Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (May 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

My favourite read in May 2011 was the one that first graced my bedside table when I moved into my current home, and what a read it was! This book still sits on my bookshelf and even better, this author’s subsequent books have meant that she is now on the ‘must-read’ list.
The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen

The Mistresses Revenge

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

You think you are rid of me.
You think you have drawn a line under the whole affair.
You are so, so wrong.

For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her, to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall.
It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally befriends Clive’s wife and daughter on Facebook. But that’s alright isn’t it? I mean they are perfectly normal things to do. Aren’t they?
Not since Fatal Attraction has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny and disturbing way.. After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken? Amazon

2012 yr

Sadly I didn’t award any books the full five stars in May 2012 so my choice goes to the strongest of the four star reads; Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes which is the first in the series featuring Alice Quentin, a psychologist

Crossbones Yard

Blurb

Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.
The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined. Goodreads

2013yr

My May 2013 choice was inspired my daughter’s history dissertation from the previous year which was on the cheery subject of infanticide, Caversham Lock by Michael Stewart Conway features the infamous baby farmer in Victorian England, Amelia Dyer.

Caversham Lock

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

When a parcel containing a dead baby is pulled from the Thames, detectives Furnivall and Stubbs are sent to deal with the matter. They investigate at breakneck speed- it is 1896, after all, and they have all the advantages of the modern world to help them. Using microscopes, the rail network and the telegraph, they identify the culprits- a Mrs Dyer and her daughter, Polly. Even as they close in, Mrs Dyer has been back to Caversham Lock with another victim. By the time the two women are arrested there are seven little bodies in the mortuary at Reading. Each has Mrs Dyer’s trademark white dressmaker’s tape around its neck.
The case doesn’t work out as planned, however, and they’re forced to travel to the west country. Despite being under strict orders to return to Reading, they set an ambush on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But a storm is rolling in, and there is another man in Bristol – a man from the Home Office sent to clean up his superiors’ mistakes. Goodreads

2014yr

The Ties That Bind
by Erin Kelly is my top choice from May 2014. Erin Kelly is one of my favourite authors and this tale that features a writer attempting to emulate his hero Truman Capote. This book about atonement has far more depth than we are normally treated to.

The Ties That Bind

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Goodreads

2015yr

Somehow it is always hardest to pick the favourite of the last month’s reading without the benefit of the test of time but this month’s book is an intelligent and insightful read that really ‘spoke’ to me, as well as being a cracking good read…. drum roll please… My choice is Evil Games by Angela Marsons which was only published on Friday.

Evil Games

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.
With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.
Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my May reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best

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

The Ties That Bind – Erin Kelly

Psychological Thriller
Crime Fiction
5*’s

There is nothing more enthralling for me than reading about a writer researching a story, especially when the story being planned is about a murder!

Luke a journalist who blotted his copybook, is convinced his big break can happen if he can emulate the great true-crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. When he decides to leave Leeds for Brighton it is with the taste of failure in his mouth following the disappointment of a lost opportunity he finds the perfect subject to research; gangster turned philanthropist, Joss Stone whose partner in crime, Jacky Nye was murdered in 1968. Jacky Nye was strangled and thrown into the sea only to be discovered washed up at West Pier some days later, all evidence as to what had happened erased. Luke is convinced he has found the perfect story and sets about his research, throwing caution to the wind when he is repeatedly advised to find a different subject. It soon becomes clear that perhaps Luke should have heeded these warnings.

This is a fast-paced book with numerous twists and turns as Luke tries to find those who know the answers to the long ago mystery, including the young woman in the red dress who was seen fleeing the scene. In this book, you don’t only get a fantastic plot but also vivid descriptions and a theme of redemption running throughout. This changes The Ties That Bind from a straight mystery to something more complex, a book that made me think about the atonement of sins, both large and small.

Erin Kelly is one of my favourite writers with her last book The Burning Air being one of my favourite reads of 2014. The change in subject in this book just serves to underline that this is an author who writes distinctly different books but always manages that special array of characters that walk off the pages and into your imagination, so clearly that you miss them when the book is finished. In The Ties That Bind there is an abundance of different characters, Joss Stone is a puzzle, why did he turn his back on the gangster lifestyle? Why is Jem, Luke’s previous partner so controlling, and why, despite despising his behaviour, did I feel a vested interested in his well-being? And what was the relationship with the recently deceased Kathleen Duffy, whose house Luke is renting, and Joss Stone? You’ll have to read the book to find out?

I am extremely grateful that the publishers Hodder & Stoughton provided me with a copy of this book to review. This book was published on 8 May 2014.

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (May 7)

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 Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly which tells the tale of Luke a man researching the murder of Jacky Nye who was strangled and thrown into the sea many decades ago. Was the murderer actually the gangster’s partner Joss Grand? With a good mix of characters this is shaping up to be a great read.

