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 Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (April 22)

I’m so glad the spring has finally sprung especially as we had visitors last week including two of the small variety which meant I had my first visit to the beach of the year where we collected lots of lovely shells.

I also finished my snow day scarf just in time for the hot weather! Here it is just before it passed the finish line although if I’d be clever I would have worn a contrasting outfit.

This Week on the Blog

This week started with my review for Broken Bones by Angela Marsons which was my 11th read for my Mount TBR Challenge – the aim is to have finished 36 of my own books bought before 1 January 2018 before the end of the year so I am more or less on track!

My excerpt post was from Three Martini Lunch by Suzanne Rindell which I’m hoping to read soon.

This Week in Books featured the authors Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Sharon Bolton and Rebecca Fleet.

My second review of the week was for Rebecca Muddiman’s Murder in Slow Motion which went behind the scenes on a domestic abuse storyline for police duo Gardner and Freeman.

My final review of the week was all about an obsessive man, told from his viewpoint in Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall.

I finished the week with a tag – Currently Reading – about my reading habits which quickly focussed on how accommodating or otherwise I need to be to indulge my habit of reading in bed.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Little Deaths by Emma Flint which is a fictionalised tale of Alice Crimmins (in the book she becomes Ruth Malone) whose two young children disappeared from their bedroom in Queens, New York in the 1960s. The story explores how much the resulting investigation and trial was powered by the fact that Ruth did not behave in a way that was expected of a mother. This was an incredibly powerful read, easily one of my favourite books of 2017 with its complex character leaping off the page.

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

Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well as you know I have sworn off NetGalley for the month of April but I did win a competition run by the lovely Portobello Book Blog to celebrate her third year of blogging. My mystery book was Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter and came with some beautiful bookmarks. Even better the book includes rummaging through some archives, something I always find irresistible! Thank you so much Joanne!



Blurb

Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…

Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.

At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.

Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion? Amazon

My second book is one that I requested for review prior to the self-imposed ban beginning – honest – The Dissent of Annie Lang by Ros Franey was published on 19 April 2018.

Blurb

“Growing up in a strict religious family between the wars, Annie Lang wasn’t convinced that Jesus was such a great friend to little children. Or why would he have snatched away her lovely mother when she was only six? Witness to disturbing events that no one can explain, Annie is confused and sister Bea can’t help.

Six years on and student Annie returns from France to find her brother in the local mental hospital, her father rarely home and her friend and Sunday School teacher missing. With the help of her childhood diary Annie turns detective to try and understand the past. Her journey leads to a discovery that she believes will ruin all their lives, unless they can somehow atone for what has happened.

Impulsive, brave and lovable, Annie Lang is formidable when she takes matters into her own hands.” Amazon

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 5 books and since I have gained 2 so my TBR has fallen to its lowest level yet in 2018, a mere 182
Physical Books – 113
Kindle Books – 50
NetGalley Books –19

 

Since my last post I have banked 2/3 of a book token so I am 1 book in credit! Which is just as well as I’m off on holiday in June and I can’t have absolutely no new books to take!