it goes on the list.

Some readers may be surprised that I am joining this club, on the occasions when I have talked about them either on my own blog or as a comment on other blogs, I have received surprise that I’m interested in classics at all. Yes, I love crime fiction, psychological thrillers have been a pull and I enjoy a well-written contemporary novel but I have been a reader long before the blog was born. I am a child who read all the childhood classics, as a teenager, I read the popular bonk-busters of the day, but I also read Dickens and Austen amongst a whole host of other classic writers of the era. My dreams were full of Heathcliff and these were in addition to the books we read because they were on the syllabus. Even in the (many) intervening years I have revisited old favourites and found others to enjoy, but, and here is the one of the few downsides of blogging, somehow  my focus has veered away from this area and so one of my New Year Resolutions was to read six classic books this year. Then came the peer pressure principally from FictionFan’s Book Reviews who somehow persuaded me if I was going to commit to six I may as well commit to fifty!!

So to the list – You’ll note this has two sub-sections for Classic Crime which is a larger section and the smaller Author’s of Children’s Classics, Adult Novels. I’ve tried to limit to one book per author except for two notable exceptions and not to include too many re-reads although there are a sprinkling to keep me going.  Quite a few of the books on the list I already possess and as another of my resolutions is to use the library I will be making frequent trips to try and source most of the others.

Classic Fiction

1. The Prime of Miss Brodie – Murial Spark
2. Lady Audely’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon
3. Miss Pettigrow Lives for a Day- Winifred Watson
4. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
5. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
6. Barsetshire Chronicles (The Warden) – Anthony Trollope
7. The Hireling – L.P. Hartley
8. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
9. Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolfe 
10. Our Spoons Came From Woolworths – Barbara Comyns
11. A Wreath of Roses – Elizabeth Taylor
12. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
13. We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
14. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
15.Bleak House – Charles Dickens
16. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
17. Mary Barton – Elizabeth Gaskell
18. The Long View – Elizabeth Jane Howard
19. Chocky – John Wyndham
20. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
21. Bonjour Tritesse – Françoise Sagan
22. East Lynne – Henry James
23. The Gowk Storm – Nancy Brysson Morrison
24. Sunset Song – Lewis Grassic Gibbon
25. The Dubliners – James Joyce
26. Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens


Classic Crime

27. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
28. The Sign of the Four – Arthur Conan Doyle
29. The Poisoned Chocolate Case – Anthony Berkeley
30. Off With His Head – Ngaio Marsh
31. The Lodger – Marie Belloc Downes
32. Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm – Gil North
33. The Clocks – Agatha Christie
34. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – Agatha Christie
35. Crooked House – Agatha Christie
36. Five Little Pigs – Agatha Christie
37. A Murder is Announced – Agatha Christie
38. Sussex Downs Murder – John Bude
39. The Moving Toyshop – Edumund Cripsin
40. Calamity Town – Ellery Queen
41. A Pin to See the Peepshow – F Tennyson Jesse
42. The Franchise Affair – Josephine Tey
43. The Wheel Spins – Ethel Lina White

Author’s of Children’s Classics

44. Saplings – Noel Streatfeild
45. The Lark – E Nesbit
46. The Shuttle -Frances Hodgeston Burnett
47. The Greengage Summer – Rumer Goddon
48. One Man’s Meat – E.B. White
49. Who Calls the Tune – Nina Bawden
50. The Red House Mystery – A.A. Milne

It has taken me weeks to build the list because I’m not great at committing quite so far into the future and I’m sure I will veer off at points and choose more of some of the featured author’s works.

 

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New Year Book Tag!

 

I came across this tag on Bibliomaniac UK‘s blog and thought I’d have a go.

I think it originated from Bookables which is a You Tube channel. The questions also echo a few posts I’ve seen from other bloggers about books they’ve not managed to squeeze into 2017 so it seems like a good tag take part in to kick off the new year!

How many books are you planning to read in 2018?

My Goodreads Challenge has been set at 130 for the last few years and I plan to set the same goal in 2018 as this works out at 10 books per month and a bonus 10 for holidays.

This year I have read 150 which is slightly down on 2016’s total of 156 but up on 2015’s of 145.

Name five books you didn’t get to read this year but want to make a priority in 2018?

Only five?? Well here goes!

In no particular order – Dead Souls (and Broken Bones) by Angela Marsons, I love this series featuring Kim Stone and I desperately need to catch up.

Blurb

When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy – and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

The Dry by Jane Harper that has appeared on a number of Great Read lists in addition to all the fab reviews I’ve read over the year.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime. Amazon

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards which I’m a little scared to start as I have a feeling it’s going to make me regret saying I’ll read three books before buying one new one.

Blurb

The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate.

This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library’s internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers. Amazon


And the Birds Kept on Singing
by Simon Bourke, again based on some superb reviews, and I love the cover.

Blurb

Pregnant at seventeen, Sinéad McLoughlin does the only thing she can; she runs away from home. She will go to England and put her child up for adoption. But when she lays eyes on it for the first time, lays eyes on him, she knows she can never let him go.

