Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

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?

Posted in Uncategorized

Mystery Blogger Award!

I was nominated for this award by the lovely Laura over at Snazzy Books– thanks so much for the nomination, and go check out her blog if you haven’t already!

What is the Mystery Blogger Award?

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion. – Okoto Enigma

The rules by Okoto Enigma are:
1. Put the award logo/image in your post.
2. List all the rules.
3. Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
4. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
5. Nominate 10-20 people and notify them
6. Link back to the creator of the award.
7. Ask nominees any 5 questions of your choice, with a weird or funny question.
8. Share the link to your best/favourite post of yours.

Three things about me

1. My favourite time of the day is the morning. I wake up before the rest of the household and relish some time with coffee and to browse all the new blog posts and social media in peace and quiet

2. I love crime fiction and this year I am seeking out all those stories inspired by true crimes – three recent favourites in this genre look at the lives and crimes of Peter Manuel, Lizzie Borden and Alice Crimmins.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Little Deaths by Emma Flint

3. I have a cameo role in A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys (aka Tammy Cohen) and my personal copy has a bookmark at the place where I appear so that I can show absolutely everyone who comes to my house!

My Answers to Laura’s Questions

What’s your favourite genre to read from?

I love it when we start with an easy question – crime fiction, of course!

If you had to pick only one favourite publisher to read from for the rest of your life, which would it be? (This is tricky, I know!)

I never noticed publishers before I started blogging but there are a number who seem to produce just the sort of books I love but the one with the most sure-fire hit rate is Bonnier Zaffre

Is there anything about a book that instantly puts you off?

Ooh, I’m quite a nice reader in that I tend to keep an open mind but pedestrian openers full of description does put me off. I

How do you decide what to read next? Do you go by publication dates or just what you fancy – or a bit of both?

Ah – you clearly haven’t heard of my spreadsheet (or to be more accurate, entire excel workbook) which I put all my upcoming reads into by month of publication. This year to make sure I read more of my own books, each month has three entries not to be moved rows for books bought prior to 2017 and these I choose on a whim from the lengthy list when I get to them.

What do you do if you’ve accepted a book for review and you really don’t like it? Would you still publish the review?

Absolutely!! Although it has got harder since I’ve got to know authors and publishers through social media, I set my blog up for other readers to find recommendations. I therefore review all books I finish even if that means a low rating. Fortunately I don’t have too many that fall into that category. I do think it’s important to remember that it doesn’t really matter if I like a book or not, as what I dislike may be another person’s passion.
The one caveat to that is if I’ve agreed to do a book tour, I let the organiser know and will publish the review later, outside the official tour banner.

My five questions:

Which book would you recommend to me and why?

Which author would you most like to go for a drink with?

Do you write notes for your reviews or are you like me and wing it?

If you were to write a book, what title would you give it?

What is your favourite book quote?

I’m now going to break the rules by not nominating specific blogs as many of you have already participated but if you haven’t and you’d like to – I’d be thrilled to read your post!!

The Link to My Favourite Blog Post

My most successful post ever was on 1 January 2017 which was about my first book of the year – if you missed it, it’s here.

I’m delighted this post reached so far as it was a far more personal post to those which I normally write and the comments both on the post and via email really warmed my heart.

Thank you again to Laura for my nomination and her wonderful questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The First Book Of The Year 2017

The lovey Sheila at Book Journey is on a mission to get as many pictures of books being read on 1 January 2017, so pop on over to see how many she managed to get!

The book I have chosen as the first read of the year is A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys which will be published on 23 March 2017, chosen by me for a very special reason…

The 6 March 2016 would have been my son Owen’s 22nd birthday, the day we had designated as the one where we would spread his ashes, and because the fates were determined to do their very worst, it was also Mother’s Day here in the UK. Owen’s birthday had coincided with Mother’s Day only once before, when realising Mum would do without her day, as his birthday was far more important, we exchanged cards that cold March morning with his to me saying ‘Celebrating OUR special day xx’ For the two special days to coincide this year, my first without him, seemed almost too much to bear – but as they say, the show must go on, and it did.

owen-2012

In memory of Owen pictured here in 2012

At the same time a group of authors were holding an auction to raise funds for CLIC Sargent, a charity that supports children and young adults from the moment of a cancer diagnosis onwards. Now we didn’t have the support of this charity, but I’m well aware of the different needs of someone Owen’s age to a cancer diagnosis. It is particularly tough that at a time when youngsters think they are invincible, that they are forced to confront something so tough.  That’s not to say we had no support, we did and all the healthcare professionals we met were exceptional, but on a small island there was no-one else Owen’s age, dealing with that kind of news, and I wish there had been something more tailored to his needs.

