Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (August 14)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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 my choice of opening comes from Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante which is the fourth in the series of books that takes us back to Jane Tennison’s life in the 1970s, that is before Prime Suspect.

Blurb

February, 1979, ‘The Winter of Discontent’. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain.

Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham CID, one of London’s toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days.

There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on ‘Murder Mile’ and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation.

Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again.Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind. Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER ONE

Jane Tennison, recently promoted to sergeant, looked out of the passenger window of the CID car at the snow which was falling too lightly to settle. It was 4.30 on a freezing Saturday morning in mid-February 1979 and recently the overnight temperatures had been sub-zero. The weather reports were calling it one of the coldest winters of the century.

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Now I’ll grant you that isn’t the most exciting of opening paragraphs but I think that there are some authors who can write about the most mundane of subjects, and us British are famed for our endless conversations about the weather after all, and yet somehow I feel I’m going to be put under the author’s spell. Although coming relatively (ok, really) late to her writing, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style in Good Friday, the second in the series and I love the 1970s setting.

Well what do you think, would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (August 7)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth which was given to me for my birthday and graces my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge list.

Blurb

Thirty years ago, on Mother’s Day, Mary Byrd Thornton’s nine-year-old stepbrother was murdered. His killer was never found. At the time, Mary Byrd had been fifteen: in love and caught up in the excitement of the Sixties, but when Stevie died, her family and her life fell apart.

For years she has struggled with the knowledge that the murderer is still out there, as well as her own nagging guilt over Stevie’s death. Yet she has built a life for herself in Mississippi: she has married a Southern gentleman and has two children she adores. With her ramshackle house, her teeming garden and her menagerie of animals, she is immersed in a comfortable, if somewhat eccentric and occasionally restless day-to-day existence.

When a journalist chances upon the mystery of Stevie’s death and begins to dig into it, Mary Byrd suddenly finds herself on a reluctant journey back to her childhood home in Virginia. Along the way she encounters help from unexpected quarters and finds herself confronting not only her family’s story but the stories of many others – both the living and the dead.Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


One

Mary Byrd Thornton knew that breaking things was not a good, adult response to getting sudden scary news about a terrible thing in the past, a thing buried with the dead and kicked to the curb of consciousness; but that was what she had done anyway.

She’d been unloading the dishwasher, killing time until school let out and half-listening to NPR. The IRA had broken a truce and bombed London, unwanted rape-babies-“enfants mauvais souvenir,” NPR called them – from the massacres in Rwanda over the past two years were abandoned and dying, some scientist was predicting global chaos, calling it Y2K – planes would be falling from the sky and subway trains colliding in the year 2000. Basically it was the usual news; what she and her brothers called every new day’s headlines; More Dead Everywhere. It always seemed like the world was a kitchen full of leaking gas, just waiting for the careless match.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I know that was two paragraphs but I do like the tenor of this opening and I think the second paragraph sets the time period very neatly. I remember the anxiety over Y2K as if it were yesterday!

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Blog Tour

2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards Blog Tour – Broken Silence – Vivienne Fletcher

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour to celebrate all the finalists in both the Best Novel and Best First Novel categories for the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards. The winners will be announced at WORD Christchurch festival on 1 September.

BEST CRIME NOVEL
• Marlborough Man by Alan Carter (Fremantle Press)
• See You in September by Charity Norman (Allen & Unwin)
• Tess by Kirsten McDougall (VUP)
• The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)
• A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)
• The Hidden Room by Stella Duffy (Virago)

BEST FIRST NOVEL
• The Floating Basin by Carolyn Hawes
• Broken Silence by Helen Vivienne Fletcher (HVF Publishing)
• All Our Secrets by Jennifer Lane (Rosa Mira Books)
• The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell (Mary Egan Publishing)
• Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (Oak House Press)

It was therefore with great pleasure to do a short Q & A with author Vivienne Fletcher whose YA novel is one of those finalists but first lets take a look at the book, Broken Silence:

BROKEN SILENCE:
A stranger just put Kelsey’s boyfriend in a coma. The worst part? She asked him to do it. Seventeen-year-old Kelsey is dealing with a lot – an abusive boyfriend, a gravely ill mother, an absent father, and a confusing new love interest. After her boyfriend attacks her in public, a stranger on the end of the phone line offers to help. Kelsey pays little attention to his words, but the caller is deadly serious. Suddenly the people Kelsey loves are in danger, and only Kelsey knows it. Will Kelsey discover the identity of the caller before it’s too late?

