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Reading Bingo 2016

reading-bingo-small

This is one of my favourite posts of the year so there was no question of me repeating this following my relative success in filling in the squares in both 2014 and 2015

I purposely don’t treat this like a challenge by finding books to fit the squares throughout the year, oh no! I prefer to see which of my (mostly) favourite books will fit from the set I’ve read.  As you can imagine this becomes a bit like one of those moving puzzles where one book is suitable for a number of squares… and then I’m left with empty squares which I have to trawl through the 136 books I’ve read and reviewed to see if any book at all will fit! This keeps me amused for many, many hours so I do hope you all enjoy the result.

Click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult clocks in at 512 pages covering the injustice of a Ruth Jefferson, the only African-American nurse on duty when a baby gets into difficulty. With the parents white supremacists who want to blame someone Ruth is charged with murder. Not a comfortable read and I applaud the author for wanting to address racism and using an absorbing tale to do so.

A Forgotten Classic

Harriet Said

I came late to Beryl Bainbridge so I’m going to count this as a modern classic. I’ve read three of this author’s books so far, my favourite being Harriet Said. The story is based upon a murder case involving two teenaged girls in New Zealand, a case that was also the inspiration for the film Heavenly Creatures. The author creates two young teenage girls using them to reveal the push and pull of their relationship which is ultimately their undoing.

A Book That Became a Movie

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain has lots to recommend it although I admit some of the politics towards the end, went over my head, but the tale of a young woman nursing through World War I, having put her hard one academic ambitions on hold, was incredibly poignant. With the inevitable loss of friends and family her grief for herself and her generation is palpable The film was released in 2014 to great acclaim.

A Book Published This Year

The Ballroom

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from my historical fiction selection. The Ballroom by Anna Hope tells the tale of life in an asylum in West Riding, the year being 1911. With a mixture of men and women housed in the asylum the author not only writes us a great story, but has accurately researched what life was like from the perspective of inmates and attendants.

A Book With A Number In The Title

The One in a Million Boy

I give you not one but two numbers in this title: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is a book I denoted  ‘quirky’ but I’m so glad I read it. The story concerns the relationship between Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who has lived in the US since she was just four, and a boy Scout with a passion for the Guinness World Records. Touching without ever being overly sentimental this is one that will linger in my mind for quite some time.

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was written by Barney Norris who was born in 1987. This book not only touches on the history of Salisbury but weaves stories of five fictional characters in a literary, but oh so readable way. An accomplished novel that doesn’t let an obvious love of language interfere with a great story.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Little Stranger

Well I’m giving you double for your money with this book, not only is there a ghost in The Little Stanger by the fabulous Sarah Waters, there is also a Labrador that plays a key role in the subsequent downfall of the Ayres family. This spooky story is narrated by a country doctor in 1940’s Warwickshire and has plenty of other themes to enjoy even if you, like me, are not a fan of ghostly goings-on.

A Funny Book

A Man With One of those Faces

A Man With One Of Those Faces is a crime fiction novel written by stand-up comedian Caimh McDonnell. I know crime mixed with humour doesn’t sound as if it should work, but it does! A Man With One of Those Faces is full of observational humour with some truly entertaining characters without sacrificing a great plot with a whole heap of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Book By A Female Author

My Husband's Wife

So many great books by so many fab women – in the end I chose My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which falls into one of my favourite genres, psychological thrillers of the domestic variety. This tale mixes past and present with a whole heap of flawed characters and is told by two separate narrators Lily and Carla and they reveal more and more about themselves, and those around them. An extremely tense read which was utterly satisfying.

A Book With A Mystery

Pictures of perfection.jxr

What better mystery can there be than that of a missing policeman on Dalziel’s patch? Pictures of Perfection is the fourteenth in the Dalziel & Pascoe series written by the outstandingly talented Reginald Hill and this book was an absolute delight to read. With a horrific opening scene, the book then switches to the more genteel setting of a country fair in 1980s rural Yorkshire. Fear not though this isn’t window dressing, the plot is superb with a proper mystery to be solved.

A Book With A One Word Title

Viral

Like last year I have read six books that have a single word as their title but I have chosen Viral by Helen Fitzgerald because of the very contemporary storyline. Viral examines what happens when a sex act carried out in Magaluf ends up online for all Su Oliphant-Brotheridge’s friends and family to see but despite that taster, this story didn’t go in the direction I expected it to.

