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

My Last Confession – Helen FitzGerald

Psychological Thriller
3*s

I love the way Helen FitzGerald tackles widely different subjects within her writing of psychological thrillers and in My Last Confession, we have a newly appointed Probation Officer and one of her ‘clients’, a murderer.

Krissie is a single mum and she’s moved in with Robbie – I believe these two characters appeared in the author’s debut novel Dead Lovely, which I haven’t read but may explain why some of the details about how they came to be together seemed a little illusive. She uses her previous skills working with child protection and move into supervising adult offenders.

Jeremy is one of Krissie’s cases, in prison for murder, although a conviction which Krissie begins to doubt whether he has been wrongly convicted and so she turns detective. Of course Jeremy is only one prisoner who makes up Krissie’s workload and so we have a number of characters to get to know while Krissie battles with her job and her son who steals the show more than once.

Krissie is a mass of contradictions, on the one hard a caring woman, one who is trying to build a family but she also does some incredibly stupid things over the course of the book. There were times when I just wanted to shake some sense into her, after all this is supposed to be an educated woman but obviously one whose heart rules her head. At times, despite playing detective with gusto, I had to despair at Krissie’s inability to read the clues given to her – maybe she needs to read a few more crime fiction novels to give her some pointers.

The book really does beg you to sit up and take notice with some attention grabbing scenes. For those of a nervous disposition, there are some racy scenes too. Having read four other books by this author I think perhaps the more subtle look at modern life worked slightly better for me. Those themes are ever-present in this book, particularly the Glasgow setting which is terrifically well created. Although I’ve not worked in a prison or in any type of related position, the work-place scenes are easily transposed to anyone who has colleagues and they had me chuckling away frequently.

There were some bizarre scenes though which I didn’t really quite work for me but it really was worth persevering because the second half of the book is exceptionally gripping with an ending which was perfectly fitting.

This is an ideal book if you want to read something a little bit different, a bit of crime, a little bit of women’s fiction, a few racy scenes and a whole dollop of fun. This is the ideal lighter type of reading, one that should be approached with a sense of irony which would iron out the earlier scenes that had me slightly confused.

My Last Confession
was my twenty-fourth read in my Mount TBR Challenge having been purchased in November 2016.

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

 

First Published UK: 25 April 2011
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages:  275
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Great Reads by Helen FitzGerald

Bloody Woman
The Cry
The Exit
Viral

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 20)

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

My current read is The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti, a tale which starts with birds falling from the sky, this along with the feathers that accompanied the book makes me incredibly glad that I don’t have this particular phobia.

Blurb

Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti​’​s signature chillingly satisfying twists and turns.Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti​’​s signature chillingly satisfying twists and turns. Amazon

The last book I read was Helen FitzGerald’s My Last Confession – a psychological thriller with a Probation Officer and a murder as the two main protagonists.

Blurb

When she starts her new job as a parole officer, Krissie is happy and in love. Then she meets convicted murderer Jeremy, and begins to believe he may be innocent. Her growing obsession with his case threatens to jeopardise everything – her job, her relationship and her life.

Perfect for fans of Julia Crouch, Sophie Hannah and Laura Lippman, My Last Confession is a dark and compelling psychological thriller that traces a young parole officer and her dangerous obsession with a convicted murderer. Amazon

Next I will be reading Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? by Dee Gordon.

Blurb

You wont be familiar with every one of the huge array of women featured in these pages, but all, familiar or not, leave unanswered questions behind them. The range is extensive, as was the research, with its insight into the lives and minds of women in different centuries, different countries, with diverse cultures and backgrounds, from the poverty stricken to royalty. Mistresses, murderers, smugglers, pirates, prostitutes and fanatics with hearts and souls that feature every shade of black (and grey!).

