Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (May 2014 to May 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.

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

My pick for May of 2014 is The Broken by Tamar Cohen, now better known as Tammy Cohen, and this book was her first fully-fledged foray into the psychological thriller genre.

The story is centered around two couples their friendship and the subsequent fall-out when one of the husbands decides his marriage is over, Unfortunately and confides in the friend before his wife.

What follows is an expose of a breakdown of a marriage… and a friendship brilliantly exposing the ripple effect of one man’s decision. Chilling stuff indeed.

Blurb

Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.

Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.

Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger.
Best friends don’t always stay best friends. Amazon

In May 2015 I reviewed an amazing book that covered a real-life and fantastical trial that spanned from the late Victorian to the early Edwardian eras. Piu Marie Eatwell named her book The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse which also wins my award for the best title for a book!

In 1898 a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. Mr Druce had been a furniture dealer, owning the Baker Street Bazaar, a forerunner of what we know as a department store, but Anna Maria believed that he had been the alter ego of the eccentric 5th Duke of Portland. Her claims meant that Tomas Druce had faked his death in 1864 and spent the next fifteen living at the ducal seat, Welbeck Abbey in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

The book covers claims and counter claims aplenty with a hefty dash of insight into the social history of the time. It made for absolutely fascinating reading aided by accurate research alongside a dramatic and complex case rendered easy to read by this talented author.



Blurb

The extraordinary story of the Druce-Portland affair, one of the most notorious, tangled and bizarre legal cases of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.

In 1897 an elderly widow, Anna Maria Druce, made a strange request of the London Ecclesiastical Court: it was for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, T.C. Druce.

Behind her application lay a sensational claim: that Druce had been none other than the eccentric and massively wealthy 5th Duke of Portland, and that the – now dead – Duke had faked the death of his alter ego. When opened, Anna Maria contended, Druce’s coffin would be found to be empty. And her children, therefore, were heirs to the Portland millions.

The legal case that followed would last for ten years. Its eventual outcome revealed a dark underbelly of lies lurking beneath the genteel facade of late Victorian England. Amazon

There were quite a few contenders in May 2016 but it had to be Daisy in Chains by one of my favourite authors, Sharon Bolton.

Hamish Wolfe is in HMP Isle of Wight prison, convicted of the murder of three young women, fat young women. All is not lost there is a campaign for his freedom and one of the key people they want on side is lawyer and true true crime writer Maggie Rose. This woman has managed to assist in securing the release of seven other prisoners.

I defy anyone to read this book and not to be drawn by these captivating characters who are dancing a dance of attraction, but what are they attracted to? Beauty or brains? Who exactly is manipulating who?

Sharon Bolton is a skilled writer and this book is one of my favourite of all her creations.

Blurb

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is charming, magnetic and very persuasive. Famed for his good looks, he receives adoring letters every day from his countless admirers. He’s also a convicted murderer, facing life in prison.
Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rosie is a successful lawyer and true-crime author. Reclusive and enigmatic, she only takes on cases she can win.

Hamish is convinced that Maggie can change his fate. Maggie is determined not to get involved. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of such a man. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you? Amazon

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins was both engaging and memorable and I immersed myself into a story of a book about a book. There is always something absolutely irresistible in a this device, but The Night Visitor has taken this kernel and added the most memorable characters.

Olivia Sweetman is making her way to address all two hundred guests gathered at The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons in London. All those people are amongst the jars of organs to celebrate the publication of historian Olivia Sweetman’s book, Annabel, a study of a Victorian woman who became one of the first surgeons, a woman who also had a sensational personal life too, captured within Annabel in her own words. But, all is not as it should be as we find out as this superior psychological novel unfolds and the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come.

Blurb

You have the perfect life . . . How far would you go to protect it?

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything. Amazon

The book I’ve chosen for May 2018 is one that I ‘found’ through blogging. Anne Cater invited me onto the blog tour to celebrate the recent publication of The Dissent of Annie Lang by Ros Franey, and I was drawn to the description of a girl who is the youngest daughter of strict and religious parents. A hint at a stay in an asylum for her brother sealed the deal for me.

