Books

London Calling – Sara Sheridan

Mirabelle Bevan might have found her niche in life since, the Second World War and the Nineteen Fifties are starting to show a changing world. Her administration role in the debt agency as moved up a notch as she is now in charge and has an assistant Vesta Churchill. The work is flooding in and they are busy. Perhaps they need some help.

Enter Lindon Claremont. He is not help, he comes with a problem as well as being an old friend of Vesta’s from London. He has fled to Brighton because he knows he is the prime suspect in the disappearance of a young girl, socialite  Lavinia Blyth.

They convince Lindon that if he is innocent then he should return and everything will be fine.

He does and it is not.

So the debt collecting is left in the hands of new character Bill Turpin, an ex policeman with a commanding presence. I sense that we will see Bill feature more in subsequent novels.

Mirabelle and Vesta head to London.

There they find that the world that Lindon was surviving in was rather seedy and murky. Whilst the jazz he was playing might have been uplifting the company certainly isn’t. But why would seemingly good débutante girl Lavinia be haunting such a place.

It takes some skill to find out the truth and it looks that maybe Mirabelle has stepped into a world similar to her experiences in the Second World War and that she is putting too many people in danger.

The book as the first one did, captures the Nineteen Fifties wonderfully. The rebuilding of London after the war is continuing, the foggy and dark streets create an atmosphere both tense and thrilling which adds to the plot of the story. Sheridan is certainly not afraid of tackling race as an issue and shows the segregation that was apparent in parts of London and the treatment of blacks. Even her own assistant Vesta encounters such a problem at the hotel. This is not a book that is rushing through the Fifties but covers the first two months of 1952. Great Britain by the end of the book was facing a very different age and monumental change.

A crime novel with a huge dollop of social history in it which makes a very different read and one I would applaud.

First of all I have had this book since beginning of 2013 to read which is shameful as I got it from the Amazon Vine programme. I had put it by my bed to read earlier in the year. Then I heard that Sara Sheridan was going to be at the newbooks Reader’s Day on 28th June in Winchester and therefore, it would be rude not to have at least started the book. Well I started and obviously finished as her next novel England Expects is already out. I am looking forward to hearing what she has to say as I have many questions: 

How many Mirabelle Bevan books have you planned? Where did you get the names for Mirabelle and Vesta from and what is the reason behind them? Why the 1950s? I admit it is a refreshing change to read books based in the 1950s, which I think is a missed decade. Is there any truth in the conclusion of London Calling? 

I hope I get to at least ask one or two and perhaps get her new book signed too. 

The books are lovely to look at and will definitely look good on a shelf. I might therefore have to invest in the first two. I wonder if  that is all part of the future of the book? 

 

Books · Jottings

#bookaday 1st-7th June

On the 1 June  – a social media project was launched. Quite simply it was about books. It is running all the way through June and every day you need to tweet about the different question/topic. I have done this but for those who are not on twitter (you can see my twitter feed o the right hand side of this blog), I thought I might give you the first seven days and at least on my blog I have more than 140 characters to use……

1st – Favourite book from childhood: Matilda – Roald Dahl I was interested to see that lots of people were voting for Roald Dahl and also good old Enid Blyton. I could have had so many of Enid Blyton’s books but this was the first book I remember getting from the library when it was brand new in there. I was all on my own when I chose it so it was a big deal!

2nd – Best bargain: all books, because they all take you on a journey and an adventure! This is a bit of a cop out of answer, but I think all books are bargains.

3rd – One with a blue cover: From my where I sit looking : The Perfect Lie – Emily Barr I thought I would go with the first book that jumped out of my bookshelf, it has been sat there a while (signed) and really must be read at some point surely.

4th – Least favourite book by favourite author: Oh my…… I don’t think I have read it yet….. 

5th – Doesn’t belong to me: That would be all my mum’s Agatha Christie’s I borrow to read! I have a whim and think I need to read that Christie story so I head to my mum’s shelf and find it, borrow it, read it and give it back.

6th – The one I always give as a gift: I make the book fit with the recipient so there isn’t an exact book. There are so many books out there that I love and would love to share but I know some people would not like them, whilst others will enjoy them as much as me. It is a difficult choice to make always.

7th – Forgot I owned it: Alison Weir The Lady Elizabeth I am currently reading a lot of First World War literature at the moment and I forgot I had some Tudor reads.

I already have a growing list of books I need to look into since this started…whoops!

Books

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

When I picked up this novel, I knew it was by J.K. Rowling and in the main that is why I probably picked it up. It was a bargain on Kindle. It has sat there for about four months and I have only got round to reading it when I saw the next book was due out.

Cormoran Strike is a private detective but not a very successful one it seems nor is his personal life. He is living in his office, but trying to convince all temporary secretaries that he is not. He is trying to make money to pay off his debts but with only one client this seems impossible. The woman who it looked like he was going to spend the rest of his life with has left him; for his friend. Plus he is having to deal with adapting to having lost a leg in Afghanistan, whilst serving his country and he knows he should take better care of himself but seems to make that one of his last priorities.

Just when he thinks it will all be over, two people walk through his office door.

First  to enter his office is Robin. 25 years old, happily engaged to Matthew who is looking for a full-time job. She just happens to get a temporary one at Cormoran Strike’s office. Within minutes of their rather abrupt meeting, Robin has somehow changed the whole dynamic of the office, even without clients. It also seems that she has some skills which might prove useful to Cormoran.

Second is John Bristow, his sister a famous supermodel, known as Cuckoo falls from a balcony. But did she fall or was she pushed? The police say suicide but John is convinced otherwise. He wants Cormoran to get to the truth, trouble is when dealing with the famous there is a lot of smoke and mirrors which seem to be hiding the truth and Cormoran is going to enter a world where he needs to look past it.

