Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Brighton Mermaid – Dorothy Koomson

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

Dorothy Koomson treats us to her darkest book yet in this haunting tale of two teenagers who find the body of a young woman washed up on the shore in 1993. Twenty-five years later, Nell is still obsessed by the woman who was never identified.

The scene is set beautifully when a night seemingly full of promise of a party held by sixth-formers which Jude had lied to her parents to attend. The horror of the discovery combined with the fear of her parent’s wrath when she had to be picked up from the police station was palpable. And then there was their treatment at the hands of the police who didn’t know at first whether to treat the girls as eye-witnesses or suspects. The two may have been able to put this behind them if Jude hadn’t subsequently disappeared without a trace.

Dorothy Koomson doesn’t just set the scene but the time so well. Of course in 1993 the girls didn’t have mobile phones so one stayed with the body while the other went to the phone box to report the crime. Then we switch to the present where the internet where Nell investigates the missing links between people using genealogy sites to help others find missing family. It is against this background that she takes a year off work to devote herself to finding out who the young woman was, and what happened to her best friend.

As always Dorothy Koomson uses a number of hard-hitting issues in The Brighton Mermaid but all are deeply woven into the story-line, not one appearing placed for effect alone and the author crucially gives the reader time to absorb and reflect on these rather than telling us what to think, the best kind of writing.

The first half of the book sets the scene and so unsurprisingly moves at a slightly slower paced but nonetheless I found it absorbing, but… you will need to hang onto your seats for the rattling pace of the second half as Nell gets closer to understanding what happened twenty-five years ago and the events that changed, her and her family’s life forever.

I loved the characters in this book, the relationship between Nell and her sister so realistically portrayed with all the shades of love and hate that often are present, brilliantly displayed and woven through the main mystery which delves so deeply into the past. This is a story of actions having far-reaching consequences and the ripples that spread throughout a family forcing them to reconsider their ‘family story.’

I’ve long considered this author one of my favourites and her books cover a whole range of different types of stories within the range that is labelled ‘woman’s fiction’ from the sentimental to this one which edges into the crime fiction genre but what all the books have in common is the way that they immerse you into the story, not letting you go even after the last page has been turned.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Century who allowed me to read a copy of The Brighton Mermaid prior to publication on 17 May 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author Dorothy Koomson.

First Published UK: 17 May 2018
Publisher: Century
No of Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Dorothy Koomson’s previous books:

The Cupid Effect (2003)
The Chocolate Run (2004)
My Best Friend’s Girl (2006)
Marshmallow’s for Breakfast (2007)
Goodnight Beautiful (2008)
The Ice Cream Girls (2010)
The Woman He Loved Before (2011)
The Rose Petal Beach (2012)
The Flavours of Love (2013)
That Girl From Nowhere (2015)
When I Was Invisible (2015)
The Friend (2017)

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 11)

Well the daffodils are out here in Jersey just in time for Mothering Sunday and in celebration I have been planting my sunflower seeds in the hope of getting more than the one plant I managed last year.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with my review of Bring Me Back the latest psychological thriller by B.A. Paris which was published on 8 March 2018.

My excerpt post this week came from one of my Classic Club reads, The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.

This Week in Books featured the authors Kit de Waal, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Hore.

My second review of the week was also for a psychological thriller; Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, a superbly plotted tale that had plenty of surprises along the way.

Friday’s review took me back to the 1970s with the very first book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, A Clubbable Woman written by the hugely talented Reginald Hill. Whilst the attitudes of the day didn’t really work for me, I am very glad I met this pair who are in my favourite of all crime fiction series.

My week was rounded off with the results of The Classic Club Spin sending me back to 1862 with Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir which was the first in a new series by this Icelandic writer. I have to say a year on, I haven’t got the murder scenes out of my mind, so unusual and vivid was the description this isn’t a book to read if you prefer your fiction towards the cosy end of crime fiction. The Legacy is in part the story about three young siblings that are to be adopted following the murder of their mother. Despite the initial scenes this isn’t a book where there is blood and gore on each page, instead I discovered a well-written book with a rich and complex plot with plenty of strands that kept me in its thrall.

The Reckoning, the second in the series, will be published on 3 May 2018.

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

Blurb

Detective Huldar is out of his depth. His first murder case is like nothing he’s seen before – a bizarre attack on a seemingly blameless woman.

The only evidence is a list of numbers found at the scene, and the testimony of the victim’s eleven-year-old daughter, who isn’t talking.

