Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (November 2014 to November 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.

So without further ado let’s see what books November has brought to me over the last five years!

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

In November 2014 I read a book which happens to fall into my favourite type of sub-genre that of fiction inspired by true crime, the book being The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton. This book’s inspiration was the murder of Meredith Kercher and although the circumstances in this book were different it was a book that made me think about what I would do if faced with a phone call from my daughter miles away, in trouble for quite a serious crime.

More than this being a murder mystery it is a story that explores the often complex relationship between mothers and daughters.

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.

A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.

A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Amazon

In November 2015 I discovered the classic novel The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. What a wonderful book, multi-layered, very English and an absolute delight to read and I was astounded to realise that I had somehow missed out on this brilliant novel.

With that famous opening line ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ being on that line that sets the reader up nearly as well as ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.’ So I turned the pages schizophrenically wanting to race ahead while slowing down to savour the wonderful prose, even better this is one of the best coming of age stories ever, better even than my favourite to date; Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I said at the time I though this book would haunt me for many years to come; so far it has.


Blurb

When one long, hot summer, young Leo is staying with a school-friend at Brandham Hall, he begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, the beautiful young woman up at the hall. He becomes drawn deeper and deeper into their dangerous game of deceit and desire, until his role brings him to a shocking and premature revelation. The haunting story of a young boy’s awakening into the secrets of the adult world, The Go-Between is also an unforgettable evocation of the boundaries of Edwardian society.

In November 2016 I read an unusual book, and it really touched my heart. In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings was one that both took me by surprise and delighted me with the affection I felt for the key characters. In my mind a successful book has a number of elements, a mystery, a strong plot underpinned by believable characters, preferably in extraordinary circumstances, In Her Wake hits these and has that special something extra too.

Blurb

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

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 also 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.

Last year I was reading a crime fiction book that falls into the grittier end of crime fiction; Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite. This is not one for the faint-hearted and even the most hardened reader will be tempted to check their doors after meeting Adam. Adam longs for love but I just want to put it out there – watching women and helping them with their household chores when they don’t know you is not really going to do it for any of the women I know, and sure enough to date it is fair to say Adam has been unlucky in love.

You should really read this one, perfect for the winter nights when the wind is howling and the rain is lashing down, and you are safe inside – or are you?

Blurb

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends? Amazon

Although I have had a bit of dip in my reading lately that doesn’t mean that I haven’t read some fantastic books including The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes, in a neat bookend to the choice in 2014’s choice, this book is inspired by records of a murder in Bromley in 1843.

This was a book that hit me hard. To think of a poor young woman, pregnant and poisoned in a privy behind the local chapel is hard enough, to realise that no-one was held accountable for her death is harder still. Elizabeth Haynes gives us a version of events that will pull you back in time and whether you think it is plausible, given the evidence, is up to you.

Blurb

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a delicious Victorian crime novel based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, is found murdered in the privy behind the chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent.

The community is appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the surgeon reports that Harriet was around six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet’s final hours through the eyes of those closest to her and the last people to see her alive. Her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, her former lover—all are suspects; each has a reason to want her dead. Amazon

 

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018

 

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (November 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

I have long been fascinated with books that examine what makes children kill and what repercussions that has on the both the victims families but those of the perpetrator. One such book that examines this phenomenon is The Child Who by Simon Leilic which I read in November 2011.

The Child Who

Blurb

An unimaginable crime and the man who must defend it-a probing psychological thriller from the author of A Thousand Cuts. A chance phone call throws the biggest murder case in southern England into the hands of provincial attorney Leo Curtice. Twelve-year- old Daniel Blake stands accused of murdering an eleven-year-old girl. But who is truly responsible when one child kills another? As Curtice sets out to defend the indefensible, he soon finds himself pitted against an enraged community calling for blood. When the build-up of pressure takes a sinister turn, he fears for his wife and young daughter’s safety. Must he choose between his family and the life of a damaged child? With piercing psychological insight, Lelic examines a community’s response to a hideous crime.

2012 yr

November 2012 saw me read the very first of the Lewis Trilogy, The Blackhouse by Peter May – one of my best complete chance discoveries ever – this was long before I began blogging and was ill in bed and picked it up as a kindle deal for a mere 99p. Luckily for me the second book had already been published and I didn’t have to wait long for the final part. The Blackhouse (and the following two books) has strands in the past that link to a mystery in the present whilst being set in an amazing landscape and has a captivating chief protagonist in Fin Macleod.

The Blackhouse

Blurb

When a brutal murder on the Isle of Lewis bears the hallmarks of a similar slaying in Edinburgh, police detective Fin Macleod is dispatched north to investigate. But since he himself was raised on Lewis, the investigation also represents a journey home and into his past.

