Posted in Books I have read

Take Three Shorts

Short stories which link to other books seems to be a fairly new phenomenon but one I have to admit I was a bit suspicious of – surely the book itself should be enough? Do we really need another part to complete our reading experience?

In the interest of science I have put three to the test!

First up is Case 48: The Kidnapping of Isaiah Rae by Emma Kavanagh which was published shortly before the author’s latest novel The Missing Hours – this short is currently free and runs to 35 pages. Case 48 features Selena and Ed Cole, from The Missing Hours .

Case 48

When Elliot, the son of an electronics corporation CEO, is kidnapped and held for ransom, Selena and Ed are brought in to act as liasons. To make sure things run smoothly. To make sure Elliot comes home.
But when Selena discovers that Elliot’s biological mother was recently released from prison, things soon become more complicated, and more deadly, than they can possibly imagine … Amazon

Although this features two of the characters from the novel this is an entirely standalone story, and a good one at that. This short story, would give the reader insight into the work of those who work for the insurance company in kidnap and ransom demands. If like me you had no idea this industry existed, this story may just be the introduction you need to see if you’d enjoy a full length novel in this area.

Flourish.jpg

My second short is The Intruder at Number 40 by Louise Candlish, an author I was delighted to discover from the book this is linked to; The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. This short comes in at 33 pages and is currently 49p and features Amber Fraser of the title…

The Intruder at Number 40

He sold 40 Lime Park Road months ago. So why is he still visiting the house?
Ryan Steer is an estate agent in property hotspot Lime Park, gatekeeper to a growing population of well-heeled families and affluent couples attracted by the area’s promise of a tranquil suburban lifestyle. To be honest, the houses sell themselves, and when Ryan hands over the keys to his vendors he usually wishes them well and loses their faces in the crowd. Until Jeremy and Amber Fraser, that is. For there is something about Mrs Fraser that gets under his skin, something that causes illicit thoughts, thoughts that lead to actions – secret, forbidden ones.
But if ever a woman was worth the risk, it is Amber Fraser. Amazon

The Intruder at Number 40 was released earlier this year in the run up to the authors fantastic tale The Swimming Pool, so perhaps the idea was to get the authors name in the forefront of the readers mind in readiness. Again this was an enjoyable enough story, but apart from the house at Lime Grove, the very one the Frasers departed from, there isn’t anything in this book that adds to what we already know from reading the full-length novel, this was rather a stand alongside type of read. For me the book was just long enough for the tale it told, which would certainly make me wary of estate agents!

Flourish.jpg

My last choice was Here be Dragons by Sharon Bolton with a short story featuring two of my favourite characters Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury and ties in with the end of A Dark and Twisted Tide, which was the fourth in the Lacey Flint series. This short story comes in at about double the length of the previous two and is currently priced at £1.99.

Here Be Dragons

There must be a thousand people in the vicinity of Westminster Bridge on this beautiful evening . . . in approximately thirty minutes’ time, many of them will be dead.
Mark Joesbury, of Scotland Yard’s Covert Operations Unit, is undercover. Embroiled in a terrorist gang’s plans for a deadly attack at the heart of the capital, he’s risking everything to stop them. But as they prepare to target London’s most iconic landmarks, it’s no longer just countless strangers he’s fighting to save. Because they’ve also got the woman he loves, DC Lacey Flint… Amazon

Here Be Dragons is my favourite of all three of the shorts because it does add something to the end of the last story. Maybe this is a sweetener for those of us who were hoping for another episode of Lacey Flint – although personally my disappointment has been assuaged by the new standalone book, Daisy In Chains which is going to be published next month. In this book we get to hear what Mark Joesbury is doing while he is missing from Lacey’s life – and the longer length mean that there is time for some proper thrills! I’m so glad I read this one and fully recommend it for all lovers of Lacey Flint.

Flourish.jpg

So three very different shorts all from my favourite authors with somewhat mixed results but perhaps nowhere near as negative as I feared. I’m not a huge fan of short stories and I was a little wary of feeling that I’d been conned into buying a book that I wouldn’t find satisfying. That didn’t happen with any of these books but perhaps it isn’t so surprising that I most enjoyed the longest offering. I also got an awful lot of enjoyment from meeting up with old favourite characters, far more than I expected. My conclusion is that for a quick read then a story that links with a much loved book may well be the way to go!

