Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (April 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

Black Flowers by Steve Mosby was one of those books I picked up because it was recommended by Amazon. This is a book within a book and boy what a story it tells! It was far more terrifying than I expected but it is up there in the mental list of books I simply will never forget reading.

Black Flowers

Blurb

This is not a story about a girl who disappears. This is the story of a little girl who comes back. As if from nowhere, she appears one day on a seaside promenade, with a black flower and a horrifying story about where she’s been. But telling that story will start a chain reaction of dangerous lies and deadly illusions that will claim many more victims in the years to come.
Neil Dawson has grown up wanting to be like his father—a writer. When his father commits suicide, he is devastated. But through his grief, Neil knows something isn’t right. Looking through his father’s papers, he finds a copy of an old novel, The Black Flower. Opening it will take Neil into an investigation full of danger, pain and subterfuge. Hannah Price is also mourning her father. She followed his footsteps into the police force, and knows she has a big reputation to live up to. When she gets assigned to Neil’s father’s case, it will lead her on a journey into her own past and to the heart of a shattering secret. Goodreads

2012 yr

In April 2012 I read The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood in one straight sitting as was fascinated of this tale which flips backwards and forwards between the day of murder twenty-five years ago and the present day. With themes of how the media presents a version of the truth and at its heart this was a story about whether there can ever be redemption for those who cause revulsion.

The Wicked Girls

Blurb

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.
Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden? Goodreads

2013yr

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler came to me courtesy of Amazon Vine and I was impressed with the fresh feel that this book bought to the genre with as a prisoner escaping from a nearby jail sparks a series of unforeseen events.

What lies Within

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Living in a remote Devon farmhouse, Anna and her family have always been close to nature, surrounded by the haunting beauty of the moor. But when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children’s safety, Anna’s behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases… Meanwhile, a young idealistic teacher has just started her first job, determined to ‘make a difference’. But when she is brutally attacked by one of her students, her version of events is doubted by even those closest to her. Struggling to deal with the terrible consequences, she does what she can to move on and start afresh. As the two narratives converge, the tension builds to a devastating denouement, shattering everything you thought you believed about nature, nurture and the true meaning of family. Amazon

2014yr

In April 2014 I read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, a book I fell in love with from the very first page. A story that painfully but beautifully takes the reader through the aftermath of a doomed affair.The End of the Affair

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession. Amazon

2015yr

April 2015 has been full of great reads but the best of them all is the debut, Disclaimer by Renée Knight which with its unusual premise and brilliant execution has had me recommending this one far and wide since I read it.

Disclaimer

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.
Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my April reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best

Posted in Books I want to Read

Book Sales are Dangerous for Addicts

Yesterday it was our local Guide Dogs For The Blind paperback book sale which is a charity which I support by going to each of their bi-annual events. This year was no different so off we went to St Ouens (pronounced Wans) Parish Hall to see what we could find.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Not forgetting that I made a pledge not so very long ago  to reduce those books I own on my TBR to a more manageable level, (actually this post was done less than a month ago), I only took one bag and was really there to browse and maybe pick up one or two books…. it didn’t work, I started off well but it soon descended into chaos as I picked the below stash…

Books GDFB
An absolute bargain!

Out of these The Chemistry of Death has been on my wishlist since I read the powerful Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett as has The Stranger House a standalone novel by the wonderful late Reginald Hill and then added another of his books, Pictures of Perfection which is part of the Dalziel and Pascoe series.

TCOD books

Another great find was The Missing One by Lucy Atkins, a story about secrets, which has also been on my wishlist since its release in January this year and the intriguing The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock, a psychological story that has viewpoints from  a Moroccan maid Mona, and her employer Dora.

The Missing One

Then I picked up some classics, these are both favourite books which I have read and loved but lost during the twists and turns of life as well as a couple of new reads for me including a couple of new Graham Greene books after loving The End Of The Affair earlier this year.

Classics

Rounded off with a cup of tea at a café by the sea I went home before lunch-time with my bag overflowing. What out of my haul, if any, would you recommend I read?

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

The End of the Affair – Graham Greene

Literature 5*'s
Literature
5*s

I fell in love with this book from the first page, the beautiful writing far outweighs the somewhat depressing underlying story of the end of the affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah. This tale is told from the protagonist’s viewpoint, interestingly, some years after this defining mark in his life and it is quickly apparent that Bendrix (he is a man known by his surname) is still trying to make sense of the strong feelings, of both love and hate he still harbours.

