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

January Roundup

Wow! A month gone already. Would any of you want to live that month again and perhaps change anything?

That question and whatever the answer brings me nicely on to the first book I read of the year Kate Atkinson Life after Life*. You will not have read my review yet as I am still trying to cobble something together that does the book justice but it will appear much nearer the publication date of 11 March. Look out for much about this book from around the 11 February – it is an important date for the book.

After that book it was always going to be difficult to pick a book which can follow something so excellent and I chose for no other reason than it was different and free for a short time Dee Kirkby – Realand. This is in fact a book for children and not having any means I probably approach it differently, but it is a good read that reminded me of many books I read as a child and is certainly a book I would recommend for children as a stepping stone as they move through their reading journey.

And that reading journey normally takes you to what the publishing industry calls young adult books and I made that journey by reading Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games*. I am so grateful to my friend L for lending me the book and even after finishing it I am still thinking about it. Really not my sort of novel as well. I also look forward to watching the film as well to see how it comes across visually.

My sort of novel was Jill Mansell – Don’t Want to Miss A Thing. Actually a new author for me, but in the vein of so many others I have read. It was really a good read and brightened up what can be a rather blue January or even a grey or white January come to that. Another new author as well as a new book was Alexandra Brown – Cupcakes at Carrington’s. A novel based in a department store and the start of a series of books. How frustrating that I have to wait until near the end of the year for the next installment.

Book Club choice for January was Sue Townsend – The Woman Who Went to Bed for A Year. An interesting read, but one that perhaps was a bit different from the norm. It was funny but it was also very sad as well.

It has been a while since I ventured into crime, mainly because the mood was not there but I picked up a book which has been sat on the to review pile for a while and that was Alex Grecian – The Yard. An American author who has chosen Victorian London and the development of forensics and the police as the basis of his story.

So seven books for the start of 2013, ironically enough the two books that have grabbed me the most this month is the two that have yet to be reviewed on this blog. Do pop back and read about them soon.

* Book review yet to appear on this blog.


The Yard – Alex Grecian

This is a book for a changing time. It is a book where science is used but not counted. It is a book where there is fear in the streets. It is a book where the police are looked at with disdain and not trusted. It is a book where the future of catching the criminal is changing.

It is the late 1880s, Jack the Ripper has disappeared from the streets of London, but that does not mean murder’s have ceased. The people of London are wary of any murder and the police know that because Jack gave them the slip they need to always catch criminals. So when a body is found in a trunk at a railway station, panic could well ensue again. But this time the body is that of a policeman. Now with one of their own dead, it is even more important to catch the murderer.

Enter a new detective to the area, Inspector Walter Day who is heading up the inquiry and winning over the other detectives on the newly formed Murder Squad. Can he restore faith in the public, win over his colleagues and more importantly the faith in himself that he is a worthy detective? Not new to the area, but new to the police is Dr Bernard Kingsley, his knowledge of forensics  and what they can do to make sure the murderer is caught brings an angle to the book where you perhaps appreciate how much science and policing has come forward in the intervening years of when this book was set and when we as readers are reading it.

Interestingly this is not a natural formulaic whodunnit – we know who the killer is from very early on. It is a book about how they catch the killer, if they do at all.  In fact the book is split into sections where we see everything from the killers perspective as well as the detective and constables on the force. Even to the point of going back and finding out about the main characters and how they arrived to where they were now. On the streets of London, surviving in the only way they knew how. Whether that be by killing or protecting the innocent.  There are a few other stories along the way involving the Constables and I admit it became a bit confusing for me to grasp, but perseverance with the novel meant that all ends were suitably tied up.

This is a début novel from an American author and I admire his tenacity to set it in a city that he can only have read about. The publisher has used the selling point of him having never visited the city before writing about it.  It has some areas of improvement and flaws that need to be addressed in future novels – it threw me calling one of the Constable’s Hammersmith because I kept reading the place as supposed to the person at this point and the village that Hammersmith hailed from was called Collier – a mining village in Wales. I did not feel I was right into Victorian London enough, it kind of skirted on the outskirts of it. The science elements though were much more detailed and graphic where perhaps the research was a bit more thorough.  A book where you did not feel you learnt anything. Many have commented on the use of the language and how it is perhaps a bit too modern for the setting of the book. I had not noticed this until I read other reviews, for me I was too caught up with how they were going to catch the killer. I did want to know what happened and that is why I kept me reading.

