Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 15)

Weekly Wrap Up

I know this is one day late this week but as I was part of the Need You Dead blog tour yesterday I decided it was better late than never, especially a I’ve reviewed some stunning books over the last week, and have found some winning looking ones to add to my shelves.

This Week on the Blog

I started my week with the Mystery Blogger Award where I presented you with three facts about me and confirmed that my favourite genre is indeed crime fiction!

My excerpt post was from All The Good Things by Clare Fisher which I hope to read before its publication on 1 June 2017.

My This Week in Books post featured authors Ruth Rendell, Lucy Atkins and Elisabeth Herrmann

My first review of the week was posted on Thursday for Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, an intelligent look at what reintroduction to society might look like if you were locked up for a serious crime as a child.

I then posted my review of a non-fiction reads, an outstandingly good true-crime read. Unusually The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the exploration of a crime is spliced with the author’s memoir, the result is one of a most compelling read.

The third five-star review of the week was for The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins which is a real character led novel with the underlying plot hinging on the publication of a book by historian Olivia Sweetman. A book I have boldly declared will be one of my books of 2017.

My last and final five-star review was a man who now feels like a dear friend, Roy Grace the star of Peter James’ crime fiction series here in his thirteenth outing; Need You Dead.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Play Dead by Angela Marsons, the fourth in an outstanding series featuring Detective Kim Stone as she tackles crime in the Black Country. Gruesomely set on a Body Farm where the scientists learn how a body decomposes in different environments to aid in determining the time of death. The well-drawn characters provide the perfect back-drop to the devilish mystery posed in this novel.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.



Blurb

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.

Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.

Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?

As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?

Stacking the Shelves

I have been super lucky this week with review copies for my last splurge before I cut back for the summer (haha)

First up I have a copy of Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf, an author who has written some really thought-provoking books and this, her latest is due to be published on 13 July 2017.



Blurb

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters – her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora.

Now, two years later, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice? NetGalley

I also have a copy of Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown, another author whose previous novels have impressed me. This book will be published on 27 July 2017.

Blurb

A missing child. A broken mother. A sister who doesn’t remember a thing.

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

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

Lastly I have a much longed for copy of The Child by Fiona Barton; I was a huge fan of The Widow and so I will make sure I read this before publication on 29 July 2017.


Blurb

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.
For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.
And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told. NetGalley

Finally within my Mystery Blogger Award I asked for more crime fiction books based upon real crimes and the lovely and knowledgeable FictionFan recommended Midnight in Peking by Paul French, which was just the sort of thing I was looking for.

Blurb

Peking, 1937:
The teenage daughter of a British consul is brutally slaughtered. The police investigation is botched; as war looms British and Chinese authorities close ranks. A grieving father vows to uncover the truth – alone.

Seventy-five years later, historian Paul French uncovers a stash of forgotten documents revealing the killer’s identity . . .

For those who loved The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil this is a riveting and evocative true crime classic. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share, I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and discarded one as a DNF – I also pruned my TBR of the book that was sent to the charity shop and the one book that hadn’t been removed despite having been read and then I have gained 4. The accountant therefore declares the current total as 185
Physical Books – 108
Kindle Books – 61
NetGalley Books – 16

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

Need You Dead – Peter James #blogtour

Crime Fiction
5*s

I am particularly delighted to be part of the blog tour for Need You Dead which is the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James because this is a series I’ve followed from the very beginning, reading each book in order eager to find out what has happened to my favourite characters whilst knowing that there will be a cracking crime story to keep me entertained.

Today Peter James is sharing some of his research with us:

DS Roy Grace Blog Tour – Day 7
Research behind Dead Man’s Grip

While researching Dead Man’s Grip I was taken around the famous local landmark that is Shoreham Power station. Along with being claustrophobic I have always had an absolute terror of heights, so the research for a key scene in the book, involving a secret tunnel under Shoreham Harbour, where I would be making a 180 feet vertical descent down a ladder in a shaft, was horrifying! A major “oh shit” moment! Fortunately I had two very delightful and caring helpers from Rescue & Emergency Medical Services Ltd who gave me the confidence and help to do it.

Then at the launch of Dead Man’s Grip I was submerged in a van in Shoreham Harbour for a stunt enacting a key scene in the book. I was nervous as hell before this event and I had the whole police dive team prepped to rescue me in case it went wrong!

Peter James has kindly provided original pieces for each day of his blog tour so make sure you catch the rest of the stops!

