Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 9)

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 The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg a wonderful story that has transported me to Sweden, through Paris and to America, and I’ve not finished it yet!

Blurb

A heartwarming debut about 96-year-old Doris, who writes down the memories of her eventful life as she pages through her decades-old address book. But the most profound moment of her life is still to come …
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny her American grand-niece, and her only relative give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.

When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past—working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War.

Can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?

The last book I finished was full-on crime fiction in the shape of The Suspect by Fiona Barton. This story will set a chill through anyone who has a child travelling in Thailand but there is a good surprise for fans of the author in a catch-up with some characters we’ve met before. The Suspect will be published on 24 January 2019.

 

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

Blurb

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . . Amazon

Next up I plan to read Murder in the Caribbean by Robert Thorogood in order to get some winter sunshine with the fourth in this delightful series by the creator and writer of the BBC One TV series.

Blurb

DI Richard Poole is hot, bothered and fed up. He’s stuck on the tropical island of Saint-Marie, forced to live in a rickety old shack on a beach, and there isn’t a decent cup of tea to be found anywhere.

When a boat explodes in the harbour, Richard and his team soon realise there’s a new murderer on the loose. But who is it? And why did the killer leave behind a ruby at the scene of the crime?

As the police dig deeper, they uncover secrets that go back decades, and a crime from the past that can never be forgiven.

Worse still, they soon realise this is only the beginning. They’ve got to catch the killer before there’s another death in paradise… Amazon

So that’s my weeks reading travelling across continents  – how far are you travelling?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 5)

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

At the moment I am reading A Place to Lie by Rebecca Griffiths a book set in The Forest of Dean where I lived until I made my way out in the big wide world.

A Place to Lie will be published tomorrow, 6 December 2018.



Blurb

In a dark, dark wood
In Summer 1990, Caroline and Joanna are sent to stay with their great aunt, Dora, to spend their holidays in a sunlit village near the Forest of Dean. The countryside is a welcome change from the trauma they know back home in the city; a chance to make the world a joyful playground again. But in the shadowy woods at the edge of the forest hide secrets that will bring their innocence to a distressing end and make this a summer they will never forget.

There was a dark, dark house

Years later, a shocking act of violence sends Joanna back to Witchwood. In her great aunt’s lonely and dilapidating cottage, she will attempt to unearth the secrets of that terrifying summer and come to terms with the haunting effects it has left on her life. But in her quest to find answers, who can she trust? And will she be able to survive the impending danger from those trying to bury the truth? Amazon

The last book I finished was Move to Murder by Antony M. Brown, a book I chose because it features the true crime in the murder of Julia Wallace which was notable for the phone message left by the untraceable Mr Qualtrough. What I didn’t fully appreciate that the reader is invited to ‘vote’ for the scenario that they feel fits the facts the best as part of the cold case jury. My review will follow shortly.



Blurb

The puzzling murder of Julia Wallace in Liverpool in 1931.

A telephone message is left at a chess club, instructing one of its members, insurance agent William Wallace, to meet a Mr Qualtrough. But the address given by the mystery caller does not exist and Wallace returns home to find his wife Julia bludgeoned to death.

The case turns on the telephone call. Who made it? The police thought it was Wallace, creating an alibi that might have come from an Agatha Christie thriller. Others believe Wallace innocent but disagree on the identity of the murderer. The Cold Case Jury must decide what happened in one of the most celebrated cold cases of all time. Amazon

Next I think I’ll have a last push to read a book from my own collection and read A is for Angelica by Iain Broom, one that has been sat upon my kindle since I purchased it on 2 November 2013. My reasons for choosing this book are long lost in the midst of time but I’m still intrigued.



Blurb

“My life is different now. I don’t go to work. I don’t have an office. I stay at home, hide behind curtains and make notes. I wait for something to happen.”

Gordon Kingdom struggles with the fate of his seriously-ill wife while patiently observing and methodically recording the lives of those around him: his neighbours. He has files on them all, including Don Donald (best friend and petty thief), Annie Carnaffan (lives next door, throws footballs over the fence), and Benny (the boy who paints with his eyes closed).

Then there’s Angelica, the new girl (42) on the street, with her multi-coloured toenails and her filthy temper. It’s when she arrives that Gordon’s world of half-truths really begins to unravel. Faced with a series of unexpected events and a faltering conscience, he’s left with an impossible decision.