While his team attempt to crack the code, Huldar turns to child psychologist Freyja for her expertise with traumatised young people.

Because time is running out…and the one thing they know for certain is that the murderer will strike again. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have just one NetGalley find this week, from one of those authors that have added to my shelves over a number of years, Dorothy Koomson whose latest novel The Brighton Mermaid will be published on 17 May 2018.

 

Blurb

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you NetGalley

I also visited my library and picked up a couple of books – in all honesty, I’m not quite sure why as I have eight review books to read before the 5 April and probably won’t have time to get to either of them but I may find the secret to expand time before they are due back.

Tennison by Lynda La Plante which is the start of the series that goes back to the 1970s when Tennison was setting out as a new constable. I actually watched the TV adaption and read the third in the series, Good Friday last year and I was so impressed I wanted to read them all.

Blurb

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. Amazon

I was also delighted to find A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell a selection of ten and a quarter stories of murder and mayhem which was published in October 2017. I was a big Ruth Rendell fan so I’m looking forward to reading these previously unpublished short stories.

Blurb

New and uncollected tales of murder, mischief, magic and madness.

Ruth Rendell was an acknowledged master of psychological suspense: these are ten (and a quarter) of her most chillingly compelling short stories, collected here together for the first time.

In these tales, a businessman boasts about cheating on his wife, only to find the tables turned. A beautiful country rectory reverberates to the echo of a historical murder. A compulsive liar acts on impulse, only to be lead inexorably to disaster. And a wealthy man finds there is more to his wife’s kidnapping than meets the eye.
Atmospheric, gripping and never predictable, this is Ruth Rendell at her inimitable best.

The stories are: Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror; A Spot of Folly; The Price of Joy; The Irony of Hate; Digby’s Wives; The Haunting of Shawley Rectory; A Drop Too Much; The Thief; The Long Corridor of Time; In the Time of his Prosperity; and Trebuchet. Amazon

Do any of these take your fancy? What have you added to your bookshelf?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 4 books and since I have gained only 1 my TBR has fallen, not as much as it might seem if you read last week’s post, where the maths was out, but hey, the total is now 187
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –21

I have banked another third of a book token this week but nor have I bought any books, so I’m still 2 2/3 books in credit!

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read

The Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson #20booksofsummer

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

A box decorated with butterflies is all that Clemency Smittson has to link her to her birth family and she has carted the box, designed for a baby to sleep in, through all the ups and downs of her life. Now it is packed into a van once more as Clemency makes the move to Brighton following the breakup of a relationship. Unfortunately her new beginning comes with unexpected baggage, her Mother is moving into the perfect flat that Clemency has found to run her business making re-loved jewellery.

A chance meeting sets off a chain of events that causes Clemency to reassess her relationships with her mother her deceased father and her new-found birth family. You can’t help but feel for someone whose life story isn’t quite what they believed it to be and yet Clemency knew she was adopted, after all her parents were white. One of my favourite scenes was when Clemency was young her father who took her to a hairdressers to learn to treat her hair properly while her mother tried to ignore the fact that her daughter had a different heritage. Her mother’s lifelong refusal to acknowledge her heritage has caused a chasm between the two that despite a mass of affection on both sides, only seems to widen.

As much as I felt for Clemency I have to admit my true sympathy was reserved for Clemency’s mother who bravely faces up to the fact that her daughter’s birth family also have something to offer, and I could see why she was genuinely worried about is the price Clemency might have to pay for the privilege.

The setting is brilliant with the quirky shops and seaside café complete with hunky barista. This is a Dorothy Koomson book and there are few writers that manage to play on my emotions with such a deft hand. One minute I’m furiously turning the pages to see what decisions characters are going to make while wondering how I would react in a similar situation and then BAM I’ve got a lump in my throat as another touching, but never mawkish, scene arrives leaving me struggling to swallow my cocktail.

As is often the case with this author’s books there are a number of issues explored but always with the lightest of touches leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. The intricacy mirrors Clemency’s work to take an old and unworn pieces of jewellery and recreate them into something that the owner will wear. The smaller tales that her customers relate at the start of this process add layers to the story and serve to make the overall story seem realistic. Clemency is a real woman, with values which are challenged in numerous ways by a variety of people and as a result I was totally involved in her story despite on the surface leading a very different life with few of the concealed elements that our protagonist has to contend with.

One of the strengths of this book is that it doesn’t pretend not everything is resolved in the way of a happy-ever-after but after all, real life isn’t like that, people aren’t like that but it does finish in a way that makes you feel that Clemency in some way gets to belong in a fundamental way, something that she’s never felt before.