The Missing HoursThe Sudden Departrure of the FrasersA Dark and Twisted Tide NG

 

What do you think about short stories specifically written to tie-in with full-length novels?

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

The Swimming Pool – Louise Candlish

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

The Swimming Pool gets my recommendation as a must-read novel of the summer, preferably by your own swimming pool, the sounds and the smells enhancing the wonderful backdrop to this scary tale about female friendship.

When previously staid, middle-aged teacher Natalie Steele hears that the swimming pool near her home has been renovated, she’s anxious. Her daughter Molly has an extreme water phobia after all and a pool isn’t going to help. But, all too soon she is drawn to it, to the exclusion of pretty much everything and everyone else, well everyone that is except her new best friend Lara. Lara Faulkner is confident and glamorous as befits her former life as an actress, and the more sceptical in Natalie’s circle wonder what the attraction is? The fact that from Natalie’s perspective that there is an attraction is not in doubt! As the summer holiday unfolds Natalie begins to question all that she held most dear and for a while, wishes that the summer could last forever!

Natalie is a compelling character, she is typical of her generation, living in a rented apartment because following an early marriage to her husband Ed they didn’t manage to get on the property ladder at the right time. Theirs is a typical family, hard-working if a bit earnest they have adapted their early ideals to make a comfortable and safe life for their daughter Molly. Molly’s phobia has obviously become a huge issue, particularly for Natalie and the scenes where Natalie realises that Molly no longer needs her protection in the way she used to really resonated with my experience of parenting an early teen.

This is a clever tale that slowly unfolds in front of us over the course of one summer holiday. The way that Natalie is drawn to Lara obviously foretells something awful but quite what is the question. This feeling is mirrored by the writing which is nothing but foreboding with the heat and the tension rising of each and every page, I really felt myself pulled into the story. Like the onlookers in Natalie’s circle including her husband, fellow teacher, Ed, I was wondering what is behind the friendship and what the autumn would look like for all concerned.

But this book isn’t just about this summer, we know that Natalie had a summer of madness many years earlier and as the tale of a different more murky natural pool, the setting for adolescent life in the 1985. The mystery is what does this long ago summer have to do with anything, except the haunting of Natalie as she relives her actions from that time.

The dénouement is brutal as the secrets that have been half-hidden are revealed following an explosive end of summer party held at the Lido and by the time it came I wasn’t quite sure what to believe. A truly captivating end to a wonderfully readable novel.

Louise Candlish takes a believable situation and clouds the underbelly in shadow. So I suggest that you go set up your sun-lounger and prepare to be entertained by the characters, setting and a plot that swirls like a whirlpool!

I was lucky enough to receive my copy for review from Lovereading, The Swimming Pool will be published on 5 May 2016 by Penguin UK.

I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to read this book as I loved The Sudden Departure of the Frasers last year, so much so that I have also read The Disappearance of Emily Marr, both of which I highly recommend. Luckily Louise Candlish has a large back-catalogue to explore and I have another in reserve on the TBR.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 23)

This Week In Books

Hosted by 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

I am currently reading The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood a quirky tale with an interesting voice

The One in a Million Boy

Blurb

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.
The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…
Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.
Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete . . Amazon

My latest read is The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann which is dense but a really interesting look at poisoners and those who tried to detect the poison for court cases.

The Secret Poisoner

Blurb

Murder by poison alarmed, enthralled, and in many ways encapsulated the Victorian age. Linda Stratmann’s dark and splendid social history reveals the nineteenth century as a gruesome battleground where poisoners went head-to-head with authorities who strove to detect poisons, control their availability, and bring the guilty to justice. She corrects many misconceptions about particular poisons and documents how the evolution of issues such as marital rights and the legal protection of children impacted poisonings. Combining archival research with a novelist’s eye, Stratmann charts the era’s inexorable rise of poison cases both shocking and sad.

