Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2019

20 Books of Summer 2019 #20BooksofSummer


Well once again I am joining Cathy746 with her annual 20 books of summer challenge, a challenge I have met with varying degrees of success (or failure). Normally I choose only physical books from my own shelves but with my lacklustre reading this year I have decided that I need to keep this easy with a wide variety of genres and types to keep me going…

So like Cathy from 3 June until 3 September I will be attempting to read my 20 Books of Summer.

You join in with your own 20 (or 10, or 15!), and link your post with your choices to the Linky on Cathy’s blog so we can all cheer each other on!

So without further ado here are my books:

1. The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton.

NetGalley – eBook – Non-Fiction

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905.

Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime? Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research,
Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth. With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

2. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Own Copy – Physical – Crime Fiction

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

 

3. Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

4. I know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Own Copy – Audiobook – Psychological Thriller

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.
When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

 

5. Victorian Murders by Jan Bondeson

Own Copy – Physical Book – Non-Fiction

This book features fifty-six Victorian cases of murder covered in the sensational weekly penny journal the Illustrated Police News between 1867 and 1900.
Some of them are famous, like the Bravo Mystery of 1876, the Llangibby Massacre of 1878 and the Mrs Pearcey case of 1890; others are little-known, like the Acton Atrocity of 1880, the Ramsgate Mystery of 1893 and the Grafton Street Murder of 1894. Take your ticket for the house of horrors.

 

 

6. Conviction by Denise Mina

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

 

7. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Noel Streatfeild is best known as a writer for children, but had not thought of writing for them until persuaded to re-work her first novel as Ballet Shoes; this had sold ten million copies by the time of her death.

Saplings (1945), her tenth book for adults, is also about children: a family with four of them, to whom we are first introduced in all their secure Englishness in the summer of 1939.

‘Her purpose is to take a happy, successful, middle-class pre-war family – and then track in miserable detail the disintegration and devastation which war brought to tens of thousands of such families,’ writes the psychiatrist Dr Jeremy Holmes in his Afterword. Her ‘supreme gift was her ability to see the world from a child’s perspective’ and ‘she shows that children can remain serene in the midst of terrible events as long as they are handled with love and openness.’ She understood that ‘the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival… It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.’ ‘A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War, and quite shocking’ wrote Sarah Waters in the Guardian. Saplings was a ten-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 2004.

 

8. Oustide Looking In by Michael Wood

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

 

9. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.

10. 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter

Own Copy – eBook – Psychological Thriller

wo girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

11. The Other Mrs Miller by Allison Dickson

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

Two women are watching each other.
Phoebe isn’t sure when the car started showing up. At first she put it down to the scandal around her late father, but she’s certain now it’s there for her. What’s interesting about an unhappily married housewife, who barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.
Every morning, not long before your husband leaves for work, I wait for the blinds beside your front door to twitch. You might think I’m sitting out here waiting to break into your house and add a piece of your life to my collection. Things aren’t quite that simple. It’s not a piece of your life I want.
When a new family move in across the street, it provides Phoebe with a distraction. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And Phoebe really should be, because she’s just waiting for an opportunity to upend Phoebe’s life…

 

 

12. They Walk Among Us by Benjamin Fitton, Rosanna Fitton

Own Copy – Audiobook – Non-Fiction

A Chilling Casebook of Horrifying Hometown Crimes
How well do you really know your friends?

Neighbours, friends, doctors and colleagues. We see them every day. We trust them implicitly. But what about the British army sergeant who sabotaged his wife’s parachute? Or the lodger who took his landlady on a picnic from which she never returned? From dentists to PAs, these normal-seeming people were quietly wrecking lives, and nobody suspected a thing.

In this first book from the addictive award-winning podcast They Walk Among Us, Benjamin and Rosanna serve up small-town stories in gripping detail. They’ve hooked millions of listeners with their intricate and disturbing cases, and now they dig into ten more tales, to provide an unforgettably sinister true-crime experience, scarily close to home.

