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 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

Deadly Divorces – Tammy Cohen

True Crime 3*s
True Crime
3*s

This non-fiction true crime book contains twelve stories of what can happen when a marriage breaks down. As such I don’t recommend it to anyone going through divorce, or contemplating it! For everyone else this is a fascinating look at the worst case scenario.

I am a big fan of Tammy Cohen’s fictional books, especially the element of humour that laces the pages, this aspect is necessarily missing from this book, which was penned before these were published. The twelve stories within this book which was published in 2007, come from the late 90s early 2000s from both sides of the Atlantic and with both sexes being the perpetrator.

To give you a flavour the first crime in the book is that of an English woman who murdered her ex-husband’s lover, to be specific she shot her at the salon she ran in a quiet English town. With the information gleaned from the trial and reporting at the time Tammy seeks to give the reasons behind the killing, looking at the state of mind of the murderer in the weeks and months leading up to the shooting. It is a sad tale, as are all the stories in this book, it is hard to contemplate that two people, who once swore to love each other forever, can be driven to a state of outright hate which leads to the ultimate act of revenge.

This isn’t a terribly in-depth book, to really understand the motives of each and everyone of the crimes would have meant that this book was far too long, it does however give an insight into this type of crime. You may, as I did, remember some of the horrific acts committed in the name of love! Unfortunately as I worked through the book (in the space of a day) it did feel a little repetitive purely because this type of crime is typically committed by a person who feels that they have been wronged and they want to destroy the person that they feel has destroyed their life.

I have to admit some of the tales recounted, will stay with me for some time, as the perpetrators will have learned as they live with their actions for the rest of their lives.

Fiction Books by Tammy Cohen (aka Tamara Cohen) Highly recommended by cleopatralovesbooks

Previous books by Tammy Cohen (some written under her given name of Tamara Cohen)
The Mistress’s Revenge
The War of the Wives (note to self I NEED a copy of this one)
Someone Else’s Wedding
The Broken
Dying for Christmas
First One Missing

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

First One Missing – Tammy Cohen

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Being a huge fan of Tammy Cohen’s I was thrilled to spot a copy of this on NetGalley and gave a little (well quite loud) squeal of excitement when the approval email came winging its way into my in-box. What I like about her writing is that each book I’ve read has felt very different, Tammy is certainly not a one-trick-pony, yet they all have in-depth characters and a sense of humour. However I was slightly nervous about this one with the subject matter of this one being about four murdered young (under-tens) girls, I did wonder what the pages were going to hold. I needn’t have worried, this is a great book, and the wry observational truths lighten the dark subject matter without ever venturing into a dismissive attitude to the crimes being described.

In North London we meet Poppy Glover’s mother who is wishing she could turn back time, two days before her daughter was safe, the day before she was only missing, there was still hope, but today she has been found dead on Hampstead Heath the scene of the previous three ‘Kenwood Killer’ murders, named after the nearby Kenwood House.

The same morning Emma Reid wakes up with her distant husband Guy, soon after the day has begun she will receive a phone call from the Family Liaison Officer assigned to them, Leanne Miller who will visit with the terrible news that another child has been murdered by the same perpetrator. Two other families, Fiona and Mark Botsford and the mother of the first victim Helen Purvis will receive similar calls. Meanwhile Sally Freeland, journalist for the Chronical is determined to get an exclusive. She’s well placed having persuaded Helen Purvis to let her write articles in the hope that they would find the killer of her daughter Megan and as Helen has set up a support group for the bereaved parents she has no doubt that Poppy’s parents will soon be welcomed into Megan’s Angels.

So Helen sprang into action gearing her family, teenage son Rory and husband Simon up for a meeting of Megan’s Angels along with the other FLOs and first three families, not something she is looking forward to as she describes in this perceptive and realistic paragraph:

People always expected the families to be a harmonious little group, bound together by tragedy, supporting each other through the nightmare they’d stumbled into. But they were just like everyone else. Some were prickly (Fiona Botsford), some overbearing (Simon Hewitt). They didn’t stop having personalities just because of what had happened to them – they could still get right up each other’s noses, despite the horrible thing that had brought them together.