Because in the banality of everyday life, what would you do if the unthinkable happened? Amazon

What does your reading week look like?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (December 2)

Another busy week where winter has tried to make its mark with it feeling markedly colder, at least at times.

Well here we are already in December and seemingly hurtling towards Christmas! Yes, already!

 

I had a good shot at using the Gutenberg editor this week – not entirely without success, but with enough problems given that to make things easy for myself, I already had a methodology which isn’t aligned to the new system of blocks – for now I’ve switched back to the classic editor.

 

This Week on the Blog

I started this week’s posts with the results from the 19th Classic Club Spin in which I discovered that I have the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s to read Not bad going seeing as this was supposed to be a chunkster!

My first review of the week was for a book from my own bookshelf, A Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie, a story of past actions having consequences in the present, set mainly in the Swiss Alps.

My second review was for The Lost Man by Jane Harper which is another raw story from this author and also set in the Australian outback.

This shortened week was rounded off with my Five of the Best for November 2014 to 2018 – I do love these posts which never fail to remind me of some of the fantastic books I’ve discovered in recent years.

This Time Last Year…

I was gearing up for Christmas by reading a book on my favourite subject, Poison. Poison Panic by Helen Barrell details the panic caused in Essex by the seemingly unstoppable rise of poisoners, particularly women poisoners!

Helen Barrell’s book, Poison Panic, delves into the facts, and the fiction, of these events using all available sources to examine the cases and to evaluate whether there was any sense of collusion between the women whose crimes feature here. She’s picked three notable women from the area Sarah Chesham Mary May and Hannah Southgate whose crimes in rural Essex led to wariness about that gentle hand at home who was in charge of preparing the food could also be slipping some of the notorious white powder into the dish!

A fascinating read which not only is informative about the women featured within the book but also gives a sense of the life and times within which they lived, and allegedly murdered!

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

Blurb

For a few years in the 1840s, Essex was notorious in the minds of Victorians as a place where women stalked the winding country lanes looking for their next victim to poison with arsenic. It’s a terrible image – and also one that doesn’t seem to have much basis in truth – but this was a time of great anxiety.

The 1840s were also known as the ‘hungry ’40s’, when crop failures pushed up food prices and there was popular unrest across Europe. The decade culminated in a cholera epidemic in which tens of thousands of people in the British Isles died. It is perhaps no surprise that people living through that troubled decade were captivated by the stories of the ‘poisoners’: that death was down to ‘white powder’ and the evil intentions of the human heart.

Sarah Chesham, Mary May and Hannah Southgate are the protagonists of this tale of how rural Essex, in a country saturated with arsenic, was touched by the tumultuous 1840s. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

In keeping with the festive spirit I am delighted to have received a copy of My Mother, the Psychopath by Olivia Rayne, which is to be published by Ebury Press on 24 January 2019.



Blurb

‘When people met her they thought how lovely she was, this attractive woman with a beautiful laugh. But she was one person in public and another behind closed doors. Who would she be today? The loving mother? The trusted teacher? The monster destroying my life?’

Olivia has been afraid ever since she can remember. Out of sight, she was subjected to cruelty and humiliation at the hands of the one person who should have loved and protected her at all times – her mother, Josephine.

While appearing completely normal to the outside world, Josephine displayed all the signs of being a psychopath – unbeknown to her daughter until adulthood – and Olivia grew up feeling scared, worthless and exploited. Even when she found the courage to cut ties, her mother found new ways to manipulate and deceive, attempting to destroy her life with a vicious campaign of abuse.

Now Olivia has come to terms with her past and gives a fascinating, harrowing and deeply unsettling insight into what it’s like growing up with a psychopathic parent. Amazon

I have also been extremely fortunate to receive a copy of the latest book by Fiona Barton, the author of The Widow and The Child, both of which I really enjoyed. The Suspect will be published on 24 January 2019 by Random House UK.



Blurb

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . . NetGalley

And waiting in the wings for my pleasure is The Long Divorce by Edmund Crispin a book I simply had to buy having had such fun reading The Moving Toyshop earlier this year.

Blurb

The peaceful and prosperous village of Cotten Abbas has a very unpleasant problem.

Long inhabited by a collection of proudly offbeat locals, there has been a recent influx of the newly rich and very well to do… and not everyone is happy about it.

New arrivals are receiving anonymous letters that know a little too much about dark secrets and dirty laundry and they don’t seem likely to stop.