A promising book, which could have been a bit shorter and worked more effectively with a greater impact to the reader.

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

It took me a long while to get round to reading this, I have had it on my shelf for rather longer than I anticipated.   However, I am trying to tidy up my piles of books, so knew I needed to get on and read it. 

It was good in parts, but as I say in my review there were other parts where the author did not hit the mark. Since finishing the book, I have read about Alex Grecian and The Yard. Grecian has previously published graphic novels, this book therefore is a very large step away from that. I was glad to hear that he used real life characters despite taking them out of their actual time period by a few years here and there. It would have been nice if the book actually at the end mentioned these real life characters and their actual story – with a nod to the work actually being fiction. More can be found out on the q and a part of Grecian’s website. It makes for rather interesting reading. 

I acknowledge in the review that I did not pick up on the language, I wonder why? It has got me thinking now.

There is to be a second book by Alex Grecian called The Black Country featuring some of the detectives from this novel, but I am not sure if I will be picking it up to read, especially if it is as long and not quite succinct enough in its idea.


Books in 2012

I cannot believe it has come to the point where I am reflecting, writing and reviewing about a years worth of books read. And as I begin typing this I have no idea how I am going to approach it. Do I go with genres or authors? Kindle books or review books? I think I will just go with the flow please join me for the ride if you will.

Well do I have a book of the year? Yes but there is more than one? How could there not be? If you are going to push me then I am going to say Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. A wonderful story which was a slow burner for 2012 and now that it has been picked by Richard and Judy and winning awards towards the end of 2012 it is going to be blasted into 2013 for everyone to read!  M.L. Stedman – The Light Between the Oceans. A beautiful story which made me cry and also makes you question the actions of the characters, there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. Simon Kernick – Siege. A thriller I read in a day, I was hooked, I had to keep turning the page. James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. The beginning of a set of books which feature a crime solving Canon, starting in the 1950s and moving through the decades. The books are also a delight to hold and own, they will look good all together on a shelf. Marika Cobbold – Drowning Rose a beautiful story which stands out for me because of the way it deals with grief and guilt and how it can people very differently.

Jo's Books 2012 - 1

Why these five? Well why not, but they are actually all new authors to me for this year and in the case of two of them debut authors as well. I hope to read more of their work in 2013.

So what of authors I have read before, there are favourites in there of course and it is just easy to mention them Trisha Ashley, Debbie Macomber, Veronica Henry and Katie Fforde who is fast becoming a favourite and I do not know why I have not read any of her books before! Again these are authors I intended to read even more of in 2013. If you want some great women’s fiction then any of these authors are a definite choice. Jo's Books 2012 - 2

But there are some authors who I was left feeling a bit blah about – Marian Keyes new novel did not quite hit the spot with me, although in fairness it has been a while since I read any. It was a very brutally honest book which is perhaps why I was not quite comfortable with it. The same could be said for Dawn French and Oh Dear Silvia. A clever book, but for not as good as her first. But I look forward to seeing what else she comes up with. Some were complete misses and I think special mention must go to the 2012 publishing sensation E.L. James – Fifty Shades of Grey. At this point I just want to add a yawn! A rather large one. I read it, I was one of the masses (though it was a book club choice) and I stopped at book one,  I actually stopped a few Jo's Books 2012 - 3times in book one, to read something, anything in fact better written!