The quality of Graham Greene’s writing was simply brilliant. My copy had an introduction by Monica Ali that I was reading out of curiosity soon after receiving the book and despite already having started another book I turned to the first page and I simply couldn’t stop reading, fortunately this is a fairly slim book at only 160 pages or so.

So if the quality of the writing that had me hooked, this was closely followed by the description of life in London at the time of, and immediately after, the Second World War which for me was fascinating. Parkis the Private Detective who along with his son trail Sarah on Bendrix’s behest, finds the person she is visiting by the powdering of a doorbell which is so much more romantic than rummaging through her rubbish or hacking into Facebook.

I’m grateful for Lady Fancifull for suggesting this book to me; it is as the back cover says ‘One of the most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody’s language’ William Faulkner. The truth is in part because this novel holds up as a mirror a myriad of human actions that all of us have surely observed, and too many of us have participated in… How quickly love can turn from:

“…the moment of absolute trust and absolute pleasure, the moment when it was impossible to quarrel because it was impossible to think.”
to
“I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end. I could name the very moment when it had begun, and one day I knew I should be able to name the final hour.”

When at this point Bendrix begins sabotaging the affair, pressing Sarah for more, imagining her unfaithfulness with others can only hasten the end that he so fears.

I struggled more with the aspect of Catholicism that threads through the book, there is lots of philosophising about God which would normal have me closing the book, but because this was a book I was experiencing rather than simply ‘reading’ the quote that follows made me think more deeply about why encountering strong religious views has the power to affect me so much as much as it does…

“I hate you, God. I hate you as though you actually exist.”

I am going to finish my review here (because I need to stop somewhere and I could write about this book for ages) with a simply statement: if you haven’t read this book, you should, there is simply so much power packed between the pages of this slim novel it blew me away and I know that this is one book I will be re-reading very soon.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (April 11)

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!

Well after counting my TBR last weekend I shouldn’t have anything to share with you today… but I do have a couple of additions to my reading list!

First up is a book I’m so excited to have as I have read the nine (yes, nine) previous books in the series and not only because there is a character called Cleo! Want You Dead by Peter James
is due to be published on 5 June 2014 by Pan Macmillan.

Want You Dead

Blurb

IF HE CAN’T HAVE HER, THEN NOBODY CAN . . .
Virtual romance becomes a terrifying obsession in Want You Dead…
Single girl, 29, smouldering redhead, love life that’s crashed and burned. Seeks new flame to rekindle her fire. Fun, friendship and – who knows – maybe more?
When Red Westwood meets handsome, charming and rich Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction. But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past, and his dark side, begins to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be a tissue of lies, and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror. Within a year, and under police protection, she evicts him from her flat and her life. But Red’s nightmare is only just beginning. For Bryce is obsessed with her, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known and loved – and then her too . . .

I have also been lucky enough to receive a copy of Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly which I have been coveting for quite some time along with her first book What Kind Of Mother Are You which I haven’t read yet….

Keep Your Friends Close

Blurb

Natty and Sean Wainwright are happily married. Rock solid in fact. So when Natty’s oldest friend, Eve Dalladay, appears – just as their daughter collapses on a school trip in France – Natty has no qualms about leaving Eve with Sean to help out at home.
Two weeks later and Natty finds Eve has slotted into family life too well. Natty’s husband has fallen in love with Eve. He’s sorry, he tells her, but their marriage is over.
With no option but to put a brave face on things for the sake of the children, Natty embarks on building a new life for herself.
And then she receives the note.
Eve has done this before, more than once, and with fatal consequences…NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah. I’m intrigued to read this one despite the fact that I found her last book, The Carrier, almost incomprehensible. I have both liked and disliked earlier books in the Culver Valley Crime Series so I will have to wait and see what side of the fence this one falls. Telling Error is due to be published on 24 April 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton.

The Telling Error

The amazing Lady Fanciful recommended a book after reading that I have a fascination with affairs, so I am now the proud owner of The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

The End of the Affair
Blurb

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession. Amazon

My copy arrived yesterday and I’m trying to work out where in the schedule I can squeeze this book that  I am sure I’m going to love, after all it has an affair and obsession!

What have you found this week?