• I’ll start with the obvious question: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Did you write stories as a child?

I made up stories as a child, but I struggled a lot with spelling and learning to write, so getting them down on paper didn’t come until later. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic teacher when I was around seven or eight, who helped me work through my blocks and learn to love writing. That was the first time I said I wanted to be a writer. I cycled through a few other career ideas as I grew up, ranging from air hostess to child psychologist, but writing was something I always came back to.

• What were your five favourite childhood books?

Oh wow – so many to choose from, but these were the first ones that came to mind, which shows they must have stayed with me. Ranging from picture book to young adult novel:

1) The Choosing Day by Jennifer Beck
2) The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger
3) Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee
4) To the Dark Tower by Victor Kelleher
5) Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock

• Tell us a little about your novel, what readers can expect from it?

Broken Silence is a fairly dark and gritty young adult thriller. Seventeen-year-old Kelsey is dealing with a lot – an abusive boyfriend, seriously ill mother, an absent father, and the beginning of an eating disorder. When she moves in with her brother, things are supposed to get better, but instead she begins receiving strange phone calls. The caller is protective of Kelsey, wanting to help her, but plays this out by attacking and sometimes killing anyone he perceives to be a threat to her.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t one for the faint of heart, but I think it’s a book that many people will enjoy for the high stakes and fast pace. The idea first came to me, when I was thirteen and spent an evening watching Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer with my best friend. Obviously the concept evolved and matured over the years, before I eventually wrote it down, but that should hopefully give readers an idea of the type of genre to expect.

• How important is the setting to your book?

I wanted Broken Silence to be set in New Zealand, while also be relatable to readers in other countries. There are little nods to it being set in Wellington, which those familiar with New Zealand will recognise, but it’s not overly important to the story. Kelsey is written as Kiwi, but first and foremost she’s written as a teenage girl just like those in many other places around the world.

• Where do you find the inspiration for your lead character?

There’s a lot of me in Kelsey … or at least teenage me. I have of course changed as I’ve grown up, but I remember the intensity of being a teenager and those memories have inspired her character.
The way I write, the story comes to me first, then I spend some time piecing together who the events happen to. There are bits of many women I’ve met in there. In the past, I worked as a youth support worker and later as a mental health phone counsellor. Kelsey isn’t based on any one person I spoke to during that time, but many of stories I heard from people influenced how I wrote her, and her reactions to the situations she faces during the course of the story.

• How would you introduce them at a party?

This is Kelsey. *subtle whispered aside, behind a cupped hand* She’s been through a hard time recently, so please be gentle with her, and excuse her if she’s a little rude!

• Do you have a writing schedule? Perhaps you have a target of a set number of words per day?

For me it depends from project to project. If I’m working on a first draft, I write from 10am-midday at least three days a week (usually more, but depends on other work commitments.)
Right now, I’m working on editing a second draft, so I’ve been setting a goal of editing one chapter per day, however long that takes to get it to where I want it to be.

• Where do you write?

At the moment, I write sitting on the floor with my dog in my lap. She’s a wonderful helper. She keeps me warm and on track, as I can’t get up from the computer until she wakes up. It’s a great place for editing, though it may not be so comfortable once I’m on to the next project and writing longer blocks of text!

• Are there any more books in the pipeline?

Yes – at the moment I’m working on my third YA novel. This one has paranormal elements, so a bit of a different direction from Broken Silence and Underwater, but it still has dark themes and a mystery running through it which I hope readers will enjoy.

Thank you so much Vivienne, some brilliant answers to my questions, and I particularly love that introduction to Kelsey!

