Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (December 2)

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

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

 

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

 

This Week on the Blog

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

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

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

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

This Time Last Year…

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

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

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

Stacking the Shelves

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



Blurb

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

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

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

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

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



Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

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

What have you found to read?

tbr-watch

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

 

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

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

The Moving Toyshop – Edmund Crispin

Classic
5*s

Written in 1946 this is actually the third in the author’s series featuring the Oxford Professor of English Language and Literature Gervase Fen, but the first one that I have read and this one is featured in Martin Edwards’ brilliant book The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

In this book we meet famous poet Richard Cadogan who is seeking inspiration and so taps up his publisher for some money. That gets him just enough for a short holiday to Oxford. Clearly not very good on the organisational front after some hitch-hiking he finds himself on the deserted high street late at night and enters a toy shop, as you do, and finds a body of an elderly woman, clearly murdered. Poor old Richard is knocked out and locked in a cupboard by an unknown assailant. So it isn’t until the morning that he can alert anyone, by which time when he leads the finest of Oxfordshire’s constabulary to the high street, the toyshop has vanished.

Ultimately this is a locked room puzzle that needs a mind of a particular type to unlock the mystery and of course the local police aren’t terribly interested there being no body, no toyshop and therefore one has to assume no crime. Richard Cadogan isn’t to be thwarted though, he knows what he saw and so he calls on his old friend Gervase Fen to help. Gervase hops into his temperamental and somewhat erratically driven car, Lily Christine to investigate.

The unravelling of the mystery involves a legacy, one of the most often used device of the time but no less compelling for that, a sprinkling of limericks and a suitably complicated execution of a crime – fictional criminals of this era seemingly wanting to make things as difficult for themselves as those who may wind up investigating it.
Of course our duo don’t hand their suspicions over to the police, after all a poet and a university professor are quite entitled to work things out for themselves, even roping others into helping out

“I don’t think this is going to work,” Mr. Beavis remarked with some apprehension.
“It will work,” Fen responded confidently, “because no one expects this sort of trick outside a book”

The wonder of this novel is not so much the mystery, although that was well-executed, but the brilliant double-act that are Fen and Cadogan. While they are racing around in cars or sitting in bars stalking out various characters, they play silly games to pass the time such as unintentionally loathsome characters in literature, horrible classics and the most unreadable books of all time. All great fun although I have to admit that the use of unfamiliar phrases and words meant I am fully aware I didn’t quite get every humorous message, but I got enough to keep me fully entertained. Being set in Oxford even the local policeman is interested in literature..

Gervase, has it ever occurred to you that Measure for Measure is about the problem of Power?”
Don’t bother me with trivialities now” said Fen, annoyed, and rang off.

And even the lorry driver that gave Richard a lift at the start of the book reads from the circulating library citing “lady’s somebody’s lover” as an example of a recent read.

Most of all this book is fun with a capital F. I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure quite what to expect but I fell in love with the characters, the bizarreness and the rattling pace which was enhanced by the humour.

The Moving Toyshop is number 39 on The Classics Club list and the third of my fifty choices that I’ve read and reviewed. A great introduction into my Classic Crime Fiction.

 

First Published UK: 1946
Publisher: Penguin 
No of Pages: 245
Genre: Classic Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (April 3)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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.

I thought I’d go with an older book this time, one of my classic crime fiction reads for The Classic Club which was first published in 1946. The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin was written at a different time with different needs, but lets see how different the opening page is…

Blurb

Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store. The police are understandably sceptical of this tale but Richard’s former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn…

Erudite, eccentric and entirely delightful – Before Morse, Oxford’s murders were solved by Gervase Fen, the most unpredictable detective in classic crime fiction. Amazon

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Well first it starts with a map, ok, a fairly rudimentary one but I can’t resist a map!

And then the book starts, straight into an action scene.

 

1, The Episode of the Prowling Poet 

Richard Cadogan raised his revolver, took careful aim and pulled the trigger. The explosion rent the small garden, and like the widening circles which surrounded a pebble dropped into the water, created alarms and disturbances of diminishing intensity throughout the suburb of St John’s Wood. From the sooty trees, their leaves brown and gold in the autumn sunlight, rose flights of startled birds. In the distance a dog began to howl. Richard Cadogan went up to the target and inspected it in a dispirited sort of way. It bore no mark of any kind.

‘I missed it,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘Extraordinary.’

 

But perhaps not as different as you might imagine?

Would you keep reading? Hint – I did, and my review will be posted soon!

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 21)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin one of my reads for The Classics Club first published in 1946.



Blurb

Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store.

The police are understandably sceptical of this tale but Richard’s former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn… Amazon

The last book I finished was Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce which will be published on 5 April 2018.

Blurb

London, 1941. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone.

Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to the enduring power of friendship, the kindness of strangers and the courage of ordinary people in extraordinary times. NetGalley

Next up is another book being published on 5 April 2018; Our House by Louise Candlish. I’ve loved the previous novels I’ve read by this author so I’m really looking forward to this one.

Blurb

On a bright January morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought in Trinity Avenue.

Nothing strange about that. Except it is your house. And you didn’t sell it.

For better, for worse.

When Fi arrives home to find a removals van outside her house, she is completely blind-sided. Trinity Avenue has been her family’s home for years. Where are all her belongings? How could this have happened? Desperately calling her ex-husband, Bram, who owns the house with her, Fi discovers he has disappeared.

For richer, for poorer.

The more Fi uncovers, the more she realises their lives have been turned upside by a nightmare of their own making. A devastating crime has been committed, but who exactly is the guilty party? What has Bram hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him?

Till death us do part.

Any of these take your fancy? What are you reading this week – do share in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 6)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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.

It’s been a while since I’ve featured crime fiction in this meme and today I’ve decided to see how one of the classic crime writers chose to open their novel.

The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin was published in 1946 and was nominated by P.D. James as one of her five “most riveting crime novels.” Another fan is Val McDermid said of the novel “”A classic crime novel with a surreal streak… It’s a clever, energetic romp, written with wit.”



Blurb

Richard Cadogan, poet and would-be bon vivant, arrives for what he thinks will be a relaxing holiday in the city of dreaming spires. Late one night, however, he discovers the dead body of an elderly woman lying in a toyshop and is coshed on the head. When he comes to, he finds that the toyshop has disappeared and been replaced with a grocery store.

The police are understandably sceptical of this tale but Richard’s former schoolmate, Gervase Fen (Oxford professor and amateur detective), knows that truth is stranger than fiction (in fiction, at least). Soon the intrepid duo are careening around town in hot pursuit of clues but just when they think they understand what has happened, the disappearing-toyshop mystery takes a sharp turn… Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Richard Cadogan raised his revolver, took careful aim and pulled the trigger. The explosion rent the small garden and, like the widening circles which surround a pebble dropped into the water, created alarms and disturbances of diminishing intensity throughout the suburbs of St. John’s Wood. From the sooty trees, their leaes brown and gold in the autumn sunlight, rose flights of startled birds. In the distance a dog began to howl. Richard Cadogan went up to the target and inspected it in a dispirited sort of way. It bore no mark of any kind.

‘I missed it,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘Extraordinary.’

Well I want to know more, how about you? What do you think?