Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (August 15)

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 When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica which will be published on 23 August 2018.



Blurb

As far as the world’s concerned, she’s already dead

Jessie Sloane is getting her life back on track after caring for her sick mother. But she’s stopped short when she discovers, that according to official records, ‘Jessie Sloane’ died seventeen years ago.

So why does she still feel in danger?

Thrown into turmoil and questioning everything she’s ever known, Jessie’s confusion is exacerbated by a relentless lack of sleep. Stuck in a waking nightmare and convinced she’s in danger, she can no longer tell what’s real and what she’s imagined.

The truth lies in the past…

Twenty years ago, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret history. Has her whole life been a lie? The truth will shock her to the core…if she lives long enough to discover it. Amazon

The last book I finished was Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth – my review for this book will follow soon!

Blurb

Thirty years ago, on Mother’s Day, Mary Byrd Thornton’s nine-year-old stepbrother was murdered. His killer was never found. At the time, Mary Byrd had been fifteen: in love and caught up in the excitement of the Sixties, but when Stevie died, her family and her life fell apart.

For years she has struggled with the knowledge that the murderer is still out there, as well as her own nagging guilt over Stevie’s death. Yet she has built a life for herself in Mississippi: she has married a Southern gentleman and has two children she adores. With her ramshackle house, her teeming garden and her menagerie of animals, she is immersed in a comfortable, if somewhat eccentric and occasionally restless day-to-day existence.

When a journalist chances upon the mystery of Stevie’s death and begins to dig into it, Mary Byrd suddenly finds herself on a reluctant journey back to her childhood home in Virginia. Along the way she encounters help from unexpected quarters and finds herself confronting not only her family’s story but the stories of many others – both the living and the dead. Amazon

Next up I intend to read Flight by Isabel Ashdown which is one of my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge reads.

Blurb

When Wren Irving’s numbers come up in the first ever national lottery draw, she doesn’t tell her husband, Rob. Instead she quietly packs her bags, kisses her six-month-old daughter Phoebe goodbye, and leaves.

Two decades later, Rob has moved on and found happiness with their oldest friend, Laura. Phoebe, now a young woman, has never known any other life. But when Rob receives a mysterious letter, the past comes back to haunt them all. With their cosy world thrown into turmoil, Laura sets out to track Wren down and discover the truth about why she left all those years ago. Amazon

So what do you think? Any of these beauties take your fancy?

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (July 2014 to July 2018)

 


5 Star Reads

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

July tends to be a bumper month for great books as I’m writing my reviews for all the fab books I read in June on holiday so some tough choices have had to be made!

 

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

My choice for July 2014 is Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I can’t believe I read this was a whole five years ago and it should be noted that having been turned into a TV series it is now marketed as Big Little Lies in the UK.

The stage is set at Pirriwee Public School at a und-raising Trivia Night where someone is dead. Who is killed is a mystery long before the reader is compelled to find out who the killer is. The brilliance of this book is the everyday setting, how dangerous can a school quiz night be after all? This alongside the observational humour, I guarantee you will recognise far too many of the character types involved.

An absolutely compelling read that shouldn’t be missed.

Blurb

Perfect families, perfect houses, perfect lives.
Three mothers, Jane, Madeline and Celeste appear to have it all . . . but do they? They are about to find out just how easy it is for one little lie to spiral out of control.
—————————–
Single mum Jane has just moved to town. She’s got her little boy in tow – plus a secret she’s been carrying for five years.

On the first day of the school run she meets Madeline – a force to be reckoned with, who remembers everything and forgives no one – and Celeste, the kind beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare, but is inexplicably ill at ease. They both take Jane under their wing – while careful to keep their own secrets under wraps.

But a minor incident involving the children of all three women rapidly escalates: playground whispers become spiteful rumours until no one can tell the truth from the lies.

It was always going to end in tears, but how did it end in murder? Amazon

In July 2015 I was wowed by Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica , a story about a young woman with her child who is rescued from the streets by the kindly Heidi. Taking Willow and her young child into their home seems to her to be the right thing to do, but not everyone agrees. Unsurprisingly, the path ahead does not wind pleasantly.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the complex characters that drive the story on. The book being told from three separate viewpoints was a brilliant psychological examination backed up by a tension-filled plot.

