Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Flavours of Love – Dorothy Koomson

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

Dorothy Koomson is one of those authors that I began reading before I crime fiction became my favourite genre and her early books were marketed as the very fashionable (at the time) chick-lit, although they all had important and more serious issues at their centre. The last few of this authors books have developed into somewhat darker novels and this one follows that theme.

Saffron was widowed in the most awful circumstances eighteen months before the book starts, her husband Joel was murdered and left to die by the side of the road. Saffron’s daughter Phoebe is now 14 and within pages we realise that she knows more about her father’s murder than she let onto the police, but what the secret is soon overtaken by the present when Saffron is called into the school to be told by the headmaster that Phoebe has another secret and one that needs immediate attention. With her younger son Zane and a demanding job the grieving Saffron has more than enough on her plate, but this is a study in keeping going one step at a time through whatever life throws at you.

This book is crammed full of issues which in the hands of a less accomplished author could have produced something of a mismatch of a book and far less breath-taking mainly because all of her characters are beautifully drawn displaying evidence of the author’s training in psychology. The result is real people with good and bad points far away from stereotypes as is possible, the sort of people you meet daily. The contrast between good intentions and bad decisions are illustrated many times through this delightful array of personalities, none more so than the brilliant Aunt Betty who becomes part of the household.

With the characters forming the backbone of this novel along with their issues the author also has managed to pace the book by switching times as far back to the beginning of Saffron and Joel’s relationship. Although the time periods jump about building a picture of their life this is far from confusing with the chapters clearly marking the time before or after the day of Joel’s death. Meanwhile in the present day the tension builds at a steady pace as poor Saffron has more sinister things to deal with and the battle is on to keep her family safe. Added to this there is some fledgling romance to bring a tear to the eye as Saffron comes to terms with the fact that her husband has truly gone.

The title of the book refers to the cookbook that Joel was compiling before his death and we are treated to a few of these recipes and those his wife is experimenting with in an aim to finish it in his memory giving the book a truly original feel.

There is lots to love in this book and the only slight criticism I have hinges on the original secret kept by Phoebe and unfortunately the one on which the whole book hinges, just really didn’t feel of sufficient magnitude not to come clean but the rest of the book is so wonderfully executed that I simply had to overcome my reservations and join Saffron through some dark days and nights.

I’d recommend this author to anyone who loves character driven and although this book doesn’t lend itself well to the searing dry humour of some of her previous books it is still makes an appearance from time to time…

“She isn’t used to apologising, it must taste very strange and unpleasant in her mouth, something I’m sure she won’t want to sample again for a long time.”

I’m now hoping that as it has taken me the best part of a year to get around to reading this one that a new book will be in the offing from this author soon.

Dorothy Koomson’s previous books:

The Cupid Effect
The Chocolate Run
My Best Friend’s Girl
Marshmallow’s for Breakfast
Goodnight Beautiful
The Ice Cream Girls
The Woman He Loved Before
The Rose Petal Beach

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (October 8)

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 Summer of Ghosts by P.D. Viner the sequel to The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Summer of Ghosts

Blurb

It begins with a father calling his daughter, but whoever answers is not Pia but his daughter’s killer. He must listen, horrified, to the sounds of his only child being murdered, powerless to intervene as the killer utters two chilling words.
Most men’s thoughts would turn to vengeance but Pia’s father is far more resourceful than most. And he is not the reserved businessman his daughter always believed him to be but Franco, a notorious London drug lord who will call in all his debts to find his daughter’s killer. Including the one owed to him by DI Tom Bevans.
Only Tom is a man haunted by his own grief and every unsolved case weighs heavily against his soul. And Tom has heard the killer’s words before. Goodreads

I have just finished reading the fantastic Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey which is the start of a brand new series featuring Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Good Girls Don't Die

Next I am going to read The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

The Flavours of Love

Blurb

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I did back then to protect my family. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed a devastating secret, and my husband’s killer, who was never caught, has started to write to me, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done will be revealed.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story. Amazon

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 13)

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!

Well the pile grows ever bigger so here is a look at this weeks finds!

Bibliobeth’s review of The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold meant this was instantly added to the TBR pile

The Book of Secrets

At once a captivating mystery, a love letter to classic literature, and a sharp-eyed examination of marriage, The Book of Secrets is a gripping novel of family, friendship, and the undeniable pull of the past.
After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town of Redbridge, California—a place Chloe never wants to see again.
Tending to their small bookstore while trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Written in a code that Nate and his sisters created as kids, the pages contain long-buried secrets from her and Nate’s past, and clues to why he went back to Redbridge after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children, their increasingly dangerous games a magical escape from their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from from his oppressive father, and how the thwarted attempt upended their lives forever. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself.

EreaderIQ has also alerted me to some fantastic price drops this week which meant that a book that had been on my wishlist, The Child’s Child by Barabara Vine is now downloaded. This book has received less than favourable reviews but it really wouldn’t be right for me not to try it for myself after all is was the Barbara Vine books that first opened my eyes to psychological thrillers.

The Child's Child

Blurb

What sort of betrayal would drive a brother and sister apart?
When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother’s house, they surprise few people by deciding to move in together. But they’ve always got on well and the London house is large enough to split down the middle.
There’s just one thing they’ve not taken into account though. What if one of them wants to bring a lover to the house? When Andrew’s partner James moves in, and immediately picks a fight about the treatment of gay men, the balance is altered – with almost fatal consequences. Amazon

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson also snuck their way onto my kindle with at a low price that couldn’t be resisted.

