Books · Witterings

December Roundup

I know I have done a books of 2011 post already and you can find that here. However, it would seem silly not to have rounded up December reading just because it is the end of year. So to steal a theme from previous months and my end of year post I am going to have to start with crime!

It has come in many guises in December, from the short with Stuart MacBride and the Twelve Days of Winter where I fell for a marketing ploy. To continuing the series with M.C. Beaton and dear old Agatha Raisin, oh but I have so many more to enjoy. I carried on with James Anderson and The Affair of the Mutilated Mink, sadly there is only one more of this trilogy to read and I will be disappointed when I have read it, knowing there is no more. However thanks to other blogs I have now discovered L.C.Tyler – The Herring Seller’s Apprentice and found this book such a delight I forgot that it was a crime novel. More up to date and rather graphic crime came this month with Belinda Bauer and her new novel Finders Keepers out in January 2012, not perhaps as strong as her debut novel but she is certainly making her name and a good name for herself.

Series of books were revisited again this December with Jack Sheffield and Please Sir! I had purposely avoided this book but when I saw I may have the opportunity to read the latest one, I thought remiss of me to not read this one and I was glad I did. I was also back with M.C. Beaton as well in her Travelling Matchmaker Series, this time with Beatrice in Brighton, the fourth novel in the set of six. This was a pleasant day’s reading as these are rather short stories. (Review coming soon).

Debbie Macomber is an author who I return to time and time again. Plenty yet for me to read of her works, but this time of year there is always a Christmas related book out and so that was where I went with Angels at Christmas. Which after having read the two short stories within I discover that it is in fact part of a series of ‘Angels’ stories. Hey Ho, just more to read but probably now not until next Christmas.

With December being the month of Christmas (if you had not noticed) I wanted to fit in some Christmas themed reading. I first came across Melody Carson last year when I had a sample of one of her books on my kindle. Then seeing one of her others, a rather shorter story out on Amazon I thought I would give it a go and so I got on The Christmas Bus.

Even more Christmas was found in Miracle at Regent Street by Ali Harris (review coming soon), an excellent book and although late in the year (or early in 2012 depending on when you are reading this) one of my favourites and certainly one of the best Christmas books I have read.

For something completely different I devoured plenty of easy going reading this month looking back, but I also treated myself to a couple of books on the two for £7 in Tesco (other supermarkets are available as well as bookshops – note to self!) one was the Debbie Macomber book the other, so I fell for the marketing ploy (I do partake although with cynicism) , was The Fat Chance Guide to Dieting by Claudia Pattison. I attend a slimming group, though thank goodness nothing like the one in the book as I think I would have run out crying. As all the nice and naughty christmas goodies are slowly being eaten (only if I am round my mums I may add – or is that add to the waistline?) it is time to refocus for 2012.

Where to put the last book to mention for December Michelle Magorian and Just Henry. A children’s book (yes that is what it is) , an author I have read before (Back Home and then Goodnight Mister Tom), a historical book (set after the Second World War), a chunky book (700 pages) or just to put plainly and simply a fantastic must read and to quote them pesky meerkats – Simples!

So there you have 12 books for December the twelfth month as we go into 2012 and all that it may bring book wise at least. Happy New Year to all.

Books

The Affair of the Mutilated Mink – James Anderson

Earl and Countess of Burford at Alderly will not necessarily invite you to a house party unless your face fits, but when guests are foisted upon them because of the Earl’s sudden fascination with the talkies a small select party is formed and the weekend starts.

Lady Geraldine, the Earl’s daughter cannot make up her mind who it she thinks she would like to spend the rest of her life with – is it Paul Carter, new money or Hugh Quartus, penniless artist. To solve it bring them both together and they she can assess them comparatively.

Rex Random, film star of the swashbuckling variety is the Earl’s favourite and when film producer, Cyrus Haggermeir wants to use Alderly as a backdrop to a film, The King’s Men he enlists Ransom’s help to sweet talk the Countess. But the film ‘party’ grown when the playwright of the film turns up and demands he be involved from turning it into a talkie from a silent script, so Arlington Gilbert a most unctuous man turns up with his secretary.