Annie Lang’s story is set in the Nottinghamshire during the 1920s and 30s when children certainly had no voice but that doesn’t mean they don’t have eyes, or ears and that the secrets that their elders and betters may think are safe, have probably not gone unnoticed.

The characters are brilliantly depicted, Annie’s friendship with Marjorie Bagshaw in particular, the two girls thrown together because of where they live have little in common and the delicate tussle of power is shown as both keep secrets when it will be to their advantage, at one point Annie admits that neither particularly likes the other.

The combination of sparky Annie Lang complemented by a varied cast of characters and combined with a captivating story meant that this book ticked all the boxes for this reader.



Blurb

‘My story starts and ends at railway stations, though of course I can’t know this yet as I clamber off the boat-train at Victoria that warm May afternoon… ‘

Growing up in a strict religious family in the 1920s, Annie Lang is witness to disturbing events that no one will explain. Only the family dog may know the answers.

Six years on, student Annie returns from France to find her beloved brother in a mental hospital and her ally, the Sunday school teacher, vanished without trace. With the help of her childhood diary, and sister Beatrice, Annie turns detective to unearth the truth.

Her journey leads to a discovery so disturbing that she believes it will ruin all their lives, unless they can atone for the past.

Ros Franey beautifully captures that point when a child can sense, and indeed dissent against, secrets that adults think they are too young to grasp. Impulsive, brave and lovable, Annie Lang is formidable when she takes matters into her own hands.

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

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

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018

Posted in Uncategorized

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2017

Once again I have awarded a whole array of books the magic 5 stars which means whittling this down to a mere ten quite a task indeed, one that I have been pondering since the start of December in fact… so without further ado here are the ten books published in 2017 that I consider to have been truly outstanding and memorable reads.

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys 

For those who haven’t heard me endlessly wittering on about this book in 2017 this book sits on my historical novel shelf. Not only is it a brilliant piece of social history depicting life on a ship at the start of WWII, it has visits to far-flung places whilst encompassing a brilliant story with fabulous characters. The closed environment provides a somewhat combustible mix of characters, all bought brilliantly to life by the clothes they wear, their chatter over dinner along with how they chose to spend all their time while their new home, and life, inches closer – and there is a mystery – what more could you want?
And for those of you who haven’t heard, I have a cameo role in the novel following winning an auction run by Clic Sargent in 2016.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina

This book is one inspired by the true crimes perpetrated by Peter Manuel in 1950s Glasgow. It’s atmospheric tackling the weighty topics of innocence and guilt whilst brilliantly depicting a time and place in a way that shows off Denise Mina’s talents to the full. The storytelling is nuanced and assured with details oozing out of each sentence, not just about the crimes but about the characters, the essence of the lives they lived and the Glasgow of that age before the slums were cleared and Glasgow was cleaned up. While this isn’t a linear story telling, it is all the more captivating because we wait for the details; the half-eaten sandwich left abandoned at the murder scene, the empty bottle of whisky left on the sideboard for the police to find after the shock of the broken bodies left in the bedroom have been discovered.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery, the protagonist of this meaty book, has earned a place in my heart. The story which follows one man from shortly after conception until 2015. With its unusual structure, we sweep in seven-year intervals into his life and then onto the next meeting new and old characters along the way. A book that is funny and poignant which took me on a journey from delight to sorrow and back again in this sweeping saga set mainly in Dublin. A book of times and attitudes which is surprisingly uplifting.

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase 

You know you’re onto a good thing when you open a book and know before you’ve finished the first page that it’s a book to curl up with. In this story set in 1950s England we meet four sisters one summer, a year that will change their view of the world forever. This is a summer that will have repercussions for years to come as innocence is lost. The mystery at the heart of the book is the disappearance of Audrey, their cousin who vanished five years earlier but this is also a book with recurring themes from the bonds between sisters, the ghosts of the past who can cast shadows over lives, the difficulties in growing up with those relationships between friends and mothers all getting an airing. I closed this book with a tear rolling down my cheek.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

I wasn’t sure what a mixture between true crime and a memoir would be like but this was a book that I picked up to feature in my excerpt post and simply couldn’t put it down again. When Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich joins a law firm in New Orleans as an intern, whose work is based on having death sentences overturned, she feels she is about to start the career she is supposed to have. The daughter of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti the death penalty. But all that turns when she watches a video of Rick Langley who has been convicted of killing a six-year-old boy, Jeremy Guillory. I’m not going to sugar coat it, the crime is awful but what shocks the author most is that she feels so strongly that Rick Langley should die for the crime he committed. She no longer believes what she thought she did and that has consequences on her life and the more she tries to understand why she draws parallels with her own life. This is a difficult subject but written with intelligence shot through it.