Now I want to rave about Lucinda Riley and her novel for 2012 The Light Behind the Window. I loved it, I do so with no payment from her or her publisher, just in case you think this is a case of sock-puppeting. This is simply just a reader enthusing about a particular author and their books. And I know I mentioned her at the end of 2011, but there you go. Her books have been such a great read nothing else gets done. Now interestingly media communications with authors have pushed me in some interesting directions reading wise and I am fairly laid back in giving most things a go. This was the case with Emma Burstall who contacted me as I had read her previous other two novels, and asked whether I would read her newest – The Darling Girls. Of course, the premise sounded good and it was my sort of book to be reading. I do hope someone takes this book up for printing as it is currently only available on Kindle and I am sure many would love to read it. Ironically, if I may digress it was Emma Burstall’s first book Gym and Slimline which sort of got me into reviewing in the first place. I contacted a magazine to see if I could be one of their reviewers (I have only ever reviewed one book for them) they sent me this book to read. Once it was published I stuck my review on Amazon and it was around that time I decided that I wanted to review every book that I read. And so four years later I am still doing it and it progressed into this blog about two and half years ago. Finally my third choice in this particular category of no definite name is Sadie Jones – The Uninvited Guests. It really captures the big country house, Edwardian standards, the beginning of a different sort of youth, and a mysterious element all of its own that it is a wonder and a puzzlement when you read it. It sticks out for the simple reason that if you have read Sadie Jones other work this could be a little way out there! Her fourth book is to be set in the world of theatre in the 1970s. How exciting to never know where an author is going to take you?

Jo's Books of 2012 - 3

See when you start writing these review posts the words flow and then you go back and look at the books you read and you think well I really must mention them too – so please bear with me, the end is in sight and I have not even covered crime yet! A December read which has made it into this post is Kathleen Tessaro and The Debutante and it is here that I reflect that I have read for me very little in way of historical fiction in 2012. This book gave me the taste of it all again, especially when there is the dual narrative, in this case the nineteen thirties and the present day. Then I was back in time with Judith Kinghorn and the First World War, I look forward to her new book. Mention must go to Emyila Hall another book with a dual narrative which was so different and refreshing! Jos Books 2012 1

And now thoughts turn to crime. I have a tendency to focus a lot on what is called the ‘cosy’ variety of crime. Body counts that do not normally exceed 2, no blood and guts, simple tales, with a bit of a village twist (Agatha Raisin by M.C. Beaton), community feel (Joanne Fluke and her Hannah Swensen series) and historic setting (Carola Dunn and the delightful Daisy Dalrymple series). Of course the Queen of Crime is always a must read – Agatha Christie.

Then there is crime that has more than one body count (Simon Kernick – The Last Ten Seconds), slightly more graphic (Mo Hayder – Hanging Hill) , based on television programmes (Ann Cleeves – Silent Voices (Vera)) (Cath Staincliffe – Dead to Me (Scott and Bailey)), popular authors (Tess Gerritsen – The Surgeon) and American settings (Barry Lyga – I Hunt Killers).

Jos Books 2012 2

It has to be said if it was not for publishers sending me books, the latter paragraph of crime would certainly have gone unread. I have been a bit more adventurous in that department in 2012.

So if there has been a lack of historical fiction this year, there has certainly been a lack of autobiography, despite many on my shelf. This is the staple read of my dad, and he is at the point, once his Christmas presents have been read in wanting more books to read. I need to crack on with a couple in 2013. I have a thing about needing to read the book before I lend it out! Strange I know.

Now probably what is strange to many people, is the lack of ‘classics’ that I read. (Do visit Savidge Reads, where Simon has discussed this in great length in 2012) I always feel rather a cheat in saying I am a voracious reader, when what I read sometimes cannot be classed as hefty tomes. However, I have come to the conclusion that reading these novels should be an organic process and when the time is right to read them, I shall if I so desire. That is how I have now read Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre and Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey. Not bad for me, even if I do say so myself. Now my other perhaps gap in reading knowledge is the many books I see on blogs about lesser well known women writers, blogging certainly brings them back into the forefront. So when I came upon Mary Stewart – Thornyhold in a charity bookshop I thought it was fate that brought us together. Such a great read, now I know what many of the blogs I follow have been going on about! The other is Elizabeth Taylor which Verity introduced me to and I read Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont. Again a book so beautifully written that I realise that there is so much more out there for me to discover with these less known authors and that blogging is enriching my reading every day.

So now for the statistics – I have read 110 books this year, including short stories, which is less than last year, but feels like more! Anyway it was more than 50 which really has been my aim these last few years. In 2013 I need to readdress this number. As for books on the Kindle it was 29 (31 last year) so it counts for about a quarter of my reading which I think is pretty good. I seem to go through stages of reading rather a lot on there, to tailing off and then picking it back up again to see what I have on their to read. The Kindle has a place in my reading life that is for sure.

