Books

The Dry – Jane Harper

A working farm will see plenty of death. But for this death the farm has never seen anything like it before.

Billy, six years old  – shot.

Karen his mother – shot.

Luke her husband – shot.

Baby Charlotte ? – alive.

It all points towards Luke, a common enough incident, man kills wife and children and then in a fit of remorse kills himself.

Except one child survives.

So who really did kill the Hadler family?

Aaron Falk returns for the Hadler funeral, returning back to a community he left some twenty years previously and has never been back since. Due to events all those years ago his presence now is not going to be welcome at all.

When asked by Luke’s parents to look into the death of their son, something makes him stay and he teams up with the new local sergeant Greg. Between them they come across anomalies which begin to point everything in a completely different direction.

Interspersed throughout the novel is the events which caused Aaron Falk to leave the small country community. Are the events of then a symptom or cause of the present events.

As the drought seems to grip Australia and in particular the town of Kiewarra is the lack of rain making everyone’s judgement is important.

This is a debut novel from an author who clearly has experienced the extreme weather of Australia. As I sit in my home in England, the weather changing throughout the day, and all references to long hot summers and droughts refer back to 1976. This book took me right into the arid landscape, where it was so hot to be unbearable and that no one could possibly be able to survive if the rain didn’t come at some point soon. Is it this which make people accept the death of the Hadler family?

The atmosphere of the book and the well drawn characters make for a book which I could not put down. There is something chilling about the intense heat and the dry landscape that makes this a story that has to be read. It will certainly be one of the books I will remember of 2017.

The Dry is out now.

It seems that we are going to see more of Aaron Falk in the next novel out on kindle in September 2017 and in printed versions 2018. 

 

 

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

First of all I must say thank you to the select few people who kindly joined in my meme Six in Six. There will be a roundup post following in the coming days and I hope I have captured everyone that has taken part.

As for my reading, well it has been varied and thoroughly enjoyable in July. Plenty of books that if I had read them in the first 6 months of the year would have featured on one of my lists!

Looking back July’s reading has been a way of making a dent in the many lists of books to be read. Mainly from my netgalley shelves as well as my venture into reading more Christie.

Annie Lyons – The Choir on Hope Street a pleasant read that passed the time, but not one I would say you HAD to go and read. Not like Kat French – The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach, her books keep getting better and better and this is her latest and well worth the read.

Summer being a theme (and there is a post coming up about that as well at some point) I also decamped to France to finish the trilogy (of which I am disappointed there will not be any more) of Helen Pollard – Summer at the Little French Guesthouse. I look forward to seeing what Helen Pollard will write next if it is as good as these books have been.

I caught up with another book which was previously released as parts Cressida McLaughlin – The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse, this was a book worth waiting to read as a whole.

I have read few thriller type novels this year, mainly because I think my brain has not wanted to cope with such things but I did pick up Jane Harper – The Dry. Debut novelist who has created an interesting detective and set him in a barren landscape.

Kathleen McGurl – The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, this book had been languishing on my kindle for a while and I wanted to make a dent in some of those books too, I chose this one to read. A dual narrative novel, which I do enjoy and was an interesting read which drew away from the sunnier books I had been reading!

Finally the month was complete with Agatha Christie – The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The first Christie Novel, the first Hercule Poirot. As part of my aim to have read all of her books by some point – I went to this one next. The edition I read (as pictured) had an introduction by John Curran and contained information regarding a rewritten chapter which in some ways set in stone the denouement of many murder stories for years to come.

I am back experiencing a new author as the month closes and I have also gone back to one of my favourite authors to immerse myself in one of her novels.

Here is to more lovely reading in August.

Books · Jottings

March Roundup

March has been another month with it seems not much reading. Although the books I have read have been varied in nature and good so I cannot complain even if I am about 5 books behind ‘schedule’ to read 100 in a year. I am hoping that with a long bank holiday weekend coming up at the end of this week and then a weeks holiday four days later that I will catch up on the reading.