The Ties That Bind

I have just finished reading The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Wright.

click on the cover to read my review

The Secrets We Left Behind

Blurb

She has built a good life: a husband who adores her, a daughter she is fiercely proud of, a home with warmth and love at its heart. But things were not always so good, and the truth is that she has done things she can never admit.
Then one evening a phone call comes out of the blue. It is a voice from long ago, from a past that she has tried so hard to hide. Scott knows who she really is and what she has done. Now he is dying and he gives her an ultimatum: either she tells the truth, or he will.
And so we are taken back to that long hot summer of 1976 to a house by the sea, where her story begins and where the truth will be revealed… NetGalley

Next on my list is The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle

Blurb

Elizabeth Pringle has lived on the beautiful island of Arran for over 90 years; the retired teacher and spinster is a familiar and yet solitary figure tending her garden and riding her bicycle around the island. When she dies she leaves her beloved house, “Holmlea” to a woman she merely saw pushing a pram down the road over thirty years ago. That young mother, Anna, had put a letter through Elizabeth’s door asking to buy the house, but Elizabeth never pursued her. But time passed and Anna is now in a home with dementia and it falls to her daughter Martha, the baby in the pram, to come and take up their inheritance. Goodreads

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (May 6)

Teasing Tuesday CB

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

their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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

My Teaser this week is from The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly

The Ties That Bind

Blurb

Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Goodreads

My Teaser

I’ll wait until you’ve got your taped confession, or some other supporting evidence – something to prove to me, and to potential publishers, that you really own this story. I think it’s for the best, after what happened last time.

I’ve only just started this book but based on how much I loved Erin Kelly’s The Burning Air ,I think I’m in for a treat.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (May 2)

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!

Firstly I was delighted to be approved by Hodder & Stoughton to read a copy of The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly after her last novel The Burning Air was one of my Top Ten Reads of 2013.

The Ties That Bind

Blurb

Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Amazon

I have also got a copy of Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf, an author who has always provided me with a good tale…

Little Mercies

Blurb

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.
Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.
A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together. NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of This Is The Water by Yannick Murphy

This Is The Water

Blurb

This is a novel about a woman. About a mother. About a marriage.
About a murder.
In the brightly lit public pool the killer swims and watches. Amongst the mothers cheering on their swim team daughters is Annie. Watching her two girls race, she’s thinking of other things. Her husband’s emotional distance. Her lost brother. The man she’s drawn to.
Then she learns a terrible secret.
Now her everyday cares and concerns seem meaningless. Annie knows she has to act. Above all, she must protect her children. Amazon

After reading FictionFan’s Book Reviews blog last week, which is always dangerous, there was a link to Bibliopotamus’ Book Reviews who had written an intriguing review of So Brilliantly Clever by Peter Graham click on the book cover to read the review

So Brilliantly Clever
Blurb

On June 22, 1954, teenage friends Juliet Hulme—better known as bestselling mystery writer Anne Perry—and Pauline Parker went for a walk in a New Zealand park with Pauline’s mother, Honora. Half an hour later, the girls returned alone, claiming that Pauline’s mother had had an accident. But when Honora Parker was found in a pool of blood with the brick used to bludgeon her to death close at hand, Juliet and Pauline were quickly arrested, and later confessed to the killing. Their motive? A plan to escape to the United States to become writers, and Honora’s determination to keep them apart. Their incredible story made shocking headlines around the world and would provide the subject for Peter Jackson’s Academy Award–nominated film, Heavenly Creatures.
A sensational trial followed, with speculations about the nature of the girls’ relationship and possible insanity playing a key role. Among other things, Parker and Hulme were suspected of lesbianism, which was widely considered to be a mental illness at the time. This mesmerizing book offers a brilliant account of the crime and ensuing trial and shares dramatic revelations about the fates of the young women after their release from prison. With penetrating insight, this thorough analysis applies modern psychology to analyze the shocking murder that remains one of the most interesting cases of all time. Amazon

So what have you found this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (February 28)

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 here we are at the end of February and my TBR continues to grow at a fair old rate

From NetGalley this week I have The Accident by C.L. Taylor which is due to be published on 10 April 2014.

The Accident
Blurb

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.
Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.
Sue will do anything to protect her daughter. But what if she is the reason that Charlotte is in danger? NetGalley

I also have a copy of The Other Half by Sarah Rayner whose writing I love and even better it chronicles an affair and I haven’t read about adultery for a while! This one will be published on 25 March 2014.

The Other Half

Blurb

Chloe, bright, hip and single, is a feature writer with ambitions to launch a magazine of her own. When she meets James, her potential new boss, she knows she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, but finds it impossible to resist…
Maggie appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something’s not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn’t come home at all… Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love. Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed? In writing that is lively, sexy and sharp, the international bestselling author Sarah Rayner explores modern-day relationships and age-old moral dilemmas. NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I chose Precious Thing by Colette McBeth, a book I have been interested in for a while but had resisted until the willpower melted away.

Precious Thing

Blurb

I know her inside out. I know what she’s thinking, I know what she wants. So I can’t give up on her, she knows I never will.
Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.
They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether?
Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it. Goodreads

Erin Kelly has another book due to be published in May so The Ties That Bind and since The Burning Air was on my top 10 of 2013, this had to go onto the TBR in readiness.

The Ties That Bind

Blurb

Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger.Goodreads

Lastly I have added The Farm by Tom Rob Smith to my TBR after seeing it mentioned on FictionFan’s TBR Thursday

The Farm


Blurb

Until the moment he received a frantic call from his father, Daniel believed his parents were headed into a peaceful, well-deserved retirement. They had sold their home and business in London, and said “farewell to England” with a cheerful party where all their friends had gathered to wish them well on their great adventure: setting off to begin life anew on a remote, bucolic farm in rural Sweden.
But with that phone call, everything changes. Your mother’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things–terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and has been committed to a mental hospital.
Daniel prepares to rush to Sweden, on the first available flight the next day. Before he can board the plane, his father contacts him again with even more frightening news: his mother has been released from the hospital, and he doesn’t know where she is.
Then, he hears from his mother:
I’m sure your father has spoken to you. Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad. I don’t need a doctor. I need the police. I’m about to board a flight to London. Meet me at Heathrow.
Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a horrible crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father. Goodreads

So what have you found to read this week?