Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Life in Houses – Margaret Forster

Non-Fiction – Memoir
4*s

In hindsight so many of Margaret Forster’s books contain autobiographical detail but it was Hidden Lives which first really opened my eyes to the link between this talented story teller and her own background, although cleverly only ever apparent by reading between the lines. In My Life in Houses we learn more details about Margaret’s first house, the one on the Raffles estate which she was so ashamed of, preferring those on the better side of town. And though the book’s pages, we learn that from the tender age of seven this author began her own game of choosing another house to live in.

Of course, as an adult with a number of ‘important’ houses in her life, she realises that what she started with could have been so much worse, and so she explains how it defined her. How a house with only room for Margaret and her younger sister to sleep together in an alcove in their parent’s bedroom left her yearning for her own space. Even when the girls got older they had to share a bed even if they did have their own room because their older brother was off doing his national service at the time.

Having read Hidden Lives I was already aware that Margaret’s mother had aspirations and so eventually, through her hard work, although the money to fund the move and the increased rent was down to her husband working overtime, the family moved to the better side of town.

From here we follow Margaret to her student digs, her first house as a young married woman on the edge of Hampstead Heath, and beyond, including holiday homes both abroad and nearer her native Carlisle.

This is a fairly slim novel and the houses described are littered with personal details about the way she felt about neighbours, builders, her writing and sadly her illness. Sadly the cancer had already spread by the time she wrote this, her last piece of non-fiction, and more than likely is the explanation for the brevity and the matter of fact way she touches on her options is probably even harder to read in retrospect. Margaret Forster died on 8 February 2016 aged 77 having left a wealth of books behind to entertain and enlighten new generations of readers.

The most fascinating part of this book of however has nothing to do with the author and everything to do with how life changed so considerably between 1938 when she was born and 2014 when the book was published. Her early memories include the black-leading of the fireplace and not without a certain amount of wryness does she delight in this once hated job being integral in her second home in Carlisle. Of course Margaret Forster was more affluent than most but as she references sitting-tenants and shared bathrooms in the past she is describing the lives that certainly were the options open for my ancestors if they wanted to leave home. Life is very different with so many household gadgets nowadays but here is a woman describing the novelty of a home telephone.

For a different type of memoir this method is incredibly effective although I’m not sure I would have loved it quite so much had I not already had an insight not only into the author’s life but those important beliefs around feminism and socialism which seem to have featured long before they might have been expected to surface.

This copy of My Life in Houses was from the local library in my bid to support this wonderful community lifeline which has previously been such a huge part of my life. I would not be the reader I am now if it hadn’t been for libraries to keep me stocked up with books.

First Published UK: 6 November 2014
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
No of Pages: 272
Genre: Non-Fiction – Memoir
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (February 11)

This Week on the Blog

8 February 2018 was one of those popular publication days and I had three books read and reviewed in time: the first, The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner featured last week so this week started with my review for The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, the tenth in the Dr Ruth Galloway series.

On Tuesday my excerpt post was even more popular than usual featuring Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan which will be published on 1 March 2018. I guess my readers are as nostalgic as I am over their childhood reads.

This Week in Books featured the authors: Camilla Läckberg, Adele Parks and Claire Dyer.

My last review for the big publication day on 8 February was the extraordinary and fiendish puzzle that was The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. Thank you to everyone who left such kind comments about my description of this book, they all made my day.

On Friday I posted my review for one of my own books, Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase which I adored especially as the dual time line device had an equally riveting story running in the past and the present.

My week was rounded off by The Bookish Naughty List tag which was great fun to participate in.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie. I was introduced to this book by blogger Joanne from Portobello Book Blog who lives in Portobello where the book is set.

Shona McIver was raped and murdered over thirty years ago, she was just thirteen years old Her brother Tom and her family moved to South Africa following the shocking crime in in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Her best friend Sarah remained in Portobello but what happened left a long shadow over both of their lives. I adore books that link the past and the present and the scenes in 1970s Portobello were superbly drawn.

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

 

Blurb

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

As always, the wonderful reviews posted by bloggers had me requesting a book that would have otherwise passed me by; Only Child by Rhiannon Navin was also published on 8 February 2018,  As you can see I’m weak-willed and the early reviews turned my head and am I alone in thinking the cover doesn’t seem to match the synopsis?

