Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 11)

Well the daffodils are out here in Jersey just in time for Mothering Sunday and in celebration I have been planting my sunflower seeds in the hope of getting more than the one plant I managed last year.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with my review of Bring Me Back the latest psychological thriller by B.A. Paris which was published on 8 March 2018.

My excerpt post this week came from one of my Classic Club reads, The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.

This Week in Books featured the authors Kit de Waal, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Hore.

My second review of the week was also for a psychological thriller; Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, a superbly plotted tale that had plenty of surprises along the way.

Friday’s review took me back to the 1970s with the very first book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, A Clubbable Woman written by the hugely talented Reginald Hill. Whilst the attitudes of the day didn’t really work for me, I am very glad I met this pair who are in my favourite of all crime fiction series.

My week was rounded off with the results of The Classic Club Spin sending me back to 1862 with Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir which was the first in a new series by this Icelandic writer. I have to say a year on, I haven’t got the murder scenes out of my mind, so unusual and vivid was the description this isn’t a book to read if you prefer your fiction towards the cosy end of crime fiction. The Legacy is in part the story about three young siblings that are to be adopted following the murder of their mother. Despite the initial scenes this isn’t a book where there is blood and gore on each page, instead I discovered a well-written book with a rich and complex plot with plenty of strands that kept me in its thrall.

The Reckoning, the second in the series, will be published on 3 May 2018.

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

Blurb

Detective Huldar is out of his depth. His first murder case is like nothing he’s seen before – a bizarre attack on a seemingly blameless woman.

The only evidence is a list of numbers found at the scene, and the testimony of the victim’s eleven-year-old daughter, who isn’t talking.

While his team attempt to crack the code, Huldar turns to child psychologist Freyja for her expertise with traumatised young people.

Because time is running out…and the one thing they know for certain is that the murderer will strike again. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have just one NetGalley find this week, from one of those authors that have added to my shelves over a number of years, Dorothy Koomson whose latest novel The Brighton Mermaid will be published on 17 May 2018.

 

Blurb

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you NetGalley

I also visited my library and picked up a couple of books – in all honesty, I’m not quite sure why as I have eight review books to read before the 5 April and probably won’t have time to get to either of them but I may find the secret to expand time before they are due back.

Tennison by Lynda La Plante which is the start of the series that goes back to the 1970s when Tennison was setting out as a new constable. I actually watched the TV adaption and read the third in the series, Good Friday last year and I was so impressed I wanted to read them all.

Blurb

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. Amazon

I was also delighted to find A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell a selection of ten and a quarter stories of murder and mayhem which was published in October 2017. I was a big Ruth Rendell fan so I’m looking forward to reading these previously unpublished short stories.

Blurb

New and uncollected tales of murder, mischief, magic and madness.

Ruth Rendell was an acknowledged master of psychological suspense: these are ten (and a quarter) of her most chillingly compelling short stories, collected here together for the first time.

In these tales, a businessman boasts about cheating on his wife, only to find the tables turned. A beautiful country rectory reverberates to the echo of a historical murder. A compulsive liar acts on impulse, only to be lead inexorably to disaster. And a wealthy man finds there is more to his wife’s kidnapping than meets the eye.
Atmospheric, gripping and never predictable, this is Ruth Rendell at her inimitable best.

The stories are: Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror; A Spot of Folly; The Price of Joy; The Irony of Hate; Digby’s Wives; The Haunting of Shawley Rectory; A Drop Too Much; The Thief; The Long Corridor of Time; In the Time of his Prosperity; and Trebuchet. Amazon

Do any of these take your fancy? What have you added to your bookshelf?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 4 books and since I have gained only 1 my TBR has fallen, not as much as it might seem if you read last week’s post, where the maths was out, but hey, the total is now 187
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –21

I have banked another third of a book token this week but nor have I bought any books, so I’m still 2 2/3 books in credit!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Monster in the Box – Ruth Rendell

Crime Fiction
4*s

The Monster in the Box is the twenty-second of Ruth Rendell’s books to feature Chief Inspector Reg Wexford and here he is, in the present, although nowhere near as old as he’d have to be if he’d aged in line with his first appearance back in 1964 in From Doon With Death!