From Cleopatra to Ruth Ellis, from Boudicca to Bonnie Parker, from Lady Caroline Lamb to Moll Cutpurse, from Jezebel to Ava Gardner. Less familiar names include Mary Jeffries, the Victorian brothel-keeper, Belle Starr, the American gambler and horse thief, La Voisin, the seventeenth-century Queen of all Witches in France but these are random names, to illustrate the variety of the content in store for all those interested in women who defy law and order, for whatever reason. The risque, the adventurous and the outrageous, the downright nasty and the downright desperate all human (female!) life is here. From the lower stratas of society to the aristocracy, class is not a common denominator.

Wicked? Misunderstood? Nave? Foolish? Predatory? Manipulative? Or just out of their time?

Read and decide. 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

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (September 5)

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 paragraph comes from an author who has delighted me from every subject she tackles, from mothers, to old age and a bit of viral action in between. In My Last Confession by Helen FitzGerald main protagonist is a parole officer.

Blurb

When she starts her new job as a parole officer, Krissie is happy and in love. Then she meets convicted murderer Jeremy, and begins to believe he may be innocent. Her growing obsession with his case threatens to jeopardise everything – her job, her relationship and her life.

Perfect for fans of Julia Crouch, Sophie Hannah and Laura Lippman, My Last Confession is a dark and compelling psychological thriller that traces a young parole officer and her dangerous obsession with a convicted murderer. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

Tips for parole officers:

1 Don’t smuggle heroin into prison.
2 Don’t drink vodka to relieve stress.
3 Don’t French-kiss a colleague to get your boyfriend jealous.
4 Don’t snort speed.
5 Don’t spend more time with murderers than with your son.
6 Don’t invite crack-head clients to your party.

Maybe if they’d had some kind of induction then my wedding day would have been the most wonderful day of my life.

~ ~ ~

As I love this author’s writing, I’m sure this one will be a great read.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (June 4)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well the hectic nature of my life is continuing resulting in only two books read since last week! For the good news we’ve had some beautiful weather and my sunflower is continuing to grow at a pace!

This Week on the Blog

I started this week with my review of All The Good Things by Clare Fisher which tells the story of Bethany, aged twenty-one and in prison, the story is how she came to be there reaching back through a life in the care system. A thought-provoking debut novel.

My excerpt post came from Jane Corry’s second novel Blood Sisters which definitely sounds like a thrilling psychological novel

This Week in Books featured the authors Mark Billingham, Dorothy Fowler and Fiona Barton.

Thursday was the start of summer on the blog with my post of the first 10 books I will be reading for the 20 Books of Summer 2017! Challenge which I’m making a concerted effort to finish within the allotted time period this year – the trick obviously is not to have accepted or requested too many review copies for the same period, unsurprisingly the planning has not gone well!

My final review for the week was the five star read that was Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett, a rich novel about a singer songwriter with music as the backdrop.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Bloody Women by Helen Fitzgerald in her story set in the world of the television interior designer, do you remember the endless shows that made-over someone’s house in no time at all? This is Cat’s career until she finds herself in prison arrested for murder. This author is the mistress of black comedy and she throws a few mental illnesses into the mix and stirs it all up with a few dashes of heartbreak. In other words this isn’t a straightforward mystery, although that element is there too but more a look at life for someone who doesn’t fit into what’s expected.

You can find my original review here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Bloody Women is delicious, ingenious, inventive and mordantly funny.
Helen FitzGerald has a real skill for making the totally absurd and goofy, thoroughly logical and reasonable’ – Big Beat from Badsville Returning to Scotland to organise her wedding, Catriona is overcome with the jitters. She decides to tie up loose ends before settling permanently in Tuscany, and seeks out her ex-boyfriends. Only problem is, they all end up dead and Catriona is the prime suspect. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Just the one book this week, but it is by one of my favourite authors, Sophie Hannah. I was lucky enough to be offered her latest novel, Did You See Melody? by Amazon Vine.

Blurb

Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life? Amazon

Did You See Melody? will be published on 24 August 2017 and I have it on very good authority (my daughter who is delighting in reading all my books before me while she’s living with us) that it is very good indeed!

Do let me know what you’ve found to read this week?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read just 2 books but I’ve only gained 1.