 

Book Review
Lorna Belling has been found dead in a bath tub in a rented flat in Brighton. Already known to the police because she’s reported her husband for domestic abuse Roy Grace sees the investigation as a good one for Guy Batchelor to be Deputy Senior Investigating Officer for a couple of reasons: one to allow him to learn the ropes and secondly because Roy has to fly to Germany to pick up his son Bruno to bring him back for the funeral of his mother.

Lorna is a hairdresser who works from home, her phone is monitored by her husband and there has been more than one nasty incident with her husband Corin who works for an IT company, but the last attack was particularly nasty. The Domestic Violence caseworker is concerned for Lorna’s safety but so far Lorna has decided to stay put with Corin and the puppies she has bred. But the flat where Lorna was found dead wasn’t her home, so why is she in a cheap rental flat with dodgy electrics?

Of course the investigation isn’t quite as straightforward as first appearances indicated and the reader is in on the action seeing the red-herrings being liberally scattered across Brighton to ensure that the Police are following entirely the wrong scent. In a bold move by the author we even know why the only link missing is who it could be. It goes to show how in experienced hands a small amount of mystery is all that is needed with this book not lacking at all in tension as the team set out to find the killer – or perhaps Lorna committed suicide after all?

There are a number of strands to be pursued by the team and all of them have a good collection of well-drawn characters to keep us fully entertained as they do so!

It is almost refreshing these days to have modern crime fiction told in a straightforward time-line and here we have the chapters headed up by the days of the week starting from the beginning and working to the end – how clever is that? Because there is so much going on there are several chapters for each day, with each looking from a different point of view and in the case of Roy Grace, some are from a different country.

As with the entire series I get as much enjoyment in meeting up with the large and varied cast of characters, particularly with the established team of police, with the author reflecting their most immediate concerns using his extensive contacts with the real crime fighters in Brighton’s Police Force to ensure all the details are bang up to date. A small word of caution, Mr James, please don’t turn Roy Grace into a political figurehead for the Police however much your sources urge you to, less is more as they say!

As always this latest Roy Grace story had me thoroughly entertained. I can also spy some interesting threads which I’m sure we will follow for a few books yet in Roy’s personal life as Bruno settles into life as a big brother to baby Noah and so as always, no sooner did I put the book down, I was eager to have the next instalment from Brighton and Hove.

I am extremely grateful to Macmillan and Midas PR for providing me with a review copy of this book, and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour – the pinnacle of my blogging ambitions! My review of course is unbiased.

First Published UK: 18 May 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages:  432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Crime Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Roy Grace Series in order
Dead Simple
Looking Good Dead
Not Dead Enough
Dead Man’s Footsteps
Dead Tomorrow
Dead Like You
Dead Man’s Grip
Not Dead Yet
Dead Man’s Time
Want You Dead
You Are Dead
Love You Dead
Need You Dead

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

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

The Night Visitor – Lucy Atkins

Psychological Thriller
5*s

A book that captured me from the first page where we meet Olivia Sweetman 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.

After the celebrations the book switches to the run up to the publication of the book, eventually as far back as when Olivia first saw Annabel’s diary in Ileford Manor in Sussex in the hands of Vivian, the housekeeper cum research assistant that Olivia would come to depend on as she juggled her television appearances as a celebratory historian, her marriage to David, busy writing and researching his own book, and her three children Dom, Paul and Jess.

I adored every word of this book, there is always something absolutely irresistible in a book about a book after all, but The Night Visitor has taken this kernel and added the most memorable characters, a plot that is underpinned by meticulous timing so that I became bound up in Olivia’s fight for her reputation long before I understood why she was needing to fight in the first place.

Adding to the history we also hear about beetles, more specifically the dung-beetles that Olivia Sweetman’s father studied, hence that eye-catching cover.

‘Your eye for detail, your doggedness, you’re just remarkable,’ she said, looking into my eyes. Hers really are a striking colour. At that moment they reminded me of a beetle called, Necrophilia formosa, whose iridescent carapace is somewhere between violet and royal blue and which feeds on beautiful flowers that reek powerfully of rotting fish.

So we have Olivia the modern woman juggling life and making her mark studying a woman who was forging ahead in a man’s world in the Victorian times, and we have Vivian, who outshines them both with her strangeness, her adherence to strict routines, her sharp mind which is at odds with her position as a housekeeper but most of all a character who is oh so very believable. When reading the chapters narrated by Vivian, we hear from the two women in turn throughout the book, I was strongly reminded of some of the wonderful creations of Ruth Rendell who created equally dislikeable but fascinating characters.