Pleasingly in what turned out to be Wexford’s last outing as a paid policeman, although he does appear retired in both The Vault and No Man’s Nightingale, he gives the reader an insight into his early years right back to before he got married and his belief that a man who has stalked him on and off over the years from that time has reappeared. I was happily carried away with this nostalgia for times gone by which is wickedly edged with something far more sinister by way of this maybe stalker Eric Targo. Wexford’s first challenge is to be certain that it is the same man, as previously Targo sported a livid birthmark on his neck which he kept covered with a scarf and the man he’s recently encountered doesn’t have one, but then medical advances have been made in the intervening period. Wexford is concerned enough that he opens up to his close friend DI Burden over wine and a minimal amount of cashew nuts, for the first time that he believes that not only has Targo followed him through the decades, but that he is a serial killer. Wexford only reason for keeping this information secret is that he has not one scrap of evidence, but he’s determined to find some now!

The tone of the book is entirely in keeping with the look back over the years and never more so than when describing the investigation into Elsie Carroll’s death which makes you realise just how unsophisticated the field was back then. Elsie’s husband John is tried for the murder but released on a technicality but Wexford suspects the killer was Targo despite his seemingly cast-iron alibi. Although the tone is reminiscent of older generations throughout time with the ‘well of course we didn’t have….’ And the ‘…. Hadn’t been invented then’ types of phrases the most evocative parts of the past are in the descriptions of the evenings spent by those in the neighbourhood at the time of Elsie Carroll’s death.

Intertwined with this storyline is one concerning Burden’s second wife, Jenny, and the new DS Hannah Goldsmith who are concerned that something untoward is happening with one of Jenny’s former pupils Tamima. This is a complex storyline includes a DS who has done all the awareness training and the way a Muslim family bring up their daughter makes for uncomfortable reading not because of the cultural sensitivities but the ham-fisted way the women go about trying to prove that there aren’t any, the result is that this aspect can either be viewed as an inspired way of trying to enlighten her readers to the obvious conflicts or as being borderline offensive. I took the former viewpoint but I’m not sure everyone would.

As always Ruth Rendell provides her most solid of policemen with a solid mystery, and a satisfying read. Granted, this isn’t up to the standard of some of her greatest books, but there is a proper mystery, the book moves forward at a steady investigative pace and the backwards look over Reg’s personal life was a really lovely and welcome touch.

The Monster in the Box was my fourteenth read in my Mount TBR Challenge 2017, so I’m still on target to hit 36 books purchased before 1 January 2017. I don’t know when I purchased this book but it was on a shelf of books that I planned to read before the end of 2014 – that target got missed!

mount-tbr-2017

 
 

First Published UK: 2009
Publisher: Hutchinson
No of Pages:  288
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series 
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

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 Uncategorized

Books I Picked Up On A Whim

lyThe Top Ten Tuesday list chosen by the wonderful The Broke and the Bookish this week was for the ten books that bloggers had picked up on a whim, this led me to ponder not only those books but how the way I chose books has changed over the years.

As a child it was easy, I had the school library, the local library and kind relations who supplied books that they’d enjoyed as children and so I probably have the full quotient of children’s classics under my belt. Aside from that I was lucky in that many kindly teachers recommended books and to be honest, I was the sort of child that would read anything, cornflake packets included!

It was as I graduated from the children’s section of the library that things became more complicated. Our local library at the time simply shelved all fiction alphabetically and so my reading became dictated by my whims. In those days before the internet there were precious few places to find out about books which did not dominate the best-seller list, and if I’m honest I miss those days of wandering around the library or bookshop shelves looking for something appealing.  And this continued pretty much to the millennium although the library in Jersey used a variety of ways to point eager readers in the right direction, including a one week loan for new releases – something that always caused great anxiety – would I get through the book in time, there would be nothing worse than getting within reach of the ending only to have to return the precious book for others to read!

