Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo for 2015

reading-bingo-small

I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.

 

A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title

Disclaimer

There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

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

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

A Fifty Year Silence – Miranda Richmond Mouillot

Memoir 5*'s
Memoir
5*’s

As a child Miranda suffered with fears that would be inexplicable in most young children but Miranda had grown up with shadowy stories of having to flee in the night and being ready just in case… this is because both her Grandparents, Anna and Armand were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War. Quite astonishingly Miranda was quite old before she even realised that they had once been married to each other as they didn’t talk to each other at all.

Until she was 14 Miranda was far closer to her Grandmother but then she went to a boarding school near to Armand and got to know the prickly man who was pernickety, fussy and an unlikely companion for a lonely teenager but every now and again a snippet from the past would present itself, often in the form of a book or a painting. One day she finds that there is a house and somehow it still appears to belong to both of them despite a forty plus year silence between them. Miranda’s mother is called upon to persuade Anna to sign a document to allow the building to be sold, but that isn’t going to be an easy task!

As an adult Miranda convinces herself that the separation precipitated by Anna when she left with her two children and her typewriter followed a passionate love affair and was determined to get to the root of the split to prove her theory. Anna was on the surface the more helpful of the two giving over a file of her life, there was just one problem Anna didn’t talk in a linear fashion and she certainly didn’t write in one. The narrative of this memoir was built over years following some careful questioning to nail down the timing of events as the couple met and then got separated by circumstances too awful to contemplate, even the date of their eventual marriage is unknown in the beginning. Miranda has to tread carefully as both Anna and even more so Armand are quick to take offence and she clearly adores both of them so the piecing together of the complex tale takes patience and time.

This is not only a story of this couple with their memories overlaid with the horrors of the time they lived in, the friends that disappeared and even after the war, the coming to terms with all that had gone before particularly as Armand was one of the translators at the Nuremburg Trials. It is also a picture of two elderly people, the present day consists of Miranda trying to look after them both, especially Armand whose prickly nature softens in old age.
It is only to be expected with such a complex task that the author never really gets to the bottom of what happened to cause the rift, but by the end of the book the theory she presents matches the evidence she found on her journey through their lives. Taken at this level the story is a mystery, there is some pleasure to be gained by deciding whether or not you feel that the right conclusion has been drawn. However, be warned this is a book that will arouse your emotions as much because of the unaffected way the tales are told, there is no manipulating of the reader, the events depicted are on the one hand only too easy to imagine, on the other, impossible for those of us for whom it is something we’ve heard about but never, thank goodness, had to experience.

The author’s writing is lyrical, the story flows that despite the many elements which include her own life’s adventures, they never seem irrelevant or padding to the ‘main’ story. Anna and Armand are ever present with the reader able to compare the carefree way Miranda explores the abandoned house in France with the horrors that the couple faced in the years before its purchase.

I thoroughly recommend this memoir to immerse yourself in the reality of those dark days and to get a sense of how history can be passed through the generations. The holocaust wasn’t just an event, the effects last until this day as we recently witnessed on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

I’d like to say thank you to the publishers Text Publishing who allowed me to read a copy of this wonderful memoir in return for my honest opinion.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (January 26)

Musing Mondays

Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

This weeks random question Give a list of 4 books you read last year that you’d recommend to others — and why.

I recommend:
1. Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  Not only is this a great mystery it is told with a wry sense of humour
2. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith for a look at a sociopath that I had a certain amount sympathy for.
3. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters for a sumptuous and engaging story set in 1920’s Britain.
4. Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly which is a psychological thriller in a domestic setting which chilled me to the bone.

I’m currently reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which was chosen following a fantastic review on An Interior Journey , if you’ve not visited yet, Laurelrainsnow always has a really good selction of books worth checking out.

The Nightingale
Blurb

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are. 

FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime. NetGalley

By coincidence I have just finished another book that centres around WWII in France, in the story of Arnaud and Anna who met during wartime and separated after the end never to speak again. A Fifty Year Silence is written by the couple’s grand-daughter Miranda Richmond Mouillot who tries to fathom what provoked the long-enduring silence.
My review will be posted later this week

A Fifty Year Silence

Next up is The Exit by Helen FitzGerald which is back to my favourite kind of read, a psychological thriller in a domestic setting.

The Exit

Blurb

Some people love goodbyes…
23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down – and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets.
One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway?
As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on before it’s too late? Amazon

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 19)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

This week I’m going to start with my favourite find courtesy of the lovely Quercus publishers. Earlier this week a copy of Runaway by Peter May plopped through my letterbox, you may have heard the squeals of delight!

Runaway

Blurb

The decision for five teenage boys to leave their homes in Glasgow in 1965 and head to London is led by Jack Mackay when he is expelled from school. His friends need little incentive to run away from their abusive families and dead end jobs to pursue fame and fortune as a band. However, the boys find their dreams to be devastatingly different from reality, and within less than twelve months of their departure, only three of them return home, their lives irrevocably damaged.
Fifty years later in 2015 a brutal murder takes place in London and the three men, who are now in their sixties, are forced to return to the city to confront the demons which have haunted them and blighted their lives for five decades.
Runaway is a gripping crime novel spanning two cities and half a century. This extraordinary work by Peter May, explores how aspirations and expectations shape us and the pivotal yet changeable role that friendships have in our lives. Quercus

Runaway is inspired by events in Peter May’s own life. The leading character Jack Mackay is based on Peter’s own experiences of being expelled from school at the age of 16 in the mid sixties. After enduring 3 months in a dead end job, Peter told his 3 band mates that he was leaving home for London and they immediately decided to join him. Much like the characters in the book, Peter and his friends found surviving London unrelentingly difficult and after some time, broke, hungry and filthy, Peter and his friend Stephen returned home without the record deal that they had dreamt of but having learned a lot of life lessons. Due to be published 15 January 2015.

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Crooked House by Christobel Kent which is due to be published on 8 January 2015.

The Crooked House

Blurb

Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She’s a nobody; she has no-one and that’s how she wants it.
But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.
Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realise that if she’s to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since. NetGalley

A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot is a non-fiction memoir spanning decades.

A Fifty Year Silence

Blurb

In 1948, after surviving World War II by escaping Nazi-occupied France for refugee camps in Switzerland, the author’s grandparents, Anna and Armand, bought an old stone house in a remote, picturesque village in the South of France. Five years later, Anna packed her bags and walked out on Armand, taking the typewriter and their children. The two never saw or spoke to each other again, never remarried, and never revealed what had divided them forever.
A Fifty-Year Silence is the deeply involving account of Miranda Richmond Mouillot’s journey to find out what happened between her grandmother, a physician, and her grandfather, an interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials, who refused to utter his wife’s name aloud after she left him. To discover the roots of their embittered and entrenched silence, Miranda abandons her plans for the future and moves to their stone house, now a crumbling ruin; immerses herself in letters, archival materials, and secondary sources; and teases stories out of her reticent, and declining, grandparents.
The author reconstructs how Anna and Armand braved overwhelming odds and how the knowledge her grandfather acquired at Nuremberg destroyed their relationship. As she does so, Miranda wrestles with the legacy of trauma, the burden of history, and the complexities of memory. She also finds herself learning how not only to survive, but to thrive – making a home in the village and falling in love. NetGalley

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story set during the World War II

The Nightingale

Blurb

FRANCE, 1939
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others. NetGalley

Lastly from Bookbridgr I have a copy of Gone by Rebecca Muddiman, a book I picked after having enjoyed her debut novel Stolen.

Gone

Blurb

250,000 people go missing in the UK every year. 91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours. 99% of cases are solved within a year. And 1% stay gone. Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body with Emma’s ID on it has been found in woods near Blyth. DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, and is determined to make up for it now. But when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that nothing is as simple as it seems. As news of the discovery travels, the past will come back to haunt all those involved. Because there are consequences when good people do bad things, and some secrets cannot stay buried for ever… Bookbridgr

What did you find to read this week?