Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2019

20 Books of Summer 2019 #20BooksofSummer


Well once again I am joining Cathy746 with her annual 20 books of summer challenge, a challenge I have met with varying degrees of success (or failure). Normally I choose only physical books from my own shelves but with my lacklustre reading this year I have decided that I need to keep this easy with a wide variety of genres and types to keep me going…

So like Cathy from 3 June until 3 September I will be attempting to read my 20 Books of Summer.

You join in with your own 20 (or 10, or 15!), and link your post with your choices to the Linky on Cathy’s blog so we can all cheer each other on!

So without further ado here are my books:

1. The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton.

NetGalley – eBook – Non-Fiction

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905.

Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime? Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research,
Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth. With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

2. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Own Copy – Physical – Crime Fiction

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

 

3. Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

4. I know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Own Copy – Audiobook – Psychological Thriller

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.
When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

 

5. Victorian Murders by Jan Bondeson

Own Copy – Physical Book – Non-Fiction

This book features fifty-six Victorian cases of murder covered in the sensational weekly penny journal the Illustrated Police News between 1867 and 1900.
Some of them are famous, like the Bravo Mystery of 1876, the Llangibby Massacre of 1878 and the Mrs Pearcey case of 1890; others are little-known, like the Acton Atrocity of 1880, the Ramsgate Mystery of 1893 and the Grafton Street Murder of 1894. Take your ticket for the house of horrors.

 

 

6. Conviction by Denise Mina

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

 

7. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Noel Streatfeild is best known as a writer for children, but had not thought of writing for them until persuaded to re-work her first novel as Ballet Shoes; this had sold ten million copies by the time of her death.

Saplings (1945), her tenth book for adults, is also about children: a family with four of them, to whom we are first introduced in all their secure Englishness in the summer of 1939.

‘Her purpose is to take a happy, successful, middle-class pre-war family – and then track in miserable detail the disintegration and devastation which war brought to tens of thousands of such families,’ writes the psychiatrist Dr Jeremy Holmes in his Afterword. Her ‘supreme gift was her ability to see the world from a child’s perspective’ and ‘she shows that children can remain serene in the midst of terrible events as long as they are handled with love and openness.’ She understood that ‘the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival… It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.’ ‘A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War, and quite shocking’ wrote Sarah Waters in the Guardian. Saplings was a ten-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 2004.

 

8. Oustide Looking In by Michael Wood

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

 

9. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.

10. 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter

Own Copy – eBook – Psychological Thriller

wo girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

11. The Other Mrs Miller by Allison Dickson

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

Two women are watching each other.
Phoebe isn’t sure when the car started showing up. At first she put it down to the scandal around her late father, but she’s certain now it’s there for her. What’s interesting about an unhappily married housewife, who barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.
Every morning, not long before your husband leaves for work, I wait for the blinds beside your front door to twitch. You might think I’m sitting out here waiting to break into your house and add a piece of your life to my collection. Things aren’t quite that simple. It’s not a piece of your life I want.
When a new family move in across the street, it provides Phoebe with a distraction. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And Phoebe really should be, because she’s just waiting for an opportunity to upend Phoebe’s life…

 

 

12. They Walk Among Us by Benjamin Fitton, Rosanna Fitton

Own Copy – Audiobook – Non-Fiction

A Chilling Casebook of Horrifying Hometown Crimes
How well do you really know your friends?

Neighbours, friends, doctors and colleagues. We see them every day. We trust them implicitly. But what about the British army sergeant who sabotaged his wife’s parachute? Or the lodger who took his landlady on a picnic from which she never returned? From dentists to PAs, these normal-seeming people were quietly wrecking lives, and nobody suspected a thing.

In this first book from the addictive award-winning podcast They Walk Among Us, Benjamin and Rosanna serve up small-town stories in gripping detail. They’ve hooked millions of listeners with their intricate and disturbing cases, and now they dig into ten more tales, to provide an unforgettably sinister true-crime experience, scarily close to home.

It could happen to you.

 

13. Roar by Cecilia Ahern

Borrowed – Physical Book – Short Stories

Have you ever imagined a different life?

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

 

 

14. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

 

 

15. The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine

Own Copy (Re read)- Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Lizzie hasn’t seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite ‘all the terrible things’ that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results …

 

 

 

16.. The Hireling by L.P. Hartley

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Overcome with grief at her husband’s death, Lady Franklin, an eligible young widow, unburdens herself to Leadbitter – a gallant, hard-bitten ex-soldier who has invested his savings in the car he drives for hire – as he takes her on a series of journeys.

