Books

A Talent for Murder – Andrew Wilson

No one knows the truth about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926. We can all surmise from what we do know, but what we don’t know we can perhaps weave a story around. This is exactly what Andrew Wilson has done in this exciting novel, a must for all Christie fans.

In a strange turn of events it is Christie who has to contemplate murder rather than write about it in her popular growing novels. Can she actually commit a crime?

The majority of the novel is told from Agatha’s point of view, we learn of the effect the loss of her mother has had on her, the breakdown of her marriage and the devotion to her child. Is it these things that could possibly drive her to commit a murder?

The rest of the novel’s narrative is told in a different way and we see an outsider trying to use the mysterious disappearance to further her career. Using methodology that would not look out of place in any of the Poirot and Marple books it seems that perhaps someone has inadvertently stumbled upon the true reason for the disappearance. Can the truth be revealed before it is too late?

Of course in true Christie style with perhaps a slightly more darker graphic side to events not normally found in her novels, the truth is revealed which will perhaps shock readers. But then did you see what was happening, did you spot the red herrings, the obvious clues. No? I didn’t and that is probably what makes this a very clever novel.

We will never know the true story of those ten days of disappearance in 1926. Not even Christie herself refers to them. But a theory or a possibility that it might not have been all that it seems, gives you an excellent start to a story.

If you are a fan of Golden Age Murder or of Christie herself this makes an excellent read as it celebrates what is at the core of Christie’s novels and how they still work years after they were published and are as popular today as then.

A Talent for Murder is published on the 18 May. 

 

 

 

Books

The Forever House – Veronica Henry

We are all dreaming of finding ‘the house’, the one you know that will tick all the boxes and be the place that you stay forever. Belinda Baxter is in that position, even more so as an estate agent in the village of Peasebrook she gets to look at some really great houses.

As the commission on the houses she sells comes in, she is getting nearer to having the funds for that forever house. Now she just needs to find the right one.

Hunter’s Moon is a house that could be someone’s forever home and it is with sadness and regret that Sally and Alexander are choosing to put it on the market. It has been in Alexander’s family for over fifty years, but it was left to his wife Sally when his mother died. It is Belinda Baxter who helps the family sell the home.

However as Belinda soon discovers there is more to the selling of this house, than simply the need for cash. It is the memories that are triggered and the stories that the house could tell.

And so Veronica Henry takes us back to 1967, to when Sally and Alexander first met and the other inhabitants of Hunter’s Moon take over the story in the past.

I was hooked, especially with the dual narrative which I do enjoy reading. It can be a difficult thing to pull off successfully, but I think the author has achieved it with aplomb. She has taken two very different views of Hunter’s Moon and I fell in love with both of them. Everything is described so well that it brought the place to life, I could imagine the state of the kitchen that Sally walked when she first went there, and the wonderful way that it has transformed when it looks like Sally is going to have leave it all behind.

Of course there was romance within the pages of the novel, not just with the house itself but between some of the characters. However I felt very much that this was merely in the background and it was not important for the happy ending to be about girl meets man and falls in love. The book seems to deal with all different aspects of love and the heartbreak that can sometimes accompany it.

A wonderful family story, which I felt was different from some other Veronica Henry’s previous novels and I felt quite sad when I finished the book.  I wished it had gone on forever.

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

The Forever House is out on the 18th May.

 

Books

The Returning Tide – Liz Fenwick

Windward, 1945 – The marquee is out there on the lawn waiting for the wedding guests. Adele watches on and wonders how she has got to this point.

Windward, 2015 – The wedding marquee is out on the lawn waiting for the guests. Elle watches on and wonders how she ended up here.

It is in fact not the intervening years which complete the story it is that which has passed before.

Adele and Amelia, twins, identical perhaps by sight but not by personality. Amelia is the more carefree perhaps reckless one, Adele the constrained thoughtful one. But as war has started to reach Cornwall and the men they know are disappearing, the girls, once old enough join the WRNS in 1943 to escape. Ironically it is Adele who finds herself in London and Amelia who is restricted to a driving job in Cornwall. It will be the first time that they have been apart and not had the other to wholly rely on.

The story of the sisters, continues as war progresses. War separates and divides, as if a tide is washing in and out. The sisters keep in contact but rarely see each other. That is until one day when events mean they will never see each other again.

Across the ocean, Lara is struggling to cope with the loss of her great-grandfather, the breakup of her marriage and the loss of her job. She feels adrift and nothing seems to be able to settle her. When her great-grandfather’s last word is Adele, she wants to find out more about the man and the great-grandmother she never knew, and of course Adele.