And for unfinished books that simply stands at 1. More because of it being a hefty tome about The Mitford Sisters than not enjoying the reading matter. I think it could be a higher number, because I do persevere with some books when perhaps I should cut my losses and go “no this book is not for me, let me read something else”. Do I need to address this more in 2013?

So there you go my year in books, and actually I have not covered all the authors I have had the pleasure of meeting and listening to (I did not want to make this post any longer than it was!) and also I have really only touched on the challenges I set myself (see previous bracket!) so in the coming days I will be reflecting on all of this and of course doing plenty more reading.

May I say a Happy New Year to you all and I hope you continue to visit my blog and enjoy it as much as I enjoy the cathartic process of writing the posts and constructing it all. I hope I have inspired some of you to try a different book than you would normally do.


December Roundup

Looking back at the posts I did last year around this time, I was checking to see whether I had actually done a December Roundup post or whether it had got lost in the mists of Books of the Year. It did not and I have yet as you read this got round to posting about the books of the year for me. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, the post though is scheduled to appear!

So what of December’s reading. Well I had hit book 100 of the year at the end of December so challenge completed in that sense, I used December as my indulging month, mainly because work was flat out right up to the 21st December when I finished and my brain could not and would not cope with great tomes

Christmas themed reading started in November and it continued apace and you cannot go wrong really with a Debbie Macomber and A Merry Little Christmas and it also meant I read the last Cedar Cove book as well. Katie Fforde was a new discovery for me in 2012 and so I topped up with her little short story for this year Staying Away at Christmas. I really want to read some more Katie Fforde in the coming months. Christmas was the theme of my book club’s choice in December; M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin Kissing Christmas Goodbye. Not quite Christmas but certainly cosy crime and something that the month was rather dominated with.

Upon finishing work, I needed a quick fix read and so I turned to M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham and was now back to reading them in order. It is always hard to put it down when finished, as I just want to read the next and when they only take an afternoon, evening and morning to read it is even harder! I turned to some other cosy crime reading with Carola Dunn – Damsel in Distress and was reintroduced to Daisy Dalrymple. I have another few on my shelf, but I am so tempted by the offer on The Book People, the next 12 books for only £10. I can find room for them, that is not an issue but should I buy them? Probably a daft question to fellow book lovers!

Cosy crime sated for the month, I did not really go for anything graphic or violent but rather more mysterious with Louise Douglas – In Her Shadow. This was an author I was introduced to through reviewing and not an author I would have previously picked up. Her latest novel, although I was a bit late in reviewing it was great and I heartily do recommend this author and will look out for previous novels.

Another author I have read before was Ali McNamra – Breakfast at Darcy’s. I was taken with the fact that the name is the same as mine (surname) and therefore I felt I would like this book. Sadly I didn’t and upon reflection of this and the first of her novels I read, I was disappointed and feel sad in saying that I will not read any more of hers in the immediate future at least.

But December, was a discovery of a new author Kathleen Tessaro – The Debutante. One of my friends had their eye on this book, a couple of times they had been round and wanted to read it, so I thought I better get round to reading it so I could pass it on. Oh how wonderful it was, it had something of the Downton Abbey and Mitford Sister’s about it and I has the potential for a sequel.

And as the month ends I finish with two rather differing books. I meet Heloise Goodley – An Officer and a Gentlewoman* the telling of a rather brutally honest tale of changing career path in your late twenties and go from being a ‘big thing’ in the city to face down in mud all in the name of Queen and country. A choice that this author made, and a book that makes me feel very humble about paper pushing job for the military.

Familiar author Maureen Lee‘s new novel After the War is Over* is now out and I picked this one up to read, as I have read all her novels and it just seems right to keep on reading them as long as she keeps on writing them. They were books, that I read when I was transitioning from young adult books, to adult books in my late teens and escaping all that teenage angst!

Not a bad month, and not a bad year all in all reading wise. I will be reflecting on that in coming posts.

* Book review yet to appear on this blog.


A Merry Little Christmas – Debbie Macomber

Christmas probably would not be Christmas without a Christmas themed book from Debbie Macomber. And this year we are given a gift with A Merry Little Christmas. In it are two stories, 1225 Christmas Tree Lane and 5-B Poppy Lane, both set in the Cedar Cove area.