He in turn beguiles her with stories of his non-existent wife and children, drawing her out of her self-absorption and weaving a dream-life with Lady Franklin at its heart. Half-hoping to make his dream come true, Leadbitter takes a bold, not to say reckless, step which costs him dearly, and brings these characters’ tangled story to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.

 

17. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

18. The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunis

Own Copy – eBook – Historical Fiction

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.
Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…
Read her letter. Remember her story…

 

19. The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

NetGalley – eBook – Crime Fiction

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…

 

20. The Black Sheep by Sophie McKenzie

Own Copy – Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Your life is in danger – and the death threats are coming from someone close to you. But who?
Someone in your family is lying to you.

Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life.

Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed. And that her family know more than they say ….

Who can Francesca trust? And what will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?

Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (November 2014 to November 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.

So without further ado let’s see what books November has brought to me over the last five years!

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

In November 2014 I read a book which happens to fall into my favourite type of sub-genre that of fiction inspired by true crime, the book being The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. This book’s inspiration was the murder of Meredith Kercher and although the circumstances in this book were different it was a book that made me think about what I would do if faced with a phone call from my daughter miles away, in trouble for quite a serious crime.

More than this being a murder mystery it is a story that explores the often complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.

A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Amazon

In November 2015 I discovered the classic novel The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. What a wonderful book, multi-layered, very English and an absolute delight to read and I was astounded to realise that I had somehow missed out on this brilliant novel.

With that famous opening line ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ being on that line that sets the reader up nearly as well as ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.’ So I turned the pages schizophrenically wanting to race ahead while slowing down to savour the wonderful prose, even better this is one of the best coming of age stories ever, better even than my favourite to date; Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I said at the time I though this book would haunt me for many years to come; so far it has.


Blurb

When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy’s awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.

In November 2016 I read an unusual book, and it really touched my heart. In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings was one that both took me by surprise and delighted me with the affection I felt for the key characters. In my mind a successful book has a number of elements, a mystery, a strong plot underpinned by believable characters, preferably in extraordinary circumstances, In Her Wake hits these and has that special something extra too.

Blurb

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Last year I was reading a crime fiction book that falls into the grittier end of crime fiction; Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite. This is not one for the faint-hearted and even the most hardened reader will be tempted to check their doors after meeting Adam. Adam longs for love but I just want to put it out there – watching women and helping them with their household chores when they don’t know you is not really going to do it for any of the women I know, and sure enough to date it is fair to say Adam has been unlucky in love.

You should really read this one, perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon

Although I have had a bit of dip in my reading lately that doesn’t mean that I haven’t read some fantastic books including The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes, in a neat bookend to the choice in 2014’s choice, this book is inspired by records of a murder in Bromley in 1843.

This was a book that hit me hard. To think of a poor young woman, pregnant and poisoned in a privy behind the local chapel is hard enough, to realise that no-one was held accountable for her death is harder still. Elizabeth Haynes gives us a version of events that will pull you back in time and whether you think it is plausible, given the evidence, is up to you.

Blurb

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead. Amazon

 

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018

 

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

The Shrimp and the Anemone – L.P. Hartley #20booksofsummer

Book 8

Classic 4*s
Classic Fiction
4*s

Having absolutely adored The Go-Between last year I eagerly sought out another book by this twentieth century author.
The Shrimp and the Anemone is the first of a trilogy about siblings Eustace and Hilda. Eustace is the younger, a mere nine years old when we first meet him and Hilda is his older sister by four years. Hilda is strongly committed in making sure young Eustace follows the path of goodness, she is his moral guardian in all things. In fact Hilda is scary in the way she both makes Eustace do things, such as talk to an old invalid lady, which I am certain she would not have, whilst also making sure he never strains himself, being in the Edwardian parlance of the day ‘a sickly child’

The book opens with a description of a shrimp being half-eaten by an anemone and the children impotently trying to rescue it with the shrimp ultimately dying but not without it having a profound effect on poor Eustace. The author shows his immense skill in not labouring the point he is making, there is not ‘see the lesson’ tone to this part but the luminance of the writing does set the reader up well for the rest of the book.

Set in inter-war Hunstanton, on the north-west Norfolk coast L.P. Hartley renamed the area Anchorstone and the children spend hours on the beach building fantastic moats with an air of seriousness of endeavour that seems to have quite disappeared in the intervening near century. Set at the time it is, there is no escaping the importance of class, and ‘knowing your place’ with the children’s father a working man, albeit in an office, is subtly compared to the man who picks them up in the trap to take them on a day-out where Eustace is allowed to sit on the box with the driver as a special treat.

