Posted in Books I have read

Reading and Reviewing in 2014

Updated 2014

So I have now completed (minus 2 days) an entire calendar year of reading and reviewing books on my blog – and what a year it has been! Before I choose my top 10 books for the year I thought I’d share some facts and figures with you because that’s how I roll.

In 2014 I have read 140 books and it will be no surprise to regular readers that the composition of genre is crime heavy… but I did manage an impressive 33 books that fell into (my) contemporary fiction category as well as 17 books with a historical theme.

I should warn everyone that I play fast and loose with genres and anything I’m not sure where to put does end up as contemporary fiction, but it is a guideline (of sorts).

Out of my crime reads the split was also unsurprisingly heavily weighted on the psychological fiction slant with 37 books falling into this genre, 33 logged as crime thriller and 11 in the mystery category.

When I started blogging I was curious to see how much of my reading could be supported by review copies of books, this wasn’t a new concept as I’d been part of Amazon Vine since 2011, but I’d not counted for the ease of requesting items from NetGalley, the quantity of kind publishers and authors that offer me books, Lovereading  who send me copies as part of their reviewing panel or Bookbridgr who have physical copies they are happy to post to me. That along with a little bit of stalking of my favourite authors on Twitter has kept me in more than enough books for the whole year!

In 2014 only 25 books, less than 18% of the books I read, I owned (and I’d won copies of 3 of these).  Now I’m not making any promises too stop reviewing ARCs, I love finding new authors, catching up with old ones and sometimes reading something a little bit different to the norm, far too much for that, but I am going to redress the balance a little and aim for 60:40 split.  Well, lets see how that goes shall we? Why? Well out of the books I’ve read this year 63 were by authors whose books I’d previously read. This is a whopping 45%! This means that exponentially, even discarding the minority whose books weren’t for me, or who don’t write a new book in 2015, of the new to me authors should even 40 produce  new books these added to the known to me author output, can only be disastrous for the TBR ??? That doesn’t even take into account any back catalogues!  This is why cutting down on books is never going to happen!! But what a fantastic problem to have!

So which of my reviews have been most popular in 2014?

Click on the book cover to read my reviews

10. The magnificent debut and psychological thriller by Mary Kubica – The Good Girl This book with four narrators has no chapter breaks which meant I was compelled to keep reading to find out why and how Mia Dennett disappeared.
The Good Girl

9. A Crime Fiction novel Daughter by Jane Shemilt is fixed around the disappearance of Jenny’s 15 year old daughter, Naomi but also uncovers a web of secrets and lies.
Daughter

8. Sarah Hilary’s police procedural, Someone Else’s Skin blew me away with it’s range of characters and skilful handling of a storyline about domestic abuse was a fantastic find in February 2014.

Someone Else's Skin

7. In The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner we meet Jim and Patti Lancing who  react in very different ways to the murder of their daughter mixed with an accomplished whodunit.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

6. Sees a psychological domestic thriller with Lucie Whitehouse’s Before We Met which tells the tale of how Hannah found out more about the man she married.

Before We Met

5. A Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler was put in the psychological suspense category because the author literally reveals the progressive layers of the protagonist’s mind as the tale unfolds. This was an unequivocal 5 star read.

That Dark Remembered Day

4. Wake by Anna Hope has stayed in my mind ever since I read it nearly a year ago. This tale of the run up to the Internment of the Unknown Soldier was beyond poignant. The best book about WWI that I have read although Andrew Cowan’s Worthless Men comes a close second.

Wake

3. Having missed the TV series Broadchurch , I jumped at the chance to read the book of the series especially as it was written by one of my favourite authors, Erin Kelly. I loved the story so much I had to watch the TV series to compare and will now be glued to the second series next Monday.

Broadchurch

2. In February I read a book about a fictional stalker, The Book of You by Claire Kendal brilliantly portrays the mind of a stalker and captures the powerlessness of his victim, not only that but the storyline has a parallel to an ongoing court case.

The Book of You

1. The most popular review of the year goes to an author whose books I’ve been championing for a while but this one surpassed all my expectations. Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott is a brilliant psychological thriller, even better I believe you can get a copy for a mere 99p at the moment.