Closely followed is Italian film star known for those small artistic high brow films Laura Lorenzo who receives a telegram to turn up at Alderly and wants to make her name in a big Hollywood film.

So the guests are assembled and what will make the party go with a bang? When someone is shot of course!

And so begins the piecing together of another wonderful murder mystery which seemingly takes its inspiration from all great Christie stories as well as a dash of the bumbling aristocrat and the faithful butler from Wodehouse. The flat foot that arrives has been before (The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy) and has rather an aversion to dealing with such murders or anything other than simple burglaries and car thefts. However Inspector Wilkins skill remains in his modesty and when one of the best detectives of the Yard is called in, Wilkins can go back to his simple life of detecting. But sometimes it is the simple things that give the answer.

For all fans of murder mysteries especially those set in the so called ‘Golden Age’ then this is the book for you. The second in a series of three by James Anderson kindly pokes fun but grips the reader from early on to who committed the crime. With the denouement coming uniquely at least 100 pages before the end of the book everything is slowly pieced together, unravelled and then correctly concluded. I did not guess the perpetrator, but I spent most of my time flicking from one character to the next convinced it was them before the identity was rightly revealed. It is a slow burning read that builds up, but that is what makes it conversely unique and well worth spending some time with the residents of Alderly.

I just love the cover of this book and is one which I will be keeping on my shelf rather than passing it on to someone else or to the charity shop. There is something about murder mysteries set in the Twenties and Thirties that appeals, and with this book and previous having the added bonus of being set in a ‘big house’ of which I am always rather fond of it has the right ingredients for me. It is just a shame that there is only one more to read, but I know that I could easily read them again as they are such fun. Probably because they poke fun at the time and the writings itself as well as the readers like me who enjoy them so much. 

I wonder whether now Alan Bradley and his Flavia de Luce stories (granted they are set in the Fifties) are going to carry on a tradition of the parody of the murder mystery? 

Books · Witterings

Books in 2011

How do you sum up a year of reading? Everyone has their own way of doing it – fiction and non fiction, the best, the worst, the surprising and the disappointing, books of the month, the quarter or in the case of what I think I am going to do basically a bit of everything!

First I need to start back and relook at my list of what I have read and also my monthly round-up posts. I have certainly developed my round-up posts looking back! Everything sort of fits into categories, some in more than one but I am hoping that I have summed my year of reading up in my own way.

Lucinda Riley

New Authors Lucinda Riley & Linda Gillard

2011 I was introduced to two new authors by two very differing means. Lucinda Riley’s first book read in January Hothouse Flower was part of the Richard and Judy Book Club and whilst I do miss seeing any of it on television I do like to see what there choices are as they have introduced me to some great books and authors over the year. In this case it was no exception and Hothouse Flower was a wonderful book, my sort of book. This was followed up by The Girl on the Cliff in October which I can say was even better and I have been very fortunate enough to have had some correspondence with the author and cherish my signed copy of The Girl greatly.

Linda Gillard

Linda Gillard came by electronic means in the first instance. I saw her book House of Silence in April advertised on amazon not long after getting my kindle and when the front cover of a book features a big house I am immediately drawn to finding out some more. So I thought in for a penny as they say and downloaded it and had completed it in 2 days. I was pushed to write to the author and Linda kindly sent me two of her other novels, Emotional Geology which is fantastic and for which anyone who has suffered or knows some suffering with any form of mental illness, then this is a book which must be read. The second Star Gazing is sat on my shelf to read but only because she then brought another ebook out in the form of Untying the Knot and I just had to read it! A wonderful author and one where I hope the publishing industry try to stop fitting people into categories and publish books based on the fact that they are good and not because they fit a particular genre pigeonhole

Cosy Crime

Most months of 2011 have featured some sort of ‘Cosy Crime’ and I have read a many varied of these types of novels. The most well-known to many readers and bloggers no doubt is M.C. Beaton and Agatha Raisin – with a bargain offer for her first ten books and then her second ten I set up and ready to go and slowly making my way through them. A similar offer introduced me to Daisy Dalrymple by Carola Dunn. I have also discovered more in the versions of Joanne Fluke and Maggie Sefton, cosy crime but with a theme, cooking and cookies with the former author, knitting with the latter. Apparently whatever your hobby you can do doubt find a cosy crime to fit the bill. Do check out the website dedicated to cosy (I go with the English spelling) mysteries.