The current total is therefore 182
Physical Books – 108
Kindle Books – 62
NetGalley Books – 12

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 27)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well this has been an interesting week for blogging as up until Saturday morning we had no internet and no phone line. During the second wave of storm Angus on Monday night it mysteriously packed its bags and left for a holiday. Happily all order is now restored but I apologise for my lack of comments which depended on limited availability; happily for this post I had mostly prepared all my posts before disaster struck!

I had a lovely surprise to receive my very own copy of Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard containing my quote on the inside.

inside-distress-signals

And then the lovely Joanne Robertson from My Chestnut Reading Tree shared this on twitter from Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst.

inside-before-i-let-you-in

This Week on the Blog

I was part of the blog tour for Edward Glover’s A Motif of Seasons on Monday which the author provided a lovely excerpt of his book.

My excerpt on Tuesday came from The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a book that sucked me in with its subtle hook of missing twins whose reporter aunt searches for answers on the release of the woman accused of perverting the course of justice.

My This Week in Books post detailed my reading of the aforementioned book and the upcoming The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy; it really has been an outstanding reading week.

On Thursday I posted my first review of the week of The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer. If I had any doubts about this author’s brilliant writing, which I didn’t, they would have been blown away before the first page was done.

On Friday I posted what is my most anticipated (by me) post of the year; Reading Bingo 2016. Struggling with internet issues tested my patience with my formatting but I really enjoyed deciding which of my reads would be placed in which box, and for the first time ever, I completed every square. What books would you choose?

reading-bingo-small

From the poll other book blogger have done pretty well this year too!

My second review of the week was posted yesterday; another brilliant read with the thirtieth book published by Val McDermidOut of Bounds which has not one but two cold cases for Kate Pirie to solve.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Friday On My Mind by Nicci French the fifth in the Frieda Klein series. I really love this series and this episode went straight into the action. I particularly enjoy having such a switched on chief protagonist, psychoanalyst and uncoverer of truths in-chief, who has her own villain to outwit. Even better she is backed up by a cast of realistic characters and a stellar plot.
You can read my review here
Friday on my Mind

Blurb

When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man’s wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein . . .
But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect.
Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it’s too late either for her or for those she loves. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

Well after weaning myself off the daily deals on Amazon for quite some time by not opening the email, this week has provided temptation on an entirely different scale and I have acquired a restrained 4 books at a bargain price! This is my present to myself in anticipation of an entire month of festivity still to go before the big day!

First up is Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes, a much-loved author of mine, and this, her latest book, had been on my wishlist from before the publication date.

never-alone

Blurb

Elizabeth Haynes’ new psychological thriller is a brilliantly suspenseful and shocking story in which nothing is at it seems, but everything is at stake.

Sarah Carpenter lives in an isolated farmhouse in North Yorkshire and for the first time, after the death of her husband some years ago and her children, Louis and Kitty, leaving for university, she’s living alone. But she doesn’t consider herself lonely. She has two dogs, a wide network of friends and the support of her best friend, Sophie.

When an old acquaintance, Aiden Beck, needs somewhere to stay for a while, Sarah’s cottage seems ideal; and renewing her relationship with Aiden gives her a reason to smile again. It’s supposed to be temporary, but not everyone is comfortable with the arrangement: her children are wary of his motives, and Will Brewer, an old friend of her son’s, seems to have taken it upon himself to check up on Sarah at every opportunity. Even Sophie has grown remote and distant.

After Sophie disappears, it’s clear she hasn’t been entirely honest with anyone, including Will, who seems more concerned for Sarah’s safety than anyone else. As the weather closes in, events take a dramatic turn and Kitty too goes missing. Suddenly Sarah finds herself in terrible danger, unsure of who she can still trust.