Sleep Tight

So those are the reviews you’ve enjoyed – coming soon my favourite books that were published in 2014.
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 2014.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (March 5)

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 That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler

That Dark Remembered Day

Blurb

One family, one town, devastated by one tragic event.
Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?
When Stephen gets a phone call to say his mother isn’t well, he knows he must go to her straight away. But he dreads going back there. He has never been able to understand why his mother chose to stay in the town he grew up in, after everything that happened. One day’s tragic events years before had left no one living there untouched.
Stephen’s own dark memories are still poisoning his life, as well as his marriage. Perhaps now is the time to go back and confront the place and the people of his shattered childhood. But will he ever be able to understand the crime that punctured their lives so brutally? How can a community move on from such a terrible legacy? Amazon

I have just finished another five star read, Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott
Click on the book cover to read my review

Sleep Tight

This is an absolute page-turner of a book about obsession with brilliant characterisation that keeps you believing in the events that unfold….

Next up is something completely different. The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley

The Midnight Rose

Blurb

Spanning four generations, The Midnight Rose sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a remarkable girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day . . .
In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impov­erished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of Indian royalty. As the princess’s official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of WorldWar I. There, she meets young Donald Astbury—reluctant heir to the magnifi­cent, remote Astbury Estate—and his scheming mother.
Ninety years later, Rebecca Bradley, a young American film star, has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she’s relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to a distant cor­ner of the English countryside. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita’s great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family’s past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty . NetGalley

I love this meme as it is good to see what everyone is reading so please share your links with me.

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

Sleep Tight – Rachel Abbott

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

I have enjoyed both Rachel Abbott’s previous two books, The Innocent and the back road both of which deal with moral dilemmas so I purchased her latest book, Sleep Tight, on publication day 24 February 2014. This blurb indicates that this is a book about obsessive behaviour which is something that fascinates and scares me in equal measure.

When DCI Tom Douglas is called in to investigate a missing woman and her three children from her home in Manchester he is surprised to find that Olivia’s name has come up in previous investigations. He is left to ponder, how unlucky can one woman be?

Olivia first called the police when her partner, Dan, disappeared leaving her holding the baby, apart from a text apologising that was the last anyone heard of him. A couple of months later she calls the police after finding her parents dead in their house. All goes quiet for Olivia for a few years until she calls the police once again when her husband, Robert, disappears with her three children from their house and now two years later she has disappeared without trace. Tom Douglas is keen to put out an appeal to find them but Robert is unable to find a single photo of any of them.

This book contains everything that a good psychological thriller should; there is a great puzzle to be solved, an uncertainty about which characters can be believed as Olivia and Robert explain some of their actions the result being that some of what I read literally gave me goose bumps as I couldn’t help but imagine myself in Olivia’s shoes. Be warned some of the scenes in this book will make your heart race!

The series is now well-developed, DCI Tom Douglas and Sergeant Becky Robinson are likeable characters who work well together but this isn’t a police procedural, so although their back stories are evolving, they don’t overpower the focus of the book which centres on Olivia and Robert’s relationship. The power of Rachel Abbott’s writing is the fact that her characters behave like real people in that their reactions to events are realistic. That isn’t to say they react exactly how I would in every instance but the elements that make up the personalities are consistent which keeps the plot grounded without wild flights of fancy.

Sleep Tight is one of those rare books that deserves the moniker ‘page turner!’ one which means I have resented the intrusion of real people while my mind grappled with the events in Sleep Tight.

Although this is the third in the series which I have read in order I think this would work as a stand-alone, if like me the subject matter of obsession calls to you. Fortunately Rachel has indicated that there will be another book in the series which will tie up one of the unfinished aspects of DCI Tom Douglas’ personal life.

As an interesting (to me) aside, I have only just realised that Rachel Abbott lives in Alderney one of the sister Channel Islands to my home in Jersey. Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands and I have to confess despite it being so close to home, I have never visited this tiny island of 3 by 1.5 miles which makes Jersey comparatively huge at 9 by 5 miles.

Sleep Tight – Amazon UK

Sleep Tight – Amazon US

Read more about the previous books in the series:

Only The Innocent

Only The Innocent

Blurb

When Laura Fletcher approaches her home in Oxfordshire to find hordes of photographers crowding the gates, she knows there is something terribly wrong. She is faced with the shocking news that her husband is dead –
brutally murdered – and according to Chief Inspector Tom Douglas, there is little doubt that the murderer is a woman.
In a marriage that has taken her from the glamorous five sar luxury of London, Venice and Positano to a bleak and draughty manor house in rural Oxfordshire, Laura has learned to guard her secrets well. She is not alone. It would appear that all the women in her husband’s life have something to hide.
But there is one secret that she has never shared, and when the investigation reaches its dramatic and horrific climax, she realises that she has no choice. She has to give Tom Douglas the final piece of the puzzle. And this changes everything, leaving Douglas with a terrible dilemma: whether to punish the guilty, or protect the innocent.