Blurb

A chance encounter

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

An act of kindness

Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.

A tangled web of lies

As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures. Amazon

I’ve chosen a nonfiction read for 2016’s choice, The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins which takes us back to another age albeit not one as far back in history as those I usually explore in my true crime exploration.

We are in the gentile world of the rich, a time when doctors still went to call on their wealthy clients, the NHS having only recently come into being. Favoured doctors if they were lucky, and a charitable assumption could be that Dr Adams was very lucky, could be given bequests when their charges died. It was the death of one wealthy woman who started an investigation that led back to the 1930s which had the Metropolitan Police convinced that Dr Adams wasn’t quite who he seemed to be.

This was a well-researched and entertaining read that had me well and truly gripped.

 

‘Was rich Mrs Gertrude Hullett murdered at her luxurious 15-room home on Beachy Head? Detectives are tonight trying to establish the cause of the 50-year-old widow’s sudden death . . . ‘ Daily Mail, 1957

Blurb

In July 1957, the press descended in droves on the south-coast town of Eastbourne. An inquest had just been opened into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs Bobbie Hullett. She died after months of apparent barbiturate abuse – the drugs prescribed to calm her nerves by her close friend and doctor, Dr John Bodkin Adams.

The inquest brought to the surface years of whispered suspicion that had swept through the tea rooms, shops and nursing homes of the town. The doctor’s alarming influence over the lives, deaths and finances of wealthy widows had not gone unnoticed – it was rumoured that the family doctor had been on a killing spree that spanned decades and involved 300 suspicious cases. Superintendent Hannam of Scotland Yard was called in to investigate.

The Curious Habits of Dr Adams brilliantly brings to life the atmosphere of post-war England, and uses a wealth of new documents to follow the twists and turns of an extraordinary Scotland Yard murder enquiry. As expertly crafted as the best period detective novel, this book casts an entertainingly chilling light on a man reputed to be one of England’s most prolific serial killers. Amazon

 

My pick for 2017 is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time; Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown which explores what can be the closest of bonds, that between sisters.

Set on the Isle of Wight there are two sets of sisters; Ellie and Jess who were estranged for many years but are now looking to find the close bond they previously shared. To this end Jess moves in with Ellie to care for her daughter, Daisy. Daisy has a big sister, sixteen years old, she adores her half-sister and is devastated when Daisy disappears from her cot in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Brilliantly drawn characters along with a real feeling of depth to the story makes this a real winner for lovers of the genre.

Blurb

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before? Amazon

I had no hesitation at all in picking my winning read, reviewed in July 2018 – the prize goes unreservedly to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

This innovative read which explores the life (or rather lives) of one Ursula Todd born into the sort of idyllic family that could only exist in 1910 at the whimsically named Fox Corner. As multiple options are presented for Ursula to survive, or maybe die trying, we get to witness a whole heap of events, and characters that take us from one place to another. None of this would work if it were not for the author’s brilliant writing skills or the wonderful characters she provides as a vehicle to tell the stories. Most amazingly these characters grow throughout the novel no matter which circumstance Kate Atkinson chooses to place them in.

If you haven’t read this book, I truly urge you to do so.



Blurb

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life’s bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past. Here she is at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves. Amazon

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018! Part 2 #20booksofsummer


On 28 May 2018 I posted my first set of 10 books that I planned to read for this challenge, the idea being that I would post the second selection in mid-July, having read and reviewed the first 10. Dear reader, the plan has gone a little awry!

Anyway I’ve read 9 of my 10 books, reviewed just 4 and have very little reading time so I suspect I won’t finish the second set but here’s what I’m aiming to read.

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

 

Victorian Murders by Jan Bondeson

Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth

My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall 

Flight by Isabel Ashdown

The Lighthouse by P.D. James

The Poisoner by Stephen Bates 

This Is Not a Novel by Jennifer Johnston 

The Big Picture by Douglas Kennedy 

Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn by Nigel Pickford

Famous Trials I by Harry Hodge

You can check out the master page which will have the full list of 20 books here

There are so many within this selection that I’m eager to read and since time is of the essence I have a feeling that I will start with P.D. James’s book The Lighthouse.