Just one problem. He’s already been promised to someone else.

A tale of love and loss, remorse and redemption, And the birds kept on singing tells two stories, both about the same boy. In one Sinéad keeps her son and returns home to her parents, to nineteen-eighties Ireland and life as a single mother. In the other she gives him away, to the Philliskirks, Malcolm and Margaret, knowing that they can give him the kind of life she never could.

As her son progresses through childhood and becomes a young man, Sinéad is forced to face the consequences of her decision. Did she do the right thing? Should she have kept him, or given him away? And will she spend the rest of her life regretting the choices she has made? Amazon

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward the third in the DC Childs series set in Derbyshire and I’ve got a long weekend there later this months so this one already has a bookmarked date for then!

Blurb

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career. Amazon

 

Name a genre you want to read more of?

I adore crime fiction but in 2017 I read more non-fiction as well as some captivating historical fiction. There were  some books however that almost defied genre type, as with most book readers I’m looking for something different to delight me, whatever genre it fits into but I have pledged to read at least 6 classic reads to up my game in this area.

Three non book related goals for 2018?

Only the normal to try to have a healthier lifestyle, work less and get a dog.

What’s a book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

Having finally read Room by Emma Donoghue the next longstanding book that’s been with me forever is Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.

Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’–the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps. Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled. Amazon

One word that you’re hoping 2018 will be?

Better…

2017 was a hard year for us so I’m hoping that 2018 will give us a bit of a break and allow me to spend more time reading and less time worrying.

Tag a friend…..

There’s still time to join in if you haven’t already…

 

Happy New Year – I hope 2018 is full of bookish delights!

 

 

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Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2017

Once again I have awarded a whole array of books the magic 5 stars which means whittling this down to a mere ten quite a task indeed, one that I have been pondering since the start of December in fact… so without further ado here are the ten books published in 2017 that I consider to have been truly outstanding and memorable reads.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys 

For those who haven’t heard me endlessly wittering on about this book in 2017 this book sits on my historical novel shelf. Not only is it a brilliant piece of social history depicting life on a ship at the start of WWII, 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?
And for those of you who haven’t heard, I have a cameo role in the novel following winning an auction run by Clic Sargent in 2016.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina

This book is one inspired by the true crimes perpetrated by Peter Manuel in 1950s Glasgow. It’s atmospheric tackling the weighty topics of innocence and guilt whilst brilliantly depicting a time and place in a way that shows off Denise Mina’s talents to the full. The storytelling is nuanced and assured with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. While this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery, the protagonist of this meaty book, has earned a place in my heart. The story which follows one man from shortly after conception until 2015. With its unusual structure, we sweep in seven-year intervals into his life and then onto the next meeting new and old characters along the way. A book that is funny and poignant which took me on a journey from delight to sorrow and back again in this sweeping saga set mainly in Dublin. A book of times and attitudes which is surprisingly uplifting.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase 

You know you’re onto a good thing when you open a book and know before you’ve finished the first page that it’s a book to curl up with. In this story set in 1950s England we meet four sisters one summer, a year that will change their view of the world forever. This is a summer that will have repercussions for years to come as innocence is lost. The mystery at the heart of the book is the disappearance of Audrey, their cousin who vanished five years earlier but this is also a book with recurring themes from the bonds between sisters, the ghosts of the past who can cast shadows over lives, the difficulties in growing up with those relationships between friends and mothers all getting an airing. I closed this book with a tear rolling down my cheek.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

I wasn’t sure what a mixture between true crime and a memoir would be like but this was a book that I picked up to feature in my excerpt post and simply couldn’t put it down again. When Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich joins a law firm in New Orleans as an intern, whose work is based on having death sentences overturned, she feels she is about to start the career she is supposed to have. The daughter of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti the death penalty. But all that turns when she watches a video of Rick Langley who has been convicted of killing a six-year-old boy, Jeremy Guillory. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the crime is awful but what shocks the author most is that she feels so strongly that Rick Langley should die for the crime he committed. She no longer believes what she thought she did and that has consequences on her life and the more she tries to understand why she draws parallels with her own life. This is a difficult subject but written with intelligence shot through it.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister


This ‘sliding doors’ scenario is a brilliant way to demonstrate a meaty moral dilemma.Two friends meet for their regular Friday night out at a bar in London and meet a man who is slightly too pushy, deciding to leave they part ways and Joanna walks home taking the route by the canal when she hears someone following her. Now ladies, we’ve all been there – unable to tell whether the threat running through your head is real or imagined. What happens next will change Joanna’s life forever. With sparkling dialogue which is entertaining yet realistic and faultless plotting this book had me captured right from the start and didn’t let me go until after I had turned the last page.