There seems to be a trend at the moment where I am reading one book on my kindle and then one physical book. It is not intentional, but mainly because I have got some fantastic books on my kindle thanks to netgalley and I have a miniscule bit of guilt for requesting them and not reading them!

March’s kindle reads have been all female writers; 1 new to me and 2 old favourites.

The Dish by Stella Newman* I had seen around but for whatever did not gravitate to. However, I suddenly read a bit more about the book and thought it might make a nice diversion even if at times it was a slightly longer diversion.

It seems like ages since I have read any of Nicky Pellegrino and it was 2012 to be precise. Again when I saw her newest novel up on netgalley, I thought it was a must read. If there is any pone author who is guaranteed to give you sunshine, warmth, good food and a story in the depths of winter as it turns to spring then you will not go far wrong with Summer in Venice*. The book is not actually published until May 2015 and as I have yet to hear back from the publisher I don’t want to post my review just yet.

Of course another sure-fire hit is Trisha Ashley – Creature Comforts*. I admit to be weary about this as I had read an older novel at the beginning of the year and it did not really do it for me. I blame myself because in fact this is a great book and need not worry. In fact this book introduces something that has never really featured in Trisha’s novels before…… you will have to wait until my review to find out.

Back in the physical book world I could say that I have read a book that is older than me, one that has been languishing on my shelf for rather a long  time and a brand new novel!

In reverse order I have read the latest Christopher Fowler – A Burning Man which is the twelfth outing of the wonderfully eccentric Bryant and May. My review can be found here. I was delighted to receive a proof copy of the book, as well as the finished hardback. I am not really sure what I should do with the proof copy now? However, what I am even more thrilled about is that the author himself, yes Christopher Fowler found the time to comment on my review! He likes talking to real readers. I think that is what I am. I am certainly going to look out for Christopher Fowler at any events that may be near to me in the future.

The Rose of Sebastopol – Katharine McMahon* has been on the shelf for too long. In fact it might well have moved with me some near 6 years ago? Nonetheless March was the time for me to read it, I was after some historical fiction and having read a previous novel and seen her speak on more than one occasion I thought it was about time to read the book that Richard and Judy raved about. I now know why it was such a popular read and it made me even more keen to read more of the historical fiction I have languishing on my shelves.

Agatha Christie – The Moving Finger is a television adaption I have seen more than once in both Miss Marple’s reincarnations on the screen. I had never read the book and in my life long mission to read all of her works, I decided it was time to pull the book off my mum’s shelf and read it. Delightful as they always are and another one crossed off the list.

March has seen me posting also about some books from the past that I have reviewed and have never featured much on my blog. This has stemmed from film versions I have either seen myself or have seen advertised. I think I will dig around my old amazon reviews again and see what else is out there to share.

I have also felt the urge to blog more about stuff I am doing which has been a diversion from the book posts that some people are used to. I hope you enjoy them, let me know I always like reading comments and I try to get around to as many blogs as I can to read what you have all been up to and what you have been reading!

* Book review yet to appear on blog.

 

Books

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

This is the book that everyone is going to be talking about in 2015. It is building up a lot of interest. In my opinion rightly so – this debut book is going to make a long journey all of its own.

Rachel gets on the 8.04 train to London, she has been doing it for so long she knows not just which stations it will stop at but all the signals along the way.

At one of those signals, she can see into the gardens of some houses. She can see the residents. In fact Rachel has become so interested in one particular couple that she has given them names ‘Jason and Jess’ and created a whole story for them. Their life looks idyllic and obviously divorced Rachel is missing what she once had.

But one day when the train stops at the same signal she sees something that does not fit in with this ideal life of these strangers. Suddenly the story she has created becomes a real nightmare. Rachel then gets involved with the real Jason and Jess, actually called Scott and Megan and it all becomes very close to home. Too close.

