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Reading Bingo 2016

reading-bingo-small

This is one of my favourite posts of the year so there was no question of me repeating this following my relative success in filling in the squares in both 2014 and 2015

I purposely don’t treat this like a challenge by finding books to fit the squares throughout the year, oh no! I prefer to see which of my (mostly) favourite books will fit from the set I’ve read.  As you can imagine this becomes a bit like one of those moving puzzles where one book is suitable for a number of squares… and then I’m left with empty squares which I have to trawl through the 136 books I’ve read and reviewed to see if any book at all will fit! This keeps me amused for many, many hours so I do hope you all enjoy the result.

Click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult clocks in at 512 pages covering the injustice of a Ruth Jefferson, the only African-American nurse on duty when a baby gets into difficulty. With the parents white supremacists who want to blame someone Ruth is charged with murder. Not a comfortable read and I applaud the author for wanting to address racism and using an absorbing tale to do so.

A Forgotten Classic

Harriet Said

I came late to Beryl Bainbridge so I’m going to count this as a modern classic. I’ve read three of this author’s books so far, my favourite being Harriet Said. The story is based upon a murder case involving two teenaged girls in New Zealand, a case that was also the inspiration for the film Heavenly Creatures. The author creates two young teenage girls using them to reveal the push and pull of their relationship which is ultimately their undoing.

A Book That Became a Movie

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain has lots to recommend it although I admit some of the politics towards the end, went over my head, but the tale of a young woman nursing through World War I, having put her hard one academic ambitions on hold, was incredibly poignant. With the inevitable loss of friends and family her grief for herself and her generation is palpable The film was released in 2014 to great acclaim.

A Book Published This Year

The Ballroom

As a book reviewer I have read lots of books published this year but decided to feature one from my historical fiction selection. The Ballroom by Anna Hope tells the tale of life in an asylum in West Riding, the year being 1911. With a mixture of men and women housed in the asylum the author not only writes us a great story, but has accurately researched what life was like from the perspective of inmates and attendants.

A Book With A Number In The Title

The One in a Million Boy

I give you not one but two numbers in this title: The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is a book I denoted  ‘quirky’ but I’m so glad I read it. The story concerns the relationship between Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who has lived in the US since she was just four, and a boy Scout with a passion for the Guinness World Records. Touching without ever being overly sentimental this is one that will linger in my mind for quite some time.

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

Fiver Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain

Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain was written by Barney Norris who was born in 1987. This book not only touches on the history of Salisbury but weaves stories of five fictional characters in a literary, but oh so readable way. An accomplished novel that doesn’t let an obvious love of language interfere with a great story.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Little Stranger

Well I’m giving you double for your money with this book, not only is there a ghost in The Little Stanger by the fabulous Sarah Waters, there is also a Labrador that plays a key role in the subsequent downfall of the Ayres family. This spooky story is narrated by a country doctor in 1940’s Warwickshire and has plenty of other themes to enjoy even if you, like me, are not a fan of ghostly goings-on.

A Funny Book

A Man With One of those Faces

A Man With One Of Those Faces is a crime fiction novel written by stand-up comedian Caimh McDonnell. I know crime mixed with humour doesn’t sound as if it should work, but it does! A Man With One of Those Faces is full of observational humour with some truly entertaining characters without sacrificing a great plot with a whole heap of action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

A Book By A Female Author

My Husband's Wife

So many great books by so many fab women – in the end I chose My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which falls into one of my favourite genres, psychological thrillers of the domestic variety. This tale mixes past and present with a whole heap of flawed characters and is told by two separate narrators Lily and Carla and they reveal more and more about themselves, and those around them. An extremely tense read which was utterly satisfying.

A Book With A Mystery

Pictures of perfection.jxr

What better mystery can there be than that of a missing policeman on Dalziel’s patch? Pictures of Perfection is the fourteenth in the Dalziel & Pascoe series written by the outstandingly talented Reginald Hill and this book was an absolute delight to read. With a horrific opening scene, the book then switches to the more genteel setting of a country fair in 1980s rural Yorkshire. Fear not though this isn’t window dressing, the plot is superb with a proper mystery to be solved.