Challenges

I have read many blogs this year who have participated and continue to participate in many reading challenges. It is something that I have been tempted into but not thrown myself into as I know I would get stressed out in what I should be reading and when and getting reviews in. Reading is a obsession pleasure and not a chore. The only sort of challenge I suppose is the Amazon Vine books I receive and the only challenge there is if I want to choose more from following newsletters then I need to have read and reviewed the previous books to be allowed to pick again.

However I did want to participate in some challenges and readalongs in the blog world. The first was the Persephone Weekend and I was introduced to these lovely grey books and some wonderful authors are now on my wish list. Then there was reading Persuasion, which after I have read it wondered why I had not read it and other ‘classics’ a long time ago. I am remarkably unread when it comes to these types of novels.

From this I set myself two little challenges – to read another classic and also to read another Daphne du Maurier having only read Rebecca. I completed Jamaica Inn and know I need to find some more du Maurier off my mum’s shelf. The other classic was brought on by watching the new Jane Eyre film and I am into reading this, and again wondering why I have left these books for so long. My theory – I think you have to be at a certain point in your life when reading some of these books makes perfect sense to you. Being force-fed them at school sometimes puts you off them for a lifetime. If this sounds like you, I say take a dip in the water again and see how you get on.

Through blogging I also got to participate in two Transworld Challenges – The Crime Caper one which introduced me to new crime authors in particular the eccentric Bryant and May by Christopher Fowler. I have now passed this recommendation onto my mum. I hope Transworld carry on this in 2012.

Crime

Cosy or otherwise, crime I realise is a big read of mine at any time I think but certainly in 2011. I ventured into the world of translated fiction with Jo Nesbo reading the first in his Harry Hole series, The Redbreast I hope to read more next year. Allan Bradley and the wonderful Flavia de Luce is a cross between Enid Blyton and Miss Marple I do hope anyone I have introduced her (Flavia) to likes the books as much as me. Agatha Christie came in a different form with Parker Pyne Investigates – a lovely set of short stories that I could read again and again.

Short Stories

With the above mention of Parker Pyne, it leads me into short stories of which I have read in 2011 more than I would have ever thought. Defining a short story is perhaps difficult. Does it have to be a certain page length? Only have certain characters? Whatever the definition I enjoyed and completed all the Miss Marple short stories and have ventured into the odd Poriot one. The best of the year for me was The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett – the Queen discovers a mobile library at the back of Buckingham Palace and finds she suddenly likes reading books. Pure genius and the first Bennett I have read, I am going to look out for some more when browsing the bookshop or library.

Children’s Books

As an adult in the past I have somewhat looked on at the children’s books I used to read and wish I could read them again. Well why not? No reason and so I went back to my childhood with Enid Blyton and experienced the correct Famous Five not the sanitised version which took some hunting down and some Roald Dahl with Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine and witches galore with The Worst Witch.  I am ending December reading Just Henry by Michelle Magorian, the author of Goodnight Mister Tom it is just delightful reading and I am hooked.

Series

The year has been full of books which are parts of series of books. A lot of them are cosy crime books but there are also the Debbie Macomber books which I read as pure comfort reading and feel like sinking into a comfy sofa to pass a few hours. Series books especially when you know you have many more to read, and that you will probably not catch up with the rate of them being published means you have some guaranteed reading for a long while to come. I wonder if 2012 will introduce me to any new series?

Chick-Lit, Comfort and Chocolate

Having already mentioned comfort reading with Debbie Macomber, there is also the comfort of Chick-Lit that which does not tax the brain so much but touches your heart and soul. Many books did that and Trisha Ashley is one which are always full of tasting sound food, not good when you are trying to avoid such temptations. As for her Chocolate Wishes book, mmm ganache, need I say anymore. I seem to have an affinity with Irish authors and have read and up to date with Sharon Owens novels and I think once Santa has arrived Sinead Moriarty. These books give comfort, just like my favourite chocolates.

