Posted in Books I have read

Reading and Reviewing in 2014

Updated 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the book cover to read my reviews

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

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

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

Someone Else's Skin

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

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

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

Before We Met

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

That Dark Remembered Day

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

Wake

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

Broadchurch

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

The Book of You

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

Sleep Tight

So those are the reviews you’ve enjoyed – coming soon my favourite books that were published in 2014.
I’d like to thank all those authors and publishers who’ve given me a fantastic selection of books, the readers and commenters on this little blog and those who connect with my reviews via twitter, you have all made my world brighter in 2014.
Happy reading everyone and here’s to Happy a New Year full of new books!

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

The Good Girl – Mary Kubica

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

This is one of those really hard books to review because nearly everything I want to say is potentially a spoiler but I will do my best. Mia is in a bar, she’s been stood up by her boyfriend and then she is approached by a man, Colin Thatcher, she leaves with him but rapidly realises that this could have been the worst decision of her life. Not only is the story told in the first person by four different characters; Colin, Mia’s mother Eve, Detective Hoffman who is searching for her and Mia herself, the narratives also switch backwards and forwards and if that wasn’t enough to follow there is no warning when the narrative changes.

“…anything that will tell me who Mia Dennett was with that Tuesday night she disappeared. She won’t eat. Four times I’ve offered her food, dropped a bowl full of it on the floor in the bedroom. As if I’m her damn chef”

At first I found this style mildly off-putting but it has the effect of dragging you into the story, after all there is no reading to the end of the chapter in this book because there are no chapters; just one swirling narrative backwards and forwards. In the hands of a less accomplished writer this style of writing could easily have turned into a disaster but I loved it. Of all the narrators I found Colin’s by far the most compelling but all shine a light on different aspects of the story. 

This isn’t just a thriller it is far more about why the characters act the way they do, and yes some of it is a little clichéd but after all, clichés exist for a reason.  Eve appears the most shadowy of all, especially at the beginning, but like them all, we see that there is more to this mousey, offhand woman than is initially presented to us. Beneath the main plot there are prosaic truths some often repeated: ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ others dealing with the nature of complicated relationships. Mia’s with her parents, Colin with his mother and Eve’s with her husband, Judge James Dennett all of which pull the plot in different directions as the reader considers what is known at any given point.

This is one of those books where I got to the end and wanted to reread it again to see how it reads once you know the main point, I didn’t, but I think this one will be re-read because I think what is beneath the surface of this book is as important as the plot. So I loved it and at the same time I can see why others may not be as enamoured as I was, not least because the blurb is a little misleading. I could go off on a rant on why publishers insist on comparing books to other books but I won’t, I’ll just advise that you put aside a decent amount of time and settle down to read this book and see what you think of it based on its own merits. I thought this was a cracking debut and I look forward to more from Mary Kubica in the future. I received my copy of this book from the publishers, Harlequin UK in return for my honest review. This book was published yesterday, 1 August 2014.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (July 30)

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 Mothers of the Disappeared by Russel D. McLean

Mothers of the Disappeared

Blurb

Dundee-based private investigator J. McNee finds his past is about to catch up with him in this intriguing mystery
Suspended from the Association of British Investigators and facing an enquiry into his alleged misconduct over four years previously, J McNee’s career hangs in the balance. The last thing he needs is new business. But when the mother of a murdered child asks him to re-open a case he helped close during his time in the police, McNee can’t refuse. Is the wrong man serving a life sentence for a series of brutal murders? And, if so, why did he admit his guilt before the court? As McNee searches for answers, he finds himself forced to make a terrifying moral choice: one that will change his life forever. Amazon

I have just finished reading After I Left You by Alison Mercer

click on the cover to read my review awarding this book the full five stars!

After I left You

Next I am going to read a debut novel, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica This sounds like another stalker tale, I’ll be interested to see how it compares with The Book of You

The Good Girl

Blurb

I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when they’re scared. But I will.
Mia Dennett can’t resist a one-night stand with the enigmatic stranger she meets in a bar.
But going home with him might turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life… Amazon

Please share your reads with me in the comments below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (June 20)

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 I am very soon departing for sunnier shores and have spent endless hours sorting out piles of books to take, both physical and kindle versions because I can’t take the risk of being without suitable reading matter. As always I have been wildly optimistic on how much I will read but I certainly won’t be short of choices.