Blurb

“We went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home . . .” Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives. In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated.

Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing. Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can. NetGalley

I’ve also been lucky enough to receive a copy of Conan Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox which will be published on 28 June 2018.

Blurb

Just before Christmas 1908, Marion Gilchrist, a wealthy 82-year-old spinster, was found bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow home. A valuable diamond brooch was missing, and police soon fastened on a suspect – Oscar Slater, a Jewish immigrant who was rumoured to have a disreputable character. Slater had an alibi, but was nonetheless convicted and sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment in the notorious Peterhead Prison.

Seventeen years later, a convict called William Gordon was released from Peterhead. Concealed in a false tooth was a message, addressed to the only man Slater thought could help him – Arthur Conan Doyle. Always a champion of the downtrodden, Conan Doyle turned his formidable talents to freeing Slater, deploying a forensic mind worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

Drawing from original sources including Oscar Slater’s prison letters, this is Margalit Fox’s vivid and compelling account of one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Scottish history. NetGalley

So what do you think? Either of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have only had time to read 2 books and since I have gained 2 my TBR remains steady at 186

Physical Books – 106
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –26

 

I have banked another third of book token this week and as I haven’t bought any books I’m still in credit!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Bookish Naughty List Tag

 

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

QUESTIONS:

1. Received an ARC and not reviewed it?

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

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

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

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

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

4. Folded down the page of a book?

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

5. Skim read a book?

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

6. DNF a book this year?

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

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

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

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

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

9. Accidentally spilled on a book

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

10. Completely missed your Goodreads goal?

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

11. Borrowed a book and not returned it?

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

12. Broke a book buying ban?

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

 

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

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

14. Wrote in a book you were reading?

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

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

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

 

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

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

Black Rabbit Hall – Eve Chase

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Eve Chase has penned a brilliant story which flips between events at the somewhat dilapidated house Black Rabbit Hall in Cornwall between 1968 and the present day; one where long buried secrets are eventually uncovered.

In 1968 the house is the holiday retreat for the Alton family. Amber and Toby are fifteen year old twins with two younger siblings Barney and Kitty are four and five, full of the wonder of young children. Their parents Hugo and Nancy are a solid couple, still in love but Easter 1968 changes everything for the entire family.

Many decades later Lorna is looking for a wedding venue. Happy holidays in Cornwall draw her far away from the home she shares with Jon in Bethnal Green to find the perfect location. The place where she used to explore country houses with her recently deceased mother. The draw of Black Rabbit Hall in all its shabbiness confuses and worries Jon.

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of dual timeline stories and unlike many both storylines in this novel are equally appealing. In the past we hear about events mainly from Amber’s viewpoint at the tail-end of what has been an uncomplicated life living in a family where love abounds. In the present, although Lorna has finally found a man to depend on, it is clear that her life hasn’t been quite so uncomplicated, her relationship with her mother certainly on far less solid ground.

The author brings the house to life vividly and completely. Items left in draws, or of importance to the Alton children turn up later on in the story giving the reader sharp points of recognition that resonate.

There are so many children’s things, seemingly left where they were thrown. In the corner of the room, partially covered by a blanket, is a dappled grey rocking horse the size of a small pony. Beneath its front hoofs, a dolly’s cradle. Closer to the door, a mildewed pile of books: The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Milly Molly Mandy, Rupert Annual 1969… A shiver tingles up her spine – she’d read and loved many of these books as a child: an instant bond with the departed children, one that transcends both time and class.

The style of writing is that the book moves backwards to the Alton’s story and forward to Lorna’s often leaving the reader on the brink of a key revelation, a trap to keep her reader’s turning those pages the frustration only momentary as you are instantly plunged into another heart-rending moment at another point in time. Eve Chase is almost like a magician, she points you in one direction having firmly shut off the obvious avenue of where the story will lead, only for this misdirection to be revealed for the trickery that it is much further down the line.

Be warned Black Rabbit Hall will wring every drop of emotion from you. I was left full-on sobbing at the end which was pitch-perfect for all that had gone before. A beautiful tale, wonderfully descriptive with all the elements of a traditional fairy tale wrapped up in a believable family saga. This was the author’s debut novel a book I bought having chosen her second book, The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde as one of my Top Ten Books published in 2017. Which one is better? They are both are simply wonderful – firm favourites with this reader and hopefully Eve Chase will conjure up another wonderful story for me to read sooner rather than later.