History

I comment on many of my round up posts about how many of books have a historical theme within them. A greater part of them is actually the Second World War. I saw some different angles this year with The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet about America and the treatment of Japanese. The Report about a civilian tragedy which happened during the war. Focus sometimes is on what war does but not what happens back home. I did also venture into China, Hong Kong in the nineteenth century with The Secret Mandarin. India at partition in 1947 and 100 years previous at the mutiny with the lovely Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark. I wonder why the Second World War features so much?

Should I have bothered?

I have not given up on any books this year and I am trying to work out which ones I nearly did give up on? The one that stands out immediately is How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I really felt I had fallen in the trap of reading it because everyone else had – I could have lived quite happily without having read it. I did bother with Kate Morton’s new book The Distant Hours and actually had the hardback version from last year and only just got round to reading it this year. Again, it was rather disappointing and far too long. I hope that her next novel has more punch than that one did. From Notting Hill with Love…Actually was another book which did not live up to its popularity which I had read about but I hear her second novel is much better. Maureen Lee with Martha’s Journey was really disappointing, normally her books are excellent escapism and I have read all of them.

Kindle

2011 was the year I got my kindle thanks to my mum. I have used it to read 31 books this year. Is that good or bad. I think it means that the ebook has not taken over my life and I have abandoned real actual books. It means that I can exist with both quite happily. I have bought books on there that have cost me very little but I have enjoyed immensely and also some that I would not have read if it was not for the kindle. There is plenty lined up on my kindle and also the fabulous way of sampling books means that I can still try them out and if they are cheaper in a bookshop/online/charity shop then so be it.

There is my year of reading, many books have gone unmentioned, some I could wax quite lyrical about. And as of this post being published I am still reading, so will be doing a December round-up post as normal. The links take you to my review of the book, where I have just mentioned the author I have not linked to any particular review but please feel free to search the blog for the author.

How have you summed up the year in reading? Can you actually pick a top five, ten or twenty? Or like me do you just want to mention them all in some way or another!

I am not sure what sort of reading I want for 2012 and will perhaps reflect that in the early days of the new year.

Books

Angels at Christmas – Debbie Macomber

Christmas would not be Christmas I have decided without a Christmas book by Debbie Macomber. This year I picked up Angels at Christmas which comprises of two short stories featuring the angels Shirley, Mercy and Goodness who are all prayer ambassadors.

A prayer is made on earth and it gets to heaven where Gabriel then decides who is most suited to help out. Needless to say the three angels mentioned are normally low down on his list as they have a tendency to take life on earth to new levels.

In the first story, Those Christmas Angels Anne Fletcher wants only one thing for her son Roy to be happy and settle down. Anne has moved on from her divorce from Roy’s father but Roy has not and he believes he is at fault for what happened and has lost trust in himself and all women. Christmas is another day to be endured like all the others when he can then go back to work. Enter Julie into his life literally in his way on more than one occasion and with a little help from Shirley, Mercy and Goodness Roy begins to soften towards Christmas and perhaps Julie if she was not just so infuriating!

In the second story, Where Angels Go, the three are sent back to help individual cases as Gabriel sees fit, playing on their strengths and knowing their weakness for a bit of mischief on earth. Shirley needs to grant one boys wish for a dog for Christmas but his parents are struck by economic hard times. Shirley though cannot seem to control what is happening.

Mercy needs to bring peace of mind to an elderly man who knows this Christmas will be his last but needs to make his wife understand that she can live without him but she needs to do so where she will have the best care and attention he can no longer give her until she also joins him in heaven.

Goodness is playing matchmaker this time round. She needs to make a young woman see that resentment for a broken first marriage does not make all subsequent marriages and relationships doomed. However, Goodness may be too late when the woman has found someone but their virtual relationship is about to take a completely unexpected turn.

I understand that these books are compilations of other previous Debbie Macomber novels, be careful if you have read any of Macomber’s Angel series of books. These are a lovely Christmas read, and amongst all the angels and the prayers, which some might find a bit clichéd and perhaps unbelievable. I like to think there is a guardian angel out there in whatever form looking out for us, and perhaps if it works like these angels in these stories then great. Heart warming stories to make you laugh, weep and also think about what is magic and how we can change our own destinies.