That Girl From Nowhere is my 7th read of my 20 Books of Summer  Challenge 2017

First Published UK: April 2015
Publisher: Century
No of Pages: 464
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2017! #20booksofsummer

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2017 and running until 3 September 2017, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own and have purchased for myself before today. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from… a whole 91 in fact!

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – fat books, thin books and books in-between! Book lovers will completely understand the complexity of this choice which has taken many, many hours to hone to just the right mix, especially as I have had to factor in going on holiday and therefore I will have to further reduced  the pile for the trip… I will post the next ten when these are all finished which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

 

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney

Broken Heart by Tim Weaver

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

The Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson

Midnight in Peking by Paul French

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge

What Remains Behind by Dorothy Fowler

Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday, and of course there is The Island which I bought after visiting Spinalonga, Greece’s former leper colony in Crete last summer, Dorothy Koomson is an obvious choice but is In Cold Blood too grim for sunshine and cocktails?

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 15)

Weekly Wrap Up

Considering this is a book review blog there has been a reduction in these here this week but I have now belatedly put up my page for my 2017 reviews which will keep me motivated, I hope.

This Week on the Blog

On Monday I launched a new project Put A Book On The Map which aims to bring authors, bloggers and blogs together based around the location of a UK crime fiction novel. This took off far better than I expected and I am working through everyone who contacted me to join in, in one capacity or another. Thank you so much for all your offers of help, I will be in touch very soon, if I haven’t been already. I’m pleased to announce that we have the first blogger author pairings for the first four posts so watch this space!

My excerpt post this week came from Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton with a description of a pool of blood, sorry for anyone who was trying to eat while reading that one.

My This Week in Books post was very special as it announced the first author to feature in Put A Book On The Map as Mary-Jane Riley with her Alex Devlin series, I’m reading After She Fell – if any bloggers want there review to feature on the day and you haven’t already done so, please drop me an email or comment below.

Finally I posted a review of A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys which I’m pleased to announce got the full five stars.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Widow by Fiona Barton, a tale of the widow of ‘A Monster’ as the media proclaimed him to be. With a three-way narrative between The Widow, The Reporter and The Detective that made me forget that this was actually fiction as events over four years were revealed. You can read my full review here

The Widow

Blurb

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

Well I was being good but there were always going to be some exceptions to me gaining more books and one of those is when it is an author whose book I simply must have… as in Elly Griffiths and her latest in the Ruth Galloway series, The Chalk Pit which I was lucky enough to receive a copy via NetGalley. The Chalk Pit will be published on 23 February 2017.

the-chalk-pit

Blurb

Something evil is waiting in the dark tunnels under Norwich – forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway had better watch her step

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity – now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim. NetGalley

I also have a copy of The House by Simon Lelic which isn’t going to be published until August but sounds fascinating and I loved The Child Who by this author.

the-house

Blurb

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door. And now the police are watching them… NetGalley

And then I was extremely lucky to win four, yes four, books from Chrissi Reads who was celebrating, you’ve guessed it, four years of blogging. I have followed Chrissi’s brilliant blog which takes in her career change to primary school teacher, since I began blogging and urge you to check her out too.

You can imagine my delight to look through my rather large wishlist to select my four choices, I eventually came to a decision…

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

presumed-innocent

Blurb

Prosecutor Rusty Sabich enters a nightmare world when Carolyn, a beautiful attorney with whom he has been having an affair, is found raped and strangled. He stands accused.
‘One thing is certain: if you start Presumed Innocent you will finish it – it grips like an octopus, and Scott Turow unwinds the plot with brilliant cat-and-mouse meanness’ Sunday Times Amazon

Then I moved to something a little lighter; That Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson – this book will be passed to my dear booklover friend as her books were how our friendship was forged many years ago.

the-girl-from-nowhere

Blurb

Where are you coming from with that accent of yours?’ he asks.
‘Nowhere,’ I reply. ‘I’m from nowhere.’
‘Everyone’s from somewhere,’ he says.
‘Not me,’ I reply silently.

Clemency Smittson was adopted as a baby and the only connection she has to her birth mother is a cardboard box hand-decorated with butterflies. Now an adult, Clem decides to make a drastic life change and move to Brighton, where she was born. Clem has no idea that while there she’ll meet someone who knows all about her butterfly box and what happened to her birth parents.