Gervase Fen is summoned to the scene, but soon finds more than he bargained for. A suicide on Friday, a murder by Sunday, and some villagers that seem hell bent on keeping this mystery unsolved… Amazon

What have you found to read?

tbr-watch

Having done a quick compare with the TBR from last year, I’m still down although it has risen slightly to a healthy 168
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 36
NetGalley Books –19
Audio Books –1

 

I have added one reviews of my own books since my last count 3 full book tokens!

Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (November 2014 to November 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.

So without further ado let’s see what books November has brought to me over the last five years!

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

In November 2014 I read a book which happens to fall into my favourite type of sub-genre that of fiction inspired by true crime, the book being The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. This book’s inspiration was the murder of Meredith Kercher and although the circumstances in this book were different it was a book that made me think about what I would do if faced with a phone call from my daughter miles away, in trouble for quite a serious crime.

More than this being a murder mystery it is a story that explores the often complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.

A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Amazon

In November 2015 I discovered the classic novel The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. What a wonderful book, multi-layered, very English and an absolute delight to read and I was astounded to realise that I had somehow missed out on this brilliant novel.

With that famous opening line ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ being on that line that sets the reader up nearly as well as ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.’ So I turned the pages schizophrenically wanting to race ahead while slowing down to savour the wonderful prose, even better this is one of the best coming of age stories ever, better even than my favourite to date; Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I said at the time I though this book would haunt me for many years to come; so far it has.


Blurb

When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy’s awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.

In November 2016 I read an unusual book, and it really touched my heart. In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings was one that both took me by surprise and delighted me with the affection I felt for the key characters. In my mind a successful book has a number of elements, a mystery, a strong plot underpinned by believable characters, preferably in extraordinary circumstances, In Her Wake hits these and has that special something extra too.

Blurb

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Last year I was reading a crime fiction book that falls into the grittier end of crime fiction; Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite. This is not one for the faint-hearted and even the most hardened reader will be tempted to check their doors after meeting Adam. Adam longs for love but I just want to put it out there – watching women and helping them with their household chores when they don’t know you is not really going to do it for any of the women I know, and sure enough to date it is fair to say Adam has been unlucky in love.

You should really read this one, perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon

Although I have had a bit of dip in my reading lately that doesn’t mean that I haven’t read some fantastic books including The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes, in a neat bookend to the choice in 2014’s choice, this book is inspired by records of a murder in Bromley in 1843.

This was a book that hit me hard. To think of a poor young woman, pregnant and poisoned in a privy behind the local chapel is hard enough, to realise that no-one was held accountable for her death is harder still. Elizabeth Haynes gives us a version of events that will pull you back in time and whether you think it is plausible, given the evidence, is up to you.

Blurb

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead. Amazon

 

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 21)

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 The Lie of You by Jane Lythell which has been on my kindle waiting to be read since 2014!



Blurb

One woman’s fear is a another woman’s weapon…

”When I look back on my relationship with Kathy I marvel at how naive she was, how little she knew.
But then, she always thought she had everything: the job; the baby; the friends; and him. She thought she was safe. She thought that nothing could touch her perfect world.
She should never have trusted me.”

A woman sets out to destroy a female colleague in this chilling psychological thriller. Amazon

The last book I finished was Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea listened to in audio format. a fascinating mystery presented as a true crime documentary – very clever!


Blurb

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.

As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.

Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life. Amazon

Next I plan on reading The Clocks by Agatha Christie, still struggling with far too much work I need to keep chipping away at the classics club list without having to invest too much time in a chunkster!

Blurb

As instructed, stenographer Sheila Webb let herself into the house at 19 Wilbraham Crescent. It was then that she made a grisly discovery: the body of a man sprawled across the living room floor. Goodreads

So that’s my weeks reading sorted – what does yours look like?

Posted in Uncategorized

Remembrance Day 11 November 2018

This week on the memorable occasion of the Centenary of the end of World War I. We hear a lot about how this war has now passed out of living memory and the fantastic efforts to pass on the lessons learned to the next generations and so I’ve shamelessly re-posted my thoughts from 2013 about how books help embed those lessons bringing the stories down to human experience.

Armistice Day (which overlaps with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day) is celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

If I’m completely honest I despite being taught about both World Wars at school I think that reading books has helped me put what I had learnt into context. I find books that tell the stories of what it was like during wartime captivating and this interest started early on in life.

My knowledge of the First World War pretty much began with the set texts of war poetry we learnt as part of our O’ Level English Literature course and the haunting words that were sent down the decades from young men, many not significantly older than I was at the time, have stayed with me over the years.

