Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Golden Child – Wendy James

Psychological Thriller
4*s

I was already a fan of Australian, Wendy James’s writing before this book, her ability to take such a wide variety of subjects from historical fiction at the turn of the twentieth century in Out of the Silence to a married woman’s downfall when past mistakes come to haunt her in The Mistake, amazed me. In The Golden Child there is no looking back, this is life in the twenty-first century a world where social media has transformed the life of those growing up with it.

Beth Mahonny is an Australian national living in the US because of her husband’s job, she hasn’t been back to live permanently since her daughters were born and unable to work under US rules, she blogs. She was quite a revolutionary when she started but by the time the book opens the world of blogging is now far more cut-throat than the light-hearted posts Liz writes on her ex-pat lifestyle but she has her followers who either gee her up or put her down.

One of my favourite parts of this book were the different commenters comments – their personalities shining through and could be taken as a random selection from any social media posts across the world and genres. It is so nice when the authors add the little touches into their books!

Beth is mother to Lucy and Charlotte, loving wife and now in charge of the project to move the family from the US back to Australia, and back to the bosom of the Mahonny family. Still Beth throws herself into the task with gusto and the reader an observe the gap between the reality of the move and the peek behind the curtain that she gives her followers. The girls get into a prestigious school and it is there that Beth meets Andi Pennington mother to a baby and older daughter, Sophie a brilliant musician who is in Charlotte’s class. But Charlotte at just twelve is positioning herself to be one of the shiny popular girls, and Sophie has no friends in school. Any relationship born out of the friendship of their mothers doesn’t change that and Charlotte isn’t moved to transfer any of the commonality they find out of school into the classroom. And then disturbing content is posted on social media and Sophie takes an overdose.

This is the type of story that will make any parent of adolescents run cold, a book that shows that in the bid to find their place in life can ruin a life forever. The shiny popular girls needing to hold their position in life, their victims trying to ignore the spitefulness all creates a powder keg that goes home with them at night in these days of the internet.

There are a lot of interesting debates around all sorts of aspects of mothering. These questions and their lack of solid answers I suspect will be eternal although it is interesting to view the different many ways even here that relative strangers can have their say which I guess just underlines the need for parents to somehow learn and teach their children how to cope with the pressure of social media.

This was a fascinating read and one where I felt empathy for most of the characters but the problem always with such ‘issue’ books is that I feel that in the need to create a story that perhaps the characters are somewhat side-lined and become a little stereotypical; it is no surprise that Sophie is fat for instance, but that aside I think this raises a lot of questions and would certainly make for a lively book club read.

First Published UK: 16 October 2018
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 26)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy 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

Well I have a great selection of books this week if I do say so myself!

At the moment I am reading Lies Between Us by fellow book blogger Ronnie Turner ready for publication on 1 October 2018.

Blurb

Will they ever learn the truth?

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . . Amazon

The last book I finished was A Jarful of Angels by Babs Horton which was an amazing read – my review will follow soon.



Blurb

The remote town in the Welsh valleys was a wonderful, magical- but sometimes dangerous place in which to grow up. It was there that Iffy, Bessie, Fatty and Billy experienced a plague of frogs one summer, stumbled upon a garden full of dancing statues, found a skull with its front teeth missing- and discovered just what it was that mad Carty Annie was collecting so secretly in those jars of hers. But at the end of that long, hot summer of 1963,one of the four children disappeared.

Over thirty years later, retired detective Will Sloane, never able to forget the unsolved case, returns to Wales to resume his search for the truth. His investigation will draw him into a number of interlocking mysteries,each one more puzzling than the last. Amazon

Next I plan to read The Golden Child by Wendy James, an Australian author.

Blurb

When teenage bullying spirals out of control who is to blame?

Blogger Lizzy’s life is shiny, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions simmer with her husband, mother-in-law, her own mother. Her daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved into teenage-hood, their lives -­ at school, home and online – increasingly mysterious to her.