Library image

These days, I rarely chose a book without it being recommended to me, either by a fiercely knowing search engine on Amazon or Goodreads, or by one of the hugely knowledgeable book bloggers out there who suggest all sorts of hidden treasures to me!

And of course I now have reviews at my fingertips to ensure I am making a wise choice, never forgetting that even the less glowing reviews can point towards something that will please me. In those far flung times there were professional reviews in the newspapers which I did look at but many of these seemed a bit rarefied for my tastes, I just wanted a jolly good story. So I’d look at the shelves, read the book jackets and decide if this might be the book for me… and this way I found many writers who have remained firm favourites to this day.

Shadow Baby by Margaret Forster

Shadow Baby

Blurb

Born in Carlisle in 1887, brought up in a children’s home and by reluctant relatives, Evie, with her wild hair and unassuming ways, seems a quiet, undemanding child.
Shona, born almost seventy years later, is headstrong and striking. She grows up in comfort and security in Scotland, the only child of doting parents. But there are, as she discovers, unanswered questions about her past.
The two girls have only one thing in common: both were abandoned as babies by their mothers. Different times, different circumstances, but these two girls grow up sharing the same obsession. Each sets out to stalk and then haunt her natural mother. Both mothers dread disclosure; both daughters seek emotional compensation and, ultimately, revenge.

Not only did I love this book but rattled my way through her entire back-catalogue, my most recent read being The Unknown Bridesmaid. Sadly Margaret Forster passed away earlier this year but I still have her a large collection of her books on my shelf.

My crime fiction reads at this time were led by whatever was showing on TV at the time and in this way I was introduced to all the greats; Morse, Wexford, Dalziel and Pascoe and Frost. All of these men grace my shelves to this day. However it was after reading Wexford that I discovered the more psychological reads provided in the books written by Ruth Rendell under the name Barbara Vine. This in turn led to me reading so much in this genre before it gained its current popularity. Asta’s Book remains one of my favourite reads of all time combining my love of history with a study of the psyche.

Astas Book

Blurb

1905. Asta and her husband Rasmus have come to east London from Denmark with their two sons. With Rasmus constantly away on business, Asta keeps loneliness and isolation at bay by writing her diary. These diaries, published over seventy years later, reveal themselves to be more than a mere journal, for they seem to hold the key to an unsolved murder, to the quest for a missing child and to the enigma surrounding Asta’s daughter, Swanny. It falls to Asta’s granddaughter Ann to unearth the buried secrets of nearly a century before. Amazon

Barbara Vine’s most recent book The Child’s Child was reviewed by Cleopatra Loves Books back in 2014

More recently I picked up The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen on a whim as it was unlike the book choices I usually made at that time, and I’m so glad I did. This book had me howl with laughter and gasp in surprise as the book took a slightly darker turn.

The Mistresses Revenge

Blurb

Never have an affair with anyone who has less to lose than you. And – never underestimate the wrath of a woman scorned.
For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her, to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall. It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally starts following Clive’s wife and daughter on Facebook. But that’s alright isn’t it? I mean they are perfectly normal things to do. Aren’t they? Not since Fatal Attraction has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny and disturbing way.
The Mistress’s Revenge is a truly exciting fiction debut. After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken?

Tamar now writes under the name Tammy, but the quality of her books hasn’t diminished, rather it has just got even better, her latest offering When She Was Bad is sure to resonate to all office workers!

Now this may sound planned but I had already written this post when I found out yesterday that Transworld Books have signed a six figure book deal with Tammy for three books, the first due out in Spring 2017; All Fall Down is set in an asylum! Even better TV rights for When She Was Bad are currently at auction. That is one whim that sounds as though it will be providing me with good books to read for some time to come!

 

I think with these three books alone, I have proved that picking up a book on a whim can lead to a whole treasure trove of books.

