Posted in Books I have read

Crooked Heart – Lissa Evans

Historical Fiction 4*s
Historical Fiction
4*s

This wasn’t what I expected at all although I knew it was set in WWII I didn’t expect the direction it took, and I dare anyone to read this and not fall in love the boy at the centre of the story, Noel.

Noel is ten years old, lives with his godmother, Mattie in Hampstead. Mattie was a suffragette, a woman who enjoys giving Noel some of her hard-won lessons in sound-bites but she is also a woman, who is slowly becoming more and more forgetful. When his school is first evacuated Noel stays behind, spending his days with Mattie and at the library instead.

“The day after that, all the children disappeared, as if London had shrugged and the small people had fallen off the edge.”

Noel is incredibly bright, he loves the crime fiction, gobbling up stories about Sherlock Holmes and his ilk. The other children returned to London as nothing much had happened and then Mattie disappears and Noel ends up living with a stuffy couple nearby until the authorities act once again and another evacuation takes place, gas masks and sandwiches are packed along with clothing and the children board the train. This time Noel joins them, he may be clever but he suffers with a limp when he is tired, has sticky out ears and looks a bit simple – he is the penultimate child to find a home when he arrives with his classmates in St Albans. The billeting officer persuades Vee takes him into a home which she shares with her elderly mother, Flora and her son, Donald. Flora is another eccentric woman whilst Donald is what my mother would call ‘a lazy lump!’ This unusual household have moved around seemingly lurching from one financial crisis to the next while Flora writes impassioned letters about all and sundry to all and sundry, including the Prime Minister – the book is worth reading for these alone!

“There was something peculiarly memorable about Vee; she seemed to move like the actors in silent films, all jerks and freezes.”

What happens next is a money-making scheme which I can’t condone but at the same time secretly admire. The scheme is the beginning of a bond between Vee and Noel which is entirely heart-warming. In between this affection, what is depicted as happening in St Albans and the surrounding boroughs is probably fairly close to what often happened in war-time but is not so widely accepted as it flies in the face of a nation fighting as one. With evocative tales of nights spent sheltering from bombs in the underground stations and the following morning viewing the devastation that those bombs had wrought this is a tale that really defies any genre.

A good read is one that holds a good sense of place and time, and this book does exactly that. With characters that are exceptionally well-drawn although the secondary characters are more lightly drawn, this is a book that illustrates how much we all need somebody even lazy Donald! Without a doubt it is the humour that stops the tale from becoming utterly mawkish.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House, for allowing me to read a copy of this fantastic and surprisingly affecting book, which was longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2015. Crooked Heart is to be published in paperback on 31 December 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 9)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy 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 reading Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, another book that has been lingering on the TBR for way too long!

Crooked Heart

Blurb

Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2015.
When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family – is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he winds up in St Albans with Vera Sedge – thiry-six, drowning in debts. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.
The war’s thrown up all manner of new opportunities but what Vee needs is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.
Together they cook up an idea. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all . . . NetGalley

I have recently finished The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton which will be published tomorrow.

The Exclusives

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

Next I am planning on reading Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner as I need to post a review for Lovereading ahead of publication in February 2016

Missing Presumed

Blurb

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.
Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.
As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.
A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her. Goodreads

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 5)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

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

Well another week where NetGalley has been very good at increasing my TBR

I’m delighted to say that I now have a copy of The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths who has written the series about Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway most recently in The Outcast Dead, the sixth in the series.

Having instantly coveted a copy of this book I was convinced that I had a desperate need to read it following a great five star review on FictionFan’s Book Reviews which you can read here

The Zig Zag Girl

Blurb

Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer’s sights…NetGalley

Next up I have a copy of Lay Me Down by Nicci Cloke which is due to be published 19 February 2015

Lay Me Down

Blurb

What if you can’t outrun your past?
London: 31st December, midnight. For Elsa and Jack, a stolen kiss becomes a shot at real happiness. Eight months later, they board a plane to begin a new life in San Francisco, where Jack has found his dream job working on the Golden Gate Bridge.
But this is not your average boy-meets-girl love story, for Jack’s new job comes with an extraordinary obligation. No one told him about the Jumpers – the men and women who try to leap from the bridge to their deaths every year. One in particular begins to haunt Jack, bringing back memories he thought safely buried. As he becomes more and more preoccupied, and Elsa, alone in a new city, becomes increasingly isolated, both retreat into their pasts, back down the paths that led them to that New Year’s Eve. And the fragile love between them starts to unravel… NetGalley

I am extremely intrigued about my next find Disclaimer by Renée Knight which is due to be published on 9 April 2015.

Disclaimer

Blurb

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.
But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.
A secret she thought no one else knew… NetGalley

Lastly I have received a copy of a book I’ve seen amazing reviews for around the Blogosphere; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans.

Crooked Heart

Blurb

When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family – is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he ends up living in St Albans with Vera Sedge – thirty-six and drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.
Noel’s mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Brought up to share her disdain for authority and eclectic approach to education, he has little in common with other children and even less with Vee, who hurtles impulsively from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s thrown up new opportunities for making money but what Vee needs (and what she’s never had) is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.
On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.
Together they cook up an idea. Criss-crossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life.
But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all… NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? – please share!