Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 18)

Another busy week where winter has tried to make its mark with it feeling markedly colder, at least at times.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with a review for The Golden Child by Wendy James, a chilling psychological thriller.

My excerpt post was selected from a book from my own bookshelf, The Lie of You by Jane Lythell a psychological thriller based in an office.

This Week in Books had me featuring the authors Jane Harper, Eliza Graham and Tana French.

My review of the fabulous The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes followed on Thursday.

My final review of the week was for The Lies We Told by Camilla Way, making this a bumper week for reading my own books.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister a fabulous novel which gives the reader a moral dilemma with a ‘sliding doors’ scenario, great characters who behave realistically and superb plotting all coming together to give a fresh feel despite the elements appearing in other novels.

The scenario that sets the scene is a woman is going home after a night out and she feels she is being followed. Down some dark steps the man falls to his death – in one scenario the woman carries on and pretend it didn’t happen; in the other she calls for help.

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

Blurb

It’s the end of the night. You’re walking home on your own.
Then you hear the sound every woman dreads. Footsteps. Behind you. Getting faster.
You’re sure it’s him – the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave you alone.
You make a snap decision. You turn. You push. Your pursuer tumbles down the steps. He lies motionless, face-down on the floor.
Now what?

Call 999

Wait for the police to arrive. For judgement, for justice, whatever that may be. You just hope your husband, family and friends, everyone you love, will stand by you.

OR:

Run

Stay silent. You didn’t mean to do it. You were scared, you panicked. And no one saw. No one will ever know. If you leave now. If you keep quiet. For ever.
Which will it be? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

At the end of last month we had our annual book sale on the island that raises funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind and I’m pleased to say I managed to pick up some excellent books including two by Reginald Hill to add to my collection;

Number 7 in the Dalziel & Pascoe series by Reginald Hill is Deadheads which was published back in 1983.

Patrick Aldermann, an accountant with a company that makes toilets, is passionate about his roses, which he prunes ruthlessly, ‘deadheading’ any blossoms a minute past their prime so as to make space for the younger blooms. Not much of a gardener, Dalziel views Patrick as a strong contender for the title of Most Boring Man in Yorkshire. Pascoe, though, has noticed that senior executives at the toilet company ‘gentlemen, you might say, just a minute past their prime’ have an unlucky habit of dying. And when they do, it’s all but inevitably Patrick who, like a lucky young bloom, is poised to take their place.

My second find On Beulah Heights by Reginald Hill published in 1998 is the 17th book in the Dalziel & Pascoe series.

Blurb

Fifteen years ago they moved everyone out of Dendale. They needed a new reservoir and an old community seemed a cheap price to pay. But four inhabitants of the valley could not be moved, for nobody knew where they were: three little girls who had gone missing, and the prime suspect in their disappearance, Benny Lightfoot.

This was Andy Dalziel’s worst case and now he looks set to relive it. Another child goes missing in the next valley, and old fears arise as someone sprays the deadly message on Danby bridge: BENNY’S BACK! Amazon

Another favourite author who I have a selection of their novels on the TBR is Kate Atkinson but I didn’t have a copy of When Will There be Good News so I was delighted to find a copy for my bookshelf although I did read this at the time it was published in 2008.



Blurb

Three lives come together in unexpected and thrilling ways in Kate Atkinson’s When Will There Be Good News?

On a hot summer day, Joanna Mason’s family slowly wanders home along a country lane. A moment later, Joanna’s life is changed forever…

On a dark night thirty years later, ex-detective Jackson Brodie finds himself on a train that is both crowded and late. Lost in his thoughts, he suddenly hears a shocking sound…

At the end of a long day, 16-year-old Reggie is looking forward to watching a little TV. Then a terrifying noise shatters her peaceful evening. Luckily, Reggie makes it a point to be prepared for an emergency…

These three lives come together in unexpected and deeply thrilling ways in the latest novel from Kate Atkinson. Blurb

I also purchased a brand new book, Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone having been intrigued by the premise and the reviews I’ve read.