First up, courtesy of NetGalley I have a copy of The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
Blurb

‘I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when they’re scared. But I will.’
Mia Dennett can’t resist a one-night stand with the enigmatic stranger she meets in a bar. But going home with him might turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life…
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a compulsive debut that reveals how, even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems…NetGalley

This book is due to be published on 1 August 2014 by Harlequin UK

A colleague at work has suggested Margaret Yorke as an author I might enjoy so I now have a copy of A Small Deceit originally published in 1991. This is a small book so easily tucked into the suitcase.

A Small Deceit

Blurb

William Adams is a killer who has never been convicted for murder. He has never confessed, even when convicted of rape and criminal assault. Nor has he admitted to the other attacks upon women. He feels no remorse, no pity for his victims. He despises them.
Now, having served his sentence in full, he is free, subject to no supervisory control. He has some money put away. He can assume a new identity and disappear.
At a quiet guesthouse on the outskirts of a country town, Adams recognizes someone from his past, someone also staying there under an assumed name, someone who must have recognized him.
From this chance encounter, a nightmarish chain of events is set in motion, and the lives of many people who should have been immune to threat and blackmail, fear and violence, are profoundly changed. Goodreads

I also have a copy of Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman following a particularly good review by Bibliobeth who convinced me with the phrase ‘can I just re-iterate how refreshing it is to read a crime novel where our main character is an intelligent and very feisty OLDER woman.’ Read her full review here

Rage Against The Dying

Blurb

In her hey-day, ex FBI agent, Brigid Quinn, not only worked serial killer cases but became their prize. Small and blond, from a distance she looked vulnerable and slight…the perfect bait to catch a killer. But as Quinn got older, she realised she needed to find a protégé, a younger field agent to take her place. So Quinn trains a twenty-two year old and lets her loose in the field. The plan works. Until the Route 66 killer not only takes the bait, but kills the bait.
Years on, Quinn is trying to move past the fact that she has a young woman’s death on her conscience. She’s now the perfect Stepford Wife – until she gets a knock on her door. The girl’s body has finally been discovered. Quinn is pulled back into the case and the more she learns about the killer the more she comes to believe, despite the overwhelming forensic evidence to hand, that they have the wrong man. Amazon

Also under consideration is Buried A Man I Hated There by Adam Pepper. Doesn’t that title just scream beach read?

Buried A Man I Hated There
Blurb

Jack Maddox is distraught after the mysterious deaths of his wife and young daughter. His head constantly aches and his memories are hazy and lost.
Heidi, his wife’s twin sister, does her best to help Jack cope. Ever reliable and dutiful, she encourages Jack to move on with his life.
Each Valentine’s Day, they meet in a field in rural Vermont for a picnic in the snow.
Jack has a secret that’s buried deep. Heidi has a secret of her own. Will they unravel their secrets, or will their secrets unravel them?
Salvation lies hidden in the snow, and in each other. Amazon

Also being considered is a book set in the Blue Mountains; Currawong Manor by Josephine Pennicott

Curawong Manor

Blurb

When photographer Elizabeth Thorrington is invited to document the history of Currawong Manor for a book, she is keen to investigate a mystery from years before: the disappearance of her grandfather, the notorious artist Rupert Partridge, and the deaths of his wife, Doris, and daughter, Shalimar. For years, locals have speculated whether it was terrible tragedy or a double murder, but until now, the shocking truth of what happened at the Manor that day has remained a secret.
Relocating to the manor, Elizabeth interviews Ginger Flower, one of Rupert’s life models from the seventies, and Dolly Shaw, the daughter of the enigmatic ‘dollmaker’ who seems to have been protected over the years by the Partridge family. Elizabeth is sure the two women know what happened all those years ago, but neither will share their truths unconditionally. And in the surrounding Owlbone Woods, a haunting presence still lurks, waiting for the currawongs to gather…Goodreads

Please share your Friday Finds with me, because once I’ve put a severe dent in the TBR with the holiday reads I’m sure I’ll need some new books to replenish the gap.