Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (July 4)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I have just started No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister, one of my latest favourite authors. This book was published on Monday 2 July.

Blurb

he police say she’s guilty.
She insists she’s innocent.
She’s your sister.
You loved her.
You trusted her.
But they say she killed your child.
Who do you believe?
Original, devilishly clever and impossible to forget, this is a thriller with a difference. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from the trial that will determine both sisters’ fates. NetGalley

The last book I read was In the Dark by Cara Hunter the second in the Adam Fawley series set in Oxford which will be published on 12 July 2018.



Blurb

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive. No one knows who they are – the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile.

The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before. The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses?

But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible. And that no one is as innocent as they seem . . NetGalley

Next on my list is The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola which will be published on 26 July 2018. I loved this author’s debut novel The Unseeing and so I’m hoping for great things from this one too.

Blurb

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before. NetGalley

What do you think? Do any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (June 2014 to May 2018)


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

It should be noted there are typically slimmer pickings for reviews to choose from in June as that is typically when I go on holiday but fear not, there are still some great reads to choose from.

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

From June 2014 I am choosing The Kill by Jane Casey, book five of her spectacular Maeve Kerrigan series. It looks like book eight is due to be published in 2019.

This exceptionally worrying read features a serial killer who is picking off the police in London. The story uses elements that we witnessed from the 2011 riots in London giving the storyline a basis in reality that only serves to give it more credibility. That combined with the media and politicians using the murders to serve their own agendas only ramps up the tension.

As ever Jane Casey includes a wonderful array of characters, the plotting and pacing are spot-on making for absolutely compulsive reading.

Their job is to investigate crime – not become the victims…

A killer is terrorising London but this time the police are the targets. Urgently re-assigned to investigate a series of brutal attacks on fellow officers, Maeve Kerrigan and her boss Josh Derwent have little idea what motivates the killer’s fury against the force.

But they know it will only be a matter of time before the killer strikes again. Amazon

I am a huge Sophie Hannah fan but even given the massive expectation I already have A Game for all the Family was just something else!

Never before have I got quite so far through a book where I’m enormously enjoying what I’m reading but have no clue what actually is going on… the oddest experience and all the more delightful when everything became clear in the end.

The basic premise is that whilst driving to their new house, the Merrison family spot an odd house which resonates.

All goes well with the move he ugly house is more or less forgotten and for the first couple of months the move out of London to Devon proves to be a good one. But then Ellen becomes withdrawn and secretive. Ah but she’s fourteen, so nothing too out of the ordinary! Ellen is spending all of her time working on a story she’s writing for an English assignment and when Justine finds the first couple of pages she’s alarmed. It is very well-written, set in their new house and has more than one murder! Around the same time Ellen becomes distressed about her friend George Donbavand who has been expelled from school for a crime he hasn’t committed. Justine visits the school and is told that George never existed!

The story winds tighter and tighter and is one of the most unusual and yet absorbing books I have read.

Blurb

He’s not your son. It’s not up to you to save him. But you have to try.

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.

But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.

Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety.

If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be… Amazon

For June’s 2016 top pick I am choosing another innovative writer but this one is a police procedural. Reginald Hill’s Pictures of Perfection is one of my favourites of all of his books. This is the thirteenth book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, and as with any series they are probably best enjoyed if you read them in order although many, this one included, can be read and appreciated perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.

There is so much to delight in within the pages of Pictures of Perfection, from the links to Jane Austen both ostentatious in the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter and slightly more subtle references within the themes themselves, to the moment in history that the book evokes; this was probably the last moments where ‘village life’ could be portrayed in this manner without those who live in such places laughing at the cliché of ‘Olde Worlde Britain’ that it evokes, one where everyone knows each other better than they know themselves often bound by a common enemy or two.

You’ll be pleased and reassured to know with all the periphery views to enjoy within the pages of this novel, there is also a proper plot with a full-blown mystery or two to be solved

Blurb

High in the Mid-Yorkshire Dales stands the traditional village of Enscombe, seemingly untouched by the modern world. But contemporary life is about to intrude when the disappearance of a policeman brings Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe to its doors.