Blurb

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.
Just as he did to her. Amazon

What have you found to read?

tbr-watch

I’m delighted to record that the TBR is simply melting away with only 165!!!
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 36
NetGalley Books –16
Audio Books –1

I have added three reviews of my own books since my last count and so even with one new book bought since my last TBR I still have 2 2/3 worth of book tokens!


Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

Child’s Play – Reginald Hill #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

No holiday is complete without one of Reginald Hill’s marvellous books in the Dalziel and Pascoe series and fortunately despite reading many of these books previously, each has been a delight to revisit, well, except the first in the series A Clubbable Woman which was horrendously dated having been written in 1970 and in my opinion not up to those later in the series. Child’s Play was published in 1986 and manages to be both an appealing police procedural with a hefty nod to the whys as well as the who in the course of the investigation.

Mrs Gwendoline Huby has died and when her will is read by the local solicitor (I do miss these formal will readings in more modern fiction) it turns out that those who were expecting the proceeds are to be sorely disappointed. First in line to the funds is her son, Alexander Huby, presumed dead in Italy courtesy of WWII. Gwendoline Huby never believed this was the case and has steadfastly expected her son to return home during the intervening forty-year period going as far as to advertise in newspapers and pay private investigators to find him. She’s not unrealistic though so if Alexander hasn’t returned by the year 2015 on his ninetieth birthday (shocking to think that was some 30 years hence!) then the proceeds of the will are to be divided between three charities; one-third for animal rights, one-third for a services benevolent fund and the remaining third for a fascist woman’s movement.

Now as coincidence would have it on the day of the funeral a man turns. He’s about the right age has a light, but relatively accurate back story, and an Italian suit and he cries out ‘Mama’. Is he Alexander Huby returned to Yorkshire just too late, or could this be an imposter? Meanwhile, given that charity begins at home, the three charities aren’t too keen on waiting so long for the promised inheritance either and determine to act to get the rest of the family on side and the money paid out, to them!

The book is deemed a tragi-comedy in three acts by the author himself, and I really can’t disagree. What I do love about the entire series is although there is the very important matter of murder at the heart of each novel, and sometimes the characters have an urge to take themselves far too seriously there is always a thread of humour to stop proceedings from becoming too grim.

Another feature is that often one or other of Dalziel or Pascoe take the leading role, but in this delightful story we really learn more about Wield, the ugly policeman who is often given the supporting role, on the fringes of the action. In this book, very fitting for the times he is contacted by a former lover. The issue being is that Wield is gay, something the self-professed sensitive guy Pascoe has never realised and there is pressure from above when it appears the local paper is proposing an expose of homosexual policemen. Dalziel, not quite being the uncouth brute he presents himself as really gets to show us the other side, because he always knew. This, given the year of publication was possibly a timely if challenging read for crime fiction lovers; it is often only retrospectively that you realise how much attitudes have changed.

You’ll notice I haven’t said too much about the plot, there is no need, it is multi-stranded and superbly executed ably supported by a brilliant cast of characters from the provincial solicitor to the young blackmailer, from the sleazy journalist to the hard-nosed publican all there to be laughed with, and on occasion at as hopes are dashed and fears are sometimes unrealised.

Child’s Play was my sixth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and Reginald Hill made sure it was a sheer delight – I think I’m enjoying this series even more on the repeat reads.

First Published UK: 1986
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages:368
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Dalziel & Pascoe Series

A Clubbable Woman (1970)
An Advancement of Learning (1971)
Ruling Passion (1973)
An April Shroud (1975)
A Pinch of Snuff (1978)
A Killing Kindness (1980)
Deadheads (1983)
Exit Lines (1984)
Child’s Play (1986)
Under World (1988)
Bones and Silence (1990)
One Small Step (1990, novella)
Recalled to Life (1992)
Pictures of Perfection (1994)
The Wood Beyond (1995)
On Beulah Height (1998)
Arms and the Women (1999)
Dialogues of the Dead (2002)
Death’s Jest-Book (2003)
Good Morning, Midnight (2004)
The Death of Dalziel (2007)
A Cure for All Diseases (2008)
Midnight Fugue (2009)

Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (June 2014 to June 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.