But she isn’t facing this alone; she has Aiden, and Aiden offers the protection that Sarah needs. Doesn’t he? Amazon

And then I found My Last Confession by Helen Fitzgerald, an author who has thrilled me with the variety of her books starting with my personal favourite The Cry.

my-last-confession

Blurb

When she starts her new job as a parole officer, Krissie is happy and in love. Then she meets convicted murderer Jeremy, and begins to believe he may be innocent. Her growing obsession with his case threatens to jeopardise everything – her job, her relationship and her life.

Perfect for fans of Julia Crouch, Sophie Hannah and Laura Lippman, My Last Confession is a dark and compelling psychological thriller that traces a young parole officer and her dangerous obsession with a convicted murderer. Helen FitzGerald is also the acclaimed author of The Cry, which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year award. Amazon

After having finished The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley earlier this week I couldn’t resist the second in the series After She Fell.

after-she-fell

Blurb

There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…

Lastly I simply had to purchase the latest in the Patrik Hedstrom and Erika Falck series, The Ice Child which is book 9, written by the highly talented Camilla Lackberg. Another already on my wishlist. This is a series that just keeps getting better, I couldn’t put down the last in the series, Buried Angels

the-ice-child

Blurb

SEE NO EVIL
It’s January in the peaceful seaside resort of Fjällbacka. A semi-naked girl wanders through the woods in freezing cold weather. When she finally reaches the road, a car comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t manage to stop.
HEAR NO EVIL
The victim, a girl who went missing four months ago, has been subjected to unimaginably brutal treatment – and Detective Patrik Hedström suspects this is just the start.
SPEAK NO EVIL
The police soon discover that three other girls are missing from nearby towns, but there are no fresh leads. And when Patrik’s wife stumbles across a link to an old murder case, the detective is forced to see his investigation in a whole new light. Amazon

Four books for the absolute bargain price of £4.49!

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 4 books and managed to gain 4, so my TBR is still standing at 178 books! Please note dear reader the gradual reduction in NetGalley books – I’m aiming to get to single figures by the end of 2016.

93 physical books
71 e-books
14 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Uncategorized

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 Book Review, Books I have read

Bloody Women – Helen Fitzgerald

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Helen Fitzgerald’s novel Bloody Women is told in three parts, and for anyone who has read any of her other books will already know that they should expect the unexpected and that the tale being told is a commentary on a world far wider than the characters that inhabit the small one inside its pages.

In a tiny prison cell sits a young woman who didn’t get married because she was arrested for murder on the morning of her wedding. Not just one murder, three. And these were murders with a particularly spiteful twist, each of the men were missing a vital appendage! The three men were exes of Catriona’s, men she met in the week before her wedding whilst coming to terms with the fact that her home would soon be Italy with Joe and not Scotland where she has been a TV celebratory on an interior design show. So now Catriona sits at the mercy of the prison guard she names ‘The Freak’ awaiting trial and hoping her fiancé Joe will come to visit.

We learn all about this crime through Catriona Marsden own view of events as well as one of those hastily written, sensation seeking biographies that spring up around certain true crimes. Catriona, her mother and her best friend Anna were all interviewed for the book but Cat can’t see any of her words amongst the pages.

This novel shows Helen Fitzgerald’s ability to write black comedy that doesn’t let up but nor does it become in any way predictable. At the time the book was published, 2009, British TV was just coming out of the surfeit of design shows like the one that Cat presented – her comments about the rooms she made-over and her ‘clients’ were absolutely spot-on. She also taps into the culture of the Scots and the Italians, throws a few mental illnesses into the mix and stirs it all up with a few dashes of heartbreak. In other words this isn’t a straightforward mystery, although that element is there too but more a look at life for someone who doesn’t fit into what’s expected.

As the book moves from part to part the change of time and circumstance allows the reader to fill in the gaps with the new knowledge revealed. This is a refreshing type of device, although it took me a couple of pages to find my bearings at each swap point, it served to up the feeling of unease which pervades throughout the book. What happens is there are more people to worry about, because although I didn’t ‘take’ to Cat, or any of the other characters if I’m honest, I did sympathise with her. It takes a stone-hearted soul that doesn’t feel something for a young woman who has lost her way, as so many of Helen Fitzgerald’s female characters have.