About Helen Vivienne Fletcher

Helen Vivienne Fletcher has been writing for children and young adults for the past ten years. She has won and been shortlisted for several writing competitions, including making the shortlist for the 2008 Joy Cowley Award. In 2015 she was named Outstanding New Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards for her play How to Catch a Grim Reaper. Her e-picture books have been sold worldwide, and translated into French, German and Spanish. Helen is the author of three picture books for children, two young adult novels – Broken Silence and Underwater, and a short story collection for adults, Symbolic Death. You can find more about Helen’s books on her personal website:

https://www.helenvfletcher.com/

Posted in The Classic Club

The Classic Club Spin #18 – The Result!


The Classics Club has decided to spin its wheel for the 18th time, the 2nd for Cleopatra Loves books and so I hesitantly checked out the result. Not because I have any books on the list I created that I’m really dreading but because I’m not quite sure when I’m going to fit in a book to August’s already bursting schedule and the book must be read, and reviewed by 31 August 2018.

The result came through and it is number 9 which for me means that I am to read The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

I’m going to do a little Q&A about the book so first things first and most importantly:

How many pages long is The Shuttle?

Over 500 and according to my kindle it is about 9 1/2 hours worth of reading time – so possibly not the best choice for August!

Why did you choose to add this book to your The Classics Club list of 50 books?

I have pondered about all those authors I repeatedly sought out as a child and wondered what books, if any they had written for adults, as a result when I came to draw up my list I decided to include a small selection of these to read over the next 5 years.

Do you own a copy of the book?

Yes, my copy for kindle was purchased in December 2013 so it has been at the back of my mind to read it for some time. At least the spin result didn’t mean I had to purchase a new book too!

What other books by this author have you read?

I was a huge reader of classic children stories. I was the child in the wider family who was known as ‘the bookworm’ and as a consequence got given many beautiful copies of books for birthdays and Christmas as well as having access to the copies my mother had read as a child.

I had a particularly lovely book with a story at each end with Little Lord Fauntleroy at one end and The Little Princess at the other. complete with what I felt essential as a child (and still do), a ribbon bookmark! I also had a copy of The Secret Garden, one of my favourite books of all time and I can still remember lying down to sleep imagining I was Mary – sadly, less green fingers than mine are rarely seen!

What’s The Shuttle about?

An American heiresses marrying English aristocrats; by extension it is about the effect of American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class. Sir Nigel Anstruthers crosses the Atlantic to look for a rich wife and returns with the daughter of an American millionaire, Rosalie Vanderpoel.

He turns out to be a bully, a miser and a philanderer and virtually imprisons his wife in the house. Only when Rosalie’s sister Bettina is grown up does it occur to her and her father that some sort of rescue expedition should take place. And the beautiful, kind and dynamic Bettina leaves for Europe to try and find out why Rosalie has, inexplicably, chosen to lose touch with her family.

In the process she engages in a psychological war with Sir Nigel; meets and falls in love with another Englishman; and starts to use the Vanderpoel money to modernise ‘Stornham Court’. Persephone Books

When was The Shuttle first published?

In 1907 so a couple of years after The Little Princess and before The Secret Garden although apparently The Shuttle and The Secret Garden used Great Maytham Hall near Rolvenden, Kent, as inspiration for the setting.

Great Maytham Hall Photo by Stephen Nunney

Tell me a bit about Frances Hodgson Burnett?

Frances Eliza Hodgson was born at 141 York Street, Cheetham Manchester on 24 November 1849, one of five children born to an Ironmonger who owned a business and his well-to-do wife. Sadly her father died of a stroke in 1853 and Frances’s mother took over the running of the business. The family emigrated to America in 1865 settling near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Soon after her early scribblings were transformed into ‘proper’ writing and she had her first story published in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1868. Funds from her writing meant that in 1872 she was able to fund her first trip back to the UK and then returned to Tennessee to marry Swann Burnett. The couple had two children and Frances continued writing.

In 1884 publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy secured her reputation as a writer and in 1887 she travelled to England for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and made yearly trips thereafter. In 1890 her eldest son died of consumption.