As the detectives dig beneath the veneer of idyllic village life a new pattern emerges: of family feuds, ancient injuries, cheating and lies. And finally, as the community gathers for the traditional Squire’s Reckoning, it looks as if the simmering tensions will erupt in a bloody climax… Amazon

There were a few books I could have chosen to feature in this post from June 2017 but I have decided to go with Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett because this is not a crime fiction novel of any description!

Instead it taps into the fact that music is the soundtrack to all of our lives. We all recall how we felt about those songs that were the background to early years; the songs we fell in love to and those that we obsessively listened to as we attempt to mend wounded hearts; for many of us there is a tune that can turn back the years to a distant time and place. Laura Barnett has taken this idea and turned it into a densely woven story.

Music is woven throughout the tale about songwriter Cass’s life and we meet some stand-out characters of all types. Cass’s life felt like one I could have been part of, so evocative were the descriptions and so rich in both characters and writing style. This is a book to wallow in with a story that transports its reader to a time and place far away.

Blurb

If you could choose just sixteen moments to define your entire life, what would they be?
Cass Wheeler has seen it all – from the searing heights of success, to earth-shattering moments of despair. She has known passion, envy, pride, fear, and love. She has been a daughter, a mother, a singer, a lover.

A musician born in 1950, Cass is now taking one day to select the sixteen songs in her repertoire that have meant the most to her. And behind each song lies a story – from the day her mother abandoned her, to her passionate first love, to the moment she lost everything. The dreams, the failures, the second chances. But what made her disappear so suddenly from her public life and, most importantly, can she find her way back? Amazon

There was no question about the book I would choose to star as my top read of 2018 – Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is a stunning follow up to Beartown (originally published in the UK as The Scandal). The beauty of this book is the truths that are woven into the story of a small town on the downward slide. The characters are complex with ‘bad’ people doing good and good people doing things that hurt others – I know of no other author who can create such a rich array of characters that reflect real life and create a mesmerising tale for us to meet them in.

I think these two books are among the most quotable of modern books, there are truisms that are expertly woven into a story that will have you experiencing tragedy one moment and wondering at the strength of character of another the next. Everyone in Beartown has a story to tell and Fredrick Backman tells it to us with the love of his creation illuminating the world even when its facing destruction.

Blurb

Beartown is dying . . .

Tucked in a forest in the frozen north, Beartown’s residents are tough and hardworking. They don’t expect life to be easy, but they do expect it to be fair.

Which is why the sudden loss of their hockey players to the rival town of Hed hurts. Everyone needs something to cheer for in the long winter nights. Now they have nothing.

So when a new star player arrives, Coach Peter sees an opportunity to rebuild the team – to take on Hed and restore Beartown’s fortunes. But not everyone in town sees it his way.

As the big game between both towns approaches, the rivalry turns bitter and all too real. Once the stands rumbled with threats to ‘kill’ and ‘ruin’ each other, but the residents didn’t mean it. Now they do.

By the time the last goal is scored, someone in Beartown will be dead . . .

Us Against You is the story of two towns, two teams and what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself. It’s about how people come together – sometimes in anger, often in sorrow, but also through love. And how, when we stand together, we can bring a town back to life. Amazon

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 1)

It seems like an age since I did a weekly wrap up, mainly because I was away enjoying a wonderful holiday in Rhodes for a couple of weeks. This gave me the opportunity to read a whole range of books in between eating, drinking and learning about the history of Rhodes. All in all I came back refreshed and relaxed and rejuvenated. Then I returned to work and all my good intentions of writing up my reviews faltered…

We returned home last Sunday and my neighbour’s son had done a wonderful job of looking after my sunflowers in our absence. I have six plants, two have open heads and another is on the way…

This Week on the Blog

Well it was straight into a review as I now have a backlog to write! The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell was a wonderful dual time-line story set between 1955 and the present day – a beautiful story to match the stunning cover.

My excerpt post was taken from Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington which was probably the most disturbing of my holiday reads.