Next I plan on reading The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish which is due to be published on 5 May 2016

The Swimming Pool

For the synopsis and excerpts please see yesterday’s post

So all I need now is some time to read these beauties – What are you reading this week? Please do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 22)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My chosen book for this week is The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish which will be published on 5 May 2016.

The Swimming Pool

Blurb

It’s summer, and for teachers Ed and Natalie Steele this means six weeks off work with their young daughter Molly. Their lives are predictable and uncomplicated — or at least they were until they meet the Faulkners.
Suddenly, glamorous Lara Faulkner, a former actress leading an eccentrically lavish lifestyle, is taking Natalie under her wing and the stability of summer takes an exciting turn.
But are there hidden motives behind this new friendship? And when the end-of-summer party at the lido is cut short by a blackout, Natalie realizes that she’s been kept in the dark all along. Goodreads

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

I am running through the streets of Elm Hill.
It is late evening, summer’s end, and the streetlamps burn synthetic holes in the darkening sky. Deep in the rack of streets on the east side of the park, the mild air feels hostile, the near-silence thunderous.

Chapter 1
31 August 2015, 12.15am

She coughs in her sleep.
I spring to her bedside to check that her chest is rising and falling as it should, that her pulse is steady and skin warmed. In the dimmed light, I can see the vestiges of stickers glued on the headboard in younger years, pictures of kittens and ponies and love hearts; all things nice.
Children grow and it strikes the parents at both miracle and loss.

Please note that these excerpts comes from a proof copy

I’m intrigued but then I’m a fan of this author after loving The Sudden Departure of the Frasers last year…


Would you read on? Please leave your comments and links in the comments box below

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (March 19)

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… since I last did one of these posts I have quite a selection to share with you all this week, but I think you’ll agree they are all worthy additions to the stack!

First up the NetGalley offerings, in no particular order:

A timely addition given my fascination with Victorian poisoners illustrated in my reviews of Last Woman Hanged and Mrs Maybrick I now have a whole century of them in The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann which will be published on 22 March 2016.

The Secret Poisoner

Blurb

Murder by poison alarmed, enthralled, and in many ways encapsulated the Victorian age. Linda Stratmann’s dark and splendid social history reveals the nineteenth century as a gruesome battleground where poisoners went head-to-head with authorities who strove to detect poisons, control their availability, and bring the guilty to justice. She corrects many misconceptions about particular poisons and documents how the evolution of issues such as marital rights and the legal protection of children impacted poisonings. Combining archival research with a novelist’s eye, Stratmann charts the era’s inexorable rise of poison cases both shocking and sad. NetGalley

I have a psychological thriller in the shape of The Missing by C.L. Taylor, an author who has proved herself to me with The Accident and The Lie so my hopes are high for this addition out on 7 April 2016.

The Missing cl

Blurb

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them.
But should you…?
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.
Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.
A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?
Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide… NetGalley

I have also been lucky enough to get a copy of Kindred by Steve Robinson, the author who created Jefferson Tayte, a genealogist who uncovers historical mysteries whilst often facing some level of danger in the present, this is his fifth outing. Kindred will be published on 12 April 2016

Kindred

Blurb

Jefferson Tayte is good at finding people who don’t want to be found. For years he has followed faint genealogical trails to reunite families—and uncover long-hidden secrets. But Tayte is a loner, a man with no ties of his own; his true identity is the most elusive case of his career.
But that could all be about to change. Now Tayte has in his possession the beginnings of a new trail—clues his late mentor had started to gather—that might at last lead to his own family. With Professor Jean Summer, his partner in genealogical sleuthing, he travels to Munich to pick up the scent. But the hunt takes them deep into dangerous territory: the sinister secrets of World War II Germany, and those who must keep them buried at any cost.
When their investigations threaten to undermine a fascist organisation, Tayte and Summer know time is running out. Can they find their way to the dark heart of a deadly history before they become its latest victims? NetGalley

Next up is an author whose first two books really impressed me; Mary Kubica’s third novel Don’t You Cry will be published on 12 May 2016.