It could happen to you.

 

13. Roar by Cecilia Ahern

Borrowed – Physical Book – Short Stories

Have you ever imagined a different life?

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

 

 

14. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

 

 

15. The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine

Own Copy (Re read)- Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Lizzie hasn’t seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite ‘all the terrible things’ that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results …

 

 

 

16.. The Hireling by L.P. Hartley

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Overcome with grief at her husband’s death, Lady Franklin, an eligible young widow, unburdens herself to Leadbitter – a gallant, hard-bitten ex-soldier who has invested his savings in the car he drives for hire – as he takes her on a series of journeys.

He in turn beguiles her with stories of his non-existent wife and children, drawing her out of her self-absorption and weaving a dream-life with Lady Franklin at its heart. Half-hoping to make his dream come true, Leadbitter takes a bold, not to say reckless, step which costs him dearly, and brings these characters’ tangled story to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.

 

17. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

18. The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunis

Own Copy – eBook – Historical Fiction

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.
Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…
Read her letter. Remember her story…

 

19. The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

NetGalley – eBook – Crime Fiction

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…

 

20. The Black Sheep by Sophie McKenzie

Own Copy – Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Your life is in danger – and the death threats are coming from someone close to you. But who?
Someone in your family is lying to you.

Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life.

Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed. And that her family know more than they say ….

Who can Francesca trust? And what will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (December 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

My choice for 2011 was a book that when I initially reviewed it, I wasn’t overly sure how to interpret the narrative of this very dark book which centres on the obsession one (female) teacher has for one of her pupils – not as good as Notes on a Scandal , but The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman has more to offer than is immediately apparent.

The Kingdom of Childhood

Blurb

The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman: sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother’s extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved as a child, but what Zach does not realize is that their relationship is—for Judy—only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.
Rebecca Coleman’s manuscript for The Kingdom of Childhood was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. An emotionally tense, increasingly chilling work of fiction set in the controversial Waldorf school community, it is equal parts enchanting and unsettling and is sure to be a much-discussed and much-debated novel. Goodreads

2012 yr

In December 2012 it was a historical murder that kept me entertained. Ruth Dugdall who is more known for written a crime series featuring Cate Austin, explores The Story in the Red Barn, a true crime from nineteenth century Britain in The James Version.

The James Version

Blurb

A fictionalised account of true events which shocked nineteenth century Britain. The story of ‘The Murder in the Red Barn’, this book describes the events through the eyes of Ann Marten, a woman suffering guilt and despair following the terrible history of her family, as she tells her tale to a reluctant young rector. James Coyte has taken up his called in Suffolk, but sinks into his own despair as Ann’s story unfolds. Goodreads

2013yr

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a must-read (or now watch) for all lovers of psychological thrillers and I picked this one up in December 2013 and joined the legions of fans who loved this dark tale… ok it may be a tad unrealistic in parts and have a cast of wholly despicable characters but it certainly had me turning the pages at a rate of knots.

Gone Girl

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? Goodreads

2014yr

There is no contest at all for my favourite read of December 2014 which was without a doubt The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, this sumptuous story follows what happens when Mrs Wray and her daughter Florence accept that their straightened circumsatances mean that they have to rent out some rooms to lodgers. Set in 1920s London, this book is one of the best examples of historical and mystery fiction.

The Paying Guests

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. Goodreads

2015yr

I have just finished my favourite read of the whole of December 2015, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood a superb psychological thriller for those readers who love wry humour and a whole bucketful of secrets.

The Darkest Secret

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my December reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August.

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best
September Five of the Best
October Five of the Best
November Five of the Best

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

The Darkest Secret – Alex Marwood

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Well what great timing! This was a fantastic and addictive read, my favourite kind so finishes off my reviewing for 2015 on a high note.

The Darkest Secret reminds me a little of a Jilly Cooper novel but with secrets instead of bonking. Seriously everyone is keeping them, from themselves from others despite living in a claustrophobic world of rich and successful families all dependent on each other in some way.