A Book With A One Word Title

Viral

Like last year I have read six books that have a single word as their title but I have chosen Viral by Helen Fitzgerald because of the very contemporary storyline. Viral examines what happens when a sex act carried out in Magaluf ends up online for all Su Oliphant-Brotheridge’s friends and family to see but despite that taster, this story didn’t go in the direction I expected it to.

 A Book of Short Stories

manipulated-lives

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel is a collection of five novellas all looking at manipulators and the effect on the lives of those they choose to manipulate. The author picked five different characters and settings to explore this theme and I have to admit, not being a huge fan of short stories, the common thread was far more appealing to me than some other collections.

 Free Square

Lying in wait

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the best opening sentence; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent:
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
With the rest of this book more than living up to the first line there was so much to love not only does the author keep the tension stretched as taut as could be, despite that opening revelation we have a wonderful Irish setting as background.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

The Woman on the Orient Express

The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford is a novel that ends up in Baghdad recreating a trip to an archaeology dig that Agatha Christie made following the divorce from her first husband. This wasn’t so much of a mystery rather a historical novel using Agatha Christie herself as the centre of the story of three woman all making this trip for very different reasons. An unusual and rewarding read with an exotic setting along with a fantastic mode of transport.

A Book of Non-Fiction

Did She Kill Him

I have read some brilliant non-fiction books, mostly about murders, and a fair proportion about poisoners, my interest (or obsession) of the year, so I am going with Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun. Florence Maybrick is the subject of this book, a middle-class woman living in Liverpool in 1889 when she stood trial for the murder, by arsenic, of her husband. While the majority of the book is relatively sympathetic to Florence, the author cleverly takes apart the arguments in the last section leaving the reader to make up their own mind if she was guilty or not.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

In Bitter Chill

I enjoyed In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward so much earlier in the year that I had to buy the second in the series, A Deadly Thaw. The setting in Bampton Derbyshire was stunning which made the awful tale of the disappearance of two girls back in 1978 all the more shocking, especially as only one of those girls returned home. Rachel Jones went  home but now an adult a suicide prompts her to find out what really happened all those years ago.

A Book I Heard About Online

The Versions of Us

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and to be honest, it is fairly easy to persuade me I must read crime fiction or psychological thrillers, I’m more resistant to other genres. But all the rave reviews about The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett, a sliding-doors novel had me intrigued – and what a great find this was. The incident that kicks off the three different lives in The Versions of Us is a student falling off her bike whilst studying at Cambridge University in October 1958 and the three tales that follow are all equally brilliant. This was an absorbing read especially taking into consideration the complicated structure.

A Best Selling Book

Love You Dead

Peter James’ Roy Grace series consistently makes the best seller list, and also happens to be my favourite police procedural series so it is only right and fitting that Love You Dead is featured for this square. For those of you who also enjoy not only the mystery but also reading about Roy Grace (and his beautiful wife, Cleo), some key story arcs are cleared up in this, the twelfth book in the series. Mystery fans don’t need to worry either, the key plot is a good one featuring a pretty woman at its heart.

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Buriel Rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent turned out to be one of my favourite reads of the year! With the Icelandic landscape as a backdrop to Agnes Magnúsdóttir’s final months awaiting trial for the murder of two men, we see the family she had been sent to stay with learning to adjust to the stranger in their midst. Be warned if you haven’t read this book, it is devastating, I had grown to love Agnes and yet her fate was sealed and no amount of wishing can change the course of history.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Mistake

The Mistake by Wendy James is a book inspired by a true event rather than based upon it and one that had been on my TBR for a couple of years.  In The Mistake we meet Jodi Garrow whose comfortable life as the wife of a lawyer unravels when a nurse in a small town hospital remembers her from years before when she gave birth to a little girl, there is no sign of that baby and Jodi does her best to cover up the truth but the media are determined to find the truth.