Then a fellow student is callously bullied and the finger of blame pointed at one of Beth’s girls. As an innocent child lies suspended between life and death, two families are forced to question everything they believe about their children, and the answers are terrifying.

As unsettling as it is compelling, The Golden Child asks: how well can you know anyone in the digital age? Amazon

So what do you think? Have you read any of these books? Do you want to?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (July 15)

Another long week at work broken up on Wednesday to watch the football as a neighbourhood in our front garden complete with a delicious lasagne and garlic bread. Shame we didn’t win but it was fun to get together.

This Week on the Blog

The first of four reviews this week was for the non-fiction book Wedlock by Wendy Moore which was one of my 20 Books of Summer 2018 Challenge.

My excerpt post was from an upcoming read, Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly which will be published later this month.

Next I reviewed the gripping court drama No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister.

Lisa Jewell’s latest novel Watching You was published on 12 July 2018 and my review for this dark outing  went up on the same day.

My final review of the week was for the second in the Adam Fawley series In the Dark by Cara Hunter.

Yesterday it was time for the annual Six in Six post which had me deciding six categories to sort my books into – great fun and a good way to remind myself of the excellent books I have read so far in 2018.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe. This exceptional book is a blend of crime fiction and memoir. Claudia Rowe who, with almost a sense of shame, initially sets out to write a journalistic piece on the serial killer, Kendall Francoise, who murdered eight women in Poughkeepsie, New York and kept their bodies in his parent’s loft.

Alongside the author’s correspondence with the killer and what that does, or doesn’t reveal is Claudia’s examination of her own life, although I found her quest far more nebulous. She seems to be persistently concerned about her obsession with Kendall whilst continuing the correspondence.

An interesting take on true crime and perhaps gives us some insight into the authors who choose to tell the tales from behind the prison walls.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb

In this superb work of literary true crime–a spellbinding combination of memoir and psychological suspense–a female journalist chronicles her unusual connection with a convicted serial killer and her search to understand the darkness inside us.

“Well, well, Claudia. Can I call you Claudia? I’ll have to give it to you, when confronted at least you’re honest, as honest as any reporter. . . . You want to go into the depths of my mind and into my past. I want a peek into yours. It is only fair, isn’t it?”–Kendall Francois

In September 1998, young reporter Claudia Rowe was working as a stringer for the New York Times in Poughkeepsie, New York, when local police discovered the bodies of eight women stashed in the attic and basement of the small colonial home that Kendall Francois, a painfully polite twenty-seven-year-old community college student, shared with his parents and sister.

Growing up amid the safe, bourgeois affluence of New York City, Rowe had always been secretly fascinated by the darkness, and soon became obsessed with the story and with Francois. She was consumed with the desire to understand just how a man could abduct and strangle eight women–and how a family could live for two years, seemingly unaware, in a house with the victims’ rotting corpses. She also hoped to uncover what humanity, if any, a murderer could maintain in the wake of such monstrous evil.

Reaching out after Francois was arrested, Rowe and the serial killer began a dizzying four-year conversation about cruelty, compassion, and control; an unusual and provocative relationship that would eventually lead her to the abyss, forcing her to clearly see herself and her own past–and why she was drawn to danger. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I was thrilled to receive this wonderful prize from the very generous Nikki Moore to celebrate Picnics in Hyde Park being published by HarperCollins IT. This book is part of the Love London series.

The question posed was where is your favourite place in London? There was no hesitation in my mind and so I shared my memories of my dear Grandmother taking me to Cleopatra’s Needle on the embankment with the words ‘Lets go and visit your needle and have our sandwiches, shall we?’ There we’d sit eat the sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper and drink orange squash with me safe in the knowledge that none of the other grandchildren got to share that particular treat because they didn’t have needles! It went some way towards not being able to choose tat from gift shops with my name on too!