 A Book of Short Stories

manipulated-lives

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel is a collection of five novellas all looking at manipulators and the effect on the lives of those they choose to manipulate. The author picked five different characters and settings to explore this theme and I have to admit, not being a huge fan of short stories, the common thread was far more appealing to me than some other collections.

 Free Square

Lying in wait

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the best opening sentence; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent:
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
With the rest of this book more than living up to the first line there was so much to love not only does the author keep the tension stretched as taut as could be, despite that opening revelation we have a wonderful Irish setting as background.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

The Woman on the Orient Express

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford is a novel that ends up in Baghdad recreating a trip to an archaeology dig that Agatha Christie made following the divorce from her first husband. This wasn’t so much of a mystery rather a historical novel using Agatha Christie herself as the centre of the story of three woman all making this trip for very different reasons. An unusual and rewarding read with an exotic setting along with a fantastic mode of transport.

A Book of Non-Fiction

Did She Kill Him

I have read some brilliant non-fiction books, mostly about murders, and a fair proportion about poisoners, my interest (or obsession) of the year, so I am going with Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun. Florence Maybrick is the subject of this book, a middle-class woman living in Liverpool in 1889 when she stood trial for the murder, by arsenic, of her husband. While the majority of the book is relatively sympathetic to Florence, the author cleverly takes apart the arguments in the last section leaving the reader to make up their own mind if she was guilty or not.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In Bitter Chill

I enjoyed In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward so much earlier in the year that I had to buy the second in the series, A Deadly Thaw. The setting in Bampton Derbyshire was stunning which made the awful tale of the disappearance of two girls back in 1978 all the more shocking, especially as only one of those girls returned home. Rachel Jones went  home but now an adult a suicide prompts her to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A Book I Heard About Online

The Versions of Us

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and to be honest, it is fairly easy to persuade me I must read crime fiction or psychological thrillers, I’m more resistant to other genres. But all the rave reviews about The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett, a sliding-doors novel had me intrigued – and what a great find this was. The incident that kicks off the three different lives in The Versions of Us is a student falling off her bike whilst studying at Cambridge University in October 1958 and the three tales that follow are all equally brilliant. This was an absorbing read especially taking into consideration the complicated structure.

A Best Selling Book

Love You Dead

Peter James’ Roy Grace series consistently makes the best seller list, and also happens to be my favourite police procedural series so it is only right and fitting that Love You Dead is featured for this square. For those of you who also enjoy not only the mystery but also reading about Roy Grace (and his beautiful wife, Cleo), some key story arcs are cleared up in this, the twelfth book in the series. Mystery fans don’t need to worry either, the key plot is a good one featuring a pretty woman at its heart.

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Buriel Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent turned out to be one of my favourite reads of the year! With the Icelandic landscape as a backdrop to Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s final months awaiting trial for the murder of two men, we see the family she had been sent to stay with learning to adjust to the stranger in their midst. Be warned if you haven’t read this book, it is devastating, I had grown to love Agnes and yet her fate was sealed and no amount of wishing can change the course of history.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Mistake

The Mistake by Wendy James is a book inspired by a true event rather than based upon it and one that had been on my TBR for a couple of years.  In The Mistake we meet Jodi Garrow whose comfortable life as the wife of a lawyer unravels when a nurse in a small town hospital remembers her from years before when she gave birth to a little girl, there is no sign of that baby and Jodi does her best to cover up the truth but the media are determined to find the truth.

 A Book Your Friend Loves

blood-lines

I introduced a friend to the wonders of DI Kim Stone this year and she loved the series, in fact, despite not being a book blogger, she told me about the upcoming release of Blood Lines by Angela Marsons before I knew it was happening!  This series goes from strength to strength and her characterisation underpins a fantastic multi-stranded mystery as our protagonist tries to find the link between the stabbing of a compassionate, well-loved woman and a prostitute.

A Book That Scares You

A Tapping at my Door

I rarely get scared by a book but from the opening excerpt of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe this book had me well and truly spooked by A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson. With opening scenes of a woman hearing a tapping sound, I was glad I wasn’t reading this on a dark night on my own. But this isn’t just a spooky police procedural, it is incredibly clever – I can’t tell you exactly how as that would spoil it but this was a book with a superb plot, probably one of the best I’ve read this year. That with a lively and interesting character in DS Nathan Cody, a Liverpool setting and more than a dash of humour, means it was an all-round great read.