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Without the endless dissection of those poems by my excellent teacher I don’t think I would have had anything like the understanding that I gained during those months. Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke all bought to life exactly how great every soldier’s sacrifice was.

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke
If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

But before that the effects of war had been through fiction, heavily based upon fact, to give a feeling what war meant for the wider population. Children like books that have links to their own lives but given the right texts that doesn’t mean that they have to be modern stories, there are some great books about children in war-time, here are a few of my favourites.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by the wonderful Judith Kerr was an early favourite. My father is Jewish and I was fascinated by this heritage even as quite a small child, although it was only on the death of my Grandfather that I realised that our surname had been anglicised on the birth of my Uncle in 1938.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Partly autobiographical, this is first of the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Judith Kerr telling the unforgettable story of a Jewish family fleeing from Germany at the start of the Second World War
Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in Germany any longer. Suppose you found, to your complete surprise, that your own father was one of those people.
That is what happened to Anna in 1933. She was nine years old when it began, too busy with her schoolwork and toboganning to take much notice of political posters, but out of them glared the face of Adolf Hitler, the man who would soon change the whole of Europe – starting with her own small life.
Anna suddenly found things moving too fast for her to understand. One day, her father was unaccountably missing. Then she herself and her brother Max were being rushed by their mother, in alarming secrecy, away from everything they knew – home and schoolmates and well-loved toys – right out of Germany… Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

Another childhood favourite was Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden, another of my favourite authors for children.Carrie's War

‘I did a dreadful thing…or I feel that I did, and nothing can change it…’
It is the Second World War and Carrie and Nick are evacuated from London to a small town in Wales, where they are placed with strict Mr Evans and his timid mouse of a sister.
Their friend Albert is luckier, living in Druid’s Bottom with Hepzibah Green who tells wonderful stories, and the strange Mister Johnny, who speaks a language all of his own. Carrie and Nick are happy to visit Albert there, until one day when Carrie does a terrible thing – the worst thing she ever did in her life…
Based on her own childhood, Nina Bawden’s enchanting story Carrie’s War has delighted readers for almost 40 years. Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

When I read this as a child I used to wonder how all those children coped being sent away from their parents. Now as a mother, I wonder how on earth those poor women managed to carry on with their children far away being looked after by people they didn’t know.

Although the lives for those fighting the war doesn’t even bear imagining the effect it had on everyone’s view of life changed forever. Those that were around for both World Wars must have seen more pain and hardship than any other generation.

At around ten I came across The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank, written while Anne and her family were in hiding in Amsterdam.Diary of a young girl

Anne Frank and her family fled the horrors of Nazi occupation by hiding in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam for two years with another family and a German dentist. Aged thirteen when she went into the secret annexe, Anne kept a diary. She movingly revealed how the eight people living under these extraordinary conditions coped with hunger, the daily threat of discovery and death and being cut off from the outside world, as well as petty misunderstandings and the unbearable strain of living like prisoners. Amazon

Link to Amazon UK

I was moved by the everyday writing depicting the horror of a life lived in secret. Years later I visited Anne Franks house, by now aware that my family were Dutch Jews and saw both my paternal parents surnames repeated over and over in the book of names of those who died in concentration camps. I will never forget that moment when I realised that it was due to a decision made years before, that I was even alive.

Anne Franks House

Anne Frank’s House Amsterdam

Books about the wars are still a staple of my adult reading and I’ve picked just a couple of those that I think stand out as exceptional examples of books that make you think and really appreciate the sacrifice that was made by all those young men.

My preference tends towards those books which look at society as a whole and . Andrew Cowen’s book Worthless Men published in 2013, is a particularly strong example. This book depicts life in an anonymous English market town in 1916, where many of the men were missing, fighting for King and Country.

Click on the book cover to read my review

worthless-men

Link to Amazon UK

Wake by Anna Hope also looks at the period just following Armistice day in an exceptional novel that uses the progress of the journey for the internment of The Unknown Warrior at the Cenotaph. Each chapter is a day and each of those days follows the journey of the coffin from France to Britain for the ceremony. So moving and a brilliant illustration of a war and what it meant for those who fought and those who were left behind.

Remembrance Day 1920: A wartime secret connects three women’s lives: Hettie whose wounded brother won’t speak; Evelyn who still grieves for her lost lover; and Ada, who has never received an official letter about her son’s death, and is still waiting for him to come home. As the mystery that binds them begins to unravel, far away, in the fields of France, the Unknown Soldier embarks on his journey home. The mood of the nation is turning towards the future – but can these three women ever let go of the past?