Do you agree? Where would you start?

Wish me luck…

 

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

Little Sister – Isabel Ashdown

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Warning – Don’t open this book for a peek, you will not be able to put it aside once you start!

This book has a seriously good opening and one that you won’t forget as you read on to find out what happened to baby Daisy in the early hours of New Year’s day morning, because one thing is for sure she is no longer at home in her cot where she should be.

Daisy is Chloe’s younger sister, well technically she is her half-sister Chloe’s mother having died when she was small but her father James met Emily when she was small and they’ve been a family ever since. Now on the brink of her sixteenth birthday she adores baby Daisy.

Jess is Emily’s younger sister, with just ten months between them they always did everything together, they were even in the same class at school and Jess adored Ellie. Recently Jess moved in with Ellie and has taken on the role of nanny to Daisy while Ellie returns to work. The sisters have much catching up to do as they only regained their tight bond following their mother’s recent death.

So we have two sets of little’s sisters and two mysteries. The overriding one into Daisy’s disappearance and the historic one into why Emily and Jess became estranged when they were teenagers. Both storylines are utterly compelling and reveal long-buried secrets of the relatively small cast of characters. Although the story is mainly told through the eyes of Emily and Jess in the past and the present we do hear from other key players along the way. Each chapter spills at least one secret challenging the reader to put the book aside. I simply couldn’t; this was a real, just a few more pages and then I’ll go to sleep book!

Little Sister is set on the Isle of Wight and although it is many years since I visited, the famous locations are woven throughout meaning that this beautiful location really feels to be part of the story itself. Living on an island myself I didn’t need too many prompts to work out that this was going to be one claustrophobic story and boy does Isabel Ashdown use this to ramp up the tension. Daisy’s disappearance brings outsiders in the way of the police to investigate but it also brings a pack of journalists baying outside the front door as each lead hits the headlines nationally as well as locally but it isn’t just the daily revelations that mark the passing of time since Daisy went, we also have the slowly decaying Christmas tree wilting, the baubles that Daisy once babbled at looking ever more forlorn as Emily refuses to allow it to be dismantled, anxious that Daisy should see it once more when she is found. It is these smaller details which turn this book from a run of the mill psychological thriller into something quite exceptional which alongside the pitch-perfect pacing had me completely hooked.

While the answers to the two mysteries become clear well before the end of the book, because of the depth of the story I didn’t feel cheated because there is plenty more to come. I particularly loved the ending where the author has chosen to wrap everything up in one neat bow with flourishes that were entirely satisfying.

This is a book I wanted to savour but at the same time couldn’t slow down with a story I became so immersed in so well-drawn were all the characters from the teenage Chloe to the police, from the distraught mother Emily to the owner of the café – all were so realistic, I feel sad to say goodbye to them all.

First Published UK: 27 April 2017
Publisher: Trapeze
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (July 26)

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

At the moment I am reading Little Sister by Isabelle Ashdown ahead of publication of tomorrow!

Blurb


A missing child. A broken mother. A sister who doesn’t remember a thing.

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before? NetGalley

I have recently finished the third book which accompanies the TV series ‘Death in Paradise’ – Death Knocks Twice by Robert Thorogood is a classic locked mystery set on the island of Saint-Marie and will be published tomorrow.



Blurb

Two dead bodies. A family of suspects. One grumpy detective.
Reluctantly stationed on the sweltering Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, Detective Inspector Richard Poole dreams of cold winds, drizzly rain and a pint in his local pub.
Just as he is feeling as fed up as can be, a mysterious vagrant is found dead in the grounds of the historic Beaumont plantation. Immediately assumed to be suicide, DI Poole is not so convinced and determined to prove otherwise. Never mind that the only fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to the victim. Or that the room was locked from the inside.
Before long, death knocks twice and a second body turns up. The hunt is on to solve the case – despite the best efforts of the enigmatic Beaumont family… Amazon

And I thought I may as well go for the hat-trick on publication dates so next I will be reading Shelter by Sarah Franklin which is also going to be published on 27 July 2017.