By the mid 1890s her home was Maytham Hall and in 1898 she was divorced from Swann by seemingly mutual agreement. She was to marry again to a man ten years her junior, it wasn’t a happy union and it was during this time she wrote The Shuttle. She was to divorce fairly swiftly afterwards and returned to the United States in 1907. She died on 29 October 1924 aged 74.

Frances Hodgson Burnett
           Aged approx 40

The Shuttle was republished by Persephone Press in 2007 bringing this ‘lost’ story to a new generation of readers.

What did you get fellow Classic Club Spinners?

Looking forward to everyone’s views on whether I should be celebrating my success or perhaps this book missed the mark where you’re concerned?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 31)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson, the seventh in series featuring genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Letters from the Dead will be published on 14 August 2018.

Blurb

When genealogist Jefferson Tayte is hired to prove the identity of a black sheep in his client’s family tree, he unwillingly finds himself drawn into a murder investigation with nothing more to go on than a 150-year-old letter and a connection to a legendary ruby that has been missing for generations.

As more letters are mysteriously left for him, Tayte becomes immersed in a centuries-old tale of greed, murder and forbidden love that takes his research from the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the colour and heat of colonial India.

A dark secret is buried in Jaipur, steeped in treachery and scandal. But why is it having such deadly repercussions in the present? Can Tayte find the ruby and prevent the past from repeating itself before it’s too late?

This is the seventh book in the Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery series but it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone story. Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

October 1869

Dear Robert,

Further to my recent correspondence, I write to you with great anticipation and excitement over your interest in the aforementioned matter. I have in my possession several letters written by my great-aunt Jane concerning her travels in India. By themselves they mean little. Taken as a whole, however I believe they represent an extraordinary tale that could prove priceless.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I love old letters and the connection between the Scottish Highlands and India has my interest piqued to the highest of levels.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 24)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic which will be published in paperback on 9 August 2018. or if you want it even sooner it is out in eBook format on 27 July 2018.

Blurb

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a counsellor and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But everything changes when Adam Geraghty walks into her office. She’s never met this young man before – so why does she feel like she knows him?

Then Adam starts to tell her about a girl. A girl he wants to hurt.

And Susanna realises she was wrong. She doesn’t know him. BUT HE KNOWS HER.
AND THE GIRL HE PLANS TO HURT IS HER DAUGHTER… Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Who am I?

She wakes to find herself broken, and it is the first question that enters her head. The next: where am I? She feels drugged, sluggish. Her head is heavy, her senses dulled, as though she were underwater. And there is a fire in her throat. The sensation when she swallows is of trying to ingest crushed glass.
She blinks. Her vision clears but it is the smell of this place she’s in that is revealed. The room stinks of damp, booze days-old urine. It hits her and makes her gag.

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Ugh.. a bit of a pungent opening but as I happen to know this is an author who is able to really creep me out with his novels, I’ll get passed the stench.

What about you? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 17)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Little Liar by Lisa Ballantyne which will be published in eBook format on 2 August 2018.

Blurb

The accused

While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him – and that Nick’s imminent arrest will see the start of everything he knows and loves disintegrating around him.
Because, mud sticks, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.

The accuser

When Angela Furness decides that enough is enough – she hates her parents, hates her friends and, most of all, despises what has recently happened at school – she does the only thing she knows will get her attention: calls the police. But Angela is unaware that the shocking story she is about to tell will see her life begin to topple.
Because, once you’ve said what you’ve said, there’s no way back, right? No matter if you’re innocent or guilty.

In a gripping tale of two families torn apart by one catastrophic betrayal, Little Liar illustrates the fine line between guilt and innocence, and shows that everyone has their secrets, even those we ought to trust the most… Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

Angela

Fight, fight, fight.

Angela looked down at her knuckles and saw they were red. It wasn’t her blood. The crowd had formed so fast, pupils from her year – twelve-and-thirteen-year-olds – being elbowed out of the way by lads of fifteen. The ring of people around her pulsated as one. The eye of the fight, where she stood, was only three or four feet wide. Kids pressed as close as they could to get a look, climbing on shoulders and pulling on school bags, but they also stayed back, gave room for the violence, so that the circle where Angela stood contracted and diluted like an iris. She didn’t know how many people surrounded her. Everyone wanted to watch a fight and a girl fight was even better, so long as it was a real one.
This was a real one. She hadn’t started it, but she was going to finish it. She was going to teach Jasmine a lesson.