Olivia has Vivian in her life as a necessary evil, she looks down on the woman who she depends on to give her access to Annabel’s diary, to do the tiring leg-work during the research into this woman’s life and while she is grateful for all her hard-work, her doggedness and attention to detail, once the book is edited, she finds her relentless appeals to write another book difficult to shut down. This struggle between the needy and the needed while trying to maintain the smooth politeness that society demands that makes the entire story so believable.

Whilst the plotting is superb it is definitely the characters that lead this novel and even the bit parts are wonderfully drawn giving you a real sense of the describer and described in broad brush strokes

I do remember how grim I felt as I sat behind Maureen’s desk, unreasonably infuriated by her ‘Smile! It’s gin o’clock!’ sticker on the till and her ‘Keep Calm, It’s Only a Royal Baby’ coaster. I was fighting the urge to rip both objects up and put them in the bin. I have known Maureen since childhood, we were in the same class at primary school and she has always irritated me. She is intrusive, bossy and rather dim.

The Night Visitor will hopefully not haunt me in the way that she haunted Vivian, but these characters, the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come. I can safely predict this will be one of my books of 2017.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Quercus who provided me with a copy of The Night Visitor. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 4 May 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  368
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Non-Fiction
5*s


The Fact of a Body
is one of the most compelling investigations into a true-crime that I have read, perhaps because that isn’t all it is. It is how one crime can have parallels into another, entirely different life. That is how Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich feels and what she sets out to show us with this mix of true-crime and a memoir.

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.

The real question she asks is why has she changed one of her core beliefs and within this book she carries out a painstaking investigation of not only Rick Langley’s life but also that of Jeremy who was the son of a single mother, pregnant with her second son at the time of the murder. Alongside this we learn more about her own life, growing up with not so much secrets as known facts left unsaid and unexamined. In this book they are thoroughly examined. It is quite clear that the crime or more accurately where the truth lies, is something of an obsession for the author. What she bravely examines within the text is why she feels that way

All three strands of the book are equally hard to read in parts but the writing is both accessible and intelligent. The author’s own story is far from being a misery memoir where the author begs us to feel her pain, instead she shows us how her family chose to deal with the blows life dealt them and the consequences, as she sees them, of those decisions. When she examines Jeremy’s life it is with tenderness for both him and his mother. Given that we know her visceral reaction to hearing Rick Langley’s voice the author writes with care about the man himself. Not to lessen his crime in any way but by delving deeper into his story and the various explanations given to the fateful evening when Jeremy was killed, tries to find the beginning of this man’s story.

Adding to the intelligent feel are some of the points of law as she was taught complete with examples that are relevant to the criminal case which was incredibly useful for those of us less familiar with the US law. Ricky Langley had gone through three separate trials by the time Alexandria was investigating, she had three different trial transcripts and three different videotaped confessions along with DNA evidence, and masses of reports written by different experts. The author herself has to decide which of these truths is the real truth at the same time she dredges her memories from early childhood and tells her truth, which may or may not differ from those of her siblings.

I actually started reading this book after using it as one of my Tuesday Opening Paragraph posts and couldn’t put it aside which I think is testament to just how compelling, if difficult, a read this is.

I’d like to thank the publishers Pan Macmillan for allowing me to read a copy of this book ahead of publication on 18 May 2017. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 18 May 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages:  336
Genre: Non-Fiction True Crime 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2017

Boy A – Jonathan Trigell

Crime Fiction
5*s

A hard-hitting yet compelling novel examining what it means to be imprisoned as a child and released under a false identity. Boy A is one of two boys tried and convicted of the murder of another child. Although there are echoes of a trial here in the UK this isn’t in anyway an examination of that crime with much of the book concentrating on what happens next.

Boy A chooses a new name, Jack Burridge, to preserve his anonymity which is part of the terms of his release and then with the help of his ‘uncle’ Terry who had been a member of staff at the home he was first sent to follow his conviction. One of the minimal number of people who know Jack’s true identity. Jack has a job but first he must learn what it is like to live in a world he last left as a child.