The closing date for the auction was, yes – 6 March 2016, and I was determined to give funds to this charity, and to do so, I had to win an auction. I entered several knowing that we would be having our special meal for Owen at the time it closed. Having eaten a lovely meal and raised my (final) Gin and Tonic, I checked the website and was thrilled to see I had won the prize I really wanted – to be named in one of Tammy Cohen’s books! When the formalities were done, she told me (I had to keep it secret) that she was writing a historical novel and she didn’t think my name would fit in that one, so did I mind waiting, I didn’t – and then she surprised me – I have a cameo role in A Dangerous Crossing under her pen name Rachel Rhys! How cool is that? She kindly sent me the proof a while ago and it was instantly reserved for this post.

dangerous-crossing

Blurb

It was a first class deception that would change her life forever

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again. Amazon

So with a huge thank you to Rachel Rhys especially for her kind words in my signed copy, and in the sincere hope that my small donation will help another young person, I’m eager to see what my cameo role is!

Now the point of Sheila’s post was to collect pictures and unhappily I’ve had a vicious virus since Christmas, so here I am hiding behind A Dangerous Crossing so not to scare you all too much. After all it is New Year’s Day not Halloween!!

read-into-2017

What is your first read of 2017 going to be?

Wishing everyone of you much health, happiness and good books in 2017.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2016

top-ten-2016-v-2

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 2016 that I consider to have been truly outstanding and memorable reads.

The books have been listed in no particular order and you can read my full review by clicking on the book covers.

 

A Tapping at my DoorA Tapping At My Door by David Jackson
First up is a book which started with Edgar Allan Poe’s spooky poem The Raven to reveal not only a depth of characterisation but a real sense of the Liverpool setting. This is  a new series, featuring DS Nathan Cody, a detective with a troubled background and a Cop Killer on the loose.  I’m a fan of a good police procedural anyway but this was a deeper exploration than many in this genre. These characteristics may have been the icing on the cake of a fabulous plot which had me gripped throughout.

 

The Ballroom

The Ballroom by Anna Hope
Focusing on three characters who are residents of Sharston Asylum in 1911, The Ballroom was an exceptionally well researched look at life in an asylum as the treatment of those afflicted by mental illness was developing fast. What was far more shocking was the ‘crimes’ committed that may have had you detained at this time. I particularly love books that manage to inform at the same time as entertaining, the main story was never lost throughout the extraordinary amount of detail. In a personal twist Anna Hope dedicated this book to her Gt Gt Grandfather who was admitted to Menston Asylum (the inspiration for this book) in 1909.

 

The Apprentice of Split Crow LaneThe Apprentice of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr’s Hill Murder by Jane Housham
This non-fiction examination of a Victorian crime is among the best I’ve read and also looks at life in an asylum at a slightly earlier time period of 1866. The crime examined is a shocking one, not least because it involves a child and the motive had me stunned. Jane Housham delivers her research in an engaging manner with care taken to look at the characters involved, both victim and accused and their families as well as recreating the setting to enable the reader to have a sometimes all too clear picture of what happened on Carr’s Hill in Gateshead one awful day.

 

house-of-birds The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy
So I move onto my choice for historical fiction and it is a while since I’ve read such a well-constructed dual time-line novel. With both parts, the modern time featuring Oliver and Kate, and the past in 1920s Oxford featuring the downtrodden wife Sophia and her love of books, The House of Birds had me gripped in both halves. Whilst the narrative isn’t fast-moving, the language is beautiful and the tale told had me running the gamut of emotions because of the fantastically drawn characters. This was one of those books that I lost myself in for the duration, and beyond.

 

The Swimming Pool The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
A newly renovated swimming pool is the setting of this latest psychological thriller by Louise Candlish and one which examines female friendship. I really enjoy books that are set over a relatively short period of time, particularly when the characters lives are altered forever by some event, and here in the space of a single summer Natalie’s life is changed by meeting the glamorous Lara. My original review states the dénouement is brutal, it is but brilliantly so!