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister


This ‘sliding doors’ scenario is a brilliant way to demonstrate a meaty moral dilemma.Two friends meet for their regular Friday night out at a bar in London and meet a man who is slightly too pushy, deciding to leave they part ways and Joanna walks home taking the route by the canal when she hears someone following her. Now ladies, we’ve all been there – unable to tell whether the threat running through your head is real or imagined. What happens next will change Joanna’s life forever. With sparkling dialogue which is entertaining yet realistic and faultless plotting this book had me captured right from the start and didn’t let me go until after I had turned the last page.

Dying Games by Steve Robinson 

This series features my favourite genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Although the majority of the action happens in the present day the seeds of the action in Dying Games belong firmly in the past. In Washington, DC the FBI are interested in Jefferson Tayte, aka JT, so he breaks off his Scottish trip with his fiancée to return to answer their questions. A serial killer is leaving clues with a genealogical bent and it is now a race against time to stop any more people losing their lives. Steve Robinson has produced a real puzzle within this thriller! Or perhaps I should say lots of mini puzzles which require different aspects of genealogical research to solve. This will ensure that those readers who have hit a brick wall in their own family history research can put things into perspective; unless you are in the unlikely position of having to find a particular person’s details otherwise someone else may die!

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly


In He Said/She Said the story moves backwards and forwards from 11 August 1999, the time of the solar eclipse, to fifteen years later when Kit is planning to travel to the Faroe Islands, chasing another eclipse and we learn what an impact that first meeting had on all four characters and the ripples haven’t decreased with the passing years. The story line is gritty, as may be expected from the title the heart of the matter is a trial for rape and the details of what happened are told from a number of perspectives. This is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think and I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her reader and she avoids bashing the reader over the head about rape, and the trials that all too rarely follow such an accusation. I believe it is a sign of a writer who has confidence, not only in herself, but of her readers to air the important issues this

The Scandal by Frederik Backman

Despite being no lover of sports and definitely not ice-hockey this book which centres round a small town in Sweden’s obsession with the sport had me captivated. Frederik Backman writes in a style that repeats phrases and themes from one section to another so when the book got tough, and it does, the stylistic flair kept the momentum going forward while the reader comes to terms with what has been revealed. There are issues galore and normally when I say that, I’m not being complimentary because it can feel as if the author is leaping from bandwagon to bandwagon. That isn’t the case with The Scandal where the issues in the book are tightly linked to the players on a personal level. The Scandal turned out to be  thought-provoking, intelligent crime novel.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to this book by its striking cover but what I found within the pages exceeded my expectations by far. Olivia Sweetman is making her way to address all two hundred guests gathered at The Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons in London. All those people are amongst the jars of organs to celebrate the publication of historian Olivia Sweetman’s book, Annabel, a study of a Victorian woman who became one of the first surgeons, a woman who also had a sensational personal life too, captured within Annabel in her own words. But, all is not as it should be as we find out as this superior psychological novel unfolds and the intricate storyline full of fascinating detail will stay with me for a long time to come.

So what do you think? Have you read any of these titles or do you want to?

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who have visited me here on my little corner of the internet, as well of course as the authors and publishers who have provided me with so many great books to read throughout the year. I look forward to discovering new places, people and dark plots in 2018 and do hope you will all join me on my journey.

You can check out my list of reviews written in 2017 here
Or perhaps you want to check out my Reading Bingo 2017 Edition or you can check out my look back over the past year reading and reviewing along with my goals for 2018 here.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (May 10)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading The Monster In The Box by Ruth Rendell which is one of the books for my Mount TBR 2017 Challenge. I love Ruth Rendell but this book published in 2009 didn’t get good early reviews and it has languished on my shelf for ages so I thought it time to find out for myself.