2013yr

The end of 2013 saw the beginning of a raft of books published to commemorate 100 years since the start of WWI and one of my favourite’s was The Moon Field by Judith Allnatt. This is a coming of age story set in war-time and the author certainly doesn’t sugar coat the realities of this war – the descriptions of the cold and the mud, the noise and the horror were all amongst the pages of this book, whilst ensuring that this was a story and not a history lesson.

The Moon Field

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

It is 1914. George Farrell cycles through the tranquil Cumberland fells to deliver a letter, unaware that it will change his life. George has fallen for the beautiful daughter at the Manor House, Miss Violet, but when she lets slip the contents of the letter George is heartbroken to discover that she is already promised to another man. George escapes his heartbreak by joining the patriotic rush to war, but his past is not so easily avoided. His rite of passage into adulthood leaves him beliveing that no woman will be able to love the man he has become.

2014yr

In 2014 I my favourite choice was a book loosely based on a real-life crime, that committed against Meredith Kercher who was killed in Italy whilst studying, one of the chief suspects was her American housemate who has now finally been cleared. In The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton the role of a mother whose child is suspected of murder in a foreign country was convincingly and shockingly imagined.

The Perfect Mother

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters.

2015yr

My choice for the best read in November 2015 was sparked from a television adaption, quite amazing as a rarely get to even hold the remote and in this instance it was left on a channel in the background. The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley is one of the best books I have ever read – I loved this coming of age tale, so much I’m sure I will have to re-read it before too long.

The Go-Betweeen

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo, the hero of L. P. Hartley’s finest novel, encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend’s beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years. The inspiration for the brilliant Joseph Losey/Harold Pinter film starring Julie Christie and Alan Bates, The Go-Between is a masterpiece—a richly layered, spellbinding story about past and present, naiveté and knowledge, and the mysteries of the human heart.

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my November reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August.

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best
September Five of the Best
October Five of the Best

Posted in Books I have read

The Perfect Mother – Nina Darnton

Crime Fiction  5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

The premise to this book had me hooked, Jennifer is the mother to three children the eldest of which is Emma who at twenty is studying in Spain. One night Jennifer takes a phone call that changes her life, Emma is at the Police station, suspect in the murder of a local boy. I love books that let me play the ‘What would I do game’ and this is definitely one of those reads.

This book is as much about Jennifer and her relationships than the murder of Rodrigo Perez which almost becomes the backdrop to the drama being played out in Jennifer’s life as she is faced with the reality that her daughter which is different to that of the pretty, intelligent honour roll girl who goes to Princeton, this is a girl who has been lying to her parents about where she lives and how she spends her days for months.

This book has obviously been based on the killing of Meredith Kercher, an English student studying in Italy whose roommate, American Amanda Knox was suspected of being involved in her murder. That case hit the international news and to this day hasn’t properly been resolved. However, although the headlines to that case have been used by Nina Darnton this is book does not seek to directly copy that murder but rather used it a starting point. What is similar is the reporting by the media in the country of the murder using the fact that Emma was an American and allegedly brash and promiscuous in their news while back in America Jennifer enlists the help of a friend to brief a PR company to emphasise that Emma was the perfect daughter and her supposed involvement is all a horrible mistake. The other similarity is the way both Italy and Spain come up with a narrative that includes motive to build their prosecution case and it is up to the defence to disprove this. All of this makes for a fascinating read.

There are some good supporting characters to this story including Emma’s father Mark who is a US Attorney along with the local defence lawyer Jose and his support assistance Roberto. Jose and Roberto are Jennifer’s main support in the early days of the investigation while Mark remains in the US appearing in court and assisting Jennifer’s parents in looking after Emma’s younger siblings. Any parent will recognise albeit in an extreme form the prioritisation of everyday life and multiple children who need you.

I really enjoyed this book on many different levels and although both of the key protagonists are not people that I’d want to spend time with their reactions to the events as they unfold were suitable for the story being told.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Penguin Group Plume for allowing me to read and ponder over this book ahead of publication on 25 November 2014.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (November 19)

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 Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby a book which I came across in excerpt format when I stumbled across the author’s blog.  Ignoring Gravity is about to be published on 21 November 2014.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby

Blurb

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.
‘Ignoring Gravity’ connects two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Finding her mother’s lost diaries, Rose begins to understand why she has always seemed the outsider in her family, why she feels so different from her sister Lily. Then just when she thinks there can’t be any more secrets…
This is the first in a series of novels about Rose Haldane, identity detective. Amazon

I recently finished the thought-provoking The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton which is based upon Emma, an American girl who while studying in Spain is a suspect in the murder of a local boy. Narrated by Jennifer, her mother, this book skilfully describes how she has to realign her image of her daughter to fit the facts of the case. My review will follow shortly.