It should be noted there are typically slimmer pickings for reviews to choose from in June as that is typically when I go on holiday but fear not, there are still some great reads to choose from.

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

From June 2014 I am choosing The Kill by Jane Casey, book five of her spectacular Maeve Kerrigan series. It looks like book eight is due to be published in 2019.

This exceptionally worrying read features a serial killer who is picking off the police in London. The story uses elements that we witnessed from the 2011 riots in London giving the storyline a basis in reality that only serves to give it more credibility. That combined with the media and politicians using the murders to serve their own agendas only ramps up the tension.

As ever Jane Casey includes a wonderful array of characters, the plotting and pacing are spot-on making for absolutely compulsive reading.

Their job is to investigate crime – not become the victims…

A killer is terrorising London but this time the police are the targets. Urgently re-assigned to investigate a series of brutal attacks on fellow officers, Maeve Kerrigan and her boss Josh Derwent have little idea what motivates the killer’s fury against the force.

But they know it will only be a matter of time before the killer strikes again. Amazon

I am a huge Sophie Hannah fan but even given the massive expectation I already have A Game for all the Family was just something else!

Never before have I got quite so far through a book where I’m enormously enjoying what I’m reading but have no clue what actually is going on… the oddest experience and all the more delightful when everything became clear in the end.

The basic premise is that whilst driving to their new house, the Merrison family spot an odd house which resonates.

All goes well with the move he ugly house is more or less forgotten and for the first couple of months the move out of London to Devon proves to be a good one. But then Ellen becomes withdrawn and secretive. Ah but she’s fourteen, so nothing too out of the ordinary! Ellen is spending all of her time working on a story she’s writing for an English assignment and when Justine finds the first couple of pages she’s alarmed. It is very well-written, set in their new house and has more than one murder! Around the same time Ellen becomes distressed about her friend George Donbavand who has been expelled from school for a crime he hasn’t committed. Justine visits the school and is told that George never existed!

The story winds tighter and tighter and is one of the most unusual and yet absorbing books I have read.

Blurb

He’s not your son. It’s not up to you to save him. But you have to try.

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.

But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.

Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety.

If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be… Amazon

For June’s 2016 top pick I am choosing another innovative writer but this one is a police procedural. Reginald Hill’s Pictures of Perfection is one of my favourites of all of his books. This is the thirteenth book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, and as with any series they are probably best enjoyed if you read them in order although many, this one included, can be read and appreciated perfectly well as a stand-alone novel.

There is so much to delight in within the pages of Pictures of Perfection, from the links to Jane Austen both ostentatious in the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter and slightly more subtle references within the themes themselves, to the moment in history that the book evokes; this was probably the last moments where ‘village life’ could be portrayed in this manner without those who live in such places laughing at the cliché of ‘Olde Worlde Britain’ that it evokes, one where everyone knows each other better than they know themselves often bound by a common enemy or two.

You’ll be pleased and reassured to know with all the periphery views to enjoy within the pages of this novel, there is also a proper plot with a full-blown mystery or two to be solved

Blurb

High in the Mid-Yorkshire Dales stands the traditional village of Enscombe, seemingly untouched by the modern world. But contemporary life is about to intrude when the disappearance of a policeman brings Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe to its doors.

As the detectives dig beneath the veneer of idyllic village life a new pattern emerges: of family feuds, ancient injuries, cheating and lies. And finally, as the community gathers for the traditional Squire’s Reckoning, it looks as if the simmering tensions will erupt in a bloody climax… Amazon

There were a few books I could have chosen to feature in this post from June 2017 but I have decided to go with Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett because this is not a crime fiction novel of any description!

Instead it taps into the fact that music is the soundtrack to all of our lives. We all recall how we felt about those songs that were the background to early years; the songs we fell in love to and those that we obsessively listened to as we attempt to mend wounded hearts; for many of us there is a tune that can turn back the years to a distant time and place. Laura Barnett has taken this idea and turned it into a densely woven story.

