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

Our Kind of Cruelty – Araminta Hall

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Verity and Mike are an example of a classic love story. They met at university, fell in love and then seven years later, circumstances meant that they had to continue their relationship long-distance to further their careers and ultimately to enable them to buy their dream house in London.

Then it all went wrong and the couple split up.

“I must be cruel only to be kind / Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.”

We meet Mike who in the first half of the book explains his history both before and after he met the love of his life Verity. I’m not really spoiling anything to say that you may find this young man a little hard to warm to, but that’s not to say this isn’t one fascinating story. If you like your psychological themed books of the variety where you see into the minds that view life in a very different way to the norm, you’ll love it.

While they were together Mike and Verity played a game, not of the tame board variety but one of a more adult nature. This game was called ‘The Crave.’ So when Mike receives an invitation to Verity’s wedding to a rich older man, Angus, he interprets this as a continuation of the game and acts accordingly. To the man on the street his behaviour would be classed as stalking, but not to Mike who is convinced that despite losing in act one, he is in with a definite chance in act two. This book tells us how this plays out for the couple.

That’s all I’m going to say about the plot because the power of the book is in the structure and the many layers that have clearly been lovingly thought out to give the reader an insight into stories which reflect the talking points that you probably discuss with friends even if only in the context of your combined relationship history. Someone you know is bound to have known a Mike, and a Verity. What gave me conviction that this is a brilliantly crafted piece of psychological fiction was the way that although I rattled through the book, wondering what was going to happen next, it was only after I had finished that some of the talking points were really revealed. It is one of those books which tempted me to go back to the beginning armed with the knowledge of the ending.

One of the obvious joys in this book was to read a good psychological thriller from a male perspective. I have often said I don’t need to like the protagonists of the books I read and so to read about a damaged man in his own words was fascinating in itself and really was a change from the other way around. Mike is obsessive in his love for Verity and we learn why that may be from his internal thoughts that occupy the first half of the book but we learn about those who inhabit his world and what his view of it does to them too. So very, very clever and utterly compelling.

I have been a fan of Araminta Hall ever since I read her first novel Everything and Nothing way back in 2011, which was followed by Dot in 2013 (which made my top ten reads of that year,) so I was absolutely delighted to be provided with an advance copy of Our Kind of Cruelty by the publishers Century. This unbiased review is my thank you to them and the exceptional author.

First Published UK: 3 May 2018
Publisher: Century
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 11)

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

Now that I’ve read all the millions of books which were being published on 5 April 2018, I hoping to squeeze some of my own books into April’s schedule as well as some exciting upcoming publications.

I am currently reading Property: A Collection by Lionel Shriver, a mixture of short stories and novellas centred around property, as in houses or possessions. Property will be published on 19 April 2018

Blurb

First ever story collection from the inimitable Lionel Shriver

This landmark publication, the first collection of stories from a master of the form, explores the idea of “property” in both senses of the word: real estate, and stuff. These sharp, brilliantly imaginative pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.

In the stunning novella “The Standing Chandelier” (‘a brutal treat’: Daily Mail), a woman with a history of attracting other women’s antagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his wife-to-be. In “Domestic Terrorism,” a thirty-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a standoff that renders him a Millennial cause célèbre. In “The ChapStick,” a middle-aged man subjugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. In “Vermin,” an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once passionate relationship. In “The Subletter,” two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either.

This immensely readable collection showcases the biting insight that has made Lionel Shriver one of the most acclaimed authors of our time, described by the Sunday Times as ‘a brilliant writer’ with ‘a strong, clear and strangely seductive voice’.Amazon

The last book I finished was Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall, a truly compulsive read, my review for this book which will be published on 3 May 2018 will be up soon.

Blurb

Most of us spend our whole lives searching for the person who’ll make us feel complete.

But Mike and Verity know they’re different. They’ve found their soulmate, and nothing can tear them apart.

Not even the man Verity is marrying.

Because they play a secret game, one they call ‘the Crave’, to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and Mike alone. But Mike knows that Verity’s impending marriage will raise the stakes of their game higher than ever before.

Because this time, for Mike and Verity to stay together, someone has to die… Amazon

Next up is the third book in the Nathan Cody series written by David Jackson Don’t Make a Sound, also to be published on 3 May 2018.

Blurb

You can’t choose your family. Or can you?

Meet the Bensons. They’re an ordinary couple. They wash their car, mow their lawn and pass the time of day with their neighbours. And they have a beautiful little girl called Daisy.

There’s just one problem.

SHE’S NOT THEIRS.

D. S. Nathan Cody is about to face his darkest and most terrifying case yet . . .Amazon

So what do you think? Have you read any of these? Would you like to?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 14)

Well I’m finally on the mend and returned to work on Wednesday so all is far better in my world than it has been. On the book front I am strongly considering joining The Classic Club in part due to my New Year’s resolution to read or re-read at least six classic books in 2018. The other part is my fellow blogger Fiction Fan has been putting the pressure on and I’ve been raiding her own list of classics for this challenge, in my search for books for my own list.

So far my list stands at around 25 books with a surprisingly large bias towards female writers. I have to find at least another 30 books to find and I suspect some of these may well be crime fiction classics sourced from The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books compiled by Martin Edwards. Any suggestions will be gratefully received, my definition of a classic being fairly loose with any book that is more than approximately 50 years old qualifying.

This Week on the Blog

A busy week with four reviews posted over the course of the week starting with my one for Faking Friends by Jane Fallon which was one of five of my reads published on 11 January 2018.

My extract post this week was from The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin which will be published on 1 February 2018.