The Perfect Mother

Next I am going to read The Burning Girl by Lisa Unger ,the second in the three part set of novellas by this author which started with The Whispers.

 

The Burning Girl
Blurb

Ten years after Eloise Montgomery discovers her psychic abilities, she is a full-fledged working psychic, with a partner and a business. Now, in The Burning Girl, she’s discovering some disturbing things: secrets about her genealogy that are, perhaps, best left in the past; that her granddaughter Finley has powers of her own; and that not all of Eloise’s visitors actually want to be helped. Some of them are just looking for trouble…Goodreads

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (November 18)

Kindle,jpg

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton

The Perfect Mother

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Goodreads

My Teaser

“How much is this place a day?” Emma asked, looking around disapprovingly at the formal floral curtains and matching bedspreads, the plush carpeting, high ceilings, and elaborately carved crown moldings.
“I’m not sure. Dad made the reservation”
“Well, I’ll bet it’s at least four hundred euros a day, more than many workers here earn in a month, if they’re lucky enough to have any job at all. It’s kind of obscene to pay that much in this economy”

What do you think? Do you want to know more?
Please leave the link to your teaser in the comments box below

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (November 12)

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 Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen an edgy psychological thriller.

Dying for Christmas

Blurb

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out.
But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?Goodreads

I have recently finished my surprise find for the year, Interlude by Rupert Smith
which is a book about a writer and his secrets. This was an enthralling read set partly in the present by Helen and then across the decades  from the 1930’s to the 1960’s by her Grandfather Edward Barton.
click on the book cover to read my review

Interlude

Next I am going to read The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton which I imagine is going to bring out a lot of ‘What would I do?’ moments.
The Perfect Mother

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. Goodreads

What are you reading this week? Please share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (November 7)

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

This week I have been approved by the publishers, Penguin Plume,The Perfect Mother by Nina Darnton This sounds really good with parallels to the Amanda Knox trial in Italy.

The Perfect Mother

Blurb

When an American exchange student is accused of murder, her mother will stop at nothing to save her.
A midnight phone call shatters Jennifer Lewis’s carefully orchestrated life. Her daughter, Emma, who’s studying abroad in Spain, has been arrested after the brutal murder of another student. Jennifer rushes to her side, certain the arrest is a terrible mistake and determined to do whatever is necessary to bring Emma home. But as she begins to investigate the crime, she starts to wonder whether she ever really knew her daughter. The police charge Emma, and the press leaps on the story, exaggerating every sordid detail. One by one, Emma’s defense team, her father, and finally even Jennifer begin to have doubts.
A novel of harrowing emotional suspense, The Perfect Mother probes the dark side of parenthood and the complicated bond between mothers and daughters. NetGalley

I have bought a copy of The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty because I’ve been poorly and my will-power is significantly weakened, but really having loved all three previous reads (The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot & Little Lies) by this author I think this one will be a winner!

The Last Anniversary

Blurb

Seventy-three years have passed since sisters Rose and Connie Doughty found an abandoned baby in the only other house on their little island, Scribbly Gum. And since then the ‘Munro Baby Mystery’ has brought them fame and fortune.
But now, with Connie dead and newcomer Sophie Honeywell inheriting her home, and everyone around them tirelessly trying to solve the mystery, Rose begins to wonder if they made the right decision all those years ago. How much longer they can cover up the truth behind the mystery that has sustained their community for four generations? And what other secrets might be revealed? Goodreads

I’ve been longing for a copy of You by Caroline Kepnes for some time but referencing the poor will-power above I also have a copy of this one too.

You

Blurb

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.
Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .
A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before. Goodreads

and finally I have a copy of The Art of the English Murder – From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley on the way. This book will sit beside my copy of A Very British Murder by the same author.

The Art of the English Murder

Blurb

Murder a dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy. And a very strange, very English obsession. But where did this fixation develop? And what does it tell us about ourselves? In The Art of the English Murder, Lucy Worsley explores this phenomenon in forensic detail, revisiting notorious crimes like the Ratcliff Highway Murders, which caused a nationwide panic in the early nineteenth century, and the case of Frederick and Maria Manning, the suburban couple who were hanged after killing Maria s lover and burying him under their kitchen floor. Our fascination with crimes like these became a form of national entertainment, inspiring novels and plays, prose and paintings, poetry and true-crime journalism. At a point during the birth of modern England, murder entered our national psyche, and it s been a part of us ever since. The Art of the English Murder is a unique exploration of the art of crime and a riveting investigation into the English criminal soul by one of our finest historians.” Goodreads

What have you found to read this week? Please share.