 


Blurb

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is? Amazon

Although I have one ARC it’s a secret so as I’ll be sharing that one later, I thought I’d show you some of the books recently acquired that got missed in the avalanche…

I have a copy of The Golden Child by Wendy James courtesy of Amazon Vine.


Blurb

When teenage bullying spirals out of control who is to blame?

Blogger Lizzy’s life is shiny, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions simmer with her husband, mother-in-law, her own mother. Her daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved into teenage-hood, their lives -­ at school, home and online – increasingly mysterious to her.

Then a fellow student is callously bullied and the finger of blame pointed at one of Beth’s girls. As an innocent child lies suspended between life and death, two families are forced to question everything they believe about their children, and the answers are terrifying.

As unsettling as it is compelling, The Golden Child asks: how well can you know anyone in the digital age?

A potent story with shades of The Party and Mary Kubica.

Two families must grapple with the tragic fallout of cyberbullying. Amazon

I received a copy of Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig for my birthday.


Blurb

BURNING SECRET is set in an Austrian sanatorium in the 1920’s. A lonely twelve-year-old boy is befriended and becomes infatuated by a suave and mysterious baron who heartlessly brushes him aside to turn his seductive attentions to the boy’s mother. Stefan Zweig, the author of Beware of Pity and Confusion provides the reader, in this newly available translation, with a study of childhood on the brink of adolescence and a boy’s uncontrollable jealousy and feelings of betrayal. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share!

tbr-watch

Once again I have only managed to read 2 books this week but fortunately I only added two so no change on the TBR 172!
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 42
NetGalley Books –17
Audio Books –1

One of this week’s reviews was for a book I own book, so I’ve added another 1/3 of a token. I’m now 2 1/3 books in credit, having bought no new books.

Posted in Uncategorized

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.

Flourish.jpg

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

Flourish.jpg

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?

Posted in Uncategorized

On My Bookshelf – Women’s Lives

On My Bookshelfv1

This week I am going to share some of the books on my shelf that fit into my interest into women’s lives and how they’ve changed in the last one hundred years or so and in particular, how childbirth could have calamitous consequences.

I am going to start with one of my favourite books of all time: Shadow Baby by Margaret Forster which I read way back in 1996 while recovering from having all my wisdom teeth bashed out of my mouth! Since then I’ve read this copy many more times, hence the unforgivable creases on the cover.

SB June 2015

Blurb

Evie, born in 1887, and Shona, born in 1956, have one thing in common: both were abandoned as babies by their mothers. Different times, different circumstances, but they both grow up sharing the same obsession. Each sets out to haunt her mother, with terrible consequences for everyone involved. Goodreads

While Evie and Shona’s stories are fascinating the events and emotions that led to their mothers to give them up are no less so. A book full of historical detail which was based upon Margaret’s book about her family for Hidden Lives. I read Hidden Lives after Shadow Baby having embarked on a Margaret Forster book fest and it was clear where her inspiration came from. Her Grandmother, also named Margaret was visited by a woman when she was in old age, a woman who said she was her daughter. Amazingly faced with the elderly Margaret’s ferocity not one of her family probed deeply into who this woman really was.

HL June 2015

Blurb

Margaret Forster’s grandmother died in 1936, taking many secrets to her grave. Where had she spent the first 23 years of her life? Who was the woman in black who paid her a visit shortly before her death? The search for answers took Margaret on a journey into her family’s past. This is a memoir on how women’s lives have changed over the century. Goodreads

Many, many years later my daughter’s history dissertation led me to read more widely about infanticide, not wholly confined to poor women who couldn’t care for an unwanted child but those who were subjected to post puerperal mania. One of the most moving books I read was The Cruel Mother by Siân Busby

