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

Moon in a Dead Eye – Pascal Garnier

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

If you like your humour dark and fuelled by a savage turn of phrase, this short book will most likely suit your needs perfectly.

In this short novel Pascal Garnier turns his attentions to the elderly and those who are acquainted with his style realise that nothing good can come of Martial and Odette Sudre move to a gated retirement village.
Odette is keen on the idea of living a life-like being on holiday each day of the year whereas Martial is a little more circumspect

All those years spent doggedly accumulating a thousand little habits from which to spin a cosy cocoon of existence on first-name terms with the newsagent, butcher and baker, going to the market on Saturday morning and taking the Sunday stroll up to Mont Valerien… Then one by one, their neighbours had retired to the Loire valley, Brittany, Cannnes… or the cemetery.

But as Odette becomes seduced by talk of a clubhouse and a pool the pair move in. The pair were the first of the residents to move into the village and the winter months was a bit of a lonely one as well as a time to acclimatise.

For the moment, it was closed, and they had not yet met nor even caught sight of the social secretary. Not that Martial was overly concerned. In fact, he was somewhat dreading the opening of the clubhouse. He had no desire to take part in pancake-tossing competitions with people he did not know.

I liked Martial!

After a long winter with Odette buying items for the new house and cooking culinary surprises they are keen to form a welcoming committee when a new couple move in; Maxime and Marlene Node, finally instead of imagining the new neighbours they could meet them for real! Perhaps mindful of the dreary winter they soon share food, drink and outings together. And then a new single woman is rumoured to be moving into the complex and Maxime for one is keen to impress.

Maxime was striking toreador poses. Chest puffed out, belly sucked in, fists clenched beside his hips, he held his breath for long enough to tell himself he still looked pretty good for a man his age. As his muscles relaxed, the skin sagged on his hunched skeleton like an oversized garment. He shrugged his shoulders and began to shave.

Léa moves in, and her new inquisitive neighbours show up on her doorstep as soon as the removal men left keen to see how their new neighbour would fit into the community. With savage humour Garnier exposes each of the characters for the shallow beings they are, have always been, the difference being, in real life there are distractions from yourself, in a gated community with a scarcity of people, the owners of these shallow characteristics become more aware of them, as well as being irritated by those of others.

A thoroughly enjoyable look at snobbery and aging while you can’t fail to miss the underlying suspense, the feeling that something awful is about to befall these poor misguided folk. To find out what that is, you’ll have to read the book for yourself!

I am very grateful to the publishers Gallic Books who gave me a copy of this book which I exchange for this, my honest opinion and have to praise the skill of the translator,  Emily Boyce, who made me forget that it wasn’t originally written in English.

Other Books I’ve Read by Pascal Garnier

Boxes
The A26

Posted in Books I have read

The A26 – Pascal Garnier

Contemporary Fiction 3*s
Contemporary Fiction
3*s

Pascal Garnier writes about the underbelly of humanity. In The A26 we meet Bernard, a former worker on the railway in a provincial French town. Bernard is dying, he’s known for a while but the time is getting closer;

Deep-down, these last months, it was hope which had made him suffer the most. ‘Bernard Bonnet, your appeal has been refused’ He felt liberated and had nothing more to lose.’

And what does a man do when he has nothing to lose? Well Bernard decides to do something that I suspect he’s been longing to do all of his life.

But this story isn’t just about Bernard, it’s also about his older sister Yolande who as I am finding, is exactly the sort of character that belongs in a Garnier novel. Yolande has been confined to her house since the end of World War II surrounded by rubbish

Through the closed shutters, shafts of light came in from the street, illuminating the chaos cluttering the dining room. A network of narrow passages tunnelled through the heaped-up jumble of furniture, books, clothing, all kinds of things, made it possible to get from one room to another provided you walked like an Egyptian,’

Yolande watches the world go by through a hole made specially in the shutter, the only place in the whole house that it was possible to see out.

Depending on her mood, she called it the ‘bellybutton’ or the ‘world’s arsehole.’

In the A26 we get a glimpse of this strange world the siblings inhabit, unsure of what caused Yolande to retreat totally from the world, often confused and still thinking she’s living in war-time but unsure exactly why she insists on this solitude. You can’t help but wonder what will become of Yolande when Bernard dies and she is left to cope – the answer isn’t a pretty one!

