Books

A False Silence

I rarely give up on books if I am being honest. The author has invested time in writing it and there must have been something which captured my attention for me to have invested money in it.

Sold to me on the back of how good Gone Girl was, I purchased this book below.

It sat around on my kindle for a while and when it got chosen as one of my 2016 challenge reads, I thought it was a good opportunity to read it.

After having been captured by the thrilling read that is B.A.Paris – Behind Closed Doors (more of that coming soon) I wanted another thriller in a similar vein to many I have read before. I turned to The Silent Wife.

I wish I had not.

The book was a slow start, but that is okay because sometimes these things need to be.

But it did not pick up pace for me.

I disliked the main characters, Jodi and Todd. Todd thinks nothing of cheating on his wife. Jodi seems to put up with it all. There was still nothing that captured me, even when everything started to fall apart.

I got to the point, just about 50% of the way through the book where I felt I simply did not care enough to carry on. I did not care what happened to them and I did not want to witness anymore.

I put the book down. I filed it on my kindle under ‘unread’. I marked it as abandoned on my challenges page.

And I felt such a relief.

 

 

 

 

Books

You and Me, Always – Jill Mansell

Lily’s mother Jo, died when she was eight, every year since then on her birthday she has had a letter to open from her mother. Now at twenty-five she has reached the last letter. What a wonderful gift to be left, but now it seems that Lily is very much on her own.

Although of course she has wonderful friends in Patsy and her rather annoying brother Dan. Then there is Coral who although now widowed, was friends with Jo and took her in and brought her up from the age of eight. The proverb “…it takes a village to raise a child…” is very much how Lily feels and how I felt after having read this book.

Patsy, is forever on her first date. Time is ticking by fast and she really is not sure if she will ever have children. She could be destined to be single.

Coral is still very much in love with her husband, Nick despite his sudden death. She throws herself into her work and thinks that maybe when the time is right she will feel something for someone else again. That again comes sooner than she thought when Declan appears.

Declan is the man who Lily’s mother was only ever in love with, truly. Can he be a part of Lily’s life nad will she learn even more about her mother now that the letters have stopped?

When Eddie appears in this little Cotswold village, Lily sees that maybe she might have found her true love but with Eddie there comes a catch?

This read has everything packed in and you are within the first few pages caught up with the lives of these women, you cry and laugh with them in equal measure. There is plenty of romance, some rather trying moral questions to answer but what this is a wonderful read to lose yourself in. I wanted the happy ending, and I had to keep reading until I got there. Another excellent book from Jill Mansell

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

You and Me, Always is published on 28th Jan 2016 in hardback. 

Books

Hotel Alpha – Mark Watson

I have always been fascinated by books which contain hotels, as the inanimate object the building itself can be as much of a character as those that dwell inside it. Therefore Hotel Alpha was the  sort of book that was going to appeal to me.

Howard York – self-made man and founder of London’s extraordinary Hotel Alpha – is one of those people who makes you feel that anything is possible. He is idolized by his blind adopted son, Chas, and Graham, the inimitable concierge, whose lives revolve around the Alpha.

So we immediately know the three main characters of this novel. The book though is only told from the point of view of two of them –

Chas the blind adopted son. He has rarely left the hotel. The hotel is his womb, he exists within in and everything and everyone is there to protect him. But an outsider is suddenly there and a different opinion, a different influence suddenly makes Chas think that perhaps there is another life.

Graham has been there since the conception of Hotel Alpha, there is nothing he does not know or can do for the hotel or the owner, Howard. But as the Hotel moves forward, Graham seems to be always one step behind. Holding on to traditions, methods and principles of the past. Remembering how it used to be.

The Hotel Alpha is very much in the foreground, the events of the time setting, the Olympic Bid for example ground the book into a time that readers can perhaps relate to. Whatever happens in the world Howard is content that himself and Hotel Alpha are on the winning side.

There are doubts forming for Chas and Graham as things change and the past is pushed aside for the future, trouble is the past is where the secrets lie and perhaps it would be better if these were told.

An interesting book, a limited scope as most of the book is set within the hotel but it did rather concentrate your focus on what was happening there. I am not sure whether it all fitted together for me in the end but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

 

Books

It’s Behind You?

Well actually if truth be told it is not.

It is in fact in front of you.

What is this thing I hear you ask?

Well this being a book blog in the main, it is of course a book.

The author in question is:

B A Paris is from a Franco/Irish background. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working as a trader in an international bank before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Behind Closed Doors is her first novel. 

