Posted in Reviewing Habit

Reading and Reviewing in 2015

Reading Reviewing 2015

Well here we are nearly at the end of 2015 and as usual I will soon be posting my top 10 books published this year – but here is a chance for those books not published this year to have their moment in the spotlight as well as indulging me in my love of facts and figures.

So far I have read, and reviewed 143 books in 2015 which add up to a total of 44,774 pages which tells me 2015 has been spent reading far shorter books but slightly more of them!  Once again I have read some fantastic books, and some that were not quite so good!

What Remains

The Life Projectdreads tells me that the longest book I read was What Remains by Tim Weaver with 562 pages, whilst I am the only person to have read The Life Project by Helen Pearson which will be published next year – it may be non-fiction but this is fascinating stuff and would have easily been the winner of the non-fiction read of the year if it had been published in 2015

The Girl On The Train

725,499 other Goodreads readers also read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins with me making it far an away the most popular book I read in 2015 and the fourth of the most popular review read by you guys!

Interestingly (for me anyway) the second most popular of my reviews was The Book of You  by Claire Kendal which I actually read in February 2014, a review that still gets a number of hits each week!
The Book of You

This House of GriefOnce again the split in my reading is crime heavy with 82 books equating to 57% falling squarely into the crime fiction or psychological thriller categories but of course they can crime also features in my historical fiction section as well as popping up in the non-fiction category too for example This House of Grief by Helen Garner which is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

 

Sadly despite my best intentions to cut down on the books I have for review and read more from my own (bulging) bookshelves, cupboards, tables…. I only read 34 of my own books in 2015 a mere 24% and not the 40% I was aiming for but I will do better in 2016! I read 10 of these (some belatedly) for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer which provided some exceptional reading in the form of Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards Dancing for the Hangmanand The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, the adult novel that later became the successful Ballet Shoes.  And 2015 was the year I finally got around to reading the epistolary wonder which is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Anne Barrows. Not only is this a great read but it accurately portrays the history of the occupation of the Channel Isles.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyThe Whicharts

In 2015 I read 71 authors who were new to me, some of these were so good I read more than one book by the author in a year whereas others have simply added to the TBR mountain to be tackled in 2016 (and beyond) One of those authors I should have read way back as it probably is my top ten read of 2015 – The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley simply blew me away! The Go-Betweeen

So there’s a taste of what I’ve been reading and the reviews you’ve seemed to like the best – coming very soon are my chosen top ten reads published in 2015 – you can see all 143 books read and reviewed so far here or for a more compact view check out those books I chose for 2015 book bingo!

I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2015.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo for 2015

reading-bingo-small

I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.

 

A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title

Disclaimer

There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in 20 Books of Summer 2015!, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Dancing for the Hangman – Martin Edwards

20 books of summer logo

Crime Fiction 5*s
Historical Crime Fiction
5*s

Dancing for the Hangman is a fictionalised account of Hawley Harvey Crippen’s life leading up to 23 November 1910 when he was hanged by John Ellis at Pentonville Prison in London for the murder of his wife Cora.

Martin Edwards has written a book that seeks to explain the psychology and events that led to this seemingly mild-mannered man who committed (if that is indeed the case) the crime and then who fled from England to Brussels with his secretary Ethel Le Neve. There they boarded a ship to Canada where they could begin a new life. Unluckily for Crippen the ship’s captain Henry Kendall became suspicious of the man and his son (Ethel was disguised as a boy), he was well aware that the police were hunting the pair as the newspapers were full of the story.  Using the latest wireless telegraph technology, word was sent that British authorities that the cellar murderer was on board the Montrose and there was only ever going to be one ending to this story, wasn’t there?

So convincing is this tale that I will undoubtedly repeat the fictionalised parts as fact for years to come as it was impossible to tell where the truth ended, and where Martin Edwards has used conjecture in this ‘true confession’ We are taken back to Crippen’s life as a young man, his first marriage to Charlotte and her untimely death which led to him leaving his two-year-old son Otto in the care of his parents while he travelled to New York to practice as a homeopathic doctor.