The beauty of the book is in reading about the children’s pastimes, Eustace’s illness and their relationships with other members of the household whilst at the same time glimpsing the way they are both mystified by the actions of the adults around them. One thing you can’t accuse this author of is not being able to recreate the way that children view the world, which often authors spectacularly fail to capture in all its facets. As the book progresses we meet others in the vicinity, including Dick Staverly who takes a shine to Hilda who is growing to be a beautiful young lady. Hilda is aware of the effect she has, and that there is a rival for Dick’s attention so all eyes are on her method of handling this quandary which serves to lend another facet to her character.

While the characters of the two children are exceptionally vivid, the rest of the family is far more sketchy. Their father is in turns jovial and irritated by his children, their mother died soon after the birth of their youngest sister, a mere baby. The household is completed by the stern and severe aunt who bustles in and out of the story-line mainly trying to impress the father to take more interest in his offspring.

Whilst there are parallels with The Go-Between this is a far more benign tale, so whilst a secret is at the heart of the book, it isn’t of the same type of moral nature, although it’s important enough for me to want to find out what happens to this family in the next book; The Sixth Heaven.

 

First Published UK: 1944
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages 240
Genre: Classic Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (June 29)

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

Last week went a bit awry so while I fully intended to be reading Testament of Youth, deadlines mean that I have shuffled the books and have a different collection to share with you this week.

I am currently reading The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley which is number 8 in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.

The Shrimp and the Anemone

An evocative account of a childhood summer spent beside the sea in Norfolk by brother and sister, Eustace and Hilda and is the first in a trilogy of tales about these siblings. The Shrimp and the Anemone takes place when they are children, The Sixth Heaven when they are in their early 20’s, and Eustace and Hilda finalises the trilogy when they are in their late 20’s.

I have just finished Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant a fast-moving psychological thriller which unusually has a man as the protagonist.

Lie With Me

My review will follow shortly but in the meantime you can read a synopsis and a taster from this book, see yesterday’s post.

Next up I am planning on reading Liz Nugent’s second novel, Lying in Wait which will be published on 7 July 2016. If you can’t wait that long, and haven’t already done so I highly recommend her debut novel: Unravelling Oliver!

Lying in wait

Blurb

Another absorbing, twisty, brilliantly observed story of murder in high places.
The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden. Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart. But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Fancy any of these? Please share in the comments envelope below

Posted in Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2016! #20booksofsummer

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2016 and running until 5 September 2016, and I’ve decided to join her. In preparation I had already decided not to read ARCs during June to get me off to a flying start.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own before today. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from… a whole 95 in fact!

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – fat books, thin books and books inbetween! I will post the next ten when these are all finished hopefully mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Testament of Youth by Vera Britten

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Poison Principle by Gail Bell

The Curious Habits of Doctor Adams by Jane Robins

Other People’s Secrets by Louise Candlish

You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Pictures of Perfection (Dalziel & Pascoe #13) by Reginald Hill

Buried Angels (Patrik Hedström #8) by Camilla Läckberg

The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer and I will provide (a yet to be decided logo) to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

PicMonkey Collage

Like last year there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 Books of Summer image or even a 15 Books of Summer image for those of you who feel aiming for 20 is quite frankly ridiculous. Visit Cathy to get the full details here

So what do you think to my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Uncategorized

My A-Z of Books

I saw this on Portebello Book Blog and By The Letter Book Reviews  and felt compelled to do this myself!

Author You’ve Read the Most Books From

This has to be Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine when you take into the stand-alones and the Wexford series I have devoured a fair few of her books.

Best Sequel Ever

This is really hard but I’m going to pick The Lewis Man by Peter May which is the middle book of the Lewis Trilogy – if you haven’t read these, you are missing out.

Currently Reading

Play Dead by Angela Marsons the fourth in the amazing Kim Stone series

Drink of Choice While ReadingCoffee

Coffee, coffee and coffee – I’m addicted

E-Reader or Physical Book
I love my kindle and couldn’t live without it for ease and space reasons but I now accept that I prefer a physical book

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

At the time I was in high school it would have been Rupert Campbell-Black from Jilly Cooper’s Riders although he would have been far too old for me of course!

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Glad You Gave this Book a Chance

There are loads but most recently, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris was an amazing read, one that has softened my opinion of literary fiction considerably.

