Posted in Uncategorized

Reading and Reviewing in 2017

Well it’s that time for reflection on the old and setting new goals for the new year so I’m going to start in my traditional way with a few facts and figures.

I have read and reviewed 147 books in 2017, one less than this time last year and boy some of those books have been really worth shouting about!

This amounts to 48, 281 pages 657 pages more than last year so obviously I’ve chosen some longer books to delight me in 2017 – that is an average of 132 pages per day!! No wonder I keep saying I don’t have time to do anything – to be honest that figure shocks even me!

Good old Goodreads tells me that my longest read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the longest book I read at a whopping 592 pages which was my very last review of 2017

The shortest unsurprisingly was a short story  Promises to Keep by Elizabeth Haynes at a mere 41 pages.

 

 

of the oldest books on my TBR was Room by Emma Donoghue which I finally read earlier this month – this was the book most read by other readers on Goodreads – 926,679 other readers there have also read this popular book, although I suspect many of them did so a little before I did!

The book I shared with the fewest readers was a debut crime thriller The Last Thread by Ray Britain, written by a former Police Officer not only were we treated to a new Detective but the authenticity of the read shone through – this book deserves a wider audience for sure!

A whopping 92 books fell into the crime fiction/psychological thriller categories although the psychological thriller count was down by 8 from 2016 to a mere 35.

My non-fiction reads declined slightly from 15 to 13 book fitting into this category, including a must-read for book-lovers; The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler although a large proportion of these are also crime related.

As always my goal for the year was to read more of my own books so not only did I participate in Cathy’s wonderful 20 Books of Summer 2017 challenge (which I completed on time – go me!) I chose a number of books that fitted with 2017’s obsession with the variety of ways true crime is presented and books inspired by true crime which was kicked off by the brilliant Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I also participated in the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads for the first time where I completed 34 of my aimed 36 books purchased prior to 1 January 2017.

 

In all I read 56 of my own books or a relatively respectable 38% of my reads for 2017 which is a vast improvement on the 49 books completed in 2016 and very nearly the 40% I was aiming for. I was spurred on by realising how many superb books I already own with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell being an early delight.

Of course though I’m a book lover and so this is exactly the time and place to say thank you to all the authors and publishers who have given me copies of your books to review – there are simply too many outstanding reads of the year (although tomorrow I will pick my top ten published in 2017) a whole 92 books read in 2017 were ARCs including Shelter by Sarah Franklin a historical novel set in the Forest of Dean where I lived from 1979 to 1987 – a setting that was also used in The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

As for you all, what you seemed to enjoy most in 2017 were the following Top Five Reviews of the year were:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Painkiller by N.J. Fountain
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Two of these are from my own bookshelves proving that it isn’t just the newest releases that captures reader’s attention!

Finally at the beginning of December I completed the annual filling in of the Reading Bingo squares with some choices of the year.

 

2018 Goals

Beyond the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don’t normally go in for bookish goals but I am going to break with the tradition and set myself some (gentle) targets for 2018.

  1. In 2017 I discovered what a wonderful array I have already in my possession and so the target is to read 40% of my own books in 2018. To give me some motivation I have decided to allow myself to buy one book for every three of my own that I read – of course there are some get-out clauses – the annual book sales held on the island are exempt and I will be visiting the library for any must-reads that I don’t own.
  2. The latter clause is important as I really want to up my reading or re-reading of classic novels, I shelved just one book in this category in 2017 although two others could have been put there but I felt they belonged better elsewhere. My target is to read at least 6 so one every other month and the library is the place to go for these. Despite being a library member all of my life, I haven’t visited anywhere near enough in more recent years which is something I feel guilty about.
  3. I am taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge again with an aim of reading 36 books – let’s see if I make it in 2018.

