Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: One More Secret – Erin Kelly

Short Story 4*'s
Short Story
4*’s

This book released to follow episode six of the ITV series is the most clearly entwined of the whole series, read this before watching and you’ll miss the most shocking part of the episode.

This is Beth’s story and so naturally it covers her life, juggling attending the court with a ten-day-old baby. I’m sure this story will resonate with mother’s the world over and Beth has more reason than most to feel torn in too many directions. The court case takes another twist and we hear what happened when the camera cut away.

There is far more detail in this one than the previous short stories, I really felt that this story offered a clear insight into Beth’s life, her relationship with Mark, Chloe and the other members of the close-knit community of Broadchurch.

I had a minor panic Tuesday morning as I thought I’d left a wifi zone without downloading this episode, thankfully all was in order and I was able to enjoy my coffee with this excellent short story.

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: Protection – Erin Kelly

Short Story 4*'s
Short Story
4*’s

Well another episode of the second series of Broadchurch and once again the focus is as much on what happened to the missing girls in Sandbrook as it was about the ongoing trial. This week the defence had a disappointing day in court when the failure to research the actions of their witness before putting them on the stand.

With a clear link to the TV series this week’s book is a behind the scenes look at Sharon Bishop, the defence lawyer. This short, I still would have preferred these books to be slightly longer, gives us an insight into Sharon’s life outside the court setting. We have seen her visit a prison on-screen, here we find out why. We also get filled in on the history between her and the prosecution barrister, Jocelyn as I’m sure like me you are wondering if this is a straight case of two very competitive women, or whether their history has made this court-room battle an exceptional one.

I am still really enjoying these shorts which give a little more flesh to those characters who have featured strongly in the episode on TV the next morning.

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: Over The Side – Erin Kelly

Short Story 4's
Short Story
4’s

Well this addition to the Broadchurch TV series just gets better and this time I think those of us that are reading the excerpts got an insight that those haven’t will miss out on. Why? Well this weeks episode tells the story from Tess, Alec Hardy’s wife. In this week’s episode we met her for the first time, being hostile to Alec’s continued obsession with the Sandbrook case where there were two missing girls, one a young girl and one a teenager.

The indications in this book that Tess was somewhat distracted at the time of the disappearance of the girls and Alec, right from the start was working all the hours, hardly seeing his wife so all-encompassing was his desire to find the girls and solve the mystery of why and how they disappeared. We already know that the trial collapsed and the chief suspect’s wife is undergoing an unconventional witness protection scene at Broadchurch. This book, well-written and enlightening gives the reader an insight into the motivation behind this bizarre decision.

I’d give this one the full five stars but the books are just a little too short to fully justify a top rating.

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: Old Friends – Erin Kelly

Short Story 4*'s
Short Story
4*’s

I have to admit I’ve now got to the point where I’m really looking forward to the short story that follows each episode of Broadchurch season 2 which airs on a Monday evening; so today my lunch break consisted of a cup of coffee and this, the third in the series.

So last night on Broadchurch we had some chasing through fields, a witness who is behaving very suspiciously, a birth and DI Miller giving evidence for the prosecution. The QC for the prosecution is Jocelyn and today’s short gives us her background including her links to Broadchurch. I for one had wondered how long she had been in that house when there was no sight of her during the first series!! Even better this short gave us a chance to catch up with a character from the first series, really very clever!

As always the short doesn’t give anything away to the TV series, this is background, well-written and in this episode well thought out and made me feel like I’d had a sneak preview behind the scenes.

This is my favourite of these books so far and I’ve now got them all on pre-order, I’m sold!

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: The Letter – Erin Kelly

Short Story 4*'s
Short Story
4*’s

So how are you enjoying the show now the trial has started and two witnesses have taken to the stand, evidence has been disallowed and there is still the mystery of what happened in Sandybrook… plenty to keep us entertained. Even better there was another short story penned by Erin Kelly to keep me Broadchurch centric the next day!

In Broadchurch: The Letter we are given a little more background to Broadchurch, this time from Maggie’s perspective as the whole town are preparing for Joe Millar’s trial. Maggie runs the newspaper office and is railing against the cutbacks, after all she has been in the industry for over thirty years. This sequence, like the first book, gives us another look at a character, and after all in Broadchurch all the characters have something important to add!

Alongside this there is a little sub-plot about other events going on in the area, which hasn’t featured on the TV series, yet, but serves to show Maggie’s determination to investigate, all tools of a reporter’s trade! What she finds surprises her but she has never been one to back away from an awkward situation.

