Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (August 2014 to August 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.

As I found when putting this post together my reads in August tend to be a mixed bunch as I attack my TBR for 20 Books of Summer but this is also the time of year when I review some real gems!

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

My choice for August 2014 is The Secret Place by Tana French – a writer of exceptional talent who has written a series of crime books that are all completely unique. This is my favourite of them all though even five years on!

When a boy is found murdered in the grounds of an exclusive girl’s school the police need to penetrate the secretive world of teenage girls, not a task for the faint-hearted. Not only does this book have all the requisite ingredients for a great read; characters, plot and pace, it is also an enormously fun read, so much so I dubbed it ‘Mallory Towers for Grown Ups’

An absolutely compelling read that shouldn’t be missed.

Blurb

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.

Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.

Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.

Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear. Amazon

In August 2015 I was caught up in the psychological thriller Burnt Paper Sky now known as What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan, which examines the story behind the ‘missing child’ headlines. A big part of this book is to examine how we react to such news as presented by the media.

This is the story of an investigation with a difference as the main thrust of the book looking at the characters involved, including Ben’s close family, his aunt and his mother’s oldest friend along with other secondary characters. The timeline is kept linear so that the reader shares the frustrations of those looking for answers whilst giving them space to try out their own theories.

A brilliant example in what has become a crowded genre and in my opinion one that shouldn’t be missed.

Blurb

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.

But what really happened that fateful afternoon?

Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?

The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON? Amazon

I’ve chosen a nonfiction read for 2016’s choice, Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colqhoun which examines the life of Florence Maybrick, a Victorian lady living in Liverpool and tried for murder in August 1889.

The author has used an unusual but exceptionally effective structure in her examination as to whether Florence did poison her husband using arsenic. First we are presented with the facts in line with a more generous view of Florence than she is given by many researchers (I have read a few books featuring this suspected murderess). Then, towards the end the author presents the evidence from the other perspective, if Florence did harbour murderous intent, how do the facts stack up then! A brilliant construct underpinned by sterling research resulted in a fabulous read.



Blurb

In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick.

‘The Maybrick Mystery’ had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence’s past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud’s.

Florence’s fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James’ own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise?
Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him? Amazon

 

My pick for August 2017 is one of the best examples of an author using a true crime as inspiration, a sub-genre which preoccupied my reading during 2017 but the most outstanding of them all was Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood which tells the story of Grace Marks accused of killing Thomas Kimner and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery.

Set in Canada this author demonstrates her exceptional skill in making her reader’s believe that this really is an account of Grace, telling her story and putting the record straight. The portrayal of a woman, imprisoned for many years for a crime she did not commit? Was it all down to her accomplice or do the things she reveals in her accounts about her mistress, her life before and her ambitions indicate that she is guilty – the reader decides. Absolutely fabulous I read the book prior to watching the serialisation on Netflix which is also well worth watching – I wanted a quilt by the time I’d watched them being created by the actress who played Grace, Sarah Gedddon.



Blurb

Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.’
Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery. Amazon

August 2018 reviews were a bit of a mixed bunch but there was one crime fiction read that stood out; The Dry by Jane Harper set in Australia during a drought the weather is integral to the storyline.

In fact this police procedural is really two solid mysteries, both well-plotted and convoluted enough to keep the keenest of minds whirring away. But the real skill is Jane Harper’s ability to bring the characters to life. Now you may not like them all but you won’t forget many of them, I can assure you of that. So not only do you have brilliant plotting you also have great characters the small town setting which alongside the weather which should they be placed in the dock, would surely be pronounced guilty.

If you haven’t read this book, I truly urge you to do so.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime. Amazon

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018

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

The Dry – Jane Harper #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

Ok I know I’m a little late to the party with my reading of this one, which is more or less unforgivable given all the accolades this crime fiction book was given at the time of publication, but I admit it, I was wrong and it should have been a prioritised read far earlier on.

After all despite my preference for a good police procedural set in the UK where I understand the rules and behaviours Now I have read The Dry I have to agree that there are far worse places to set your novel than Australia. This is particularly  true of course if like Jane Harper you live in Melbourne. It is a credit to the quality of her writing that this book got optioned in so many territories from the off.

