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 Last Winter of Dani Lancing – P.D. Viner

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

How do you get over the rape and murder of your only daughter?  If you are Jim you look for your dead daughter everywhere, she is with you as an apparition.  If you are Patty you will spend twenty years searching for her killer vowing to avenge for her death.

For those of you who have read my previous reviews you will know that I am not really a big fan of ghosts (apart from the ones in A Christmas Carol) so when I started reading The Last Winter of Dani Lancing I was irritated that Dani is talking to her father so many years after her death.  That feeling didn’t last long as I got sucked in by the story and agreed that Jim’s relationship with Dani adds a certain something to this time-hopping story of a hunt for a murderer.

The story is told through the eyes of Jim, Dani’s father, Patty her mother and Tom now a detective in London who was Dani’s friend, although it soon becomes clear that he wanted more than just her friendship.  Dani died in Durham having moved there to go to university and the trail crosses the country as the story unfolds.

The use of the different times from before Dani’s death to the present where Patty believes she has now found a concrete lead to Dani’s murderer is used to perfection to increase the tension as pieces of information are revealed. P.D. Viner really proves himself to be a master at that slow turn of the handle revealing a twist and then taking a step in a different direction, making this reader wait for the next revelation, the next piece of the puzzle all the while reappraising who I thought had murdered poor Dani. I have to say I was so far off knowing whodunit it was laughable.

The characterisation was fantastic, Jim only willing to remember his beautiful and innocent daughter, Patty who was filled with the need for revenge, a raw anger against the killer but what feels like a more realistic portrayal of a mother’s relationship with her complex daughter and Tom, known as the sad man, perhaps because of his role in the police he is the one chosen to break bad news; or is it because he was broken by the death of the young woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with?

A truly original take on what could have been a depressing story of those people left behind when someone dies; instead it is this and so much more and I will certainly be looking out for more books by the talented P.D. Viner.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK in return for this honest review. They bill this as ‘A hauntingly original debut that will stay with you long after the last page’ and I don’t disagree.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (January 22)

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 Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett

Stone Bruises

Blurb

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…NetGalley

I have just finished a really enjoyable read The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Review to be posted later this week!

Blurb

Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered..Goodreads

Next I will be reading The Never List by Koethi Zan which I have on good authority is an excellent read, published by Random House on 1 January 2014

theneverlist koethizan

Blurb

NEVER GO OUT ALONE AFTER DARK
For years, Sarah and Jennifer kept the Never List: a list of things to be avoided at all costs.
NEVER GET IN THE CAR
But one night, they broke their own rules – with horrifying consequences.
NEVER TAKE RISKS
Sarah has spent ten years trying to forget her terrifying ordeal. But it seems the killer has not forgotten her…
NEVER TRUST ANYONE NetGalley

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (January 15)

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 Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Blurb

Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.
Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed. Goodreads

I have just finished The Corpse Garden by Colin Wilson

Click on the cover to read my review

The Corpse Garden

Next on my list to read is The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Blurb

Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered..Goodreads

This sounds amazing and my hopes are high for a really good read!

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (January 3)

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!

On Monday I went to the cinema. Now I’m sure many of you do this quite regularly but it is a rare occasion for me, mainly because I’m not a big film lover and so I’m not good at sitting still for over 2 hours to watch one! However back in November I saw an advert for Saving Mr Banks and knew that this was one film I wanted to see! My companion of choice agreed to join me despite not knowing that Mary Poppins was a book!! I quickly filled him in that it wasn’t just one book but a whole series and the film was about the author P.L. Travers. Sadly, I live on an island with one cinema and when I checked the schedules it wasn’t showing here. Christmas preparations took over and whilst not forgotten the film was put to the back of my mind and then on Monday said companion got an email saying it was showing for that night only, oh the excitement!! So off we set in the wind and the rain, bought our drinks and popcorn and I sat down to a great film (and yes it made me cry!)

Saving Mr Banks

Now this is a tale of how my book collection is so large because I then wanted to re-read the original book (really I want to re-read the whole series but I do have some self-control) but decided that I wanted one with the illustrations in as I remember it from childhood. These were not books that I ever owned but I remember borrowing them from multiple libraries over the years. As the kindle version doesn’t have the illustrations Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers is winging its way to my bookshelf.

Mary Poppins

It doesn’t stop there because I now want to know more about the author so also ended up buying Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers by Valerie Lawson

Mary Poppins She Wrote

In addition to this new passion for all things Mary Poppins I came across a review for The Shuttle which was written by one of my favourite authors from childhood, Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess which I re-read countless times. As this was free on Amazon I just had to have it!

Layout 1 (Page 11)

Blurb

The Shuttle was first published exactly a hundred years ago and was begun in 1900 but frequently abandoned while its author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, wrote several other books (including, most famously, The Making of a Marchioness). It is about American heiresses marrying English aristocrats; by extension it is about the effect of
American energy, dynamism and affluence on an effete and impoverished English ruling class. Amazon

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas which is due to be published on 16 January 2014
by HarperCollins
Adobe Photoshop PDF

Blurb

Meet Violet Hurst -16 years old, beautiful and brilliant. So why is she being accused of being a danger to herself and others?
Meet her brother Will Hurst – the smartest and sweetest twelve-year old boy around. But does he really need all that medication he is being told to take?
Meet oldest sister Rose – the one who got away. She disappeared one night in her final year of school, never to be heard from again.
And then meet their mother – Josephine. Perhaps it will then all start to make sense.
An electrifying debut novel about a mother’s love gone too far Amazon

And my favourite publishing house, Random House UK, have given me a copy of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P. D. Viner which was published in September 2013.

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Blurb

Something very bad happened to Dani Lancing.
Twenty years later, her father is still trying to get her to talk.
Her best-friend has become a detective, the last hope of all the lost girls.
And her mother is about to become a killer… Netgalley

Doesn’t that sound like an amazing read? I am looking forward to getting stuck into my latest haul as well as deciding which of all the best books of 2013 lists I really want. Did I mention that my resolution for 2014 is to get a new bookshelf? (it is the only option!)

What books have you found that have made their way to your TBR’s?