This series of shorts are great for coffee-break reading and I read mine the day after the TV show aired, in all honesty so far neither short has revealed anything so far so eking them out feels more like a gimmick but one I’m happy to enjoy.

Posted in Books I have read

A Great Crime Novel Recommendation for Petrona Remembered

This post has been blogged at Petrona Remembered in memory of book blogger Maxine who loved crime novels, please visit the blog to learn more about Maxine and to see what other books have been recommended to her.

When I originally signed up to recommend a novel to Maxine I foolishly thought the task would be easy, I’ve read loads of crime fiction and give people recommendations on what to try frequently enough that the names of those authors trip off my tongue. Giving a recommendation to someone who was as well read as Maxine was tough, so I concentrated on the aspect of crime fiction writing she found most appealing, those that covered a social issue, a political idea or troubling aspect of the human condition. I believe I found the perfect book my choice definitely covers two of these, with a hint of the other, and it is one of my favourite crime reads of all time.

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

The Burning Air

Lydia opens her diary, picks up her pen and prepares to commit her sins to its pages. Overwhelmed by her illness she finishes her entry stating ‘A good mother loves fiercely but ultimately brings up her children to thrive without her. They must be the most important thing in her life, but if she is the most important thing in theirs, she has failed.’ These words underpin the rest of one of the darkest stories I have read.

Lydia and Rowan McBride had a successful life, Rowan a headmaster at a prestigious private school and Lydia a magistrate with altruistic nature. Their three children Sophie, Tara and Felix grew up with all the benefits this background afforded them attending their father’s school. Lydia’s husband Rowan, her adult children Sophie, Tara and Felix gather together along with an assortment of partners and offspring over a cold November weekend to scatter her ashes at Far Barn, the scene of many happy family holidays. Without a television or mobile signal and only a tape deck and record player for music being at Far Barn is like going back in time. And so the scene is set for a claustrophobic weekend where the consequences of the past make themselves known. When Felix’s new girlfriend disappears with Sophie’s baby on bonfire night the secrets of the past come tumbling out with each character having a part to play in this well-crafted story.

So where you might ask are those aspects so beloved by Maxine? Well this is a book about obsession which sparks acts of violent revenge, a human condition which left unchecked can cause utter devastation as this novel demonstrates. The cause of the vengeance is someone who believes the family were responsible for a bright, intelligent child from a mixed-up background missing out on the chance of attending the private school, the one that the younger McBride’s attended because their father was headmaster. This single event sparked an obsession with the McBride family that lasted many years the pursuit of revenge having a corrosive effect on all who stepped into its path.

This is a fascinating look at some views about private education, does it provide an advantage regardless of the ability of the child attending? Likewise the converse, if a child is intelligent would they thrive in any educational facility? What does a private school offer children of all abilities that aren’t available in the state system? Or is it perhaps a little more complex than any of those questions? Isn’t it a social as well as a political issue that an education that can be bought is more desirable than the one that the vast majority of children attend?

In many ways The Burning Air is a book about moral issues with degrees of guilt and innocence being far more important, certainly in the background to this story, than the absolutes of right and wrong. I prefer my reading matter not to be black and white and so I think this book will be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on how morally responsible the reader holds the perpetrator.

As I hope you can see there is plenty to think about in this novel but just for avoidance of doubt, it is also a great read, with plenty of twists and turns which I have done my level best to avoid spoiling whilst writing this recommendation post for Petrona Remembered.

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch: The End Is Where It Begins

Short Story 4*'s
Short Story
4*’s

This will be a short review of what is essentially a bit of background to Broadchurch Season Two. There is one short story released at midnight following the airing of each of the eight weekly episodes and this is the first.

Having missed the first series of what was a ‘must-watch’ show I caught up with this via Erin Kelly’s book from series one of the ITV Television series simply named Broadchurch. I loved the book so much that I then watched the series to compare and contrast the book and the series and came to the conclusion that each medium had their merits, of course the mystery wasn’t as great while watching this on TV since I knew what had happened, but I am very fond of David Tennant and there was plenty to absorb with the character interactions to make that more or less irrelevant. So I was ready and waiting at 9:00pm on Monday night and watched the first episode of the second series and wow.. I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m not usually gullible especially where marketing is concerned but when I saw that each episode had a book well surprise surprise, I couldn’t resist, particularly as once again this has been penned by Erin Kelly who is one of my favourite authors (but maybe I’d prefer her to write another great book like The Burning Air)

This episode covers what happens to Ellie Miller when she leaves Broadchurch following the end of series one. There was nothing in this story that appeared the first episode but it does serve to give us some background into Ellie’s life since the uncovering of the murderer; her feelings, her life in a new place, her job serving for a different police force and her hopes for the future. I wonder if the other books will cover the background of the other characters or whether they will follow a different format.