The author has written this book from the character’s perspectives, we get an insight into their lives through their own perspective, as well as the police investigation from Leanne’s and a different viewpoint from the despicable Sally’s as she uses her own contacts to try and beat the police to finding the perpetrator. Although there is a mystery, and a very good one at that, this is a character driven book which gives the reader a great variety of sub-plots that cross the age spectrum. As always with Tammy Cohen, these are realistic people, all flawed which makes for an interesting read and helps when trying to keep straight which girl belonged to each family group.

I highly recommend this book for lovers of psychological novels with a strong domestic bent. The plot was superb with plenty of plausible suspects, and even though I worked this one out (by some fluke) I wasn’t certain enough not to get thoroughly caught up in the tension as the novel hurtled around some tight corners, dodging and swerving towards the finishing line.

First One Missing will be published by Random House UK on 2 July 2015, don’t miss out!

Previous books by Tammy Cohen (some written under her given name of Tamara Cohen)
The Mistress’s Revenge
The War of the Wives (note to self I NEED a copy of this one)
Someone Else’s Wedding
The Broken
Dying for Christmas

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (May 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

My favourite read in May 2011 was the one that first graced my bedside table when I moved into my current home, and what a read it was! This book still sits on my bookshelf and even better, this author’s subsequent books have meant that she is now on the ‘must-read’ list.
The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen

The Mistresses Revenge

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

You think you are rid of me.
You think you have drawn a line under the whole affair.
You are so, so wrong.

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 befriends 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.. After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken? Amazon

2012 yr

Sadly I didn’t award any books the full five stars in May 2012 so my choice goes to the strongest of the four star reads; Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes which is the first in the series featuring Alice Quentin, a psychologist

Crossbones Yard

Blurb

Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.
The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined. Goodreads

2013yr

My May 2013 choice was inspired my daughter’s history dissertation from the previous year which was on the cheery subject of infanticide, Caversham Lock by Michael Stewart Conway features the infamous baby farmer in Victorian England, Amelia Dyer.

Caversham Lock

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

When a parcel containing a dead baby is pulled from the Thames, detectives Furnivall and Stubbs are sent to deal with the matter. They investigate at breakneck speed- it is 1896, after all, and they have all the advantages of the modern world to help them. Using microscopes, the rail network and the telegraph, they identify the culprits- a Mrs Dyer and her daughter, Polly. Even as they close in, Mrs Dyer has been back to Caversham Lock with another victim. By the time the two women are arrested there are seven little bodies in the mortuary at Reading. Each has Mrs Dyer’s trademark white dressmaker’s tape around its neck.
The case doesn’t work out as planned, however, and they’re forced to travel to the west country. Despite being under strict orders to return to Reading, they set an ambush on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But a storm is rolling in, and there is another man in Bristol – a man from the Home Office sent to clean up his superiors’ mistakes. Goodreads

2014yr

The Ties That Bind
by Erin Kelly is my top choice from May 2014. Erin Kelly is one of my favourite authors and this tale that features a writer attempting to emulate his hero Truman Capote. This book about atonement has far more depth than we are normally treated to.

The Ties That Bind

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Goodreads

2015yr

Somehow it is always hardest to pick the favourite of the last month’s reading without the benefit of the test of time but this month’s book is an intelligent and insightful read that really ‘spoke’ to me, as well as being a cracking good read…. drum roll please… My choice is Evil Games by Angela Marsons which was only published on Friday.

Evil Games

Click on the book cover to read my review

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 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. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my May reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Dying For Christmas – Tammy Cohen

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

I’m a big fan of Tamar (now known as Tammy) Cohen’s writing having really enjoyed the sharp observations in The Mistresses Revenge and I was thrilled when she ventured into the psychological thriller genre with The Broken. In Dying for Christmas we meet Jessica Gold, a young woman with a long-term boyfriend out shopping for Christmas in London. She visits a department store café and meets Dominic Lacey a charming and good-looking man who flatters her and by the time she has finished her drink she agrees to go home with him. Yes not the wisest move! Jessica soon finds out what a big mistake she has made.