Blurb

Wexford had almost made up his mind that he would never again set eyes on Eric Targo’s short, muscular figure. And yet there he was, back in Kingsmarkham, still with that cocky, strutting walk.

Years earlier, when Wexford was a young police officer, a woman called Elsie Carroll had been found strangled in her bedroom. Although many still had their suspicions that her husband was guilty of her violent murder, no one was convicted.

Another woman was strangled shortly afterwards, and every personal and professional instinct told Wexford that the killer was still at large. And that it was Eric Targo. A psychopathic murderer who would kill again…

As the Chief Inspector investigates a new case, Ruth Rendell looks back to the beginning of Wexford’s career as a detective, even to his courtship of the woman who would become his wife. The villainous Targo is not the only ghost from Wexford’s past who has re-emerged to haunt him in the here and now… Amazon

I have just finished The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins which was published on 4 May 2017 and in a quirk of fate one of the protagonists reminded me a little of the characters Ruth Rendell invented.

Blurb

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.
The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? Amazon

Next I am planning on reading The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann which was published on 23 March 2017.

Blurb

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

And nothing will ever be the same again. Amazon

So what are you reading this week? Have you read any of these choices? Do you want to?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 7)

Weekly Wrap Up

So it’s the first week of May and a whole year since I chose the new theme for my blog and although I’ve been experimenting with new ones, I’ve decided to leave it be simply ringing the changes by updating my header with a new selection of books.

I’ve also opened a new Facebook page featuring my blog posts (now I’ve learnt how to make my blog post the picture I want it to)  and other bookish items from around the web – feel free to visit me here

This Week on the Blog

I started the week with my review of a lighter variety of book than normal, The Other Us by Fiona Harper which has a ‘sliding doors’ theme with forty-something Maggie getting the chance to see what her life might have been like had she taken Jude up on his offer to run away with him, instead she married Dan.

My excerpt post this week came from The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann about a crime scenes specialist.

This Week in Books featured books from Jonathan Trigell, Peter James and Felicity Everett.

My review on Thursday was for the fabulous debut novel You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood. Narrated entirely by a defendant giving his own closing speech not only was the structure different so was the content.

I followed up with a review for a historical crime fiction novel The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young which took me back to the Edwardian period and the early forensics of that era.

My week was rounded off with a review for The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett which was all about toxic friendship within a sharply observed and entertaining contemporary fiction novel.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Little Bones by Sam Blake an investigation started by Detective Garda Cathy Connolly soon becomes something much more sinister when some tiny bones are found sewn into the hem of a wedding dress. One of the things that I liked most about this book was the three women featured all display strengths although they are all very different. This novel was complex with many different mysteries needing solving before the plot can be resolved.

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

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… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the resolution of the last couple of weeks has worn off, in part because my holiday is next month and I have already started sorting out my reading selection and of course new books are required! Other people may do this with clothes but I need at least a month to whittle my books down to make sure I get the perfect mix to take away.

After reading so many stunning reviews of The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins I was lucky enough to download a copy from NetGalley before it got archived.



Blurb

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner, which will be published in June, the next in the series from Missing Presumed which I read last year.



Blurb

Manon Bradshaw is back.
As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.

DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.

She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.
How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

And I have bought a copy of The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis after reading Natalie’s review of this book on her blog the owl on the bookshelf, which made me think it would make for perfect holiday reading especially as it is currently at a bargain price!!

Blurb

Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name . . .

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters.

She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . . Amazon

And then I saw two reviews by bloggers I trust for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, one by Portobello Book Blog, the other by The Quiet Knitter which convinced me that I needed a copy for myself, and of course this has gone onto the holiday reading list!

Blurb

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time. Amazon

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

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 4 which means we now have a slight increase to 186
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 61
NetGalley Books – 13

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (December 17)

 

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions… • What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters a book that has me completely entranced as Frances Wray and her mother get used to the lodgers Lil and Len.

The Paying Guests

Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. Goodreads

I have just finished a book with a more modern setting and the wilder climate of Canada in a story of family mysteries and the tracking of Orcas in The Missing One by Lucy Atkins.

