Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Clockmaker’s Daughter – Kate Morton

Historical Fiction
4*s

For those of us that love a rich multi-layered dual time-line story The Clockmaker’s Daughter fits the bill perfectly.

Telling the story across multiple protagonists ranging from the Victorian era in 1862 until 2017, much ground is covered weaving times, places and of course romances to delight and intrigue the reader. At the very heart of the story is a house, Birchwood Manor which lies on the bank of the River Thames.

The first owner was a successful artist, Edward Radcliffe part of the group of the ‘Magenta Brotherhood’, who bought the house on a whim. Indeed it is with this group that he decamped with on a summer break to do artisty things at Birchwood Manor in 1862. His younger sister was delighted to be invited along but while they were staying his fiancée was killed and Edward sunk into a depression.
In 2017 Elodie Winslow an archivist is herself engaged to be married. A mysterious satchel connected to the archive she is in charge of and the satchel contains a sketchbook. She also finds a picture of a beautiful woman wearing a dress that provides some inspiration for her wedding dress. But she can’t leave it at that and she begins to investigate who could have owned the items, and that just leads to more mysteries to solve.

Between these two time periods we meet seemingly unconnected characters to either time line, there is a school for young ladies, a war widow and her young children… and a ghost. Now I’m not known for my love of ghosts but fortunately this isn’t one of the scary variety more a soul who links the owners and inhabitants of the house, giving us insight on all that has seen through the years, and she can be quite cutting about some of them. So despite my usual reluctance to entertain anything that has the hint of the supernatural, this mysterious woman, known as Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter, became one of my favourite characters of the entire novel.

This is a book to devote yourself to otherwise, especially in the early chapters, it could become a little elusive. The story takes a while to get into and I found sorting the characters out and putting them in context took a while, but as time goes on they become more distinct and able to entertain not only in their own right, they become part of the whole story. This is a book where you definitely feel you’ve been on a journey; from pickpockets in Covent Garden to beautiful artist’s novels, to young girls who are sent to boarding school, adrift from their families, to a woman who has lost nearly all that she holds dear. And on the characters and backstories come until the present day to Elodie who lost her mother, a talented musician, when she was a young girl and can’t work out how or why. With an impending marriage and a mother-in-law who is keen to play the recordings of her mother’s performances at the wedding the past is at the forefront of her mind.

The ending is delightful and neatly rounded off what at times could seem like a tale of all the various heart-aches a human can endure. Although this wasn’t my personal favourite of Kate Morton’s novels it is definitely a story that will haunt me, and may even have got me passed my hatred of those ghostly beings!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Mantle who allowed me to read and absorb a myriad of lives. This unbiased review is my thanks to them, and to Kate Morton for continuing to write such amazing tales. It takes a great deal of skill to create characters who at times crept uninvited into my thoughts, distracting me from my work or the real people around me.  I love a book with a puzzle in it, and so this novel that had a whole string of them was an immensely satisfying read.

First Published UK: 20 September 2018
Publisher: Mantle
No of Pages: 592
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 12)

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 this month’s choice for The Classics Club, The Prime of Miss Brodie by Muriel Spark which I’m greatly enjoying.

Blurb

‘Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life…’

Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of ‘special girls’ at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the crème de la crème, each famous for something – Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex – who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty …

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature. Goodreads

The last book I finished was a non-fiction entry albeit one that is firmly in the Victorian True Crime sub genre; The Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay had me travelling back to 1860 to the East End of Victorian London.


Blurb

In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head.

What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate.

This is the case Conan Doyle couldn’t solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover ‘whodunit’ as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before. Amazon

Next I plan to read The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton which will be published on 20 September 2018. I’ve been a firm fan of this author for years so this is a real treat!

Blurb

My real name, no one remembers.

The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Berkshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter. Amazon

So a bit more of a selection this week with a classic novel, a non-fiction read and a bit of historical fiction.