And there it was. The thing that had lurked beneath the perfect glass surface of our encounter. The thing I’d been trying not to face. The thing my mother had warned me against.
And it was all my own fault.

Right from the start this book is totally gripping and the tension rises as Dominic presents Jessica with a present each day, but these aren’t your conventional gifts of jewellery, underwear and toiletries. Dominic is a truly scary man and over the course of the book, the stories he tells partly explain why, but they also tell us how his mind works, and what he is capable of.

Although Jessica is harder to categorise from her own narrative although she does divulge her problems connecting with others that seem to stem back to early childhood. Travis her trainee doctor boyfriend gives her a veneer of normalness which she would be lost without but his interest in her has recently waned.

Along with Jessica and Dominic’s story the police investigation is told from the perspective of Kim a tenacious and ambitious officer whose personal life is in a state of flux. Kim’s investigation gives the background to Jessica’s life through her parent’s brother’s and colleague’s and psychotherapist’s statements adding another dimension.

The psychotherapist’s smile remained fixed on her face as if it had been thrown there and stuck, like not quite-cooked spaghetti against the wall.
‘It would be uncharacteristic for her to act in that way,’ she said eventually. ‘But I wouldn’t rule it out. Jessica is a highly unusual person. I wouldn’t want to risk predicting her behaviour.’

As always I enormously enjoyed Tammy Cohen’s writing style, her dry wit appeals to my sense of humour and the momentary lightness these bring gave me some relief from this chilling Christmas tale.

She was well aware how the family would be judged on how much emotion they showed. Too much and it could all be deemed a show. Too little and they were hiding something. When did people start judging real life like the X Factor.

Books that have a wide range of characters are ones that I enjoy the most and this book is made up of a great collection all with varying flaws but not so much so that they become unrealistic and their actions fit the pace of the plot which is a twists and turns enough to make the reader giddy.

This is a great anti-Christmas tale, one to curl up with when the relatives really have over-stayed their welcome and you want to remind yourself that it could be worse! For all of that I finished up knowing that I’d suspended belief and shut down the questioning part of my brain in order to get the maximum enjoyment out of this one and it is an accolade to the author that the more unrealistic section occurred after a brilliant set-up to make this possible.

I’d like to thank the publishers, Random House UK, for allowing me to revel in my favourite kind of villain ahead of publication date of 20 November 2014 in return for my honest opinion.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (August 22)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

This week I have two finds from NetGalley that I would have missed if it weren’t for fellow bloggers highlighting them in their finds, so please keep them coming as you never know one day I might run out of books! I’m sure this compulsion should be a recognisable condition but I’m not sure that I’m ready to take the necessary steps to beat it, in fact I know I’m not.

First up, I have a copy of The Twilight Hour by Nicci Gerrard, half of the very successful partnership that makes up Nicci French. This book is due to be published on 23 October 2014.

A book about a personal history is just up my street however this is the third notable book that I have read this year about old age; Elizabeth is Missing and The Girl Next Door also featuring elderly protagonists.

The Twilight Hour

Blurb

Eleanor Lee is fiercely independent. She has lived alone well into her nineties, despite her now near-total blindness. Now, finally, she has been persuaded by her children to move into a home.
She employs Peter, a recent graduate nursing a broken heart, to spend the summer sorting through her attic – papers, photographs, books and letters – ahead of the move.
These fragments of her own history unleash in Eleanor a long-concealed story of forbidden love, betrayal, passion, grief and self-sacrifice; and in their unlikely friendship, something is unlocked in Peter’s heart, too.NetGalley

I also have managed to get a copy of Dying For Christmas, the latest book by Tamar Cohen who has now decided to use the more informal Tammy Cohen , there’s nothing better as far as I’m concerned for the sweetness of Christmas to be offset by a psychological thriller and this one sounds good.