Blurb

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbour town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where 18 year old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister.
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted rollercoaster ride that builds to a stunning conclusion. NetGalley

Lastly from NetGalley a book that I already have on pre-order, The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale, which I’m so excited about.

The Wicked Boy

Blurb

Early in the morning of Monday 8 July 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes and his twelve-year-old brother Nattie set out from their small, yellow-brick terraced house in East London to watch a cricket match at Lord’s. Their father had gone to sea the previous Friday, the boys told their neighbours, and their mother was visiting her family in Liverpool. Over the next ten days Robert and Nattie spent extravagantly, pawning their parents’ valuables to fund trips to the theatre and the seaside. But as the sun beat down on the Coombes house, a strange smell began to emanate from the building.
When the police were finally called to investigate, the discovery they made sent the press into a frenzy of horror and alarm, and Robert and Nattie were swept up in a criminal trial that echoed the outrageous plots of the ‘penny dreadful’ novels that Robert loved to read.
In The Wicked Boy, Kate Summerscale has uncovered a fascinating true story of murder and morality – it is not just a meticulous examination of a shocking Victorian case, but also a compelling account of its aftermath, and of man’s capacity to overcome the past. Amazon

Through the post from Penguin UK I got a copy of My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which is to be published as an eBook on 26 May 2016 with the paperback following in August.

My Husband's Wife

Blurb

It’s the perfect love story.
Lily meets Ed at a party, and on their second date, he proposes. She’s a lawyer, he’s an up-and-coming artist. They own a small but beautiful flat in London and mix with all the right people.
But Lily has a secret. Something from her past, that is soon to collide with her present. And she thinks her new husband is hiding something too…
The vows they made will soon be tested to the very limits.
‘Till death us do part…’
Perfect for readers of Liane Moriarty and Clare Mackintosh, lose yourself in the twist-filled story that everyone’s talking about. Goodreads

From Lovereading UK I was lucky enough to get another book by a favourite author who I discovered last year with The Sudden Departure of the Frasers; The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish will be published on 5 May 2016.

The Swimming Pool

Blurb

In the heady swelter of a London summer, the Elm Hill lido opens.
For teacher Natalie Steele, the school holiday typically means weeks of carefully planned activities with her husband Ed and their daughter Molly. But not this year.
Despite Molly’s extreme phobia of the water, Natalie is drawn to the lido and its dazzling social scene, led by the glamorous Lara Channing. Soon Natalie is spending long, intoxicating days with Lara at the pool – and intimate evenings at her home. Natalie’s real life begins to feel very far away.
But is the new friendship everything it seems? Why is Natalie haunted by memories from another summer years ago? And, without realising, has she been swept dangerously out of her depth? Amazon

And if all of that wasn’t enough I bought a copy of Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge, a book that had been on wishlist for quite some time but this wonderful review by Heavenali (if you haven’t already checked out her wonderful blog, you’re missing out!) meant that I could no longer resist the pull.

Harriet Said

Blurb

A girl returns from boarding school to her sleepy Merseyside hometown and waits to be reunited with her childhood friend, Harriet, chief architect of all their past mischief. She roams listlessly along the shoreline and the woods still pitted with wartime trenches, and encounters ‘the Tsar’ – almost old, unhappily married, both dangerously fascinating and repulsive.
Pretty, malevolent Harriet finally arrives – and over the course of the long holidays draws her friend into a scheme to beguile then humiliate the Tsar, with disastrous, shocking consequences. A gripping portrayal of adolescent transgression, Beryl Bainbridge’s classic first novel remains as subversive today as when it was written. Amazon

I’m so excited about all of these finds that I’m not at all sorry about what has happened to the poor old TBR – more books, more pleasure is the motto for this week!

 

 

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 6 books, and gained, 8, and DNF 1, so the total has increased overall by 1 giving a total of 172 books!
87 physical books
69 e-books
16 books on NetGalley

 

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo for 2015

reading-bingo-small

I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.

 

A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title

Disclaimer

There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves Part II (October 25)

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.