TCM June 2015

Blurb

In 1919 Sian Busby’s great-grandmother gave birth to triplets. One of the babies died at birth, and eleven days later she drowned the surviving twins in a bath of cold water. She was sentenced to an indefinite term in a prison for the criminally insane.
For generations to come, the author’s family dealt with the murders and the accompanying shame, guilt, and anxiety by suppressing the disturbing memory. It wasn’t until Busby began to experience severe bouts of postpartum depression herself that she felt compelled to learn more about this shadowy story, ultimately immersing herself in the puzzling and horrific tragedy that had quietly shaped her family’s collective history.
In Cruel Mother, Busby digs out her own postpartum depression, by re-creating not only the broader reality of post-WWI working class England, but the more intimate setting in which her great-grandmother tried to raise a family. In the process, Busby brings ghosts to very real and familiar life, making these unexpected and inexplicable deaths that much more tragic. Ultimately, Busby and the reader are left not only with new understanding, but heartfelt empathy for all involved. Goodreads

This was another fascinating look at women’s lives, and treatment following childbirth, but also a great illustration of how such a tragedy can cast a long shadow over future generations.

One of the options that a girl in trouble could resort to in Victorian and Edwardian England was to employ a baby farmer. I read books about the infamous baby farmer Amelia Dyer but also a fictional depiction of the timeThe Ghost of Lily Painter written by Caitlin Davies, who is Margaret Forster’s daughter.

TGLP

Blurb

The first time Annie Sweet sees 43 Stanley Road, the house is so perfect she almost feels as though it has chosen her. She longs to move in, but with her husband seeming more distant, and her daughter wrapped up in her friends and new school, Annie is left alone to mull over the past.
Soon she becomes consumed by the house and everyone who has lived there before her, especially a young chorus girl called Lily Painter, a rising star of the music hall whose sparkling performances were the talk of the town.
As Annie delves further into Lily’s past she begins to unravel a dark episode from Edwardian London, that of two notorious baby farmers, who lured young unmarried mothers with the promise of a better life for their babies. Until Annie solves the mystery at the heart of the scandal, the ghost of Lily Painter will never be able to rest.
Based on a real period from London’s rich history, Caitlin Davies skilfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life part of our sinister past. Spanning an entire century, from the journals of an Edwardian police inspector to a doomed wartime love affair, The Ghost of Lily Painter is an engrossing and poignant novel from a hugely talented writer. Goodreads

This is an excellently well-told tale and as I was choosing books for this post, I was incredibly tempted to pick this one up and read it again.

Illustrating how long the subject of women’s lives, particularly when based on real women, has lasted this year I read Out of The Silence by Wendy James

Out of the Silence

no original picture of this one as it is on my kindle

Blurb

I call his name – only quietly, but he hears me as I knew he would, and wants me as he always does. And we come together – right there in the darkness. And even though there is no way to be certain of any other thing in the world, I am certain that I would risk anything to keep what is between the two of us. For love, I would risk anything, lose everything.
Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three Australian women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and Vida Goldstein, a charismatic suffragist from Melbourne and the first woman to stand for Parliament in Australia.
When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change.
The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900s – not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love – of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power. Goodreads

This book powerfully illustrated how women’s lives were hampered by their sex with those who decided on a career of any sort having to make a choice between that and marriage.

One last example of this genre is the memoir Bad Blood by Lorna Sage, a young woman who never had sex again after becoming pregnant in 1950’s Wales.

BB June 2015

Blurb

Blood trickles down through every generation, seeps into every marriage. An international bestseller and winner of the Whitbread Biography Award, Bad Blood is a tragicomic memoir of one woman’s escape from a claustrophobic childhood in post-World War II Britain and the story of three generations of the author’s family and its marriages.
In one of the most extraordinary memoirs of recent years, Bad Blood brings alive in vivid detail a time — the ’40s and ’50s — not so distant from us but now disappeared. As a portrait of a family and a young girl’s place in it, it is unsurpassed. Goodreads

More posts from my bookshelf can be found here:
On My Bookshelf
On My Bookshelf – What’s in a Name?