But while Bernard is alive he is also living a secret life but out in the open air, his wants and needs submitted to as he finds himself drawn back to the railway where he spent so much of his life.  All of this makes for a very dark book indeed as the lives of the siblings are revealed, but unlike the previous Garnier book I read, Boxes, the darkness finds no relief in a witty turn of phrase. I found this book to be unrelentingly bleak and disturbing and felt that the series of events which were recounted were designed to shock and disgust the reader, although I was pleased when the author provided an insight into the background which led up to the eventual unravelling of Bernard. As with Boxes this book has been superbly translated by Melanie Florence.

I’d like to thank Gallic Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. Apparently there are over sixty books written by Garnier and I will soon be reading one his fans recommend more highly than this one; The Moon in the Dead Eye.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 25)

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 reading some historical crime fiction, Dead Centre by Joan Lock which takes in the bleak winter of 1887 and the discontent among London’s population due to the high levels of unemployment.

Dead Centre

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt of this one in yesterday’s post

I have recently finished The A26 by Pascal Garnier, another dark and disturbing tale from this author.

The A26

Blurb

The future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945. Traumatised by events that year, Yolande hasn’t left her home since. And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness. Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous. NetGalley

My review will follow shortly

Next up is Rowan’s Well by CJ Harter, a psychological thriller that involves family secrets and friendship.

Rowans Well

Blurb

Who is your best friend? What wouldn’t you do for them? Lie? Betray? Or worse…?
When Will Cooper meets strange, tormented Mark Strachan at university he soon has cause to be thankful as they are caught up in a fatal accident. And when they marry sisters Olivia and Eloise Brooke, their fates are tied. But Will could never have imagined how strong Mark’s influence will become and that one day he will have to pay a price for their friendship. Because Mark has a secret flaw that goes to the very core of him. A secret so deep, he will wreck lives to protect it.
Imagine a psychological story that has the power to make you question all you know about family life. Rowan’s Well is a remote house on England’s north east coast, home to the charismatic Brooke family. At Rowan’s Well, the beautiful resourceful Brooke women fight to save their family and stay together despite murder and ruthless betrayal. They are confronted with events that make them question the nature of love – mother love, marital love, the love of a father for his son. And as for friendship – at Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins… Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (November 21)

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.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last three weeks!

First up I have a copy of The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, whose debut novel The Wicked Girls was a huge hit with me!

The Darkest Secret

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second fifteen years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…
Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable ‘ripped from the headlines’ novel that you will want to talk about with everyone you know. NetGalley

The Darkest Secret will be published on 7 January 2016

I also have a copy of No One Knows by J.T. Ellison because I found the synopsis intriguing and as you all know I am a sucker for a psychological thriller!

No One Knows

Blurb

The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on. She just wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Who anonymously sent Aubrey her favorite cocktail at the bar where Josh stood her up? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
As her heroine faces the possibility that everything she thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, and her husband is a lie, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. In a masterful thriller for readers who love Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins, Ellison pulls you into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows. NetGalley

Publication date for No One Knows is 22 March 2016

And when I spotted Moon In a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier I simply had to get a copy. Following my review of Boxes by the same author this was widely pronounced by his fans to be his best book.

Moon In a Dead Eye

 

Blurb

Given the choice, Martial would not have moved to Les Conviviales. But Odette loved the idea of a brand-new retirement village in the south of France. So that was that. At first it feels like a terrible mistake: they’re the only residents and it’s raining non-stop. Then three neighbours arrive, the sun comes out, and life becomes far more interesting and agreeable. Until, that is, some gypsies set up camp just outside their gated community. NetGalley

I also purchased one e-book, The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a former BBC Journalist. I came across this book on Postcard Reviews, a blog well worth checking out for as Tracy features some fabulous books, and the review of The Bad Things was so good it made me weaken!

The Bad Things

Blurb

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us? Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR I have read 6 books, discarded one as a DNF, and gained 4, leading to a grand total of 170 books!

81 physical books
71 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (October 17)

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.

My trip to Bath last week was a wonderful and much needed break and Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights was fabulous, while I was there a lady was having one of the reading spas, the depth of knowledge and passion displayed while explaining the choices made meant that there was no doubt that this is a shop full of staff who truly love books. Bath Mr Bs

One of the suggestions was Pascal Garnier‘s The Front Seat Passenger and by coincidence I have a copy of The A26 to read from NetGalley.