Book Stach GDFTB

‘What more books?’ I hear you cry.
I’m afraid so, because yesterday it was the annual Guide Dogs for the Blind Book Sale and if you saw how many books were there you’ll realise just how restrained I’ve been by spending a total of £9.50 of my (very) hard earned pennies on this beautiful lot. It’s ok, no need to panic, my friend has a stack to share too and my daughter, back on the island for this event for the first time since 2008 has also stocked up.

JGDFB book Sale

So what did I get? First up Other People’s Secrets by Louise Candlish. Louise Candlish is a an author I discovered earlier this year when I read The Sudden Departure of the Frasers and then followed this up with The Disappearance of Emily Marr.
Other People's Secrets

Blurb

An enthralling tale of two families who meet on vacation, and the secrets that bind them
Ginny and Adam Trustlove arrive in Italy torn apart by personal tragedy. Two weeks in a boathouse on the edge of peaceful Lake Orta is exactly what they need to restore their faith in life—and each other. Twenty-four hours later, the silence is broken. The Sale family have arrived at the main villa: wealthy, high-flying Marty, his beautiful wife Bea, and their privileged, confident offspring. It doesn’t take long for Ginny and Adam to be drawn in, especially when the teenage Pippi introduces a new friend into the circle. For there is something about Zach that has everyone instantly beguiled, something that loosens old secrets—and creates shocking new ones. And, yet, not one of them suspects that his arrival in their lives might be anything other than accidental. Goodreads

As well as choosing much loved author’s books, I have used this opportunity to buy a copy of Sycamore Row by John Grisham because I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read a single book by this author – there were loads to choose from so I hoped I picked a good one and then got home and discovered this is a sequel to A Time To Die and I’d missed the great big writing on the cover telling me so! Oh well, hopefully it’ll be an ok read as a standalone.

Sycamore Row

Blurb

Jake Brigance has never met Seth Hubbard, or even heard of him, until the old man’s suicide note names him attorney for his estate. The will is dynamite. Seth has left ninety per cent of his vast, secret fortune to his housemaid.
The vultures are circling even before the body is cold: the only subject more incendiary than money in Ford County is race, and this case has both.
AS the relatives contest the will, and unscrupulous lawyers hasten to benefit, Jake searches for answers to the many questions left by Seth Hubbard’s death:
What made him write that last-minute will leaving everything to a poor black woman named Lettie Lang?
Why did he choose to kill himself on the desolate piece of land known as Sycamore Row?
And what was it that Seth and his brother witnessed as children that, in his words, ‘no human should ever see’? Amazon

Another prolific but as yet new to me author is Linwood Barclay, so I picked up a copy of No Safe House

No Safe House

Blurb

Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal which nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents’ seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals.
But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown.
For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it.
Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn’t fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable….Amazon

My next choice is a childhood favourite The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden, a book I loved from the very first paragraph (Maybe this indicates a gruesome nature even as a small child?) It was also the first book I remember sobbing over, it really is quite sad in places.

Old Granny Greengrass had her finger chopped off in the butcher’s when she was buying half a leg of lamb. She pointed to the place where she wanted the joint to be cut but then she decided she needed a bigger piece and pointed again. Unfortunately, Mr Grummett, the butcher, was already bringing his sharp chopper down. He chopped straight through her finger and it flew like a snapped twig into a pile of sawdust in the corner of the shop. It was hard to tell who was more surprised, Granny Greengrass or the butcher. But she didn’t blame him. She said, ‘I could never make up my mind and stick to it, Mr Grummett, that’s always been my trouble.’
and the copy I picked up is in perfect condition.

The Peppermint Pig
Blurb

Johnnie was only the runt of the litter, a little peppermint pig. He’d cost Mother a shilling, but somehow his great naughtiness and cleverness kept Poll and Theo cheerful, even though it was one of the most difficult years of their lives. Amazon

The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths is one from the series featuring Ruth Galloway that I haven’t ever read so in the bag it went!

The House At Seas End

Blurb

A team of archaeologists, investigating coastal erosion on the north Norfolk coast, unearth six bodies buried at the foot of a cliff. How long have they been there? What could have happened to them? Forensics expert Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are drawn together again to unravel the past. Tests reveal that the bodies have lain, preserved in the sand, for sixty years. The mystery of their deaths stretches back to the Second World War, a time when Great Britain was threatened by invasion. But someone wants the truth of the past to stay buried, and will go to any lengths to keep it that way…even murder. Amazon

Having realised how much I love Sarah Waters’ books following her latest, The Paying Guests, I have had the urge to re-read the earlier ones so I also have a copy of Fingersmith to read.

