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Reading Bingo for 2015

reading-bingo-small

I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.

 

A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title

Disclaimer

There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

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

Posted in 20 Books of Summer 2015!, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Whicharts – Noel Streatfeild

20 books of summer logo

Historical Fiction 5*s
Historical Fiction
5*s

I loved Noel Streatfeild’s first children’s book Ballet Shoes , a book that was re-read more times than I can recall throughout my childhood, so when I realised that this book was actually based on the author’s first attempt at an adult novel, The Whicharts, I knew I had to read this. Then as is so often the way it sat hidden away on my bookshelf, unopened, until now.

Reading The Whicharts is an odd experience with echoes of Ballet Shoes never far away and so it became a little like a game of spot the difference, with only my memory to depend upon. In The Whicharts we have a darker and seedier elder sister to the more uplifting Ballet Shoes, where childhood dreams can come true given enough grit and determination and as long as you remain loyal to those who love you.

Indeed both books start almost identically with the author clearly taking the earlier novel and superimposing the details for what would become a commended runner up for the Carnegie Medal on publication in 1936

 The Whicharts

The Whichart children lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is furthest from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it to be taken to look at the dolls’ houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day, and if not too wet expected to “save the penny and walk”.

Saving the penny and walking was a great feature of their childhood.

“Our Father,” Maimie the eldest would say, “must have been a definitely taxi person; he couldn’t have known about walking, or he’d never have bought a house at the far end of the longest road in London.”

Ballet Shoes

The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is furthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it to be taken to look at the dolls’ houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day, and if not too wet expected to “save the penny and walk”.

Saving the penny and walking was a great feature of their childhood.

“Gum,” Pauline, the eldest would say, “must have been a very taxi person; he couldn’t have ever thought about walking or he’d never have bought a house at the far end of the longest road in London.”

For anyone who hasn’t read Ballet Shoes the story is one of three girls who use their talents to support their family in a loyal bid to keep them all together when the money from their nominal guardian, Gum, runs out. The eldest girl, Pauline was an actress, Posy the youngest was a talented dancer and Petrova hates everything to do with the stage but still participates to earn her keep. There are moral tales inserted such as ‘not getting too big for your boots’ when Pauline loses out to her understudy because of her high and mighty ways. The book presents a career on the stage as exciting and rewarding for those who have a passion and through thick and thin the girls stick together. Basically all the ingredients to keep a young reader entertained!

The Fossils were mysterious finds of Gum (Great Uncle Matthew), who were placed with his niece, the Whicharts are the more grubby illegitimate offspring of the Brigadier who dumps them on his long-discarded mistresses, Rose, who is ably assisted by Nannie and Cook. As the girls grow up a little and money is becoming shorter Nannie decides it is time for the girls to go to school, they will take in boarders to pay the fees and keep the household afloat. There is just one problem what name to use to enrol them with. In the end it is the middle sister, Tania who decides:

“By our Farver’s name in course.”
Rose was puzzled.
“What name darling?”
“Whichart in course.”
Rose must have looked hopelessly fogged, because Maimie said kindly as one helping an imbecile:
“Our Father Whichart.”

As in Ballet Shoes it is the youngest of the sisters, this time named Daisy, the daughter of a dancer from Balham, that has the talent for dancing. Her talent is spotted and encouraged by one of the boarders Violet, who introduces them to Madame Elise. And so it is that after some momentary pangs about the suitability of such a career, that all three attend the dancing academy which dusty and dirty. In this book I think we get a far more realistic idea of what life dancing for pantomimes and in dance troupes really would have been like for girls of tender years earning their keep in times of hardship. These details were no doubt the product of Noel’s own years on the stage prior to deciding to turn her hand to writing.

I really enjoyed the story, although at times what I loved and what I would hate in the hands of another writer were disconcertingly close. All the ‘lower-class’ characters drop their aitches which took me straight back to the books of my childhood, but also felt entirely out of place and patronising in an adult’s novel. The adult parts where the young Maimie, after an introduction into adult relations by a director, decides to uses her exquisite looks for money and favours, and sometimes out of sheer spite against another woman, was unexpected and not something that I expected to be inserted in such a blunt way in a book that was published in 1931.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of Ballet Shoes to hand, and nor have I read this for many years, but the characters of the girls right down to how the middle sister who has little talent for the stage longs to fly an aeroplane and would much rather help out as a mechanic than go near the stage appear to be more or less identical although nowhere near as glossy. It is this superficial characterisation which at times appear too trite for an adult novel, despite the fact that some of themes are definitely not childish.

The ending to this book is far less positive than that of Ballet Shoes, and whereas the children’s novel followed the three girls into adulthood, this stops short in a fairly depressing way where only one of the girls looking anywhere near likely to achieving their ‘happy-ever-after’ ending.

I’m so glad I have read this book although the pleasure was far more nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I do however fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever although at the same time has added a layer of realism that has charms of its own. 

I’m so glad I added this to my 20 Books of Summer 2015! Challenge, it was so good even when it was truly terrible!

by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), half-plate film negative, 11 January 1934
Noel Streatfeild by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), half-plate film negative, 11 January 1934
Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (June 10)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild a book from my 20 Books of Summer 2015! challenge

20 books of summer logo

The Whicharts

Blurb

She never doubted for one moment that once she had the necessary training she would find the work. She knew with her whole being that she was a born mechanic. In what way she would have a chance to prove this she didn’t know, but her prayers always finished: “And oh God, if possible, let me fly”.
1920s London: three adopted sisters train for the stage and support the household.
Maimie, Tania and Daisy Whichart have self-reliance thrust upon them. The Whicharts is the story of their dreams, friendships and loves. The drudgery of stage-work is set against their passion for family ties and realising their dreams.
Out of print since the 1930s, Noel Streatfeild’s rare first novel is an exuberant portrayal of London cultural life in the inter-war years.
Streatfeild used parts of this first novel to develop the classic ‘Ballet Shoes’ Goodreads

I have just finished After The Fire by Jane Casey

After The Fire

You can read the blurb and opening paragraph in yesterday’s post

My review will follow shortly

Next I plan to read The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of You

Blurb

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft‑petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.
Children who don’t die before their parents.
When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.
Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.
Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love. NetGalley

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What have you found to read this week?

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2015!

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Cathy at Cathy746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2015 and running until 4 September 2015, and this year I’ve decided to join her. I had already rationed myself from requesting quite so many review copies so the choices I make will be in addition to those that I have obligations to read and review.

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf that I already own with at least half being physical books. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from…

The only drawback with this challenge is I want to experience choosing a book that fits my mood so I have decided to begin by choosing a spread of genre to list the first ten books for my summer reading.

Summer Reading May 29

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Night Watch – Sarah Waters

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young

Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey

The Maul and the Pear Tree – P.D. James & T.A. Critchley

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

Every Secret Thing – Emma Cole

Dancing for the Hangman – Martin Edwards

Rutherford Park – Elizabeth Cooke

Under World – Reginald Hill

The Whicharts – Noel Streatfeild

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hastag #20booksofsummer and I will provide (a yet to be decided logo) to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge!

There’s still time to join in and Cathy has also provided a 10 Books of Summer image for those of you who feel aiming for 20 is quite frankly ridiculous. Visit Cathy to get the full details here

So what do you think to my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!