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 Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (April 24)

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.

Well my TBR is now truly out of control… From NetGalley I have the following irresistible books:

From Twenty7 books who publish debut authors I have Little Bones by Sam Blake which will be published in eBook format on 17 May 2016.

Little Bones

Blurb

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.
And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.
Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.
Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?
Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become… NetGalley

I was also lucky enough to get a copy of Angela Marsons fourth book in the Detective Kim Stone series, Play Dead, the first three had me hooked in 2015.

Play Dead

Blurb

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …? NetGalley


Play Dead
will be published on 20 May 2016 by Bookouture.

Lastly I have a copy of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena which will be published by Random House UK on 14 July 2016.

The Couple Next Door

Blurb

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.
Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.
Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.
Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race upstairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.
You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.
What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I’m posting this a day later than normal and there was a reason, that being that today was one of the Island’s book sales for the blind ,and so in the name of charity I have a few more books to show you. I would like to say as mitigation I put back a few and I resisted picking up many more!

Book Sale April 2016

 

I have a copy of The Sixth Heaven to go with The Shrimp and the Anemone which I already have sitting on the TBR following my love-in with The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley last year.

I always pick up an Agatha Christie book at these sales, it is a challenge that involves finding the best copy that I haven’t bought in previous excursions, this year’s pick is one I don’t remember (at the moment) Murder is Easy.

I’m a huge Barbara Vine fan and my copies  mainly have the classic orange spine by penguin, but I don’t (didn’t) own a copy of The House of Stairs; I did read this one but seem to remember I didn’t particularly rate it but want to check just in case it was a case of reading it at the wrong time.

So after the very recent success of Harriet Said as a reading experience I picked up the only two Beryl Bainbridge books I could find, both in immaculate condition; An Awfully Big Adventure and Winter Garden

I love Carol Shields’ writing and her book The Stone Diaries rates among one of my favourite reads so I just had to pick up Dressing Up for the Carnival, a book of short stories.

And I’m ashamed to say but I haven’t actually read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne so this is my opportunity to correct that.

It was a lovely morning, I always go with a close friend and so we had lots of chit-chat about books and other (less) important stuff, visited a garden centre and rounded the morning off with a lovely cup of coffee at a gentile tea shop neither of us had visited before – see even on a tiny island we can find new and exciting things to do!

So what has all this done to the TBR?

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 7 books, and gained, 10 so the total has shot up to 180 books!
96 physical books
67 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? Please don’t tempt me too much!

Posted in Books I want to Read

On My Bookshelf

On My Bookshelfv1

As I haven’t acquired any new books this week – how good am I? I thought I’d share my bookshelves with you this week having got the idea from another bookshelf sharer; Snazzy Books

So for one week only I have some pictures and I will answer some pre-ordained questions.

I often rearrange my bookshelves mainly because I can’t keep all the books that pass through this house so I have to rationalise fairly frequently. I tend to do this by giving my books away in small amounts rather than having one big clear-out.

Top Shelf

This is the shelf that originally made up the header for my blog and the most prominent of the bookshelves in the house, the one book-loving guests first gravitate to when if they are like me want to have a good nose!  These are the bigger paperbacks that I have and on this shelf because they are more or less the same size.   The newest addition to this shelf is No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

Full Shelf 1
How do you organise your books?
Each bookshelf is organised in a slightly different way. The full bookshelf (aka bookshelf 1) has the top shelf by size, the middle shelf is half-full of recently read larger books and half-full of the dual time historical novels by Kate Morton, Katherine Webb and Rachel Hore.

The bottom shelf is smaller favourite books and new additions to the TBR!

Favourite Authors that appear on your shelf?

These live on bookshelf 3 – amongst others you will find my Peter James collection, including You Are Dead, Sophie Hannah, Reginald Hill, Margaret Forster and Barbara Vine books. This shelf isn’t as easily accessible, being in the hallway, which is fine because I’m not so keen on lending these books out – many of them have been on several house moves with me!

Bookshelf 3 full

What books do you have that you want to read soon but haven’t yet got around to?

Well these live on the bottom shelf of bookshelf 2 – apart from the overspill to bookshelf 1 (see above)

Bookshelf 2 bottom shelf

The book I’m most looking forward to reading from this shelf is The Night Watch by Sarah Waters after remembering how much I love her books when I read The Paying Guests

Which books do I wish that were on my bookshelf but aren’t?