Dying Games by Steve Robinson 

This series features my favourite genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Although the majority of the action happens in the present day the seeds of the action in Dying Games belong firmly in the past. In Washington, DC the FBI are interested in Jefferson Tayte, aka JT, so he breaks off his Scottish trip with his fiancée to return to answer their questions. A serial killer is leaving clues with a genealogical bent and it is now a race against time to stop any more people losing their lives. Steve Robinson has produced a real puzzle within this thriller! Or perhaps I should say lots of mini puzzles which require different aspects of genealogical research to solve. This will ensure that those readers who have hit a brick wall in their own family history research can put things into perspective; unless you are in the unlikely position of having to find a particular person’s details otherwise someone else may die!

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly


In He Said/She Said the story moves backwards and forwards from 11 August 1999, the time of the solar eclipse, to fifteen years later when Kit is planning to travel to the Faroe Islands, chasing another eclipse and we learn what an impact that first meeting had on all four characters and the ripples haven’t decreased with the passing years. The story line is gritty, as may be expected from the title the heart of the matter is a trial for rape and the details of what happened are told from a number of perspectives. This is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think and I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her reader and she avoids bashing the reader over the head about rape, and the trials that all too rarely follow such an accusation. I believe it is a sign of a writer who has confidence, not only in herself, but of her readers to air the important issues this

The Scandal by Frederik Backman

Despite being no lover of sports and definitely not ice-hockey this book which centres round a small town in Sweden’s obsession with the sport had me captivated. Frederik Backman writes in a style that repeats phrases and themes from one section to another so when the book got tough, and it does, the stylistic flair kept the momentum going forward while the reader comes to terms with what has been revealed. There are issues galore and normally when I say that, I’m not being complimentary because it can feel as if the author is leaping from bandwagon to bandwagon. That isn’t the case with The Scandal where the issues in the book are tightly linked to the players on a personal level. The Scandal turned out to be  thought-provoking, intelligent crime novel.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to this book by its striking cover but what I found within the pages exceeded my expectations by far. Olivia Sweetman is making her way to address all two hundred guests gathered at The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons in London. All those people are amongst the jars of organs to celebrate the publication of historian Olivia Sweetman’s book, Annabel, a study of a Victorian woman who became one of the first surgeons, a woman who also had a sensational personal life too, captured within Annabel in her own words. But, all is not as it should be as we find out as this superior psychological novel unfolds and the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come.

So what do you think? Have you read any of these titles or do you want to?

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have visited me here on my little corner of the internet, as well of course as the authors and publishers who have provided me with so many great books to read throughout the year. I look forward to discovering new places, people and dark plots in 2018 and do hope you will all join me on my journey.

You can check out my list of reviews written in 2017 here
Or perhaps you want to check out my Reading Bingo 2017 Edition or you can check out my look back over the past year reading and reviewing along with my goals for 2018 here.

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Reading and Reviewing in 2017

Well it’s that time for reflection on the old and setting new goals for the new year so I’m going to start in my traditional way with a few facts and figures.

I have read and reviewed 147 books in 2017, one less than this time last year and boy some of those books have been really worth shouting about!

This amounts to 48, 281 pages 657 pages more than last year so obviously I’ve chosen some longer books to delight me in 2017 – that is an average of 132 pages per day!! No wonder I keep saying I don’t have time to do anything – to be honest that figure shocks even me!

Good old Goodreads tells me that my longest read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the longest book I read at a whopping 592 pages which was my very last review of 2017

The shortest unsurprisingly was a short story  Promises to Keep by Elizabeth Haynes at a mere 41 pages.

 

 

of the oldest books on my TBR was Room by Emma Donoghue which I finally read earlier this month – this was the book most read by other readers on Goodreads – 926,679 other readers there have also read this popular book, although I suspect many of them did so a little before I did!

The book I shared with the fewest readers was a debut crime thriller The Last Thread by Ray Britain, written by a former Police Officer not only were we treated to a new Detective but the authenticity of the read shone through – this book deserves a wider audience for sure!

A whopping 92 books fell into the crime fiction/psychological thriller categories although the psychological thriller count was down by 8 from 2016 to a mere 35.

My non-fiction reads declined slightly from 15 to 13 book fitting into this category, including a must-read for book-lovers; The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler although a large proportion of these are also crime related.

As always my goal for the year was to read more of my own books so not only did I participate in Cathy’s wonderful 20 Books of Summer 2017 challenge (which I completed on time – go me!) I chose a number of books that fitted with 2017’s obsession with the variety of ways true crime is presented and books inspired by true crime which was kicked off by the brilliant Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I also participated in the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads for the first time where I completed 34 of my aimed 36 books purchased prior to 1 January 2017.

 

In all I read 56 of my own books or a relatively respectable 38% of my reads for 2017 which is a vast improvement on the 49 books completed in 2016 and very nearly the 40% I was aiming for. I was spurred on by realising how many superb books I already own with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell being an early delight.