The A26

Blurb

The future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945. Traumatised by events that year, Yolande hasn’t left her home since. And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness. Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous. NetGalley

I’m keen to see what else this author has to offer after being delighted by the language in Boxes by the same author.

Whilst browsing in the shop, mindful that I only had a carry-on bag for the flight home, I narrowed my book choices to a mere three books! Next time, and there will be another visit, not just for the books, Bath is beautiful, the boat tour was delightful and I have never been to a Spa with a view like the Thermae Baths.

Bath Thermae Spa

The Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain is a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time and was begging to be purchased.

Testament of Youth

Blurb

In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. Amazon

I also picked up The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey, a book I’d never heard of but sounds just my kind of read – this is the beauty of a well-stocked independent bookshop, I love newly published books but sometimes it is good to find treasures that have been missed.

The Secret Rooms

Blurb

At 6 am on 21 April 1940 John the 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain’s wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants’ quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.
For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants – even the King’s doctor – pleaded with him to come out, but he refused.
After his death, his son and heir, Charles, the 10th Duke of Rutland, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years.
What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?
For the first time, in The Secret Rooms, Catherine Bailey unravels a complex and compelling tale of love, honour and betrayal, played out in the grand salons of Britain’s stately homes at the turn of the twentieth century, and on the battlefields of the Western Front. At its core is a secret so dark that it consumed the life of the man who fought to his death to keep it hidden. This extraordinary mystery from the author of Black Diamonds, perfect for lovers of Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. Goodreads

Having recently been delighted by Sarah Waters novel The Night Watch, I decided to pick up The Little Stranger.

The Little Strange

Blurb

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty post war summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his. Goodreads

Of course now the charge for plastic bags has been introduced in England (something that we have had in Jersey since 2008) I bought myself a canvas bag to hold my precious purchases and to remind myself of a wonderful visit.

Finally, but by no means last for my finds for this week, I have a copy of Lost Girls by Angela Marsons, whose previous books Silent Scream and Evil Games both garnered 5 stars from me. Lost Girls will be published on 6 November 2015

Lost Girls

Blurb

Two girls go missing. Only one will return.
The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.
When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.
And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.
Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…
Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price? NetGalley

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

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boxes – Pascal Garnier

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

I chose this book principally because this author came to my attention through Guy Savage’s fascinating blog where he has reviewed a number of this author’s books. As they sounded dark and different I was delighted when Boxes appeared on NetGalley.

From what I’ve gathered Pascal Garnier’s book Boxes was published posthumously following his death in 2010, also little birds have indicated that this probably isn’t the best example of his work, but I found plenty to enjoy, if enjoy is indeed the right word for such a grim and gloomy book.

Brice is moving to the country from the apartment he shared with his wife Emma in Lyon to the countryside, hence the title, all their lives are packed into labelled boxes ready for the removal men to arrive:

Perhaps it was an occupational hazard, but they were all reminiscent of a piece of furniture: the one called Jean-Jean, a Louis-Phillippe chest of drawers; Ludo, a Normandy wardrobe; and the tall, shifty looking one affectionately known as The Eel, a grandfather clock. This outfit of rascals with bulging muscles and smiles baring wolf-like teeth made short work of surveying the flat.

But despite the efficient way his life is hauled from Lyon to a small village there is something missing, Emma. At first Brice makes a stab at unpacking his boxes but not for long, he wants it to be right for Emma, his younger wife, a woman he isn’t entirely sure he deserves.

But women’s hearts are unfathomable and full of oddities as the bottom of their handbags.

And then we learn that she isn’t just away, she’s missing presumed dead in a terrorist attack in Egypt, while working as a journalist. Brice knows no-one in the small village although he gets adopted by a cat but his isolation from other humans aids his descent into depression, and worse, as he fails to accept the loss of his wife or to carry on with his illustration work for a children’s book. Illustrating Mabel Hirsch’s books about Sabine had been his bread and butter but Brice dislikes Mabel, Sabine and children.