An engaging read that is a useful addition for ardent fans of the show this short story was well worth the 99p that I spent on it despite the fact it is only 17 pages long and I just know that I’m going to have to read the other seven that will appear.

Did you watch on Monday? What do you think about having books, albeit short ones, to accompany the series?

Posted in Books I have read

Reading and Reviewing in 2014

Updated 2014

So I have now completed (minus 2 days) an entire calendar year of reading and reviewing books on my blog – and what a year it has been! Before I choose my top 10 books for the year I thought I’d share some facts and figures with you because that’s how I roll.

In 2014 I have read 140 books and it will be no surprise to regular readers that the composition of genre is crime heavy… but I did manage an impressive 33 books that fell into (my) contemporary fiction category as well as 17 books with a historical theme.

I should warn everyone that I play fast and loose with genres and anything I’m not sure where to put does end up as contemporary fiction, but it is a guideline (of sorts).

Out of my crime reads the split was also unsurprisingly heavily weighted on the psychological fiction slant with 37 books falling into this genre, 33 logged as crime thriller and 11 in the mystery category.

When I started blogging I was curious to see how much of my reading could be supported by review copies of books, this wasn’t a new concept as I’d been part of Amazon Vine since 2011, but I’d not counted for the ease of requesting items from NetGalley, the quantity of kind publishers and authors that offer me books, Lovereading  who send me copies as part of their reviewing panel or Bookbridgr who have physical copies they are happy to post to me. That along with a little bit of stalking of my favourite authors on Twitter has kept me in more than enough books for the whole year!

In 2014 only 25 books, less than 18% of the books I read, I owned (and I’d won copies of 3 of these).  Now I’m not making any promises too stop reviewing ARCs, I love finding new authors, catching up with old ones and sometimes reading something a little bit different to the norm, far too much for that, but I am going to redress the balance a little and aim for 60:40 split.  Well, lets see how that goes shall we? Why? Well out of the books I’ve read this year 63 were by authors whose books I’d previously read. This is a whopping 45%! This means that exponentially, even discarding the minority whose books weren’t for me, or who don’t write a new book in 2015, of the new to me authors should even 40 produce  new books these added to the known to me author output, can only be disastrous for the TBR ??? That doesn’t even take into account any back catalogues!  This is why cutting down on books is never going to happen!! But what a fantastic problem to have!

So which of my reviews have been most popular in 2014?

Click on the book cover to read my reviews

10. The magnificent debut and psychological thriller by Mary Kubica – The Good Girl This book with four narrators has no chapter breaks which meant I was compelled to keep reading to find out why and how Mia Dennett disappeared.
The Good Girl

9. A Crime Fiction novel Daughter by Jane Shemilt is fixed around the disappearance of Jenny’s 15 year old daughter, Naomi but also uncovers a web of secrets and lies.
Daughter

8. Sarah Hilary’s police procedural, Someone Else’s Skin blew me away with it’s range of characters and skilful handling of a storyline about domestic abuse was a fantastic find in February 2014.

Someone Else's Skin

7. In The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner we meet Jim and Patti Lancing who  react in very different ways to the murder of their daughter mixed with an accomplished whodunit.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

6. Sees a psychological domestic thriller with Lucie Whitehouse’s Before We Met which tells the tale of how Hannah found out more about the man she married.

Before We Met

5. A Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler was put in the psychological suspense category because the author literally reveals the progressive layers of the protagonist’s mind as the tale unfolds. This was an unequivocal 5 star read.

That Dark Remembered Day

4. Wake by Anna Hope has stayed in my mind ever since I read it nearly a year ago. This tale of the run up to the Internment of the Unknown Soldier was beyond poignant. The best book about WWI that I have read although Andrew Cowan’s Worthless Men comes a close second.

Wake

3. Having missed the TV series Broadchurch , I jumped at the chance to read the book of the series especially as it was written by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly. I loved the story so much I had to watch the TV series to compare and will now be glued to the second series next Monday.

Broadchurch

2. In February I read a book about a fictional stalker, The Book of You by Claire Kendal brilliantly portrays the mind of a stalker and captures the powerlessness of his victim, not only that but the storyline has a parallel to an ongoing court case.

The Book of You

1. The most popular review of the year goes to an author whose books I’ve been championing for a while but this one surpassed all my expectations. Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott is a brilliant psychological thriller, even better I believe you can get a copy for a mere 99p at the moment.