As the tangled truths about her adoption and childhood start to unravel, a series of shocking events cause Clem to reassess whether the price of having contact with her birth family could be too high to pay… Amazon

I also chose Broken Heart by Tim Weaver as I hadn’t got this, the latest in the David Raker series.

broken-heart

Blurb

Where did she go?
What did she know?
A woman drives to a secluded beauty spot on the Somerset coast.
CCTV watches her enter but doesn’t see her leaving.
In fact, Lynda Korin is never seen again.
How can someone just disappear?
Her sister calls missing persons investigator David Raker.
For him, the mystery of where she went is only the start. The real question is why a woman with no reason to run would choose to leave her entire life behind?
Was it her decision? Or did someone make it for her?
Raker is an expert at following the echoes of decades-old lies. But only Lynda Korin knows the most shocking secret of all – and she’s missing, presumed dead…Amazon

And lastly I chose Bonjour Tritesse by Françoise Sagan which I came across a brilliant review for on Jaqui Wine’s Journal and she enjoyed it so much she featured it in her best reads of 2016.
Blurb

Bonjour Tristesse tells the story of Cécile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry – with devastating consequences. Amazon

What have you found to read this week – do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books but gained a grand total of 6 new ones giving the grand total of 187

Physical Books – 106
Kindle Books – 70
NetGalley Books – 12

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (September 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

My favourite read of September 2011 was one that I still recommend widely today, for those who missed it the first time around! Into The Darkest Corner was the debut novel by  Elizabeth Haynes and it is a book that has haunted me ever since with its realistic portrayal of domestic violence and OCD.

Into the Darkest Corner

Blurb

When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true.
But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she’s stunned to find they don’t believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.
Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.
Until the day the phone rings . . . Goodreads

2012 yr

In September 2012 my favourite book was by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed over many years, don’t let the pretty cover fool you, this book covers some serious issues; The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

The Rose Petal Beach

Blurb

Every love story has a dangerous twist.
Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible – but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into freefall. Backed into a corner and unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But this choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn.
Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This stranger carries with her shocking truths that will change the lives of everyone she meets, and will once again force Tamia to make some devastating choices… Goodreads

2013yr

My choice for September 2013 is a really emotional book, I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington, a story told exceptionally well and mainly by letter, in reverse.

I Came To Say Goodbye

Click on the book cover to read my review
Blurb

It was a crime that shocked the world.
The CCTV footage shows a young woman pushing through the hospital doors.
She walks into the nursery, picks up a baby and places her carefully in a shopping bag.
She walks out to the car park, towards an old Ford Corolla. For a moment, she holds the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smells her.
Then she clips the baby into the car, gets in and drives off. This is where the footage ends.
What happens next will leave a mother devastated, and a little boy adrift in a world he will never understand. Amazon

2014yr

In 2014 I revisited an old favourite, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, sadly no other books stand the test of time quite so well as this one.

Murder on the Orient Express

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. A passenger lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Goodreads

2015yr

For a change choosing my favourite read of the most recent month has proved simple, without a doubt it has to be The Night Watch by Sarah Waters!

The Night Watch

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners—three women and a young man with a past—whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my June reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August so it looks like this series may continue into 2016 after all!

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Flavours of Love – Dorothy Koomson

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

Dorothy Koomson is one of those authors that I began reading before I crime fiction became my favourite genre and her early books were marketed as the very fashionable (at the time) chick-lit, although they all had important and more serious issues at their centre. The last few of this authors books have developed into somewhat darker novels and this one follows that theme.

Saffron was widowed in the most awful circumstances eighteen months before the book starts, her husband Joel was murdered and left to die by the side of the road. Saffron’s daughter Phoebe is now 14 and within pages we realise that she knows more about her father’s murder than she let onto the police, but what the secret is soon overtaken by the present when Saffron is called into the school to be told by the headmaster that Phoebe has another secret and one that needs immediate attention. With her younger son Zane and a demanding job the grieving Saffron has more than enough on her plate, but this is a study in keeping going one step at a time through whatever life throws at you.

This book is crammed full of issues which in the hands of a less accomplished author could have produced something of a mismatch of a book and far less breath-taking mainly because all of her characters are beautifully drawn displaying evidence of the author’s training in psychology. The result is real people with good and bad points far away from stereotypes as is possible, the sort of people you meet daily. The contrast between good intentions and bad decisions are illustrated many times through this delightful array of personalities, none more so than the brilliant Aunt Betty who becomes part of the household.

