Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (November 2014 to November 2018)


5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. I will be celebrating Five years of blogging later this year and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

So without further ado let’s see what books November has brought to me over the last five years!

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

In November 2014 I read a book which happens to fall into my favourite type of sub-genre that of fiction inspired by true crime, the book being The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. This book’s inspiration was the murder of Meredith Kercher and although the circumstances in this book were different it was a book that made me think about what I would do if faced with a phone call from my daughter miles away, in trouble for quite a serious crime.

More than this being a murder mystery it is a story that explores the often complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.

A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Amazon

In November 2015 I discovered the classic novel The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. What a wonderful book, multi-layered, very English and an absolute delight to read and I was astounded to realise that I had somehow missed out on this brilliant novel.

With that famous opening line ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ being on that line that sets the reader up nearly as well as ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.’ So I turned the pages schizophrenically wanting to race ahead while slowing down to savour the wonderful prose, even better this is one of the best coming of age stories ever, better even than my favourite to date; Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I said at the time I though this book would haunt me for many years to come; so far it has.


Blurb

When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy’s awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.

In November 2016 I read an unusual book, and it really touched my heart. In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings was one that both took me by surprise and delighted me with the affection I felt for the key characters. In my mind a successful book has a number of elements, a mystery, a strong plot underpinned by believable characters, preferably in extraordinary circumstances, In Her Wake hits these and has that special something extra too.

Blurb

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Last year I was reading a crime fiction book that falls into the grittier end of crime fiction; Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite. This is not one for the faint-hearted and even the most hardened reader will be tempted to check their doors after meeting Adam. Adam longs for love but I just want to put it out there – watching women and helping them with their household chores when they don’t know you is not really going to do it for any of the women I know, and sure enough to date it is fair to say Adam has been unlucky in love.

You should really read this one, perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon

Although I have had a bit of dip in my reading lately that doesn’t mean that I haven’t read some fantastic books including The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes, in a neat bookend to the choice in 2014’s choice, this book is inspired by records of a murder in Bromley in 1843.

This was a book that hit me hard. To think of a poor young woman, pregnant and poisoned in a privy behind the local chapel is hard enough, to realise that no-one was held accountable for her death is harder still. Elizabeth Haynes gives us a version of events that will pull you back in time and whether you think it is plausible, given the evidence, is up to you.

Blurb

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead. Amazon

 

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2017

Flowers for the Dead – Barbara Copperthwaite

Crime Fiction
5*s

The beauty of flowers and their language are intertwined with the twisted thoughts of Adam Bourne, serial killer who believes he is the saviour of those he kills. Rarely have a read a book where I felt so torn between sympathy for both the victims and the perpetrator.

This book definitely falls into the grittier end of crime fiction writing, the read is not one for the faint-hearted, even the most hardened reader will be tempted to check their doors after meeting Adam. Adam longs for love but I just want to put it out there – watching women and helping them with their household chores when they don’t know you is not really going to do it for any of the women I know, and sure enough to date it is fair to say Adam has been unlucky in love.

Adam despite not understanding what makes women tick on the most basic of levels, is not a stupid man. He is sharp and using all and any tools available to him to follow the latest woman, always someone who looks like they need love, and then is disappointed when his plan does not quite pan out the way he expected.

There are few scenes I’ve read over the years than Adam’s reasoning for standing outside Covent Garden tube station in London scouting for unhappy women – a station I’ve waited at enough times in my life to bring the scene to life.
Alongside Adam’s adult persona we learn about his early life, the mitigation if you like for the way he has turned out with touching scenes of Adam’s beloved Grandmother reading him stories from the big book of fairy tales. Their mutual love shines through as when he gets older she introduces him to the language of flowers – the idea that each flower has a message to send, something which was very popular in Victorian England, slightly less so in this day and age although of course any woman who receives a dozen red roses understands what the message means and through careful commercial reinforcement, so do most men. But did you know that Daffodils mean unrequited love? No nor did I.

Yes, I know I’ve not told you about the plot, it’s a good one but you really do need to find out for yourself and there is little more that I can tell you without spoiling it! Yes, the characters are also all well drawn from victim to Policeman all have realistic elements to their personalities, I especially loved the interplay between Mike and his young daughter Daisy as we see a more harmless form of persuasion in the young girl as she wages war on his smoking habit. And the structure is brilliant, each chapter headed up with the name of a flower and its meaning with a sub-heading of where we are in Adam’s backstory if this is one of his chapters. This starts twenty-six years ago with Wood Sorrell (maternal tenderness) which once you meet Sara, Adam’s mother you’ll realise is an attribute that was totally absent in his life – what an inspired thinking to create a character that is more hateful and far scarier than the serial killer – Barbara Copperthwaite is a genius.

In short, you should really read this one, perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?

Flowers for the Dead was my twenty-eighth read in the Mount TBR challenge, having been purchased in December 2016.

mount-tbr-2017
 

 

First Published UK: 21 September 2015
Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing 
No. of Pages:  472
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 1)

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

I have just started reading Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre which was published in July of this year. This is one of my outstanding NetGalley reads from back in the summer when life went awry.

Blurb

Antoine is twelve years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his mother in Beauval, a small, backwater town surrounded by forests, where everyone knows everyone’s business, and nothing much ever happens. But in the last days of 1999, a series of events unfolds, culminating in the shocking vanishing without trace of a young child. The adults of the town are at a loss to explain the disappearance, but for Antoine, it all begins with the violent death of his neighbour’s dog. From that one brutal act, his fate and the fate of his neighbour’s six year old son are bound forever.