This is a lovely Christmassy read. Even more so because the book is covered in glitter, although it does not seem to come off? It has really cheered up the two days it took me to read it and restored my faith in some things. It was nice to escape into these stories, when life was not going the way I thought it would and people were being particularly annoying! 

Note to myself though; I must pay attention to Debbie Macomber’s Christmas stories as I would hate to get a book which already had stories in it I had already read. But for now, I will read more of her no doubt in the coming 12 months as I catch up on the Cedar Cove series. 

Books

Just Henry – Michelle Magorian

I was completely unaware how long this book was (I read it on my kindle) but I did know it was aimed at children as I have read Magorian’s two previous excellent novels – Back Home and Goodnight Mister Tom.

This is the story of Henry, just Henry because as we discover throughout the story he is coming to terms with not being who he thought he was a Dodge and then a Carpenter, growing up with one ideal and heroic view of life and his past only to see it shatter in front of his very eyes and a new future build in front of him with far reaching consequences.

Henry lives with his mother, his half sister Molly and his ‘Uncle’ Bill. Also residing in the front room is Gran, the mother of his lost heroic father who died saving Private Jeffries. Gran is the one who is keeping Henry’s father alive and making sure that he leads a life his father wanted. This has isolated Henry and when a new school teacher, Mr Finch makes him work with two what his Gran calls undesirables, Jeffries (whose father is a deserter) and Pip (who is illegitimate) Henry has to face a lot of prejudices all of them born from himself.

Through the medium of post war Britain trying to recover Magorian creates a world where we learn about the bomb sites which are picked over by the local children, what was left from destruction by the bombing, rationing is still on and everyone is trying to make do and mend five years after the war has ended. Magorian uses cinemas and films to unite all the youngsters and the adults in the film.

This is where there is no class divide, where it does not matter about your parentage but where everyone enjoys the images on the screen. The choice of films and cinemas is in abundance and where showings are followed by smaller films, newsreels, cartoons and then the big feature again. To enable Henry to watch all these films he needs to have someone take him into the cinema, in the days when just asking an adult in the queue was common. This is how Henry meets Mrs Beaumont and his life and all those he knows changes.

Mrs Beaumont is the guardian angel of this story, her position, her knowledge; the people she knows and her home are open to all regardless of their background, their position, their knowledge and where they live. Some might say you have to suspend belief that this woman just seemed to have the money and wherewithal to help but actually it does not matter all it does is enhance the story.

What is created in a book which draws you in within about twenty pages and has everything that you could possibly want in a novel, romance, crime, a thriller element and justice and a happy ending.

For adults read this book, you would not know you were reading something which is pitched at children. For children I think if they have tackled the large volumes of Harry Potter then this (and Magorian’s other novels) could be easily absorbed and enjoyed by them and they would be learning about history probably without even reading it. A book to be read out aloud together and then read alone to enjoy more and more.

I was aware of this book earlier in the year,  and had planned to read it but when I saw it was being adapted into a TV drama then I was wanting to read it even more. Then it came up on offer on Amazon Kindle for 99p on the same day as the TV broadcast so no question I bought it and read it. I had no idea until I went back and read reviews that the book was so long over 700 pages – it is difficult to tell on the kindle. What a corker considering the book is aimed at children. I have yet to watch the programme. 

I do not know what Michelle Magorian has apart from being born in the same area as me, she manages to capture something in all her books. They all have the theme of the Second World War, before, during and after and the research I think she must do is faultless. At the acknowledgements at the back of Just Henry she has referenced the Portsmouth Museum and the book The Cinemas of Portsmouth. I know from both my parents that there was plenty of cinemas in Portsmouth and I am aware of many of their locations, some knocked down, others are pound shops, pubs, nightclubs and sadly some standing derelict. Long before the multiplex where I spent a couple of years working whilst at University. 