I really enjoy the writing style characterisation and pace and this has only confirmed to me that this is an author with a huge amount of talent!

This book has been on my kindle since February 2014 and is the fourth of this author’s books I’ve read. Bloody Women was published by Polygon in 2009.

Other Brilliant Books by Helen FitzGerald

The Cry

When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.

The Exit

82 year old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on?

Viral

A steamy video taken in Magaluf of young Sue Oliphant-Brotheridge while she was holidaying with her sister Leah, it’s upload to the internet causes Sue to hide away. This is a book about far more than a seedy holiday and the internet, a book that explores far more issues than the title would lead you to believe.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (June 1)

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

Well it’s June 1 2016 which can mean only one thing; I am starting my month of reading books from my own bookshelves, including some that I’ve picked for 20 Books of Summer 2016

So I’m about to start The Poison Principle by Gail Bell as recommended to me by Hayley of Rather Too Fond of Books following this year’s random interest in poisoners!

The Poison Principle

Blurb

When Dr William Macbeth poisoned two of his sons in 1927, his wife and sister hid the murders in the intensely private realm of family secrets. Like the famous poisoner Dr Crippen, Macbeth behaved as if he were immune to consequences; unlike Crippen, he avoided detection and punishment. Or did he?
As time passed, the story of Dr William Macbeth, well-dressed poisoner, haunted and divided his descendants. Macbeth’s granddaughter Gail Bell, who grew up with the story, spent ten years reading the literature of poisoning in order to understand Macbeth’s life. A chemist herself, she listened for echoes in the great cases of the 19th and 20th centuries, in myths, fiction and poison lore.
This intricate story, with a moving twist at the end, is a book about family guilt and secrets, and also an exploration of the nature of death itself – as Bell turns to her grandfather’s poisonous predecessors, from Cleopatra, Madame Bovary and Napoleon, as well as looking at Harold Shipman. Amazon

I have just finished My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor, a psychological thriller, that thrills!

My Husband's Son

You can read the synopsis and a couple of excerpts in yesterday’s post

Next up.. and I hope you appreciate how difficult this post is to write, as I haven’t scheduled my choices as normal, the spreadsheet is still there but it simply has a list of books so chaos and disorder reign… will be Bloody Women by the wonderful Helen FitzGerald. Bloody Women has been on my kindle since February 2014 so it deserves to be read especially as I’ve enjoyed the three books I’ve already read by this author; The Cry, The Exit and Viral

Bloody Women

Blurb

Returning to Scotland to organise her wedding, Catriona is overcome with the jitters.
She decides to tie up loose ends before settling permanently in Tuscany, and seeks out her ex-boyfriends.
Only problem is, they’re all dead. Goodreads

What are you reading this week? Do share in the comments envelope below!

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

Viral – Helen FitzGerald

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Well this is one opener that can’t be ignored:

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety-six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

What they have seen is a video of Su Oliphant-Brotheridge on holiday in Magaluf with her sister Leah. Let’s be coy and just say that the uploaded video isn’t something that any of the people listed above would want to see which just goes to illustrate that Helen FitzGerald isn’t one to dodge difficult subjects. But really the video is a launch pad for an exploration of far more than intoxication and seedy holiday destinations!

Even, or especially because of that opener, this may not be the story that you expect although it does of course touch on the infamy on a world-wide stage that the internet has opened up, especially to the younger members of society who used to be able to hide (and forget about?) their youthful transgressions with relative ease. But this book isn’t just about the evils of the internet…

Su was adopted by Ruth and Bernie from South Korea where she lived with them in Scotland where by the time the story opens Ruth is a judge and Bernie is a music teacher, this book is also an exploration of the relationship between Su and her adoptive family. The anguish her family feel when she disappears following the upload of the video is palpable and the different way they react is so authentic, which underlines the prowess of this author to not only come up with a provocative and up-to-the-minute plot but also create characters that you don’t doubt for a minute. A textbook way to encourage the reader to become immersed in the storyline.

