Books

The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz

A woman walks into a funeral directors to arrange her funeral.

Six hours later she is dead.

Coincidence?

Murder?

A private detective, Daniel Hawthorne has been called in by the police to help with this case. A consulting detective like Holmes or Poirot but with a character and manner all of his own. So gruff and strange I could not be anything but fascinated by him. Hawthorne is private in many ways, we know little about him and whilst he was once a police inspector, it takes us a while to find out what happened.

The narrator of this story, is drawn into Hawthorne’s world.

The narrator is in fact an author, who has used Hawthorne before to help in his research in previous novels and television adaptations. Here you can quite easily think Watson to Holmes, Hastings to Poirot. Except this author, this narrator, we all know.

It is in fact Anthony Horowitz.

All of a sudden, The Word is Murder becomes part autobiography, part fiction and part fact and it was actually fascinating to learn all about Horowitz’s world as an author and script writer, to  the idiosyncrasies of the publishing and television world. A parody but actually not  – more a reality, a truth.

But just like us as readers, Horowitz is drawn to Hawthorne and the murder of the woman hours after arranging her funeral. He is reluctant to become involved but something draws him back to Hawthorne, because it is not just the murder to unpick Horowitz needs to understand the detective as well. Without that surely he will never have a book.

This is an interesting book, where you have to remind yourself when you are reading, what bit could be true and what part was the fiction of the story being weaved by Horowitz as he helped Hawthorne (not a real person) complete his investigation.

I chose not to go into much detail about the murder in this review, mainly because I am always too frightened of giving some obvious clue and rendering anyone else reading the book as a pointless exercise.

A cleverly crafted novel which will appeal to fans of murder mysteries. I would not put it down as a thriller but it is certainly a page turner. Very different to Magpie Murders published last year but both of these books have the potential to be developed further.

Thank you to the publisher through netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Word is Murder is out now. 

 

 

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Books

September Roundup

I hate to say it but after a lovely summer of reading, I have hit the Christmas reading already – what I hear you cry. It is still autumn and we haven’t even put the clocks back yet.

But the nights are getting darker earlier and I am waking up on int he dark to drag myself out to go swimming before work, so it can only mean that Christmas is really on its way. I even confess to having made a couple of lists for presents.

So the festivities have started with Holly Martin – Christmas at Mistletoe Cove. I really do like Holly’s books and read this series of books which concludes with Christmas on the Scilly Isles.

Funnily enough, coincidence perhaps, the next Christmas read was Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn. This also happens to be set on the Scilly Isles. It is the first in a new series of books from this author who I have to say produces books which are a great read.

Christmas funnily enough is covered in Judith Kinghorn – The Snow Globe but rather than being contemporary, this takes you back to the mid 1920s. Romance is around, but sometimes the choices you make are not always ‘seen’ to be the right ones.

So with Christmas out-of-the-way, let’s get back to summer and something a bit more warming and Katie Fforde – Summer of Love. I am a fan of Katie’s work and whilst I read the new books when I can if I can get hold of a copy, I am busy working my way through her back catalogue. Still got a few books to get through yet.

Summer makes you think of swimming and if you are lucky, lidos. I chose The Lido Girls  – Allie Burns when it appeared as a choice on netgalley. But the book was not for me and I abandoned it, the first this year and felt as I normally do quite ruthless, but some books just don’t work and when you have lots more to read then I feel I cannot waste time ploughing through a book which I get no enjoyment from.

I know I am going to get enjoyment and a laugh from Sarah Millican – How to be Champion and was thrilled when it popped up on netgalley. Even more thrilled to be approved and read a copy. If she makes you laugh, then without any doubt this book will too. I am going to get a copy for myself as I didn’t get to see the pictures and the formatting was a bit adrift on my kindle, so it did make for disjointed reading. But a ‘champion’ book!

I have noticed when you pick books up from netgalley that they can start you discovering one place and you have to go back and keep reading more about it, that is certainly the case with a few of the books I have got hold of lately. Which is why I chose and have read Ellen Berry – The Bakery on Rosemary Lane which takes us back to the Yorkshire village where new business are popping up and contentment is being found.