I think is my memory serves me right, I read Back Home long before Goodnight Mister Tom. It really did move me and stuck with me for a long time. Goodnight Mister Tom was read at school when I was about 13/14 and we spent a whole term on the book, and had to draw maps of the village from what the book told us and it became a whole project. I loved the book and then when it was adapted for television with the wonderful John Thaw it captured the book entirely as I had imagine it, something which I think rarely happens with adaptations. 

I could actually write a lot about this book, as so much happens in it but to do so would actually give a lot of the book away and I think you should be able to find out about the book all by yourself. For someone who did film history as part of my history degree and therefore a fan of both old films and history this book appealed even more. I had really no idea what I was getting with this book at all and I got so much and more. 

Books

Please Sir! – Jack Sheffield

Please Sir! Is the fifth book in Jack Sheffield’s teacher series and like the previous four it follows a formulaic structure which is predictable and safe but also successful.

At the Ragley-on-the-Forest School another year is beginning and the Head Teacher as well as having an obligation to all those who he teaches has to fulfil another role as headmaster – recording in the School Logbook what happens. These books are the stories fleshed out with what really happened with all the characters of the wonderful Yorkshire village. Jack has also new obligations for himself as well, his marriage to Beth is getting closer and decisions have to be made about their future together, their home but also the ghosts of their past.

Popular characters such as Ruby the larger than life school caretaker who has a wonderful way with words makes me smile on most pages she features in. However it is the children that perhaps have the best voices as well known little tales and misunderstandings are voiced throughout the book. Where did they sign the Magna Carta? At the bottom! Special mention must go to the wonderful Theresa Ackroyd who announces all school arrivals up the drive without missing a beat or a glance up from her school work. Children have a remarkable ability.

And so another year progresses, but I think whilst some ‘school’ stories focus on the development of the children and the lives of the teachers this is very much a background running theme for me in Sheffield’s books. They are actually I have come to the conclusion little gems of social history. The year is 1981 going into 1982. We have had the royal wedding of the century, there is a war looming on some unknown place a long way from home, Enid Blyton books considered not good enough literature reading, petrol going up by 7 pence a gallon, The Times only 20 pence and a new fangled machine where you could record one of the other two television channels whilst watching the third. I think it is that reason that I continue to read them, it makes me smile to think that actually thirty years ago was not that long past and how things have changed and advanced and in some cases not.

It is a while since I have actually read any of these books, this book has been out for roughly a year and to be honest I avoided it. However when given the possible opportunity to read his next instalment due out in 2012, I only felt it fair to myself and the author to catch up and read it. 

My reason for not reading it – to be honest I was getting a little bit  bored. Series of books can I think sometimes take you that way and then you get a little put off. Before starting Please Sir! I spent some time going back through all the reviews of the books in the series. 

First Book – Teacher, Teacher – I think this is one of my very early reviews. When you look at it, it is like I have just garbled it all out into one paragraph. I do take a bit more time nowadays I promise.

Second Book – Mister Teacher  I am going to go out on a limb and say the best book of the series purely based on what I have covered in the review.

Third Book – Dear Teacher Here I pick up on them being more a social history type of novel than anything else.

Fourth Book – Village Teacher And continue that social history in this review as well.

There are many similar stories throughout the books which have featured in Gervase Phinn books but also in all sorts of anecdotes about what children say, what is written in exercise books and exam papers and anything perhaps to do with being a teacher. I think AlanTitchmarsh’s comments on these books sums perhaps most of them up “Wry observation and heartwarming humour in equal measure’

It is fair to say that I like ‘school’ stories in whatever their means and I have read a few this year 2011. I hope Jack Sheffield‘s new novel Educating Jack lives up to the same formula as I think it is my history degree that makes me want to keep coming back and reading these books.

Books

The Christmas Bus – Melody Carson

Edith and her Pastor husband Charles are looking forward to Christmas as they always do where they live in the aptly named Christmas Valley. The town cashes in on its name and it is very much geared towards Christmas with the North Pole Coffee Shop and Mrs. Santa’s Diner and the Shepherd’s Inn.

The Inn is where Edit lives and works, and this year her children have decided not to come home and celebrate but to get on with their lives elsewhere. Edit rather than close the inn for Christmas decides to open it up and welcome guests over the festive period.