I do hope you’ve enjoyed my whistle stop tour of nearly twenty years of reading around this particular subject – do you have any recommendations for me?

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

Out of the Silence – Wendy James

Historical Fiction  5*'s
Historical Fiction
5*’s

I love history, particularly social history that explores the lives of women, and this book fits really well into this area of interest. Wendy James has taken the real life story of a young girl named Maggie Heffernan who lived in Australia at the turn of the twentieth century and added a fictional background to the crime she was tried for. To complement Maggie’s story we also have Elizabeth Hamilton’s story, a slightly older woman, an unwilling spinster, who works as a governess and later at a school run by Vida Goldstein. For those of you who know as little about Australian history as I do, in 1903, Vida Goldstein was the first woman in the British Empire to stand for election in a national parliament, woman having been given the vote much earlier in Australia than either the UK or the US. As Elizabeth’s story unfolds she gives an insight into the suffragette movement in Australia at this time as seen through a bystanders view rather than with the full force of Vida’s passion for the cause.

Maggie’s story is told in the first person and follows her movement from eldest daughter helping her rather cold mother out at home in the fabulously named Dederang, to being shipped off to the nearby town of Yackandandah to help out relations before moving away on her own accord gaining a permanent position as a servant. All through her narrative I knew that her love affair with Jack Hardy was doomed and yet I still hoped that the ending would be different so affected was I by the voice Wendy James gave her.

Being caught out in this dress is shame enough, but just as he comes by I am squeezed right down the front of the cart, poking about as if hunting for something or other, so he comes upon me unawares an when he asks, ‘Is everything all right miss? Can I help you with anything?’ I am not expecting it and hit my shin hard on the bench.
When I have recovered enough to speak, I ask him what he thinks he is doing, what sort of fool is he to come creeping up on a person in such a way?
‘My apologies, miss,’ he says, ‘but I wouldn’t say I was creeping – this is a public path, y’know, an thee was nowhere else for me to walk. I just thought you might have been in some difficulty, being all doubled over like that…’
‘It was nothing,’ I tell him. ‘I had… dropped my glove, is all, an was hunting for it.’ This is so plainly a tale – it is as warm a day as we ever get an there’s not a single glove in evidence – that I add in a tone that Ma would be proud of, ‘Which a person’s got a perfect right to do without being frightened out of her wits by a complete stranger.’

Elizabeth’s story is told through her journal entries and letters to her brother who is in New York, far away from their birthplace in Edinburgh, this is much drier in tone and consequently it took longer for me to get as emotionally involved in her story, which although much less dramatic than Maggie’s, illustrates how for many women the only way they would feel fulfilled was to marry but Elizabeth’s fiancé had died in a tragic accident shortly before she moved to Melbourne. Elizabeth’s story also gives us the insight into Vida’s life, a woman who has decided that improving the lives of woman and children was her goal and this couldn’t be combined with marriage. In fact all three women were fighting against not only circumstance but the freedom to have any real choices about their lives.

9 May

First typing class today. Girls very enthusiastic. Only one parent objecting to it calling it an unnecessary evil. The same parent, incidentally, who opposed his daughter’s algebra lessons. The girls father is a member of the lower house, formerly a grocer who mae his fortune during the gold rush. She tells us he can’t see the point (and nor can she for that matter). Why train her to do things she’ll never need? not as if she’ll ever have to earn her living he says. Which is fortunate, really… 

These lives collide when Maggie is arrested and Vida organised a campaign both during and after the trial which successfully proved to her country that she was able to run such a sustained media blitz, helped by the fact that she didn’t fit the stereotypical view of a suffragette. With Elizabeth on hand to help Vida out with the campaign and accompanying her on visits to Maggie these three women, with very different backgrounds meet.

Wendy James doesn’t judge any of the three women featured in this book, although the facts are overlaid with fiction and maybe Maggie’s story is given the most positive spin possible, it was still eminently believable and I didn’t get the feeling that sometimes happens in these types of books, that the author wanted me to come to a certain conclusion, rather she had confidence that her story was enough and the reader could make their own mind up about the choices made by each of the women.