The little brat, whose face he riddled with freckles for sport, was seriously taking over his life. As for her creator, he must have killed her at least a hundred times in the course of troubled dreams. He would throttle her until her big frogspawn eyes burst out of their sockets and then tear off all her jewellery. She could no longer move her poor arthritic fingers, they were so weighed down with gold and diamonds. Strings of pearls disappeared into the soft fleshy folds of her double chin. Old, ugly and nasty with it! Al that emerged from her scar of a mouth, slathered in bloodred honey, were barbed compliments which would themselves around your neck, the better to jab you in the back.

With Emma’s parents concern is spurned and it looks like Brice’s life can’t get any worse he meets Blanche, who is at best a little eccentric and constantly impresses on Brice how much he looks like her father who was also an artists. Let’s just say the story becomes even more weird!

This is a short book, easily read with wonderful language, especially considering that it is a work of translation which evokes many feelings, most of which are, admittedly at the grimmer end of the scale. I am absolutely sure I will be seeking out more of Pascal Garnier’s books as this evoked memories of the dark short stories written by the late Roald Dahl, that I loved in my teens.

I’d like to thank the publishers Gallic Books for my copy of this book in return for this honest review. Boxes was published in English in May 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (September 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’ve not done much in the way of reading over the last week – but here we go; I am currently reading The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

The Night Watch

Check out yesterday’s post for the synopsis and a taster from this one.post

I have finished Where They Found Her by Kimberley McCreight, definitely a mystery that held my attention (my lack of reading at the moment is more down to spending time with ‘real’ people than the books not holding my attention)

Where They Found Her

Blurb

The very worst crimes are those we commit against the ones we love
Motherhood hasn’t come at all easy for Molly Anderson. But she’s finally enjoying life as mother to five-year-old Ella and as Arts reporter for the small but respectable Ridgedale Reader. That is, until a body is found in the woods adjacent to Ridgedale University’s ivy-covered campus. This is a discovery that threatens to unearth secrets long buried by the town’s most powerful residents, and brings Molly to two women who are far more deeply connected than they have ever realised.
Where They Found Her is a riveting domestic thriller which offers a searing portrait of motherhood, marriage, class distinctions and the damage wrought by betrayal. NetGalley

My review will follow shortly

Next I intend to read Boxes by Pascal Garnier

Boxes

Blurb

He was the sole survivor of the natural disaster that at one time or another strikes us all, known as ‘moving house’.
Brice and Emma had bought their new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village.
He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance… NetGalley

What are you reading this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Uncategorized

Stacking The Shelves (August 29)

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!

I have a modest list to share with my fellow bookworms this week:

Firstly from NetGalley I have a copy of The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft, the latest name to be signed to Bookouture, a publisher whose crime fiction hasn’t let me down yet.
The Girl With No Past

Blurb

Twenty years running from your past. Today it catches up.
Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.
Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.
But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?
Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly

I also have a copy of Boxes by Pascal Garnier which I chose after reading a review by fellow blogger Guy Savage of His Futile Preoccupations of another book by this author, The Islanders and put him on my to-read list.

Boxes

Blurb

He was the sole survivor of the natural disaster that at one time or another strikes us all, known as ‘moving house’.
Brice and Emma had bought their new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village.
He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance… NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have another psychological thriller, also unsurprisingly and annoyingly with the tag line Gone Girl Meets The Girl on the Train, called Little Girl Gone by Alexandra Burt

Little Girl Gone

Blurb

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?
When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.
Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible… Amazon

Lastly I purchased a book based upon a recommendation to one of my trusted book advisors, Margot Kinsberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist who featured What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn in one of her informative blog posts; Pushing The Town Away

What Was Lost

Blurb

The 1980s: Ten-year-old Kate Meaney – with her ‘Top Secret’ notebook and Mickey her toy monkey – is busy being a junior detective. She observes goings-on and follows ‘suspects’ at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping centre and in her street, where she is friends with the newsagent’s son, Adrian. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.
Then, in 2004, Lisa is working as a deputy manager at Your Music, a cut-price record store. Every day, under the watchful eye of the CCTV, she tears her hair out at the behaviour of her customers and colleagues. But when she meets security guard Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl he keeps glimpsing on the centre’s CCTV. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, they investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks. Amazon

Any of these take your fancy or perhaps you’ve already read them?
What have you found to read this week? Please do share in the comments below