Music is woven throughout the tale about songwriter Cass’s life and we meet some stand-out characters of all types. Cass’s life felt like one I could have been part of, so evocative were the descriptions and so rich in both characters and writing style. This is a book to wallow in with a story that transports its reader to a time and place far away.

Blurb

If you could choose just sixteen moments to define your entire life, what would they be?
Cass Wheeler has seen it all – from the searing heights of success, to earth-shattering moments of despair. She has known passion, envy, pride, fear, and love. She has been a daughter, a mother, a singer, a lover.

A musician born in 1950, Cass is now taking one day to select the sixteen songs in her repertoire that have meant the most to her. And behind each song lies a story – from the day her mother abandoned her, to her passionate first love, to the moment she lost everything. The dreams, the failures, the second chances. But what made her disappear so suddenly from her public life and, most importantly, can she find her way back? Amazon

There was no question about the book I would choose to star as my top read of 2018 – Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is a stunning follow up to Beartown (originally published in the UK as The Scandal). The beauty of this book is the truths that are woven into the story of a small town on the downward slide. The characters are complex with ‘bad’ people doing good and good people doing things that hurt others – I know of no other author who can create such a rich array of characters that reflect real life and create a mesmerising tale for us to meet them in.

I think these two books are among the most quotable of modern books, there are truisms that are expertly woven into a story that will have you experiencing tragedy one moment and wondering at the strength of character of another the next. Everyone in Beartown has a story to tell and Fredrick Backman tells it to us with the love of his creation illuminating the world even when its facing destruction.

Blurb

Beartown is dying . . .

Tucked in a forest in the frozen north, Beartown’s residents are tough and hardworking. They don’t expect life to be easy, but they do expect it to be fair.

Which is why the sudden loss of their hockey players to the rival town of Hed hurts. Everyone needs something to cheer for in the long winter nights. Now they have nothing.

So when a new star player arrives, Coach Peter sees an opportunity to rebuild the team – to take on Hed and restore Beartown’s fortunes. But not everyone in town sees it his way.

As the big game between both towns approaches, the rivalry turns bitter and all too real. Once the stands rumbled with threats to ‘kill’ and ‘ruin’ each other, but the residents didn’t mean it. Now they do.

By the time the last goal is scored, someone in Beartown will be dead . . .

Us Against You is the story of two towns, two teams and what it means to believe in something bigger than yourself. It’s about how people come together – sometimes in anger, often in sorrow, but also through love. And how, when we stand together, we can bring a town back to life. Amazon

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
May 2018

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018! #20booksofsummer


Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2018 and running until 3 September 2018, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read and review all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from a total of 109 although my choices for The Classics Club were discounted for this challenge.

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – a book set at sea and one in a drought, the life of a servant jostles with the details of a life of one of Elizabeth II’s ancestors and of course a bit of solid crime fiction has snuck its way in too.

Book lovers will completely understand the hours I have spent honing my choices which have been further complicated to include some faithful friends that are to accompany me on holiday.

Rest assured the second set of ten will be posted when these are all finished, which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Sanctum by Denise Mina 

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Child’s Play by Reginald Hill

Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge

The Dry by Jane Harper

Wedlock by Wendy Moore

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday as does Beryl Bainbridge, so they were always going to join me. If it’s too hot I will open a copy of Raven Black to transport me to Shetland but I’m not sure my conscience will allow me to read about the life of servants while sipping cocktails!

I recently posted a tag My Name in TBR Books and was encouraged to read Life After Life so that one will also be joining me.

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 14)

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

So onto the good stuff! At the moment I am reading A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill the very first of the Dalziel and Pascoe stories first published way back in September 1970!



Blur
b

Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel investigates murder close to home in this first crime novel featuring the much-loved detective team of Dalziel and Pascoe.

Home from the Rugby club after taking a nasty knock in a match, Sam Connon finds his wife more uncommunicative than usual. After passing out on his bed for a few hours, he comes downstairs to discover communication has been cut off forever – by a hole in the middle of her forehead.