The Back Road

Back Road

Blurb

A girl lies close to death in a dark, deserted lane.
A driver drags her body to the side of the road.
A shadowy figure hides in the trees, watching and waiting.
The small community of Little Melham is in shock.
For Ellie Saunders, last night’s hit and run on the back road could destroy everything she has. She was out that night, but if she reveals where she was and why, her family will be torn apart. She is living on a knife-edge, knowing that her every move is being observed.
Ellie’s new neighbour, former Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas has moved to the village for some well-deserved peace and quiet, but as he is drawn into the web of deceit his every instinct tells him that what happened that night was more than a tragic accident.
As past and present collide, best-kept secrets are revealed and lives are devastated. Only one person knows the whole story. And that person will protect the truth no matter what the cost.

I almost wish that I’d known that this series was going to cover such a range of fantastic thrillers so that I’d started collecting them in paperback rather than reading them via eBook mainly, I have to admit for the covers, which are striking. Maybe Rachel will come to Jersey giving me the excuse to add these to my physical bookshelf too!

Contact Rachel Abbott, she has a fantastic trailer for Sleep Tight which is well worth watching!

Web : rachel-abbott.com
Blog: rachelabbottwriter.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Rachel__Abbott
Facebook: RachelAbbott1Writer

Sleep Tight

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (February 26)

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 Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott which was published on 24 February 2014.

Sleep Tight

Please see yesterday’s post for the blurb, instead here is the author explaining how she got the idea for her latest novel.

Sleep Tight is the story of an obsession that escalates from persistent stalking to something far more sinister – a powerful compulsion to possess. When the object of such potent emotions is slipping out of reach, tensions mount and control is lost.
When asked about the subject of this novel, Abbott said, ‘Being stalked is a terrifying experience, and yet it has only recently been classified as a criminal act. I was stalked when I was in my early twenties – and for a long time, I didn’t know who by. I would find messages stuffed under the windscreen wipers of my car, saying “I’m watching you”, and sometimes a flower on my front doorstep. I was constantly looking over my shoulder – wondering who it was, and what would happen next. So when writing this book, I tried to imagine how that might have intensified, if I hadn’t been saved by the intervention of a good friend who was prepared to put her own safety at risk.’ Rachel Abbott

This is my second book this year (already) about stalking, the first being The Book of You by Claire Kendal.  Sleep Tight  the Manchester police try to work out what has happened to Olivia and her children, they have disappeared without trace but how and why?

I have just finished The Forgotten Daughter by Renita D’Silva due to be published on 28 February 2014.

The Forgotten Daughter

Blurb

‘You were adopted’.
Three simple words, in a letter accompanying her parent’s will, tear Nisha’s carefully ordered world apart. Raised in England, by her caring but emotionally reserved parents, Nisha has never been one to take risks.
Now, with the scrawled address of an Indian convent begins a search for the mother and family she never knew and the awakening of childhood memories long forgotten.
The secrets, culture and people that Nisha discover will change her life forever. And, as her eyes are opened to a side of herself she didn’t know existed, Nisha realizes that she must also seek answers to the hardest question of all – why?
Weaving together the stories of Nisha, Shilpa and Devi, The Forgotten Daughter explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional themes of motherhood, loss and identity – ultimately asking the question of what you would do out of love for your children? Goodreads

This is the second book by Renita D’Silva, her first Monsoon Memories wove a story set in England with one set in India. This book has a similar mix although far more of the story is set in India with wonderful notes in a diary on how to prepare Indian dishes which is a nice touch for those who want to replicate the food to go with the book. My review will be posted very soon.

The book I will read next is That Dark Remembered Day by Tom Vowler
That Dark Remembered Day

Blurb

Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?
A son returns to the small town where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of almost every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally, the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day’s tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep? Goodreads

Having loved What Lies Within, Tom Vowler’s debut novel I have high hopes for this one.

So… I think this is the only time where every book I have on a Wednesday is by an author I have previously read.
What are you all reading, anything you can tempt me with?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (February 25)

Teasing Tuesday CB
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott

Sleep Tight

Blurb

When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced.
Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning. But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table.
The police want to issue a national appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.
And then they find the blood…
Has the past caught up with Olivia?
Sleep Tight – if you can. You never know who’s watching. Goodreads


My Teaser

But how could I explain that I can’t think of a single friend he might have gone to see with the children? How had we become so isolated? So alone?
I know why, though. Robert wants me to himself. I’m not to be shared.