With the characters forming the backbone of this novel along with their issues the author also has managed to pace the book by switching times as far back to the beginning of Saffron and Joel’s relationship. Although the time periods jump about building a picture of their life this is far from confusing with the chapters clearly marking the time before or after the day of Joel’s death. Meanwhile in the present day the tension builds at a steady pace as poor Saffron has more sinister things to deal with and the battle is on to keep her family safe. Added to this there is some fledgling romance to bring a tear to the eye as Saffron comes to terms with the fact that her husband has truly gone.

The title of the book refers to the cookbook that Joel was compiling before his death and we are treated to a few of these recipes and those his wife is experimenting with in an aim to finish it in his memory giving the book a truly original feel.

There is lots to love in this book and the only slight criticism I have hinges on the original secret kept by Phoebe and unfortunately the one on which the whole book hinges, just really didn’t feel of sufficient magnitude not to come clean but the rest of the book is so wonderfully executed that I simply had to overcome my reservations and join Saffron through some dark days and nights.

I’d recommend this author to anyone who loves character driven and although this book doesn’t lend itself well to the searing dry humour of some of her previous books it is still makes an appearance from time to time…

“She isn’t used to apologising, it must taste very strange and unpleasant in her mouth, something I’m sure she won’t want to sample again for a long time.”

I’m now hoping that as it has taken me the best part of a year to get around to reading this one that a new book will be in the offing from this author soon.

Dorothy Koomson’s previous books:

The Cupid Effect
The Chocolate Run
My Best Friend’s Girl
Marshmallow’s for Breakfast
Goodnight Beautiful
The Ice Cream Girls
The Woman He Loved Before
The Rose Petal Beach

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 8)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Summer of Ghosts by P.D. Viner the sequel to The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Summer of Ghosts

Blurb

It begins with a father calling his daughter, but whoever answers is not Pia but his daughter’s killer. He must listen, horrified, to the sounds of his only child being murdered, powerless to intervene as the killer utters two chilling words.
Most men’s thoughts would turn to vengeance but Pia’s father is far more resourceful than most. And he is not the reserved businessman his daughter always believed him to be but Franco, a notorious London drug lord who will call in all his debts to find his daughter’s killer. Including the one owed to him by DI Tom Bevans.
Only Tom is a man haunted by his own grief and every unsolved case weighs heavily against his soul. And Tom has heard the killer’s words before. Goodreads

I have just finished reading the fantastic Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey which is the start of a brand new series featuring Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Good Girls Don't Die

Next I am going to read The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

The Flavours of Love

Blurb

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I did back then to protect my family. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed a devastating secret, and my husband’s killer, who was never caught, has started to write to me, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done will be revealed.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story. Amazon

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 13)

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).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Well the pile grows ever bigger so here is a look at this weeks finds!

Bibliobeth’s review of The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold meant this was instantly added to the TBR pile

The Book of Secrets

At once a captivating mystery, a love letter to classic literature, and a sharp-eyed examination of marriage, The Book of Secrets is a gripping novel of family, friendship, and the undeniable pull of the past.
After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town of Redbridge, California—a place Chloe never wants to see again.
Tending to their small bookstore while trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Written in a code that Nate and his sisters created as kids, the pages contain long-buried secrets from her and Nate’s past, and clues to why he went back to Redbridge after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children, their increasingly dangerous games a magical escape from their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from from his oppressive father, and how the thwarted attempt upended their lives forever. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.

EreaderIQ has also alerted me to some fantastic price drops this week which meant that a book that had been on my wishlist, The Child’s Child by Barabara Vine is now downloaded. This book has received less than favourable reviews but it really wouldn’t be right for me not to try it for myself after all is was the Barbara Vine books that first opened my eyes to psychological thrillers.

The Child's Child

Blurb

What sort of betrayal would drive a brother and sister apart?
When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother’s house, they surprise few people by deciding to move in together. But they’ve always got on well and the London house is large enough to split down the middle.
There’s just one thing they’ve not taken into account though. What if one of them wants to bring a lover to the house? When Andrew’s partner James moves in, and immediately picks a fight about the treatment of gay men, the balance is altered – with almost fatal consequences. Amazon

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson also snuck their way onto my kindle with at a low price that couldn’t be resisted.

The Flavours of Love
Blurb

It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

Dorothy writes such readable books that I now need to juggle my reading list to fit this in!

