Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (April 2014 to April 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. Later in 2018 I will be celebrating Five years of blogging and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

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

My choice of review for April 2014 is Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. This psychological thriller had me absolutely gripped. The plot concerns two friends and following a bit of domestic trouble Natty returns home to find here previous loyal and loving husband Sean, has fallen in love with her best friend Eve. The compulsive angle of the book stems from the observation of how the two women play their respective hands from here on in, That alongside some brilliantly  flawed characters including some wonderful secondary ones; my favourites being the Policewoman Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Jackie as well as Natty’s father Ken. These true to life people served to add another layer of enjoyment to the story

Blurb

Your best friend isn’t who you think she is.

You’ve been friends since university, when you became the people you are today.

You don’t see each other enough but when you do it’s as if you’ve never been apart.

She’s one of the family. You would trust her with your life, your children, your husband.
And when your daughter is rushed to hospital, you’re grateful that she’s stepping in at home, looking after things.

But your best friend isn’t who you think she is. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were. Amazon

Strongly indicating that I read great psychological thrillers in April my five star read for April 2015 was one of the hits of the year; Disclaimer by Renée Knight. When Catherine Ravenscroft comes across a book in her new house she idly picks it up and starts reading, as you do! Imagine her shock when she realises the story is about her, or more specifically, a secret she’s kept for twelve years. The author obviously plays with her reader, swinging the emotions this way and that, but it is so skilfully done, I lapped it all up waiting to find out what surprise she was going to spring on me next.

Blurb

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew… Amazon

April 2016 seems to be awash with brilliant books and I have struggled to choose a favourite and finally have decided to feature a book that is not crime fiction, or a psychological thriller.

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain  by Barney Norris  features five characters whose lives collide. The setting of Salisbury could almost be the sixth character in the book, it’s history resonating through this literary novel. The opening holds a few surprises, but it is worth sticking with flower seller, Rose’s tale as it contains hidden depths which may only become apparent later on…

The triumph of this book was the intersecting of these dissimilar characters, their troubles are their own, the way they deal with those problems are individual and yet there are threads criss-crossing Salisbury that connect them all, some in the past, all in the present. In the hands of a less accomplished writer it would be easy for these connections to feel false, to rely too much on coincidence and yet Barney Norris avoids any clunkiness, there is absolute authenticity in the device as well as the characters.


Blurb

<‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters.

As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life. Amazon

 

April 2017 saw me reviewing Little Deaths by Emma Flint. Not only was this fictionalised account of a true crime mesmerising, it set me on a journey of discovering a whole sub-genre of crime fiction.

This is the sad tale of the disappearance, and sad murders of Ruth Malone’s two children. From the beginning Ruth is condemned for her lifestyle, her working class neighbours disapproved of her social life since her separation from the children’s father.

Emma Flint has provided us with one of the most complex of female characters and each incident can be viewed from differing angles and the conclusions made will depend on which one you personally consider to be most realistic. This creation really takes the book way beyond a simple rehash of the crime itself. I felt I knew Ruth, I could both identify with some of her thoughts whilst at other times wonder why she made life quite so hard for herself, after all she was far from stupid – perhaps that was her downfall?

Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all. Amazon

My choice for April 2018 is something of a forgone conclusion despite the fact I revieed many enjoyable books this month – Sharon Bolton takes the top spot though for her book set mainly in 1969 in the small town of Sabden in the shadow of Pendle Hill, the place made famous by the witch trials of 1612. The Craftsman is a chilling novel, no doubt about it with missing children, an undertaker and a young, bright WPC anxious to do her best.

We also see the fallout of the murders thirty years later when WPC Florence Lovelady returns to the town to attend the funeral of Larry Glassbrook a coffin maker. Sharon Bolton manages to keep the two versions of the woman completely in sync without losing any of the comparable innocence of the earlier time period. A stunning novel which is seared onto my memory.

Blurb

Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play? Amazon

If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for March 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018

Posted in Challenge

My Name In Books

I saw this tag on many blogger’s sites in the summer and decided to have a go for myself – I decided to pick favourite reads of all time – I confess, my biggest problem was finding four books that started with the letter O, but I finally located those that deserved a place!

So without further ado I give you CLEOPATRA LOVES BOOKS, in books

Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

One of my favourite books from childhood

Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

My favourite read by this author who injects so much humour into this dark tale

Emil and the Detectives – Erich Kastner

Possibly my very first introduction to crime fiction where Emil and his friends catch a thief

Out of the Silence – Wendy James

A fantastic combination of fact and a historical crime

Precious Thing – Colette McBeth

One of those books I simply couldn’t stop reading

A Judgement in Stone – Ruth Rendell

The best opening line – “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write“.