The book skips backwards and forwards through the time periods from before Boy A met Boy B to after he left the adult prison with his new name. Each chapter starts with a letter of the alphabet starting with A is for Apple. A Bad Apple. All the way through to Z, which is for Zero in case you are wondering. Just finding the titles that match the content of each chapter must have been a challenge and the sparse language used with its short sentences is perfect for the subject matter. This book feels like a work of art as well as a captivating tale.

Fortunately, given the tough subject matter, the torn sympathies as Boy A’s life is revealed through not just his own eyes, but later on, his father’s too, there are some humorous parts to the book too, most predictably when Jack meets a girl and the attraction is mutual, but most often it is bittersweet humour with a shared moment with a cellmate before his monotonous life rolls onwards.

As we see the horrors Jack endured in prison it is almost odd that my sympathies were highest when he starts his new job and makes friends, and of course a girlfriend Michelle. It is here that it becomes apparent how hard it is to hide your entire life up to a point in your twenties. As Jack becomes close to those around him, his enormous secret puts a boundary up between them as he unwillingly hands out lies to cover the truth.

But nor is this book just about Boy A, Terry and his life at the point where they overlap tells a different story, a fairly normal one of a broken marriage leading to a strained relationship with his own son as he also guards the truth and builds the lies of the life he hopes to see prove that rehabilitation is possible.

The way the stories of Boy A, his parents, Boy B, Terry the psychologist along with Jack’s new friends and his girlfriend all intertwine, create a thought-provoking and compelling read. The book is just the right length the author resisting the urge to brow beat the reader and the ending perfectly pitched. A book to ponder over and in the end marvel at how in the right hands, such an emotive topic can be explored.

Boy A was my thirteenth read in my Mount TBR Challenge 2017, so I’m still on target to hit 36 books purchased before 1 January 2017. I purchased this book in April 2015.

mount-tbr-2017
 

 

First Published UK: 2004
Publisher: Serpent’s Tale
No of Pages:  256
Genre: Crime Fiction 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 10)

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

At the moment I am reading The Monster In The Box by Ruth Rendell which is one of the books for my Mount TBR 2017 Challenge. I love Ruth Rendell but this book published in 2009 didn’t get good early reviews and it has languished on my shelf for ages so I thought it time to find out for myself.

Blurb

Wexford had almost made up his mind that he would never again set eyes on Eric Targo’s short, muscular figure. And yet there he was, back in Kingsmarkham, still with that cocky, strutting walk.

Years earlier, when Wexford was a young police officer, a woman called Elsie Carroll had been found strangled in her bedroom. Although many still had their suspicions that her husband was guilty of her violent murder, no one was convicted.

Another woman was strangled shortly afterwards, and every personal and professional instinct told Wexford that the killer was still at large. And that it was Eric Targo. A psychopathic murderer who would kill again…

As the Chief Inspector investigates a new case, Ruth Rendell looks back to the beginning of Wexford’s career as a detective, even to his courtship of the woman who would become his wife. The villainous Targo is not the only ghost from Wexford’s past who has re-emerged to haunt him in the here and now… Amazon

I have just finished The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins which was published on 4 May 2017 and in a quirk of fate one of the protagonists reminded me a little of the characters Ruth Rendell invented.

Blurb

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.
The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? Amazon

Next I am planning on reading The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann which was published on 23 March 2017.

Blurb

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

And nothing will ever be the same again. Amazon

So what are you reading this week? Have you read any of these choices? Do you want to?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 9)

First Chapter

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

My opener this week comes from All The Good Things by Clare Fisher which will be published in the UK on 1 June 2017.

Blurb

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good? Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1. Smelling a baby’s head right into your heart

Of all the good things that have ever been in me, the first and best is you. Every single part of you, from your stroke-able earlobes to the hope curled up in your toes. Remember that. Remember it when the dickheads say you’re bad a so-what thing. Remember it when you’re convinced the good things are jammed behind other people’s smiles. Remember it is the hardest when you feel like no thing at all.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

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 Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 7)

Weekly Wrap Up

So it’s the first week of May and a whole year since I chose the new theme for my blog and although I’ve been experimenting with new ones, I’ve decided to leave it be simply ringing the changes by updating my header with a new selection of books.

I’ve also opened a new Facebook page featuring my blog posts (now I’ve learnt how to make my blog post the picture I want it to)  and other bookish items from around the web – feel free to visit me here

This Week on the Blog

I started the week with my review of a lighter variety of book than normal, The Other Us by Fiona Harper which has a ‘sliding doors’ theme with forty-something Maggie getting the chance to see what her life might have been like had she taken Jude up on his offer to run away with him, instead she married Dan.