On the blog

  1. I am (very) slowly amalgamating the tabs with the aim of putting all the reviews for 2013-2015 onto one tab – this ongoing project must be completed by the end of March 2018.
  2. My about me page is in dire need of an update especially as it is visited far more often than I expected with 660 views in the last year.
  3. And of course I will shortly display an updated shelf as my header to welcome in the start of 2018.
  4. I always used to write my book review before starting a new book and this habit is being resumed in 2018 – this has been a very busy year and as much as I love blogging it has been a real struggle to fit everything in and I’m hoping this will help me get a better balance, rather than frantically writing reviews at the weekend when I need to endlessly check names (I have a real blind-spot in this department) as well as other elusive details.
  5. Finally I will remember to post each review to Cleopatra Loves Books Facebook page which at best has been intermittent since I set it up earlier this year.

That just leaves me to thank you all for visiting, commenting and writing your own entertaining posts and reviews that has me constantly rationalising my book choices!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

Crime Fiction
5*s

What do these items have in common? A hot air balloon, a bunch of nuns and peacocks, well they all come together in one of the most unusual of crime novels, Dead Woman Walking, written by the incredibly accomplished Sharon Bolton.

Perhaps the next question should be what do I look for in my crime fiction? After all I read a fair bit of this genre, and we’ve all read the complaints about the now almost compulsory serial killer or the amount that we have to suspend belief for the story to work or perhaps how tired a format the more straightforward police procedural can seem against the fast and furious thrillers that dominate the charts. Now I’m not saying that I consistently subscribe to these views but I will admit that even if I haven’t written the words myself, I’ve considered their merits more than once. I would say I want a book that feels unique, a story that I can believe in, one that challenges the normal format and one that has me rooting all the way for the good guy but, and here’s the difficult bit, I also like to have my beliefs challenged or at least to look at an issue from a different perspective. Sharon Bolton accomplished all of this in this thrilling tale. Yes, this book is also full of tension and intrigue and there is no better device for this than a race against time.

The day starts so well for sisters Bella and Jessica with a balloon ride to celebrate Bella’s fortieth birthday so both women are up early on the Scottish border. They get into the basket and float up above the landscape, the trees and the large isolated house, they are skimming the landscape close enough to see but far enough up to be just within the safety zone. Then one of the passengers witnesses an act of violence perpetrated by a man against a young woman. The man’s eyes meet those belonging to the person who saw it, and then the balloon crashes.

What follows, and I promise you the above is about all you get in the synopsis, is outstanding. There are so many twists and turns but none seem in the slightest way put into the book for cheap thrills, these were the real deal pirouettes of twists! All of this meant that when they came I had to take a deep breath and assure myself, yes that really happened! And this wasn’t just once, the revelations slipped into the sentence turned the entire book on its head more than once. There is also a Police investigation complete with media presence and behind the scenes differences of opinion along with more dead bodies than I’m usually comfortable with but each distinct part felt as though it was new although of course those nuns and peacocks helped!

Sharon Bolton was already close to the top of my must-read author list and this outing has established her at the number one spot. If you haven’t read any of her books, where have you been? You really don’t know what you are missing. Pitch perfect plotting and dialogue that seamlessly integrates with the characters and situation means that the readers are treated to a read that they won’t forget in a hurry.

P.S. This is probably not the book to read if you have a hot air balloon ride booked anytime soon!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Alison Barrow of Transworld Books who very kindly sent me an advance review copy, up there with the best book post of the year!

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages:  368
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Fantastic Fiction by Sharon Bolton
Standalone Novels

Sacrifice (2008)
Awakening (2009)
Blood Harvest (2010)
Little Black Lies (2015)
 Daisy In Chains (2016)

Lacey Flint Series

Now You See Me (2011)
If Snow Hadn’t Fallen (2012) Novella
Dead Scared (2012)
Like This Forever (2013)
A Dark and Twisted Tide (2014)
Here Be Dragons (2016) Novella

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (April 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 and thoroughly enjoying The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett which was published in eBook format in February but is out in hardback tomorrow.

Blurb

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . . Amazon

I have just finished The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the Grace Fisher series, which is also published tomorrow, 6 April 2017 – as are a whole heap of brilliant books!