Link – Amazon UK

To the Grave by Steve Robinson has a different way of looking at the lives left behind during World War II


To the Grave

Our American Genealogist Jefferson Tayte aka JT has been employed by Eliza Gray who has received a suitcase with some effects telling her that she was in fact adopted. JT travels to Leicestershire to discover who the mysterious Mena Lasseter was. The story of Mena is based towards the end of the war in 1944/45 but the current day story has just as much, if not more to offer.
The characters are well drawn and Mena’s story is an emotional one but at the same time there is a lot of intrigue in the present day. JT finds himself in danger but who wants to cover up what happened all those years ago.

Link to Amazon UK

I just want to finish by saying that we shouldn’t forget the effects the two World Wars had not just on the soldiers who fought in them but a whole generation.

Lest we forget

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 7)

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 am currently reading The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes which is due to be published on 22 November 2018. This psychological story has drawn me in so far although needless to say I’m still waiting for some pertinent questions to be answered.

Blurb

When Ella wakes up in hospital following a hit and run incident, she is scared and confused. Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon.

But Ella has never been married… Amazon

The last book I finished was also a psychological thriller which just goes to show after months of cutting down on this sub-genre it still holds plenty of appeal. Camilla Way had wowed me with her previous novel Watching Edie so I was keen to read her latest novel The Lies We Told.

Blurb

DO YOU PROMISE NOT TO TELL?

A DAUGHTER
Beth has always known there was something strange about her daughter, Hannah. The lack of emotion, the disturbing behaviour, the apparent delight in hurting others… sometimes Beth is scared of her, and what she could be capable of.

A SON
Luke comes from the perfect family, with the perfect parents. But one day, he disappears without trace, and his girlfriend Clara is left desperate to discover what has happened to him.

A LIFE BUILT ON LIES
As Clara digs into the past, she realizes that no family is truly perfect, and uncovers a link between Luke’s long-lost sister and a strange girl named Hannah. Now Luke’s life is in danger because of the lies once told and the secrets once kept. Can she find him before it’s too late? Amazon

Next I am planning to read another of my own books A Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie after so enjoying her previous novel 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 do you think? Any of these books take your fancy this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 4)

Well it’s good to be back after an unscheduled extended break. In short I’d run out of books to review and we all know you can’t be a book blogger if you are not reading books so I factored in a week’s break, and then I caught the lurgy which put paid to both reading and reviewing!

All’s well now although life is still hectic, and how on earth are we in November already??

This Week on the Blog

Well despite my main reason for taking a break was the lack of books to review, I managed just one in this my first week back blogging…

My excerpt post was from The Lies We Told by Camilla Way, a psychological novel that seemed suitably scary for Halloween week.

This Week in Books featured the authors Elizabeth Haynes, Elly Griffiths and Ann Cleeves, three women brim full with talent.

On Thursday it was time for Five of the Best spanning the Octobers 2014 to 2018 and reminding me of some fantastic five star reads.

And then we get to the review! Murder by the Book by Claire Harman delves into a Victorian true crime and examines the role that a popular book may have had in inciting violence. Fascinating stuff.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre a shocking but many layered story about a boy who accidently kills his young friend.

The scene is set beautifully in the small town of Beauval in France where Antoine lives with his mother. His father decamped to Germany and consequently he has a distant relationship with him. The crux of the story is that Antoine hides Rémi’s body and returns home to his loving mother and shelters as much as possible from reality. He has a child’s view of the world, realistically depicted, and alternately buries his head in the sand and suffers the awful anxiety about his crime being discovered.

We then see Antoine years later, as an adult and come to view the events in a slightly different way but it is really the author’s skill in nailing the small town setting as well as it’s inhabitants. Layer on top of that the reader’s conflict about the discovery of the ‘crime’ and I think you’ll understand why this is one of those books I can’t forget.

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



Blurb

Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.

In the years following Rémi’s disappearance, Antoine wrestles with the role his actions played. As a seemingly inescapable net begins to tighten, breaking free from the suffocating environs of Beauval becomes a gnawing obsession. But how far does he have to run, and how long will it take before his past catches up with him again? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

One thing I have managed to do in my absence is obtain a variety of new books! This week I’m going to share my new additions from NetGalley.