The Flavours of Love
Blurb

It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

Dorothy writes such readable books that I now need to juggle my reading list to fit this in!

Lastly a recommendation from Amazon caught my eye Creep by Jennifer Hillier has also made it onto my TBR

Creep

Blurb

Psychology professor Dr Sheila Tao is an expert on human behaviour, so when she begins an affair with charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she’s well aware she’s playing with fire. Consumed by lust and riddled with guilt, Sheila ends their three month fling when she becomes engaged to a kind and loving man who adores her. But Ethan has different plans…
NO ONE CAN.
When a star student is stabbed to death, it’s clear someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex and blackmail on campus. Before long, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with Ethan: the lover she couldn’t resist is now the monster who will never let her go.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 8)

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!

So as I am working hard to read some of my free and cheap books on my e-reader in November the last thing I should be doing is looking at more books to buy, or requesting new ones from Netgalley!

As it happens the people at Random House have been really kind to me this week and I have 3 new books from Netgalley.

Wake by Anne Hope to be published 16 January 2014

Wake

Blurb

Unfolding over five days leading up to 11 November, 1920, a powerful debut telling of three women who have lost loved-ones, set against the journey of the Unknown Soldier from Northern France to the Cenotaph.
Five Days in November, 1920:
As the body of the Unknown Soldier makes its way from the fields of Northern France to the Cenotaph, three women are overcoming loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; wealthy Evelyn, who toils at a lowly job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who snatches glimpses of her dead son in the street.
As each struggles to move on with her life, a wartime mystery begins to unravel. But where will the threads lead, and will they bring the answers these women crave? In this shattering novel of intertwining lives, Anna Hope shows the beginnings of a new era, and the day the mood of the nation changed, for ever Netgalley

This looks like a great addition to feed my historical fiction.

I also received A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan which looks like a real psychological thriller.

A Pleasure and a Calling

Publication date 13 February 2014, be scared if you receive this one as a Valentines gift!

Blurb

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours…

and lastly Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett

Stone Bruises

Publication date 30 January 2014

Blurb

‘Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…
Superbly written, Stone Bruises is a classic nail-shredder of a thriller that holds you from the beginning. The narrative slowly, inexorably tightens its grip as the story unfurls and will keep you guessing until the unnerving and shocking final twist…Netgalley

I have to admit I am a little worried that this one might be a bit too scary for me (I know I pretend to be big small and brave but maybe I’m not quite as fearless after all… I’ll let you all know!

I couldn’t resist The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts when she offered me a free copy… the fact that it is billed as a psychological thriller within a historical context meant that my heart quickly typed ‘yes please’ as it overruled the head which was saying ‘you’ve loads of books to read and review already!’

The Medea Complex

Blurb

***Based On A True Story***
Anne wakes up in a strange bed, having been kidnapped from her home. Slowly, she realizes she is in a lunatic asylum.
1885. Anne Stanbury – Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?
Edgar Stanbury – the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.
Dr George Savage – the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne’s future wholly in his hands.
The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses’ were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity Amazon

The Medea Complex

and another kind author Jane Riddell has also sent me a copy of her book Water’s Edge

Water's Edge

Blurb

When Madalena invites her four children to Switzerland for a family gathering, she isn’t prepared for the excess baggage of their lives they bring along – secrets they are compelled to keep and those that must be divulged; the compromises they make, and, ultimately, what can and can’t be resolved – for Madalena, too, has things about her past that she would prefer not to reveal.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and lakes, Water’s Edge is a tapestry of love, lies and family – Goodreads

Water’s Edge

On top of these wonderful sounding books I have two purchases to make Imago by Celina Grace with the third of the Kate Redman Mystery series which I have enjoyed so much. .

Imago

Publication date Sunday 10 November

Blurb

They don’t fear me, quite the opposite. It makes it twice as fun… I know the next time will be soon, I’ve learnt to recognise the signs. I think I even know who it will be. She’s oblivious of course, just as she should be. All the time, I watch and wait and she has no idea, none at all. And why would she? I’m disguised as myself, the very best disguise there is.”
A known prostitute is found stabbed to death in a shabby corner of Abbeyford. Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and her partner Detective Sergeant Olbeck take on the case, expecting to have it wrapped up in a matter of days. Kate finds herself distracted by her growing attraction to her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton – until another woman’s body is found, with the same knife wounds. And then another one after that, in a matter of days.
Forced to confront the horrifying realisation that a serial killer may be preying on the vulnerable women of Abbeyford, Kate, Olbeck and the team find themselves in a race against time to unmask a terrifying murderer, who just might be hiding in plain sight… Amazon

and The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson which was published yesterday 7 November 2013

FOL
Blurb

‘I’m looking for that perfect blend of flavours; the taste that used to be you. If I find it, I know you’ll come back to me.’
It’s been 18 months since my husband was murdered and I’ve decided to finish writing The Flavours of Love, the cookbook he started before he died. Everyone thinks I’m coping so well without him – they have no idea what I’ve been hiding or what I do away from prying eyes. But now that my 14-year-old daughter has confessed something so devastating it could destroy our family all over again, and my husband’s killer has started to write to me claiming to be innocent, I know it’s only a matter of time before the truth about me and what I’ve done is revealed to the world.
My name is Saffron Mackleroy and this is my story.

The Flavours of LoveDorothy Koomson’s novels are all extremely well plotted and with the sort of writing that immerses you in the story…

All I need now is a time machine to make enough time to read everything I’ve got planned!

Please let me know what you have found this week because as you can see I’m always looking for more books to read!