Little Coco Jackson has gone missing from her father’s house, except it’s only his house until he sells it and in fact he’s just road testing it for his fiftieth birthday – yes this author sets the scene so very well; fifty year old man and a daughter called Coco, who can’t paint a picture with just that snippet? Sean Jackson is a successful property developer, living with his second wife Claire and their twin daughters, Ruby and Coco, he has a mistress waiting in the wings, who just happens to be one of the guests at his birthday party along with Charles Clutterbuck a MP and his wife Imogen, the PR couple Robert and Mara along with Dr James Orizio with his bag of tricks and his wife Linda. The party is completed with a selection of small children and in their entirety they descend over the seaside property for the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2004. Sean’s two teenage daughters from his first marriage. Indy and Millie, departing early sure that their father and certainly their Step-Mother don’t want them there.

The book opens with an email, this was before Facebook and the like, to spread the word about missing Coco, a massive police investigation followed but twelve years later when Sean dies she is still missing… The story in the present is told by Camilla Jackson who has the unenviable job of identifying her father, a man she hasn’t seen for years. Are the secrets going to be revealed at the gathering for Sean’s funeral? You bet they are!

Despite the sad nature of the subject matter of this book, the number of pompous and self-absorbed characters there is plenty of dark humour in this book that had me not just gripped, but thoroughly entertained, from the first page and made me reluctant to put it down for the entire four hundred page stint. This is superbly plotted with enough red-herrings to ensure that the reader is never quite sure who they should be watching the closest while the pace is a brisk one, one where the tension never lets up, after all there are plenty of mini-dramas to keep the reader entertained so this book doesn’t suffer with the mid-book slump which sadly seems to afflict psychological thrillers.

Alex Marwood plays a blinding hand with the characters too, I’ve mentioned that some of them weren’t people I’d chose to spend my spare time with, but some of them, given a different perspective I became very fond of, yes, I really did get involved with this book, one of those I was sad to finish and if it weren’t for the fact that The Darkest Secret is due to be published for the kindle on 1 January 2016, with the paperback following on 7 January 2016, it would have made my Top Ten books published in 2015.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Book Group whose generosity in allowing me to read this book has resulted in this gushing review, but only because I loved it so much and I was delighted that this lived up to the brilliant Wicked Girls by the same author.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 23)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy 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 Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery

The Thirteenth Coffin

Blurb

Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .
It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late? NetGalley

I have recently finished The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith which is a mystery told through the eyes of a female reporter.

The Jazz Files

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

Next up I plan on reading The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (November 21)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last three weeks!

First up I have a copy of The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, whose debut novel The Wicked Girls was a huge hit with me!

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second fifteen years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…
Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable ‘ripped from the headlines’ novel that you will want to talk about with everyone you know. NetGalley

The Darkest Secret will be published on 7 January 2016

I also have a copy of No One Knows by J.T. Ellison because I found the synopsis intriguing and as you all know I am a sucker for a psychological thriller!

No One Knows

Blurb

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on. She just wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Who anonymously sent Aubrey her favorite cocktail at the bar where Josh stood her up? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
As her heroine faces the possibility that everything she thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, and her husband is a lie, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. In a masterful thriller for readers who love Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins, Ellison pulls you into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows. NetGalley

Publication date for No One Knows is 22 March 2016

And when I spotted Moon In a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier I simply had to get a copy. Following my review of Boxes by the same author this was widely pronounced by his fans to be his best book.

Moon In a Dead Eye

 

Blurb

Given the choice, Martial would not have moved to Les Conviviales. But Odette loved the idea of a brand-new retirement village in the south of France. So that was that. At first it feels like a terrible mistake: they’re the only residents and it’s raining non-stop. Then three neighbours arrive, the sun comes out, and life becomes far more interesting and agreeable. Until, that is, some gypsies set up camp just outside their gated community. NetGalley

I also purchased one e-book, The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a former BBC Journalist. I came across this book on Postcard Reviews, a blog well worth checking out for as Tracy features some fabulous books, and the review of The Bad Things was so good it made me weaken!