 A Book Your Friend Loves

blood-lines

I introduced a friend to the wonders of DI Kim Stone this year and she loved the series, in fact, despite not being a book blogger, she told me about the upcoming release of Blood Lines by Angela Marsons before I knew it was happening!  This series goes from strength to strength and her characterisation underpins a fantastic multi-stranded mystery as our protagonist tries to find the link between the stabbing of a compassionate, well-loved woman and a prostitute.

A Book That Scares You

A Tapping at my Door

I rarely get scared by a book but from the opening excerpt of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe this book had me well and truly spooked by A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson. With opening scenes of a woman hearing a tapping sound, I was glad I wasn’t reading this on a dark night on my own. But this isn’t just a spooky police procedural, it is incredibly clever – I can’t tell you exactly how as that would spoil it but this was a book with a superb plot, probably one of the best I’ve read this year. That with a lively and interesting character in DS Nathan Cody, a Liverpool setting and more than a dash of humour, means it was an all-round great read.

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year and this one was first published in 1926 so in fact 90 years old; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is considered by many to be one of the best written by Agatha Christie and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book narrated by a doctor and one of my very favourite detectives, Monsieur Poirot leading the search for the murderer of Roger Ackroyd, killed in his very own study if you please – oh and of course the door was locked!

The Second Book In A Series

the-kill-fee

I have a love of 1920s London and Fiona Veitch Smith’s creation Poppy Denby, journalist at The Daily Globe had her second outing in The Kill Fee, this year. The mystery had its roots in Russia and the revolution and Poppy romps her way around extricating herself from ever more tricky circumstances made for a delightful and informative read.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Museum of You

I can’t let this square go without asking has anyone else noticed the increase in blue covers? The one I’ve chosen was my surprise hit of the year; The Museum of You by Carys Bray – a story about a twelve-year-old girl putting together an exhibition about her mother wouldn’t normally make it onto the TBR, let alone be loved so much… but the lack of overt sentimentality in this book along with an exceptional array of characters made it a firm favourite for 2016.

Well look at that, for the first time ever I have completed every square!

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Mistake – Wendy James

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

The wonderful Margot Kinberg from Confessions of a Mystery Novelist introduced me to this writer and after reading the exceptional tale of Maggie, at the turn of the twentieth century, in Out of the Silence, I was eager to read a contemporary tale by the same author. If you haven’t come across Margot’s blog before, you really should pay her a visit.

Jodie Garrow is the wife of a successful lawyer Angus and she looks and plays the part; she is immaculate and in control of life, which includes her sixteen year old daughter Hannah and her younger son Tom. The couples are well-regarded in the Australian town of Arding, so much so that she has appeared on his arm in pictures in the local paper, supporting some charity or attending some event. But Jodie has a secret, one that is twenty-four years old, and as we all know a secret kept that long, if unearthed, is likely to detonate in a huge eruption. And so it is. In a set of coincidences which reveals that perhaps Hannah isn’t quite the daughter Jodie has pictured, the pair end up in a small hospital and Jodie is recognised.

When Jodie breaks the news to Angus that she procured a private adoption all those years ago his focus is on the legalities followed by a public relations exercise to keep their reputation intact. There is one problem, although the media initially print an appeal for the missing Ella Mary Jodie’s composure along with her current lifestyle means that it doesn’t take long before accusations fly and not just in the media, on the internet and in her home town too.

The reader hears the story from three separate viewpoints; Hannah’s who is fearful of being ostracised by her peers, Angus who is somewhat confused about why Jodie hadn’t told him about the child before now, and Jodie’s tale which stretches back to the 1980s, and of course the newspaper extracts which could be applied to many tales of ‘missing children’ in newspaper’s around the world over the years. The book challenges the assumption of those who watch these types of appeal that if you are not a certain type of person, you don’t dress in a certain way and most importantly you don’t act as those who are watching you imagine they would, there is something dodgy about your story. Of course none of us knows how we may act if we were caught up in a similar drama, I suspect it often isn’t how we imagine it will be. Is this Jodie’s fault?