Black Rabbit Hall was my fifth book of the year for my Mount TBR Challenge 2018, having been bought in August 2017 it is worth another third of a book token.

 

First Published UK: 2 July 2015
Publisher: Michael Joseph
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Crime Fiction
4*s

I finished this book having realised fairly early on that I had approached what I was about to read from totally the wrong angle. This is one fiendish puzzle with complexities that are beyond devilish.

The premise of the book is seemingly one of a Golden Age mystery where our chief protagonist has to solve the puzzle of who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. He has eight days to do so. So far so simple the clock is ticking and the clues are presented and you put them together and try to get there before he does. Oh, you are sadly mistaken if you think that is all there is to it!

The problem is far more complex in that our man inhabits different characters for each of these eight days and the same day keeps repeating. So he starts of as a doctor and he sees some stuff going on from that character’s perspective but when he wakes up again he is someone totally different and finds some new clues but also sees different aspects to the stuff he learnt the day before. All the while he is trying to keep hold of his true self whilst inhabiting what are mostly a disagreeable bunch of people.

Thrown into the mix is a nineteen year old mystery, linked to the return of Evelyn Hardcastle from her stay in Paris. There are also plenty of other dastardly goings on from blackmail to murder all to be kept on top of. Allies are formed but whether they are wise ones or not remain to be seen.

So it’s complex and ideally, to have any hope of keeping track of what’s going on, I would have needed an entire wall of notes to keep track of various characters and their actions because sometimes the chief protagonist jumps back in time. This means that character is for example unhappily at midday on day four or rather in his fourth host, anticipating where they need to go next to find a missing piece of the puzzle and then it’s back to the second host to pick up where he last left off. To be fair the author gives the reader pointers and reminders but it is a book to throw yourself into and hope that you can keep manage to hold enough information in your head to keep pace.

Now I’ve reached the end I’d ideally go back and savour just how clever the whole book is, but if I’m honest my brain hurts from the effort. Which has left me with a problem on how to rate the book. I really admired both the premise and the execution (of the book not Evelyn Hardcastle) and I did nearly work out one strand of the mystery proving that I wasn’t completely confused by it all, but I’m not used to a book being such hard work. Ideally this would have been better as a holiday read, it’s not a book to escape a hard day’s work with, it is a fiendish puzzle that won’t let you go! If all that isn’t enough this tale told in the first person present tense, which is entirely fitting, also poses philosophical questions which soon become apparent. Now I have the answer to the mystery I can ponder those at my leisure.

I take my hat off to Stuart Turton for the most original read I have read for a long time.

I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing plc for the chance to read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle prior to publication on 8 February 2018. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: Raven
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 7)

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 Girl in the Woods by y Camilla Läckberg which will be published on 22 February 2018. This book is the tenth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series.

Blurb

A missing child
When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjällbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered.
A murder
Back then, two teenage girls were found guilty of the killing. Could it really be a coincidence that one of the girls – now a world-famous actress – has just returned to Fjällbacka? Detective Patrik Hedström starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.
A community torn apart
But as Patrik and Erica dig deeper, the truth becomes ever murkier, because it seems that everyone in the tight-knit community is hiding something. And soon, the residents must confront the fact that they could be harbouring a murderer in their midst… Amazon

The last book I finished was The Last Day by Claire Dyer which will be published on 15 February 2018. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from this tale and my review will follow soon, but in the meantime I can say I was instantly drawn into this tale full of emotion but told in an enigmatic fashion.

Blurb

They say three’s a crowd but when Boyd moves back into the family home with his now amicably estranged wife, Vita, accompanied by his impossibly beautiful twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey, it seems the perfect solution: Boyd can get his finances back on track while he deals with his difficult, ailing mother; Honey can keep herself safe from her secret, troubled past; and Vita can carry on painting portraits of the pets she dislikes and telling herself she no longer minds her marriage is over.

But the house in Albert Terrace is small and full of memories, and living together is unsettling. For Vita, Boyd and Honey love proves to be a surprising, dangerous thing and, one year on, their lives are changed forever. Amazon

Next I plan to read The Image of You by Adele Parks which is being published in paperback on 22 February 2018 but already available in eBook format and hardback if you can’t wait.