BAParis.jpg

The book in question is:

behind closed doors

 

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

I have read the book – my review will be coming soon. This is just a teaser, more to follow as this blog has been chosen to be part of the blog tour for Behind Closed Doors.

 

Books

Spectacles – Sue Perkins

I grew up with Sue Perkins, not actually but metaphorically. I was there when Light Lunch was debuting on channel 4, it was a must for students as it was on at about the time we got up. The beauty of the two presenters was the chemistry they had between them – these were friends just having a laugh and sharing it with everyone else.

But what about the person behind the television personality. I don’t want to say this is the book warts and all, because it really isn’t. This is a memoir, a collection of some of the more important events and some of the less ones too about Sue Perkins. She has relied on her family to help her with the book and whilst they want to be represented slightly differently, Sue just represents them as them as she does herself.

Sue Perkins is sharp with a razor wit and a humour that can be very basic in terms of the innuendos we are used to on The Great British Bake Off to the more up to date satirical humour on the numerous panel shows she has featured on. This book is very much a reflection of this, there were some real laugh out loud moments and others where my heart was breaking for Sue as she shared some of the slightly rougher times in her life so far.

It is fairly chronological but does jump backwards and forwards as happens when you start recalling moments of the past, other stories are suddenly remembered. If you can get used to that and accept that also no doubt (as the author admits herself) some of the book has been embellished or fleshed out a bit to give it more character then you will undoubtedly enjoy the book. Don’t we all exaggerate for effect?

A wonderfully funny read that was so heartfelt at the same time.

I do enjoy reading autobiographies but I am very choosy about who I read about, therefore I think if you look back on who I have read, it will surely give you a reflection of my life? 

Books · Jottings

Books in 2015

We are hurtling well into the middle of January I have not even mentioned the books of 2015. So I thought I better somehow collect my thoughts and facts and tell you about what I enjoyed reading in 2015.

WordPress and Goodreads did a lot of the work for me – luckily. I have just taken a random selection of covers as well and scattered them through the post too to give you some idea of what I read!

101 books read apparently that is 32975 pages! 

The shortest book was 48 pages Fern BrittonThe Beach CabinThe longest book was 608 pages Monica McInerney At Home with The Templetons.

As I am average sort of person – the average length of book I read in 2015 was 347 pages. 

Astoundingly than in previous years 51 books I read was on my kindle. This is the most ever, looking back. I think it is because I have access to netgalley this way and at times, especially when I wake in the night and read, the kindle is easier to read from. So from all the books I read on kindle which ones (I cannot possibly chose one!) stand out for me:

Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train I read this book at the very beginning of 2015 and I have watched delighted as the hype and love for this book has gathered pace. Now everyone is talking about it!

Cath StaincliffeHalf the World Away a departure from her normal crime writing and a book which I felt was compelling.

Emma BurstallTremarnock I have read all of Emma’s work since her very first book and love seeing her writing change and develop. Tremarnock is a great read and I look forward to her next. 

Two books by Liz Fenwick A Cornish Stranger which led me on to read Under a Cornish Sky and even more wonderful I saw her speak at the Guildford Book Festival Readers Day and got another of her books signed and I hope to read that this year.

Mention must go to Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Cathy Bramley, Veronica Henry whose books both old and new I read on kindle and enjoyed immensely.

What has dominated my 2015 reading is Cornwall. I have read a number of books set and based in this part of the world. This was not a choice I consciously made, but it is where my reading has taken me and I think will take me back there in 2016. 

At the beginning of 2015 I made the decision not to review every book I read, due to reading somewhat similar books in terms of ‘series’ e.g. Agatha Raisin and in some cases, because time was running away and when I got round to it, there is no way I could have done justice to the book or the author. In this case it is probably because I enjoyed the book, it did not particularly stand out in any way.

Lots of yearly reviews always mention how female authors versus male authors read. In the case of 2015, my spilt was 18 (19 if you want to class Robert Galbraith as male). Again this is not a conscious choice, it is wherever my reading takes me. 

I read lots of the same author, there is something comforting in going back to what you know, what is familiar and also that you will get much joy out of it when you might not be getting it elsewhere.

But lets cut to the chase shall we – books that stood out for me in 2015 and I would recommend, for many different reasons I hasten to add. Read my reviews and see whether perhaps this book would be good for you or perhaps you know someone who will like the book instead!

Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train

Christopher Fowler – The Burning Man

Renee Knight – Disclaimer

Emma Burstall – Tremarnock

Alexandra Brown – The Great Village Show

Emyla Hall – The Sea Between Us

Paula Daly – The Mistake I Made

Dinah Jeffries – The Tea Planter’s Wife

Lucy Ribchester – The Hourglass Factory

Trisha Ashley – A Christmas Cracker

B.A.Paris – Behind Closed Doors – out in 2016. Review coming soon!

Do you know what it is so difficult to choose that perhaps maybe in a years time I will not be doing this post, because hopefully blog readers will know which of the books really stood out for me in 2016!

 

Books

The Beachside Guest House – Vanessa Greene

Rosa and Bee reminisce about their holiday to the Greek island of Paros.

The windmill guest house where they all stayed with their friend Iona.

But life moves on and both Bee and Rosa independently make decisions that will see them think again about the way their lives are going. They decide to go back and revisit Paros and the guest house, this time with a difference.

Rosa has purchased the guest house.

The only thing that is missing is Iona. They both try and contact her, but Iona having somehow drifted away from them as the years went by is struggling with her own life.

Iona has Ben to consider and as far as Ben is concerned, he is the only thing that needs to be considered in Iona’s life.

Bee does make contact, haltingly and fleetingly at first but it seems that Iona regrets the breakdown in their friendship and wants to see Bee and Rosa again.

A Greek island is perhaps the best place for her to rekindle this friendship, as long as she does not have to keep looking over her shoulder the whole time.

It seems that after some years, the three girls now women will be together again on this beautiful island.

In Vanessa Greene’s latest novel, whilst there is everything you would expect to find in her novels, strong women, female friendship, laughter and perhaps a smattering of romance here and there. In this one there is a slightly darker side to one of the storylines. This added drama to the plot and I was swept along with it just as much as I was the rest of the book. It was not something I was expecting from the author but it showed that she can certainly write a plot that is not necessarily full of happiness.

Alongside the plot is the descriptions of the scenery, the landscape of the island and the wonderful blue sea and warm sunny skies. Somehow Greene manages to depict England as dark and dismal for these women, not just in their lives but in the atmosphere and as soon as they land back on this Greek Island, it is as if the sun has suddenly come out for them all and that life is going to get better.

A move away from the norm, however this is a good read and this author is fast becoming a name to be mentioned in the same sentence as Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews to name but a few!

Books

The Killing of Polly Carter – Robert Thorogood

I am lucky enough to have received the second Death in Paradise novel via netgalley, which I was delighted to accept and even more delighted to read.

The first A Meditation of Murder sets the scene and characters for those who have not watched the original television series. This the second, I think is very much more comfortable as a novel than the first, Robert Thorogood seems to have found his writing way.

Clearly from the novel’s title we know the victim’s name, so Polly Carter’s death comes as no surprise, but what does come as a surprise as it was suicide.

Or was it?

The age-old question – Did she jump or was she pushed?

The only other person there at the time was her wheelchair bound sister, Claire. She argued with her before her fall to her death.

Her sister’s nurse, heard raised voices whilst walking back through the garden to the house.

Two other guests as Polly’s house saw the nurse in the garden. The nurse saw one of them at the window of the house.

They all seem to have alibis, therefore it could not have possibly been one of them.

But of course there is more to this death than meets the eye. We have secret tunnels, drugs, fame, affair and a yellow coat.

Of course it is all in a day’s work for DI Richard Poole, and his wonderful team, Camille, Fidel and Dwayne. They have questions which lead to other questions, they have theories that lead to other theories but in the delightful way of an old-fashioned murder mystery which I happily place this one it will all come together in the end.

The denouement of the real murderer reminds me of the gathering of all the suspects of a Poirot novel and it works, somehow the simplicity of it all works. In this novel is the added bonus of the visitation of DI Poole’s mother, someone who is only referred to in the earlier episodes of the televison series.

This book has the whole package if you are looking for a complete murder mystery novel with the added bonus of sandy beaches, blue skies a laid back way of life and a very stuffy English policeman clearly out of his comfort zone.

I am really looking forward to the third novel and the new series of Death in Paradise starts tonight on BBC 1 at 2100.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

 

 

 

Books

The Way We Were – Sinead Moriarty

A book with a tagline – “She thought he was dead. She made a new life. Then he came back”. Is bound to capture people’s attention and it did mine along with the fact that I enjoy this author’s writing.