The Bad Things

Blurb

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us? Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR I have read 6 books, discarded one as a DNF, and gained 4, leading to a grand total of 170 books!

81 physical books
71 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (April 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

Black Flowers by Steve Mosby was one of those books I picked up because it was recommended by Amazon. This is a book within a book and boy what a story it tells! It was far more terrifying than I expected but it is up there in the mental list of books I simply will never forget reading.

Black Flowers

Blurb

This is not a story about a girl who disappears. This is the story of a little girl who comes back. As if from nowhere, she appears one day on a seaside promenade, with a black flower and a horrifying story about where she’s been. But telling that story will start a chain reaction of dangerous lies and deadly illusions that will claim many more victims in the years to come.
Neil Dawson has grown up wanting to be like his father—a writer. When his father commits suicide, he is devastated. But through his grief, Neil knows something isn’t right. Looking through his father’s papers, he finds a copy of an old novel, The Black Flower. Opening it will take Neil into an investigation full of danger, pain and subterfuge. Hannah Price is also mourning her father. She followed his footsteps into the police force, and knows she has a big reputation to live up to. When she gets assigned to Neil’s father’s case, it will lead her on a journey into her own past and to the heart of a shattering secret. Goodreads

2012 yr

In April 2012 I read The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood in one straight sitting as was fascinated of this tale which flips backwards and forwards between the day of murder twenty-five years ago and the present day. With themes of how the media presents a version of the truth and at its heart this was a story about whether there can ever be redemption for those who cause revulsion.

The Wicked Girls

Blurb

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.
Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden? Goodreads

2013yr

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler came to me courtesy of Amazon Vine and I was impressed with the fresh feel that this book bought to the genre with as a prisoner escaping from a nearby jail sparks a series of unforeseen events.

What lies Within

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Living in a remote Devon farmhouse, Anna and her family have always been close to nature, surrounded by the haunting beauty of the moor. But when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children’s safety, Anna’s behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases… Meanwhile, a young idealistic teacher has just started her first job, determined to ‘make a difference’. But when she is brutally attacked by one of her students, her version of events is doubted by even those closest to her. Struggling to deal with the terrible consequences, she does what she can to move on and start afresh. As the two narratives converge, the tension builds to a devastating denouement, shattering everything you thought you believed about nature, nurture and the true meaning of family. Amazon

2014yr

In April 2014 I read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, a book I fell in love with from the very first page. A story that painfully but beautifully takes the reader through the aftermath of a doomed affair.The End of the Affair

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession. Amazon

2015yr

April 2015 has been full of great reads but the best of them all is the debut, Disclaimer by Renée Knight which with its unusual premise and brilliant execution has had me recommending this one far and wide since I read it.

Disclaimer

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.
Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my April reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (December11)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Postcards from the Past by Marcia Willett

Postcards from The Past

Siblings Billa and Ed share their beautiful, grand old childhood home in rural Cornwall. Their lives are uncomplicated. With family and friends nearby and their free and easy living arrangements, life seems as content as can be.
But when postcards start arriving from a sinister figure they thought belonged well and truly in their pasts, old memories are stirred. Why is he contacting them now? And what has he been hiding all these years? Amazon

I’ve nearly finished this one which is a gentler read than the last couple of books I’ve read!