Thursday’s Child – Noel Streatfeild

My favourite book from childhood – Margaret was my heroine, I read this book hundred’s of time although it sadly out of print now.

Rubbernecker – Belinda Bauer

A sensitive piece of crime fiction featuring a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome

Asta’s Book – Barbara Vine

My favourite of the psychological fiction books written by Ruth Rendell under the name of Barbara Vine which depicts Asta’s life from the turn of the twentieth century.

Cleopatra

 

Like This Forever – S.J. Bolton

The third in the brilliant Lacey Flint series

Only the Innocent – Rachel Abbot

A relatively new addition to my must read list of authors and a fellow channel islander, this is the author’s first novel

Victorian Murderesses – Mary S Hartman

Although published in 1976, this is a fascinating look at the social lives of women during the late nineteenth, early twentieth century as well as detailing some historical crimes.

Evil Games – Andrea Marsons

A fabulous new series which has a complex plot and is backed up by well-formed characters.

Shadow Baby – Margaret Forster

Probably the book I have re-read most as an adult, a well told dual time-line tale, well researched and totally captivating.

Loves

Burnt Paper Sky – Gillian McMillan

A fresh and innovative debut

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe – Agatha Christie

There simply can’t be a list which doesn’t feature the amazing Agatha Christie so while this isn’t her best novel, it did start with an O

One Last Dance – Judith Lennox

A historical saga set during the First World War, this is a story of sibling rivalry and a grand house.

Keep Your Friends Close – Paula Daly

Domestic noir at its best

Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the sheer brilliance of this book

Books

Posted in Books I have read

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books published in 2014

2014 was a fantastic reading year for me although even I was shocked to see that I’d marked a whopping 42 books as 5 star reads this year!  Yes that’s quite a lot but to be honest I award stars on instinct when I review and (conceitedly) assume those who look at my reviews read the words, rather than depend on this arbitrary system.  One reason I enjoy choosing my Top 10 is because it is interesting to see whether on reflection this instinctive scoring holds true for me.  Surprisingly it does and I didn’t feel I had to downgrade any of my choices this year but for those of you who assume I ponder and deliberate and weigh up the merits of one five star read against another, I’m sorry, I don’t.

Fortunately as this post concentrates on books published in 2014, I’ve been able to remove a few of my choices, but as you can imagine it was quite a task to get the list whittled down to just 10.  As a compromise some books that I love were featured on my blog post Reading and Reviewing in 2014 !

As regular visitors are aware I read a lot about crime fiction although I dip my toes in other genres from time to time. To help with the decision making I have decided to pick the best from some other genres too starting with Historical Fiction. The winner this year is my most recent five star review

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests

What can I say, beautiful engaging writing, three-dimensional characters, great period detail and…. a crime! This book has a slow start but don’t let that fool you, I had to slow down my reading towards the end as I didn’t want the story to end. Set in the early 1920’s Sarah Waters captures the herald of change with the classes and the genders having to adapt to a new way of life.

My Non-Fiction choice isn’t strictly a book that was published in 2014, that originally occurred back in 1974 but it was republished in 2014 (and this is my blog so my rules!)

Victorian Murderesses by Mary S. Hartman

Victorian Murderesses

This book looks at Middle Class Victorian Murderesses in the United Kingdom and France during the Victorian period. It is far more than a recap of the crimes as the author makes a link between the time, place and class of woman to commentate on women’s lives during this period. A fascinating and far more scholarly work than I anticipated.

My Surprise Find of the year:

Interlude by Rupert Smith

Interlude

I don’t know what made me choose this book, but I’m so glad I did. Told between past and present this has a book in a book, historical details and a cast of characters whose actions are at times reprehensible but who are entirely human made up of good points as well.

A Slow Burner of a novel award goes to:

That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler

That Dark Remembered Day

This superbly written book invites the reader to absorb every word as it lays the groundwork for what happened on the day in question. The groundwork begins in 1983, the year I became a teenager and the details took me right back to that era. It’s no coincidence that Tom Vowler’s debut novel What Lies Within made my top ten listing for 2013 with this almost understated but perceptive writing.

Best Debut Novel:

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Unravelling Oliver

One of my favourite types of novel that concentrate on the why of a mystery rather than the who. Unravelling Oliver peels back the layers of the man who starts this book by saying ‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’ The multitude of narrators that have interacted with Oliver through his life create a satisfactory background to the man and it isn’t as straightforward as you may imagine.