This Week in Books featured the authors Lisa Jewell, Sabine Durrant and Jeffery Toobin

On Thursday I reviewed another new release; The Death of Mrs Westaway by the very talented Ruth Ware.

Next I posted my review of Conon Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox, a non-fiction read about how Conon Doyle got involved in the case of Oscar Slater who was accused of murdering an old lady in Glasgow in 1908.

Finally, yesterday I reviewed the first book in my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge with Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Island by Victoria Hislop which I’d bought following our holiday in Crete in 2016 because we visited the, now abandoned, leper colony on the small island of Spinalonga. Over the past year I have reflected on quite how powerful this story was. Not only is it very well-written but the fact that those suffering with leprosy were sent there within living memory is something I just can’t get out of my mind.

The story itself has all the elements you could want with love, betrayal, secrets and at its heart family. The story swings backwards and forwards from the little village of Plaka where life is simple to the bigger towns where research was going on to find a cure for the dreadful disease, a search which was suspended when the war became the fight that the whole of Greece was focussed on.

A memorable tale indeed.

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

Blurb

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Somehow even though I’ve been away I’ve managed to also acquire some new books a small selection of which I’ll share here…

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of Rachel Abbott’s stand-alone psychological thriller called And So It Begins which will be published in October 2018.

Blurb

So this is how it ends. It is clear to me now: one of us has to die.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder? Amazon

This sounds so good, it has a murder, a trial and a great character name even though it sounds like she either ends up dead or on a murder charge!

Another of my favourite authors also is going to publish a psychological thriller in the autumn and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths before it is published on 1 November 2018.

Blurb

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers… Amazon

I also have a copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton which I’m so excited about as I’ve loved each and every one of this author’s previous books. This is due to be published on 20 September 2018.

My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter. NetGalley

I couldn’t resist the offering of a copy of The Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay (which was already on my wishlist) having so enjoyed Conan Doyle for the Defence, so I now have a  copy of this book, which has already been published.

Blurb

In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head.

What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate.

This is the case Conan Doyle couldn’t solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover ‘whodunit’ as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read lots of books and I have also gained a small pile but I’m delighted to announce that the TBR has dropped to the unprecedented low level of 167!
Physical Books – 106
Kindle Books – 41
NetGalley Books –19
Audio Books –1

As all my reviews since my return have been of review copies I’ve not yet earned any more tokens so I’m 1 book in credit, having bought no new books.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (June 27)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is Take Me In by Sabine Durrant which is published tomorrow, 28 June 2018.

Blurb

A hot beach. A young family on holiday. A fatal moment of inattention…
And now Dave Jepsom is in their lives.
Dave Jepsom, with his muscles, his pale eyes, his expressionless face.
He saved their child. How can they ever repay him? Especially as what he seems to want in return is everything.
He’s in the streets they walk down. He’s at the office where they work. He’s at their front door, leaning on the bell…
If only they could go back. Back to when the lies were still hidden. Before the holiday, before the beach, before the moment that changed everything.

Before Dave. Amazon

The last book I finished was a review copy of Lisa Jewell’s Watching You which is due to be published on 12 July 2018. My review will be posted closer to this date but as always Lisa Jewell has come up with the perfect recipe for a thrilling read.

Blurb

You’re not the only one watching.

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.
You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.
That’s when you meet the man next door.
He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.
All the time.
But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you. Amazon

Next up is one of my 20 Books of Summer choices, American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin.



Blurb

Domestic terrorism. Financial uncertainty. Troops abroad, fighting an unsuccessful and bloody war against guerrilla insurgents. A violent generation gap emerging between a discontented youth and their disapproving, angry elders.

This was the early seventies in America, and it was against this backdrop that the kidnapping of nineteen-year-old Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Front – a rag-tag, cult-like group of political extremists and criminals – stole headlines across the world. Using new research and drawing on the formidable abilities that made The Run of His Life a global bestseller, Jeffrey Toobin uncovers the story of the kidnapping and its aftermath in vivid prose and forensic detail. Amazon

What do you think? Do any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (June 3)

It feels like summer here – last Sunday we had a bbq to belatedly celebrate my daughter’s birthday on her return from holiday, and yesterday we took a walk so that we could have breakfast while looking at this wonderful view.