Lastly a recommendation from Amazon caught my eye Creep by Jennifer Hillier has also made it onto my TBR

Creep

Blurb

Psychology professor Dr Sheila Tao is an expert on human behaviour, so when she begins an affair with charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she’s well aware she’s playing with fire. Consumed by lust and riddled with guilt, Sheila ends their three month fling when she becomes engaged to a kind and loving man who adores her. But Ethan has different plans…
NO ONE CAN.
When a star student is stabbed to death, it’s clear someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex and blackmail on campus. Before long, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with Ethan: the lover she couldn’t resist is now the monster who will never let her go.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 8)

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).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

So as I am working hard to read some of my free and cheap books on my e-reader in November the last thing I should be doing is looking at more books to buy, or requesting new ones from Netgalley!

As it happens the people at Random House have been really kind to me this week and I have 3 new books from Netgalley.

Wake by Anne Hope to be published 16 January 2014

Wake

Blurb

Unfolding over five days leading up to 11 November, 1920, a powerful debut telling of three women who have lost loved-ones, set against the journey of the Unknown Soldier from Northern France to the Cenotaph.
Five Days in November, 1920:
As the body of the Unknown Soldier makes its way from the fields of Northern France to the Cenotaph, three women are overcoming loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; wealthy Evelyn, who toils at a lowly job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who snatches glimpses of her dead son in the street.
As each struggles to move on with her life, a wartime mystery begins to unravel. But where will the threads lead, and will they bring the answers these women crave? In this shattering novel of intertwining lives, Anna Hope shows the beginnings of a new era, and the day the mood of the nation changed, for ever Netgalley

This looks like a great addition to feed my historical fiction.

I also received A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan which looks like a real psychological thriller.

A Pleasure and a Calling

Publication date 13 February 2014, be scared if you receive this one as a Valentines gift!

Blurb

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours…

and lastly Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett

Stone Bruises

Publication date 30 January 2014

Blurb

‘Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…
Superbly written, Stone Bruises is a classic nail-shredder of a thriller that holds you from the beginning. The narrative slowly, inexorably tightens its grip as the story unfurls and will keep you guessing until the unnerving and shocking final twist…Netgalley

I have to admit I am a little worried that this one might be a bit too scary for me (I know I pretend to be big small and brave but maybe I’m not quite as fearless after all… I’ll let you all know!

I couldn’t resist The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts when she offered me a free copy… the fact that it is billed as a psychological thriller within a historical context meant that my heart quickly typed ‘yes please’ as it overruled the head which was saying ‘you’ve loads of books to read and review already!’

The Medea Complex

Blurb

***Based On A True Story***
Anne wakes up in a strange bed, having been kidnapped from her home. Slowly, she realizes she is in a lunatic asylum.
1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?
Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.
Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.
The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity Amazon

The Medea Complex

and another kind author Jane Riddell has also sent me a copy of her book Water’s Edge

Water's Edge

Blurb

When Madalena invites her four children to Switzerland for a family gathering, she isn’t prepared for the excess baggage of their lives they bring along – secrets they are compelled to keep and those that must be divulged; the compromises they make, and, ultimately, what can and can’t be resolved – for Madalena, too, has things about her past that she would prefer not to reveal.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, Water’s Edge is a tapestry of love, lies and family – Goodreads

Water’s Edge

On top of these wonderful sounding books I have two purchases to make Imago by Celina Grace with the third of the Kate Redman Mystery series which I have enjoyed so much. .

Imago

Publication date Sunday 10 November

Blurb

They don’t fear me, quite the opposite. It makes it twice as fun… I know the next time will be soon, I’ve learnt to recognise the signs. I think I even know who it will be. She’s oblivious of course, just as she should be. All the time, I watch and wait and she has no idea, none at all. And why would she? I’m disguised as myself, the very best disguise there is.”
A known prostitute is found stabbed to death in a shabby corner of Abbeyford. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and her partner Detective Sergeant Olbeck take on the case, expecting to have it wrapped up in a matter of days. Kate finds herself distracted by her growing attraction to her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton – until another woman’s body is found, with the same knife wounds. And then another one after that, in a matter of days.
Forced to confront the horrifying realisation that a serial killer may be preying on the vulnerable women of Abbeyford, Kate, Olbeck and the team find themselves in a race against time to unmask a terrifying murderer, who just might be hiding in plain sight… Amazon

and The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson which was published yesterday 7 November 2013

FOL
Blurb

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

The Flavours of LoveDorothy Koomson’s novels are all extremely well plotted and with the sort of writing that immerses you in the story…

All I need now is a time machine to make enough time to read everything I’ve got planned!

Please let me know what you have found this week because as you can see I’m always looking for more books to read!