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Wow – I have obviously led a sheltered life having witnessed very few fights in my life although I do remember a couple in the school playground…

Anyway this seems to be the forerunner to Angela’s call to the police… I want to read more, do you?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (July 10)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly which will be published on 26 July 2018.

Blurb

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . . Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Dear Mrs Jane Campbell,

Thank you for sending us your novel, which we have now read and considered. We are sorry to say though that your novel is not something this agency could feel 100 per cent confident of being able to handle successfully. However, there are as many opinions as there are agents and publishers, so we wish you all the success in finding suitable representation elsewhere. Due to the large numbers of submissions we receive, we’re afraid we’re unable to respond individually to your query, or to provide feedback on your work.

Sincerely yours,
Phoebe Claystone
Literary Agent

1

Another year of my life… wasted. All that work. All that time I’d devoted when I could be doing something else. Something more productive.

Hell, I could probably have learned Mandarin by now.

Please note I have broken off mid paragraph here otherwise I’m in danger of typing forever!

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 26)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington. I’ve recently read this book, but due to a severe backlog of reviews to write it’ll be a little while until it is posted on Cleopatra Loves Books.

Blurb

A haunting crime novel story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter One

I’ll be honest and say I got a bit of a shock when I started getting letters from Snow Delaney.
The first of them arrived in April 2011, by which time she was already in prison.
Apparently Snow decided to write to me after her lawyer – or, more accurately, her old lawyer, the one she’s now sacked – gave her copies of some of the articles I’d written about her case.
They must have got up her nose, those articles, because Snow accused me in that first letter of getting ‘key facts’ wrong and being biased against her.
I wrote back, asking her to tell me where I’d gone wrong, and then Snow replied, and so on and so forth for more than a year.

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I bought my copy of Sisters of Mercy on the basis of an excellent spotlight post by that very knowledgeable blogger Margot Kinberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist… and I strongly suggest that you read her post if you want to know more. At this point I’ll just say her recommendation was, as always, spot on!

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Perhaps you’ve already read this, what did you think?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 5)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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’m sharing the opening paragraph of Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match by Wendy Moore which is one of my 20 Books of Summer 2018 Challenge.

Blurb

WEDLOCK is the remarkable story of the Countess of Strathmore and her marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary Eleanor Bowes was one of Britain’s richest young heiresses. She married the Count of Strathmore who died young, and pregnant with her lover’s child, Mary became engaged to George Gray. Then in swooped Andrew Robinson Stoney. Mary was bowled over and married him within the week.

But nothing was as it seemed. Stoney was broke, and his pursuit of the wealthy Countess a calculated ploy. Once married to Mary, he embarked on years of ill treatment, seizing her lands, beating her, terrorising servants, introducing prostitutes to the family home, kidnapping his own sister. But finally after many years, a servant helped Mary to escape. She began a high-profile divorce case that was the scandal of the day and was successful. But then Andrew kidnapped her and undertook a week-long rampage of terror and cruelty until the law finally caught up with him. Amazon

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First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

An Affair of Honour

London, 13 January 1777

Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening. Having opened five years earlier, as an integral part of the vast riverside development designed by the Adam brothers, the Adelphi Tavern and Coffee House had established a reputation for its fine dinners and genteel company. Many an office worker like Hull, a clerk at the Government’s Salt Office, sought refuge from the clamour of the nearby Strand in the tavern’s first-floor dining room with its elegant ceiling panels depicting Pan and Bacchus in pastel shades. On a Monday evening in January, with the day’s work behind him, Hull could expect to read his journal undisturbed.

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Well that sounds like quite a lovely way to spend an evening even if I’m unsure how John Hull links to the scandal that I want to know about.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? Perhaps you’ve already read this, what did you think?