Posted in Uncategorized

Books I Picked Up On A Whim

lyThe Top Ten Tuesday list chosen by the wonderful The Broke and the Bookish this week was for the ten books that bloggers had picked up on a whim, this led me to ponder not only those books but how the way I chose books has changed over the years.

As a child it was easy, I had the school library, the local library and kind relations who supplied books that they’d enjoyed as children and so I probably have the full quotient of children’s classics under my belt. Aside from that I was lucky in that many kindly teachers recommended books and to be honest, I was the sort of child that would read anything, cornflake packets included!

It was as I graduated from the children’s section of the library that things became more complicated. Our local library at the time simply shelved all fiction alphabetically and so my reading became dictated by my whims. In those days before the internet there were precious few places to find out about books which did not dominate the best-seller list, and if I’m honest I miss those days of wandering around the library or bookshop shelves looking for something appealing.  And this continued pretty much to the millennium although the library in Jersey used a variety of ways to point eager readers in the right direction, including a one week loan for new releases – something that always caused great anxiety – would I get through the book in time, there would be nothing worse than getting within reach of the ending only to have to return the precious book for others to read!

Library image

These days, I rarely chose a book without it being recommended to me, either by a fiercely knowing search engine on Amazon or Goodreads, or by one of the hugely knowledgeable book bloggers out there who suggest all sorts of hidden treasures to me!

And of course I now have reviews at my fingertips to ensure I am making a wise choice, never forgetting that even the less glowing reviews can point towards something that will please me. In those far flung times there were professional reviews in the newspapers which I did look at but many of these seemed a bit rarefied for my tastes, I just wanted a jolly good story. So I’d look at the shelves, read the book jackets and decide if this might be the book for me… and this way I found many writers who have remained firm favourites to this day.

Shadow Baby by Margaret Forster

Shadow Baby

Blurb

Born in Carlisle in 1887, brought up in a children’s home and by reluctant relatives, Evie, with her wild hair and unassuming ways, seems a quiet, undemanding child.
Shona, born almost seventy years later, is headstrong and striking. She grows up in comfort and security in Scotland, the only child of doting parents. But there are, as she discovers, unanswered questions about her past.
The two girls have only one thing in common: both were abandoned as babies by their mothers. Different times, different circumstances, but these two girls grow up sharing the same obsession. Each sets out to stalk and then haunt her natural mother. Both mothers dread disclosure; both daughters seek emotional compensation and, ultimately, revenge.

Not only did I love this book but rattled my way through her entire back-catalogue, my most recent read being The Unknown Bridesmaid. Sadly Margaret Forster passed away earlier this year but I still have her a large collection of her books on my shelf.

My crime fiction reads at this time were led by whatever was showing on TV at the time and in this way I was introduced to all the greats; Morse, Wexford, Dalziel and Pascoe and Frost. All of these men grace my shelves to this day. However it was after reading Wexford that I discovered the more psychological reads provided in the books written by Ruth Rendell under the name Barbara Vine. This in turn led to me reading so much in this genre before it gained its current popularity. Asta’s Book remains one of my favourite reads of all time combining my love of history with a study of the psyche.

Astas Book

Blurb

1905. Asta and her husband Rasmus have come to east London from Denmark with their two sons. With Rasmus constantly away on business, Asta keeps loneliness and isolation at bay by writing her diary. These diaries, published over seventy years later, reveal themselves to be more than a mere journal, for they seem to hold the key to an unsolved murder, to the quest for a missing child and to the enigma surrounding Asta’s daughter, Swanny. It falls to Asta’s granddaughter Ann to unearth the buried secrets of nearly a century before. Amazon

Barbara Vine’s most recent book The Child’s Child was reviewed by Cleopatra Loves Books back in 2014

More recently I picked up The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen on a whim as it was unlike the book choices I usually made at that time, and I’m so glad I did. This book had me howl with laughter and gasp in surprise as the book took a slightly darker turn.

The Mistresses Revenge

Blurb

Never have an affair with anyone who has less to lose than you. And – never underestimate the wrath of a woman scorned.
For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her, to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall. It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally starts following Clive’s wife and daughter on Facebook. But that’s alright isn’t it? I mean they are perfectly normal things to do. Aren’t they? Not since Fatal Attraction has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny and disturbing way.
The Mistress’s Revenge is a truly exciting fiction debut. After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken?

Tamar now writes under the name Tammy, but the quality of her books hasn’t diminished, rather it has just got even better, her latest offering When She Was Bad is sure to resonate to all office workers!

Now this may sound planned but I had already written this post when I found out yesterday that Transworld Books have signed a six figure book deal with Tammy for three books, the first due out in Spring 2017; All Fall Down is set in an asylum! Even better TV rights for When She Was Bad are currently at auction. That is one whim that sounds as though it will be providing me with good books to read for some time to come!