 

Out of Bounds Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
Val McDermid has used one of my favourite devices in this, the fourth in the DCI Karen Pirie series set in her native Scotland. When a cold case of twenty years is has a breakthrough due to the death of a teenage joyrider, Karen Pirie is determined to find the truth. A brilliant paring with a somewhat dim second in command served well both to provide lighter moments and inform the reader without a hint of patronisation. Reading Out of Bounds  I was reminded of the many shades that this brilliant author injects into her books, whilst delivering a fantastic story.

 

Daisy in Chains Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Moving swiftly from one reliably brilliant author to another… Sharon Bolton has truly excelled herself in this standalone novel. Told in a linear fashion, no needs for fancy bells and whistles for this book, we meet Hamish Wolfe imprisoned for the murder of three women at HMP in the Isle of Wight. His mother is campaigning for his freedom and enlists true crime writer Maggie Rose. This is a crime novel that goes beyond simple innocence or guilt and justifiably made for compulsive reading. There are characters in Daisy in Chains which I will never forget!

 

The Museum of You The Museum of You by Carys Bray
In a rapid shift away from the darkness, The Museum of You relays the summer Clover Quinn decides to turn her mother’s former bedroom into a display about her life. Clover has never known her mother and the project helps the awkward pre-teen fill her first unsupervised summer. This book had just the right mix of pathos and humour, one of the best depictions of this age group. I fell in love with Clover and the earnest way she builds her display, knowing that she is likely to find some difficult truths along the way. It is a very rare book indeed that makes me shed real tears – this book was one of them!

 

In Her WakeIn Her Wake by Amanda Jennings
I’ve seen In Her Wake featured on many of the top ten book lists doing the rounds this month, and having absolutely been blown away by this original tale, I had to add it to mine too. This wonderful book follows Bella who finds following the death of her parents that her entire life is founded on a lie and decides to discover the truth. Filled with wonderful characters, an enticing premise and beautiful language the story takes in myths and evocative settings resulting in a haunting tale which was delightful to read.

 

Lying in wait Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
With so much to admire about Lying in Wait from the first killer line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ to the clever structure whereby we learn all about Lydia and Andrew Fitzsimons through Lydia’s own words, those of her son Laurence and Annie Doyle’s older sister Karen who take it in turns to narrate this novel. Set in 1980s Ireland this book also gave me moments of nostalgia without ever dragging me away from the captivating story. This is a book that should be gone into knowing as little as possible, that way you will get the full benefit of this author’s skilful and surprising plotting.

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 2017 and do hope you will all join me on my journey.

Happy New Year to one and all!

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo 2016

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 and 2015

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 136 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

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult clocks in at 512 pages covering the injustice of a Ruth Jefferson, the only African-American nurse on duty when a baby gets into difficulty. With the parents white supremacists who want to blame someone Ruth is charged with murder. Not a comfortable read and I applaud the author for wanting to address racism and using an absorbing tale to do so.

A Forgotten Classic

Harriet Said

I came late to Beryl Bainbridge so I’m going to count this as a modern classic. I’ve read three of this author’s books so far, my favourite being Harriet Said. The story is based upon a murder case involving two teenaged girls in New Zealand, a case that was also the inspiration for the film Heavenly Creatures. The author creates two young teenage girls using them to reveal the push and pull of their relationship which is ultimately their undoing.

A Book That Became a Movie

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain has lots to recommend it although I admit some of the politics towards the end, went over my head, but the tale of a young woman nursing through World War I, having put her hard one academic ambitions on hold, was incredibly poignant. With the inevitable loss of friends and family her grief for herself and her generation is palpable The film was released in 2014 to great acclaim.

A Book Published This Year

The Ballroom

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from my historical fiction selection. The Ballroom by Anna Hope tells the tale of life in an asylum in West Riding, the year being 1911. With a mixture of men and women housed in the asylum the author not only writes us a great story, but has accurately researched what life was like from the perspective of inmates and attendants.

A Book With A Number In The Title

The One in a Million Boy

I give you not one but two numbers in this title: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is a book I denoted  ‘quirky’ but I’m so glad I read it. The story concerns the relationship between Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who has lived in the US since she was just four, and a boy Scout with a passion for the Guinness World Records. Touching without ever being overly sentimental this is one that will linger in my mind for quite some time.