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Missing One

Next I am going to read Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley to indulge in my love of crime fiction

Shallow Waters

Blurb

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.
Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.
But it doesn’t stop there. When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

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

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Missing One – Lucy Atkins

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

What would you do if you were given a window to a life your mother led that you’d never heard of? Could you ignore the scant information if your mother had just died and your father refuses to discuss the past? This is the situation Kali finds herself in as the eldest daughter to Elena she is sent to find her birth certificate by her younger sister, and in Kali’s eyes, her mother’s favourite daughter Alice. The birth certificate is elusive but in amongst her mother’s things she finds reference to a life spent in Canada and postcards from a woman called Susanna Gillespie.

Kali is suffering, the day before she received the phone call to say her mother was dying, she’d realised that her marriage to Doug was over, in a dark place with unresolved issues with her mother that rippled out to include her father and Alice she isn’t ready to return home to face her husband and on a whim travels from London to Vancouver on a search of her ancestors and Susanna Gillespie, a well-known artist. Kali’s visit to Vancouver throws up more questions than it answers and she moves onto the remote Spring Tide Island where she meets up with Susanna who knew her mother in the days when she was researching Orca’s by tracking them and listening to the way they communicate which lends a neat parallel to this story about families and the ties that bind them.

The description of the setting is amazing with beautiful and terrifying of a place where nature rules with storms and the sea giving a menacing background to the encounter with Susannah. The characters are realistic although not particularly likeable at times but understandably so, as the story gets darker and more terrifying. The book would have been more engaging if some of the repetition had been reduced which although I’m sure was written to underline the reluctance of everyone around Kali to give up their secrets just became a little annoying, especially in a book of 569 pages. The descriptions of the orcas, the excitement of finding and researching the pods was extremely well-researched but again could have been condensed especially as Elena’s character also suffered from repetitive thinking, however when the action kicks in you may well find yourself on the edge of your seat like I did.

If you like your mysteries to have a personal element then this book about family secrets certainly has a different, if quite scary, backdrop, which included some fascinating information about the amazing orcas that are designed to live in the sea and not tanks for entertainment.  Although quite sad in places on reflection this tale told illustrates the power of a mother’s love for her child as Kali goes to extraordinary lengths to protect her child.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (December 10)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions… • What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next? I am currently reading The Missing One by Lucy Atkins which was selected for me on the reader’s poll on 21 November 2014 The Missing One The Blurb

The loss of her mother has left Kali McKenzie with too many unanswered questions. But while clearing out Elena’s art studio, she finds a drawer packed with postcards, each bearing an identical one-line message a Canadian gallery owner called Susannah Gillespie: thinking of you. Who is this woman and what does she know about Elena’s hidden past? Desperate to find out, Kali travels with her toddler, Finn, to Susannah’s isolated home on a remote British Columbian island, a place of killer whales and storms. But as bad weather closes in, Kali quickly realises she has made a big mistake. The handsome and enigmatic Susannah refuses to talk about the past, and as Kali struggles to piece together what happened back in the 1970s, Susannah’s behaviour grows more and more erratic. Most worrying of all, Susannah is becoming increasingly preoccupied with little Finn . . . A tense, thrilling novel about a family divided by secrets, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child. Amazon

I have just finished One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie. In my mind you can’t beat a little bit of Poirot with his little grey cells. My review will follow shortly One Two Buckle My Shoe Next I am planning on losing myself in the 500+ pages of  The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters The Paying Guests Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in the south of the city, on genteel Champion Hill, in a hushed Camberwell villa still recovering from the devastating losses of the First World War, life is about to be transformed. Widowed Mrs Wray and her daughter, Frances – an unmarried woman with an interesting past, now on her way to becoming a spinster – find themselves obliged to take in lodgers. The arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, brings unsettling things with it: gramophone music, colour, fun. Open doors offer Frances glimpses of the newcomers’ habits, sounds travel from their rooms to hers, and the staircase and landing have never seemed to her so busy. As she and Lilian are drawn into an unexpected friendship, loyalties begin to shift. Secrets are confessed, dangerous desires admitted; the most ordinary of lives, it seems, can explode into passion and drama. And in the house on Champion Hill, no one can foresee just how far the disturbances will reach. A love story that is also a crime story, this is vintage Sarah Waters: nail-biting tension, real tenderness, believable characters, and surprises. It is above all a wonderful, compelling tale. Amazon

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 28)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

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

Well first up this week is a BIG thank you for all of you who voted in last weeks poll to choose a book for my empty(ish) December schedule

and the winner is….