This Week on the Blog

With summer actually making a proper appearance it was fitting that my week started with my first selection for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer 2018, a challenge that shapes my summer.

My excerpt post came from Ngaio Marsh’s book Off With His Head which is one of my reads for The Classics Club.

This Week in Books featured the authors Fredrik Backman, Rhiannon Navin and Kim Izzo

So we are up to Thursday before I posted my first review of the week for Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith.

Then, it was 1 June and time for me to make my selection for Five of the Best for May from 2014 to 2018.

My second review of the week was for Only Child by Rhiannon Navin, a heartbreaking tale narrated by a six-year-old boy called Zach.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham. I love a crime fiction book t with a strong contemporary feel and Mark Billingham uses his fourteenth book in the Tom Thorne series to use honour killings as the starting point. The fact that he does this within a brilliantly constructed mystery certainly makes for compelling reading. Mark Billingham has clearly researched his subject matter speaking to those who have been part of those families where the younger generation are resistant to following the rules their parents are keen to uphold but he never forgets that this is a work of fiction, and as such it was gripping.

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

Blurb

A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.

A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.

A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

I have one new addition from NetGalley this week; Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly, an author who had me thoroughly gripped with her previous novels Just What Kind of Mother are You?, The Mistake I Made and The Trophy Child. Open Your Eyes 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 . . . NetGalley

And my holiday is coming up so I cashed in two of my tokens. Limiting my choices for buying new books has caused endless debates about which books I really, really want – that debate is ongoing and I’m hoping to have another token in the bank so I can choose two more before I leave!

First up is Dying Truth by Angela Marsons, the eighth in her Kim Stone series and a sure fire winner as far as this reader is concerned.

Blurb

When teenager Sadie Winter jumps from the roof of her school, her death is ruled as suicide – a final devastating act from a troubled girl. But then the broken body of a young boy is discovered at the same school and it’s clear to Detective Kim Stone that these deaths are not tragic accidents.

As Kim and her team begin to unravel a dark web of secrets, one of the teachers could hold the key to the truth. Yet just as she is about to break her silence, she is found dead.

With more children’s lives at risk, Kim has to consider the unthinkable – whether a fellow pupil could be responsible for the murders. Investigating the psychology of children that kill brings the detective into contact with her former adversary, Dr Alex Thorne – the sociopath who has made it her life’s work to destroy Kim.

Desperate to catch the killer, Kim finds a link between the recent murders and an initiation prank that happened at the school decades earlier. But saving these innocent lives comes at a cost – and one of Kim’s own might pay the ultimate price. Amazon

I’ve also bought a copy of A Fractured Winter, the latest book by Alison Baillie after being so impressed by Sewing the Shadows Together

Blurb

A missing girl.
Threatening notes.
Sinister strangers.

Olivia’s idyllic family life in a Swiss mountain village is falling apart. She thought she’d managed to escape the past, but it’s coming back to haunt her.

Has somebody discovered her secret – why she had to leave Scotland more than ten years ago?

What is her connection to Marie, a lonely schoolgirl in a Yorkshire seaside town, and Lucy, a student at a Scottish university?

A story of the shadows of the past, the uncertainties of the present and how you can never really know anybody. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 3 books and I have gained 3 so the TBR is at a consistent 175
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 46
NetGalley Books –16
Audio Books –1

Having used 2 tokens I am 1 book in credit!

Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (May 2014 to May 2018)


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

My pick for May of 2014 is The Broken by Tamar Cohen, now better known as Tammy Cohen, and this book was her first fully-fledged foray into the psychological thriller genre.

The story is centered around two couples their friendship and the subsequent fall-out when one of the husbands decides his marriage is over, Unfortunately and confides in the friend before his wife.

What follows is an expose of a breakdown of a marriage… and a friendship brilliantly exposing the ripple effect of one man’s decision. Chilling stuff indeed.

Blurb

Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.

Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.

Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger.
Best friends don’t always stay best friends. Amazon

In May 2015 I reviewed an amazing book that covered a real-life and fantastical trial that spanned from the late Victorian to the early Edwardian eras. Piu Marie Eatwell named her book The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse which also wins my award for the best title for a book!

In 1898 a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. Mr Druce had been a furniture dealer, owning the Baker Street Bazaar, a forerunner of what we know as a department store, but Anna Maria believed that he had been the alter ego of the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland. Her claims meant that Tomas Druce had faked his death in 1864 and spent the next fifteen living at the ducal seat, Welbeck Abbey in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

The book covers claims and counter claims aplenty with a hefty dash of insight into the social history of the time. It made for absolutely fascinating reading aided by accurate research alongside a dramatic and complex case rendered easy to read by this talented author.



Blurb

The extraordinary story of the Druce-Portland affair, one of the most notorious, tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

In 1897 an elderly widow, Anna Maria Druce, made a strange request of the London Ecclesiastical Court: it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, T.C. Druce.

Behind her application lay a sensational claim: that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the – now dead – Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce’s coffin would be found to be empty. And her children, therefore, were heirs to the Portland millions.

The legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England. Amazon

There were quite a few contenders in May 2016 but it had to be Daisy in Chains by one of my favourite authors, Sharon Bolton.

Hamish Wolfe is in HMP Isle of Wight prison, convicted of the murder of three young women, fat young women. All is not lost there is a campaign for his freedom and one of the key people they want on side is lawyer and true true crime writer Maggie Rose. This woman has managed to assist in securing the release of seven other prisoners.

I defy anyone to read this book and not to be drawn by these captivating characters who are dancing a dance of attraction, but what are they attracted to? Beauty or brains? Who exactly is manipulating who?

Sharon Bolton is a skilled writer and this book is one of my favourite of all her creations.

Blurb

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is charming, magnetic and very persuasive. Famed for his good looks, he receives adoring letters every day from his countless admirers. He’s also a convicted murderer, facing life in prison.
Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rosie is a successful lawyer and true-crime author. Reclusive and enigmatic, she only takes on cases she can win.

Hamish is convinced that Maggie can change his fate. Maggie is determined not to get involved. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of such a man. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you? Amazon

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins was both engaging and memorable and I immersed myself into a story of a book about a book. There is always something absolutely irresistible in a this device, but The Night Visitor has taken this kernel and added the most memorable characters.

Olivia Sweetman is making her way to address all two hundred guests gathered at The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons in London. All those people are amongst the jars of organs to celebrate the publication of historian Olivia Sweetman’s book, Annabel, a study of a Victorian woman who became one of the first surgeons, a woman who also had a sensational personal life too, captured within Annabel in her own words. But, all is not as it should be as we find out as this superior psychological novel unfolds and the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come.

Blurb

You have the perfect life . . . How far would you go to protect it?

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything. Amazon

The book I’ve chosen for May 2018 is one that I ‘found’ through blogging. Anne Cater invited me onto the blog tour to celebrate the recent publication of The Dissent of Annie Lang by Ros Franey, and I was drawn to the description of a girl who is the youngest daughter of strict and religious parents. A hint at a stay in an asylum for her brother sealed the deal for me.

Annie Lang’s story is set in the Nottinghamshire during the 1920s and 30s when children certainly had no voice but that doesn’t mean they don’t have eyes, or ears and that the secrets that their elders and betters may think are safe, have probably not gone unnoticed.

The characters are brilliantly depicted, Annie’s friendship with Marjorie Bagshaw in particular, the two girls thrown together because of where they live have little in common and the delicate tussle of power is shown as both keep secrets when it will be to their advantage, at one point Annie admits that neither particularly likes the other.

The combination of sparky Annie Lang complemented by a varied cast of characters and combined with a captivating story meant that this book ticked all the boxes for this reader.



Blurb

‘My story starts and ends at railway stations, though of course I can’t know this yet as I clamber off the boat-train at Victoria that warm May afternoon… ‘

Growing up in a strict religious family in the 1920s, Annie Lang is witness to disturbing events that no one will explain. Only the family dog may know the answers.