So I started the book and quickly got immersed in an outback town in the middle of a drought (not a minor one with a few weeks of no rain, but a sustained amount of heat and no rain at all) was overtaken by the murder/suicide of a farmer and his family. All the anger and worry in Kiewarra previously without a physical outlet is focussed on this tragedy. So the story starts and we have a killer sentence:

“It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse.”

The local policeman, Roco is investigating while Aaron Falk, a friend of the suspected perpetrator, Luke Hadler, is using his leave to help Luke’s father, unofficially. The problem is that years before Aaron Falk and his father had to leave town over suspicions that he was involved in the death of his friend, Ellie. Luke and Aaron had an alibi but that didn’t stop people talking, and believe me, this was no low-level grumbling. So Aaron is back to investigate what happened at his old friend’s farm and he can’t quite believe that his friend would have committed such an atrocity but are events from the past clouding his judgement.

“And yes, he battled the daily commute to work and spent a lot of his days under fluorescent office lights, but at least his livelihood didn’t hang by a thread on the whim of a weather pattern. At least he wasn’t driven to such fear and despair by the blank skies that there was even a chance the wrong end of a gun might look like the right answer.”

Now once again the book absolutely checks my preference for crime fiction having elements from the past intersecting with those in the present. And the mystery of what happened to Ellie looms larger the longer Aaron stays in Kiewarra.

You could say two solid mysteries, well-plotted and convoluted enough to keep the keenest of minds working on their theories is enough for an author but Jane Harper’s real skill is bringing the characters to life. Now you may not like them all but you won’t forget many of them, I can assure you of that. The characters alongside the town (which is almost a character in its own right) give the story an oppressive feel which is underlined by episodes from the past being placed throughout the book, the distinction being marked by italics and tense. Much later we hear from Ellie herself which gives us a three-sided view of life, and death.

This is a superb novel and of course I know that there is a second in the series called Force of Nature. Since I can assure you this isn’t one of those frustrating books that leaves on a cliff-hanger, I’m not quite sure how that one can possibly play out (I’ve resisted looking at the synopsis) but I am very sure that the quality of Jane Harper’s writing means that I can’t afford to miss out.

“Death rarely changes how we feel about someone. Heightens it, more often than not.”

I’m so very pleased that I chose this book to be the eighth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge, I shouldn’t have left it quite so long!

First Published UK: 1 June 2017
Publisher: Abacus
No of Pages:432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018! #20booksofsummer


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

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

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

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

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

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Sanctum by Denise Mina 

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Child’s Play by Reginald Hill

Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge

The Dry by Jane Harper

Wedlock by Wendy Moore

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

New Year Book Tag!

 

I came across this tag on Bibliomaniac UK‘s blog and thought I’d have a go.

I think it originated from Bookables which is a You Tube channel. The questions also echo a few posts I’ve seen from other bloggers about books they’ve not managed to squeeze into 2017 so it seems like a good tag take part in to kick off the new year!

How many books are you planning to read in 2018?

My Goodreads Challenge has been set at 130 for the last few years and I plan to set the same goal in 2018 as this works out at 10 books per month and a bonus 10 for holidays.

This year I have read 150 which is slightly down on 2016’s total of 156 but up on 2015’s of 145.

Name five books you didn’t get to read this year but want to make a priority in 2018?

Only five?? Well here goes!

In no particular order – Dead Souls (and Broken Bones) by Angela Marsons, I love this series featuring Kim Stone and I desperately need to catch up.

Blurb

When a collection of human bones is unearthed during a routine archaeological dig, a Black Country field suddenly becomes a complex crime scene for Detective Kim Stone.

As the bones are sorted, it becomes clear that the grave contains more than one victim. The bodies hint at unimaginable horror, bearing the markings of bullet holes and animal traps.

Forced to work alongside Detective Travis, with whom she shares a troubled past, Kim begins to uncover a dark secretive relationship between the families who own the land in which the bodies were found.

But while Kim is immersed in one of the most complicated investigations she’s ever led, her team are caught up in a spate of sickening hate crimes. Kim is close to revealing the truth behind the murders, yet soon finds one of her own is in jeopardy – and the clock is ticking. Can she solve the case and save them from grave danger – before it’s too late?