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year and this one was first published in 1926 so in fact 90 years old; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is considered by many to be one of the best written by Agatha Christie and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book narrated by a doctor and one of my very favourite detectives, Monsieur Poirot leading the search for the murderer of Roger Ackroyd, killed in his very own study if you please – oh and of course the door was locked!

The Second Book In A Series

the-kill-fee

I have a love of 1920s London and Fiona Veitch Smith’s creation Poppy Denby, journalist at The Daily Globe had her second outing in The Kill Fee, this year. The mystery had its roots in Russia and the revolution and Poppy romps her way around extricating herself from ever more tricky circumstances made for a delightful and informative read.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Museum of You

I can’t let this square go without asking has anyone else noticed the increase in blue covers? The one I’ve chosen was my surprise hit of the year; The Museum of You by Carys Bray – a story about a twelve-year-old girl putting together an exhibition about her mother wouldn’t normally make it onto the TBR, let alone be loved so much… but the lack of overt sentimentality in this book along with an exceptional array of characters made it a firm favourite for 2016.

Well look at that, for the first time ever I have completed every square!

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in Uncategorized

NetGalley Book Tag

netgalley-tag

 

I discovered a tag created by the wonderful Koutni at Kourtni Reads – as my relationship with NetGalley would be filed under ‘complicated’ this sounded like a good place to air my feelings, especially in light of their recent changes to the reading shelf!

Auto-Approved: Who’s one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they’re about?

A few authors could fall into this category but I’m going to plump for Belinda Bauer who even managed to woo me with her book The Shut Eye which had a strong supernatural element – any other author would quite probably have been shunned.

Request: What makes you want to request a book that you see on NetGalley?

It depends on my willpower – on weak days (all of them then) it can range from an eye-catching cover, a book other bloggers have raved about, a synopsis that grabs my attention, being on the auto-approved publisher list and the most likely, I’ve read and enjoyed previous books by the author.

the-trophy-child

In fact my latest request is The Trophy Child by Paula Daly, made when I wasn’t even looking! Honest, I went to check something out for this post, and it was there, looking at me! I loved Paula Daly’s previous three books; Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, Keep Your Friends Close and The Mistake I Made so my fingers nearly fell over themselves trying to request this one, due out in January 2017

 

Feedback Ratio: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?

My aim is always to review every book but like many other NetGalley members sometimes this takes a while! Hence my huge upset at the long list of books on my reading shelf that I’ve had approved for over 3 months.

The only time I don’t write a full review is if I don’t finish a book and that’s not always because I didn’t like it. I sent publisher feedback on Mary Ann Cotton – Dark Angel: Britain s First Female Serial Killer by Martin Connolly, a book I really wanted to read but the formatting was so awful I couldn’t read it. This is from someone who managed to read an entire ARC that had all the ‘s’ and ‘f’ letters omitted, so I don’t give up easily! What confounded me on this one was that half the words from one line would appear three lines (or more) below which made it more like an extreme brain trainer puzzle than a good read. I have the physical book on my wishlist instead.

Badges: If you could create your own badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?

 

Professional Reader 80% Reviews Published Frequently Auto-Approved Challenge Participant 2016 NetGalley Challenge 200 Book Reviews
Ooh this is tough, I love the badges and proudly display mine on the sidebar of my blog but as for a new one? Perhaps there should be one for requesting at least one book for every one I review which is why my overall percentage rating remains more or less stable and the total number never reduces!

Wish for It: What’s one book that you are absolutely dying to read?

Again – these are tough questions – how on earth am I meant to pick just one book? One book which is on my ‘waiting for release’ wishlist on Amazon is The Good People by Hannah Kent (author of the amazing Burial Rites)

the-good-people

County Kerry, Ireland, 1825.

NÓRA, bereft after the sudden death of her beloved husband, finds herself alone and caring for her young grandson Micheál. Micheál cannot speak and cannot walk and Nóra is desperate to know what is wrong with him. What happened to the healthy, happy grandson she met when her daughter was still alive?