What book have you picked up on a whim that you are eternally grateful for?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

No Man’s Nightingale – Ruth Rendell

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I succumbed to a bit of a bug last week and was looking for something comforting to read, the book on the reading schedule just didn’t fit the bill so I turned to the tab of books I own, and found this Ruth Rendell book, the twenty-fourth in the Wexford series which sounded just what I needed. There are lessons to be learnt; firstly part of the need to add new books to my shelves despite having more than enough is the fear of being left with nothing to read that fits my mood, buying lots of books has averted that near disaster. Secondly, listing all my books was the right thing to do since No Man’s Nightingale was under a stack of books at the back of a cupboard and I may have succumbed to the temptations of newer shinier books sitting on the shelf where I can see them and forgotten all about this treasure.

So, if asked I would undoubtedly state that I prefer Ruth Rendell’s standalone work to the Wexford series and I prefer her writing as Barbara Vine to both but that is a little bit disingenuous as I am very fond of dear old Wexford, this was the man who shepherded in my crime reading tendencies in early adulthood and having checked out the publication dates he’d already had at least fourteen books published about him by then.

Anyway by the time we get to book number twenty-four Wexford is in retirement, busy hiding from his very loquacious cleaner and reading The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire interspersed with lunch with his daughter and various sedate outings with his wife and the occasional beer with his old partner Mike Burden. The changes to Wexford’s life seem to accurately reflect the change that retirement brings to many a successful man without turning the protagonist into a cliché and some of his thoughts and behaviours made me smile – it is good to have some gentle humour to soften the blow of a murder! And indeed life livens up a little when the local female vicar gets murdered. Mike Burden allows Wexford to view the crime scene and help out at first with clear direction with the investigation. The whole team get busy with yet the motive and the opportunity seem somewhat scarce. Surely the fact that she was a female member of the clergy couldn’t have got her killed? There are also musings that maybe this was a racist attack but Mike Burden doesn’t care about motives – he’s looking with someone with the opportunity.

This isn’t as tautly plotted as some of the earlier books, I got the feeling that Ruth Rendell was accurately reflecting how some of the older generation find the pace of recent change bewildering; how hard it is to be in sync with modern views, especially to do with the subjects touched on in this book, when the old ones have solidified over the years. That isn’t to say there isn’t a mystery and it has a good few red herrings but this isn’t a fast-moving plot and nor does it have the clear psychological bent of many of her books. There were however apart from the familiar ones, some interesting and well-defined characters, plenty of misinformation and the curious new relationship between Mike Burden and his old boss.

This was a satisfying read, all the more so because of course it is the last book in the series, there will be no more Wexford and perhaps that swayed my feelings in a more positive direction, or maybe the familiarity of the characters followed over a quarter of a century meant that although I hadn’t read this particular book before, the rhythm of the language the gentle exploration of themes was comforting.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (May 9)

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!

Because I want to read the fantastic selection of books I bought last week I decided to ban myself from NetGalley until I’ve caught up with the reading that has mounted up. That went well until I heard that Angela Marsons latest book, Evil Games had been added. I’d really enjoyed Silent Scream earlier this year featuring Kim Stone so I couldn’t let that one pass me by!

Evil Games

Blurb

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game …
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.
With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.
Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal Netgalley

The publishers Harlequin sent me a copy of Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica as I’d enjoyed this author’s debut novel The Good Girl

Pretty Baby

Blurb

A chance encounter
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…
An act of kindness 
Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.
A tangled web of lies
As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures. Goodreads

And then it all went wrong! Having seen many reviews of Letters to the Lost, particularly that featured by The Book Trail, and having failed to secure a review copy, I decided I had to buy myself a copy. Like last week I fell into the trap of needing to spend £10 to get the free postage. So in addition to Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Letters to the Lost

Blurb

A beautifully written and evocative novel—the story of an impossible, unstoppable love affair set in London during World War II and the present day,
An accomplished novel from a talented writer, Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page. Iona Grey’s prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can’t bear to let them go.
Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.
In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton. Goodreads