Blurb

A case of historical child sex abuse by a famous doctor is linked to the murder of his young and popular colleague at a summer camp deep in the Essex woods.

A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in the woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.

Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. NetGalley

Next I plan to read Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton and I have a feeling I’m in for a real treat with this one which will be published on

Blurb

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . Amazon

So chillers and killers all round for me this week! What are you reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (February 19)

Weekly Wrap Up

I didn’t post a wrap up last week as I had gone away on a little jaunt, firstly to London where I met up with Bibliobeth to attend a Book Blogger event organised by Headline books – I had a great evening, had long chats with publicist Georgina Moore (Chief Communications Officer) and authors: Julia Crouch, Alison Weir, Colette McBeth, Amanda Reynolds and Adele Parks as well as some other bloggers – this goes some way to explaining some of the recent additions to my TBR. I had a fantastic evening.

From there I made a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon where unfortunately the great Bard was fairly silent but myself and my oldest (in that we’ve been friends the longest) friend had a wonderful weekend catching up and having fun. I then made a trip to Malvern to visit relatives before making it back to Jersey via a Post Office so I could send my books home as they wouldn’t fit in my carry-on case!

This Week on the Blog

Well I’m going back to the week before because I simply have to feature my review of He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly which is my favourite read of the year so far. A story of a coupling interrupted in 1999 leads to a court case with a young man charged with rape. What really happened on the day of the solar eclipse that day will have long lasting consequences for all involved.

My extract post this week was from The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir the first in the Children’s House Series.

My This Week in Books post featured among other’s The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, another book to count towards my Mount TBR challenge.

On Thursday my first review of the week was for The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer which I enjoyed far more than I would have been expected since it contained strong supernatural elements.

On Friday I posted my review for Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie. This story of a past murder in Portobello, Edinburgh was then the subject of yesterday’s Put a Book on the Map feature written by Joanne of Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie. I’m really enjoying the posts that are the collaboration between the author and book bloggers which really add some context to the books being discussed.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. This sliding doors novel which has three different versions of a life, kicked off by a student falling off her bike in 1958 was exceptionally well written and one of my favourite novels of last year. Each version of Eva and Jim’s life is full of minor details as well as the bigger events which steer them down different paths which made for a satisfying and enjoyable read.

If you click on the cover you can read my full review

The Versions of Us

Blurb

What if you had said yes . . . ?
Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.
The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow. What if one small decision could change the rest of your life? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

So back to the wonderful Headline Book Blogger event where I picked up a much wanted copy of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth which is due out in June 2017,  which Colette kindly signed for me.

an-act-of-silence

Blurb

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him where they had sex. They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning
Linda Moscow: loving mother to Gabriel. Linda promised herself years ago that she would never let her son down again. Even if it means going against everything she believes in – she will do anything to protect him. She owes him that much.
Gabriel Miller: the prodigal son. He only ever wanted his mother’s love, but growing up he always seemed to do the wrong thing. If his mother could only see the bad in him – how could he possibly be good?
How far will a mother go to save her son? Linda’s decision might save Gabriel, but it will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of others. What would you do if faced with the same impossible choice? Amazon

After having a wonderful chat with Amanda Reynolds I was delighted that she signed my copy of Close to Me which will be out in April 2017.

close-to-me
Blurb

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought. Amazon

Bibliobeth bought me her spare copy of Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman
which is due out in May 2017

girls-on-fire

Blurb

This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think.
I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.
Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed and isolated at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah befriends new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki.
Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live and think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . . Amazon

In the post I was delighted to receive Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton – one of my favourite authors which is being published on 20 April 2017.

dead-woman-walking

Blurb

Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . Amazon

From NetGalley I was delighted to be given a copy of Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey which is out next month – and it features Meave and Josh!!

 

let-the-dead-speak

Blurb

When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth…
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours.
The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else. NetGalley

Surprisingly I have more books added to the TBR which will be revealed next week…

What have you found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 6 books and gained 10!! so the grand total is 192
Physical Books – 115
Kindle Books – 65
NetGalley Books – 12