The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes is due to be published on 22 November 2018 by Bookouture and promises to be a shocking psychological thriller.

Blurb

When Ella wakes up in hospital following a hit and run incident, she is scared and confused. Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon.

But Ella has never been married… Amazon

I am also delighted to have a copy of The Wych Elm by the talented Tana French which is out in paperback already but due to be published for the kindle in February 2019!



Blurb

‘For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.’

One night changes everything for Toby. He’s always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself. Amazon

I have also been gratefully provided with a copy of Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly who is one of my favourite contemporary authors. Stone Mothers will be published on 4 April 2019.

Blurb

You can’t keep the secret.
You can’t tell the truth.
You can’t escape the past…

Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home, her family, her boyfriend Jesse and the body they buried.

Now, forced to return, she can feel the past closing around her. And Jesse, who never forgave her for leaving, is finally threatening to expose the truth.

Marianne will do anything to protect the life she’s built; the husband and daughter who must never know.

Even if it means turning to her worst enemy…
But Marianne may not know the whole story – and she isn’t the only one with secrets they’d kill to keep. Amazon

In February 2019 the hardback version of Jane Harper’s third novel The Lost Man will be published and I’ve been fortunate to be provided with a copy in advance of this date.

Blurb

He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects… Amazon

The excitement about all of these upcoming releases is just what I needed having lost all oomph for life over the last couple of weeks!

What have you found to read?

tbr-watch

There has been the annual book sale since my last report and the numbers have jumped to 171!!!

Physical Books – 115
Kindle Books – 37
NetGalley Books –17
Audio Books –2

I have added one review of my own books since my last count and although I bought new books at the annual book sale, they were excluded in the terms and conditions, but my copy of The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes was not.

 

I therefore have 2 2/3 worth of book tokens!


Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 31)

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

Happy Halloween one and all here’s hoping you have a good ghost story to send you into All Saint’s Day.

My current read is The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths which fits the bill perfectly!

Blurb

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. 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

The last book I finished was The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes, a superbly executed novel based upon Victorian true crime.

Next up I’m considering reading A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves, a book written by this now accomplished author at the beginning of her writing career back in 1986

 

Blurb

In England’s birdwatching paradise, a new breed has been sighted – a murderer . . .

Young Tom French was found dead, lying in a marsh on the Norfolk coast, with his head bashed in and his binoculars still around his neck. One of the best birders in England, Tom had put the village of Rushy on the birdwatching map. Everyone liked him. Or did they?

George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher who decided quietly to look into the brutal crime, discovered mixed feelings aplenty. Still, he remained baffled by a deed that could have been motivated by thwarted love, pure envy, or something else altogether.

But as he and his fellow “twitchers” flocked from Norfolk to Scotland to the Scilly Isles, in response to rumours of rare sightings, George – with help from his lovely wife, Molly – gradually discerned the true markings of a killer. All he had to do was prove it . . . before the murderer strikes again. Amazon

What do you think? Any of these books take your fancy this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 10)

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

Buoyed up by last weeks rare occurrence of actually finishing three whole books I’m hoping this week’s choices are equally successful.

My current read is one of my own books, and unsurprisingly for me, book three of a series and yes, I’ve not read any others about Sister Agnes!  The Dying Light by Alison Joseph has been on the TBR since 27 October 2014 and it’s starts well…

Blurb

Young and fiercely independent, Sister Agnes Bourdillon has never felt the need of a wimple to express her spirituality. But her strength is tested by her secondment to Silworth, a South London women’s prison.

She does, however, find the work compelling, as she attempts to negotiate the network of bullies and victims, loyalties and hatreds, prisoners and jailers, searching to understand the often violent histories that lie behind each woman.

Then the father of Cally Fisher, one of the most turbulent inmates, is shot dead. The chief suspect is Cally’s boyfriend. Reminded unnervingly of how she is losing her own mother, who is rapidly retreating from reality in a French nursing home, Agnes finds that she too has become entangled in a dark world that stretches further than the prison walls… Amazon

The last book I finished was Sinclair McKay’s Victorian True Crime book The Lady in the Cellar which has recently been published.



Blurb

Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at its heart.

On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive?

Bestselling author, Sinclair McKay delves into this intriguing story and sheds light on a mystery that eluded the detectives of Scotland Yard. Amazon

And next I intend to read Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan as October’s chosen read for The Classics Club.


Blurb

The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cécile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures. But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cécile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.

Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom. Amazon

So I’ve shown you mine, what does your reading week look like?