I went through my extensive wishlist and got a copy of Boy A by Jonathan Trigell, a story which covers the same subject matter as my recent read Humber Boy A by Ruth Dugdall

Boy A

Blurb

A is for Apple. A bad apple.? Jack has spent most of his life in juvenile institutions, to be released with a new name, new job, new life. At 24, he is utterly innocent of the world, yet guilty of a monstrous childhood crime. To his new friends, he is a good guy with occasional flashes of unexpected violence. To his new girlfriend, he is strangely inexperienced and unreachable. To his case worker, he?s a victim of the system and of media-driven hysteria. And to himself, Jack is on permanent trial: can he really start from scratch, forget the past, become someone else? Is a new name enough? Can Jack ever truly connect with his new friends while hiding a monstrous secret? This searing and heartfelt novel is a devastating indictment of society?s inability to reconcile childhood innocence with reality. Goodreads

Coincidently as Ruth Rendell sadly died just three days after I placed my order I also have a copy of No Man’s Nightingale the last Inspector Wexford book, published in 2013.

No Man's Nightingale

Blurb

Sarah Hussain was not popular with many people in the community of Kingsmarkham. She was born of mixed parentage – a white Irishwoman and an immigrant Indian Hindu. She was also the Reverend of St Peter’s Church.
But it comes as a profound shock to everyone when she is found strangled in the Vicarage.
A garrulous cleaner, Maxine, also shared by the Wexfords, discovers the body. In his comparatively recent retirement, the former Detective Chief Inspector is devoting much time to reading, and is deep into Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He has little patience with Maxine’s prattle.
But when his old friend Mike Burden asks if he might like to assist on this case as Crime Solutions Adviser (unpaid), Wexford is obliged to pay more precise attention to all available information.
The old instincts have not been blunted by a life where he and Dora divide their time between London and Kingsmarkham. Wexford retains a relish for solving puzzles and a curiosity about people which is invaluable in detective work.
For all his experience and sophistication, Burden tends to jump to conclusions. But he is wise enough to listen to the man whose office he inherited, and whose experience makes him a most formidable ally. Goodreads

and as on that very day I came across a wonderful review on Rebecca Book Review, Girls of Tender Age by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

Girls of Tender Age

Blurb

With beauty, power, and remarkable wit, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith interweaves a bittersweet portrait of growing up among the working stiffs of 1950s Hartford, Connecticut, with the chilling progress of a serial pedophile who threatens to shatter her small town’s innocence. In Girls of Tender Age, Smith lovingly evokes the jubilance and chaos of life in her extended French-Italian family and the challenges of living with her brother Tyler, an autistic at a time before anyone knew what that meant. Hanging over Smith’s rough-and-tumble youth is the shadow of the approaching killer who forever alters the landscape of her childhood. Goodreads

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

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Face of Trespass – Ruth Rendell

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller
4*’s

This is one of Ruth Rendell’s stand-alone novels, one of those where she chooses a subject to be pitied and then reveals exactly how flawed the human race is.

It cheers people knowing others are unhappy, don’t you think?

Gray Lanceton had started his literary career with promise, well enough that he’d had more money to spend than he thought but for the last three years he hasn’t written a word. Living in a hovel on the edge of a forest his only contact the milkman and his once a week foray to the bank to withdraw four pounds to live off and to the library to choose a selection of books. What went so wrong? What happened to the young man who appeared to have life at his fingertips? Gray had met Drusilla, a young bored and beautiful wife to a wealthy older man but before the story starts the affair had finished; Drusilla had made one demand too far.

It was a pity, he thought, that uncomplicated joy lasts so short a time, that it must always give way rapidly to practicalities and plans.

The beauty of Ruth Rendell’s books is how she draws damaged characters so very well and in so few words, this book is less than 200 pages but deeply satisfying from the first to last page. We get an impression of Grey through his own despairing eyes but later get an impression of what he was from his friends and most revealing of all, from his step-father.

Inside each one of us is a frightened child trying to get out. The measure of our maturity is the extent to which we are able to keep that child quiet, confined and concealed.

