Posted in Books I have read, Books I want to Read

Richard and Judy Spring Books 2014

RandJ

I’m always interested to see what Richard and Judy pick for their reads and here is the spring list

click on the picture above to view the original announcement!

I have already read three of the offerings for this season, Apple Tree Yard made my top 10 choices for 2013

click on the book covers for my review

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

Happily-married, middle-aged Yvonne has a random encounter with a complete stranger while she is on a formal visit to the Houses of Parliament. Within minutes of meeting him in the cafeteria there, she is having raw, passionate sex in a secluded corner of the ancient building WHSmith

and the other two were very close contenders

A Commonplace Killing by Sian Busby

Historical Crime 5*'s
Historical Crime
5*’s

A Commonplace Killing is exactly that – a grubby, tawdry sex murder committed in immediate post-war London. The author wonderfully re-creates the shabbiness, bombed-out, rationed-to-the-hilt atmosphere of the shattered capital and the grey, pinched lives of those who had survived Hitler’s war WHSmith

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

Laugh-out-loud funny, this brilliant, witty, and beguiling story. Don Tillman, a scientist and geneticist, has rampant Asperger’s Syndrome – but he doesn’t know it WHSmith

Two of Richard and Judy’s choices had already made it to my TBR

Longbourn by Jo Baker

longbourn jobaker

Jo Baker writes utterly convincingly about the lives of servants labouring in the Longbourn of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice WHSmith

and Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield which has received some good reviews from fellow bloggers

sisterland curtissittenfeld

It’s an eerie tale of identical twin sisters who share a hidden gift. They are psychic, but one has chosen to bury her powers to lead a normal family life. The other is single and works as a medium. One day she predicts a violent earthquake in Missouri, where they live. Is she right? What does this mean for their lives? WHSmith

I’m off to take a closer look at The Never List by Koethi Zan

theneverlist koethizan

Two young women are kidnapped and imprisoned in a cellar for years by a psychopathic psychiatrist who uses them, and his other victims, for sadistic experiments…WHSmith

What are your thoughts on these choices for spring 2014?

Posted in Books I have read

Top 10 Books published in 2013

2013 was a great book reading year for me, I have read many great books of a variety of genres, although as usual the majority were crime fiction! It has been a real struggle to whittle this list down to 10 but here they are, in no particular order!

Click on the book covers to read my reviews.

The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

My list starts with a book set in a bookshop. This was a great book for this booklover, with references as diverse as Paddington Bear and 1984 littering the pages, great characters and a bookshop I wanted to work in!

A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them…
The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.
A superb psychological thriller set in Devon over one claustrophobic weekend in November 2013 this book rivals Barbara Vine for one of the best books in this genre.

Dot by Araminta Hall

Women's Fiction 5*
Women’s Fiction
5*

a long-forgotten photograph of a man, his hair blowing in the breeze. Dot stares so long at the photograph the image begins to disintegrate before her eyes, and as the image fades it is replaced with one thought: ‘I think it’s definitely him.’
Secrets and female relationships dominate this book. Full of delightful characters with an undertone of humour to lighten the emotions that must surely melt the hardest of hearts.

Apple Tree Yard
by Louise Doughty

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

Safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement, but you can never buy them back.

This powerful book was my surprise find of 2013. A women in court but how and why? At its core this is a book about how we perceive ourselves, through our own eyes and what is reflected back to us in the eyes of others.

Entry Island by Peter May

Crime Fiction  5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

I had the final part of the Lewis Trilogy down as a favourite of 2013 but have decided Peter May can’t have two books on the top ten (but if you haven’t read the Lewis Trilogy I suggest you do!) so have decided his latest book set between a past on the Isle of Lewis and the present in Canada was the winner for fantastic characters along with a well plotted tale of a woman accused of murder and a past that must be found.

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

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…

This was another great find part psychological thriller but containing elements of so much more; a mystery, a crime and relationships.

A Funeral for an Owl
by Jane Davis

Contemporary Fiction 5*'s
Contemporary Fiction
5*’s

Times have changed since Jim Stevens chose to teach. Protocol designed to protect children now makes all pupil/teacher relationships taboo – even those that might benefit a student.

This is one of those stories that stays with you long after you have closed the book. Jane Davis Davis really does bring characters to life, mothers, fathers, friends, teachers are all perfectly described along with their actions and reactions to events. (oh and if you have copy I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements!!)

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Women's Fiction   5*
Women’s Fiction
5*

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.
Lisa Jewell really knows how to write a great story, her books never fail to delight me as they are so much more than ‘chick-lit’ they deal with serious issues without becoming depressing. This is my favourite (I think) of all her novels.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Women's Fiction 5*'s
Women’s Fiction
5*’s

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Another great story-teller (I read What Alice Forgot after this one) with all the ingredients included; a believable plot, characters that are well-developed and writing that pulls the reader in from the first page, plus this isn’t the story you think it is going to be!

The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

He’s gone. And telling the truth won’t bring him back…
When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.

A lot of tension in this book, this is definitely not light reading but it is certainly absorbing and haunting.

What did you think of these books?

Does your list contain any of them?

I’d love to see your links to your best reads of 2013 (as I always need more books to add to that TBR!)

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

Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

Women's Fiction 5*'s
Women’s Fiction
5*’s

This has to be one of the best books I have read this year, I have been recommending it to all my friends who have all appreciated the tip!

What a fantastic story, the prose grabs you as soon as the first page is turned with the description of Yvonne Carmichael writing a letter to her lover. Yvonne is a respected scientist, a geneticist, married to Guy a fellow scientist and has two grown up children. The model woman so why, a few pages in, is she on trial?

The story is told with the events slowly teased out, but not so slowly that it is frustrating, the characters so alive that I could believe that I had met them and walked the very streets of London to Apple Tree Yard. The court room scenes were clearly well researched, I have since found out that Louise Doughty spent some time at the Old Bailey with the prosecution at a murder trial, this layer of authenticity only adds to the story being told. The story involves Mr X, Guy and a cast of others whose lives change because of Yvonne actions. Even better, just as you think you know everything and all that remains is the tying up of loose ends, there is a clever sting in the tale.

The story isn’t just about adultery and lust, it is as much about the way women perceive themselves and how they are judged by others. It is about the stories we tell ourselves, our own narrative, and the way this changes when someone else is let into these stories. I can’t recommend this book highly enough,it is really the best book I have read this year.

If ever there is a book to make someone stop on the brink of having an affair this book is it!