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Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2017

Once again I have awarded a whole array of books the magic 5 stars which means whittling this down to a mere ten quite a task indeed, one that I have been pondering since the start of December in fact… so without further ado here are the ten books published in 2017 that I consider to have been truly outstanding and memorable reads.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys 

For those who haven’t heard me endlessly wittering on about this book in 2017 this book sits on my historical novel shelf. Not only is it a brilliant piece of social history depicting life on a ship at the start of WWII, it has visits to far-flung places whilst encompassing a brilliant story with fabulous characters. The closed environment provides a somewhat combustible mix of characters, all bought brilliantly to life by the clothes they wear, their chatter over dinner along with how they chose to spend all their time while their new home, and life, inches closer – and there is a mystery – what more could you want?
And for those of you who haven’t heard, I have a cameo role in the novel following winning an auction run by Clic Sargent in 2016.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina

This book is one inspired by the true crimes perpetrated by Peter Manuel in 1950s Glasgow. It’s atmospheric tackling the weighty topics of innocence and guilt whilst brilliantly depicting a time and place in a way that shows off Denise Mina’s talents to the full. The storytelling is nuanced and assured with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. While this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery, the protagonist of this meaty book, has earned a place in my heart. The story which follows one man from shortly after conception until 2015. With its unusual structure, we sweep in seven-year intervals into his life and then onto the next meeting new and old characters along the way. A book that is funny and poignant which took me on a journey from delight to sorrow and back again in this sweeping saga set mainly in Dublin. A book of times and attitudes which is surprisingly uplifting.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase 

You know you’re onto a good thing when you open a book and know before you’ve finished the first page that it’s a book to curl up with. In this story set in 1950s England we meet four sisters one summer, a year that will change their view of the world forever. This is a summer that will have repercussions for years to come as innocence is lost. The mystery at the heart of the book is the disappearance of Audrey, their cousin who vanished five years earlier but this is also a book with recurring themes from the bonds between sisters, the ghosts of the past who can cast shadows over lives, the difficulties in growing up with those relationships between friends and mothers all getting an airing. I closed this book with a tear rolling down my cheek.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

I wasn’t sure what a mixture between true crime and a memoir would be like but this was a book that I picked up to feature in my excerpt post and simply couldn’t put it down again. When Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich joins a law firm in New Orleans as an intern, whose work is based on having death sentences overturned, she feels she is about to start the career she is supposed to have. The daughter of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti the death penalty. But all that turns when she watches a video of Rick Langley who has been convicted of killing a six-year-old boy, Jeremy Guillory. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the crime is awful but what shocks the author most is that she feels so strongly that Rick Langley should die for the crime he committed. She no longer believes what she thought she did and that has consequences on her life and the more she tries to understand why she draws parallels with her own life. This is a difficult subject but written with intelligence shot through it.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister


This ‘sliding doors’ scenario is a brilliant way to demonstrate a meaty moral dilemma.Two friends meet for their regular Friday night out at a bar in London and meet a man who is slightly too pushy, deciding to leave they part ways and Joanna walks home taking the route by the canal when she hears someone following her. Now ladies, we’ve all been there – unable to tell whether the threat running through your head is real or imagined. What happens next will change Joanna’s life forever. With sparkling dialogue which is entertaining yet realistic and faultless plotting this book had me captured right from the start and didn’t let me go until after I had turned the last page.

Dying Games by Steve Robinson 

This series features my favourite genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Although the majority of the action happens in the present day the seeds of the action in Dying Games belong firmly in the past. In Washington, DC the FBI are interested in Jefferson Tayte, aka JT, so he breaks off his Scottish trip with his fiancée to return to answer their questions. A serial killer is leaving clues with a genealogical bent and it is now a race against time to stop any more people losing their lives. Steve Robinson has produced a real puzzle within this thriller! Or perhaps I should say lots of mini puzzles which require different aspects of genealogical research to solve. This will ensure that those readers who have hit a brick wall in their own family history research can put things into perspective; unless you are in the unlikely position of having to find a particular person’s details otherwise someone else may die!