Andy Dalziel, a long-standing member of the club, wants to run the murder investigation along his own lines. But DS Peter Pascoe’s loyalties lie elsewhere and he has quite different ideas about how the case should proceed. Amazon

The last book I finished was Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan which will be published on 1 March 2018.

Blurb

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with with, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm. Amazon

Next I plan to read Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer which will published on 22 February 2018.

Blurb

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more…

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar-and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out-she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby-maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path? NetGalley

So what do you think? Do any of these titles take your fancy this Valentine’s Day?

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Bones and Silence – Reginald Hill #20booksofsummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

I simply adore this series, it takes a true writer to pen an entire collection where each book has a different feel and yet stays absolutely committed to the chief protagonists: Dalziel. Pascoe, Wield and Ellie whilst coming up with different types of scenarios as a stage for them to play on.

The stage in Bones and Silence is a literal one with the talented, determined and beautiful Eileen Cheung putting on a community medieval play The Mystery which is planned for the May Bank Holiday weekend. Her aim is to cast Dalziel to play God, riding atop a truck through the town – sheer brilliance!

Of course it isn’t all play-acting as the book opens with Dalziel witnessing something, but what did he really see through his window? The end result is a woman is dead and Dalziel is convinced that he saw two men, a woman and a revolver. In the time it takes for Dalziel to sprint to the house, the woman is dead and her lover and her husband both insist that she shot herself. Dalziel doesn’t believe a word of it!

Meanwhile Peter Pascoe who is still recovering from serious injuries inflicted during the previous book takes a more circumspect view and is somewhat less than convinced of Dalziel’s certainty.

Of course one potential murder and a play is not enough for Reginald Hill so we have some sub-plots to involve ourselves in, including some cryptic letters written anonymously to Dalziel which Pascoe investigates. All of this gives the reader many opportunities to witness the acerbic wit of Dalziel, the more introspective Pascoe and I’m glad to say Wield gets a decent part to play in this book. And of course inbetween the police action Eileen Cheung is cracking her whip with rehearsals and cutting through Dalziel’s expected reticence to knuckling down to put on a play that the entire community of Yorkshiremen and women can enjoy.

Ellie is a little less bolshie in this book following a serious lack of judgement that put others in danger in the previous episode but fortunately this being book eleven, I know she gets her spark back later on in the series. One of the great delights of this book is that although Reginald Hill has created some wonderful characters he allows different aspects of their nature to ebb and flow. We think of Dalziel as being charmless and dogmatic but at times he is capable of great empathy which turns him from a caricature into a fully rounded man, each of the other main protagonists are given the same treatment. This top-notch characterisation along with the, just the right side of genius in solving the crime in Bones and Silence, just served to underline what an absolute treat these books are.

If you haven’t read this book, and personally I think each book can be read as a standalone although to fully appreciate the depth they definitely work better once you’ve read more than one, have a hanky ready for the ending – I will say no more.

Bones and Silence was my fifth read of my 20 Books of Summer  Challenge 2017

First Published UK: 1990
Publisher: HarperCollin
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2017! #20booksofsummer

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2017 and running until 3 September 2017, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own and have purchased for myself before today. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from… a whole 91 in fact!

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – fat books, thin books and books in-between! Book lovers will completely understand the complexity of this choice which has taken many, many hours to hone to just the right mix, especially as I have had to factor in going on holiday and therefore I will have to further reduced  the pile for the trip… I will post the next ten when these are all finished which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

 

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney

Broken Heart by Tim Weaver

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

The Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson

Midnight in Peking by Paul French

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge

What Remains Behind by Dorothy Fowler

Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday, and of course there is The Island which I bought after visiting Spinalonga, Greece’s former leper colony in Crete last summer, Dorothy Koomson is an obvious choice but is In Cold Blood too grim for sunshine and cocktails?

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.

