Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (September 3)

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 The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House

Blurb

It’s 1965 and eighteen year-old Rosie Churchill has run away to the beautiful but run-down Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. But when she uncovers a scandal locked away in the walls of the old house, she soon comes to realise that neither her own troubled past nor that of the house will stay buried for long. . .
In 1924 fresh-faced Robert Carver comes to Castaway House to spend a languid summer in the company of his much wealthier cousin, Alec Bray. But the Brays are a damaged family, with damaging secrets. And little does Robert know that his world is about to change for ever.
As Rosie begins to learn more about Robert, the further she is drawn into the mysterious history of the house, and their stories, old and new, entwine. NetGalley

I have just finished The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson, a historical novel told in three separate parts which are cleverly drawn together for a fantastic finale.

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Sea Garden

Next I am going to read Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards after really enjoying, and book-pushing The Magpies by the same author, I have high hopes for this one.

Because She Loves Me

Blurb

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.
But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth…
Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares? NetGalley

Please share your reads for the week with me in the comments below.

Posted in Books I have read

The Sea Garden – Deborah Lawrenson

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction
4*’s

I love a good historical novel especially those set in war-time. Deborah Lawrenson has created a twist on the normal dual time narrative, in this book we have three narratives told up to a point with the denouement linking the three together. This is all helped by the way the author has captured both the time periods but also the different places our narrators are located.

Ellie’s story is the longest, set in the present day she visits the island of Porquerolles where she has a commission to re-design a memorial garden but her trip doesn’t begin well with a young man falling overboard on the ferry journey. Despite the delay Ellie is keen to get stuck in to the exciting task at hand but soon finds the owner, to be a little eccentric and his mother even more so. There are a number of mysteries hinted up and a strong suggestion of the supernatural which I wasn’t so keen on and this part of the novel ended with Ellie preparing to leave Porquerolles.

The second narrative is that of a blind girl Marthe resident in Southern France during the Second World War. Marthe starts of as quite a naïve but loyal girl but as the war continues she is forced to be incredibly brave as her employers, perfume makers, become more involved in the Resistance. Reading Marthe’s story was quite uplifting and showcased the author’s ability to develop a character in a short space of time and exploring without ever being exploitive the problems that someone who has lost their sight encounters.

Last we have my favourite from all the novellas with Iris’s narrative at the heart of the British Security Services during the war, based in Baker Street London. During the course of her tenure she witnesses loss of friends as well as a love affair with a fellow spy. The agents embark on missions to fly into France for undertaking various tasks on behalf of the Security Services adding to the tension within the pages. This was a sad tale which really bought home the danger that the spies undertook, more heart-breaking still when the author shows us that not all the spies were on the same side, or if they were it could be that they were seeking a different outcome.

This book was unusual because the three stories appeared to be separate not only because they focus on different characters and places but also in tone and pace. Ellie’s story is quite spooky and drawn out, whereas Marthe’s story quickly picks up the pace with plenty of intrigue to keep the reader’s interest before Iris’s narrative which has some romance as well as the hard-hitting realities of what life must have been like for those involved in this little spoken about aspect of the war. stories.

A great read for anyone who wants to learn about more than the fighting or homeland in war time with characters that are both fascinating and realistic.

I am very grateful to Orion Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for this honest review.

Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (August 27)

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 The Secret Place by Tana French a brilliant mystery which is the fifth in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

The Secret Place

Blurb

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear. NetGalley

I have just finished reading Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver, the fifth in the David Raker series, a clever read that has sealed this author as one of my ‘must-read’ all of his books list!

Click on the cover to read my review

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

Next I am going to read The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden

Blurb

Present day. On a lush Mediterranean island off the French coast, Ellie has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. It seems idyllic, but the longer Ellie spends at the house and garden, the more she senses darkness, and a lingering evil that seems to haunt her.
Second World War. Two very different women have their lives irrevocably changed: Iris, a junior intelligence officer in London and Marthe, a blind girl who works in the lavender fields of Provence and is slowly drawn into the heart of the Resistance. As secret messages are passed in scent and planes land by moonlight, danger comes ever closer…Amazon

What are you reading this week? Please share your books in the comments section.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (July 11)

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 I was feeling smug having knocked 15 books off the TBR whilst on my holidays and the internet access was so poor that no new purchases were possible and then it all went wrong…

From NetGalley I have the following new finds:

I couldn’t resist Victorian Murderesses by Mary S. Hartman and published by Dover Publications on 14 June 2014.

Victorian Murderesses

Blurb

This riveting combination of true crime and social history examines a dozen cases from the 1800s involving thirteen French and English women charged with murder. Each incident was a cause célèbre, and this mixture of scandal and scholarship offers illuminating details of backgrounds, deeds, and trials.
“The real delight is that historian Mary S. Hartman does more than reconstruct twelve famous trials. She has written a piece on the social history of nineteenth-century women from an illuminating perspective: their favorite murders.” — Time Magazine. NetGalley

I’m also delighted to have a copy of Because She Loves Me by Mark Edwards having recommended his solo debut novel The Magpies to everyone I know.  This novel will be published by Thomas & Mercer on 2 September 2014.

Because She Loves Me

Blurb

When Andrew Sumner meets beautiful, edgy Charlie, he is certain his run of bad luck has finally come to an end.
But as the two of them embark on an intense affair, Andrew wonders if his grasp on reality is slipping. Items go missing in his apartment. Somebody appears to be following him. And as misfortune and tragedy strike his friends and loved ones, Andrew is forced to confront the frightening truth…
Is Charlie really the girl of his dreams – or the woman of his nightmares? NetGalley

I came across a review for The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson at The Book Musings and Orion Publishing Group were kind enough to let me have a copy ahead of the publication date of 28 August 2014.