I wish I’d kept a selection of my childhood favourites. I was often given books as presents and had beautiful copies of The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Peter Pan, Anne of Green Gables etc alongside well-worn copies of an abundance of Enid Blyton books, Noel Streatfeild and Roald Dahl.

Which books on your shelf are borrowed?

I have been lent a copy of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry by a work colleague

A Fine Balance

Blurb

With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India.
The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers – a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village – will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state. Goodreads

So that’s a snapshot of my books that sit neatly on a bookshelf and aren’t squirreled away because I may have run out of space again! Check out Snazzy Books shelfie too!

What’s on your bookshelf today?

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.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (May 23)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

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

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

So this week somehow I have just one new find from NetGalley which is The Secret Place by Tana French, the fifth in The Dublin Murder Squad series (and I’ve read the previous four)

The Secret Place
Blurb

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear. NetGalley

I have added Out of the Silence by Wendy James to the TBR after coming across a reference to this on Confessions of a Mystery Novelist… if you haven’t come across this blog and you love crime fiction you really should take a visit.  Margot Kinberg  has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to answer questions if your recall isn’t up to her high standards!

Out of the Silence

Blurb

I have a baby, two shillings, no reputation and nowhere to go, but even so I cannot imagine what far worse might be.
Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and the remarkable Vida Goldstein, the suffragist who was to become the first woman to stand for Parliament.
When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change.
The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900s – not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love – of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power. Amazon

A favourite contributor to my very large TBR is FictionFan who did it again with a compelling review of Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton which has now been added to the pile.

Ethan Frome

Read FictionFan’s review here

On Book’d Out I came across a feature about the writer Felicity Young who has written a series of books about a female autopsy surgeon Dr Dody McCleland in The Anatomy of Death (in Australia The Dissection of Murder)

An Anatomy of Death

Blurb

At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, not only must she prove herself, she must prove that murder treats everyone equally…
After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister—fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.
For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living—especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone—including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table… Goodreads

Read the feature about Felicity Young from Book’d Out here

I just need to add a non-book item, well nearly… after a conversation on Twitter with one of my favourite authorsErin Kelly, I was persuaded to buy the box-set of Barbara Vine DVDs comprising of; Gallowglass, A Dark Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion which were on the BBC in the early 1990’s. Finding myself with a weekend to myself I really enjoyed watching the first two.  Along with this purchase I came across the box-set of five Minette Walters DVDs too, which were also filmed for the BBC, so I have plenty more spare hours to fill with two of my favourite authors on the small screen.

Minette WaltersBarbara Vine

Amazon UK

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (March 17)

musingmondays51

Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing this week is What Makes a Good Read?

Over the weekend I started reading The Next Time You See Me by Holly Goddard Jones and the moment I opened the first page it was clear that this was a book I’d love. That got me thinking, what it is about certain books where you know from the start that you are in for a good read?

This book had none of the obvious hooks for me. It wasn’t the location. I love books set in London as a place I have fond memories from both childhood as well as an adult; this book is set in a small town in America. London

I didn’t immediately identify with the first character, Emily, a young bullied schoolgirl. Although never in with the cool kids I got through school unscathed with nothing more than the general teasing that happens to everyone, and yet something called to me. Was it the first scene sat in a classroom? The young Emily in awe of the poised and amusing Christopher, certainly something that I can relate too, but that surely isn’t enough to warm so immediately to a story?

The genre is spot on, I love a good mystery, but as I read a lot of them although often grabbed by a startling sentence as in Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, I don’t usually immediately think ‘this is going to be special’

You can read my reviews by clicking on the book covers below

Unravelling Oliver

I’m afraid I still can’t articulate how I knew that this was one of those special books although the style of writing is insightful without being wordy.

There are writers whose books I am always sure I will enjoy, I have spoken before about the feeling of being wrapped in a duvet of familiarity when reading Barbara Vine.

Lisa Jewell always writes a rattling good tale which engages me from the first page, quite an accomplishment as she writes about varied subjects.

… and the list goes on of writers who I go to for a guaranteed good read. However, when I consider the number of books I must have read, it is far rarer for a new author to grab me quite the way Holly Goddard Jones has. Are there components to a book that make you fall in love with it or are you like me and sometimes a book just gels and it is love at first page?