A fascinating book and one that really did make me think because there is plenty to absorb in the plot but The Mistake is populated by interesting, if not particularly likable, characters. Angus is particularly interesting as Jodie’s revelation causes him to act in a way that perfectly reveals what he thinks is important in his life. Meanwhile Jodie responds by firmly sticking her head into the sand and shutting herself away we are also invited to examine the different standards that males and females judge each other and what is a deal-breaker in a friendship.

Wendy James has presented us with a perplexing mystery but one that asks us to reflect on our own idea about those in caring professions such as the midwife, now dead, who arranged the private adoption, the role of a mother, even one whose pregnancy was unwanted and maybe even adoption itself. For those who are interested in the role media has to play in investigations, I highly recommend this book.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 29)

Weekly Wrap Up

 

Last Week on the Blog

I started the week with a review for one a contemporary fiction story with a dark edge; The Accidental Life of Greg Millar written by Aimee Alexander

On Tuesday I was part of the blog tour for Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica, an excellent read in this, her third book. You can tell I like this author as her second book, Pretty Baby is sitting in my header picture!

And on Wednesday I kept you updated on my reading choices for the week which include two big names; Mark Billingham and Sharon Bolton.

My review of My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry went up on publication day 26 May 2016

Friday saw me deciding what books I am going to read for Cathy 746 #20 Books of Summer – there is still time for you all to join in – Part 1 of my list is here

And I finished the week with what is probably my favourite crime fiction read of the year; Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton received the full five stars from yours truly in this review.

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News

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed my reading has slowed to a snail-like pace, this week’s excuse is I took a trip to London with my darling daughter, a birthday present to her and to get wedding accoutrements, including the dreaded hat for me. Thanks to a wonderful woman in Debenhams on Oxford Street the hat has now arrived in Jersey. The weekend saw us walk over 20,000 steps both days so exercise targets were met too.

Charlie and the Chocolate factory

In the evening we went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. It was a wonderful production with the starring role(s) definitely going to the Oompa Loompas!

Sadly the Muffin Man wasn’t in sight…
Do you know the muffin man?
The muffin man, the muffin man.
Do you know the muffin man
Who lives in Drury Lane?

On Tuesday I was thrilled to spot a tweet from Catherine Ryan Howard advertising Distress Signals with a quote from my review!

#DistressSignals

I also spotted this on Amazon for Little Bones by Sam Blake so I’m feeling just a little bit famous this week.

Product Description

Incredibly engrossing with many twists & turns along the way…I would happily recommend Little Bones to anyone looking for a fast paced crime thriller Swirl and Thread Blog The start of an exciting new crime series introducing fearless Detective Cat Connolly… one of the year’s most thrilling reads. Easons Little Bones is a fascinating story about old sins and family secrets. I found the book engrossing from the start, thanks to both the interesting story and its characters. — Magdalena Johansson A Bookaholic Swede Blog I was incredibly impressed by Little Bones. If you like your crime fiction to involve the more traditional police procedural, one that has a little more complexity to the generic, this may well be a book that you will really enjoy. Cleopatra Loves Books Blog Little Bones has suspense, mystery, suspicious death, festering families, a brilliantly executed plot, PLUS characters with plenty of flavour Little Bookness Lane Blog

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Stacking the Shelves

I’ve had a few additions to the TBR this week – with some great approvals from NetGalley

First up Truly Madly Guilty by the outstanding Liane Moriarty which will be published by Penguin UK on 28 July 2016.

Truly Madly Guilty

Blurb

Despite their differences, Erika and Clementine have been best friends since they were children. So when Erika needs help, Clementine should be the obvious person to turn to. Or so you’d think.
For Clementine, as a mother of a two desperately trying to practise for the audition of a lifetime, the last thing she needs is Erika asking for something, again.
But the barbecue should be the perfect way to forget their problems for a while. Especially when their hosts, Vid and Tiffany, are only too happy to distract them.
Which is how it all spirals out of control… NetGalley

Another one from Twenty7 Books is Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan which isn’t out until 3 November 2016.