Of course though I’m a book lover and so this is exactly the time and place to say thank you to all the authors and publishers who have given me copies of your books to review – there are simply too many outstanding reads of the year (although tomorrow I will pick my top ten published in 2017) a whole 92 books read in 2017 were ARCs including Shelter by Sarah Franklin a historical novel set in the Forest of Dean where I lived from 1979 to 1987 – a setting that was also used in The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

As for you all, what you seemed to enjoy most in 2017 were the following Top Five Reviews of the year were:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Painkiller by N.J. Fountain
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Two of these are from my own bookshelves proving that it isn’t just the newest releases that captures reader’s attention!

Finally at the beginning of December I completed the annual filling in of the Reading Bingo squares with some choices of the year.

 

2018 Goals

Beyond the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don’t normally go in for bookish goals but I am going to break with the tradition and set myself some (gentle) targets for 2018.

  1. In 2017 I discovered what a wonderful array I have already in my possession and so the target is to read 40% of my own books in 2018. To give me some motivation I have decided to allow myself to buy one book for every three of my own that I read – of course there are some get-out clauses – the annual book sales held on the island are exempt and I will be visiting the library for any must-reads that I don’t own.
  2. The latter clause is important as I really want to up my reading or re-reading of classic novels, I shelved just one book in this category in 2017 although two others could have been put there but I felt they belonged better elsewhere. My target is to read at least 6 so one every other month and the library is the place to go for these. Despite being a library member all of my life, I haven’t visited anywhere near enough in more recent years which is something I feel guilty about.
  3. I am taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge again with an aim of reading 36 books – let’s see if I make it in 2018.

On the blog

  1. I am (very) slowly amalgamating the tabs with the aim of putting all the reviews for 2013-2015 onto one tab – this ongoing project must be completed by the end of March 2018.
  2. My about me page is in dire need of an update especially as it is visited far more often than I expected with 660 views in the last year.
  3. And of course I will shortly display an updated shelf as my header to welcome in the start of 2018.
  4. I always used to write my book review before starting a new book and this habit is being resumed in 2018 – this has been a very busy year and as much as I love blogging it has been a real struggle to fit everything in and I’m hoping this will help me get a better balance, rather than frantically writing reviews at the weekend when I need to endlessly check names (I have a real blind-spot in this department) as well as other elusive details.
  5. Finally I will remember to post each review to Cleopatra Loves Books Facebook page which at best has been intermittent since I set it up earlier this year.

That just leaves me to thank you all for visiting, commenting and writing your own entertaining posts and reviews that has me constantly rationalising my book choices!

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NetGalley Says Yes!

Mutual approval…

I saw this on Fiction Fan’s wonderful blog and thought I’d take a moment to say thank you to the wonderful resource that is brings constant delight to this book blogger’s life.

Of course there are times when I haven’t been approved for a title I want to read, but if that’s the case I go to the library or buy a copy.

Picture for a while the book blogger sat at her desk full of files and minus the pen that is never nearby when she needs it despite endlessly retrieving new ones from the stationary cupboard, impatiently waiting for some or other vital piece of information to display, picks up her phone, reads her email to see the magic words – NetGalley – heart pounding she opens it and does a very restrained whoop when it’s confirmed that the latest must-read has been approved.

You really can’t beat those moments.

Over the four plus years I have been reviewing I’ve had more than my share of these moments and whilst the first book received and reviewed from NetGalley was by an author already known to me; A Family Likeness by Caitlin Davis I have also delighted in reading many new to me authors.

So that first book – in part telling the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle and in part a look at families of all shapes and sizes, although the detail in this book looks at colour, there is far more to it than simply a book with a message. So in short I got off to a flying start with a five star read.

Blurb

In a small Kent town in the 1950s, a bewildered little girl is growing up. Ostracised because of her colour, she tries her best to fit in, but nobody wants anything to do with her.

A nanny climbs the steps of a smart London address. She’s convinced that her connection to the family behind the door is more than professional.

And on the walls of an English stately home, amongst the family portraits, hangs an eighteenth-century oil painting of a mysterious black woman in a silk gown.

In ways both poignant and unexpected, the three lives are intertwined in a heartbreaking story of prejudice and motherless children, of chances missed, of war time secrets and the search for belonging… Amazon

Through NetGalley I discovered the world of forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway, written by Elly Griffiths.

And then she went back to the 1950s and gave us a magician/detective pairing in Stephens and Mephisto which is equally brilliant.

Yes that makes a total of eight books read and reviewed through NetGalley by Elly Griffiths!

Through NetGalley I discovered the author Liz Nugent who provided me with two great reads both of which had the best opening lines ever!

 

I’ve read some beautiful and heart-breaking historical fiction…

Serious books, funny books and a whole range of books about poisoners – what more could a book blogger need?

Some books I’ve been directed to by other bloggers, some where I’ve made a discovery of a new book that needs to be shouted from the rooftops – NetGalley you are the best.

Over the four plus years I have been blogging I have read and reviewed a staggering 308 books from this fabulous resource – So Happy Christmas NetGalley, the publishers who provide the books to review and to those hard-working authors whose books entertain me and of course to all you wonderful bloggers who make sure I don’t miss out on the latest finds!