Can you trust Rachel though? As we learn more about her we see her rely on alcohol. These details are like drip fed to us by the author, is it this why she is divorced? Is it something else? And if she is always recovering from a hangover can we really believe what Rachel says or in fact sees?

Whilst we read Rachel’s story throughout the book, it is alternated with two other female characters Megan and Anna. Which reality is correct, can we trust any of these characters and are any of their actions justifiable. You go through a number of emotions with these characters as you range from page to page with anger, sympathy and love.

As the train continues to stop at that signal, the story keeps going. It has you wanting to know why, it questions what you see, what you hear and most of all what you believe. I liked this about the book, I enjoyed being taken through all the twists and turns and getting back to where I originally was. I am not sure if I guessed the resulting outcome or whether I did not want to acknowledge it and let the book take me on this wonderful journey. It kept the heart beating, the pages turning and reading late into the night. Excellent stuff.

“I suppose that everyone does it – looks out at the houses they pass – only we all seem them differently. All saw them differently”.

Next time you observe other people’s lives remember this book………..

The Girl on the Train is out in hardback and on kindle now. 

Thank you to the publisher for allowing me to receive a copy via netgalley. 

I have seen a lot about this book that if you liked Gone Girl or Before I Go To Sleep then you will love this book. Well I read them books and they were good. As this book is good. I try and come to books with an open mind and never try and compare them. They can all have a place in the world quite easily. Some people I know hated Gone Girl and loved Before I Go To Sleep – it is all relative. That is why there are so many books out there.

Take this book for what it is and make no comparisons.

This book will be talked about – it has a great campaign behind it and has also made it onto the Radio 2 Book Club for Monday 19th January. I look forward to seeing how well it does and also what else Paula Hawkins writes in the future, because if it as good as The Girl on the Train then I will be reading it. 

 

 

Books · Jottings

Books in 2014

Here we are again. Another year of reading. Where do you begin.

I read 100 books (just!) and I think part of me thinks I have cheated because I read a lot of short stories.

15 short stories.

The anomaly among these 15 was A Place For Us – Harriet Evans which I read in 4 parts as it was published in ebook form as such. It was like waiting for a series on the television to develop as the months went by. The book (as a whole is available in January 2015). Now if I took this out of the short stories and combined it as one book – then I would only have read 97 books. So you can see why I might think I have cheated a bit.

As for the wonder that is the kindle – reading on that came in at 30 books. More than any other year looking back, and just under a third of the total books read. Why? Well a number of the short stories read are only available on kindle, so that upped the number considerably. I also became more involved with netgalley and have received some lovely books via this medium and therefore they have been read on my kindle.

It is very easy with netgalley to become carried away with requesting and downloading books and then not actually getting round to reading them. I feel guilty about that. The only thing that grates sometimes with the netgalley copies is the formatting can sometimes be a bit askew and therefore that makes it a bit more difficult to read. I read visually as much as I read the words. But reading should not be about guilt and being picky over layout and spelling, it should be about enjoyment and regardless of my foibles it has given me that.

Looking back at the list you can see who I read a lot of Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Veronica Henry, M.C. Beaton, Debbie Macomber. All good books and value for money in terms of reading.

Riley

Lucinda Riley’s work was prominent in 2014 – three books. The Midnight Rose, The Italian Girl and The Seven Sisters. What made it even more special for me was meeting and having lunch with Lucinda where she talked not just about her new novel The Seven Sisters but everything else as well. I felt very privileged and it is a memory I take into 2015. I resolve to write my review and all about the lunch as soon as possible.

2014 being the 100th year since the outbreak of the First World War brought many things to light. Not just the wonderful poppy installation at the Tower of London but I did resolve to read some fiction related to that period. I had my own reading remembrance post but in relation to the books for 2014.

It must go to Anna Hope – Wake

A brilliant début novel, about the days where the body of the unknown soldier is removed from the fields of France and then takes a journey to lay at rest in Westminster Abbey.