Six years on, student Annie returns from France to find her beloved brother in a mental hospital and her ally, the Sunday school teacher, vanished without trace. With the help of her childhood diary, and sister Beatrice, Annie turns detective to unearth the truth.

Her journey leads to a discovery so disturbing that she believes it will ruin all their lives, unless they can atone for the past.

Ros Franey beautifully captures that point when a child can sense, and indeed dissent against, secrets that adults think they are too young to grasp. Impulsive, brave and lovable, Annie Lang is formidable when she takes matters into her own hands.

If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for May 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 30)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is Us Against You by Frederik Backman, the follow up to the book I read and loved as The Scandal that has now been renamed Beartown in the UK too. Us Against You will be published on 14 June 2018.

Blurb

Beartown is dying . . .

Tucked in a forest in the frozen north, Beartown’s residents are tough and hardworking. They don’t expect life to be easy, but they do expect it to be fair.

Which is why the sudden loss of their hockey players to the rival town of Hed hurts. Everyone needs something to cheer for in the long winter nights. Now they have nothing.

So when a new star player arrives, Coach Peter sees an opportunity to rebuild the team – to take on Hed and restore Beartown’s fortunes. But not everyone in town sees it his way.
As the big game between both towns approaches, the rivalry turns bitter and all too real. Once the stands rumbled with threats to ‘kill’ and ‘ruin’ each other, but the residents didn’t mean it. Now they do.

By the time the last goal is scored, someone in Beartown will be dead . . .

Us Against You is the story of two towns, two teams and what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself. It’s about how people come together – sometimes in anger, often in sorrow, but also through love. And how, when we stand together, we can bring a town back to life. Amazon

I’m still crying after my last read which was Only Child by Rhiannon Navin which has an adorable child narrator to navigate us through a world of pain.

Blurb

We all went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach’s dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he remind the grown-ups how to love again?
Narrated by Zach, Only Child is full of heart; a real rollercoaster of a read that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Amazon

Next up, since I predict it will be June by then, I will be reading the first book from my 20 Books of Summer 2018 Challenge, Seven Days In May by Kim Izzo.



Blurb

As the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in the wedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk. Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitania for the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead.

In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. While she begins as a secretary, it isn’t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war.

As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate. Amazon

So quite a different looking reading week for me this time!

What do you think? Do any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 27)

I have found my reading mojo, it’s not that I lost my love of books, but over the last couple of months I haven’t read as much or as compulsively as normal. This led the OH to ask in a worried voice ‘You are going to be reading as normal on holiday aren’t you?’ I think he was worried that I was going to expect him to talk to me non-stop. Anyway, it’s all good and I’ve started to consider what books I’m taking so additional conversational input will be required!

This Week on the Blog

I started the week by reviewing my first ‘proper’ audio listen to Crippen: A Novel of Murder by John Boyne which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My excerpt post came from a book that has languished on the TBR since 2011, Cry For Help by Steve Mosby.

This Week in Books featured the authors Iain Maitland, Kathryn McMaster and Claire Dyer.

My second review of the week was for one of my Classics Club Reads, The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes; one creepy tale!

I moved from London to the Lake District next to review the third in the Martin Edwards series The Arsenic Labyrinth.

And my final review of the week was for a fictionalised true crime which happened near Bradford in 1888; Who Killed Little Johnny Gill? by Kathryn McMaster.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett, a lighter book than my usual choices and one that wowed me with its richness. The novel links to the idea that we all have a soundtrack to our lives, those tunes you listened to at key moments in your life and how those opening bars can transport you to a different time and the emotions that accompanied them.

The novel follows songwriter Cass through her life with sixteen titles to head up the chapters. Sadly, I didn’t have the accompanying soundtrack when I read the ARC but I wish I had.

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

Blurb

If you could choose just sixteen moments to define your entire life, what would they be?
Cass Wheeler has seen it all – from the searing heights of success, to earth-shattering moments of despair. She has known passion, envy, pride, fear, and love. She has been a daughter, a mother, a singer, a lover.