Hidden Gem Book

White Lie by Andrea Gillies which blew me away with its deep and dark secrets that shaped generations of the Salter family in Scotland.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life

Being invited to join the Amazon Vine program which meant that I was offered books that I might previously have ignored which really expanded my reading.

Just Finished

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Kind of Books You Won’t Read

No fantasy novels or sci-fi – I’ve tried to embrace the genre but it just isn’t me!

Longest Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure this is the longest in all time but about six years ago I read London by Edward Rutherfield which came in at a whopping 1152 pages – it took a long time for me to read but it was worth it to travel through London’s history and witness the changes.

Major Book HangoverBuriel Rites

Ooh this is hard, possibly after reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent where I had immersed myself in Agnes’s story in Iceland where she awaited trial for murder with the Jonsson family – heartbreakingly sad!

Number of Bookcases You Own

Four but I desperately need a new one, I can’t part with any of the books currently residing in my abode!!

One Book You’ve Read Multiple Times

Margaret Forster’s Shadow Baby a book which underlines the fact that mothers come in all shapes and sizes and not always in a good way! Better still this is one of those dual time-line stories which I love!

Preferred Place to Read

If I could be on holiday all year round it would be by the pool on a sun-lounger with a fruity cocktail – reality designates my dear bed though.

Quote that Inspires You/Gives You all the Feels from a Book You’ve Read

I’m not sure that this inspires me so I’m going for the second half of the question from The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

Reading Regret

That I will never have time to read all the books that I want to! TBR cupboard

Series You Started and Need to Finish

Lots and lots, including those that I started part way through! The one I am most compelled to finish is Camilla Läckberg’s  Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck series– I’m up to book eight, Buried Angels but I think I still need to read book four too!

Three of Your All-Time Favourite Books

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to choose just three, I will but on the proviso that I can change my mind at any time to include the three-hundred books which would be a far fairer question.

Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brook

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Three books

Unapologetic Fangirl For

I’m not really a fangirl in the long-term way, maybe I don’t have the stamina but everyone who talks books to me gets told about the aforementioned Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

Very Excited for this Release more than All Others

This has to be Love You Dead by Peter James which is out later this month! Considering I am fairly rubbish at reading series, this is one I always pre-order and make space in the reading schedule for!

Worst Bookish Habit

Buying far too many books that deep down I know I will never have time to read.

X Marks the Spot: Start on the Top Left of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver, which is a ‘sliding-doors’ novel; Irina McGovern’s destiny hinges on a single kiss. Whether she stays with her reliable partner Lawrence, or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player.

Your Latest Purchase

Pariah by David Jackson, the first in Detective Callum Doyle series bought because although I have the fourth in this series, Cry Baby, I enjoyed A Tapping at my Door so much I wanted to start at the beginning of his previous series.

Zzzzz-Snatcher Book (Last Book that Kept You up Way too late)

White Is The Coldest Colour by John Nicholl which was not only compulsive reading, the subject matter was so dark sleep wouldn’t come easily anyway.

 

Reading silhouette

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (April 24)

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.

Well my TBR is now truly out of control… From NetGalley I have the following irresistible books:

From Twenty7 books who publish debut authors I have Little Bones by Sam Blake which will be published in eBook format on 17 May 2016.

Little Bones

Blurb

Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.
And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.
Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.
Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?
Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become… NetGalley

I was also lucky enough to get a copy of Angela Marsons fourth book in the Detective Kim Stone series, Play Dead, the first three had me hooked in 2015.

Play Dead

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 …? NetGalley


Play Dead
will be published on 20 May 2016 by Bookouture.

Lastly I have a copy of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena which will be published by Random House UK on 14 July 2016.

The Couple Next Door

Blurb

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.
Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.
Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.
Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race upstairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.
You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.
What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I’m posting this a day later than normal and there was a reason, that being that today was one of the Island’s book sales for the blind ,and so in the name of charity I have a few more books to show you. I would like to say as mitigation I put back a few and I resisted picking up many more!

Book Sale April 2016

 

I have a copy of The Sixth Heaven to go with The Shrimp and the Anemone which I already have sitting on the TBR following my love-in with The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley last year.

I always pick up an Agatha Christie book at these sales, it is a challenge that involves finding the best copy that I haven’t bought in previous excursions, this year’s pick is one I don’t remember (at the moment) Murder is Easy.