Looking back over the year I have read quite a lot of contemporary womens fiction. You get drawn certain ways with books and you just have to keep reading them. I know some are very similar it setting and style. If the writing is good, the plot believable and the characters three-dimensional then I carry on reading. Now and again I do like to throw in something different and this month besides an autobiography it was Anthony Horowitz – The Word is Murder. A different take on a murder mystery book and one which involved the author himself. Confused, you could well be but it is worth sticking with as it is a cleverly constructed novel.

So quite a good month for reading but there is plenty more to read so I must get on…..

Books

August Roundup

Anyone who is a regular to this blog will know that August is one of the bumper months of reading for me as I have around three weeks off work. This August has been no exception and as you will be able to see from the list of books below, I have been busy. The majority have been reviewed but there are some that have been read for sheer pleasure or fascination.

I have seen many blogs mention Susan Hill – Howards End is on the Landing, but had yet to read it. It is one of those books, that you can pick up read a chapter, which are like small essays and then put it down comfortably for a fortnight without thought and pick it up again to learn some more. Fascinating but not the book I thought it was going to be.

I do love a good saga, and Daisy Styles – The Code Girls was going to give me that. I liked the premise and I thought perhaps I was going to get more of the codebreaking than the cooking I did get, it was a pleasurable diversion apart from one thing – the historical mistakes. Poor research is unacceptable especially when people who could well be reading books like this probably remember the events.

This did not happen through the book, but in the first 15 pages or so – it was stated that Clement Attlee was the prime minister who announced the war, that the Dunkirk evacuation from the North Sea was on the Normandy beaches. At this point the book nearly flew out the window. I kept reading because I was under the impression it would be perhaps interesting – it was passable for a wet afternoon. Realistically if these ‘Code’ girls were as clever as they were portrayed they would not have been stuck in the kitchens. I am now in the process of writing to Penguin (publisher) because of what I feel is a very poor example of a book. It is this which has put me off reading any more from this author.

Thank goodness for Roald Dahl – The Witches. A childhood read which I wanted to go back and enjoy and I did, what pleasure it gave me when I was a child and read and reread and just the same as an adult. Although looking back I am surprised I was not frightened of such creatures!

If you have read my previous posts then you will know that I was spending my summer vicariously in different places that’s the wonder that is books, novels and stories! It was surely a mere coincidence that a lot of them had Summer in the title!

Holly Martin – Summer at Buttercup Beach, second in a trilogy meant I had to read Holly Martin – Spring at Blueberry Bay first so I knew what was happening and it is only a couple of weeks until the final book is published and I can return to Hope Island.

Jennifer Bohnet – Summer at Coastguard Cottages was one of my favourite summer reads as was Lily Graham – Summer at Seafall Cottage (or The Cornish Escape). I recommend both of these authors wholeheartedly, you will get a really good read.

I was disappointed with two books I read in August, both from authors I had not read before; Jen Mouat – Summer at Bluebell Bank and Fiona Walker – The Weekends of You and Me. They had the potential to be much more than what they were.

My holiday type reads did not just involve sun, there was a sprinkling of murder as well. Robert Thorogood – Death Knocks Twice took me away to the Caribbean and the television programme Death in Paradise on which these books are based.

Italy was my destination for a wedding, Tilly Tennant – A Wedding in Italy and to catch up on the goings on there from when I visited earlier in the year. I am growing to love Tilly Tennant books, but some are much stronger than others and I do wonder is perhaps writing a series is not always the right way to go.

If I am going to stay in a B&B I want it to be a boutique one, no candlewick bedspreads and nylon sheets for me, with doors shut at 930pm sharp! So I want to go to Jennifer Joyce – The Little Bed and Breakfast by the Sea, even out of season I am sure it would be delightful.

