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

Every Secret Thing – Emma Cole

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Historical Fiction 3*s
Historical Fiction
3*s

Having enjoyed a couple of Emma Cole’s novels written under her more popular pen name, Susanna Kearsley, I was keen to try this novel which promised a more ‘thriller’ angle to her normal historical novels and even better this one has a historical angle with a mystery to boot.

This book starts so well quickly moving the narrative onto the crux of the mystery to be solved.

I first met Andrew Deacon on the morning of the day he died.
It bothered me, afterwards how little I remembered him. Someone who changes your life the way Deacon changed mine should, by rights, be remembered, imprinted indelibly onto your brain.
‘I have a story I could tell you,’ he said. ‘A Story of an old murder, but one still deserving of justice. 

Kate is a journalist covering a trial at the Old Bailey for her paper back in Canada when she met Andrew Deacon on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral although at first she was dismissive, as he left he intimated he knew her Grandmother, she had to know more. Kate uses her journalistic training to track back through the years meeting the key players as she goes.

I loved the first third of this book, where Kate talks to her Grandmother Georgie and discovers the age old truth that she hadn’t always been old, in fact when she was young and had a role to play during World War II. There was a lot to enjoy and learn about especially as Georgie was recruited to work for the British Security Coordination in New York and the descriptions of her life as a young woman in an unknown country were fascinating.

Unfortunately for me, much of the remainder of the story was one of espionage with Whitehall heavily implicated in the mystery that Kate is determined to uncover. I had trouble believing that Whitehall would be interested in keeping secrets so many years after the event but those who like conspiracy theories will probably enjoy this section much more.

I’m not entirely sure what year the book is supposed to be set in but I’m guessing at the end of the nineties although the book was published in 2006. The portion of the book set in the past is inserted into each present day chapter as a recollection from the past rather than a dual-time line novel and this worked really well in linking the past events with the present.

There were some interesting characters but it was Andrew Deacon’s story which touched my heart as we followed him through time starting with his sudden death and then skipping back to his life as a young man working for the Intelligence service.

As well as switching time periods the book also criss-crosses countries featuring England, Canada, the US and Portugal with the main story told from Kate’s perspective told in the first person, with regular portions in third person narrative from Andrew Deacon and those who knew him.

An interesting story and although I didn’t entirely buy into the spy portion of this book, there was plenty to enjoy from some really wonderful characters counterbalanced with some despicable ones who’d used the war to further their own lives, seemingly oblivious to the sacrifices being made by so many.  This is a book which has something for everyone, a historical angle, a thriller along with a sprinkling of romance.

This is the second read for my 20 Books of Summer 2015! Challenge, see the books chosen and read so far here

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

Friday Finds (February 21)

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!

NetGalley has added to the TBR for me again this week.  First up is Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips

Quiet Dell

Due to be published in 24 April 2014 by Random House UK Vintage Publishing this is a historical murder mystery based on true crime.

Blurb

In Chicago in 1931, Asta Eicher, a widow with three children, is lonely and pressed for money after the sudden death of her husband. She begins to receive seductive letters from a chivalrous, elegant man named Harry Powers, who ultimately promises to marry her and to care for her and her children. Asta agrees to go with him to West Virginia to see his house there, and then to bring her children. Weeks later, all are dead.
Emily Thornhill, a bold, independent journalist, one of the few women in the Chicago press, covers the case and becomes deeply invested in understanding what happens to this beautiful family – especially the highly imaginative youngest girl, Annabel – and determined to make sure that Powers is convicted. She also falls in love with the Chicago banker who funds the investigation, wracked by guilt himself for not saving Asta from her tragic end. NetGalley

I have received a copy of  Sorrow Bound by David Mark;  a police procedural, written by a former crime reporter.  This book is due to be published by Quercus Books on 3 April 2014.

Sorrow Bound

Blurb

Philippa Longman will do anything for her family.
Roisin McAvoy will do anything for her friends.
DS Aector McAvoy will do anything for his wife.
Yet each has an unknown enemy – one that will do anything to destroy them. NetGalley

I am really looking forward to the second book by Tom Vowler, That Dark Remembered Day which is going to be published by Headline on 13 March 2014.

That Dark Remembered Day

Blurb

One family, one town, devastated by one tragic event.
Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?
When Stephen gets a phone call to say his mother isn’t well, he knows he must go to her straight away. But he dreads going back there. He has never been able to understand why his mother chose to stay in the town he grew up in, after everything that happened. One day’s tragic events years before had left no one living there untouched.
Stephen’s own dark memories are still poisoning his life, as well as his marriage. Perhaps now is the time to go back and confront the place and the people of his shattered childhood. But will he ever be able to understand the crime that punctured their lives so brutally? How can a community move on from such a terrible legacy? NetGalley

I really enjoyed Tom Vowler’s debut What Lies Within so I have high hopes that this will be a really good read.

I have been a winner again this week! and was delighted to receive a copy of The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman from a giveaway on The Writes of Woman blog.

The Dead Wife's Handbook

Blurb

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating.
Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.
As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for. Goodreads

And I have bought a copy of Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole a pen name for Susanna Kearsley.  This looks like it has every element I love in a historical novel.
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Blurb

When an old man strikes up a conversation with her on the steps of St. Paul’s and makes a mystifying mention of murder and an oddly familiar comment about her grandmother, Kate Murray is intrigued. But she never gets to hear the rest of Andrew Deacon’s tale. Shocked by his unexpected death, she wonders whom this strange, old man is, and what the odd reference to her grandmother could mean. Interest piqued by the story never told, Kate becomes drawn into an investigation, uncovering secrets about the grandmother she thought she knew and a man she never did. Soon she is caught up in a dangerous whirlwind of events that takes her back into her grandmother’s mysterious wartime past and across the Atlantic as she tries to retrace Deacon’s footsteps. Finding out the truth is not so simple, however, as only a few people are still alive who know the story and Kate soon realizes that her questions are putting their lives in danger. Stalked by an unknown and sinister enemy, and facing death every step of the way, Kate must use her tough journalistic instinct to find the answers from the past in order to have a future. Goodreads

So to conclude this week I have added another great selection of books to my TBR, I must do better! What have you found this week?