Posted in Reviewing Habit

Reading and Reviewing in 2016

g reading-2016

 

Well here we are nearly at the end of 2016 and as usual I will soon be posting my top 10 books published this year – but here is a chance for those books not published this year to have their moment in the spotlight as well as indulging me in my love of facts and figures.

So far I have read, and reviewed 148 books in 2016 which add up to a total of 47,624 pages which tells me 2016 has been spent reading even more books than normal! On the whole 2016 if nothing else, has been a fantastic year of books for me.

 

 

Goodreads tells me that the longest book I read was Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain with 562 pages, whilst I am only one person out of five on the site to have read a book set here in Jersey,  Standing in the Shadows by Jon Stasiak.

 

101,541 other Goodreads readers have also read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight with me, making this my most popular read in 2016Psychological Thriller 4*s

Did She Kill HimAs usual my reading matter is crime heavy with 87 books equating to 59% falling squarely into the crime fiction or psychological thriller categories, but of course they can crime also features in my historical fiction section as well as popping up in the non-fiction category. This year I have had the pleasure of reading many true crime books featuring Victorian poisoners including the fabulous Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

 

Pictures of perfection.jxrOne of my goals for 2016 was to read more of my own books to get a balance with all the wonderful books I receive for review. In 2015 I only read 34 of my own books, this year I have read an impressive 49 or 33%! I read 20 of these (some very belatedly, as in earlier this month,) for Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer which provided some exceptional reading in the form of Pictures of Perfection  by Reginald Hill

 

In 2016 I read 65 authors who were new to me, down from 71 in 2016 and of course once again, I have met some fantastic Buriel Ritesauthors who I hope will be revisited in 2017, including Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which I finally got around to reading early this year – I was blown away and it is one of my favourite reads of the year so I’m looking forward to The Good People which will be published early next year, aka very soon!

 

I also discovered #49786eBeryl Bainbridge via her book featuring two teenaged girls, in Harriet Said, enjoying a Harriet Saidtotal of three of her books this year alone.

So there’s a small taste of what I’ve been reading. In 2017 I plan to finally hit my target of 40% of my reading to be from my own selection of books with the help of the Mount TBR Challenge on Goodreads and of course Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer Challenge which she’s confirmed she will be running again this year. Funnily enough I have plenty of books to chose from, especially with the Christmas additions.

 

As for you all, the Top Five Reviews of 2016 by viewer are as follows:

  1. My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor
  2. The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish
  3. Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard
  4. Kindred by Steve Robinson
  5. The Trespasser by Tana French

top-five-reviews

Coming very soon are my chosen top ten reads published in 2016– you can see all 148 books read and reviewed so far here or for a more compact view check out those books I chose for 2016 book bingo!

I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2016.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to a Happy New Year full of more fabulous books!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 25)

Weekly Wrap Up

Another horrendously busy week here, so sorry that I haven’t kept anywhere near up to date with your comments & tweets, I will get around to them all today, I hope.

Last Week on the Blog

Following last weekend’s blogathon for Agatha Christie’s birthday Monday continued the theme with a review of The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, a fictionalised account about the Queen of Crime.

My excerpt on Tuesday came from The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, the second psychological thriller I’ve read this year set on a ship, the first being Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard.

Wednesday’s post captured my reading for the week – all crime this week!

Friday saw me post a review one of the books I didn’t get to in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

The last review of the week was one of my own books; A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward which I had to buy because In Bitter Chill, her first book, was an exceptional read.

 

This Time Last Year…

Coincidently last year I was reading the second book by Kimberly McCreight, Where They Found Her which tells the tale of a fledgling reporter who investigates the death of a small child whilst being conflicted by personal issues.

A snippet from my review indicates that she coped!

A very satisfying and intricate novel which I really enjoyed, this is very much a character driven novel and although the police are involved to be honest it is lucky for them that they have someone who is as keen to get answers as Molly because they don’t seem to have much of a sense of urgency, or even the most basic detection skills.

Where They Found Her

Blurb

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 Heris a riveting domestic thriller which offers a searing portrait of motherhood, marriage, class distinctions and the damage wrought by betrayal.