Posted in Books I have read

The Child’s Child – Barbara Vine

Psychological Crime 4*'s
Psychological Crime
4*’s

Barbara Vine has written some of my favourite books, those that I have returned to over the years to re-read just for sheer enjoyment despite already knowing what happens.  Now I rarely re-read books and you’d think ones billed as crime would be the last thing to read, after all you already know what happens.  When she writes as Vine (she was first published as Ruth Rendell) her stories often focus on family secrets and misunderstandings or hidden crimes with the story tracking the resulting consequences.  These are books that are character driven, they are not thrillers with fast action but books often spanning years where the characters involved deal with the ripple spreading effect of their actions.

In The Child’s Child we meet siblings, Grace and Andrew who have inherited their grandmother Verity’s large London house.  Deciding they want to keep it they decide to live there together, but, as the blurb reveals, they hadn’t considered what would happen when one of them moves their partner in, particularly if they didn’t get on.  Tensions are soon revealed and the reader is party to the amount of introspection that Grace struggles with when she should be writing her dissertation.

Grace is exploring the lives of unmarried mothers in literature when she picks up what for me is the best part of this story, a book written but not published, which follows the life of Maud, an unmarried mother.  Digging deep into family life starting in 1929 this is a great examination of how disgrace was dealt with at that time.  Vine has a knack of making everything believable, I knew Maud, I may not have liked her but I could see how her character, her views and her circumstances lead her to become the woman she was at the end of her story. Although a little jumpy, you do suddenly realise the story-line has moved on a few years, this part of the book gave me a fascinating look into the mores of the times; this was the part of the book that resonated, Grace and Andrew’s story appearing a little forced for my tastes but providing a mirror of siblings living eighty years apart.

After waiting years for another Vine book, I opened the page and felt soothed by the instantly recognisable style, these books are great for nosey people, those who want to know what goes on behind closed doors and Vine writes in a way that allows the reader to do this.  There is often character introspection, plotting and picking over events so that you really understand their thought processes, their hopes and their fears.

I enjoyed this book but it wouldn’t be the one that I would recommend as a first read so here are my top five Barbara Vine books

A Fatal Inversion – In 1976 a group of friends camp in Wyvis Hall, 10 years later the body of a woman and child are found buried in the pet cemetery, how are the two events connected and whose are the bodies.  Some fantastic hidden clues in this one!

Asta’s Book – In 1905 Asta and her husband move to England with their two sons from Denmark.  Seventy years later the diaries she wrote are translated and published and reveal much more than was expected.

A Dark Adapted Eye – Vera Hillyard and her beautiful sister Eden are locked together trying to hide a secret from the 1950’s.

The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy – Switching between the 1950’s and 1990’s when a noted author dies his total reinvention at the age of 20 is discovered

The Brimstone Wedding – Jenny works in a care home and becomes attached to the elderly Stella who reveals her early life which has parallels to Jenny’s current dilemma.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (February 5)

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 The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths due to be published tomorrow by Quercus!

The Outcast Dead
Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison.
She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care.
DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently.
Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson. NetGalley

I’m not very far through this yet but so far I’m enjoying the mix of present mystery of a dead child combined with the fictional horrendous baby-farmer Mrs Hook who inspired a local rhyme;

Don’t cry little darling.
Don’t cry little dear.
Don’t cry little darling.
Or Mother Hook will hear.

I have just finished The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

The Child's Child

I’ve been visiting my Mum in the UK so I am now even further behind with my reviews but this will be done before the end of the week!

Next I am going to read Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's Skin

Blurb

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone.
But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.
As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.
Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed… Goodreads

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (February 4)

Teasing Tuesday CB
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

The Child's Child

‘In my house where your innocent sister lives? Stay here where everybody we know would see your disgrace? I think not.’

Someone must be dead. He went up to his mother, laid his hand on her shoulder and said, ‘Where’s Maud? What’s happened to Maud?’

Reading Barbara Vine is like wrapping up in a quilt and saying a big ahh… I was slightly worried about reading this book being the first published since The Birthday Present in 2008, but it has proved to be a really enjoyable read. The most enjoyable section for me is the historical part which starts in 1929 and continues through the Second World War as this suits Barbara Vine’s instantly recognisable style of writing perfectly.