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Reading Bingo 2017 edition

reading-bingo-small

This is one of my favourite posts of the year so there was no question of me repeating this following my relative success in filling in the squares in both 2014, 2015 and 2016

I purposely don’t treat this like a challenge by finding books to fit the squares throughout the year, oh no! I prefer to see which of my (mostly) favourite books will fit from the set I’ve read.  As you can imagine this becomes a bit like one of those moving puzzles where one book is suitable for a number of squares… and then I’m left with empty squares which I have to trawl through the 137 books I’ve read and reviewed to see if any book at all will fit! This keeps me amused for many, many hours so I do hope you all enjoy the result.

Click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood clocks in at 560 pages beautifully and tantalising revealing a story of Grace Marks an Irish servant who in 1843 was accused of Thomas Kimner and Nancy Montgomery in Ontario, Canada. We meet her some years later when Dr Jordan becomes interested in studying her case and we hear what she has to tell him whilst she stiches quilts for the Governor’s household. This fictional story is one of a number of books I’ve read this year which are inspired by true-crime and Margaret Atwood’s skill with her pen did not disappoint at all. I have also watched the Netflix series which stays remarkably true to the book

 

A Forgotten Classic

I only have one title under classics this year so I present another Beryl Bainbridge novel this year.  one of the author’s later novels published in 1981. The story is set in Moscow and I’m reliably informed is supposed to illustrate the Kafkaesque nature of the country at that time, but sadly I just ended up being mightily confused by this novel although I was very much taken with the description of air travel at this time, far less regimented than the flights we take these days.

 

A Book That Became a Movie

I haven’t watched the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which was released in 2008 but I was very taken with the book written by John Boyne which tells the story of Bruno, a young German boy whose father is posted as a Commander to Auschwitz. Young Bruno begins talking to a boy of a similar age to him through the fence separating and segregating the Jews in the camp from the outside world. Through a child’s eyes we are exposed to the horror of the camp something that is made much worse because of the innocence of our narrator.

 

A Book Published This Year

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from a debut author Ray Britain, this author having been a member of the Police Force in the midlands until his retirement when he decided to turn his hand to crime fiction. The Last Thread is the first in the DCI Stirling series and despite being a realistic glimpse into policing is still a mighty fine story too. The opening scenes bring home the realities of policing when despite an effort by our protagonist to intervene, a teenager plunges from a motorway bridge onto the road below.

 

A Book With A Number In The Title

The Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate was originally published in 1940 and bought to a whole new generation of readers by the British Library Crime Classics series. As might be expected the twelve is in relation to the number of men and women that sit on the jury in this courtroom drama. With the book split into three distinct acts, the background to the jury, the charges and the deliberations all brilliantly and engagingly executed. This is backed up by brilliant postscript.

 

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Always one of the hardest spaces to fill, I have no-one that falls into this category this year.

A Book With Non Human Characters

The Good People by Hannah Kent is set in south-west of Ireland in 1825 and 1826 and is full of fairies, not of the Disney variety though, these are the fairy folk, that Irish folklore had walking amongst them. These fairies were as wont to carry out evil acts as they ever were good. With Nóra Lehay having the misfortune to lose her husband at the same time it becomes clear that her child is mute opens her up to gossip and isolation amongst the locals. A beautifully written story which despite being moving is quite a bleak tale.

 

A Funny Book

I don’t read many funny books so this year’s entry comes from Caimh McDonnell who nabbed this spot on the reading bingo last year. Angels in the Moonlight combines laughs with Crime Fiction in the most perfect mix, especially in this book, the prequel set in 1999. The crimes are not minimalised or overshadowed by inappropriate humour but the strong element that runs through the book allows the reader to feel a wide range of emotions as we follow our intrepid hero Bunny.

 

A Book By A Female Author

The story of a Singer sewing machine might sound pretty dull, but The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie is anything but. We first meet our machine at the factory in Clydebank where in 1911 ten thousand workers went on strike, Jean being one of them although her loyalties are divided between her boyfriend and her family. We later meet the sewing machine in the hands of Connie who we learn about in part through the records she keeps of what she’s made on it. Lastly it is found by Fred in his recently deceased Grandfather’s flat. A story of all those big emotions across three separate lives. Brilliantly presented and executed with precision.

A Book With A Mystery

This box always makes me smile because pretty much all the books I read have a mystery of some description in them. Before the Poison is a standalone novel by Peter Robinson featuring a historical murder trial which examines the roles of a woman’s morals in the likelihood of her being accused of murder, this time in the 1950s. In the modern tale of this story a recently bereaved composer becomes wrapped up in the story of Grace Fox who was accused of murdering her husband one snowy winter’s day. Aided by a diary Chris examines the story closely which has a personal link to the school he attended as a child. Fascinating and disconcerting as I couldn’t quite believe this was pure fiction.