A successful family, Alice is a GP, Ben a successful surgeon, they have two children Jools with raging hormones and a distinct lack of interest in homework and Holly who has an interest in everything especially with numbers and a phenomenal brain for absorbing knowledge and asking questions.

Alice is trying to juggle career and family life, helping her daughters. She opted for the GP route to be with her family. Ben on the other hand sweeps into the family and seems to just undo all the hard work of Alice as she tries to parent the girls.

Trouble is Ben is unsatisfied with his life. To anyone else he has it all, to Ben he has a need for something else. Some men have affairs. But Ben chooses a different option.

One that takes him away from his family. Takes him to another continent and then as one devastating phone call back to Alice and the girls away from them completely.

Alice and the girls world breaks down.

But slowly the pieces start to reform with a life without Ben.

Then Ben returns.

Can a family that has moved on rebuild itself from the moment Ben left? Or does it have to go back to the very beginning.

The storyline is strong and the author has certainly done plenty of research, I do wonder whether she ever actually spoke to anyone in a similar situation? I am not sure whether I liked the outcome and whether it was the ‘right’ one. Then again I think there is no one right answer to any of the situations that arose in the book.

Sinead Moriarty has the ability to tell a cracking good tale, with bittersweet moments, hilarity and romance as well as keeping this book very much of its time, especially the two daughters.

Strong female fiction from a strong female author.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me to read this book. 

 

Books · Jottings

2016 Changes and Challenges

As a new year has started it is time to reflect on the past and the future and in the case of this post about my reading.

I have to admit to not thinking I was going to even reach my challenge for 2015 but I did.

In fact I read 101 and a half because I was just about half way through a book on the 31st December and whilst that would disturb many people’s equilibrium – it bothered mine. I would have finished it had I not been going out.

Of the challenges I chose for myself what did I actually complete.

Well I read the 100 books so that is a nice big √ This challenge stays for 2016.

My series challenges is where I pick 3 authors whose series I am currently reading and read 3 of their books. Currently that is M.C.Beaton – Agatha Raisin, Rhys Bowen – Her Royal Spyness Series, Carola Dunn – Daisy Dalrymple and Debbie Macomber – Blossom Street Series.

I completed only one of these which was the Agatha Raisin series. For 2016 I am going to give this challenge a break. It will be interesting to look back on and see how many of these series books I do read. 

Read 3 of Agatha Christie I did complete so that is another nice big √ This challenge stays for 2016 but I am going to make it 4 books. 

Of my Random Reads, where I select 12 from my to read shelf to be read in the year I managed 9 out of 12. Which was the same as the previous year. I am going to carry this challenge on as it creates some variety in my reading and helps remove some of the many books off my shelf! 

I have done a tidy up of the books I have and made sure they are all logged on to Goodreads, I have got rid of some that need to go to a better home and I have added the few that I got for Christmas and which I have recently bought as well. It includes and kindle purchases but does not include any netgalley requests.

I have 145 on my shelf as of 31 December 2015. So I ran the number through a random number generator

Here are your random numbers:

68	83
105	15
55	138
22	41
102	27
56	69

Timestamp: 2015-12-31 18:32:08 UTC

You can see which books these correspond to on my 2016 challenges tab at the top of the page. An interesting mix of books and some that I have had for a while and certainly need to read!

As for other challenges well I was thinking about tackling some of my very large books those over 700 pages and whilst waited in case they were chosen for my Random Reads challenges I have decided that the book I am going to read this year is

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

I am going to call it my Big Read Challenge and have put 4 dates on so I can update myself and any readers interested in following this challenge.

And that for challenges is going to be it I think. I am always so tempted by what I see everyone else joining up for but I want to make my reading enjoyable not a chore.

As for the blog well you may have noticed that I have been missing a bit on here. Some of the reviews have been a long time coming and some will not come at all.

I know I need to rewrite my ‘About’ page and make things clearer in my own mind. You might noticed that some of my roundup posts featured the little * next to the book, meaning that the review was coming up, well I am going to do away with that in 2016. I realised I was so behind on my reviews that I had lost the momentum of what I wanted to say and therefore to review a book badly would not have been fair on the author or you the potential reader.

This certainly keeps with the aim of last year, 2015 when I decided not to review all of the books in a series or set unless one of them stood out for me in particular.

Like anyone’s blog I am sure, it is ever evolving. In the words of Miranda’s friend Tilly – Bear with, Bear with…..