I’m a huge Barbara Vine fan and my copies  mainly have the classic orange spine by penguin, but I don’t (didn’t) own a copy of The House of Stairs; I did read this one but seem to remember I didn’t particularly rate it but want to check just in case it was a case of reading it at the wrong time.

So after the very recent success of Harriet Said as a reading experience I picked up the only two Beryl Bainbridge books I could find, both in immaculate condition; An Awfully Big Adventure and Winter Garden

I love Carol Shields’ writing and her book The Stone Diaries rates among one of my favourite reads so I just had to pick up Dressing Up for the Carnival, a book of short stories.

And I’m ashamed to say but I haven’t actually read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne so this is my opportunity to correct that.

It was a lovely morning, I always go with a close friend and so we had lots of chit-chat about books and other (less) important stuff, visited a garden centre and rounded the morning off with a lovely cup of coffee at a gentile tea shop neither of us had visited before – see even on a tiny island we can find new and exciting things to do!

So what has all this done to the TBR?

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 7 books, and gained, 10 so the total has shot up to 180 books!
96 physical books
67 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? Please don’t tempt me too much!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (January 9)

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.

Oh dear, oh dear… With that Amazon voucher burning a hole in my pocket it was inevitable that there would be some new acquisitions so I hatched a cunning plan; I would order books before the New Year in order to start afresh… what I didn’t bargain for was that I didn’t complete the process so when I next switched on my laptop there were three books waiting to be purchased in my basket.

Book one is one I’ve wanted for such a long time – I loved Sliding Doors and this is a book that explores the same premise and was published in paperback on 31 December 2015: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnnett

The Versions of Us

Blurb

What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything… One Day meets Sliding Doors in this outstanding debut that is causing a buzz across the publishing world
Some moments can change your life for ever. Have you ever wondered, what if…?
A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life.
Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.
The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we go through the vagaries of life. Goodreads

Silent Hours by Cesca Major has received rave reviews around the blogosphere including being featured on Bookaholic Confessions 15 Best Books of 2015, so I just had to have a copy too.

The Silent Hours

Blurb

An epic, sweeping tale of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France.
The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:
Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;
Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;
Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.
Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss. Goodreads

And finally after falling in love with The Go-Between last year I have a copy of The Shrimp and the Anemone by L.P. Hartley despite it having the shortest synopsis I’ve ever come across, I’m assured it is brilliant.

The Shrimp and the Anemone

Blurb

An evocative account of a childhood summer spent beside the sea in Norfolk by brother and sister, Eustace and Hilda. Amazon

Lastly I was delighted to open a mystery parcel on Wednesday, for once my protestations that I hadn’t bought or asked for this book was actually true! Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary is going to be published on 7th April 2016. If this is anything like as good as Someone Else’s Skin and No Other of the Darkness this will be a fabulous read.

Tastes Like Fear

Blurb

You’ll never be out of Harm’s way
The young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene.
A runaway who doesn’t want to be found, she only wants to go home.
To the one man who understands her.
Gives her shelter.
Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.
He’s the head of her new family.
He’s Harm.
DI Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl’s disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she’s about to face.
Because when Harm’s family is threatened, everything tastes like fear… Goodreads

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 2 books, and gained 5 (one doesn’t have any details to share with you all yet), leading to a grand total of 174 books!
86 physical books
74 e-books
14 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Reviewing Habit

Reading and Reviewing in 2015

Reading Reviewing 2015

Well here we are nearly at the end of 2015 and as usual I will soon be posting my top 10 books published this year – but here is a chance for those books not published this year to have their moment in the spotlight as well as indulging me in my love of facts and figures.

So far I have read, and reviewed 143 books in 2015 which add up to a total of 44,774 pages which tells me 2015 has been spent reading far shorter books but slightly more of them!  Once again I have read some fantastic books, and some that were not quite so good!

What Remains

The Life Projectdreads tells me that the longest book I read was What Remains by Tim Weaver with 562 pages, whilst I am the only person to have read The Life Project by Helen Pearson which will be published next year – it may be non-fiction but this is fascinating stuff and would have easily been the winner of the non-fiction read of the year if it had been published in 2015

The Girl On The Train

725,499 other Goodreads readers also read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins with me making it far an away the most popular book I read in 2015 and the fourth of the most popular review read by you guys!