Fingersmith

Blurb

Divided into three parts, the tale is narrated by two orphaned girls whose lives are inextricably linked. It begins in a grimy thieves kitchen in Borough, South London with 17-year-old orphan Susan Trinder. She has been raised by Mrs Sucksby, a cockney Ma Baker, in a household of fingersmiths (pickpockets), coiners and burglars. One evening Richard “Gentleman” Rivers, a handsome confidence man, arrives. He has an elaborate scheme to defraud Maud Lilly, a wealthy heiress. If Sue will help him she’ll get a share of the “shine”. Duly installed in the Lillys’ country house as Maud’s maid, Sue finds that her mistress is virtually a prisoner. Maud’s eccentric Uncle Christopher, an obsessive collector of erotica (loosely modelled on Henry Spenser Ashbee) controls every aspect of her life. Slowly a curious intimacy develops between the two girls and as Gentleman’s plans take shape, Sue begins to have doubts. The scheme is finally hatched but as Maud commences her narrative it suddenly becomes more than a tad difficult to tell quite who has double-crossed who. Amazon

An Experiment in Murder by Nicola Upson is a book by another author who I’ve meant to try for sometime, a bit of historical crime fiction is always enjoyable and for once I’ve managed to find the first in the series, bonus!

An Expert in Murder

Blurb

An Expert in Murder is the first in a new series that features Golden Age crime writer Josephine Tey as its lead character, placing her in the richly-peopled world of 1930s theatre which formed the other half of her writing life. It’s March 1934, and Tey is travelling from Scotland to London to celebrate what should be the triumphant final week of her celebrated play, Richard of Bordeaux. However, a seemingly senseless murder puts her reputation, and even her life, under threat. An Expert in Murder is both a tribute to one of the most enduringly popular writers of crime and an atmospheric detective novel in its own right. Amazon

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton has been on my wishlist for an absolute age so I was delighted to find a copy of this begging to be taken to a good home!

The Rehearsal

Blurb

A high-school sex scandal jolts a group of teenage girls into a new awareness of their own potency and power. The sudden and total publicity seems to turn every act into a performance and every platform into a stage. But when the local drama school decides to turn the scandal into a show, the real world and the world of the theatre are forced to meet, and soon the boundaries between private and public begin to dissolve. “The Rehearsal” is an exhilarating and provocative novel about the unsimple mess of human desire, at once a tender evocation of its young protagonists and a shrewd expose of emotional compromise. Amazon

I have been drooling over the display of British Library Crime Classics in our local store for some time but so far have limited myself to a single volume (as yet unread) so when I spied a copy of Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon it was a done deal!

Mystery in White

Blurb

‘The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house.’ On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea – but no one is at home. Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst. Amazon

And last but in no means least, I have been searching at the book sale for at least four years for a decent copy of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, this year I triumphed!
And then there were none

Blurb

Agatha Christie’s world-famous mystery thriller, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again…and again…Amazon

So I’m off now to try and sort out a new home for these extra additions and I’ve decided that since I have so many books on the TBR I really need to catalogue them! Happy reading from one very contented bookworm!

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

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

20 books of summer logo

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Sudden Departure of the Frasers which was published by this author earlier this year, I was thrilled to find that there was a back-catalogue to explore with high-praise being bestowed on this book. Like Lisa Jewell’s books, it is easy to be thrown by the pretty, girly cover and assume this is a light and fluffy story, it isn’t, there are disturbing and dark issues but it does share that readable quality which easily has you rooting for a character.

In a small French town Tabby has become desperate, she has a broken heart and is pondering on some home truths and now she’s travelled from Paris to this unknown, quiet town with no money on a whim. She needs to go home, but is reluctant, she needs to earn money but her French is weak at best, but most of all she needs somewhere to sleep.