I can’t wait to read more books by Wendy James, this is easily my favourite read of the year so far, admittedly aided by my keen interest in the subject matter but definitely enhanced by the sheer quality of the writing.

More Historical Crime

The Murder Tree – Alan Veale
Not Guilty – Christine Gardner
Death at the Priory – James Ruddick
Quiet Dell – Jayne Anne Phillips

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (March 11)

This Week In Books

With other blogs undergoing changes some of you will have seen my books for the week posted on Mondays but this really didn’t suit my reading and reviewing habits so I have decided to join Lypsyy Lost & Found and revert to a Wednesday post instead. Ideally this way  when I get back on top of my reviews there won’t be an inordinate wait for any book I feature to have its accompanying review.

I am currently reading The Night Falling by Katherine Webb set in Italy in 1921.

The Night Falling

Blurb

Puglia, Italy, 1921.
Leandro returns home now a rich man with a glamorous American wife, determined to make his mark. But how did he get so wealthy – and what haunts his outwardly exuberant wife?
Boyd, quiet English architect, is hired to build Leandro’s dreams. But why is he so afraid of Leandro, and what really happened between them years before, in New York?
Clare, Boyd’s diffident wife, is summoned to Puglia with her stepson. At first desperate to leave, she soon finds a compelling reason to stay.
Ettore, starving, poor and grieving for his lost fiancée, is too proud to ask his Uncle Leandro for help. Until events conspire to force his hand.
Tensions are high as poverty leads veterans of the Great War to the brink of rebellion. And under the burning sky, a reckless love and a violent enmity will bring brutal truths to light… NetGalley

I have just finished reading Out of the Silence by Wendy James which is a powerful novel that looks at the lives of women at the turn of the century. The setting is Australia but apart from the nicer weather this could be the UK, the same lack of choices for women both married and unmarried are examined in depth against the true story. This book is well-structured to give multiple viewpoints, some of which I confess to finding repellent but then I have choices, living as I do in the Twenty-First Century.

My review of Out of the Silence will be posted soon

Out of the Silence

Next up is the seventh in the Ruth Galloway series The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

The Ghost Fields
Blurb

Norfolk is experiencing a July heatwave when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery – a buried WWII plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news.
Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking close to the Blackstocks’ family home.
Then human bones are found on the family’s pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer? NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Please share in the comments box below.

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Tuesday ~ First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 10)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

My book this week is one that I’ve had on my kindle for over a year having first come across it on  Confessions of a Mystery Novelist… if you haven’t come across this blog and you love crime fiction you really should take a visit.  Margot Kinberg  has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to answer questions if your recall isn’t up to her high standards!

Out of the Silence

Blurb

I have a baby, two shillings, no reputation and nowhere to go, but even so I cannot imagine what far worse might be.
Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and the remarkable Vida Goldstein, the suffragist who was to become the first woman to stand for Parliament.
When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change.
The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900s – not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love – of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power. Amazon

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


Hawthorn, Melbourne


17 January 1900

I’m looking down at this baby’s head, thinking that it’s too big, that it’s not right an infant’s head should be so big, and watching it work away at my breast, when the missus comes in, hems trailing along the floor and never a bother to her that the skirt will need washing earlier than it ought. She stands right in front of me, her hands clasped, eyebrows raised. ‘Maggie,’ she says in that soft way I have got to know so quickly – the very same way she asked me whether I have ever had any diseases of the organisation, whether I drink spirits or take laudanum – oh-so-polite, but no disguising the nastiness beneath. Maggie,’ she says there’s a gentleman here to see you. She looks down at the baby. ‘Has he finished? You can give him to me if he’s had enough.’

Do you want to know more? Would you keep reading?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and I recommend reading the Spotlight Post on this book from Confessions of a Mystery Novelist