Blurb

Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.
Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.
Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.
Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.
Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems.

Lies may hurt. But honesty can kill. Amazon

What does your reading week look like? Have you read any of my choices? Are you planning to?

Please leave your comments in the box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (February 6)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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.

Every now and again as any good bookworm knows you spy a book that you know you simply HAVE to read. My excerpt this week comes from one such book – Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan which will be published on 1 March 2018.

Blurb

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with with, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

As this is a non-fiction book it seems fitting to take the first paragraph from the introduction

I still have all my childhood books. In fact, I have spent some of my happiest hours in recent months arranging them on the bespoke bookcases I had built under the sloping ceiling of my study for their ease and comfort. I may no longer imagine them, as I did thirty years ago, whispering companionably together at night when I have gone to bed, but I love them still. They made me who I am.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Once I got over my jealousy that Lucy Mangan not only has her childhood books, but that they get to sit on bespoke shelves, I concentrated on that very last sentence of the first full paragraph – that is how I feel about my childhood books too.

So what do you think? Do the titles mentioned in the synopsis bring back vivid memories to you too? Would you like to read on?

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

The Dark Angel – Elly Griffiths

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well I just love this series with the balance between the look at old bones, and often new ones too, with the ongoing drama in Ruth Galloway’s own life along with that of DCI Harry Nelson and the rest of his team.

In The Dark Angel rather than Ruth’s boss Phil taking to the television we have an Italian archaeologist who is about to reveal some Roman bones to the audience when something interrupts filming. Desperate to provide some authenticity to his dig and tempt the TV crew back, Dr Angelo Morelli invites Ruth to Italy to lend a helping hand. Ruth is in a bit of a rut, her mother died recently and there has been some other unwelcome news in her personal life and anyway Kate could do with a holiday so she decides that Italy is the perfect answer. Inviting her friend Shona and her son Louis the party board the plane for Italy and Angelo’s apartment in a hilltop village.

Meanwhile in Norfolk Nelson is warned that a man jailed for a heinous crime ten years previously has been released. Mickey Webb made some wild threats at the time he was jailed aimed at Nelson but it seems that he has come out of prison a reformed character and one who has found religion, and a good woman to boot.

Italy has plenty of history and of course although Ruth is there to look at some Roman bones the party have hardly made themselves at home before they are informed that they are staying in the home of a former hero of the Second World War when Italy was occupied. And this is exactly why I love this series, no matter the crime, and there are I’m pleased to report, there is one, there is so much detail to enjoy on the periphery to the storyline all told in such a ‘chatty’ manner it is listening to a friend. That combined with catching up with the latest escapades which entertain me enormously while bones are tested, theories are expounded and suspects questioned.

With events happening in two different countries, both personal and criminal, the action moves quite swiftly despite the somewhat more relaxed holiday feeling to brighten the darker moments in Italy.

Elly Griffiths has compiled a great character in Ruth. She is intelligent without being condescending, worried about her appearance but also not overly envious of those with looks. She has turned into a pragmatic single mother to Kate and yet she is no angel – the asides when Louis breaks glass after glass in the apartment provides a wry smile from anyone who has ever had to spend an extended amount of time with a child that doesn’t behave like your own. She has moments of fierce introspection and yet she is obviously a capable and inspirational forensic archaeologist – someone I’m sure would fascinate me if she was a real live breathing person.

This is a series where you should start at the beginning as the story arc becomes more and more integral to the enjoyment of the books as the series goes on and to be honest the ‘non-crime’ sections are a bigger proportion in this episode than the previous books but if you are already a fan, you are in for a real treat.

Dr Ruth Galloway Books in order

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue
The Chalk Pit

 

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (February 4)

This Week on the Blog

The week started with my review of a book set in the early Victorian times with plenty of wickedness to entertain its readers: The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin.

My excerpt post came from The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Läckberg, the tenth in the Patrik Hedström and Erica Falck series.

This Week in Books featured the authors Martin Edwards, Stuart Turton and Ellen Horan or in other words some non-fiction, an original crime novel quite unlike anything else I’ve read and a historical mystery set in New York.