And so the novel really begins in earnest. In fact as Galbraith uses in the book very early on

“Bombarded with the story, you grew interested against your will, and before you knew it, you were so well informed, so opinionated about the facts of the case, you would have been unfit to sit on a jury”.

I would say that was a good description of the way I felt about the book and the case that Cormoran was investigating. Of course it is reference to everyone who when reading in magazines, online and watching programmes believes they know the person so well that they could give you the real answer, despite never knowing them at all.

Cormoran reminded me greatly of Jackson Brodie (Kate Atkinson) and their were times when I felt I could have been reading about Jackson Brodie and I had to keep reminding myself I was not. It was the ex solider, somewhat loner with disastrous relationships with women and his ability to be able to bounce back from some rather nasty scuffles that left me with this image in mind. However there is not enough given away by Cormoran to make us aware of the real man, obviously so the series of books can continue but so as readers we can start to form independent opinions of this new investigator who has graced our bookshelves.

His sidekick is obviously going to be Robin, which is what made it very different from Jackson Brodie, who generally relies on his own skill. Cormoran can see that sometimes you need others to be able to find out the truth. You need to work together, a skill he would have no doubt picked up in the Army but one that was probably tested when he lost his leg. Again you can see a thread which will be continued in the next novel.

I liked the book, I enjoyed it and so what if it was written by J.K. Rowling. If you like crime/investigation genre novels then you will like this one.

There are times when I write reviews and I simply just want to say, it was a good book you will enjoy it if you like that type of thing. This was one of those books. Which is why it has taken me a bit longer to write the review.

I am reluctant to put it up on Amazon (as I do with all my reviews) simply because reading and reflecting on other people’s, you first of all always think yours is no good but also that the amount of comments that have been made is quite staggering. The main gist of them is that this is a book written by someone who is phenomenally successful and rich and write children’s books and therefore cannot possibly deviate onto another type of genre or course. It makes me want to hang my head in shame. By all means comment if you have read the book, but don’t lambast someone who wanted to do something without the whole media watching and waiting for every word and to pick it all apart bit by bit. Which is why I think there is much in this book which is having a dig at some of these perpetrators and the fact that the media is focussed on quite a lot in the book. There are some days when the worlds media have a lot to answer for. 

I will post it on Amazon and see what happens……

Books

May Roundup

Apparently you should not ‘cast a clout ’til May is out’. Now whether that is May blossom or the month knows, but May has truly gone and whilst I have not quite succumbed to all things Summer, you can tell it is warming up around here! Reading wise I am still coasting two books behind schedule, but to that I stick my tongue out, especially as I have read some books this month simply because I needed the comfort that such reads bring.

Fern Britton’s new novel is currently out in hardback (I am awaiting the paperback version) but to catch up I read Hidden Treasures which was her second novel. These books are very much beach, easy reads and great for when you want to read and be caught by a story but not so you remain thinking about the book whilst not reading it and once finished.

Now Fern is not quite up to the standard of Veronica Henry – Honeycote* (getting there you could say?). This is Veronica Henry’s first novel and is the first in a trilogy around the village of Honeycote. It was racy and romantic without going overboard or even hinting at anything slightly Fifty Shades. For that it was all that more enjoyable and I do like reading these novels. Trouble when you start a trilogy is I have to read them in order and I have read book one, have got book three but will need to find book two!

Both these first two author’s I have read before and the only other author that is familiar to me in May was Sara Sheridan – London Calling*. This is the second book to feature Mirabelle Bevan and has been sat on my shelf for a very long time as it was originally an Amazon Vine choice.  Why I had not got round to reading it earlier, I don’t know but I knew her third book was out and then I realised  that I would be seeing Sara at the newbooks Readers Day at the end of June, so thought I had better remind myself what I was reading. It is January 1952 and London is full of smog and some rather unsavoury characters and it seems Mirabelle is the only one who can decode it all. A great read.

Crime is what Mirabelle Bevan helps solve, even if that is not her job. Cormoran Strike on the other hand in Robert Galbraith’s – A Cuckoo’s Calling* is a private detective and so he expects to solve cases. Trouble is, he his is broke with only one client and no permanent secretary, not really an auspicious start. However, this is very much a novel that reflects Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie and is well worth a look at. And yes I do know who *really* wrote it.

In any sort of crime novel you want justice, but sometimes that justice has to be taken into the hands of other people and the ending is very much not what you think or want. Phil Hogan – A Pleasure and A Calling is one such book which made stop think and look around my surroundings, if you read it it will make you do the same. Trust me.

Book staying with you can mean many different things to many different people and Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project is another book which makes you stop think and redress many ideas and also many acquaintances. A humorous book which was my book clubs choice for May and was a very popular one. There was such an innocence about a book which featured an adult man.

One thing that stays with many people when they are in school or well past that is the horror’s of war. We are shown on television daily of the battles and fights going on now across the globe. But back in the Second World War, these horrors were not so easily visualised for the masses to see. These images were kept amongst those who had suffered and those that had known so the next generation were never affected by them. But history teaches us something. In Kristin Harmel – The Sweetness of Forgetting we learn about one the main characters very different past and how through the power of baking, food and taste memories will always live on. So should their stories.

I do not read enough short stories, I read ‘teaser; type stories that are available on kindle, which I sometimes think is a bit of a cheat especially when I count them as a book read. However, Alison Moore – The Lighthouse* is a novel less than 200 pages and rather quirky and intriguing. The book has made me think so much can be told in such little space.

And so May is complete and it is the first time in a while that I have not got a book on the go. I actually finished Sara Sheridan on the 1st June, due to waking up in the night and finishing it off, but I felt that it really was a May book.

I now have the delicious choice of choosing my next book to read…..