As well as the fascinating multiple threads in the storyline which concentrates as much on the interplay of relationships in a family, as it does on the rights and wrongs of the act and the people involved in sending it viral, the author also managed to sway my opinion, probably not so much on the wider aspects of the internet, but definitely on the ‘goodness’ or otherwise of many of the characters. Best of all this is served up with more than a sprinkle of humour, the book had me giving fairly regular wry smiles which far from breaking the tension, accurately mirrored the underlying fears of those concerned. It is a pleasure to read books about teenagers that accurately recognise that they are not a different species, the world may be a different place, the nature of inter-generational relationships has shifted but underneath all of that, they are just trying to work their way through the complexity that is growing up.

I want to say a big thank you to Helen FitzGerald for writing another fascinating and highly insightful book that should be enjoyed across the generations as well as to Faber and Faber for allowing me to read a review copy. Viral was published on 4 February 2016.

Helen FitzGerald is fast becoming one of my favourite writers with her excellent execution of varied and compelling storylines.

Other Brilliant Books by Helen FitzGerald

The Cry

When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.

The Exit

82 year old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (February 6)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

My resolve not to acquire too many new books is going so well, here is the latest batch to make their way onto the TBR!

Firstly, after joining BOOKERTALK in her Read into 2016 post, I was lucky enough to be the winner and have a beautiful copy of The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies, a collection of short stories.

The Redemption of Galen Pike

Blurb

In a remote Australian settlement a young wife with an untellable secret reluctantly invites her neighbour into her home. A Quaker spinster offers companionship to a condemned man in a Colorado jail. In the ice and snows of Siberia an office employee from Birmingham witnesses a scene that will change her life. At a jubilee celebration in a northern English town a middle-aged alderman opens his heart to Queen Victoria. A teenage daughter leaves home in search of adventure. High in the Cumbrian fells a woman seeks help from her father’s enemy…… Goodreads

Another collection of short stories caught my eye on the excellent blog written by Marina Finding Time to Write, The Blink that Killed the Eye by Anthony Anaxagorou. She made it sound so appealing with her statement:
We come back to the grey shores of Great Britain, except there is nothing ‘great’ about it. It is perceived as a diminished, impoverished island, with fearful people and dysfunctional families, in this collection of loosely related short stories.
How’s a girl supposed to resist?

The Blink that Killed the Eye

Blurb

The Blink That Killed the Eye is a stunningly crafted debut short story collection, taking a poetic torch to the shadows of daily life – illuminating the characters, situations, emotions and dilemmas that pour into even the most ordinary existences. From building sites to prison cells; from the birth of love to the last moments of breath – Anthony Anaxagorou navigates expertly through the tangled nets of invisibility, desperation and power to bring us time-defining tales of tragedy and hope; commenting on the irony of our shrinking capacity to really see ourselves or each other in a world increasingly defined by appearances and dangerous preconceptions. Goodreads

I have been approved of some good looking books on NetGalley too – of course I have, I can’t stay away!

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon was published on 5 January 2016 by Revell

Thin Ice

Blurb

After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.
FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.
Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish. NetGalley

One of my favourite authors, Helen FitzGerald has written a new book, Viral which also made it’s way onto my pile:

Viral

Blurb

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.
When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.
Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found? NetGalley

and Debbie Howells, author of The Bones of You, also has a new book; The Beauty of the End and for the second time this year, my wish on NetGalley was granted!

The Beauty of the End

Blurb

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”
So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.
While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.
Or so everyone believes. . .
Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love. NetGalley

Lastly, Channel Islander, Rachel Abbott has a new book out on 17 February 2016, Kill Me Again and she has kindly passed me a copy to my absolute delight.

Kill Me Again

Blurb

When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.
But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.
When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?
She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 6 books, and gained, it yes, 6, so the total stands at 174 books!
85 physical books
75 e-books
14 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

 

You can check out the books I have read  and reviewed in 2016 on my new page in shades of green!