The Missing One
by Lucy Atkins

The Missing One

I was particularly pleased to be offered  The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney by Amazon Vine after having seen it mentioned on ‘What Got You Hooked on Crime, Anahita Mody’ on Marina Sofia’s wonderful blog, Finding Time To Write

The Liars Chair

Blurb

Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . .
They have everything. However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack. Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David’s darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .
A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar’s Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney’s debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from . . . Amazon

Exercising control the next couple of books are on my Wishlist but so far I have resisted the urge to buy them… not sure how long that will last though.

My first choice was prompted by Marina Sofia about Research by Philip Kerr whose comment ‘a light-hearted holiday thriller with lots of sly digs at the publishing industry and writers’ egos’ had me rushing off to find out more.

Research

Blurb

BESTSELLING NOVELIST JOHN HOUSTON’S WIFE FOUND MURDERED AT THEIR LUXURY APARTMENT IN MONACO.
Houston is the richest writer in the world, a book factory publishing many bestsellers a year – so many that he can’t possibly write them himself. He has a team that feeds off his talent; ghost writers, agents, publishers. So when he decides to take a year out to write something of quality, a novel that will win prizes and critical acclaim, a lot of people stand to lose their livelihoods.
Now Houston, the prime suspect in his wife’s murder, has disappeared. He owns a boat and has a pilot’s licence – he could be anywhere and there are many who’d like to find him.
First there’s the police. If he’s innocent, why did he flee? Then again, maybe he was set up by one of his enemies. The scenario reads like the plot of one of Houston’s million-copy-selling thrillers… Goodreads

And the final book to make it onto the wishlist is courtesy of another fellow book blogger Crimeworm whose review of The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes who pitches this as for anyone who enjoys a slightly unusual crime novel, with more of a psychological aspect, would love this highly accomplished debut

The Amber Fury

Blurb

When you open up, who will you let in?
Alex Morris has lost everything :her relationship, her career and her faith in the future. Moving to Edinburgh to escape her demons, Alex takes a job teaching at a Pupil Referral Unit. It’s a place for kids whose behaviour is so extreme that they cannot be taught in a normal classroom. Alex is fragile with grief and way out of her depth.
Her fourth-year students are troubled and violent. In desperation to reach them, Alex turns to the stories she knows best. Greek tragedy isn’t the most obvious way to win over such damaged children, yet these tales of fate, family and vengeance speak directly to them.
Enthralled by the bloodthirsty justice of the ancient world, the teenagers begin to weave the threads of their own tragedy – one that Alex watches, helpless to prevent. Amazon

Read Crimworm’s review to find out more.

What have you found to read this week? – please share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 21) A change to the norm

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

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

This week I don’t have any new finds instead this is a plea for you to help me out.

As those who regularly visit my blog know I schedule my reading well in advance but I have deliberately not picked any books due out in December, instead I decided to catch up on the TBR which normally gets added to each week.  All fine in theory but as the December approaches I don’t feel at all comfortable with no books on my excel spreadsheet so I’m going to employ different methods of choosing which books to read.  Yes, I am that sad that I can’t simply pick one of a huge number available and say I’ll read that next!

I have four books on my physical bookshelf and I’ll read the one who gets the highest marks for one of my December reads. Which one do you like the sound of? Even better have you read any of these and would recommend that I do?

Please take the poll at the end of this post!

The Missing One by Lucy Atkins

The Missing One

Blurb

The loss of her mother has left Kali McKenzie with too many unanswered questions. But while clearing out Elena’s art studio, she finds a drawer packed with postcards, each bearing an identical one-line message a Canadian gallery owner called Susannah Gillespie: thinking of you. Who is this woman and what does she know about Elena’s hidden past?
Desperate to find out, Kali travels with her toddler, Finn, to Susannah’s isolated home on a remote British Columbian island, a place of killer whales and storms. But as bad weather closes in, Kali quickly realises she has made a big mistake. The handsome and enigmatic Susannah refuses to talk about the past, and as Kali struggles to piece together what happened back in the 1970s, Susannah’s behaviour grows more and more erratic. Most worrying of all, Susannah is becoming increasingly preoccupied with little Finn . . .
A tense, thrilling novel about a family divided by secrets, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child. Amazon