The Face of Trespass was written in 1974 and as always with these older books I loved the detail of the period, where you went into a bank to withdraw money, one where four pounds could last someone a week? That barely buys me two cups of coffee! The sense of place, this book is set in Essex, where Rendell lived and worked, along with the convoluted travel arrangements Grey had needed to visit Drusilla in the days when they met while her husband, Tiny, worked and entertained and it was partly to this end that he had moved to the hovel before everything ended and he is left with the telephone that sits squat reminding him of happier days and yet tempts him with the ease of contact.

all the joy she’d brought him seemed to shine. If he could have her without demands, without complications! It was impossible – yet to hear her voice just once?

This was an enjoyable tale in a voyeuristic sort of way, I felt like I was watching a play, the scene set in the hovel before the action, including some farcical moments, got underway and then building up to a neat denouement.

I was saddened to hear Ruth Rendell had died on  2 May 2015 after a career as an author spanning from 1964 to the present with her latest book, Dark Corners, due to be published later this year. She will be sorely missed.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (May 6)

This Week In Books

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

I am currently reading The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz

The Lost Garden

Blurb

Marin Ellis is in search of a new start after her father and his second wife die in a car accident, and at thirty-seven she is made guardian of her fifteen-year-old half-sister Rebecca. They leave Hampshire for the picturesque village of Goswell on the Cumbrian coast, and settle into Bower House on the edge of the village church property. When a door to a walled garden captures Rebecca’s interest, Marin becomes determined to open it and discover what is hidden beneath the bramble inside. She enlists the help of local gardener Joss Fowler, and together the three of them begin to uncover the garden’s secrets. In 1919, nineteen-year-old Eleanor Sanderson, daughter of Goswell’s vicar, is grieving the loss of her beloved brother Walter, who was killed just days before the Armistice was signed. Eleanor retreats into herself and her father starts to notice how unhappy she is. As spring arrives, he decides to hire someone to make a garden for Eleanor, and draw her out of – or at least distract her from – her grief and sorrow. Jack Taylor is in his early twenties, a Yorkshire man who has been doing odd jobs in the village, and when Eleanor’s father hires him to work on the vicarage gardens, a surprising – and unsuitable – friendship unfolds. NetGalley

I have just finished the book I read as a tribute to the death of the wonderful Ruth Rendell; The Face of Trespass which was first published in 1974.

The Face of Trespass
Blurb

Two years ago he had been a promising young novelist. Now he survived – you could hardly call it living – in a near derelict cottage with only an unhooked telephone and his own obsessive thoughts for company. Two years of loving Drusilla – the bored, rich, unstable girl with everything she needed, and a husband she wanted dead. The affair was over. But the long slide into deception and violence had just begun. Goodreads

Next I plan to read The Candidate by Daniel Pembry, a thriller set in Luxembourg.

The Candidate

Blurb

WHEN HEADHUNTER BECOMES THE HUNTED: Nick Thorneycroft is a British headhunter working in Luxembourg. His company asks him to recruit a high-flying executive for the company’s Russian business. The best candidate turns out to be smart, beautiful… and mysterious. Soon the effects of Russia’s political upheaval, and the arrival of an ex-girlfriend who won’t leave him alone, make Nick’s Luxembourg life increasingly perilous; worlds collide in this gripping, atmospheric tale. Goodreads

What have you found to read this week? Please share in the comments box below.

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 5)

First Chapter

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

This week I have decided to dedicate this post to one of the authors who fed my love of the crime fiction, especially that with a psychological twist, Ruth Rendell who died on 2 May 2015. As my fellow respected blogger Jose Escribo wrote: The best tribute to an author is to read his/her books. Read Jose’s post here.  Ruth Rendell’s career as an author began in 1964 and she was still writing until her latest stroke incapacitated her, with her final book, Dark Corners due out later this year.