A musician born in 1950, Cass is now taking one day to select the sixteen songs in her repertoire that have meant the most to her. And behind each song lies a story – from the day her mother abandoned her, to her passionate first love, to the moment she lost everything. The dreams, the failures, the second chances. But what made her disappear so suddenly from her public life and, most importantly, can she find her way back? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Just one book has made it into my house this week; Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke was sent to me by the publishers Lake Union Publishing. This book will be published on 24 July 2018.



Blurb

For estranged friends Ashley, Natalie, and Lauren, it’s time to heal the old wounds between them. Where better to repair those severed ties than on a girls’ getaway to the beautiful paradise of Tulum, Mexico? But even after they’re reunited, no one is being completely honest about the past or the secrets they’re hiding. When Ashley disappears on their girls’ night out, Natalie and Lauren have to try to piece together their hazy memories to figure out what could have happened to her, while also reconciling their feelings of guilt over their last moments together.

Was Ashley with the man she’d met only days before? Did she pack up and leave? Was she kidnapped? Or worse—could Natalie or Lauren have snapped under the weight of her own lies?

As the clock ticks, hour by hour, Natalie and Lauren’s search rushes headlong into growing suspicion and dread. Maybe their secrets run deeper and more dangerous than one of them is willing—or too afraid—to admit. Amazon

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 5 books and I have gained 1 the TBR is at a low of  175
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 45
NetGalley Books –17
Audio Books –1

 

All four books I reviewed this week were from my own bookshelves so I am 3 books in credit!

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 23)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is Sweet William by Iain Maitland which has been on my TBR since the end of last year following an excellent review by trusted blogger FictionFan

Blurb


Life and death played out over 48 hours.

A father desperate to be with his young son escapes from a secure psychiatric hospital, knowing he has just one chance for the two of them to start a new life together.

His goal is to snatch the three-year-old – a diabetic who needs insulin to stay alive – and run away to France… but first he must find the boy, evade his foster family and stay well clear of the police, already in pursuit.

A real page-turner cut through with dark humour, Sweet William zeroes in on a potent mix: mental illness, a foster family under pressure, and an aggrieved father separated from his precious child. The result is an incisive and deeply affecting literary thriller. Amazon

The last book I finished was Who Killed Little Johnny Gill by Kathryn McMaster, a tale that heavily uses the details of a horrific Victorian child murder in Bradford.

Blurb

One foggy morning, just a few days after Christmas, John Gill’s mother waves goodbye to her eldest son that morning with no idea that this will be the last time she will see him. Johnny doesn’t come home for his lunch and his mother starts to worry about him. The family search frantically for him for three days and nights. They search Manningham, and wider Bradford until someone finds him early on the Saturday morning, just meters from their home.

His little body has been hacked up, drained of blood, thoroughly washed, his organs displaced and his intestines are draped around his neck eerily similar to the murders that have been happening in London done by Jack the Ripper. Several letters were sent by Jack stating that he would murder a little boy soon. After the murder another letter was sent stating that he had been up to Bradford. However, was this murder committed by the infamous Jack the Ripper? There are other clues involving Masonic rituals found in a local house at the same time of Johnny’s death that point to the possibility that it was. And yet, William Barrett was the last one to see Johnny. The modus operandi could well be a copy-cat murder. In addition, William Barrett isn’t saying much. Amazon

Next I intend The Perfect Affair by Clare Dyer a book that has been on my TBR since March 2014. I actually ‘discovered’ this author earlier this year when I read, and enjoyed, The Last Day.

Blurb

What happens if you fall in love with the wrong person?

Rose knows only too well the exhilaration and devastation of loving a married man. So she watches with a keen eye as Eve – her closest companion, the granddaughter she never had – meets Myles, the new tenant in her downstairs flat.

Quietly and softly and against the backdrop of their own unsatisfactory marriages, Myles and Eve fall in love and, as they try to have the perfect affair like Rose did before them, they come to learn about the pain of lost opportunities, to decide whether it is ever better to follow your head or your heart, to know what it is to be torn between love and duty. Amazon

I’ve finally powered my way through those books I needed to read for review purposes before I go on holiday next month with all three choices this week coming from my personal collection.