Cut to the Bone

Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she’s missing. She’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video’s uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.
Who better to head up the investigation than the Met’s rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She’s leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It’s time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Superintendent Zain Harris – poster boy for multiracial policing and the team’s newest member – has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he’s around, can she trust herself?
Ruby’s millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares. And the videos keep coming . . . NetGalley

And… drum roll… I have a copy of Gilly Macmillan’s second book; The Perfect Girl which has already been published in eBook format but will be out in paperback on 25 August 2016 by Little Brown Book Group.

The Perfect Girl

Blurb

To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey – child genius, musical sensation – is perfect. Yet several years ago Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time, and now she’s free.
Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life.
By midnight, her mother is dead.
The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance, and a past that she cannot leave behind. NetGalley

In the post I have a copy of Intrusion by Mary McCluskey a psychological thriller that is being published on 1 July 2016 by Little A. Intrusion

Blurb

Kat and Scott Hamilton are dealing with the hardest of losses: the death of their only child. While Scott throws himself back into his law practice in Los Angeles, Kat is hesitant to rejoin the workplace and instead spends her days shell-shocked and confused, unable to focus.
When an unwelcome face from Kat’s past in England emerges—the beautiful and imposing Sarah Cherrington—Kat’s marriage is thrown into a tailspin. Now wealthy beyond anything she could have imagined as a girl, Sarah appears to have everything she could need or want. But Sarah has an agenda and she wants one more thing. Soon Kat and Scott are caught up in her devious games and power plays.
Against the backdrops of Southern California and Sussex, in spare and haunting prose, Mary McCluskey propels this domestic drama to its chilling conclusion. Goodreads

I also have a copy of Sabine Durrant’s latest book, Lie With Me which came unbidden ahead of publication on 5 July 2016 by Mulholland Books. I strongly suspect I was sent this ARC because I enjoyed the author’s previous books Under Your Skin and Remember Me This Way, both books that I awarded five stars.

Lie With Me

Blurb

It starts with a lie. The kind we’ve all told – to a former acquaintance we can’t quite place but still, for some reason, feel the need to impress. The story of our life, embellished for the benefit of the happily married lawyer with the kids and the lovely home.
And the next thing you know, you’re having dinner at their house, and accepting an invitation to join them on holiday – swept up in their perfect life, the kind you always dreamed of…
Which turns out to be less than perfect. But by the time you’re trapped and sweating in the relentless Greek sun, burning to escape the tension all around you – by the time you start to realise that, however painful the truth might be, it’s the lies that cause the real damage…
… well, by then, it could just be too late. Amazon

And if that wasn’t enough for someone who isn’t acquiring new books… I have also bought a kindle copy of The Mistake by Wendy James. This book was originally bought to my attention by the marvellous Margot Kinberg at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, if you haven’t done so I highly recommend visiting her blog!

The Mistake

Blurb

We all have secrets . . . Jodie Garrow is a teenager from the wrong side of the tracks when she falls pregnant. Scared, alone and desperate to make something of her life, she adopts out the baby illegally and tells nobody. Twenty-five years on, Jodie has built a new life and a new family. But when a chance meeting brings the adoption to the notice of the authorities, Jodie becomes caught in a nationwide police investigation, and the centre of a media witch hunt. What happened to Jodie’s baby? And where is she now? The fallout from Jodie’s past puts her whole family under the microscope, and her husband and daughter must re-examine everything they believed to be true. Potent, provocative and compulsively readable, The Mistake is the story of a mother and the media’s powerful role in shaping our opinions. With astonishing insight, it cuts to the heart of what makes a family, and asks us whether we can ever truly know another person. ‘The kind of novel that will have you second-guessing your own reactions and skilfully exposes the troubling expectations we resort to in the absence of hard evidence. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Oh dear oh dear! Since my last count I have read 3 books,  – I have however gained 6 books – the total this week is now standing at a shocking 181 books!
95 physical books
69 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

 

What have you found to read this week?