 

I think with these three books alone, I have proved that picking up a book on a whim can lead to a whole treasure trove of books.

What book have you picked up on a whim that you are eternally grateful for?

Posted in Uncategorized

My A-Z of Books

I saw this on Portebello Book Blog and By The Letter Book Reviews  and felt compelled to do this myself!

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From

This has to be Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine when you take into the stand-alones and the Wexford series I have devoured a fair few of her books.

Best Sequel Ever

This is really hard but I’m going to pick The Lewis Man by Peter May which is the middle book of the Lewis Trilogy – if you haven’t read these, you are missing out.

Currently Reading

Play Dead by Angela Marsons the fourth in the amazing Kim Stone series

Drink of Choice While ReadingCoffee

Coffee, coffee and coffee – I’m addicted

E-Reader or Physical Book
I love my kindle and couldn’t live without it for ease and space reasons but I now accept that I prefer a physical book

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

At the time I was in high school it would have been Rupert Campbell-Black from Jilly Cooper’s Riders although he would have been far too old for me of course!

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Glad You Gave this Book a Chance

There are loads but most recently, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris was an amazing read, one that has softened my opinion of literary fiction considerably.

Hidden Gem Book

White Lie by Andrea Gillies which blew me away with its deep and dark secrets that shaped generations of the Salter family in Scotland.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life

Being invited to join the Amazon Vine program which meant that I was offered books that I might previously have ignored which really expanded my reading.

Just Finished

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Kind of Books You Won’t Read

No fantasy novels or sci-fi – I’ve tried to embrace the genre but it just isn’t me!

Longest Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure this is the longest in all time but about six years ago I read London by Edward Rutherfield which came in at a whopping 1152 pages – it took a long time for me to read but it was worth it to travel through London’s history and witness the changes.

Major Book HangoverBuriel Rites

Ooh this is hard, possibly after reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent where I had immersed myself in Agnes’s story in Iceland where she awaited trial for murder with the Jonsson family – heartbreakingly sad!

Number of Bookcases You Own

Four but I desperately need a new one, I can’t part with any of the books currently residing in my abode!!

One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

Margaret Forster’s Shadow Baby a book which underlines the fact that mothers come in all shapes and sizes and not always in a good way! Better still this is one of those dual time-line stories which I love!

Preferred Place to Read

If I could be on holiday all year round it would be by the pool on a sun-lounger with a fruity cocktail – reality designates my dear bed though.

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You all the Feels from a Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure that this inspires me so I’m going for the second half of the question from The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

Reading Regret

That I will never have time to read all the books that I want to! TBR cupboard

Series You Started and Need to Finish

Lots and lots, including those that I started part way through! The one I am most compelled to finish is Camilla Läckberg’s  Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series– I’m up to book eight, Buried Angels but I think I still need to read book four too!

Three of Your All-Time Favourite Books

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to choose just three, I will but on the proviso that I can change my mind at any time to include the three-hundred books which would be a far fairer question.

Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brook

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Three books

Unapologetic Fangirl For

I’m not really a fangirl in the long-term way, maybe I don’t have the stamina but everyone who talks books to me gets told about the aforementioned Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

Very Excited for this Release more than All Others

This has to be Love You Dead by Peter James which is out later this month! Considering I am fairly rubbish at reading series, this is one I always pre-order and make space in the reading schedule for!

Worst Bookish Habit

Buying far too many books that deep down I know I will never have time to read.

X Marks the Spot: Start on the Top Left of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, which is a ‘sliding-doors’ novel; Irina McGovern’s destiny hinges on a single kiss. Whether she stays with her reliable partner Lawrence, or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player.

Your Latest Purchase

Pariah by David Jackson, the first in Detective Callum Doyle series bought because although I have the fourth in this series, Cry Baby, I enjoyed A Tapping at my Door so much I wanted to start at the beginning of his previous series.

Zzzzz-Snatcher Book (Last Book that Kept You up Way too late)

White Is The Coldest Colour by John Nicholl which was not only compulsive reading, the subject matter was so dark sleep wouldn’t come easily anyway.

 

Reading silhouette

Posted in Challenge

My Name In Books

I saw this tag on many blogger’s sites in the summer and decided to have a go for myself – I decided to pick favourite reads of all time – I confess, my biggest problem was finding four books that started with the letter O, but I finally located those that deserved a place!