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was written by Barney Norris who was born in 1987. This book not only touches on the history of Salisbury but weaves stories of five fictional characters in a literary, but oh so readable way. An accomplished novel that doesn’t let an obvious love of language interfere with a great story.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Little Stranger

Well I’m giving you double for your money with this book, not only is there a ghost in The Little Stanger by the fabulous Sarah Waters, there is also a Labrador that plays a key role in the subsequent downfall of the Ayres family. This spooky story is narrated by a country doctor in 1940’s Warwickshire and has plenty of other themes to enjoy even if you, like me, are not a fan of ghostly goings-on.

A Funny Book

A Man With One of those Faces

A Man With One Of Those Faces is a crime fiction novel written by stand-up comedian Caimh McDonnell. I know crime mixed with humour doesn’t sound as if it should work, but it does! A Man With One of Those Faces is full of observational humour with some truly entertaining characters without sacrificing a great plot with a whole heap of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Book By A Female Author

My Husband's Wife

So many great books by so many fab women – in the end I chose My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which falls into one of my favourite genres, psychological thrillers of the domestic variety. This tale mixes past and present with a whole heap of flawed characters and is told by two separate narrators Lily and Carla and they reveal more and more about themselves, and those around them. An extremely tense read which was utterly satisfying.

A Book With A Mystery

Pictures of perfection.jxr

What better mystery can there be than that of a missing policeman on Dalziel’s patch? Pictures of Perfection is the fourteenth in the Dalziel & Pascoe series written by the outstandingly talented Reginald Hill and this book was an absolute delight to read. With a horrific opening scene, the book then switches to the more genteel setting of a country fair in 1980s rural Yorkshire. Fear not though this isn’t window dressing, the plot is superb with a proper mystery to be solved.

A Book With A One Word Title

Viral

Like last year I have read six books that have a single word as their title but I have chosen Viral by Helen Fitzgerald because of the very contemporary storyline. Viral examines what happens when a sex act carried out in Magaluf ends up online for all Su Oliphant-Brotheridge’s friends and family to see but despite that taster, this story didn’t go in the direction I expected it to.

 A Book of Short Stories

manipulated-lives

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel is a collection of five novellas all looking at manipulators and the effect on the lives of those they choose to manipulate. The author picked five different characters and settings to explore this theme and I have to admit, not being a huge fan of short stories, the common thread was far more appealing to me than some other collections.

 Free Square

Lying in wait

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the best opening sentence; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent:
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
With the rest of this book more than living up to the first line there was so much to love not only does the author keep the tension stretched as taut as could be, despite that opening revelation we have a wonderful Irish setting as background.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

The Woman on the Orient Express

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford is a novel that ends up in Baghdad recreating a trip to an archaeology dig that Agatha Christie made following the divorce from her first husband. This wasn’t so much of a mystery rather a historical novel using Agatha Christie herself as the centre of the story of three woman all making this trip for very different reasons. An unusual and rewarding read with an exotic setting along with a fantastic mode of transport.

A Book of Non-Fiction

Did She Kill Him

I have read some brilliant non-fiction books, mostly about murders, and a fair proportion about poisoners, my interest (or obsession) of the year, so I am going with Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun. Florence Maybrick is the subject of this book, a middle-class woman living in Liverpool in 1889 when she stood trial for the murder, by arsenic, of her husband. While the majority of the book is relatively sympathetic to Florence, the author cleverly takes apart the arguments in the last section leaving the reader to make up their own mind if she was guilty or not.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In Bitter Chill

I enjoyed In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward so much earlier in the year that I had to buy the second in the series, A Deadly Thaw. The setting in Bampton Derbyshire was stunning which made the awful tale of the disappearance of two girls back in 1978 all the more shocking, especially as only one of those girls returned home. Rachel Jones went  home but now an adult a suicide prompts her to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A Book I Heard About Online

The Versions of Us

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 crime fiction or psychological thrillers, I’m more resistant to other genres. But all the rave reviews about The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett, a sliding-doors novel had me intrigued – and what a great find this was. The incident that kicks off the three different lives in The Versions of Us is a student falling off her bike whilst studying at Cambridge University in October 1958 and the three tales that follow are all equally brilliant. This was an absorbing read especially taking into consideration the complicated structure.