Interestingly (for me anyway) the second most popular of my reviews was The Book of You  by Claire Kendal which I actually read in February 2014, a review that still gets a number of hits each week!
The Book of You

This House of GriefOnce again the split in my reading is crime heavy with 82 books equating to 57% falling squarely into the crime fiction or psychological thriller categories but of course they can crime also features in my historical fiction section as well as popping up in the non-fiction category too for example This House of Grief by Helen Garner which is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

 

Sadly despite my best intentions to cut down on the books I have for review and read more from my own (bulging) bookshelves, cupboards, tables…. I only read 34 of my own books in 2015 a mere 24% and not the 40% I was aiming for but I will do better in 2016! I read 10 of these (some belatedly) for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer which provided some exceptional reading in the form of Dancing for the Hangman by Martin Edwards Dancing for the Hangmanand The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, the adult novel that later became the successful Ballet Shoes.  And 2015 was the year I finally got around to reading the epistolary wonder which is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Anne Barrows. Not only is this a great read but it accurately portrays the history of the occupation of the Channel Isles.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyThe Whicharts

In 2015 I read 71 authors who were new to me, some of these were so good I read more than one book by the author in a year whereas others have simply added to the TBR mountain to be tackled in 2016 (and beyond) One of those authors I should have read way back as it probably is my top ten read of 2015 – The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley simply blew me away! The Go-Betweeen

So there’s a taste of what I’ve been reading and the reviews you’ve seemed to like the best – coming very soon are my chosen top ten reads published in 2015 – you can see all 143 books read and reviewed so far here or for a more compact view check out those books I chose for 2015 book bingo!

I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2015.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (November 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!

2011

I have long been fascinated with books that examine what makes children kill and what repercussions that has on the both the victims families but those of the perpetrator. One such book that examines this phenomenon is The Child Who by Simon Leilic which I read in November 2011.

The Child Who

Blurb

An unimaginable crime and the man who must defend it-a probing psychological thriller from the author of A Thousand Cuts. A chance phone call throws the biggest murder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. When the build-up of pressure takes a sinister turn, he fears for his wife and young daughter’s safety. Must he choose between his family and the life of a damaged child? With piercing psychological insight, Lelic examines a community’s response to a hideous crime.

2012 yr

November 2012 saw me read the very first of the Lewis Trilogy, The Blackhouse by Peter May – one of my best complete chance discoveries ever – this was long before I began blogging and was ill in bed and picked it up as a kindle deal for a mere 99p. Luckily for me the second book had already been published and I didn’t have to wait long for the final part. The Blackhouse (and the following two books) has strands in the past that link to a mystery in the present whilst being set in an amazing landscape and has a captivating chief protagonist in Fin Macleod.

The Blackhouse

Blurb

When a brutal murder on the Isle of Lewis bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. But since he himself was raised on Lewis, the investigation also represents a journey home and into his past.

2013yr

The end of 2013 saw the beginning of a raft of books published to commemorate 100 years since the start of WWI and one of my favourite’s was The Moon Field by Judith Allnatt. This is a coming of age story set in war-time and the author certainly doesn’t sugar coat the realities of this war – the descriptions of the cold and the mud, the noise and the horror were all amongst the pages of this book, whilst ensuring that this was a story and not a history lesson.

The Moon Field

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

It is 1914. George Farrell cycles through the tranquil Cumberland fells to deliver a letter, unaware that it will change his life. George has fallen for the beautiful daughter at the Manor House, Miss Violet, but when she lets slip the contents of the letter George is heartbroken to discover that she is already promised to another man. George escapes his heartbreak by joining the patriotic rush to war, but his past is not so easily avoided. His rite of passage into adulthood leaves him beliveing that no woman will be able to love the man he has become.

2014yr

In 2014 I my favourite choice was a book loosely based on a real-life crime, that committed against Meredith Kercher who was killed in Italy whilst studying, one of the chief suspects was her American housemate who has now finally been cleared. In The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton the role of a mother whose child is suspected of murder in a foreign country was convincingly and shockingly imagined.

The Perfect Mother

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.

2015yr

My choice for the best read in November 2015 was sparked from a television adaption, quite amazing as a rarely get to even hold the remote and in this instance it was left on a channel in the background. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley is one of the best books I have ever read – I loved this coming of age tale, so much I’m sure I will have to re-read it before too long.

The Go-Betweeen

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo, the hero of L. P. Hartley’s finest novel, encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend’s beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years. The inspiration for the brilliant Joseph Losey/Harold Pinter film starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates, The Go-Between is a masterpiece—a richly layered, spellbinding story about past and present, naiveté and knowledge, and the mysteries of the human heart.

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my November reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August.

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best
September Five of the Best
October Five of the Best