Dying for Christmas
Blurb

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …
But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you? NetGalley

I was very excited to hear that Peter James is having a second book published this year, a collection of short stories; A Twist of the Knife, due to be published in November 2014.

A Twist of the Knife
Blurb

Combining stories from ebook story collections Short Shockers One and Short Shockers Two, and with never-before-seen new material, this is a story collection you won’t forget. From a woman intent on revenge, to a restaurant critic with a fear of the number thirteen, and from a story of ghostly terror to the first ever case of his best-loved Detective, Roy Grace, James exposes the Achilles heels of each of his characters, and makes us question how well we can trust ourselves, and each other. Funny, sad, but always shocking, each tale carries a twist that will haunt readers for days after they turn the final page . . .Amazon

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths also caught my eye, this book is also due to be published in November 2014 and is a stand-alone book from the creator of the Ruth Galloway series.

The Zig Zag Girl
Blurb

Brighton, 1950.
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl.
The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men.
Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind.
Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in danger… Goodreads

Can anyone explain to me why Brighton is such a popular place for crime novels?

Fellow blogger from Musings From a Bookmammal kindly pointed out that Lucy Worsley has written another book, The Art of the English Murder which will look very smart next to my copy of A Very British Murder. This is why I love blogging because I’m fairly certain this book would not grace Bookmammal’s bookshelf yet she thought of me when she saw it. Strangely this is being published soon in the US but here in the UK we have to wait until November, this will be top of my Xmas list! Goodreads

The Art of the English Murder


Blurb

Murder a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it s been a part of us ever since. The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historian”s. Goodreads

So for a change I’ve found more than I’ve acquired this week – what have you found? Please share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (June 11)

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 a debut novel, This Is The Water by Yannick Murphy. This is a very stylistic book which if I’m honest I wasn’t sure whether there was substance to back up the writing at first but it has me hooked at the moment.

This Is The Water

Blurb

In a quiet New England community members of swim team and their dedicated parents are preparing for a home meet. The most that Annie, a swim-mom of two girls, has to worry about is whether or not she fed her daughters enough carbs the night before; why her husband, Thomas, hasn’t kissed her in ages; and why she can’t get over the loss of her brother who shot himself a few years ago. But Annie’s world is about to change. From the bleachers, looking down at the swimmers, a dark haired man watches a girl. No one notices him. Annie is busy getting to know Paul, who flirts with Annie despite the fact that he’s married to her friend Chris, and despite Annie’s greying hair and crow’s feet. Chris is busy trying to discover whether or not Paul is really having an affair, and the swimmers are trying to shave milliseconds off their race times by squeezing themselves into skin-tight bathing suits and visualizing themselves winning their races.
But when a girl on the team is murdered at a nearby highway rest stop-the same rest stop where Paul made a gruesome discovery years ago-the parents suddenly find themselves adrift. Paul turns to Annie for comfort. Annie finds herself falling in love. Chris becomes obsessed with unmasking the killer.
With a serial killer now too close for comfort, Annie and her fellow swim-parents must make choices about where their loyalties lie. As a series of startling events unfold, Annie discovers what it means to follow your intuition, even if love, as well as lives, could be lost. Goodreads

I have just finished Someone Else’s Wedding by Tamar Cohen. You can read my review by clicking on the cover.

someone else's wedding

Next I am going to read Little Mercies by Heather Gundenkauf. I”ve enjoyed this author’s previous books so I’m keen to see what this one has to offer.

Little Mercies

Blurb

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity;the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.
Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.
A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together. Goodreads

Please share your reads with me in the comments section below.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Someone Else’s Wedding – Tamar Cohen

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

Having thoroughly enjoyed Tamar Cohen’s debut novel The Mistress’s Revenge and more recently her foray into psychological suspense with The Broken I was keen to see what her third novel, Someone Else’s Wedding had to say for itself.

Tamar Cohen has a quite distinctive writing style which is full of observational humour and so the setting is perfect, after all there are very few occasions with such a rigid structure full of so many people who probably wouldn’t otherwise be in the same room.