MARY arrives in the valley to help Nóra just as the whispers are spreading: the stories of unexplained misfortunes, of illnesses, and the rumours that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley.

NANCE’s knowledge keeps her apart. To the new priest, she is a threat, but to the valley people she is a wanderer, a healer. Nance knows how to use the plants and berries of the woodland; she understands the magic in the old ways. And she might be able to help Micheál.

As these three women are drawn together in the hope of restoring Micheál, their world of folklore and belief, of ritual and stories, tightens around them. It will lead them down a dangerous path, and force them to question everything they have ever known.

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People is Hannah Kent’s startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted love. Terrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this long-awaited follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

2016 NetGalley Challenge: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed?

the-kill-fee

The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith was the last book I reviewed having received the ARC from NetGalley. I chose this book, not just because of the beautiful cover but because I’d read the first book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series, The Jazz Files – which ok, I did chose mainly because of the cover – and found I enjoyed this historical murder mystery set in the 1920s.

What do your answers look like?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Kill Fee – Fiona Veitch Smith

Historical Crime Fiction 4*s
Historical Crime Fiction
4*s

Having fallen a little bit in love with Poppy Denby in her first outing, The Jazz Files I was thrilled to see that the author had come up with another mystery for this enterprising journalist to solve.

The story itself is set mainly at places in and around Fleet Street, London where Poppy now has the grand title Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe. The time is 1920 and there is a fabulous exhibition at Crystal Palace displaying Russian Art. Poppy is there covering the journalism and her boyfriend Daniel is there to take the photographs. With Poppy’s artistic friends, including the actress Delilah Marconi, all in attendance suddenly a gunshot is heard and when order is restored a valuable piece of art has disappeared.

You see when I said the story was mainly set in London, parts of it are seen in flashback style to the time of the Russian revolution some three years previously. Not so much in the way of parties in evidence in this part of the book but what links the two, apart from the obvious Russian link, is the bravery and tenacity of the characters.

In many way these books are a bit of a romp, with plenty of danger for Poppy to extract herself from, the dead bodies in true Golden Age style not belonging to anyone who will be mourned too long or too hard, or to characters who we haven’t even got to know before they are deceased. But the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to realistically create the time period, and the research underpinning it all is factual (and where it is not, Fiona Veitch Smith confesses to some elastic timings at the end). Better still for those of us whose knowledge of the Russian Revolution there is a handy foreword to give some idea of who the White Russians were and how they differed to the Red Russians.

The plotting was good and far more complex than the very attractive cover belies and the pace was fairly fast so you do need to concentrate to keep up with all the potential killers, thieves and spies that litter the pages of The Kill Fee, the title taken from the amount of money that newspaper mogul Rollo is offered to kill a story – the question is not only should he but even if he does, how many people know the truth – the last thing Rollo wants if for his rivals to steal the story.

The skill the author has is getting in the period details without the research overshadowing the storyline and she’s good. Those little details such as the music that was played, the fashionable items of the day and the food that was eaten are all sparingly yet effectively used, but what is superbly done is the seemingly contemporary view when for instance Poppy notices that Ye Olde Cock Tavern was a favourite of both Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys. All of this brings the scenes to life and offsets the more bizarre scenarios that beset our young heroine.

With the relationships and the background to how Poppy became a journalist held in the first book, I’m not sure how well this would work as a stand-alone read so I suggest if you are tempted to start at the beginning.

I’d like to say thank you to the publishers Lion Fiction for allowing me to read a copy of this book ahead of the publication day of tomorrow, 16 September 2016.

First Published UK: 16 September 2016
Publisher: Lion Fiction
No of Pages: 320
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 14)

This Week In Books

Lypsyy 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 book of the moment is The Woman on the Orient Express by Lyndsay Jayne Ashford

The Woman on the Orient Express

Blurb

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabin mate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets. NetGalley

I have just finished The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith which is a brilliant book set between Moscow at the time of the Russian Revolution and London a little while later. The Kill Fee is the payment made to papers not to print a story.

the-kill-fee

You can read the synopsis and an extract in yesterday’s post.

Next up is Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight a book that has sat on my bookshelf neglected, for far too long.

Reconstructing Amelia

Ever wondered what goes on inside your daughter’s head?

Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace’s over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught.