Bizarrely reading some of these women’s fiction, light reads whilst engaging can lead you wanting to read something with a bit more meat, a bit of a page turner in a different way. That is why Joanna Barnard – Hush Little Baby, her second novel was the book I chose. Much better than her first, something which can be very difficult to achieve.

Historical Fiction is a real love of mine and I always say I must read more, then get diverted by a million and one other books, but when I do go back I revel it. Despite receiving the book last year and putting off reading it, not because it was going to be awful, but because I knew I would lose myself in it and not want the book to end I finally got round to reading, Lucinda Riley – The Shadow Sister. Easily my favourite of the year and will be hard pressed to beat. So much is contained within the pages, that the writing of the review needs to be considered and thoughtful.

Tracy Rees – The Hourglass is recommended by Lucinda Riley and because I have read her other books I knew I was going to get a cracker of a book. This is different from the previous two, but sweeps not that far back into the past. But far enough back to show the changes that have happened. Cannot wait for this author’s next one.

As the month closes I am reading another historical fiction book, which I have been lost in and will become my first finish of September. The nights are drawing in and there is more than enough for me to be reading.

 

 

 

 

Books · Jottings

Summer Holidays

In a bid to work my way through a number of books languishing on my kindle thanks to the wonder that is netgalley and also the ones residing on my shelves I thought I would set myself a little task and that was to go on a summer holiday via the medium of books.

So allow this post to take you to lots of different places, to stay in some rather interesting accommodation and perhaps have a summer holiday vicariously. Hopefully some of the links are not too tenuous!

So browse this brochure and tell me perhaps where you fancy going?

The Place – Elba, an island in Tuscany, Italy.

The Book – The Thousand Lights Hotel – Emylia Hall

……I was transported to Elba, to the beautiful hotel, the intense heat and warmth of the sun. The sea as it was calm in the morning as Kit went to break the surface, to wake herself up, to find what she was looking for. Even down to food and the welcome that hotel gives…….

The Place – A fictional island, Greece

The Book – The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach – Kat French

…..A distillery is hidden beneath the Villa and part of the deal is to keep producing the islands famous spirit – gin and to make sure that the island and the islanders never run out. For if it did, the consequences could be catastrophic……

The Place – Loire Valley, France

The Book – Summer at the Little French Guesthouse – Helen Pollard

…..drip the sunshine into the pages and the rolling hillsides, even the delicious food prepared in the guesthouse has you salivating as you can almost taste the chilled white wine, easing away your troubles……..

The Place – Dorset, UK

The Book – The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse – Cressida McLaughlin

….. immediately checked into the guest house, can smell the bacon cooking as you wait for your breakfast and relax into each specially selected room after the exciting day you may have experienced…..

The Place – Cornwall, UK

The Book – Summer at Seafall Cottage – Lily Graham

…..find my own cottage and just experience the simple view, ever-changing through the windows that look out across the sea. I want to be able to read in comfort a book such as this as the weather does its worst. Knowing that tomorrow is a new day and something else may be discovered…….

The Place – A Fictional Island, Caribbean

The Book – Death Knocks Twice – Robert Thorogood

….taking you away to where the sun shines, the water is warm and the chance of death could be quite high!…..

The Place – Fictional Seaside Town, North West Coast, UK

The Book – The Little Bed and Breakfast by the Sea – Jennifer Joyce

….A pier…arcade machines…A fish and chip shop…devour the salty chips…ice cream van which specialises in different flavours…A beach, cliffs, coves and breathtaking views of the sea and the landscape.

The Place – Fictional Island, Scilly Isles, UK

The Book – Spring at Blueberry Bay – Holly Martin

…The book completely took me away to Hope Island, and its scenery and residents, and the wonder that is Holly Martin’s writing….

The Book – Summer at Buttercup Beach – Holly Martin

…A book for the perfect escape, along with the wonderful setting and the beauty that can be seen not just in love but also in the surroundings and the art that can be created through the medium of glass……

The Place – Devon Coastline, UK

The Book – Summer at Coastguard Cottages – Jennifer Bohnet

….where you can enjoy coming together with a community who do not judge your choice, your life and you can enjoy a glass of something chilled and toast the day as the flag shifts and the sun sets over the sea……

Thank you for stepping into the pages of my brochure and as for my real summer holiday, it is now over and I am back at work, counting the days to my next break.