‘You know what weddings are like for bringing out the Kate Winslet in everyone.’
Saul smiles at the private joke I have given him like a small present. Ever since we watched the actress picking up an award and unable to speak for sobbing, her name has become a kind of catchphrase between us.

This book is slightly different because while those moments of humour are still there this book has a fundamental sad tinge to it which doesn’t lend itself quite so well to humour and our chief protagonist Fran Friedman is prone to more than a little introspection. Fran and Saul have been married for many years, have two adult daughters but their marriage has been frayed by the fact that their late baby was still-born and secrets and resentments have built up to an untenable level.

Saul imagined my eggs had long since packed up their things and without fuss, taken up watercolour painting in St Ives or tending their own vegetable gardens. They certainly weren’t still doing the things eggs are supposed to do.

There are plenty of secrets to come out over the course of the extended weekend though as being a Bank Holiday one day isn’t enough for Jamie, son of Max and Lynn Irving and his bride the lovely Lucy. The book’s chapters each relate to the hours of the wedding and each one appears to hold a different secret or conundrum. Throughout the day Fran is receiving texts from an unknown number telling her to leave Jamie alone, Fran and Saul’s adult daughters have their own secrets which need to be dealt with all while keeping the mask of respectability firmly in place during the nuptials.

This was a good read, despite it not being as funny as I expected from the synopsis as it deals with some weighty issues. The characterisation was really well done, the relationship between Fran and her younger daughter Katy was a brilliant description of a loving yet sometimes critical mother and her slightly stroppy daughter, independent but not yet secure enough to make her way in the world without an admiring audience.

Though Katy is laughing she’s likely to store this up for future use, evidence of another maternal transgression I wish things weren’t like this with my younger daughter, so confrontational, but Katy has always needed to place herself at the centre of every thought I have, every action I take.

A good book, funny but not outrageously so, big issues and a good conclusion made this an enjoyable read so I am now going to complete the set of Tamar Cohen’s books by reading The War of The Wives.

I’d like to thank the publishers Random House UK for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. This book was published in paperback in the UK on 22 May 2014.

You can read my review of Tamar Cohen’s debut novel, The Mistress’s Revenge here and my review of The Broken here

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (June 4)

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 Now That You’re Gone by Julie Corbin.  This author first came to my attention with her debut psychological suspense novel, Tell Me No Secrets.

Now That You're Gone

Blurb

When the body of Isla’s brother, an ex-Marine and private investigator, is pulled from the River Clyde, she is convinced he was murdered. When the coroner declares Dougie’s died of accidental drowning and rules out foul play, the police are happy to close the case. But Isla has other ideas.
Determined to find out what really happened the night Dougie died, and why he was even in Glasgow, she starts looking into his unsolved cases. What she finds will put her in grave danger and force her to question everything she thought she knew about those closest to her . . . Amazon

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that this was my next read last week except I failed to read my schedule properly and/or forgot and opened up entirely the wrong book! I read The Long Fall by Julia Crouch instead!

I have just finished The Kill by Jane Casey which was an exceptionally enjoyable read.

Click on the cover to read my review

The Kill

Next I am going to read Someone Else’s Wedding by Tamar Cohen, having enjoyed the two previous books by this author I think I’m in for a treat.

someone else's wedding

Blurb

Mr & Mrs Max Irving request the company of:
Mrs Fran Friedman, mourning her empty nest, her lost baby, the galloping years, and a disastrous haircut.
Mr Saul Friedman, runner of marathons, avoider of conflicts and increasingly distant husband
The two Misses Friedman, Pip and Katy, one pining over the man she can’t have, the other trying to shake off the man she no longer wants
At the marriage of their son James Irving, forbidden object of inappropriate and troubling desire
For thirty-six hours of secrets and lies, painted-on-smiles and potential ruin. And drinks, plenty of drinks.
There’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past. As Fran negotiates her way from Saturday morning to Sunday evening she is forced to confront things she’s long thought buried, sending shockwaves through her family, and to make decisions about the future that will have far-reaching consequences for them all. NetGalley

What are you reading this week?