The Sea Garden

Blurb

Present day. On a lush Mediterranean island off the French coast, Ellie has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. It seems idyllic, but the longer Ellie spends at the house and garden, the more she senses darkness, and a lingering evil that seems to haunt her.
Second World War. Two very different women have their lives irrevocably changed: Iris, a junior intelligence officer in London and Marthe, a blind girl who works in the lavender fields of Provence and is slowly drawn into the heart of the Resistance. As secret messages are passed in scent and planes land by moonlight, danger comes ever closer…NetGalley

Lastly I have a copy of Your Beautiful Lies by Louise Douglas from the Random House UK. This book is due to be published on 14 August 2014.

Your Beautiful Lies
Blurb

Annie Howarth is living a restless life in a restless town. It’s 1987 and for a mining community in South Yorkshire, the strikes mean tensions are running high. Then a murdered girl is found on the moors and the anxiety levels are pushed to a dangerous breaking point.
Married to the Chief of Police, Annie should feel safe – William can be secretive, though surely whatever he’s hiding is for her own good.
But Annie is keeping her own secrets. Ten years ago the man she loved was ripped from her life in a scandal that still haunts the both of them, and now his return will put her family, her marriage, even her life, at risk. NetGalley

I also had a birthday while I was on holiday and my lovely brother sent me two new books for my return. Rather meanly he also wrapped and posted a collection of scouring pads which I can’t even think about without pulling a face that looks like I’m sucking a lemon (I know a strange phobia but it does mean I can’t do any cleaning with this particular product!) Needless to say they were unwrapped and scattered as I shouted an impressive array of expletives.
Scouring Pads

So back to the books!
I have a copy of The Great Silence by Juliet Nicolson which details the period following the First World War from 1918 to 1920.

The Great Silence

Blurb

The euphoria of Armistice Day 1918 vaporizes to reveal the carnage that war has left in its wake. But from Britain’s despair emerges new life. For veterans with faces demolished in the trenches, surgeon Harold Gillies brings hope with his miraculous skin-grafting procedure. Women win the vote, skirt hems leap, and Brits forget their troubles at packed dance halls. The remains of a nameless soldier are laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey. “The Great Silence,” observed in memory of the countless dead, halts citizens in silent reverence.
Nicolson crafts her narrative using a lively cast of characters: from an aging butler to a pair of newlyweds, from the Prince of Wales to T.E. Lawrence, the real-life Lawrence of Arabia. The Great Silence depicts a nation fighting the forces that threaten to tear it apart and discovering the common bonds that hold it together. Goodreads

..and I have a copy of Stranger In The House by Julie Summers which explores the effects of the Second World War.

Stranger in the house
Blurb

‘It is as if I have been waiting for someone to ask me these questions for almost the whole of my life’
From 1945, more than four million British servicemen were demobbed and sent home after the most destructive war in history. Damaged by fighting, imprisonment or simply separation from their loved ones, these men returned to a Britain that had changed in their absence. In Stranger in the House, Julie Summers tells the women’s story, interviewing over a hundred women who were on the receiving end of demobilisation: the mothers, wives, sisters, who had to deal with an injured, emotionally-damaged relative; those who assumed their fiances had died only to find them reappearing after they had married another; women who had illegitimate children following a wartime affair as well as those whose steadfast optimism was rewarded with a delightful reunion. Many of the tales are moving, some are desperately sad, others are full of humour but all provide a fascinating account of how war altered ordinary women’s lives forever. Amazon

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of The Arsonist by Sue Miller based on the fact that I haven’t read any of her books for a few years. I don’t know why she dropped of my radar.

The Arsonist

Blurb

Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for fifteen years, Frankie Rowley has come home—home to the small New Hampshire village of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Then another house burns, and another, always the houses of the summer people. In a town where people have never bothered to lock their doors, social fault lines are opened, and neighbors begin to regard one another with suspicion. Against this backdrop of menace and fear, Frankie begins a passionate, unexpected affair with the editor of the local paper, a romance that progresses with exquisite tenderness and heat toward its own remarkable risks and revelations. Amazon

Lastly I had a delivery of two more of Margaret Yorke’s books, fortunately I enjoyed A Small Deceit which I read on holiday (review will follow but I have something of a backlog now) and can’t wait to sample more from this author.

False Pretences by Margaret Yorke was originally published in 1998 but has been reissued in 2013.

False Pretences
Blurb

When Isabel’s god-daughter Emily turns up after years of no contact and in need of help she feels duty-bound to take her under her wing. To her surprise Emily is determined to be independent and takes a job as nanny. Emily’s charge turns out to be the illegitimate child of the naïve daughter of a well-to-do couple and a ne’er-do-well conman who disappeared before the baby was born. And now he is back intent on exploiting his parental status in return for cash.
Before she knows it Emily is caught up in his botched attempts at blackmail trying desperately to protect her charge from harm while also shielding Isabel from becoming entangled in the drama. But when events beyond her control force her to act instinctively with horrendous effect all their lives are put terribly at risk. Amazon

While my last find The Small Hours Of The Morning by Margaret Yorke was originally published nearly 40 years ago in 1975!

The Small Hours of the Morning

Blurb

Lorna couldn’t stop spying on Cecil Titmuss. His life was her idea of perfection – a loving family and spouse, and respect in the community. But when she finds out Mrs Titmuss’s secret – which threatens Cecil’s security – Lorna must do something to save the family. How far will she go? Amazon

So by my reckoning my impressive 15 book reduction has rapidly reduced to 6 in the space of a few days!

What have you found to read?