I have finished The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
click on the cover to read my review

Next I am going back to crime albeit mixed with some history with The Murder Tree by Alan Veale
The Murder Tree

Blurb

Chrissie Fersen desperately wants to know how she is connected to the death of a servant woman in Glasgow in 1862. Enlisting the aid of local librarian Billie Vane, she is determined to clear the name of the woman originally convicted of the crime. But her chief suspect appears to be alive and well – and it looks like he still has murder on his mind…
The Murder Tree introduces an unlikely pair of heroes: the American daughter of a wealthy businessman and a Manchester-born librarian working in Glasgow. Each have their share of domestic strife to deal with, while sharing a thirst to find out the truth about a 150 year-old murder. But deaths are still taking place today as far afield as New York, and trying to dig through the roots of this unique family tree becomes more hazardous than either Chrissie or Billie could have foreseen…
The Murder Tree is based on the true story of Jessie McLachlan, convicted of murder in 1862, but who famously accused an old man of the crime after being found guilty at her trial

.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood

Crime Fiction 3*'s
Crime Fiction
3*’s

After reading and loving The Wicked Girls I pre-ordered my copy of The Killer Next Door some time ago…

The residents in No. 23 Northbourne, South London, are a mixed bunch of the forgotten and ignored before Collette turns up, she is the one resident that someone is looking for. Unfortunately for Collette her past keeps catching up with her, someone wants her silenced and has been relentlessly tracking her for three years.

The cloying atmosphere of London in a heatwave is the scene brilliantly captured as the repulsive, obese Landlord Roy Preece is persuaded to let out a room still partially full of the previous owner’s possessions to Collette. Meanwhile the others in the house each have their own secrets, the underage runaway, Cher, the kind elderly spinster Vesta, a political asylum seeker Houssein, the bore Thomas and the broken music teacher. The characters are wonderfully drawn, particularly Vesta and Cher as they battle to keep the events in No. 23 away from the prying eyes of the neighbourhood.

This book has the requisite serial killer, with an original aim but it also has multiple murderers and for me this was where I found I lost belief in the story. The dead bodies are mounting, the stench is thickening and the secrets are spewing out, but it stretched credibility to breaking point. For me there is a limit to how much horror one set of people can be reasonably expected to encounter. No car chases in this book but escapes on foot, on buses and trains and all manner of bloody encounters serve to keep the residents on their toes!

Apart from the plot and the characters there is some brilliant observations in this book from an author who clearly has an eye for detail ‘The social worker sits, sensible hair and sensible shoes and an air of New Labour sanctimony pouring off her, in the chair next to the girl.’ We never meet the family who live next door but their uniform of cardigans slung around their shoulders and their voices during a party tell us all we need to know. As the residents of No. 23 pull together they seem further than ever away from the aspirations of the neighbours.

So this book is a sum of its parts, many of them superb but for me it is ultimately the story that matters to me and this for me tried to cram to many unlikely events for me to continue believing in it.

The Killer Next Door Amazon UK

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (December 4)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Wronged Sons by John Marrs has finally made it to the top of the pile.

The Wronged Sons

This is a gripping book which I am really enjoying so thanks again Book Lovers Attic for pointing me in the right direction for this one.

The Wronged Sons Amazon UK

I have just finished The Murder Code by Steve Mosby.  Will Andy crack the murder code?

click on the book cover to read my review

The Murder Code

The Murder Code Amazon UK

Published 3 December 2013

And for once there is no doubt at all about my next read which has been on pre-order for what seems like ages, but is out on kindle on 5 December 2013; The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood
The Killer Next Door

I read The Wicked Girls, the author’s debut novel, by chance fairly soon after it was published and loved it so I have high expectations of this one.

Blurb

No. 23 has a secret. In this gloomy, bedsit-riddled South London wreck, lorded over by a lecherous landlord, a horrifying collection quietly waits to be discovered. Yet all six residents have something to hide.
Collette is on the run from her ex-boss; Cher is an underage children’s home escapee; lonely Thomas tries to make friends with his neighbours; while a gorgeous Iranian asylum seeker and a ‘quiet man’ nobody sees try to keep themselves hidden. And there for them all is Vesta, a woman who knows everything that goes on in the house – or thought she did.
Then in the dead of night, a terrible accident pushes the six into an uneasy alliance. But one of them is a killer, expertly hiding their pastime, all the while closing in on their next victim…
Amazon

The Killer Next Door Amazon UK