Sleep Tight

So those are the reviews you’ve enjoyed – coming soon my favourite books that were published in 2014.
I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2014.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (August 13)

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 The Winter Foundlings by Kate Rhodes the third in the Alice Quentin series, I read the second one A Killing of Angels .

The Winter Foundlings

Blurb

The girl was lying on the steps of the Foundling Museum, dressed all in white.
Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead.
Britain’s most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, has been locked up in Northwood high-security hospital for over a decade. Now more innocents are being slaughtered, and they all have a connection to his earlier crimes.
Psychologist Alice Quentin is doing research at Northwood. She was hoping for a break from her hectic London life, but she’ll do anything to help save a child – even if it means forming a relationship with a charismatic, ruthless murderer.
But Kinsella is slow to give away his secrets, and time is running out for the latest kidnap victim, who is simply trying to survive… Amazon

I have just finished a book written (in part) by my favourite author Erin Kelly. Broachurch was based on a British hit TV series written by Chris Chibnall.
Click on the book cover to read my review

Broadchurch

Next I am going to read Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas which has a beautiful cover and it’s set at the time of the strikes of the 1980’s which I remember well.
Your Beautiful Lies

Blurb

Annie Howarth is living a restless life in a restless town. It’s 1987 and for a mining community in South Yorkshire, the strikes mean tensions are running high. Then a murdered girl is found on the moors and the anxiety levels are pushed to a dangerous breaking point.
Married to the Chief of Police, Annie should feel safe – William can be secretive, though surely whatever he’s hiding is for her own good.
But Annie is keeping her own secrets. Ten years ago the man she loved was ripped from her life in a scandal that still haunts the both of them, and now his return will put her family, her marriage, even her life, at risk. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Please share as I’m always on the look out for more new reads!

Posted in Books I have read

Broadchurch – Erin Kelly

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

Broadchurch aired as a British Crime drama in the UK in 2013, a labour of love from the creator, Chris Chibnall, who aim was to create a big ensemble drama which concentrated on what happens to a community when a death happens within its midst, particularly when that death is that of a child.

Now, I didn’t watch this drama, I’m often slow on the uptake and before I was even aware of it, the show was halfway through, but I know it was big with those millions of viewers avidly discussing the twists and turns. So why did I chose to read the book? Mainly because it is written by one of my favourite authors Erin Kelly but also because a little bit of me felt like I missed out. So this review is probably one of the few you will read that makes no comparison to the series.

Set in Dorset the book starts with a brief introduction to the Latimer household along with the introduction to Detective Inspector Alec Hardy who has been relocated for mysterious reasons to Broadchurch where he now holds the position which Ellie Miller had hoped would be hers. With the death of Danny Latimer the whole town suspect each other of the murder while the police battle to find the truth and the media battle to tell the best story.

West Bay Dorset
West Bay Dorset

I think this is the first time that I have read a book based on a TV series, it usually works the other way around, and in the early chapters it did feel like a different type of reading experience and I could clearly imagine a silent shoot of a darkened town in the following description.

The church on the hill is unlit, the rich jewel colours of its stained-glass windows dulled to a uniform satin black. A weathered poster reading LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF flaps uselessly from the parish noticeboard.

Obviously this tale has an incredibly strong plot and what Erin Kelly has done is translate this into a great read, handling the sheer number of characters alone must have been quite a task and she does it magnificently. This is a clear-sighted read, with the language used to conjure up the fear in the town flawless, the grief of the Latimer’s acute and the actions of those with secrets to keep gently exposed. I’m fairly sure that the roots to the dry humour were present in the show but the author has managed to translate all those looks into inspired words which say so much

Grief is like a splinter deep into every fingertip; to touch anything is torture.

although at times the feeling that you are watching the action from afar is more acute

With trade so slow, you’d think she’d be falling over herself to look after the few customers she has. What’s Becca looking at that’s more important than her business?

There are so many themes of grief, secrets, love and trust that at times this was an emotional read, I have to confess shedding a few tears at one point which rarely happens when reading and it is even rarer while reading crime fiction. There really is something for everyone in this book as well as a being a big fat juicy whodunit.

This has my wholehearted recommendation, I will definitely make sure I watch the next series and for those of you who are Broadchurch aficionados apparently there is a clue to the second series early on it this book, I missed it but apparently if you know the show well there is a line that doesn’t fit.

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to The Little Brown Book Group UK for my copy of this book in return for my honest opinion; it’s a brilliant read! Broadchurch is due to be published on 14 August 2014