History is part of my life, it is part of everyone’s life. It interests some more than others. It interests me a lot and I love fiction that goes back to the periods. Especially periods which have been rather overlooked.

A dual time period of the 20s and 60s is an interesting choice int he debut novel of Stephanie Lam – The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House. 

The 50s & 60s is covered with Jill Dawson – The Lucky Bunny.

This book has thoroughly been researched and I think brings a wonderful example of social history for a thirty year period in the East End of London.

Right back to 1857 and across the seas to Tasmania where you learn about ways of life and how actions have reactions with Rosie Goodwin – A Mother’s Shame. 

Staying across in that part of the world I was lucky enough to read Monica McInerney – Hello from the Gillespies. An author I have not visited for a long time and you really get a lot of story packed into the pages and pages.

Crime has not been a major player in my reading life (nor in any part of my life) but what I have read has been excellent.

Combining History and Crime is Sara Sherdian – London Calling. It is the 1950s and the war has changed everything for women and Mirabelle. This book captures so much about society at the time. Plus they have the bonus of looking beautiful all on the shelf together in their hardback form.

It is very difficult to take on the mantle of a great author and continue their work. Sophie Hannah in my opinion has done it perfectly with Hercule Poirot and The Monogram Murders. I enjoyed it, many did not, but I think if you came to the book expecting Christie you were going to be disappointed.

Rather good crime comes in the form of Belinda Bauer, I am excited to read her new novel in 2015 but The Facts of Life and Death in 2014 was a great read

This is a bleak thriller but that does not make it depressing, far from it. Bauer creates a twist and a turn, and in amongst all this desolation there is the murders that need to be solved, it is very different to her previous novels. For me it had a du Maurier-esque romance about it, for some reason I thought of Jamaica Inn, which no doubt was down to the descriptive landscape which made it all come alive from the page. It is a very different sort of book and not your conventional thriller or serial killer novel and because it did not fit a nice pigeon hole is the reason I really enjoyed the book.

A book club choice that surprised us all was Pierre Lemaitre – Alex. First of all it was a translated piece of work and we skipped through the book, gasping and enthralled as the story unfolded.

It is thriller and one that will have you on the “edge of your seat”. It alternates between Alex (of the title) who is kidnapped and Camille Verhoeven the rather short detective whose feet do not even reach the floor when sat in a chair who is out to find Alex and catch the kidnapper

Other books I must mention are Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project. For me The Rosie Effect has not quite lived up to the first. War is spoken about in a different way in Elizabeth Speller – The Return of Captain John Emmett. The Second World War is covered in Richard Madeley- Some Day I’ll Find You in a very interesting way.  Crime, War and Murder are encapsulated in Ben Elton – The First Casualty. Sun, Sea, Sand and Sex are complete contrasts to war and Helen Walsh – The Lemon Grove was all of these and more.

Follow Ups, sequels what ever you may want to call them, but companion is the only way to sum up Rachel Joyce – The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey was so beautifully written it reminded me of those lost and those questions which were never asked.

You might have gathered I am quite a fan of series of books. In some ways it is because maybe it satisfies the ‘soap opera’ style of going back to the same people and places and knowing everything with some sort of familiarity. I embarked on a new series with Alexandra Brown – The Great Christmas Knit Off, trouble is when you start at the beginning you have to be patient whilst the author writes the next….

Thank you very much for visiting my blog. I appreciate all the comments and visits. If you are a regular then hope to see more of you in 2015, if you have just stumbled across this blog or perhaps never commented before. Say hello I promise my bark is worse than my bite, or so I am told.

What books did you like in 2014? Any ideas what we should be reading in 2015?

Books

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simison

Don Tillman had a project – that project was to find a wife. And that project is now complete.

Trouble is Don cannot be without a project and being a husband is rather a major project and one he seems to be struggling with at times.

He is learning with his new wife Rosie, in their new life in New York that spontaneity is ok, it is good and healthy in a relationship. Too much structure and control might not be good for a relationship.