A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself: it was just the two of them and Amelia would never leave her alone like this. And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world, into her journals, her email account and into the mind of a troubled young girl.

Then Kate receives an anonymous text saying simply: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP. Is someone playing with her, or has she been right all along? Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (September 13)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea 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.

At the end of last year I read a delightful book about a young woman who worked in a newspaper office during the 1920s called The Jazz Files. When I saw that the second book featuring Poppy Denby was due to be published later this month I was keen to take a look and now give you the opener for The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith

the-kill-fee

Blurb

Do you know who that is Poppy?” asked Delilah.
“I do indeed.”
“So what does it feel like to dance in the arms of an assassin?”

Poppy Denby’s star is on the rise. Now the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, she covers an exhibition of Russian Art at the Crystal Palace. A shot rings out, leaving a guard injured and an empty pedestal in the place of the largest Faberge Egg in the collection. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers.

Poppy is once again in the middle of a sensational story. Can she solve the mystery before time runs out and disaster strikes? NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter 1
October 1917, Moscow

Above the glow of gaslight a sprinkling of stars was beginning to appear. A man kicked at the golden leaves carpeting the pavement which would, by morning, have a dusting of frost. He pulled up the collar of his bearskin coat, wondering why, only that morning, he had felt overdressed. But he had been in Moscow long enough to know that things changed quickly in this city, very quickly, and a gentleman needed to be prepared for whatever the winds of change might blow his way. His fist tightened on his bone-handled cane and he allowed his thumb to rub against the secret clasp that would unsheathe the rapier closeted within.

So what do you think? Would you keep reading?

Please leave your links, comments etc. in the envelope below

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 11)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well we’ve had some rain to remind us that it is now the autumn if the way the night falls so much earlier (seemingly) all of a sudden hadn’t already done so.

Worthy points to mention – Happy Valley will be coming back for a third season despite strong suggestions to the contrary, the bad news is the writer hasn’t even started writing it yet!

What does everyone else think to the changes to the Shelf on NetGalley? – I’m not sure I like having all the books that are over three months listed with a count – it makes me feel bad, and some of these are because they were approved months before publication – it doesn’t help that there are so many on the current tab too. If I didn’t have my trusty excel spreadsheet I’d be very confused.

Last Week on the Blog

My week got off to a great start with a very entertaining author post by Caimh McDonnell, a stand-up comedian who has written a crime novel, A Man With One of Those Faces which I reviewed here.

Wednesday’s post included my upcoming foray into the world of Miss Marple – now I love Poirot but when I first discovered Agatha Christie as a teenager, I didn’t really take to Miss Marple – but when I heard about the Agatha Christie Blogathon organised by Christina Wehner, I’ve decided to give her a second chance – keep your eyes peeled on 17 September to see what I thought.

I also wrote a review of Camilla Grebe’s novel The Ice Beneath Her, a superb psychological thriller set in Stockholm, somewhere I’m visiting quite soon although I do hope I don’t meet anyone quite like the characters in this book.

On Friday I posted about the books I read in the 20 Books of Summer 2016 challenge – I completed 15 and had 1 DNF which considering how busy my summer was, is… ok – I will do better next year!

Yesterday my third review of the week was for a family saga, The Jeweller’s Wife written by the talented Judith Lennox. This book spanned thirty odd years and contained all the jealousy, greed, infidelity etc. that makes these types of books so fascinating. I felt like I was spying on the family through a window.

This Time Last Year…

I read the fourth book by Felicity Young featuring Dr Dody McCleland, who works under the forensic scientist Bernard Spilsbury, The Insanity of Murder.  Not only does this book feature a fascinating mystery, it has plenty of period details from 1913 the year it was set, including contemporary views of the suffragettes.

The Insanity of Murder

Blurb

To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim. NetGalley

Stacking the Shelves

Oh dear – the TBR is continuing to rise with a rush of books this week.

First up my willpower would last no longer and I purchased a copy of Sarah Ward’s A Deadly Thaw – her first book in the series, In Bitter Chill having been such an outstanding read, this was entirely unsurprising!

a-deadly-thaw

Blurb

Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . . Amazon

From NetGalley I have The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith which I requested after having been thoroughly entertained by the first in this series, The Jazz Files.

the-kill-fee
Blurb

Do you know who that is Poppy?” asked Delilah.
“I do indeed.”
“So what does it feel like to dance in the arms of an assassin?”