The first 1225 Christmas Tree Lane is the longer of the two stories, taking up just over 250 pages and is in fact the last story of the Cedar Cove Series. We meet Beth who took over the Christmas Tree Farm when she started a new life away from her ex husband. With it has come a basket of abandoned puppies, and before Beth can even begin to think of going away after Christmas she needs to find homes for all these adorable creatures. As well as deal with a family Christmas with her two daughters who decide to invite their dad to join them on Christmas Day. They have a perfect Christmas in mind, but will their wish come true or will there be a few problems to overcome? Beth’s patience is tested with the arrival of her ex husband as well as trying to find homes for all the puppies. As she does we are reminded of all the wonderful characters in Cedar Cove which you meet in the previous 11 books. It is a nice ending to a series and I say that whilst still needing to read books 9,10 and 1. It did give a few spoilers but to be honest, the books are so light that for me it did not matter.

5-B Poppy Lane is a short story, and is a little less Christmas themed, as although it starts and ends at Christmas, it is a flashback of how Ruth meets Paul and the test of long distant relationships as well as the harder test of a relationship with someone in the military. Especially when you are opposed to such military presence in countries as Ruth is. For me a poignant story for the time of year and reminds everyone that there are thousands of men and women out fighting for their country and have left loved ones behind. A lovely romance and very much of the ‘time’.

Light Christmas reads and exactly what you expect from Debbie Macomber. You cannot go wrong.

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

I have read quite a few of Debbie Macomber ‘s Christmas books, and it can be a bit confusing as they invariably have two stories in them but looking back at past catalogues they can be reissues of stories. I have a few Blossom Street series on my shelves to read, which I will get to but I am tempted by some of the other reissues that I have spotted in the bookshop. But they have been renamed and I am not sure exactly what books I am getting, I need to do a bit more research before deciding.

That said I need to finish the Cedar Cove series which I aimed to read at least a few more this year than I have actually done. Oh well there is always 2013.


November Roundup

Wow – you blink and we are at the end of November! What a girly November I have had reading wise and spending time with my mum for my birthday as well – afternoon tea at Fortnum and Masons is a must now for us from now on! And the cakes were just delicious and we did not even get to the other trolley full of them to try.

So it was a month of mouth-watering all round which cleverly leads me into themed reading which was by pure accident as I reflect back on the month! The Chocolate Money – Ashley Prentice Norton was more about lots of other things than actual chocolate! Now you are going to need chocolate to make Fudge Cupcake Murder – Joanne Fluke which was a return to cosy crime for me, these are rather an indulgence at the moment. But then baking is an indulgence which I would love to do more of and The Christmas Bake Off – Abby Clements* was where it could all come together.

Food of a sort features strongly in The Villa Girls – Nicky Pellegrino. If you love good Italian food this will make your mouth water without any of it going to your hips! I promise.

Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies  – ed. by Hallie Rubenhold is the place to find those ‘certain’ types of ladies that could probably do marvellous things with their hips providing their teeth were clean! A requirement it seems in this little guide. A great historical diversion.

The only historical novel you could say for this month (note to self – I must read more historical fiction) was Mary Stewart – Thornyhold. Set just after the war and with the character of a house as well in the pages, this was going to be a hit for me and it was. I will be reading more Mary Stewart I am sure in the future, well I hope so anyway!

New authors came with Marika Cobbold – Drowning Rose this month. This is a wonderful book and having heard Marika talk about the book at an author event back in July, I cannot believe I took so long to pick the book up and read it. Again, more of her books will be making their way to my shelves soon I hope. (Not that there is much room on my shelves!)

Familiar author’s besides Joanne Fluke went to Dawn French – oh Dear Silvia her second novel and very different from the first! It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next because this was not as good as her debut for me. 

As November comes to end everyone must be thinking about Christmas, well actually you could have been thinking about it since September when stuff started arriving in the shops. I bet Santa has been planning for ages if he can take his mind off all the wish lists and he has with Scarlett Bailey – Santa Maybe*. A great short Christmas story to get you in the mood, and another new author to add to my ever growing list!