Books

Death Knocks Twice – Robert Thorogood

This is the third ‘Death in Paradise’ novel and this time the challenge for DI Richard Poole, stuffy english detective in his woollen suits in the Caribbean and his rather more laid back team, of Camille, Fidel and the Dwayne.

An unknown man is found dead, shot twice in an old shower room at the Beaumont’s coffee plantation. The door is locked from the inside, the window as well. He could not possibly have been murdered.

Could he?

As DI Poole employs his propensity for such unexplainable acts it seems that perhaps there is more to this unknown man than first thought. The coffee plantation, seems to be running at a loss and the Beaumont family are at odds with each other as well as what to do for best about the plantation.

Of course the truth is obvious, when you know where you are looking, but with every good detective novel there has to plenty of red herrings, plot twists and perhaps another murder. Who is telling the truth?

Of course methods of detection are notoriously slow on such a  laid back Caribbean island and DI Poole has to result in some old fashion research and plenty of patience. He knows if he was back in England, wet dreary England he would not be in this predicament.

But when the answer is revealed… it is time to gather everyone together and ‘name the murderer’!

As with the previous two novels, this encompasses the bygone era of crime writing such as Christie and simply transports it to somewhere warm and appealing. With humorous characters and someone one is never going to fit in and chooses to remain the odd one out. Of course there is another plot running through this and that is the bootleg rum which is being sold on the island, and it might even mean the grumpy english man in his woollen suit might need to go undercover as a proper islander……

A good whodunnit, taking you away to where the sun shines, the water is warm and the chance of death could be quite high!

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

Death Knocks Twice is out now. 

You can also read the first two novels A Meditation on Murder and The Killing of Polly Carter

I hope these books are successful enough to warrant more, because when the tv series is not on, these are a wonderful stop gap. 

 

 

 

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

Six in Six – 2017 My Choices

Hello everyone, I hope you are enjoying the Sixth edition of Six in Six and if you haven’t joined in there is still time, pop along here to find out what you need to know. I look forward to reading yours and getting lots of new books added on my to read list.

  • Six books I have enjoyed the most
  1. Jennifer Ryan – The Chilbury Ladies Choir
  2. Andrew Wilson – A Talent for Murder
  3. Liz Fenwick – The Returning Tide
  4. Laura Madeleine – Where Wild Cherries Grow
  5. Trisha Ashley – The Little Teashop of Lost and Found
  6. Emylia Hall – The Thousand Lights Hotel
  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War
  1. Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls
  2. Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls at War
  3. Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half
  4. Audrey Reimann – Flora’s War
  5. Jennifer Ryan – The Chilbury Ladies Choir
  6. Deborah Burrows – Ambulance Girls
  • Six books I have read but not reviewed
  1. Mary Gibson – Jam and Roses
  2. Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  3. Fern Britton – A Good Catch
  4. M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison
  5. James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins
  6. Kate Morton – The Lake House
  • Six physical books I have read
  1. Deborah Burrows – Ambulance Girls
  2. Essie Fox – The Somnambulist
  3. James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins
  4. Kate Morton – The Lake House
  5. Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half
  6. Mary Gibson – Jam and Roses
  • Six book covers I love

  • Six books I must get round to reading this year 
  1. Lucinda Riley – The Angel Tree
  2. Lucinda Riley – The Shadow Sister
  3. Cathy Bramley – The Lemon Tree Cafe
  4. Rachel Joyce – The Music Shop
  5. Lily Graham – The Cornish Escape
  6. Agatha Christie – The Mysterious Affair at Styles

So that is my Six in Six – and halfway through the reading year and only one book short of being halfway through my reading challenge –  all is well. There are so many books I want to be reading, I better get get on and read them!

I look forward to reading all of your Six in Six and I will do a round-up post of everyone that has joined in.