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly


In He Said/She Said the story moves backwards and forwards from 11 August 1999, the time of the solar eclipse, to fifteen years later when Kit is planning to travel to the Faroe Islands, chasing another eclipse and we learn what an impact that first meeting had on all four characters and the ripples haven’t decreased with the passing years. The story line is gritty, as may be expected from the title the heart of the matter is a trial for rape and the details of what happened are told from a number of perspectives. This is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think and I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her reader and she avoids bashing the reader over the head about rape, and the trials that all too rarely follow such an accusation. I believe it is a sign of a writer who has confidence, not only in herself, but of her readers to air the important issues this

The Scandal by Frederik Backman

Despite being no lover of sports and definitely not ice-hockey this book which centres round a small town in Sweden’s obsession with the sport had me captivated. Frederik Backman writes in a style that repeats phrases and themes from one section to another so when the book got tough, and it does, the stylistic flair kept the momentum going forward while the reader comes to terms with what has been revealed. There are issues galore and normally when I say that, I’m not being complimentary because it can feel as if the author is leaping from bandwagon to bandwagon. That isn’t the case with The Scandal where the issues in the book are tightly linked to the players on a personal level. The Scandal turned out to be  thought-provoking, intelligent crime novel.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to this book by its striking cover but what I found within the pages exceeded my expectations by far. Olivia Sweetman is making her way to address all two hundred guests gathered at The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons in London. All those people are amongst the jars of organs to celebrate the publication of historian Olivia Sweetman’s book, Annabel, a study of a Victorian woman who became one of the first surgeons, a woman who also had a sensational personal life too, captured within Annabel in her own words. But, all is not as it should be as we find out as this superior psychological novel unfolds and the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come.

So what do you think? Have you read any of these titles or do you want to?

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have visited me here on my little corner of the internet, as well of course as the authors and publishers who have provided me with so many great books to read throughout the year. I look forward to discovering new places, people and dark plots in 2018 and do hope you will all join me on my journey.

You can check out my list of reviews written in 2017 here
Or perhaps you want to check out my Reading Bingo 2017 Edition or you can check out my look back over the past year reading and reviewing along with my goals for 2018 here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading and Reviewing in 2017

Well it’s that time for reflection on the old and setting new goals for the new year so I’m going to start in my traditional way with a few facts and figures.

I have read and reviewed 147 books in 2017, one less than this time last year and boy some of those books have been really worth shouting about!

This amounts to 48, 281 pages 657 pages more than last year so obviously I’ve chosen some longer books to delight me in 2017 – that is an average of 132 pages per day!! No wonder I keep saying I don’t have time to do anything – to be honest that figure shocks even me!

Good old Goodreads tells me that my longest read was The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne was the longest book I read at a whopping 592 pages which was my very last review of 2017

The shortest unsurprisingly was a short story  Promises to Keep by Elizabeth Haynes at a mere 41 pages.

 

 

of the oldest books on my TBR was Room by Emma Donoghue which I finally read earlier this month – this was the book most read by other readers on Goodreads – 926,679 other readers there have also read this popular book, although I suspect many of them did so a little before I did!

The book I shared with the fewest readers was a debut crime thriller The Last Thread by Ray Britain, written by a former Police Officer not only were we treated to a new Detective but the authenticity of the read shone through – this book deserves a wider audience for sure!

A whopping 92 books fell into the crime fiction/psychological thriller categories although the psychological thriller count was down by 8 from 2016 to a mere 35.

My non-fiction reads declined slightly from 15 to 13 book fitting into this category, including a must-read for book-lovers; The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler although a large proportion of these are also crime related.

As always my goal for the year was to read more of my own books so not only did I participate in Cathy’s wonderful 20 Books of Summer 2017 challenge (which I completed on time – go me!) I chose a number of books that fitted with 2017’s obsession with the variety of ways true crime is presented and books inspired by true crime which was kicked off by the brilliant Little Deaths by Emma Flint

I also participated in the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads for the first time where I completed 34 of my aimed 36 books purchased prior to 1 January 2017.

 

In all I read 56 of my own books or a relatively respectable 38% of my reads for 2017 which is a vast improvement on the 49 books completed in 2016 and very nearly the 40% I was aiming for. I was spurred on by realising how many superb books I already own with The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell being an early delight.

Of course though I’m a book lover and so this is exactly the time and place to say thank you to all the authors and publishers who have given me copies of your books to review – there are simply too many outstanding reads of the year (although tomorrow I will pick my top ten published in 2017) a whole 92 books read in 2017 were ARCs including Shelter by Sarah Franklin a historical novel set in the Forest of Dean where I lived from 1979 to 1987 – a setting that was also used in The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

As for you all, what you seemed to enjoy most in 2017 were the following Top Five Reviews of the year were:

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Painkiller by N.J. Fountain
Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham

Two of these are from my own bookshelves proving that it isn’t just the newest releases that captures reader’s attention!

Finally at the beginning of December I completed the annual filling in of the Reading Bingo squares with some choices of the year.