So that was November, there were some short stories scattered through the month and no real crime as such as I don’t count cosy crime as ‘real’ crime. I also finally give up on reading Letters Between Six Sisters – ed. Charlotte Mosley* which I have had out of the library for nearly 5 months now, I did not want to, but felt I had was not going to get any further than I did with it. Hopefully my review will make sense of what I thought.

I end the month reading Louise Douglas – In Her Shadow which is rather gripping and resonates something of Drowning Rose which I can see similarities of but there is something of the unknown hiding in that shadow and I need to get to the end and find out what it is, so if you will excuse me…….

* Book review yet to appear on this blog.


oh Dear Silvia – Dawn French

Ed is still trying to come to terms with the end of his marriage. He even considers ending it all, but something stops him. He finally finds peace in a place of trees, nature and stillness. A place where people go to hide.

Cassie is coming to terms with her mother rejecting her when she announces she is pregnant at 16 and wants to keep the baby. Cassie wants to just be loved by her own mother when she is about to become one herself.

Jamie is in Afghanistan. He joined the army to escape his family.

Jo is the eldest sister, and promised her mother when she died that she would look after her youngest sister. Even now she is 63, she is still looking after sister and using any unconventional methods to do so.

Tia, is an employee, and to supplement her income, she also helps herself to her employers, surplus stuff. She figures that she will not be needing it any more.

Cat is upset her lover still holds on to her past. She wants her to make a choice and the choice they make together means that the present has to go into the past. 

Winnie is trying to be the best mother to her son and the best nurse for her patients, she knows that they cannot help their state, and wants to make it as easy as possible for the relatives as well as the patients.

Ed’s ex wife is called Silvia.
Cassie and Jamie’s mother is called Silvia.
Jo’s youngest sister is called Silvia.
Tia’s employer is called Silvia.
Cat’s lover is called Silvia.
Winnie’s patient is called Silvia.

And Silvia is in suite number 5 and cannot deal with the issues these people bring to her bedside. She is in a coma and cannot answer them.

This is a rather clever way of telling a story and to begin with I struggled to try and get into the characters but as you progress with the book, it gets more involved and you begin to see the real truth of these people all connected to the one persons voice you never hear – Silvia. The twist was something that I was not expecting and it made me question exactly where you would place this novel genre wise. It made it a very different read and different to Dawn French’s debut novel.

Two observations, which spoilt the book for me was something others have commented on; the letter that Jamie sends his mother – it was a very good written letter but it’s place was not in this book. It looked like the author had written this and wanted to use it come what may. The second was the voice of Winnie which was written in dialect and I admit to skim reading these parts because I could not understand it. I got the gist but it did spoil it somewhat, especially as Winnie was a lovely character and somehow managed to be both strong for everyone whilst she feels weak in her own personal life.

An interesting concept, that worked but not on every page. Worth a read.

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

I did not know what I was expecting when I read Dawn French’s debut novel which was a unique and very good book. Pressure on for the next book I suppose and perhaps that’s why there were some weaker moments in it for me.

I was disappointed with the dialogue of Winnie and I was not sure why I could not get into her voice. Other books I have read, for example The Help did not cause me a problem, I got into it very quickly. This I could not, perhaps if I heard these chapters spoken I may think differently but it let the book down for me.

I look forward to seeing what she might write next though as it is apparent she has not chosen a genre to slot straight into which is great for readers but not for all those folk who like to pigeonhole books!


October Roundup

I said it was going to be a different reading month and it certainly was! I think my kindle has played a greater part this month than in previous months. Especially when I finished a book in the middle of the night and then went straight on and read the next without getting out from under the covers!

This was what happened with the two Joanne Fluke books I read; Blueberry Muffin Murder and Lemon Meringue Pie Murder. I could have carried on as well and probably would have done to the next book, if I had finished one again in the middle of the night!

They were my only direct crime books this month – the cosy variety. However, you could say the House Rules by Jodi Picoult could have been considered a crime book which was the first book to be finished in October and has a murder story line in it, although that is not actually the main theme of the book. It was my book club’s choice and made for interesting discussion. Ironically enough I have finished the month with another book which is most definitely crime and also my book for the next book club meeting, Simon Kernick – The Last Ten Seconds*, a book that gets the pulse racing and probably not good for going to bed with, when the adrenalin is running.