Emmie is virtually a hermit venturing out only to work so was it fate that bought Tabby to her door. Although Emmie is reluctant to speak of her own troubles, she is inquisitive about Tabby’s life. She listens to her woes and even fixes her up with a temporary job. Emmie’s spare time is spent working on her story, and what a story it is.

So far so chick-lit? We need the inclusion of a hunky man and we’re set to go. Well there are some men, one falls into the hunky category and is unavailable but that isn’t the point of the story. The story is about Emily Marr a woman who was in every paper, on every internet site, a woman hounded for her actions! Her picture was on the top-ten lists of worst women and the news articles always garnered plenty of spiteful comments. This is the age we live in, no longer do we put people in the stocks to humiliate them, instead campaigns are run to pressurise their employers to sack them for their perceived or real transgressions. If the object of our fury is a woman it is likely that their bodies are discussed in horrifying detail while we call up the sound-bites, attention-seeking, narcissistic, bullying, selfish…. And once it has started there doesn’t seem much that the object of our disgust can do except lay low and wait for the public to move onto a new target. I am as guilty as the next person as I read (although never add my voice to the throng) the latest ‘news’ which is often pulled from social networking sites as a warning that should you warrant it, the past will come back to haunt you!! Anyway I digress… I do like books that reflect the changes in our lives and technology is a big part of those changes, whereas in years gone past only those closest to someone vilified in the press were likely to add their voices to the tidal wave of condemnation, now people can comment from the other side of the word all day long. How does Emily Marr cope? What should she do?

With Emmie’s narration being told in her own words in the past and Tabby’s the story is also one of a different kind of friendship than normally portrayed in women’s fiction, here Emmie is far more secretive about her past, only giving Tabby the barest of details about her life before France despite Tabby wanting to support her friend but Tabby has a secret too and it may just cause both their lives to unravel.

An entertaining book with some really well-drawn characters from the major to the minor, recognisable, three-dimensional personalities are a must in a book where the root of the book is in their actions and Louise Candlish has proved herself extremely accomplished in creating them for our enjoyment.

I chose this out of all Louise Candlish’s previous books on the authors own kind advice following my review of The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. She was right, I loved it so I’m delighted that I chose it as one of my 20 Books of Summer 2015! Challenge.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (July 15)

This Week In Books Hosted by 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 I am currently reading Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne Redemption Road See yesterday’s post for the synopsis and a taster from this book 20 books of summer logo I have recently finished The Disappearance of Emily Marr by Louise Candlish, one of my 20 Books of 2015! Challenge The Disappearance of Emily Marr Blurb

Arriving on the windswept Ile de R� off the coast of France, Tabby Dewhurst is heartbroken and penniless, unable even to afford a room for the night. Then she overhears a villager repeating aloud the access code to her front door and, hardly believing her own actions, Tabby waits for the villager to leave and lets herself into the house . . . And so she enters the strange, hidden world of Emmie, whose sudden offer of friendship is at odds with her obsession with her own privacy. Soon Tabby begins to form suspicions about Emmie, suspicions that will lead her back to England – and to a scandal with shattering consequences. Amazon

20 books of summer logo Next up I am looking forward to reading The Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young An Anatomy of Death Blurb

At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, not only must she prove herself, she must prove that murder treats everyone equally… After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister—fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death. For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living—especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone—including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table… Amazon

What are you reading this week? See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2015!

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Cathy at Cathy746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2015 and running until 4 September 2015, and this year I’ve decided to join her. I had already rationed myself from requesting quite so many review copies so the choices I make will be in addition to those that I have obligations to read and review.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf that I already own with at least half being physical books. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from…

The only drawback with this challenge is I want to experience choosing a book that fits my mood so I have decided to begin by choosing a spread of genre to list the first ten books for my summer reading.

Summer Reading May 29

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young

Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey

The Maul and the Pear Tree – P.D. James & T.A. Critchley

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

Every Secret Thing – Emma Cole

Dancing for the Hangman – Martin Edwards

Rutherford Park – Elizabeth Cooke

Under World – Reginald Hill

The Whicharts – Noel Streatfeild

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

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 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!