 

2018 Goals

Beyond the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I don’t normally go in for bookish goals but I am going to break with the tradition and set myself some (gentle) targets for 2018.

  1. In 2017 I discovered what a wonderful array I have already in my possession and so the target is to read 40% of my own books in 2018. To give me some motivation I have decided to allow myself to buy one book for every three of my own that I read – of course there are some get-out clauses – the annual book sales held on the island are exempt and I will be visiting the library for any must-reads that I don’t own.
  2. The latter clause is important as I really want to up my reading or re-reading of classic novels, I shelved just one book in this category in 2017 although two others could have been put there but I felt they belonged better elsewhere. My target is to read at least 6 so one every other month and the library is the place to go for these. Despite being a library member all of my life, I haven’t visited anywhere near enough in more recent years which is something I feel guilty about.
  3. I am taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge again with an aim of reading 36 books – let’s see if I make it in 2018.

On the blog

  1. I am (very) slowly amalgamating the tabs with the aim of putting all the reviews for 2013-2015 onto one tab – this ongoing project must be completed by the end of March 2018.
  2. My about me page is in dire need of an update especially as it is visited far more often than I expected with 660 views in the last year.
  3. And of course I will shortly display an updated shelf as my header to welcome in the start of 2018.
  4. I always used to write my book review before starting a new book and this habit is being resumed in 2018 – this has been a very busy year and as much as I love blogging it has been a real struggle to fit everything in and I’m hoping this will help me get a better balance, rather than frantically writing reviews at the weekend when I need to endlessly check names (I have a real blind-spot in this department) as well as other elusive details.
  5. Finally I will remember to post each review to Cleopatra Loves Books Facebook page which at best has been intermittent since I set it up earlier this year.

That just leaves me to thank you all for visiting, commenting and writing your own entertaining posts and reviews that has me constantly rationalising my book choices!

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

He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Erin Kelly has once again proved that she is an extremely talented writer, one who weaves a tale full of twists and turns, yet without resorting to cheap tricks. This is a book that stands proud in a now crowded genre, one that relies on superb plotting and brilliantly nuanced characters, the result being I was convinced by both.

In 1999 Laura and Kit were at Lizard’s Point in Cornwall to watch the total eclipse of the sun. For Laura this was her first experience but Kit and his twin brother Mac had, along with their father Lachlan, travelled far and wide as part of a group of eclipse chasers to see this rare phenomenon. In Cornwall Mac, his girlfriend Ling and Kit had decided to make some money to cover the trip by selling hot drinks at the festival but with the British weather being, well, British, the event isn’t as well attended as expected. Laura turns up having travelled down later and watches the eclipse with suitable awe and then stumbles across a young woman, her own age, being raped. Or that is what she believes.

With the story moving backwards and forwards from 11 August 1999 to fifteen years later when Kit is planning to travel to the Faroe Islands, chasing another eclipse, we learn what an impact that meeting had on all four characters and the ripples haven’t decreased with the passing years.

He Said/She Said
looks at the issue of rape from a number of perspectives with the court room reflecting the crux of the matter, as the title indicates. Jamie, the accused says that Laura got it wrong, he was having consensual sex with Beth when he was interrupted by the couple. Beth maintains it was non-consensual but she froze in the moment. Kit didn’t see anything, he was lagging behind but followed Jamie when he left the scene at Laura’s behest. There are other elements familiar from news reports of some recent big trials not least the fact that Jamie’s family are wealthy, he has a top lawyer and his family, including his fiancée, are in the courtroom supporting him. Who will the jury believe?

So we have a very modern tale told in the main by Laura and Kit which should have concluded the day the trial was over but Beth needing support from those who were there turns up at their London flat and is welcomed, at least by Laura. Kit is less sure, worried that if there is an appeal, that the girls have undermined any chance of a retrial by potentially being accused of colluding with each other. Three’s a crowd begins to be a very apt saying as tensions increase.

This is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think but I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her reader and she avoids bashing the reader over the head about rape, and the trials that all too rarely follow such an accusation. I believe it is a sign of a writer who has confidence, not only in herself, but of her readers to air the important issues this way.

I’m not going to say any more about the plot, which is excellent not only in the premise but also in its execution. The pace had me travelling through the chapters, headed up by images of the sun at various points of an eclipse, as I became more immersed in a story and characters that I truly believed in.

Trust me, you really don’t want to miss out on this book!

First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages:  416
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree – 2010
The Sick Rose – 2011
The Burning Air -2013
The Ties that Bind – 2014
Broadchurch: The Novel – 2014

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 1)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsyy 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

Well January has passed in a flash so onto February’s reading!