In the years following Rémi’s disappearance, Antoine wrestles with the role his actions played. As a seemingly inescapable net begins to tighten, breaking free from the suffocating environs of Beauval becomes a gnawing obsession. But how far does he have to run, and how long will it take before his past catches up with him again? Amazon

My previous read was also a NetGalley outstanding read, The Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate which has been republished as one of The British Library Classics, having first been published in 1940.

Blurb

A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors’ decision be the correct one? Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long. Amazon

Next up is one of my own books, I am going away so need something reliable for the journey and I’ve read wonderful reviews of Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite which has recently been treated to a brand new cover.

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (December 4)

Weekly Wrap Up

The start of advent has ushered in that time of year where all of sudden there appears to be no free time at all but on the plus side the snow has been turned on by WordPress! Sadly, I have only managed read two books this week but I did manage to post four reviews, so without further ado…

This Week on the Blog

My first review of the week was for one of the books I chose for my 20 Books of Summer (yes, I am that much behind!): They Did It With Love by Kate Morganroth is best described as a mixture of Desperate Housewives and a mystery novel with references to Agatha Christie! A real fun read.

My Tuesday excerpt came from The Silent Hours by Cesca Major, a book that is narrated by three different characters in an epic wartime drama with a true story at its core.

My This Week in Books post detailed my reading for the week that took in the world of fostering, war and The Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre.

On Thursday I posted my review The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a strong novel that I awarded the full five stars to. I was especially gratified that the lovely author stated that I had really ‘got’ her book!

Another five star review followed on Friday, and this is me being stricter with the stars, for The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy, a brilliant dual time-line story of a young woman living in Oxford in the 1920s and in the modern day a man who is deciding on his future. With a hidden diary and a dispute over inheritance, I was utterly captivated by this novel that was informative as well as entertaining.

Lastly I finally got around to reading and reviewing  the first of Martin Edwards’ The Lake District Mysteries, please note that I can start at the beginning of a series, sometimes: The Coffin Trail is a traditional police procedural with a straightforward time-line set in a small community.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading This House of Grief by Helen Garner which follows the murder trial of Robert Farquharson, an Australian man on trial for killing his three sons. Helen Garner doesn’t just report on the facts but recreates the atmosphere in the court as the prosecution and defence make their case.  You can read my review of one of my favourite non-fiction reads of 2015 here

This House of Grief

Blurb

On the evening of September 4th 2005, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, all drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? In a tale reminiscent of In Cold Blood (1966), Helen Garner decided to reveal every aspect of this complicated and highly emotional case.

The case became Garner’s obsession; she followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict was delivered, and attended every day of the trial (and subsequent retrial). She was there alongside countless journalists and family members – exposing with great compassion the emotional complexity of a case that gripped the nation.

In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man with a broken life – she presents the courtroom as a theatre with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to an often uncomfortable truth. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

Those Amazon deals are still proving extremely difficult to resist, particularly as they keep featuring books on my wishlist but I have confined myself to just one this week but first up, we couldn’t have a month in 2016 that didn’t feature a poisoner, and I have a whole gallery of them! A Gallery of Poisoners by Adrian Vincent was published by Endeavour Press on 25 November 2016.

a-gallery-of-poisoners

Blurb

Here are thirteen cases of fatal passions, unfortunate acquaintances and gruesome endings.

Presenting infamous cases ranging from 1857 – 1972, Adrian Vincent revisits the lives of some of the most notorious killers ever to be brought to justice.
What drives someone to specialise in devising agonising death for their victims?
Vincent reveals the lure of money, lust and deviancy as they manifest in pure evil — lurking beneath the surface of domestic bliss and professional respectability.

Wives despatching husbands for their cash.
Lovers killing for passion.
The infamous Mary Ann Cotton, who poisoned three husbands and eleven of her children.
Graham Young, who was fascinated by poisons from the age of twelve and given to administering lethal concoctions — just to see what would happen.
Obsessive poisoners like Tillie Gburek, a middle-aged woman who found a taste for making deadly soups — and got through a series of husbands …
There’s the voyeuristic ménage à trois where a husband enjoyed his wife taking a lover which had dire consequences …
While the so-called Angel of Death, Nurse Waddington, ran her own nursing home.
Killers who specialized in devising agonizing death for their victims.

A Gallery of Poisoners is classic true crime at its best — thrilling and disturbing in equal measure. NetGalley

My kindle bargain was for this week was Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite which came to my attention via the sheer number of outstanding reviews it received from fellow bloggers.

flowers-for-the-dead

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS YOU.
Adam Bourne is a serial killer who thinks he is a saviour. When he murders young women and cuts off their lips, he believes he has done it to make them happy.
How did he become warped from the sensitive four-year-old who adored his gran and the fairy tales she read to him? What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends?
When he meets Laura Weir, Adam weaves a fairy tale romance around them. A tale she has no idea she is part of. As he hatches his twisted plan for their fairy tale ending, can anyone stop him before he creates the ultimate sacrifice to love? Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 2 books and gave my Son-in-Law one unsolicited ARC that I really didn’t think I’d read – he claims he’ll give me a review but we will see – and I gained 2 so this week my TBR has rapidly reduced to 177 books!

92 physical books
71 e-books
14 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?<