A Best Selling Book

Love You Dead

Peter James’ Roy Grace series consistently makes the best seller list, and also happens to be my favourite police procedural series so it is only right and fitting that Love You Dead is featured for this square. For those of you who also enjoy not only the mystery but also reading about Roy Grace (and his beautiful wife, Cleo), some key story arcs are cleared up in this, the twelfth book in the series. Mystery fans don’t need to worry either, the key plot is a good one featuring a pretty woman at its heart.

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Buriel Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent turned out to be one of my favourite reads of the year! With the Icelandic landscape as a backdrop to Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s final months awaiting trial for the murder of two men, we see the family she had been sent to stay with learning to adjust to the stranger in their midst. Be warned if you haven’t read this book, it is devastating, I had grown to love Agnes and yet her fate was sealed and no amount of wishing can change the course of history.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Mistake

The Mistake by Wendy James is a book inspired by a true event rather than based upon it and one that had been on my TBR for a couple of years.  In The Mistake we meet Jodi Garrow whose comfortable life as the wife of a lawyer unravels when a nurse in a small town hospital remembers her from years before when she gave birth to a little girl, there is no sign of that baby and Jodi does her best to cover up the truth but the media are determined to find the truth.

 A Book Your Friend Loves

blood-lines

I introduced a friend to the wonders of DI Kim Stone this year and she loved the series, in fact, despite not being a book blogger, she told me about the upcoming release of Blood Lines by Angela Marsons before I knew it was happening!  This series goes from strength to strength and her characterisation underpins a fantastic multi-stranded mystery as our protagonist tries to find the link between the stabbing of a compassionate, well-loved woman and a prostitute.

A Book That Scares You

A Tapping at my Door

I rarely get scared by a book but from the opening excerpt of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe this book had me well and truly spooked by A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson. With opening scenes of a woman hearing a tapping sound, I was glad I wasn’t reading this on a dark night on my own. But this isn’t just a spooky police procedural, it is incredibly clever – I can’t tell you exactly how as that would spoil it but this was a book with a superb plot, probably one of the best I’ve read this year. That with a lively and interesting character in DS Nathan Cody, a Liverpool setting and more than a dash of humour, means it was an all-round great read.

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year and this one was first published in 1926 so in fact 90 years old; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is considered by many to be one of the best written by Agatha Christie and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book narrated by a doctor and one of my very favourite detectives, Monsieur Poirot leading the search for the murderer of Roger Ackroyd, killed in his very own study if you please – oh and of course the door was locked!

The Second Book In A Series

the-kill-fee

I have a love of 1920s London and Fiona Veitch Smith’s creation Poppy Denby, journalist at The Daily Globe had her second outing in The Kill Fee, this year. The mystery had its roots in Russia and the revolution and Poppy romps her way around extricating herself from ever more tricky circumstances made for a delightful and informative read.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Museum of You

I can’t let this square go without asking has anyone else noticed the increase in blue covers? The one I’ve chosen was my surprise hit of the year; The Museum of You by Carys Bray – a story about a twelve-year-old girl putting together an exhibition about her mother wouldn’t normally make it onto the TBR, let alone be loved so much… but the lack of overt sentimentality in this book along with an exceptional array of characters made it a firm favourite for 2016.

Well look at that, for the first time ever I have completed every square!

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

Posted in Uncategorized

TBR Book Tag by Ian Hobbs @BookDevon

TBR Count

Following on from my TBR Book Tag of yesterday I’m delighted that fellow tweeter Ian Hobbs of The Devon Book Club has added his answers to Goodreads, as he doesn’t have a blog I’m sharing his responses here

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I was maintaining two lists – one on Goodreads and one on Word but, looking at them today, I decided to amalgamate them into an Excel spreadsheet. I have separate columns for books that I hold in hard copy, ones that I have on Kindle and ones that are just books I intend to read at some point but don’t yet have a copy of. And, of course, a column for Devon authors.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

A mixture.
I have 190 books on my list (oh dear!)
Of these, 29 are on Kindle

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

I am shocked to say that Don Quixote has been there since December 2012 – but it will be read in 2016 – that is a promise.
Incidentally, Cleo – I read The Room two years ago and really enjoyed it. Go for It!

A book you recently added to your TBR?