A Judgement In Stone by Ruth Rendell, first published 1977

A Judgement in Stone

Blurb

Four members of the Coverdale family – George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles – died in the space of fifteen minutes on the 14th February, St Valentine’s Day.
Eunice Parchman, the illiterate housekeeper, shot them down on a Sunday evening while they were watching opera on television. Two weeks later she was arrested for the crime.
But the tragedy neither began nor ended there. Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.

There was no real motive and no premeditation. No money was gained and no security. As a result of her crime, Eunice Parchman’s disability was made known not to a mere family or a handful of villagers but to the whole country. She accomplished nothing by it nothing but disaster for herself, and all along, somewhere in her strange mind, she knew she would accomplish nothing. And yet, although her companion and partner was mad, Eunice was not. She had the awful practical sanity of the atavistic ape disguised as a twentieth-century woman.

~ ~ ~

Ruth Rendell also wrote under the pen name Barbara Vine which was used to showcase the purer of her psychological novels and it was many of these books that I have re-read more times than I can count. It is hard to choose a favourite but I love Asta’s Book one of the few books in my house that bears the scars from having been read so often, and in places where books shouldn’t inhabit if they are to stay pristine.

Astas Book

Blurb

Anna is a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century. Homesick and lonely for her husband, she keeps her innermost thoughts in a diary. When she dies, these memoirs, spanning sixty years, will be published to international acclaim and huge commercial success. But as Anna’s granddaughter discovers many years later, one entry has been cut out of the original journals, which may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder – the stabbing death of an elderly woman and her daughter – and the mysterious disappearance of an infant child. Vintage Vine, this novel alternates between passages from Anna’s best-selling memoirs and the thoughts of Anna’s granddaughter, recent heir to Anna’s estate. With unforgettable characters and a plot rich in complexity, the mystery unfolds like a dark flower, petal by petal. Another tour de force from Barbara Vine Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

My Grandmother was a novelist without knowing it. She knew nothing about how to become a novelist and, if she had, it would never have occurred to her as feasible. The alternative path she took is now well-known.
This is a collection of papers and memories: my grandmother’s diaries, an account of a crime and a transcript of a trial, letters and documents and the things I remember. It is a double detective story, a quest for an identity and a quest for a lost child. At the same time it is a voyage of discovery and a witness to the triumph of chance,

What do you think? Are you able to resist the urge to find out more? I struggled as I would happily re-read both of these despite knowing these books so well.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (August 6)

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 Last Kiss by Louise Phillips, the third in the Dr Kate Pearson series. This probably isn’t one for the faint hearted but I am really enjoying it.

Last Kiss

Blurb

In a quiet suburb, a woman desperately clings to her sanity as a shadowy presence moves objects around her home.
In a hotel room across the city, an art dealer with a dubious sexual past is found butchered, his body arranged to mimic the Hangman card from the Tarot deck.
But what connects them?
When criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is brought in to help investigate the murder, she finds herself plunged into a web of sexual power and evil which spreads from Dublin to Paris, and then to Rome.
Will Kate discover the identity of the killer before it’s too late to protect the innocent? But what separates the innocent from the guilty when the sins of the past can never be forgotten. Goodreads

I recently finished The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell which is a story that spans 70 years.

Click on the cover to read my review

The Girl Next Door

Next I plan to read Daughter by Jane Shemilt which is another book which concerns secrets and lies.  I love the music box on the cover with the ballerina in it.

Daughter

Blurb

Jenny loves her three teenage children and her husband, Ted, a celebrated neurosurgeon. She loves the way that, as a family, they always know each other’s problems and don’t keep secrets from each other.
But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play and a nationwide search for her begins, secrets previously kept from Jenny are revealed.
Naomi has vanished, leaving her family broken and her mother desperately searching for answers. But the traces Naomi’s left behind reveal a very different girl to the one Jenny thought she’d raised. And the more she looks the more she learns that everyone she trusted has been keeping secrets.
How well does she really know her sons, her husband? How well did she know Naomi? If Jenny is going to find her, she’ll have to first uncover the truth about the daughter she thought told her everything. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Please share with me!