Favourite book from an established Crime Series. This was a tough one as all the latest books from series I follow, especially Sharon Bolton’s and Peter James’ produced great books this year, however my final choice for this category features Maeve Kerrigan

The Kill by Jane Casey

The Kill

DC Maeve Kerrigan is caught up in a spate of police killings in the fifth in this series. Once again Jane Casey gets the balance of the police investigation to the personal lives of the characters we know and love (I admit to a little crush on DI Josh Derwent) with a story that is told at the perfect pace. If you haven’t read this series I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Best Start to a New Crime Series goes to a series that features another woman, Detective Grace Fisher, a crime reporter and missing students.

Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey

Good Girls Don't Die

There was so much to love in this book, a great plot multiple storylines, well-rounded characters all backed up by a decent plot, in fact there was so much going on in this book to enjoy I felt like I’d read a banquet of a book by the time I’d finished.

There were two New to me author’s whose books were so good I had to read more – and after tossing a coin between the winner and Colette McBeth I award this one to:

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

Keep Your Friends Close

This choice is another book peopled by well-rounded, if flawed characters. Natty’s husband Sean falls in love with her friend Eve but it appears that this isn’t the first time Eve has behaved in this way, the fallout is spectacular.. After reading this book I immediately bought a copy of Just What Kind of Mother Are You? which was equally as good.

My final two choices are simply two excellent books that I loved and have recommended far and wide ever since I read them.

The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place

When a boy is found murdered in the grounds of an exclusive girl’s school the police need to penetrate the secretive world of teenage girls, not a task for the faint-hearted. Not only does this book have all the requisite ingredients for a great read; characters, plot and pace, it is also an enormously fun read, so much so I dubbed it ‘Mallory Towers for Grown Ups’

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Little Lies

Another book set in a school, this time in a primary school and the action takes place at a fund-raiser. Liane Moriarty has created such wonderful characters, brilliant dialogue and the most bizarre murder scene ever. This is a book that packs a punch with much more lurking beneath the seemingly light exterior.  This author also made my 2013 top 10 list with The Husband’s Secret.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my personal favourites of 2014 and I hope you all find books to love in 2015.

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

Keep Your Friends Close – Paula Daly

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

 

Open the book and meet the rather intimidating, woman who is Natty Wainwright whose marriage is so successful she runs an upmarket hotel with her husband Sean. Married young, the couple have two teenage daughters, Alice and Felicity and an enviable lifestyle completed by a beautiful home and expensive cars.

Dr Eve Dalladay; beautiful and always perfectly dressed she is also successful psychologist with her own practice and is one of Natty’s oldest friends. Eve is visiting when Natty gets the phone call which changes everything; Felicity is in hospital in France. Eve generously offers to stay and help the couple out by keeping an eye on Alice for a couple of days while Natty makes the trip to care for her youngest daughter. By the time Natty returns Sean has fallen in love and Eve is ensconced at the hotel. It isn’t long before she receives a letter stating that Eve has done this before.

Sorry to scatter this review with clichés but this book is a real page-turner and an absolute compulsive read so that each time I came to the end of a relatively short chapter, I had to read ‘just one more!’ I wanted to know how both Natty and Eve would play their respective hands and Natty’s realistic reaction to being told that her best friend and her husband were an item made me root for her throughout the book despite the fact that she clearly wasn’t some perfect woman who’d never done anything wrong. Paula Daly has created a book made up of flawed characters including some wonderful secondary ones; my favourites being the Policewoman Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Jackie as well as Natty’s father Ken. These true to life people served to add another layer of enjoyment to the story. The only character who appeared a little indistinct was Sean, but without giving any spoilers by the time I had read to the end I think that maybe the author was trying to show us just how insignificant he was to the drama…

Since reading this I am definitely going to find time to read the author’s debut What Kind of Mother Are You? which has been on my TBR for far too long!

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK in return for this review.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (April 23)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips who created this labour of love based upon the true life tale of a man who preyed on American ladies in the early 1930’s using the personal columns as a way of making contact.  This is a book of two halves, the first where we meet Asta Eichner and her family, the second where we follow the investigation from the point of view of Emily Thornhill a reporter on The Tribune.

Quiet Dell

I have just finished Before You Die by Samantha Hayes where DI Lorraine Fisher returns to her home town for a break with her sister only to get involved in what at first sight, appears to be a new spate of suicides.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Before You Die

Next I am going to be reading Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly which I’m really looking forward to, after all what would you do if your friend stole your life?

Keep Your Friends Close

Blurb

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

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (April 11)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

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

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

Want You Dead

Blurb

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

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

Keep Your Friends Close

Blurb

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

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

The Telling Error

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

The End of the Affair
Blurb

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

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

What have you found this week?