What does your reading week look like?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 1)

It seems like an age since I did a weekly wrap up, mainly because I was away enjoying a wonderful holiday in Rhodes for a couple of weeks. This gave me the opportunity to read a whole range of books in between eating, drinking and learning about the history of Rhodes. All in all I came back refreshed and relaxed and rejuvenated. Then I returned to work and all my good intentions of writing up my reviews faltered…

We returned home last Sunday and my neighbour’s son had done a wonderful job of looking after my sunflowers in our absence. I have six plants, two have open heads and another is on the way…

This Week on the Blog

Well it was straight into a review as I now have a backlog to write! The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell was a wonderful dual time-line story set between 1955 and the present day – a beautiful story to match the stunning cover.

My excerpt post was taken from Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington which was probably the most disturbing of my holiday reads.

This Week in Books featured the authors Lisa Jewell, Sabine Durrant and Jeffery Toobin

On Thursday I reviewed another new release; The Death of Mrs Westaway by the very talented Ruth Ware.

Next I posted my review of Conon Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox, a non-fiction read about how Conon Doyle got involved in the case of Oscar Slater who was accused of murdering an old lady in Glasgow in 1908.

Finally, yesterday I reviewed the first book in my 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge with Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Island by Victoria Hislop which I’d bought following our holiday in Crete in 2016 because we visited the, now abandoned, leper colony on the small island of Spinalonga. Over the past year I have reflected on quite how powerful this story was. Not only is it very well-written but the fact that those suffering with leprosy were sent there within living memory is something I just can’t get out of my mind.

The story itself has all the elements you could want with love, betrayal, secrets and at its heart family. The story swings backwards and forwards from the little village of Plaka where life is simple to the bigger towns where research was going on to find a cure for the dreadful disease, a search which was suspended when the war became the fight that the whole of Greece was focussed on.

A memorable tale indeed.

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

Blurb

On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.

Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fotini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Somehow even though I’ve been away I’ve managed to also acquire some new books a small selection of which I’ll share here…

I was absolutely thrilled to be sent a copy of Rachel Abbott’s stand-alone psychological thriller called And So It Begins which will be published in October 2018.

Blurb

So this is how it ends. It is clear to me now: one of us has to die.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder? Amazon

This sounds so good, it has a murder, a trial and a great character name even though it sounds like she either ends up dead or on a murder charge!

Another of my favourite authors also is going to publish a psychological thriller in the autumn and I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths before it is published on 1 November 2018.

Blurb

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer RM Holland, she teaches a short course on it every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an RM Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers… Amazon

I also have a copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton which I’m so excited about as I’ve loved each and every one of this author’s previous books. This is due to be published on 20 September 2018.

My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter. NetGalley

I couldn’t resist the offering of a copy of The Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay (which was already on my wishlist) having so enjoyed Conan Doyle for the Defence, so I now have a  copy of this book, which has already been published.

Blurb

In 1860, a 70 year old widow turned landlady named Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head.

What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation, a veritable locked room mystery which baffled even legendary Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. With an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, the case led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate.

This is the case Conan Doyle couldn’t solve and, after confounding the best detectives for years, has finally be solved by author Sinclair McKay. Discover ‘whodunit’ as the real murderer is revealed for the first time exclusively in this captivating study of a murder case in the nineteenth century, a story never told before. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read lots of books and I have also gained a small pile but I’m delighted to announce that the TBR has dropped to the unprecedented low level of 167!
Physical Books – 106
Kindle Books – 41
NetGalley Books –19
Audio Books –1

As all my reviews since my return have been of review copies I’ve not yet earned any more tokens so I’m 1 book in credit, having bought no new books.

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

The Lake House – Kate Morton

Historical Fiction 5*s
Historical Fiction
5*s

I chose to keep my copy of The Lake House for reading as my first read of the year as I had a feeling that I might not want to put it down and I was right I didn’t.

As in all of Kate Morton’s tales the story is split across different time periods; firstly in 1933 where Alice Edavane lives with her parents, her two sisters and her baby brother Theo at Loeanneth. Alice is in her teens already sure that she doesn’t want what her elder sister Deborah wants which is to go to London and marry well. Oh no, she is far too interested in writing stories and living at home for ever helping her father with his natural history studies. So far so normal but on the night of the Midsummer ball the Edavane’s host annually, something terrible happens and life will never be the same again..