 

A Book With A One Word Title

This year I have just one book which is a one word title, perhaps they are falling out of fashion? Fortunately it is a book that I loved. Shelter by Sarah Franklin is set in 1944 in the Forest of Dean which is where I lived before leaving home to make my way in the big wide world. The author shapes her story around the Lumberjills posted to the Forest to aid the war along with the Italian Prisoners of War who worked alongside them. The story was realistic and heart-warming and despite a difficult relationship with the area as a teenager, Shelter, made me appreciate some of its better qualities.

 

 A Book of Short Stories

CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards is a fabulous collection of short stories from a wide range of popular crime fiction writers. I loved exploring the different styles and places that are featured within this collection which well and truly bought home to me all the possibilities this form has to offer the reader. My copy now has a firm place on my bookshelf as it will be invaluable when seeking out some of the longer novels of those who appear in this brilliant book.

 

 Free Square

I’ve chosen The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell for my free square for the simple reason this would have easily been featured in my top ten post of the year, except it wasn’t published this year. I love an unpredictable story and Rose who works in the Police Precinct in 1920s Brooklyn is the protagonist for just such a tale. Through her eyes we see what happens when Odile enters the typing pool, elegant sophisticated Odile is the star of the show but does Rose know her secrets? The journey back to early scenes is all in this book, and what a wonderful journey the author took me on.

 

 

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Regular readers of this blog won’t be in the slightest bit surprised that this book has made it onto the Reading Bingo. A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys was my First Book of the Year for a very special reason. Although the book opens as Lilian Shepard boards the Orentes from Tilbury Docks she is travelling to start a new life as a servant in Australia. Through her eyes we see the world as she makes the journey across the seas, meeting her fellow passengers including many that the social mores of England would have stopped her from socialising with, but life is different on an Ocean Liner. The brilliant period details of a world on the brink of war alongside fabulous characters and a mystery made this one of my favourite books of the year.

 

A Book of Non-Fiction

I’ve had a bumper year for excellent non-fiction reads but as many of them are crime related I’ve chosen The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler which is crying out to be on the bookshelf of booklovers up and down the land. The style of writing is often as irreverent as it is succinct with the author puts his own spin on why an author has been forgotten but interspersed between the 99 authors are longer chapters looking at subjects as diverse as The Forgotten Disney Connection and The Forgotten Booker Winners.

 

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In March I read the debut novel Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister and having really enjoyed being sucked into the moral dilemma she posed,I have also read her second novel Anything You Do Say later in the year – so yes, she is a favourite author. Starting with a glimpse of a text on her partner’s phone Rachel Anderson starts to dig, and once she’s started all manner of fall-out commences. This book packed a real emotional punch because not only was it cleverly presented but it also was jam-packed full of realistic characters who behave like ‘real people’

 

A Book I Heard About Online

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and to be honest, it is fairly easy to persuade me I must read all types of crime fiction but one blogger had a special reason for recommending this novel, Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie to me, because she lived in the place of the fictional scene of the murder Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Thirty years later the case is reopened and the wounds that never really healed split apart once more. With convincing characters and a solid sense of place this was one recommendation I’m glad I didn’t pass by on.

 

A Best Selling Book

Lisa Jewell is the master of drawing me into a story from the very first page and Then She Was Gone lived up to that early promise. This is the darkest of the author’s novels yet and on the one-hand seems to be a fantastical tale but it is so underlined by truths that this aspect only becomes apparent when you examine the story closely, yet move the prism to one side and all seems to be completely believable. Ellie Mack disappeared on her way to the library. She was just fifteen years old and her disappearance blew the remaining four Mack’s apart. Several years later her mother Laurel, meets a man in the local café and everything changes once more.

 

A Book Based Upon A True Story


Ah so you thought I’d come unstuck by using Alias Grace earlier on in my Reading Bingo but fortunately this year has been the year when I sought out books inspired by true crimes and Little Deaths by Emma Flint was the first one of the year. This book is based upon the life of Alice Crimmins who was tried for the murder of her two children in New York in 1965. The thrust of the story is that Alice was tried for her morals rather than being based on evidence. I became so immersed in Alice’s tale that I was simply unable to put this well-researched book aside.

 

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

2017 was the year I made a concerted effort to read some of my earlier purchases that have been languishing on my kindle. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves was purchased way back in 2012 and is the fourth in the brilliant Vera series. In this outing a body is found in a sauna at a health club Vera visits in a short-lived attempt to tackle her lifestyle. What more can I say, fab characters, a proper mystery with clues to be solved and the best non clichéd detective to walk the beat.

 

 A Book Your Friend Loves

I went on holiday to Crete in 2016 and visited the island of Spinalonga, a former leper colony. On my return I told my friend all about it and she urged me to read The Island by Victoria Hislop which she’d already read. Well eventually the book made it to the top of the TBR and I fell in love with the story, bought even more alive because I’d trod in the footsteps of the fictional characters that I read about. This is almost a saga story following one family from the nearby town of Plakka and the realities of life on a leper colony in the relatively recent past. A book that I won’t forget in a hurry and a delight to read.