On Wednesday I was part of the Blog Tour for Peter May’s novel I’ll Keep You Safe which included an intense extract from the book which was followed on publication day of my review of the novel. Peter May’s descriptions of the Outer Hebrides was once again the backdrop to this crime fiction novel.

Friday was another Blog Tour, this time I posted a review for Turning for Home by Barney Norris a thoughtful and insightful novel centred around an eighty year old widower and his grand-daughter.

Finally my week finished with my review of some historical crime fiction inspired by the trail of Madeline Smith in Glasgow for the murder of her lover, Emile L’Anglier; Blackmail, Sex and Lies is written by Kathryn McMaster

This Time Last Year…

I was reading After She Fell by Mary-Jane Riley the second book in the Alex Devlin series which features the protagonist as a reporter investigating the apparent suicide of a friend’s daughter at an exclusive boarding school in North Norfolk. Mary-Jane Riley has painted a wonderful selection of characters, some nastier than others, against the brilliant backdrop of the setting, all with a lightness of touch so that the picture is painted while the action is taking place.

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

Blurb

There are so many ways to fall…

Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.

When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.

Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall… Amazon

If you haven’t read this one yet, now is the time to do so as not only does it have a fab new cover but the third in the series, Dark Water is due to be published on 16 March 2018.

Stacking the Shelves

Well I still haven’t bought any new books but I do have some acquisitions nevertheless.

From Lovereading UK I have a copy of The Story of Our Lies by Helen Warner which will be published on 8 February 2018.

Blurb

Four friends. Twenty years. One powerful secret.

There are certain dates on which you’ll always remember where you were… The day Princess Diana died. 9/11. The London 2012 opening ceremony.

The same is true for Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa who have been best friends since they met twenty years ago.

As history has moved on around them, they have seen each other through everything. From Sophie’s secret fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside-abusive-on-the inside marriage to Melissa’s spiralling alcoholism and Emily’s single motherhood.

But could a lie that spans just as long tear them apart? Amazon

From NetGalley I have a copy of Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall which I was exceptionally pleased about having been a fan of this author for a while and chose her last book Dot as one of my top ten published books of 2013. Our Kind of Cruelty will be published on 3 May 2018.

Blurb

This is a love story. This is a tragedy.

This is a book about a break up so bad that when you put the pieces of the love story back together, what you get is murder.
Mike understands that most of us travel through the world as one half of a whole, desperately searching for that missing person to make us complete.

But he and Verity are different. They have found each other and nothing and no one will tear them apart.

It doesn’t matter that Verity is marrying another man.

It’s all just part of a plan: you see, Verity and Mike play a game together, a secret game they call ‘the crave’, the aim being to demonstrate what they both know: that Verity needs Mike, and only Mike.

Verity’s upcoming marriage is the biggest game she and Mike have ever played. And it’s for the highest stakes.
Except this time in order for Mike and Verity to be together someone has to die … NetGalley

I was also lucky enough to be provided with a copy of The Girl in the Woods by Camilla Läckberg, the tenth in the tenth in the Fjällbacka Series which will be published on 22 February 2018.

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… NetGalley

And lastly I ‘met’ Vicky Newham through social media and distinctly remember the day she announced that she had a publisher for her novel Turn A Blind Eye. Vicky has kindly supplied me with a copy of her book which will be published on 5 April 2018.

Blurb

A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:
I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim. Amazon

2018 appears to be continuing with some appetising books – what do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 3 books and appear to have gained 6 so my TBR has taken a swift about turn to 188

Physical Books – 110
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books –23

 

I have banked another third of book token this week and therefore purchased no new books in 2018.

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

Dot – Araminta Hall

Women's Fiction 5*
Women’s Fiction
5*

Everything and Nothing was one of those books I didn’t simply love at the time of reading it, I still remember it now over two years later. Why did I love it so much? Because it was written so skilfully that I felt like I was actually viewing the story as it was revealed so I put Dot on my wish list, and kept my fingers crossed that after the long wait the next offering would be just as good. In my opinion it is. Reading this book gave me that magical feeling that I really knew the characters I was reading about.

Dot is a young girl, playing hide and seek in her Grandmother’s house with her best friend Mavis, when we first meet her. This is not just Dot’s story though. Araminta Hall expertly weaves many stories into a satisfying read with each one narrating their own part in an everyday if often tragic drama of family life. Dot, her beautiful mother Alice and her Grandmother Clarice all struggle to communicate with each other which is not the same as not loving each other. Mavis’s mother Sandra is trapped in a life of endless cleaning to stop her life falling apart and Dot’s absent father also has his own story to tell.

This is fundamentally a story about female relationships and how it can be hardest to reveal our secrets to those closest to us all told with an undertone of humour; `his lungs felt useless, as if he’d got them cheap in the Primark sale.’ The girls take on life had me smiling as I read the tragedy of lives not lived to the full.

This is such a beautiful story that I had tears rolling down my cheeks when I turned the last page.

My review of Everything and Nothing on Goodreads
Everything and NothingEverything and Nothing by Araminta Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book as recommended by Amazon, one of those I was glad I looked into this psychological novel is even more eerie for the way the story slowly increases in tension.

It all begins when Agatha attends an interview for a position of Nanny in a chaotic household where both parents work.

She is determined to become indispensible and takes over the running of the household and managing the children wonderfully. Ruth (the mother) feels she is strugggling with motherhood, work and wonders if she was right to take her husband Christian back after he had an affair whilst she was pregnant, and life goes on with Agatha managing everything perfectly…. so what could possibly go wrong?

The book is so well written, the characterisation is brilliant, you feel like you are looking through the window at a real family as you read this.

This is not a book I will forget in a hurry!

View all my reviews