Years into the future in 2003 the Metropolitan Police have been looking for a mother whose young daughter was left alone for days. Sadie Sparrow, a detective finds herself at odds with her superiors and is packed off for enforced leave to let the dust settle. She decides to stay with her Grandfather Bertie in Cornwall. Bored and worried about both her past and her future she hears of an unsolved crime and decides to investigate. Between that and her running she anxiously awaits the verdict on whether she still has a career to return to.

There are layers to this story which span far more years than the two main ones mentioned, we visit the battlefields of WWI, suburbia in the 1980s among plenty of others in-between, and as always with this author, I got a sense that this was backed up by solid research that underpins but never overshadows the story in hand. There are books within the book as well, a murder mystery and a children’s storybook that featured Mrs Edavane, Constance, as a young girl. So the stories swirl around each other, connected but each satisfying in their own right.

This is a large book at just over 600 pages and they are all packed with details or actions so none were inserted to make up the numbers! While not fast the pace of the book is consistent without that dreaded dip in the middle, and the characters are varied with realistic lives, hopes and dreams, which is always a bonus. The author has worked hard to make the largish cast rounded, nearly every single character had their fair share of emotions and motivations, some with a hint of a darker side.

In amongst the sheer readability is a solid mystery to be solved, along with a few more minor ones. I’m not going to pretend that some of the reveals don’t hinge on massive coincidences, but I found that easy to forgive in such an engaging and entertaining tome of a book, it does come with the territory for these type of historical split time-line stories and Kate Morton carries it off with far more aplomb than most. It was one of those books that I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to once I’d read the last page, it was that satisfying a read but my copy is now off to my friend who I’m sure will love it just as much as I did!

I’ve read all of Kate Morton’s previous books, you can see two sitting on my bookshelf on the header to this post and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely.

The House at Riverton
The Forgotten Garden
The Distant Hours
The Secret Keeper

Posted in Uncategorized

Read Into 2016

Reading Into 2016

This gem of an idea was created by BOOKERTALK , so hop over there to get the full details (including a possible prize) but in brief this is a post about what I am reading to start 2016 off!

My choice is The Lake House by Kate Morton, an author whose books I love with their past to present connections – if you check out my header you will see some of her early books nestling there.

I bought The Lake House on pre-order, something I rarely do, and it was delivered to me in October but I felt that a book this anticipated, it has been over two years since read her last book, The Secret Keeper, that it deserved some dedicated reading time. I’m only a couple of chapters in and reluctantly breaking off to write this post.

The Lake House

It was hard to say what made her so certain, but as she turned to leave . . . she knew in that twist of the gut way a police detective had, that something terrible had happened in that house . . .
A missing child
June 1933, and the Edevane family’s country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she’s also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn’t. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.
An abandoned house
Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. She retreats to her beloved grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall, but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, Sadie stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.
An unsolved mystery
Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family’s past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape . . . Amazon

To finish the post of Bookertalk wants a picture of me with my book – I’ve done one of these before and cringed each time you lovely people read the post and it comes up on the side-bar to haunt me, but not being one to shy away from a challenge – here it is!!

Cleo reading Jan 2016

The eagle-eyed amongst you will note the orange ribbon that comes with the book – something that makes me happy, books I received as a child were always more special if they included a ribbon bookmark!

Because I’m nosy and have huge book envy I will be visiting Bookertalk’s post to see who else has posted about their first read of this year.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (November 1)

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.

A day late, but as (surprisingly) I have a few books that have been added to my shelves, I thought I’d share them with you.

To read in November, I have The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas. Last year I enjoyed Your Beautiful Lies by this author and have my fingers crossed that this one will be equally good.

The Secret by the Lake

Blurb

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.
A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.
A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves? NetGalley

December reading includes The Thirteenth Coffin by Nigel McCrery, the creator of Silent Witness. I haven’t read the earlier books in this series but I did enjoy Silent Witnesses his non-fiction book the history of forensic science.