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 20)

I do hope you have all had a great week full of sunshine and books. After conquering the ability to listen to audio books my journey home from work has been accompanied by a podcast (how on trend am I?) via Audible. West Cork is fascinating and so well produced and narrated by Sam Bungey and Jennifer Forde, with the soundtrack summoning up the winds and feeling of remoteness of the scene of the crime. The investigators successfully compressing over twenty years of information into a coherent narrative yet never forgetting that there was a victim, and her family, at the heart of the tragedy.

About

This much we do know: Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered days before Christmas in 1996, her broken body discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland. The rest remains a mystery.
Gripping, yet ever elusive, join the real-life hunt for answers in the year’s first not-to-be-missed, true-crime series. Investigative journalist Sam Bungey and documentarian Jennifer Forde guide listeners through the brutal, unsolved murder and the tangled web of its investigation, while introducing an intricate cast of characters, a provocative prime suspect, and a recovering community whose story begs to be heard. Audible Original

This Week on the Blog

It’s been a week of five star reviews this week starting on Monday with my spot on the blog tour for The Dissent of Annie Lang by Ros Franey, set in the midlands during the 1930s this book really got under my skin.

My excerpt post came from The Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith one of the books in the British Library Crime Classic series which I intend to read very soon.

This Week in Books featured the authors Martin EdwardsMarie Belloc Lowndes and Peter James.

My second review of the week was for the latest in the Roy Grace series, Dead If You Don’t by Peter James an action packed police procedural that was awarded the full five stars.

This was followed up by another five star review, this time for Isabelle Grey’s latest book featuring DI Grace Fisher; Wrong Way Home.

I rounded the week off with the tag My Name in TBR Books a bit of fun but also a way for you to help me prioritise the best of these books.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading In Deep Water by Sam Blake, the second book in this crime fiction series featuring Cathy Connolly. The story around a journalist warned off covering a story because it is simply too dangerous then turns into  a missing persons crime. This is a superbly well-researched novel, a proper police procedural with the aspects of the investigation qualified with plenty of explanations which only rarely impinged on the flow of the storyline as the story gets darker, and darker.

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



Blurb

Good intentions can be deadly . . .

Cat Connolly is back at work after the explosion that left her on life support. Struggling to adjust to the physical and mental scars, her work once again becomes personal when her best friend Sarah Jane Hansen, daughter of a Pulitzer-winning American war correspondent, goes missing.

Sarah Jane is a journalism student who was allegedly working on a story that even her father thought was too dangerous.

With Sarah Jane’s father uncontactable, Cat struggles to find a connection between Sarah Jane’s work and her disappearance. But Sarah Jane is not the only one in deep water when Cat comes face to face with a professional killer . . . Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have been approved to read a few new titles this week starting with Lisa Jewell‘s latest novel Watching You which will be published on 12 July 2018.

Blurb

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow.

You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room.
That’s when you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him.

All the time.

But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession.

Or that someone is watching you. NetGalley

I also have a bit of historical fiction with Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott at the moment sporting a plain jacket until closer to publication in early September 2018



Blurb

August 1939. At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today. Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything… NetGalley

My new acquisitions are rounded off with a copy of The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley which was originally published under the title Seeing Double author, Lucinda Edmonds back in 2000 but has been repackaged in the wake of this author’s rising star.

Blurb

Joanna Haslam, bright young investigative journalist, covers the funeral of a great actor, the greatest of his generation. It seems like a straight story, but a chance encounter at the service leads her into a dramatic chain of discoveries that will force her to abandon the man she loves and uncover a ruthlessly guarded secret that threatens to bring down the very highest in the land.

Lucinda Edmonds’ latest, most searing novel weaves sharply through forbidden domains of British society, culminating in a compelling revelation. Amazon

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 2 books and I have gained 3 the TBR has risen by one to 179
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 48
NetGalley Books –18
Audio Books –1

I haven’t reviewed any of my own books this week so I’m still 1 2/3 of a book in credit!