 

 

A Book That Scares You

I rarely get scared by a book but the cover of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham was enough to give me the willies. This is another true crime read, the brutal murder of a mother by a daughter and her friend in New Zealand in 1954 and perhaps because of the senselessness of the crime this book got to me far more than many of my reads in this genre. The girls lived in a land of make-believe, and had an intense friendship which was about to be halted due to Anne Perry’s move to England. The author investigates the girl’s earlier lives and comes up with some theories but none quite explain why this rare act of matricide was perpetrated. The fact that one of the girls became a mystery writer just adds another level of intrigue.

 

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

2017 has been a year where I have explored a selection of books written about  true crime and so it would have been remiss of me not to include what is widely considered to be the first in this genre. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, published in 1966 tells the story of the murder of The Clutter family in Kansas. We learn about the victims in the lead up to the murders and afterwards the characters of the murderers are revealed. The amount of research that must have gone into this book is immense and this was carried out by the author and his close friend at the time, Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

The Second Book In A Series

I loved Mary-Jane Riley’s first book, The Bad Things which I read towards the end of 2016 so it was no surprise that After She Fell was purchased so I could find out more about Alex Devlin in this, the second book in the series. Alex Devlin returns to North Norfolk to investigate the death of a friend’s daughter. What she uncovers at the excusive boarding school that Elena Devonshire attended undermines the coroner’s original finding of suicide. There are multiple viewpoints, a whole heap of well-defined characters and a set of events that will have the readers longing for Alex to reveal the truth.

 

A Book With A Blue Cover

So last year I had a wealth of blue covers to choose from and even commented how they were becoming more popular; not so this year! Fortunately The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is an excellent choice because not ofound was from a mixed genre form of Memoir combined with true crime. This was engaging and interesting in equal parts telling the story of a true-crime as well as showing the legal files alongside the memoir section that examines the consequences of crime on its victims. Fascinating although far from an easy read.

 

 

Well sadly I’m a square short, I really do need to start picking up some younger author’s works but on the whole a pretty impressive year, if I do say so myself.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

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The TBR Book Tag or Still No Change

PicMonkey Collage TBR

 

On 6 November 2015 I put on my big girl pants and tackled the TBR tag which I saw on  The Quirky Book Nerd,  in a bid to get a grip on just how many books were sitting on the TBR, especially focussing on those books I already own.

Last year I did a follow-up post which might have indicated that the TBR had grown, but only by a net value of 8 books from the original count of 173 to 181 books owned and waiting to be read. So what will be the result a year on, after using maximum willpower…

To help me along I designated June and December as book acquisition free months – now there was a flaw there because at Christmas time I get given books, and vouchers so I gained a few. I was away for a good proportion of June and had no time for requesting books although I did receive quite a pile of unsolicited books at this time – not my fault guv’nor!

So onto the questions

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

My answer is still the same – a good old excel spread sheet although I did realise the downfall of this approach when it didn’t travel with me – but I’m confident it is back up to date now.

My spread sheet has separate tabs for physical books, kindle books and lastly one for NetGalley approved books. There is of course, a colour code, required because some on the first two tabs are also review copies and another one to track the books I’m reading for challenges such as 20 Books of Summer and Mount TBR (I might just fail this latter challenge)

Each Sunday, within my weekly wrap up I publish the total which reminds me how well I’m doing. I can hear you all cheering with approval, those measures are guaranteed to make a huge difference.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Overwhelmingly print books even when I combine the NetGalley reads and purchased eBooks mainly because if I’m buying my own books I tend to go for print versions but like everything, it depends on a number of factors. At the time of writing this post I have 97 down from a high of 115 back in February.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I go by publication date, all of which are entered into the spread sheet. I’ve learnt the hard way to check on Amazon for these and not to trust NetGalley. Each month of the year has ten spaces to fill, three of which should be from my TBR which I usually choose on a Sunday when I do my blog admin. In practice the choices get endlessly shuffled as my magpie eye alights on a newer shinier book.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

There is a story behind the fact that the answer is identical to that of last year, oh and the year before – Room by Emma Donoghue went onto my kindle in August 2011 and after vowing to read it at long last, it had a slot earlier this year but disaster struck and I couldn’t locate it on my kindle and so removed it. Whilst perusing my books on the kindle just a couple of weeks ago, it had reappeared – I have a feeling it was something to do with the fact my edition has been replaced by a newer one following the film – anyway, end result is that I won’t be answering the same next year – I promise.

Room

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another. Goodreads

 

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The most recent addition to the TBR which isn’t a review copy is Broken Bones by Angela Marsons which I pre-ordered despite being behind with this wonderful series – Dead Souls by the same author is still on the TBR, something I hope to remedy soon. Broken Bones was published on 3 November 2017.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light. Amazon

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

No, periodically I go through my TBR and any I don’t plan on reading go in the donation bag for the charity shop, this rarely happens.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

So many with a varied list that isn’t all crime fiction – I’m going to choose Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan which is due to be published on 11 January 2018 so I’ll be reading it soon.


Blurb

Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama.

Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.

Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay. No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . .

Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all. NetGalley

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

So many but I’m going to pick Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase which I resolutely resisted when it was being widely raved about and then crumpled as soon as I read the wonderful The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde earlier this year.

Blurb

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.

The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms . . .

Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.

A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family’s love. Amazon

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Oh so many to choose from but one of my recent additions is The Dry by Jane Harper that so many other bloggers have raved about over the year.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

All of them! I’m going to pick one that isn’t due out until next year that I’m very tempted to read well ahead of the publication date – I won’t as that would throw my system into disarray but hey a girl can dream – Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce sounds quite unlike my normal reads and that’s always a draw.

Blurb

London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to female friendship, Blitz spirit, the kindness of strangers and the art of letter-writing itself.

 

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

There are currently 207 books but to be honest there are lots of duplicates of books I’ve already read – this site needs some serious housekeeping and my Amazon wishlist no longer has a counter – perhaps it’s decided that the number is simply too high – there are loads of books on here. However, my TBR count is books that I own that I haven’t read and so without further ado…

This year…

On the TBR there are a grand total of 170 books which means that in an entire year (and a couple of days) I have reduced the pile by a staggering 11 books!!

 

The make up of the pile is:

Physical Books: 96
Kindle Books: 55
NetGalley Books: 18

I’m not tagging anyone, but of course I want to feel better about my TBR, so if you have more than 170 books on your TBR, please share in the comments box below!

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Cleopatra Loves Books is Four Today

Yes it is four years ago today that I took the plunge and started this little blog, at that time not having any idea how big the book blogging community was, and it’s grown since then!

My blog was, and still is, a place for me to record reviews for all the books I finish and since I’ve been blogging and interacting with all of you lovely people my TBR has grown from a modest pile of books by my bed and a few unread ones on my kindle to an enormous mountain, but one that is full of books that I’ve purchased because of YOU. This means when the book apocalypse comes, I will be ready, all prepared with enough books to keep me going for the foreseeable, and if I should run out I have my lovely bookshelves full of the books I’ve kept (and there are a fair few) because I might want to read them again.

I really can’t believe I’ve been writing my reviews and posting memes for four whole years and again, although I didn’t expect to find so many lovely people to read them, YOU have certainly made this something that I do – everyone knows that I blog about books (yes, those people I know in ‘real’ life) and it is a pleasure, so much so I can’t remember what I possibly did with all the time I now spend tapping away on my laptop – my keyboard no longer has all of its letters I am minus S, M, N & V, but luckily I touch type so that hasn’t foiled me!

Thank you for interacting with me, sending me recommendations and books and being all round lovely people!

My birthday post traditionally looks at the reviews I’ve written that have proved most popular – any excuse for a few stats so without further ado…

So now to the facts and figures:

This is my 1,318th post over the four year period, 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.

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

Disclaimer by Renee Knight from April 2015
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott from January 2017
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly from February 2017
Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott from March 2014
The Book of You Claire Kendal from February 2014

The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot not just one but two of Rachel Abbott’s books here which I’m delighted about as she is a fellow Channel Islander residing on the island of Alderney.

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

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer from February 2017
Painkiller by NJ Fountain from January 2017
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham from March 2017
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott from January 2017
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly from February 2017

 

 
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.

This year I’ve joined in Jo’s The Six in Six where you can see some of my favourite reads from the first half of this year and Put a Book on the Map will be back in the autumn so if you have read a book that you’d like to see featured, please let me know.

Thanks for a wonderful four years and I hope to continue to entertain you with my dark reading habits even more for a little while to come yet.

 

 

 

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The Six in Six – 2017 Edition


This meme originates from Jo at The Book Jotter  and having thoroughly enjoyed participating last year, I wanted to repeat the experience this year, better late then never eh?

The aim is to sort your reads into six categories – you can choose from the ones Jo suggests or come up with your own. Although the same book can obviously feature in more than one category, I’ve chosen to select one book for each category from my favourite reads of the year so far.

Six Books I Really, Really Loved

 

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

The Child by Fiona Barton

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

Dying Games by Steve Robinson

Six Books From A Series

The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott #6 DCI Tom Douglas

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French #6 Frieda Klein

Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill #11 Dalziel & Pascoe

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary#4 DI Marnie Rome

The Cipher Garden by Martin Edwards  #2 Lake District Mystery

Need You Dead by Peter James –  #13 Roy Grace Series

 Six physical books I have read

All The Good Things by Clare Fisher

A Life Between Us by Louise Walters

The Other Us by Fiona Harper

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Blood Sisters by Jane Corry

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

Six Books True Crime or Inspired by True Crime

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

The Long Drop by Denise Mina

Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich 

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Six authors I have read before

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

Greatest Hits by  Laura Barnett

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

Six Authors New To Me

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The Legacy by  Yrsa Sigurðardóttir 

Sewing The Shadows Together by Alison Baillie

Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton

So there are my choices from the first half of 2017 – What would you choose?