 

Stacking the Shelves

Well it was the annual book sale here on the island, held to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind. Sadly rumour has it that this is the last one and consequently there were fewer books than normal as they are running down the stocks rather than adding to them. Even so I managed to add a few to the stack, all in a good cause of course.

booksale-2016An Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple – The Thirteen Problems
Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill – the only book I could find by this author, this being the 11th in the Dalziel and Pascoe Series
The Island by Victoria Hislop because I visited the former leper colony Spingola on my holiday to Crete this year
The Murder Room by PD James for  nostalgia’s sake
I’ll Be There For You by Louise Candlish for a lighter reading moment
and a portrait of Henry James written by Colm Tóibín in The Master
The London Train by Tessa Hadley, I’ve already read so this can go to the charity shop!

I also was a winner! From Linda’s Book Bag, a blog really worth following for the sheer breadth of books she reviews,  I won a copy of The Conversation’s We Never Had by Jeffrey H. Konis

the-conversations-we-never-had

Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine. Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

I was delighted to get a copy of Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch through the post with a lovely message from the author! This book will be published on 26 January 2017.

her-husbands-lover
Blurb

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start.
Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.
Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.
But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie.
And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.
Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her? Goodreads

I also did a bit of shameless begging for the latest, long-awaited book, by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly called He Said/She Said. This book has a publication date of 23 February 2017 and as you can see is still awaiting its cover design.

he-said-she-said

Blurb

He said it was consensual.
The woman said nothing.
But Laura saw it…
… didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.
Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.
When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.
As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.
But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light. Amazon

From NetGalley I was incredibly excited to receive a copy of The Fifth in the Kim Stone Series, Blood Lines by Angela Marsons which will be published on 4 November 2016. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’ve got time before the latest episode is released!

blood-lines

Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?
A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them… NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have only read 2 books, and gained 10 and so my TBR now totals a diabolical 180 books!

90 physical books
70 e-books
20 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Endings

The End

Imagine the scene, it won’t be hard, you’ve turned the last page of your book and you settle down to write your review.

How much do you say about the ending?

If you read my post from yesterday which was of the classic crime fiction The Murder of Roger Ackroyd you’ll note that this is less of a review and more of, well I’m not really sure – a collection of quotes and a brief synopsis. Why? Well the reason why this book is held up as potentially one of the best written by Agatha Christie is because of the ending, at the time the whole set up was a new idea, and although it may be not so unusual in modern crime fiction it was this device that made the book quite so exceptional. But I review books and obviously if I told you the ending it would spoil your enjoyment so I’m left waffling on sprinkling quotes on a page and not able to talk about the one thing that made the book so wonderful.

For those of us that read and review, this problem isn’t a new one, and often I’m fine with that but this is the one area where blogging just doesn’t create quite the same experience as discussing a book with others who have read it. After all a good ending is key to an enjoyable reading experience and the very bit I am not able to dissect in my writing whereas I could have written an entire post about what I thought of the ending!!

This is particularly true in crime fiction series. How do we know if they’ve ended? One of my favourites wrapped up the main story arc in the latest book – who knows if this is the final episode? Who can I ask? There have been no clues given so I suppose I’m just going to have to wait and see…

Of course the obvious way to finish a crime series is to kill off the lead detective as Colin Dexter did to Morse in A Remorseful Day and it is well-known that Agatha Christie tired of her little Belgium detective and killed him off! Reginald Hill indicated a similar intent in his last book featuring Daziel with Death of the Fat Man. All a bit final but how else do you stop the readers clamouring for more of their favourite detectives? And is it my imagination or are detectives getting younger these days? (Perhaps I’m just getting older?)  What is the modern crime-writer to do with their younger cast? Only this week I came across a blog post by Sharon Bolton entitled Please don’t ask me when Lacey is coming back. I simply don’t know, which summed up the issue from this author’s perspective and after all author’s these days can’t hide from their readers, we can stalk them on social media begging for another story featuring our favourite characters!

What do you think about endings? How do you tackle them in your reviews?