The Thirteenth Coffin

Blurb

Stretching along the shelf, standing upright, were twelve wooden coffins. Nine were closed, and three open . . . with little dolls standing inside them . . .
It was supposed to be the most special day of her life – until the unthinkable happened. Leslie Petersen is shot dead on her wedding day. With the bride’s killer vanished without a trace, the investigation into the murder grinds to a halt before it’s even begun. But then, the decomposing body of an unidentified homeless man is found in an old Cold War bunker, and DCI Mark Lapslie makes a bizarre discovery. Hidden near the body is a shrine full of miniature wooden coffins. Each coffin contains a little doll, all dressed differently. One of the dolls is dressed as a bride – could this be a link to Leslie’s murder? And if so, who do the other dolls represent? Can Lapslie and his team stop the countdown of the ‘dying dolls’ before it’s too late? NetGalley

And for January I have a copy of Dead Pretty by David Mark, the fifth in the Aector McAvoy series.

Dead Pretty

Blurb

Hannah Kelly has been missing for nine months. Ava Delaney has been dead for five days.
One girl to find. One girl to avenge. And DS Aector McAvoy won’t let either of them go until justice can be done.
But some people have their own ideas of what justice means… NetGalley

I also have a copy of the Murder on the Common by Keith Pedder which my brother has been urging me to read for quite some time, this is the true story of the murder trial where the chief suspect Colin Stagg was found not guilty. Written before he was acquitted and the real murderer discovered, this is Keith Pedder’s justification of the methods used to put Colin Stagg on trial.

Murder on the Common

Blurb

No one could have imagined that when beautiful young Rachel Nickell went for a walk on Wimbledon Common with her little son, it would have resulted in a wicked, sickening crime that appalled a nation; or that the police investigation that followed would cost millions of dollars. This is the inside story of that operation by the police detective that headed it up. It reveals information that has hitherto been withheld, and spectacularly prints letters from the police involved in the operation to the chief suspect that will astonish the reader and bring the details of this terrible case right back into the public eye. Goodreads

I have a copy of The House of Memories by Monica McInerney, author of Hello from the Gillespies

The House of Memories

Blurb

Sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are those that matter most.
Following a tragic accident, Ella O’Hanlon flees to the other side of the world in an attempt to escape her grief, leaving behind the two people she blames for her loss: Aidan, the love of her life, and Jess, her spoilt half-sister.
In London Ella is taken in by her beloved uncle Lucas, whose extraordinary house holds many wonderful memories for her. Along with other members of the very colourful Fox family, Lucas helps Ella to see that she is not the only one still hurting, and that forgiveness can be the greatest healer in a family and in a marriage.
For anyone who has ever loved and lost, this is an exquisitely moving and life-affirming novel by the internationally bestselling author of Lola’s Secret. Goodreads

Lastly, my pre-order of The Lake House by Kate Morton finally arrived!

The Lake House

Blurb

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read. Goodreads

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (February 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them! Here is January’s top five in case you missed it: January 2011 to 2015 but now to February!

2011

Read while holidaying in the Bahamas was another great read from one of my favourite authors, Kate Morton with The Distant Hours.  This wasn’t as popular as her previous two novels The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden but I liked the change in style and time period.

The Distant Hours

Blurb

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family. Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it . . . Amazon

2012 yr

In February 2012 I read Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton, the second in the Lacey Flint series.  This series quickly became a fixture on my ‘must-read’  list and I eagerly await the latest addition as soon as I’ve read the last.

Dead Scared
Blurb

When a rash of suicides tears through Cambridge University, DI Mark Joesbury recruits DC Lacey Flint to go undercover as a student to investigate. Although each student’s death appears to be a suicide, the psychological histories, social networks, and online activities of the students involved share remarkable similarities, and the London police are not convinced that the victims acted alone. They believe that someone might be preying on lonely and insecure students and either encouraging them to take their own lives or actually luring them to their deaths. As long as Lacey can play the role of a vulnerable young woman, she may be able to stop these deaths, but is it just a role for her? With her fragile past, is she drawing out the killers, or is she herself being drawn into a deadly game where she’s a perfect victim? Amazon

2013yr

In February 2013 I read Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes which features Police data analyst, Annabel, in a disturbing dark thriller.