So without further ado I give you CLEOPATRA LOVES BOOKS, in books

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

One of my favourite books from childhood

Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

My favourite read by this author who injects so much humour into this dark tale

Emil and the Detectives – Erich Kastner

Possibly my very first introduction to crime fiction where Emil and his friends catch a thief

Out of the Silence – Wendy James

A fantastic combination of fact and a historical crime

Precious Thing – Colette McBeth

One of those books I simply couldn’t stop reading

A Judgement in Stone – Ruth Rendell

The best opening line – “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write“.

Thursday’s Child – Noel Streatfeild

My favourite book from childhood – Margaret was my heroine, I read this book hundred’s of time although it sadly out of print now.

Rubbernecker – Belinda Bauer

A sensitive piece of crime fiction featuring a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome

Asta’s Book – Barbara Vine

My favourite of the psychological fiction books written by Ruth Rendell under the name of Barbara Vine which depicts Asta’s life from the turn of the twentieth century.

Cleopatra

 

Like This Forever – S.J. Bolton

The third in the brilliant Lacey Flint series

Only the Innocent – Rachel Abbot

A relatively new addition to my must read list of authors and a fellow channel islander, this is the author’s first novel

Victorian Murderesses – Mary S Hartman

Although published in 1976, this is a fascinating look at the social lives of women during the late nineteenth, early twentieth century as well as detailing some historical crimes.

Evil Games – Andrea Marsons

A fabulous new series which has a complex plot and is backed up by well-formed characters.

Shadow Baby – Margaret Forster

Probably the book I have re-read most as an adult, a well told dual time-line tale, well researched and totally captivating.

Loves

Burnt Paper Sky – Gillian McMillan

A fresh and innovative debut

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe – Agatha Christie

There simply can’t be a list which doesn’t feature the amazing Agatha Christie so while this isn’t her best novel, it did start with an O

One Last Dance – Judith Lennox

A historical saga set during the First World War, this is a story of sibling rivalry and a grand house.

Keep Your Friends Close – Paula Daly

Domestic noir at its best

Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the sheer brilliance of this book

Books

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 5)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I have decided to dedicate this post to one of the authors who fed my love of the crime fiction, especially that with a psychological twist, Ruth Rendell who died on 2 May 2015. As my fellow respected blogger Jose Escribo wrote: The best tribute to an author is to read his/her books. Read Jose’s post here.  Ruth Rendell’s career as an author began in 1964 and she was still writing until her latest stroke incapacitated her, with her final book, Dark Corners due out later this year.

A Judgement In Stone by Ruth Rendell, first published 1977

A Judgement in Stone

Blurb

Four members of the Coverdale family – George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles – died in the space of fifteen minutes on the 14th February, St Valentine’s Day.
Eunice Parchman, the illiterate housekeeper, shot them down on a Sunday evening while they were watching opera on television. Two weeks later she was arrested for the crime.
But the tragedy neither began nor ended there. Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.

There was no real motive and no premeditation. No money was gained and no security. As a result of her crime, Eunice Parchman’s disability was made known not to a mere family or a handful of villagers but to the whole country. She accomplished nothing by it nothing but disaster for herself, and all along, somewhere in her strange mind, she knew she would accomplish nothing. And yet, although her companion and partner was mad, Eunice was not. She had the awful practical sanity of the atavistic ape disguised as a twentieth-century woman.

~ ~ ~

Ruth Rendell also wrote under the pen name Barbara Vine which was used to showcase the purer of her psychological novels and it was many of these books that I have re-read more times than I can count. It is hard to choose a favourite but I love Asta’s Book one of the few books in my house that bears the scars from having been read so often, and in places where books shouldn’t inhabit if they are to stay pristine.

Astas Book

Blurb

Anna is a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century. Homesick and lonely for her husband, she keeps her innermost thoughts in a diary. When she dies, these memoirs, spanning sixty years, will be published to international acclaim and huge commercial success. But as Anna’s granddaughter discovers many years later, one entry has been cut out of the original journals, which may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder – the stabbing death of an elderly woman and her daughter – and the mysterious disappearance of an infant child. Vintage Vine, this novel alternates between passages from Anna’s best-selling memoirs and the thoughts of Anna’s granddaughter, recent heir to Anna’s estate. With unforgettable characters and a plot rich in complexity, the mystery unfolds like a dark flower, petal by petal. Another tour de force from Barbara Vine Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

My Grandmother was a novelist without knowing it. She knew nothing about how to become a novelist and, if she had, it would never have occurred to her as feasible. The alternative path she took is now well-known.
This is a collection of papers and memories: my grandmother’s diaries, an account of a crime and a transcript of a trial, letters and documents and the things I remember. It is a double detective story, a quest for an identity and a quest for a lost child. At the same time it is a voyage of discovery and a witness to the triumph of chance,

What do you think? Are you able to resist the urge to find out more? I struggled as I would happily re-read both of these despite knowing these books so well.