We travel backwards and forward with Crippen as he meets and falls deeply and passionately in love with Cora and at first all appears well. Crippen supports his wife in her wish to tread the boards and despite set-backs in his professional life this only illustrates his resourceful nature.

Edwards gives a convincing explanation to the events that led to Cora’s death and Crippen’s naïve hope that his mistress Ethel can move into 39 Hilltop Crescent without causing suspicion. Crippen hadn’t bargained for the ladies of the guild who didn’t take to Cora’s replacement and nor did they accept his vague and varied explanations to where she had gone.

I’m not sure that I found Crippen the sympathetic character as I was supposed to. He struck me as very naïve but also quite arrogant and selfish but undeniably weak, especially when faced with strong-willed women. Cora is not painted in a flattering light at all by the author and so Crippen received my sympathy through her flaunting of her lovers, backing her poor husband into a corner, unable to leave and make a life with his new love, but unwilling to stay with a woman who scorned him.

The book is split between the fictionalised confession, Crippen’s thoughts following his conviction and true excerpts from the trial, evidence presented and newspaper articles from the time, which never lets the reader forget that this was a real crime.

I don’t know how close to the truth the author got, but he obviously thoroughly researched his subject and has written a highly informative and interesting book that maintained the tension despite the fact that the outcome was already known to me.

This has got my 20 Books of Summer 2015! Challenge off to a wonderful start with Dancing for the Hangman promoted from the TBR to the historical crime shelf. I’d like to finish by saying thank you to Margot from Confessions from a Mystery Novelist for her recommendation, she was right, I loved this book!

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (June 3)

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 currently reading Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards, the first read in my 20 Books of Summer 2015 Challenge

20 books of summer logo

Dancing for the Hangman

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post

I have just finished The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson, one of those books that I will remember for some time.

The Other Me

Blurb

Eliza Bennet has the life she’s always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she loves.
But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia – one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from. NetGalley


My review will follow shortly

My next read is going to be The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Blurb

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…
Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.
But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.
Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop. NetGalley

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 2)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My current read is Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards and the first of my 20 Books of Summer 2015 challenge
20 books of summer logo
Dancing for the Hangman

Blurb

It is 1910 and Dr Hawley Crippen has been convicted of the murder of his wife Cora. In his cell at Pentonville Prison, Crippen faces the prospect of the gallows. Laying bare his innermost feelings, he looks back at his austere childhood in Coldwater, Michigan, his tempestuous marriage and life on the run with his lover Ethel Le Neve. Yet as he revisits his life, Crippen entreats us to consider his ‘confession’: I am not a murderer.
In Dancing for the Hangman, Martin Edwards reopens the file on one of the most notorious and fascinating cases in criminal history. Edwards blends imaginative insight with detailed and extensive research to bring to life the characters and events of a hundred years ago. As he explores all the known facts of the murder case, Edwards skilfully reveals the many questions surrounding Crippen’s conviction and arrives at a fresh interpretation of the case.
Darkly humorous and highly readable, Dancing for the Hangman is also a strikingly vivid portrait of Crippen himself, drawing the reader deep into the mind of this hapless, baffling and complex figure. Flambard Press

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue
Note: marked ‘Declan – for your eyes only’, from Chief Government Archivist to the Director of Media Relations, 1 May 2008

A dead man talking.
The sheets of foolscap are yellow and smell of damp, but when I read Crippen’s words, I hear his voice. Soft plaintive, oblivious to irony.
These papers – a memoir in manuscript, scraps from a secret diary, jagged clippings – were meant to make a man’s fortune. Instead they have lain hidden for years. Even now they could embarrass us. They speak of a murder that no-one knew or dreamed of.

Do you want to know more? Have you read this book?

Please leave your thoughts and links in the comment box below

Posted in Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2015!