Human Remains

Blurb

When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.
Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? Goodreads

2014yr
February 2014 was full of some of my favourite books of the year with many strong contenders so I have decided pick one of the two five star reads by a debut author; A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.  For some reason this book has been given a new wacky cover which I don’t like so I’m featuring the old one!
A Pleasure and a Calling

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours… Amazon

2015yr
The end of February 2015 reading has seen a clutch of five star reads with a number of contenders for the top spot but I have decided to plump for an author whose fourth book was as ingenious and as satisfying as her previous three; Rachel Abbott with Stranger Child.

Stranger Child

Blurb

One Dark Secret. One act of revenge.
When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma’s life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they’re right.

5 Star Reads

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (September 2)

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Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• What you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My Musing

I am currently re-reading A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis. Why am I reading this again?

Well I’m really excited; the book is due to be published at Christmas time (hence why there is no book cover for this one) and Jane has agreed to do an interview with me on my blog! Now I know lots of you do this sort of thing regularly but it is my first time so I want to ask the right questions so I’m reading it with that in mind now.

Jane has amazed me again by coming up with an entirely different type of book from a subject matter viewpoint although the writing still immediately draws you into the storyline. This book-to-be starts with a playground fight, a teacher getting injured and a compelling back-story of a bright boy born on the wrong side of the tracks (literally). If that has whetted your appetite come back for the full review in December.

Jane’s first book Half-Truth and White Lies was a worthy winner of the Daily Mail/Transworld First Novel Award. There is nothing of the novice about her technique, which shows all the confidence of a natural-born writer. (John Harding, Daily Mail) in 2008. I read and reviewed this on Amazon in 2010 and got a reply from Jane which started our correspondence.
Jane kindly gave me a preview of I Stopped Time a long time before it was published and I fell in love with it. This book reminded me of Kate Morton and Rachel Hore in this dual-time novel with a focus on photography.

“Three. I have three stories,” Lottie Parker tells her solicitor while putting her affairs in order. “But it was Oscar Wilde who said that a story is almost certainly a lie.”

Since then I have read her latest novel These Fragile Things that is set in Streatham in the 1980’s

“Would you risk ridicule and scorn – knowing others besides yourself will be affected – to voice a seemingly impossible claim?
How would you react if your daughter claimed to be seeing visions?
What if you and your wife couldn’t agree whether to support her or to demand a medical explanation?
What then?”

I have to admit the subject matter could have put me off if I didn’t trust the author to tell a good story and I wasn’t disappointed.

So I’m back to reading the manuscript of A Funeral for an Owl so I can do the author justice in my very first interview!
Did I also tell you I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements so my name will be in print!

Christmas present

This is one of the best Christmas presents ever!!!

Reviews for Jane Davis

 

Half-truths and White Lies
These Fragile Things
I stopped time

Jane is looking for advance reviewers and posted the following comment

If any of you would like to be advance reviewers of a Funeral for an Owl please get in touch as I’m trying to get a bit of momentum going! (Cleo has beaten me to it.) You can contact me via my website or on janerossdale@btinternet.com. You can also read extracts of my other books there. Jane

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

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

Historical Fiction 5*'s
Historical Fiction
5*’s

Another superb read from Kate Morton this time set over three time periods, 1941,1961 and 2011 it starts in 1961 with Laurel, eldest daughter of Dorothy Nicholson witnessing a shocking event.

In 2011 with her mother reaching the end of her life in hospital Laurel decides she needs to re-examine that day and longs to find out more about her mother’s early life. Her mother is also remembering the early days giving the reader a narrative of London during the Blitz.

As always Kate Morton draws crisp characters along with great descriptions of wartime life, based upon solid research that only occasionally intrudes through the storytelling, but rather blends seamlessly into Dorothy’s life. The number of main characters is kept to a minimum with enough bit-players to give depth but not so many to confuse matters.

The book is split into four parts, with each chapter clearly stating the time period it relates to, this makes for easy clear reading and the tale rattles along as a good book should.

The end of the story doesn’t disappoint, although for some I expect it may be just a little to neatly sewn together. I loved every moment of this book.
Another winner, I am already looking forward to Kate Morton’s next book.