The Dry by Jane Harper that has appeared on a number of Great Read lists in addition to all the fab reviews I’ve read over the year.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime. Amazon

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards which I’m a little scared to start as I have a feeling it’s going to make me regret saying I’ll read three books before buying one new one.

Blurb

The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate.

This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library’s internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers. Amazon


And the Birds Kept on Singing
by Simon Bourke, again based on some superb reviews, and I love the cover.

Blurb

Pregnant at seventeen, Sinéad McLoughlin does the only thing she can; she runs away from home. She will go to England and put her child up for adoption. But when she lays eyes on it for the first time, lays eyes on him, she knows she can never let him go.

Just one problem. He’s already been promised to someone else.

A tale of love and loss, remorse and redemption, And the birds kept on singing tells two stories, both about the same boy. In one Sinéad keeps her son and returns home to her parents, to nineteen-eighties Ireland and life as a single mother. In the other she gives him away, to the Philliskirks, Malcolm and Margaret, knowing that they can give him the kind of life she never could.

As her son progresses through childhood and becomes a young man, Sinéad is forced to face the consequences of her decision. Did she do the right thing? Should she have kept him, or given him away? And will she spend the rest of her life regretting the choices she has made? Amazon

A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward the third in the DC Childs series set in Derbyshire and I’ve got a long weekend there later this months so this one already has a bookmarked date for then!

Blurb

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.
But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career. Amazon

 

Name a genre you want to read more of?

I adore crime fiction but in 2017 I read more non-fiction as well as some captivating historical fiction. There were  some books however that almost defied genre type, as with most book readers I’m looking for something different to delight me, whatever genre it fits into but I have pledged to read at least 6 classic reads to up my game in this area.

Three non book related goals for 2018?

Only the normal to try to have a healthier lifestyle, work less and get a dog.

What’s a book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

Having finally read Room by Emma Donoghue the next longstanding book that’s been with me forever is Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old Jewish girl, is arrested by the French police in the middle of the night, along with her mother and father. Desperate to protect her younger brother, she locks him in a cupboard and promises to come back for him as soon as she can.

Paris, May 2002: Julia Jarmond, an American journalist, is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’–the infamous day in 1942 when French police rounded up thousands of Jewish men, women and children, in order to send them to concentration camps. Sarah’s Key is the poignant story of two families, forever linked and haunted by one of the darkest days in France’s past. In this emotionally intense, page-turning novel, Tatiana de Rosnay reveals the guilt brought on by long-buried secrets and the damage that the truth can inflict when they finally come unravelled. Amazon

One word that you’re hoping 2018 will be?

Better…

2017 was a hard year for us so I’m hoping that 2018 will give us a bit of a break and allow me to spend more time reading and less time worrying.

Tag a friend…..

There’s still time to join in if you haven’t already…

 

Happy New Year – I hope 2018 is full of bookish delights!

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 12)

Last weekend I met up with my very best friend in Bath and we spent a long weekend talking, visiting the Roman Baths, drinking gin, some more talking, a bit of shopping and visiting the Fashion Museum in this beautiful city.

Fashion Museum Bath

As you can see I completely looked the part!

This Week on the Blog

My excerpt post this week was from Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister which promises to explore a moral dilemma.

I completed my third TBR Book Tag whereby I spill all the beans on my ability to keep the beast under some sort of control. Since 2015 the change has been a massive decline of three books!

I’ve had a fantastic run of books lately and the week is rounded off with three five star reads.

First up was my review for Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate originally published in 1940 this was a story in three parts which felt far less dated than I expected.

Then came my review of Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre which drew me in tight and didn’t let me go, yes this is a tale that will be remembered for some time to come.

The hat trick was rounded off with my review for Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite which accompanied me on my journey to Bath and made the train carriage with no air conditioning far less bothersome than it might otherwise have been!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the magnificent In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings, which was  one of those stories that has not let  me go! From the off it filled me with unease and reminded me what the original psychological thrillers felt like as I followed Bella in her quest to find out the truth following a bombshell revelation that indicated that her whole life might have been a lie. With brilliantly drawn characters this book in one amazing setting, it was a sheer delight to read.

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

Blurb

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence.

Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Stacking the Shelves

Skoobs Book Stall – Bath Indoor Market

I went to Bath years ago and my abiding memory was of the fantastic second-hand book stall where I bought a number of Barbara Vine books in the indoor market. Well, surprise, surprise it is still there and purely as a mark of nostalgia I felt it was only polite to peruse it’s offerings all these years later – bearing in mind other shopping had used up the very limited space on my carry-on bag for the flight home. I would like to point out that I suggested a number of great books to other browsers to make up for my own lack of space, before I finally and reluctantly left the stall.

 

I found a copy of The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie , it’s a private challenge of mine to only buy her books second-hand and in good condition – the one I found was in practically perfect condition which it would have been downright rude to leave on the stack.



Blurb

There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place.
Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Amazon

I also picked up a copy of The Dry by Jane Harper as it became clear from all the wonderful reviews I have read that this is a book I need!

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.
Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.
Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime. Amazon

From NetGalley I have a copy of Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon which will be published on 11 January 2018. Although it should be noted that although I don’t have a copy yet, I also want to read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by the same author.

Blurb

There are three things you should know about Elsie.

The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:

1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo. Amazon

I also have a copy of True Stories by Helen Garner, a non-fiction book that sounds perfect for dipping in and out of, her book The House of Grief being one of my favourite non-fiction reads of all time.

Blurb

Helen Garner visits the morgue, and goes cruising on a Russian ship. She sees women giving birth, and gets the sack for teaching her students about sex. She attends a school dance and a gun show. She writes about dreaming, about turning fifty, and the storm caused by The First Stone. Her story on the murder of the two-year-old Daniel Valerio wins her a Walkley Award.

Garner looks at the world with a shrewd and sympathetic eye. Her non-fiction is always passionate and compelling. True Stories is an extraordinary book, spanning fifty years of work, by one of Australia’s great writers. Amazon

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 7 books and gained just 4 so my TBR now has a total of 170
Physical Books – 97
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books – 18

Posted in Uncategorized

The TBR Book Tag or Still No Change

PicMonkey Collage TBR

 

On 6 November 2015 I put on my big girl pants and tackled the TBR tag which I saw on  The Quirky Book Nerd,  in a bid to get a grip on just how many books were sitting on the TBR, especially focussing on those books I already own.

Last year I did a follow-up post which might have indicated that the TBR had grown, but only by a net value of 8 books from the original count of 173 to 181 books owned and waiting to be read. So what will be the result a year on, after using maximum willpower…

To help me along I designated June and December as book acquisition free months – now there was a flaw there because at Christmas time I get given books, and vouchers so I gained a few. I was away for a good proportion of June and had no time for requesting books although I did receive quite a pile of unsolicited books at this time – not my fault guv’nor!

So onto the questions

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

My answer is still the same – a good old excel spread sheet although I did realise the downfall of this approach when it didn’t travel with me – but I’m confident it is back up to date now.

My spread sheet has separate tabs for physical books, kindle books and lastly one for NetGalley approved books. There is of course, a colour code, required because some on the first two tabs are also review copies and another one to track the books I’m reading for challenges such as 20 Books of Summer and Mount TBR (I might just fail this latter challenge)

Each Sunday, within my weekly wrap up I publish the total which reminds me how well I’m doing. I can hear you all cheering with approval, those measures are guaranteed to make a huge difference.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Overwhelmingly print books even when I combine the NetGalley reads and purchased eBooks mainly because if I’m buying my own books I tend to go for print versions but like everything, it depends on a number of factors. At the time of writing this post I have 97 down from a high of 115 back in February.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I go by publication date, all of which are entered into the spread sheet. I’ve learnt the hard way to check on Amazon for these and not to trust NetGalley. Each month of the year has ten spaces to fill, three of which should be from my TBR which I usually choose on a Sunday when I do my blog admin. In practice the choices get endlessly shuffled as my magpie eye alights on a newer shinier book.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

There is a story behind the fact that the answer is identical to that of last year, oh and the year before – Room by Emma Donoghue went onto my kindle in August 2011 and after vowing to read it at long last, it had a slot earlier this year but disaster struck and I couldn’t locate it on my kindle and so removed it. Whilst perusing my books on the kindle just a couple of weeks ago, it had reappeared – I have a feeling it was something to do with the fact my edition has been replaced by a newer one following the film – anyway, end result is that I won’t be answering the same next year – I promise.