I am currently reading the much-anticipated He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly and I’m glad to say I got that ‘I’m in a safe pair of hands’ feeling when I started this one, I’m really enjoying it. He Said/She Said will be published on 20 April 2017.

he-said-she-said

Blurb

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark… Amazon

I have just finished Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham a dark story about holiday friendships which despite being a standalone we do get a brief glimpse of DI Tom Thorne.
You can read an excerpt here
rush-of-blood

Blurb

Perfect strangers.
A perfect holiday.
The perfect murder…
Three couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on their last night, their perfect holiday takes a tragic twist: the teenage daughter of another holidaymaker goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves.
When the shocked couples return home, they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find: buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some dark secrets, hidden kinks, ugly vices… Amazon

Next up I will be reading Kate Hamer’s The Doll Funeral which is set in The Forest of Dean, where I grew up. The hardback will be published on 16 February 2017 but it is available for the kindle now.

the-doll-funeral

Blurb

My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.
But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed. Amazon

So what are you reading this week? Go on you know you want to share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 25)

Weekly Wrap Up

Another horrendously busy week here, so sorry that I haven’t kept anywhere near up to date with your comments & tweets, I will get around to them all today, I hope.

Last Week on the Blog

Following last weekend’s blogathon for Agatha Christie’s birthday Monday continued the theme with a review of The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a fictionalised account about the Queen of Crime.

My excerpt on Tuesday came from The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, the second psychological thriller I’ve read this year set on a ship, the first being Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Wednesday’s post captured my reading for the week – all crime this week!

Friday saw me post a review one of the books I didn’t get to in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

The last review of the week was one of my own books; A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward which I had to buy because In Bitter Chill, her first book, was an exceptional read.

 

This Time Last Year…

Coincidently last year I was reading the second book by Kimberly McCreight, Where They Found Her which tells the tale of a fledgling reporter who investigates the death of a small child whilst being conflicted by personal issues.

A snippet from my review indicates that she coped!

A very satisfying and intricate novel which I really enjoyed, this is very much a character driven novel and although the police are involved to be honest it is lucky for them that they have someone who is as keen to get answers as Molly because they don’t seem to have much of a sense of urgency, or even the most basic detection skills.

Where They Found Her

Blurb

Motherhood hasn’t come at all easy for Molly Anderson. But she’s finally enjoying life as mother to five-year-old Ella and as Arts reporter for the small but respectable Ridgedale Reader. That is, until a body is found in the woods adjacent to Ridgedale University’s ivy-covered campus. This is a discovery that threatens to unearth secrets long buried by the town’s most powerful residents, and brings Molly to two women who are far more deeply connected than they have ever realised.

Where They Found Heris a riveting domestic thriller which offers a searing portrait of motherhood, marriage, class distinctions and the damage wrought by betrayal.

 

Stacking the Shelves

Well it was the annual book sale here on the island, held to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sadly rumour has it that this is the last one and consequently there were fewer books than normal as they are running down the stocks rather than adding to them. Even so I managed to add a few to the stack, all in a good cause of course.

booksale-2016An Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple – The Thirteen Problems
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill – the only book I could find by this author, this being the 11th in the Dalziel and Pascoe Series
The Island by Victoria Hislop because I visited the former leper colony Spingola on my holiday to Crete this year
The Murder Room by PD James for  nostalgia’s sake
I’ll Be There For You by Louise Candlish for a lighter reading moment
and a portrait of Henry James written by Colm Tóibín in The Master
The London Train by Tessa Hadley, I’ve already read so this can go to the charity shop!

I also was a winner! From Linda’s Book Bag, a blog really worth following for the sheer breadth of books she reviews,  I won a copy of The Conversation’s We Never Had by Jeffrey H. Konis

the-conversations-we-never-had

Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

I was delighted to get a copy of Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch through the post with a lovely message from the author! This book will be published on 26 January 2017.

her-husbands-lover
Blurb

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? Goodreads

I also did a bit of shameless begging for the latest, long-awaited book, by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly called He Said/She Said. This book has a publication date of 23 February 2017 and as you can see is still awaiting its cover design.

he-said-she-said

Blurb

He said it was consensual.
The woman said nothing.
But Laura saw it…
… didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.
Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.
When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.
As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.
But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. Amazon

From NetGalley I was incredibly excited to receive a copy of The Fifth in the Kim Stone Series, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons which will be published on 4 November 2016. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got time before the latest episode is released!

blood-lines

Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them… NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have only read 2 books, and gained 10 and so my TBR now totals a diabolical 180 books!

90 physical books
70 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?