20-books-of-summer-master-image

Cathy at Cathy746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2015 and running until 4 September 2015, and this year I’ve decided to join her. I had already rationed myself from requesting quite so many review copies so the choices I make will be in addition to those that I have obligations to read and review.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf that I already own with at least half being physical books. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from…

The only drawback with this challenge is I want to experience choosing a book that fits my mood so I have decided to begin by choosing a spread of genre to list the first ten books for my summer reading.

Summer Reading May 29

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young

Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey

The Maul and the Pear Tree – P.D. James & T.A. Critchley

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

Every Secret Thing – Emma Cole

Dancing for the Hangman – Martin Edwards

Rutherford Park – Elizabeth Cooke

Under World – Reginald Hill

The Whicharts – Noel Streatfeild

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hastag #20booksofsummer and I will provide (a yet to be decided logo) to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 Books of Summer image for those of you who feel aiming for 20 is quite frankly ridiculous. Visit Cathy to get the full details here

So what do you think to my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking The Shelves (March 28)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

A bumper week for me with the long awaited Peter James book landing on my doorstep; You Are Dead, featuring Roy Grace for his eleventh outing which will be published on 21 May 2015.

You Are Dead

Blurb

The last time that Jamie Ball heard from his fiancée, Logan Somerville, was a terrified call from her mobile. She was convinced that somebody was watching her in the dank underground car park beneath their block of flats in Brighton. He heard her scream, then the phone went dead. The police arrive at the scene immediately but Logan has already vanished. In another part of Brighton workmen digging up a park uncover the remains of a woman in her early twenties who has been dead for 30 years. The two events seem unconnected until yet another beautiful young woman with long brown hair goes missing and yet another body surfaces from the past. It seems that a serial killer is at large.
Meanwhile Logan’s uncle, an eminent London psychiatrist, has a visit from a strange new patient claiming to know where Logan is. Grace has the chilling realisation this man might hold the key to both the past and present crimes…. but is he telling the truth or is he just playing a sinister and sadistic game? Macmillan

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann picked because I read this fantastic review by A Life In Books.

The Ladies of the house

Blurb

On a hot July day, three elderly people are found dead in a dilapidated house in Primrose Hill. Reading the story in a newspaper as she prepares to leave the country, Marie Gillies has an unshakable feeling that she is somehow to blame. How did these three people come to live together, and how did they all die at once? The truth lies in a very different England, and in the secret world of the ladies of the house… NetGalley

I was also swayed by the tweets for new crime thriller novel published by Bookouture, the publishers that bought us the fantastic Silent Scream by Angela Marsons, so I have a copy of Don’t Turn Around by Caroline Mitchell I can honestly say I barely noticed publisher details before I started blogging and now I’m choosing books based on the publisher! How did that happen?

Don't Turn Around

Blurb

You don’t know him. But he knows you.
Soon he would be able to touch her, to feel the warmth of her blood. And when the time came, nothing would stop him.
As D.C. Jennifer Knight investigates a routine stabbing in the quiet town of Haven, she is shocked What what seems like a personal message from beyond the grave.
When more bodies are found, Jennifer is convinced the killings are somehow linked.
What she discovers is more chilling than she could possibly imagine. The murders mirror those of the notorious Grim Reaper – from over twenty years ago. A killer her mother helped convict.
Jennifer can no longer ignore the personal connection. Is there a copycat killer at work? Was the wrong man convicted? Or is there something more sinister at play …
With her mother’s terrifying legacy spiralling out of control, Jennifer must look into her own dark past in a fight not only to stop a killer – but to save herself and those she loves. NetGalley

And after thoroughly enjoying (if that is the right words) The Magnificent Spilsbury and the case of the Brides in the Bath by Jane Robbins, Margot Kinberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist pointed me in the direction of Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards which is a fictionalised autobiographical account of the case of Dr Crippen who featured early on in Jane Robbins look at Bernard Spilsbury.

Dancing for the Hangman

Blurb

Martin Edwards dissects not only the facts but also the gaps and uncertainties in he historical record. This novel may bring us as close to the truth about Crippen as we are ever likely to get. Back Cover

So this weeks sees me adding more death and destruction to my shelves… What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below