What those guests bring are all sorts of different problems with them, Mr Benson on his own wanting to be away from everyone, The Fields who spend their time bickering and arguing, single mum Leslie and her daughter, Megan and a young couple Lauren and Michael with a sad story to tell and finally Myrtle who seems intent on not just disturbing fellow guests lives but also the whole of the town.

As destiny would have it a travelling couple on their way to California have to stop at Christmas Valley and Collin and his heavily pregnant wife Amy find shelter outside the Shepherd’s Inn as at the point of their arrival there is no room.

This is a relatively short story, and just a lovely one, it is perhaps a Christian book but actually it is just a lovely way to tell the story of the nativity at this time of year and perhaps give time for reflection on what goes on in everyone else’s lives as well as your own. Simply a nice book for Christmas.

This was a nice diversion as I was after another Christmassy type read to start my holidays off with and this fitted the bill, especially as the last book was read was a crime thriller! I have a few more Christmas  and winter themed books to read. 

I first found this author last year but did not actually buy any of her books just tried out one sample when I got my kindle. When this came up for free I thought it would be a good way to see if they would interest me. I might try some of her other Christmas books in the future. 

Books

Finders Keepers – Belinda Bauer

In the village of Shipcott near Exmoor, children are being taken from parked vehicles. They have nothing in common with each other than the fact they are children and the kidnapper leaves behind one very striking clue – a note stuck somewhere prominent – proclaiming that whoever is responsible does not love them.

Disturbing enough, but when local lad Steven Lamb is kidnapped who suffered at the hands of Arnold Avery (Blacklands) along this time with an adult the case for DI Reynolds suddenly changes.

The adult is a policeman and no ordinary one, besides being the local bobby for Shipcott, he is suffering from having seen his wife killed (Darkside) and now declared fit for duty is he actually hiding something?

Has Steven Lamb discovered his secret or his he about to learn a lot more about Jonas?

This is the third novel from the author Belinda Bauer who is emerging as a proficient crime thriller writer. It was quite chilling and graphic in parts and as the book picks up some pace after about half way through. In my opinion everything starts to slot together although a strange link, certainly one I do not think you could guess the explanation.

However, I thought I was missing something and undoubtedly I was – I had not read her second novel, Darkside. I would certainly not say that these are pitched as a trilogy but have emerged as such and you do need some sort of background about the main characters, Steven Lamb (Blacklands) and Jonas Holly (Darkside). I was floundering with everything evolving from what had happened to Jonas and felt I had missed out on something which may have held my attention a bit stronger in this novel if I had read the second book.

What Bauer does capture is the atmosphere of Exmoor and the bleakness of kidnap and death in varying different situations. It was good but not as compelling as her first was. I still maintain though that she is an author to watch, but perhaps needs to take a different focus for subsequent novels.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

I was lucky enough to read her debut novel Blacklands through Vine and I think I may have passed the opportunity to read her second novel. I am going to have to go back and read this one, to fill in the gaps that these book introduced me to and then I feel I may have a better understanding of the book. 

Have you ever read a book and realised that you are missing something  by not reading previous works? Sometimes it works, I have read books where there is enough background filled in for the reader to not feel like they have missed out on something and behind with other more perhaps avid readers of the author. 

Books · Witterings

Meme for the year

As many of you know I do not like too many memes on blogs, however I felt this was a good one for mentioning some of the books read this year. Round up posts will inevitably feature heavily towards the end of the month.

In the meantime

I began the day with Bitter Chocolate

On my way to work I saw The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

and walked by Five Little Pigs

to avoid The Water Room

but I made sure to stop at (The Miracle at )Speedy Motors

In the office, my boss said “My Dear I Wanted To Tell You

and sent me to research The Legacy

At lunch with The Weird Sisters

I noticed The Girl on the Cliff

under The Sandalwood Tree

then went back to my desk Matilda

Later, on the journey home, I bought Wild Oats

because I have Far to Go

then settling down for the evening, I picked up The Tapestry of Love

and studied How to be a Woman

before saying goodnight to This Perfect World

Do join in, great to see all the different books we read. Thanks to Cornflower for bringing this to my attention.