On Thursday I resurrected my Five of the Best monthly post which features my favourite five star reads reviewed in January for the years 2014 to 2018. I do enjoy reminding myself of the wonderful books I’ve read over the years and it seems as though many of you enjoy this too.

Next up was my review of A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward a crime fiction novel set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire. I awarded this book the full five stars.

Finally I posted my review of The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner, a contemporary novel which follows the lives of friendship between four women over twenty years.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly a book that has the eclipse of 1999 as a backdrop to a rape trial. The actions of the four main characters involved at the time have consequences years down the line when the eclipse hunters are in the Faroe Islands. I love Erin Kelly’s writing and He Said/She Said is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think but I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her readers.

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

Blurb


Don’t be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well I made it all the way through January without purchasing a single book but I have been exceptionally lucky in being approved by NetGalley for three books I’ve had my eye on for some time.

Having impressed me with her first two books I Let You Go and I See You, I was delighted to see that Let Me Lie by Claire Mackintosh will be published on 8 March 2018.

Blurb

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .NetGalley

The author Kelly Rimmer contacted me to tell me her latest book, Before I Let You Go was on NetGalley and did I want it? Of course I want to read it, A Mother’s Confession was one of my surprise finds of 2016 and I’ve lost count of the friends I’ve bullied into reading it since then! Before I Let You Go will be published on 27 February 2018.

Blurb

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As the weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhoods, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break. NetGalley

I ‘found’ Sharon Bolton soon after I got my first kindle back in 2010 and she’s not let me down since and last year’s Dead Woman Walking was exceptional. So I was super excited to hear that The Craftsman will be published on 5 April 2018.

Blurb

Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play? NetGalley

So what do you think? Any of those beauties take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 5 books which is way above average for a normal working week, and I have gained 3 but because 2 of my reads were library books my TBR remains static at 186

Physical Books – 107
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books –24

 

I have banked another third of book token this week and as I haven’t bought any books I’m still in credit!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Story of Our Lives – Helen Warner

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

How would we survive without friends for support? The Story of Our Lives follows four women; Sophie, Melissa, Emily and Amy over twenty years in short bursts an unusual structure that gives an insight into the momentous occasions that we all encounter during our lives.

The first time we meet the friends is on their weekend break in Southwold in August 1997 following the death of Princess Diana. Sophie is in a long-term relationship with someone she met at university, wondering perhaps if she settled down too soon. Melissa is searching for something, Emily is still slightly defensive about being a single mother to Jack and Amy revels in cooking up sumptuous dishes for them all. In other words although the four met at university their lives, even at this point are very different as are their hopes and dreams for the future, We know that there is a big secret to be revealed but what will it be? Will the friendship survive?

By the time we catch up with the four in Whitstable in 1998, the year Bill Clinton admitted to having relations with Monica Lewinsky, secrets being shared that will remain within the tight circle that will have repercussions down the line.

And so it goes on we meet the women, not every year, as they meet up in different destinations, always prefaced with a news story from the time, and we watch them change and grow as the obstacles of life are flung down in their paths. In the wrong hands this format could leave the reader feeling that there are gaps in the tale, but I’m pleased that Helen Warner has it nailed. Where necessary characters take a reflective look back over the past and the dialogue provides us with the women’s thoughts and views on any particular issue.

Inevitably, as in real-life, the friendship will be tested at times providing the reader with moments of tension as the women struggle to come to terms with the consequences. Although the book is a definite celebration of friendship there is some depth and some thorny issues tackled within the storyline avoiding the mushy and false view that life can be solved by the shoulder of a good friend. At different points the women have to take responsibilities and face the consequence of their decisions, and we all know that isn’t easy no matter who has your back!

I really enjoyed the preface to each section with the news story, although it made me feel old as I kept saying ‘surely that wasn’t that long ago!’ and the author marks the progress of technology in a subtle way so that as we move time periods the timeline is firmly fixed.

An emotional read that will see each of the women face difficulties as well as moments of joy and their friends reaction to each of these significant moments.

A delightful and uplifting read which is likely to have its readers reflecting on their own friendships.

I was grateful to receive a copy of The Story of Our Lives from Lovereading UK and this unbiased view is my thanks to them and the publisher HQ for allowing me to read about Sophie, Melissa, Emily and Amy’s stories ahead of publication on 8 February 2018.

First Published UK: 8 February 2018
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US