Room

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another. Goodreads

 

A book you recently added to your TBR?

The most recent addition to the TBR which isn’t a review copy is Broken Bones by Angela Marsons which I pre-ordered despite being behind with this wonderful series – Dead Souls by the same author is still on the TBR, something I hope to remedy soon. Broken Bones was published on 3 November 2017.

The murder of a young prostitute and a baby found abandoned on the same winter night signals the start of a disturbing investigation for Detective Kim Stone – one which brings her face to face with someone from her own horrific childhood.

As more sex workers are murdered in quick succession, each death more violent than the last, Kim and her team realise that the initial killing was no one-off frenzied attack, but a twisted serial killer preying on the vulnerable.

At the same time, the search begins for the desperate woman who left her newborn baby at the station – but what looks like a tragic abandonment turns even more sinister when a case of modern slavery is uncovered.

The two investigations bring the team into a terrifying world of human exploitation and cruelty – and a showdown that puts Kim’s life at risk as shocking secrets from her own past come to light. Amazon

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

No, periodically I go through my TBR and any I don’t plan on reading go in the donation bag for the charity shop, this rarely happens.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

So many with a varied list that isn’t all crime fiction – I’m going to choose Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan which is due to be published on 11 January 2018 so I’ll be reading it soon.


Blurb

Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama.

Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.

Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay. No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . .

Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all. NetGalley

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

So many but I’m going to pick Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase which I resolutely resisted when it was being widely raved about and then crumpled as soon as I read the wonderful The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde earlier this year.

Blurb

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, one stormy evening in 1968, it does.

The idyllic world of the four Alton children is shattered. Fiercely bonded by the tragic events, they grow up fast. But when a glamorous stranger arrives, these loyalties are tested. Forbidden passions simmer. And another catastrophe looms . . .

Decades later, Lorna and her fiancé wind their way through the countryside searching for a wedding venue. Lorna is drawn to a beautiful crumbling old house she hazily remembers from her childhood, feels a bond she does not understand. When she finds a disturbing message carved into an old oak tree by one of the Alton children, she begins to realise that Black Rabbit Hall’s secret history is as dark and tangled as its woods, and that, much like her own past, it must be brought into the light.

A thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by Black Rabbit Hall. A story of forgotten childhood and broken dreams, secrets and heartache, and the strength of a family’s love. Amazon

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Oh so many to choose from but one of my recent additions is The Dry by Jane Harper that so many other bloggers have raved about over the year.

Blurb

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

I just can’t understand how someone like him could do something like that.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

All of them! I’m going to pick one that isn’t due out until next year that I’m very tempted to read well ahead of the publication date – I won’t as that would throw my system into disarray but hey a girl can dream – Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce sounds quite unlike my normal reads and that’s always a draw.

Blurb

London, 1940. Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are trying to stay cheerful despite the Luftwaffe making life thoroughly annoying for everyone. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance – but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs Bird is very clear: letters containing any form of Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. Emmy finds herself dismissing problems from lovelorn, grief-stricken and morally conflicted readers in favour of those who fear their ankles are unsightly or have trouble untangling lengths of wool. But soon the thought of desperate women going unanswered becomes too much to bear and Emmy decides the only thing for it is to secretly write back . . .

Irresistibly funny and enormously moving, Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce is a love letter to female friendship, Blitz spirit, the kindness of strangers and the art of letter-writing itself.

 

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

There are currently 207 books but to be honest there are lots of duplicates of books I’ve already read – this site needs some serious housekeeping and my Amazon wishlist no longer has a counter – perhaps it’s decided that the number is simply too high – there are loads of books on here. However, my TBR count is books that I own that I haven’t read and so without further ado…

This year…

On the TBR there are a grand total of 170 books which means that in an entire year (and a couple of days) I have reduced the pile by a staggering 11 books!!

 

The make up of the pile is:

Physical Books: 96
Kindle Books: 55
NetGalley Books: 18

I’m not tagging anyone, but of course I want to feel better about my TBR, so if you have more than 170 books on your TBR, please share in the comments box below!