My excerpt post this week came from The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann about a crime scenes specialist.

This Week in Books featured books from Jonathan Trigell, Peter James and Felicity Everett.

My review on Thursday was for the fabulous debut novel You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood. Narrated entirely by a defendant giving his own closing speech not only was the structure different so was the content.

I followed up with a review for a historical crime fiction novel The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young which took me back to the Edwardian period and the early forensics of that era.

My week was rounded off with a review for The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett which was all about toxic friendship within a sharply observed and entertaining contemporary fiction novel.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Little Bones by Sam Blake an investigation started by Detective Garda Cathy Connolly soon becomes something much more sinister when some tiny bones are found sewn into the hem of a wedding dress. One of the things that I liked most about this book was the three women featured all display strengths although they are all very different. This novel was complex with many different mysteries needing solving before the plot can be resolved.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the resolution of the last couple of weeks has worn off, in part because my holiday is next month and I have already started sorting out my reading selection and of course new books are required! Other people may do this with clothes but I need at least a month to whittle my books down to make sure I get the perfect mix to take away.

After reading so many stunning reviews of The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins I was lucky enough to download a copy from NetGalley before it got archived.



Blurb

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner, which will be published in June, the next in the series from Missing Presumed which I read last year.



Blurb

Manon Bradshaw is back.
As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.

DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.

She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.
How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

And I have bought a copy of The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis after reading Natalie’s review of this book on her blog the owl on the bookshelf, which made me think it would make for perfect holiday reading especially as it is currently at a bargain price!!

Blurb

Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name . . .

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters.

She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . . Amazon

And then I saw two reviews by bloggers I trust for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, one by Portobello Book Blog, the other by The Quiet Knitter which convinced me that I needed a copy for myself, and of course this has gone onto the holiday reading list!

Blurb

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share, I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 4 which means we now have a slight increase to 186
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 61
NetGalley Books – 13

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The People at Number 9 – Felicity Everett

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

The People at Number 9 is a razor-sharp, entertaining story looking at adult friendships, in this case with the neighbours. Sara is overjoyed when she spots a couple with children of a similar age to her own moving into the house next door. At first on a practical level, the house has been a bit neglected and could do with sprucing up but later, when she is chatting with Carol from down the road, she gets a closer look at her arty new neighbour, Lou, and sees something in her that she feels is missing from her life.

This is not, as the title and cover might suggest a domestic thriller, rather it takes a close look at how other people change the way we see ourselves, and in turn perhaps how others see us. Sara is impressed and overawed when she finds out Lou is a film producer and her husband, the handsome Gav, is an artist and instead of joining her old friend and neighbour Carol in sneering at the new neighbour’s bohemian lifestyle, she embraces the lack of convention, or would, if she could just lose some of those middle-class values.

The early chapters narrated by Sara show us how Lou weaves her spell on Sara in particular as she invites confidence, listens with interest and reveals nuggets about the life they have left behind in rural Spain. It is only on reflection that Sara realises that she knows very little about the pair and really she’s too dazzled to really look.

For a long while Sara has longed to do more with her talents than work as a copy writer at an advertising agency and as she becomes more friendly with Lou, her neighbour’s praise encourages her to write a book instead. Meanwhile her steady husband Neil who has worked hard to climb the heady heights of the local housing association is pulled along in Sara’s wake and soon all the couple’s social life is spent with the neighbours, previous friends simply not feeling bright and sparkly enough against this pair.

With Gav and Lou’s children attending the same school the children are also forced together for longer than they would naturally choose to be, especially as Lou is often busy doing very important arty things with very important people, whose names she litters her conversations with so that the less well-connected Sara is unsure whether she should have heard of them. The upshot is that Sara is only too pleased to be able to be the safe pair of hands who entertain the children for Lou, especially as she becomes more and more intrigued by Gav. And so the seeds are set, ready to transform the lives of Sara and Neil into something that couldn’t have been predicted before they made friends with the neighbours!

Having read some early reviews I was prepared for a different kind of read and Felicity Everett really did deliver on a tale of a modern middle-class life and I had the feeling all the way through that there were going to be tears before bedtime, but whose and how dramatic I could only sit back and wait to find out.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of The People at Number 9 from the publishers HQ and this unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author for a thoroughly entertaining read.

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US