Blurb

Early spring 1944. Connie Granger has escaped her bombed-out city home, finding refuge in the Women’s Timber Corps. For her, this remote community must now serve a secret purpose.

Seppe, an Italian prisoner of war, is haunted by his memories. In the forest camp, he finds a strange kind of freedom.

Their meeting signals new beginnings. But as they are drawn together, the world outside their forest haven is being torn apart. Old certainties are crumbling, and both must now make a life-defining choice.

What price will they pay for freedom? What will they fight to protect?

A captivating and tender novel about love, hope and how we find solace in the most troubled times. Amazon

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Do you want to?


What are you reading this week? Do share in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 15)

Weekly Wrap Up

I know this is one day late this week but as I was part of the Need You Dead blog tour yesterday I decided it was better late than never, especially a I’ve reviewed some stunning books over the last week, and have found some winning looking ones to add to my shelves.

This Week on the Blog

I started my week with the Mystery Blogger Award where I presented you with three facts about me and confirmed that my favourite genre is indeed crime fiction!

My excerpt post was from All The Good Things by Clare Fisher which I hope to read before its publication on 1 June 2017.

My This Week in Books post featured authors Ruth Rendell, Lucy Atkins and Elisabeth Herrmann

My first review of the week was posted on Thursday for Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, an intelligent look at what reintroduction to society might look like if you were locked up for a serious crime as a child.

I then posted my review of a non-fiction reads, an outstandingly good true-crime read. Unusually The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the exploration of a crime is spliced with the author’s memoir, the result is one of a most compelling read.

The third five-star review of the week was for The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins which is a real character led novel with the underlying plot hinging on the publication of a book by historian Olivia Sweetman. A book I have boldly declared will be one of my books of 2017.

My last and final five-star review was a man who now feels like a dear friend, Roy Grace the star of Peter James’ crime fiction series here in his thirteenth outing; Need You Dead.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Play Dead by Angela Marsons, the fourth in an outstanding series featuring Detective Kim Stone as she tackles crime in the Black Country. Gruesomely set on a Body Farm where the scientists learn how a body decomposes in different environments to aid in determining the time of death. The well-drawn characters provide the perfect back-drop to the devilish mystery posed in this novel.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.



Blurb

The dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.

The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.

Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.

Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?

As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?

Stacking the Shelves

I have been super lucky this week with review copies for my last splurge before I cut back for the summer (haha)

First up I have a copy of Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf, an author who has written some really thought-provoking books and this, her latest is due to be published on 13 July 2017.



Blurb

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters – her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora.

Now, two years later, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice? NetGalley

I also have a copy of Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown, another author whose previous novels have impressed me. This book will be published on 27 July 2017.

Blurb

A missing child. A broken mother. A sister who doesn’t remember a thing.

After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before? NetGalley

Lastly I have a much longed for copy of The Child by Fiona Barton; I was a huge fan of The Widow and so I will make sure I read this before publication on 29 July 2017.


Blurb

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.
For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.
And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told. NetGalley

Finally within my Mystery Blogger Award I asked for more crime fiction books based upon real crimes and the lovely and knowledgeable FictionFan recommended Midnight in Peking by Paul French, which was just the sort of thing I was looking for.

Blurb

Peking, 1937:
The teenage daughter of a British consul is brutally slaughtered. The police investigation is botched; as war looms British and Chinese authorities close ranks. A grieving father vows to uncover the truth – alone.

Seventy-five years later, historian Paul French uncovers a stash of forgotten documents revealing the killer’s identity . . .

For those who loved The Suspicions of Mr Whicher and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil this is a riveting and evocative true crime classic. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share, I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and discarded one as a DNF – I also pruned my TBR of the book that was sent to the charity shop and the one book that hadn’t been removed despite having been read and then I have gained 4. The accountant therefore declares the current total as 185
Physical Books – 108
Kindle Books – 61
NetGalley Books – 16