Poppy Denby’s star is on the rise. Now the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, she covers an exhibition of Russian Art at the Crystal Palace. A shot rings out, leaving a guard injured and an empty pedestal in the place of the largest Faberge Egg in the collection. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers.

Poppy is once again in the middle of a sensational story. Can she solve the mystery before time runs out and disaster strikes? NetGalley

The Kill Fee will be published on 16 September 2016.

I also have a copy of The Two O’clock Boy by fellow book blogger Mark Hill – this is due for publication in ebook format on 22 September, paperback November 2016, and looks to be a hit!

the-two-oclock-boy

Blurb

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth. NetGalley

Little Brown Books kindly sent me a copy of Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody to review ahead of publication of 6 October 2016.

death-at-the-seaside

Blurb

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . . Amazon

And lastly this purchase is all down to fellow blogger Karen at My Reading Corner who kindly pointed me in the direction of A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup – how could I resist poison and Agatha Christie!! This is why I love book blogging, kind people pointing out books I simply must have… TBR, what TBR?

a-is-for-aresnic

Blurb

Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s all made-up …

Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie’s extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, and gained 5 so the total is now on the ascent again to 176 books!

84 physical books
69 e-books
21 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Jazz Files – Fiona Veitch Smith

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Being interested in women’s rights throughout history, this book which harks back to the 1920s and features Poppy Denby who works for The Daily Globe, initially as an office assistant, this book caught my eye. Unsurprisingly as it has a beautiful cover!

Poppy Denby moves from the north of England to stay with her aunt in London, a militant suffragette, and gets a job working at The Daily Globe. She has only just started when one of the other reporters dies in mysterious circumstances. With the other reporters following their own stories Poppy starts to investigate the story he was working on and to the archives to unearth the treasures in the jazz files

“It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.”

The leads see Poppy visiting  an asylum, meeting a despicable Lord and his son and a information about her aunt and her fellow militant suffragettes back when the campaigning done was at its fiercest.

There is lots to love about this book, despite it being crime fiction and detailing what the suffragettes went through in order to get the vote, it also has quite a light feel to it – Poppy following the leads to write her first piece of journalism felt like a romp mirroring the mood of the day in 1920s London. There is also a small bit of a frothy romance to ensure that the storyline doesn’t get too morose.

It is great to read a book where the majority of the major characters are women who for the most part are supportive of each other, devoid of jealousy or malice. As well as her aunt, Poppy makes friends with an actress, Delilah who introduces Poppy to the jazz clubs and the latest fashions.

The Jazz Files dress

Click on the dress to see more about fashion in the 1920s on a website all about Poppy Denby

As well as a bunch of great characters this book is also solidly based on research although the author does point out at the end where she has taken a rare liberty with time-lines or real people and why she has done so. I certainly got the feeling that I had been transported back in time where horses still featured on the roads more often than cars and where men dismissed women’s abilities to work, make decisions or in fact much at all! At the same time we have Poppy who although not political, realises that there is more to life than working at the Methodist mission, as she did while living with her parents. Although of course that work didn’t put her life in danger the way her investigation does.

I’d like to thank the publishers Lion Hudson PLC for allowing me to read a copy of this book. When Poppy Denby takes on her next investigation, I will be there.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 23)

This Week In Books

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

At the moment I am reading The Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery

The Thirteenth Coffin

Blurb

Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .
It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late? NetGalley

I have recently finished The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith which is a mystery told through the eyes of a female reporter.

The Jazz Files

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

Next up I plan on reading The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (December 22)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea 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.

This week my opening comes from The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

The Jazz Files

Blurb

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.”
Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…
Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die? NetGalley

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter 1
5 November 1913

A scattering of snow lay across the railway yard, transforming the industrial clutter into a picture postcard: a work of art that could be hung for a night but removed when light and sanity returned A woman whose skeletal frame was wrapped in a coat that had once been worn to Royal Ascot and a silk scarf that had graced the owner’s neck at a reception at Windsor Castle, picked her way from sleeper. She hoped to reach the commuter station at Slough before the snow soaked through her kidskin shoes and her frozen fingers lost all feeling.

So what do you think? Do you want to know more?

If you have an opening to share, please leave your link in the comments box below.