Still with the mystery element I picked up the latest Marian Keyes – The Mystery of Mercy Close although this really is not a mystery in the sense of crime. It is perhaps the mystery of the mind and is written definitely from the heart of Keyes and you can see she has drawn on her vast personal experience for the book.

Keyes is classed in the genre of women’s fiction and even dare I say chick-lit and it is probably in this place that I put Amy Bratley’s – The Saturday Supper Club which started with a good premise but really did not deliver in any way. I was disappointed about, and it did rather put me off my reading for a couple of days.

When I am put off by something I have read, I tend to go back to an author that I know but I took a risk this time and went for James Runcie’s East Fortune. Now I have read his latest novel this year, but this I knew was going to be different and not a book which I could pigeonhole in one particular genre. It was also the book of choice for one of the Meet the Authors sessions at the Guildford Book Festival Reader’s day which I have waxed lyrical about for a couple of posts and there is also two more to come about the day, do pop back and look out for them if you can.

Participating in reading is where I come with the last book to mention for October and that is Elizabeth Taylor – Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont*. Invited by Verity who I chat with on twitter as well as follow her triathlon adventures mentioned it to me and asked whether I would be interested. Well I have never read any Elizabeth Taylor and have read a lot about her through blogging and have always been meaning to try one of her books out. So it seemed like the perfect opportunity and the book was only short, available on kindle and set in a hotel, another one of those settings that always fascinate me and attract me to a book. Oh it was so delightful that I might have to read it again! I will be back around mid November to chat about it on Verity’s blog.

So that was October I was really not sure where it was going to take my reading, and it would seem it took me everywhere. I felt I had read a lot more but I put that down to the fact that I saw a total of 14 authors speak in the month! The books are still coming in thick and fast and piling up so on with some November reading……..

* Book review yet to appear on this blog.


The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes

It is always refreshing to find a Marian Keyes novel you have not read and even more so when it is a new one. I did wonder, as the author suffers from crippling depression whether we would get another novel for a very long time. But we have and I feel that Keyes has drawn on her experiences of her depression to give us this rather different story.

It is not a mystery in the sense of crime and murder. It is the mystery of a missing person – Wayne Diffney, a member of Irish boy band Laddz who disappears a few days before a comeback concert. Where has he gone? Why has he gone? And do the other band members know something? In steps Helen Walsh. The youngest of the Walsh Family girls which have featured in previous novels. This time it is her turn to take centre stage.

Helen is a private investigator and her life is missing – she has lost her flat, her friend and work. With no money, she moves back in with her parents. But Helen is missing something else, and she knows she needs quickly to find it before she slips into a downward spiral she recognises – depression. If she can keep busy by trying to find Wayne then she will be able to cope. But this case proves rather testing and she has to hunt high and low for Wayne , will she find him in time for the comeback concert?

Keyes writes a very brutally honest book about depression and although it has some humour in it, for me it was not as much as previous novels and this was a rather dark novel that felt to me it was teetering on the edge of developing into something that was very much not a Keyes novel. What did make me smile is how she took the demise and comeback of boy bands which is a rather common occurrence nowadays, and some of the characters I am sure where just reincarnations of some names of members of Westlife, Boyzone, Take That et al. I spent some time trying to match character’s to real life pop stars. Try it if you read this one.

If you are a fan of her novels then you will pick this one up and complete the set of stories of the Walsh girls. New to Keyes, perhaps try another before this one?

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

It is a while since I have read any Marian Keyes, and I have read some previous ‘Walsh’ Family before. WatermelonRachel’s Holiday and Anybody Out There I have read. Angels is waiting on the shelf to be read. I found them much funnier, there was a bleakness to this book, and actually as I am going through a low time at the moment, it was perhaps not an ideal book to read to cheer the soul.

As I mention in the review, about the comparisons you could take with current reformed boy bands (or should that be man bands?) I am sure I recognised a Robbie Williams character, a Gary Barlow, a Bryan McFadden and the need for comeback being related to a need for money? But that is perhaps the Irish cynic in me? But then again it seems to be in Marian as well? 

I do hope that Marian is on the road to recovery and that she will produce some more novels in the future.