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk    

a-strangeness-in-my-mind

A Strangeness In My Mind is a novel Orhan Pamuk has worked on for six years. It is the story of boza seller Mevlut, the woman to whom he wrote three years’ worth of love letters, and their life in Istanbul.
In the four decades between 1969 and 2012, Mevlut works a number of different jobs on the streets of Istanbul, from selling yoghurt and cooked rice, to guarding a car park. He observes many different kinds of people thronging the streets, he watches most of the city get demolished and re-built, and he sees migrants from Anatolia making a fortune; at the same time, he witnesses all of the transformative moments, political clashes, and military coups that shape the country. He always wonders what it is that separates him from everyone else – the source of that strangeness in his mind. But he never stops selling boza during winter evenings and trying to understand who his beloved really is.
What matters more in love: what we wish for, or what our fate has in store? Do our choices dictate whether we will be happy or not, or are these things determined by forces beyond our control?
A Strangeness In My Mind tries to answer these questions while portraying the tensions between urban life and family life, and the fury and helplessness of women inside their homes. Amazon

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?
I don’t have one just because of its cover but I do love the cover on Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists

tan-twan-engIn the highlands of Malaya, a woman sets out to build a memorial to her sister, killed at the hands of the Japanese during the brutal Occupation of their country. Yun Ling’s quest leads her to The Garden of Evening Mists, and to Aritomo, a man of extraordinary skill and reputation, once the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. When she accepts his offer to become his apprentice, she begins a journey into her past, inextricably linked with the secrets of her troubled country’s history.

 

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?
Not that I own – in updating my list I did delete a couple that I couldn’t realise why I had added them and, on looking again, they didn’t really appeal – must have been someone else’s recommendation.

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

Ironically – it would also be All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I’ll get to it eventually

All The Light We Cannot See

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret.

Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering.

At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in

Doerr’s combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence. Amazon

 

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Not really but, perhaps Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name
I read the first and loved it bit have not yet got to this one – aim to do so over Xmas.

the-story-of-a-new-nam

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

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

the-gift-of-rainPenang, 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip’s family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei – to whom he owes absolute loyalty – has been harbouring a devastating secret. Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is. With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas – of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests – Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love. Amazon

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

Well, 190 books that are on my reading list, of which I have
39 in hard copy
29 on Kindle
And the others I borrow from the library or buy them as I go

So Ian has thrown down the gauntlet! Who else is brave enough?

Posted in Uncategorized

The TBR Book Tag or Some Things Never 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.

So a year on, having exercised my willpower on a daily basis, I thought it would be interesting to answer the questions again and to reveal just how well my TBR Reduction plan has been working! You can read last year’s answers here.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

My TBR books are all listed on an excel spreadsheet, a tab for physical books, one for those on my kindle 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 this has made the biggest difference, each Sunday, I publish the total. 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?

My TBR  is mainly print books. Over the last year or so if given the choice I prefer print books, don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle especially for portability, but after a few years of reading mainly e-books, I seem to hanker over the more traditional variety.

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

I have a good old spreadsheet, books for review get put on the tab of the month they are published (10 slots per month) and then if there is any space in the last few days of the preceding month I fill it with books that I’ve been given after publication date or choices from my own shelves. I then shuffle books endlessly backwards and forwards while looking anxiously at the ‘anticipated finish reading dates’ to see if I can squeeze this extra one in that has popped through the door or somehow been requested from NetGalley.

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

It was this question that made me think that redoing this tag was a worthwhile exercise: The answer is exactly the same!

Room by Emma Donoghue has been on my kindle since very soon after it was published in 2011, I still really want to read it, I will read it!

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?

Last year my answer was  Are You My Mother by Louise Voss

Are you my mother

 

From the age of nineteen, Emma Victor has had to bring up her much younger sister Stella. It has shaped both their lives. Now Stella is almost grown up, and Emma’s nurturing instincts extend to her work as an aromatherapist, and inform her relationship with the unreliable but irresistible Gavin. But something is missing, and Emma has to confront her deepest need – a need she’s been denying for years – and embark on a search for her birth mother.
ARE YOU MY MOTHER? chronicles Emma’s search for her birth mother and for a sense of her own place in the world in this compelling, funny and profoundly moving novel about love, identity and the need to belong Amazon

Yes – you’ve guessed it, this is also still on the TBR.

This year my latest addition is A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys which arrived yesterday but not due to be published until April 2017.