Every Contact Leaves A Trace by Elanor Dymott

Every Contact Leaves a Trace

Blurb

Alex is in his thirties, a solitary man who has finally found love in the form of his beautiful and vivacious wife, Rachel. When Rachel is brutally murdered one Midsummer Night by the lake in the grounds of their alma mater, Worcester College, Oxford, Alex’s life as he knew it vanishes. He returns to Oxford that winter, and through the shroud of his shock and grief, begins to try to piece together the mystery surrounding his wife’s death. Playing host to Alex’s winter visit is Harry, Rachel’s former tutor and trusted mentor, who turns out to have been involved in some way in almost every significant development of their relationship throughout their undergraduate years. In his exploration of Rachel’s history, Alex also turns to Evie, Rachel’s self-centred and difficult godmother, whose jealousy of her charge has waxed and waned over the years. And then there are her university friends, Anthony and Cissy, who shared with Rachel her love of Browning and a taste for the illicit. Goodreads

Before The Poison by Peter Robinson

Before the Poison

Blurb

Through years of success in Hollywood composing music for Oscar-winning films, Chris Lowndes always imagined he would come full circle, home to Yorkshire with his beloved wife Laura.
Now he’s back in the Yorkshire Dales, but Laura is dead, and Chris needs to make a new life for himself. The isolated house he buys sight unseen should give him the space to come to terms with his grief and the quiet to allow him to work.
Kilnsgate House turns out to be rather more than he expected, however. A man died there, sixty years ago. His wife was convicted of murder. And something is pulling Chris deeper and deeper into the story of Grace Elizabeth Fox, who was hanged by the neck until she was dead . . .Goodreads

Unhallowed Ground by Gillian White

Unhallowed Ground

Blurb

A single woman living alone in the middle of nowhere, amid a handful of peculiar neighbours and with a past that continues to haunt her–what more is needed as the basis for a thriller? Only things that go bump in the night and a mysterious figure that appears in the fields. White delivers all this and more to produce a classic that tingles the spine, just as it promises.
When a child under her jurisdiction is murdered at the hands of an abusive family, social worker Georgina Jefferson suffers an inevitable, and unbearable backlash. Desperate to escape the adverse media attention, she moves to the cottage of her recently deceased brother. Not only does she believe this to be a good way to discover more about a brother she never knew, she also feels a winter spent on her own in the country will help her get her life back on track. Foolish sentiments indeed, as it transpires, especially when a burnt doll is discovered in the woodshed….Amazon

Thank you so much for your help.

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Books I want to Read

Book Sales are Dangerous for Addicts

Yesterday it was our local Guide Dogs For The Blind paperback book sale which is a charity which I support by going to each of their bi-annual events. This year was no different so off we went to St Ouens (pronounced Wans) Parish Hall to see what we could find.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Not forgetting that I made a pledge not so very long ago  to reduce those books I own on my TBR to a more manageable level, (actually this post was done less than a month ago), I only took one bag and was really there to browse and maybe pick up one or two books…. it didn’t work, I started off well but it soon descended into chaos as I picked the below stash…

Books GDFB
An absolute bargain!

Out of these The Chemistry of Death has been on my wishlist since I read the powerful Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett as has The Stranger House a standalone novel by the wonderful late Reginald Hill and then added another of his books, Pictures of Perfection which is part of the Dalziel and Pascoe series.

TCOD books

Another great find was The Missing One by Lucy Atkins, a story about secrets, which has also been on my wishlist since its release in January this year and the intriguing The Darkening Hour by Penny Hancock, a psychological story that has viewpoints from  a Moroccan maid Mona, and her employer Dora.

The Missing One

Then I picked up some classics, these are both favourite books which I have read and loved but lost during the twists and turns of life as well as a couple of new reads for me including a couple of new Graham Greene books after loving The End Of The Affair earlier this year.

Classics

Rounded off with a cup of tea at a café by the sea I went home before lunch-time with my bag overflowing. What out of my haul, if any, would you recommend I read?