When the arrival of a combination of genetics begins to form in the shape of a baby. Don decides that he now needs to concentrate on this project and understand fully something which is beyond his comprehension – as although this is a process he can look at and analyse and take solace in development from a scientific point of view, he is not equipped to deal with emotions and feelings. Rosie has an abundance of them. It is all beyond Don’s control.

Don gets himself into some sticky situations and whilst inevitably you could see what happens, it is the humour in Simison’s writing which takes over and makes us understand Don and his actions.

Characters from the first novel reappear, either in person or through the medium of technology. Of course there is not many as Don’s immediate circle is small but we still manage to love and hate Gene in equal measures and watch with some pained moments as Dave tries to cope with also being a father but with a very different outlook on it, than Don. The new characters that appear fit in with this circle of Don’s  friends which in itself is rather amusing as they seem to gravitate to Don rather than the other way round. He uses them all in his quest of the Baby Project.

This is nothing like the first book and I was a long way through when I realised that Rosie is merely a secondary character, a vehicle which to show Don. That would be fine if she was not such a major part of the first novel. It was this which left me feeling that this book has not quite got the edge. Rosie was a feisty character but she has lost that and seems to have retreated as if the whole thing was a huge mistake. I am not sure if this was the author’s intention, but for me it came across as such.

The next project may be one that neither Don or Rosie want to embark on. With a new life due it can only mean happiness somewhere.

I enjoyed this book, however I think that perhaps Don and Rosie should have been left to manage life without us peering in, voyeuristically through the pages of a sequel?

Thank you to netgalley for providing me with a copy to review. 

 

 

Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Well that was November. Did you see it go by? I seemed to have missed it somewhat and certainly the reading has taken its toll this  month although as of this post I am on track to reach my target of books read for the year but it is going to go to the wire, if it were a competition (with myself!)

But what did I read?

More Christmas reads, I seem to have started much earlier this year than in previous years and they have tended to be short reads at that. You cannot go wrong with Katie Fforde – A Christmas Feast and other stories which is just like a delicious Katie Fforde selection box.

Another author I discovered this year was Kate Forster – The Perfect Christmas this is her short story for the year and actually reminds you how much Christmas is not about material items but love.

Veronica Henry – Christmas at the Crescent was where I popped in to see what was going on. Another short story, but it took you in straight away and again reminds you all about the pleasure of being together as a family and that love at Christmas.

Away from Christmas and in the commemorative year of the First World War our book club choice was Eric Collinson – The Bootlace Boys. Although the war only featured in the last quarter or so of the book, it was an interesting read about the coal miners of the North East.

More history came from the wonderful new novel by Lucinda Riley – The Seven Sisters* the first of a series of seven novels, starts to build the scene, the characters and takes us to Paris, Brazil and Switzerland. How can three so different places come together? Of course if you know Lucinda’s writing then you know it will and it was such a wonderful journey.

Another journey I took at the beginning of the year was with Don and his Rosie Project. Now for Don it has turned into an effect. Graeme Simison – The Rosie Effect* is the sequel to the book. It was great to be back with Don and Rosie, and it was also nice to see life portrayed a lot more real than in some books.

If I have not been reading I have been doing crafts and of course some knitting, I have also been reading about it. (A most tenuous link) to Debbie Macomber – A Good Yarn, this is the second in the Blossom Street series and I am back in the yarn store in Seattle and finding out what is happening to the store’s owner and some of the many customer who pop into learn a new skill. A real variety of people.

I did start a book and had to stop, as I was not really concentrating on it as I was reading it with another book at the same time, which was not working for me. Especially as my brain is not calming down and therefore cannot cope with everything whizzing round it. I will go back to it, as there was nothing wrong with the writing I knew it was me.

Going back to reading only one book at a time for the moment sees me ending November reading a Patrick Gale novel, I had forgotten how much I enjoy his work and writing.

I might be a bit behind on reviews but they will be forthcoming but maybe a little more slowly.

* Review yet to appear on blog.