It was a first class deception that would change her life foreverdangerous-crossing

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

While covers may draw me to look at the content I don’t choose by cover, although I have noticed that certainly some psychological thrillers are sporting more eye-pleasing jackets than has previously been the case, generally crime fiction and poisoners, don’t get pretty covers.

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

No, if I’d found any books that I didn’t plan on reading they would have gone in the donation bag for the charity shop.

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

I did read and review Beside Myself by Ann Morgan which was my answer last year – this year my most anticipated read is by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly with her latest novel He Said/She Said, I’m over the moon to have a copy of this which isn’t due to be published until May 2017.

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

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.

Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.

When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.

As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.

But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. Amazon

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

Last year my pick was All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer– and I finally read this in December of last year!
This year I think I’ll choose (of the loads of books that fall into this category) Cry Baby by David Jackson – I have decided to start this series and read the first, Pariah, recently, so only two to read before this one!

Cry Baby
It’s every mother’s nightmare – the abduction of her baby, That’s how it starts for Erin Vogel when she is attacked and left unconscious in her apartment. When she awakes, it is to find that Georgia, her six-month-old daughter, has been taken.

But Erin is given a chance to get Georgia back. At an unthinkable price.

Like most mothers, she has always said she would do anything for her child. Now the strength of that bond is about to be put to the ultimate test.

And when her actions arouse the interest of a certain Detective Callum Doyle, one thing is inevitable: a confrontation that will be as explosive as it is unforgettable.

From the highly acclaimed author of Pariah, The Helper and Marked comes a nerve-shredding novel that questions the line we draw between good and evil. Amazon

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?
I love it when other bloggers recommend books to me and I have a heap that fall into this category – the one that is outside my normal reading genre that is on my TBR to be read is My Name is Leon by Kit der Waal.

My Name is Leon

A brother chosen. A brother left behind. And a family where you’d least expect to find one.

Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.

As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile – like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Evoking a Britain of the early eighties, My Name is Leon is a heart-breaking story of love, identity and learning to overcome unbearable loss. Of the fierce bond between siblings. And how – just when we least expect it – we manage to find our way home. Amazon

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to chose just one, after all they are all on my TBR because I want to read them but the book I pick is from my genre of the year – poisoners and because I’ve gone for the literal interpretation of this question. I give you Poison Panic by Helen Barrell

poison-panic

For a few years in the 1840s, Essex was notorious in the minds of Victorians as a place where women stalked the winding country lanes looking for their next victim to poison with arsenic. It’s a terrible image – and also one that doesn’t seem to have much basis in truth – but this was a time of great anxiety.
The 1840s were also known as the ‘hungry ’40s’, when crop failures pushed up food prices and there was popular unrest across Europe. The decade culminated in a cholera epidemic in which tens of thousands of people in the British Isles died. It is perhaps no surprise that people living through that troubled decade were captivated by the stories of the ‘poisoners’: that death was down to ‘white powder’ and the evil intentions of the human heart.
Sarah Chesham, Mary May and Hannah Southgate are the protagonists of this tale of how rural Essex, in a country saturated with arsenic, was touched by the tumultuous 1840s. Amazon

 How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

Goodreads states this is down from 240 to 216 but as it includes different editions of books I’ve read as well as books I’ve had a fleeting interest in, I prefer to stick by my own count of actual books I own.

The total number of books on the TBR on 6 November 2015 was 173!  This was made up of 82 physical books, 71 e-books and 20 books on NetGalley!
I do have a list of books I want to own which I keep on a Amazon Wishlists.  I had  146 books here too.

This Year … drum roll… the total number of books on 5 November 2016 is 181! I’m really quite impressed, alright, technically it’s not a reduction, but an increase of only a net worth of 8 books in an entire year, I think deserves a round of applause.

This year the total is made up of 95 physical books, 68 e-books and 18 books on NetGalley. My plan of putting things onto my Amazon Wishlists has worked as I have a whopping 206 books here – but as I said, I don’t own them… yet!

So this post is entitled TBR Reduction Plan, from now on I’m designating June and December for reading books already on the TBR (this year will be to get rid of some of the books requested more than 3 months ago from NetGalley – that tab upsets me far too much!) with an absolute minimum of visits to NetGalley during these months and absolutely no purchases at all.

I’m not tagging anyone, but of course I want to feel better about my TBR, so if you have more than 181 books, please share in the comments box below!

Now I’m off to buy a new bookshelf!