This is historical fiction at its best. Liz Fenwick has taken all the right elements, a time in history which was defining for the course of the Second World War and one that is on occasions missing from history. We have families struggling on both sides of the Atlantic with their secrets about the past. You of course as reader know information that some of the characters don’t but I was totally enthralled with how they were going to find out and how all the pieces of the story fitted together.

The story is told in alternating time frames and I admit there are a lot of jumps to begin with, but once you overcome that you will be gripped by the story and totally unaware of the joins in the time frames. This was also helped for me with the letters between the sisters, in the main to fill in the gaps as the story progressed. It was a useful technique to bring the story together and emphasised how news was imparted during such times.

A chance conversation with a member of her family led to Liz Fenwick writing this novel which is very different to her previous work. Whilst this is not an exact retelling of events, elements of reality are very much between the pages and it is worth remembering that what you are about to read in this book, did in fact happen.

One simple action was all it took for the course of someones life to change irrevocably. As the tide went out, it was never going to return……but what if it did………?

An excellent read and one of the best books I have read so far in 2017.

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

The Returning Tide is out now. 

 

Books

April Roundup

Woosh and there went April! I thought I was going to get ahead with my reading and I suppose in some ways I did, but really I should stop requesting good books on netgalley, so I only have myself to blame.

I am missing holding actual books ion my hand. Although reading Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd which was in a very large book which held a quintet of Poirot stories, meant I could not really hold this book up effectively without doing myself some damage, if I were to drop the book. Of course I am expanding my Christie reading but if you look out for a book I have been advertising for a couple of weeks now, this Christie story now I have read it, makes a lot of sense.

War featured quite heavily now I look back at the list that I have read. Given the opportunity to read Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls at War which I discovered to be book two, I had to go and read the first, Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls. It really is a delight to be able to read one book after the other knowing you are going to be with familiar characters and you can see their stories develop even more. Now I have to wait until the third one is published before I can revisit the shipyard.

Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half took me into the Ministry of Information and was a rather quirky book, not perhaps as good as Crooked Heart for me but it was an interesting read.Now I am just waiting for my local cinema to put it on at a decent time for me to go and watch.

Cornwall is always a favourite of mine to set a book, despite never having been there. Liz Fenwick – The Returning Tide add to this with her new novel, but one which also touches on Operation Tiger, and reminded me of something which I knew little about.That is one of the many things I love about reading, the way it can spark an interest and you can go and find out more. This is definitely one of favourite books of the year.

Sticking with historical fiction you cannot go fairly wrong with Kate Morton – The Lake House.It is a while since I have read any of her work, as other authors have taken over but I remember the joy if escaping into such a large expansive novel. Sadly the book did not work with me this time, but I will not let that put me off reading others.

Netgalley gives me a chance to indulge in women’s fiction, chick-lit if the phrase takes you and that is how I came to pick up Jennifer Joyce – The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts. A new author to me and it was a pleasant surprise, as after a while some of the books seem very similar, but this one did stand out.

Christie Barlow – Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is another book picked up from netgalley but one where I knew the author, having read and enjoyed some of her work before. I gave to admit I am taken in by the bright coloured covers. However, this was a book which dealt with some issues you would not necessarily think would go with women’s fiction but it worked in this book, which is probably down to the author. Not one of my favourites by her, as I thought it was all a bit to convenient,  but good nonetheless.

I am a big fan of Veronica Henry and always like to read what ever is coming next from her. Her latest novel Veronica Henry – The Forever House is a wonderful read and one I did not want to finish. So to make sure I could carry on for a bit longer, I picked up the short story Veronica Henry – The Apple Orchard which is fine example of this authors work if you ever want to try it out.

So that was April, a funny mix of books when I look back, but on with May and seeing what that brings me.

Thank you to all my readers, I appreacite any of the time you spend reading the posts which make up my reading year.

Books

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances – Christie Barlow

Evie can lose herself in the books she looks after in the local library. Until recently she shared this enjoyment with her mother, Irene who has now retired.

On her birthday, someone leaves a book on the desk for Evie, from one of her favourite authors, Evie is excited but also more intrigued with an inscription that has been left inside for her.

What starts is a year of Evie really finding out who she is and where she comes from. Irene is not in fact her real mother, but someone who came into her life and made everything all right. Evie thinks it may be time to find out who her real mother is and makes the first step towards this.

As Evie starts to discover more about her past, it seems that the people she has in her life are just as important and all have their roles to play. Aiden the new librarian and his sweet little boy Theo, Wilson the delivery man who the librarians see daily and Noah Jones, author.

Of course Clara, Evie’s colleague and housemate is learning as much about Evie as Evie is about herself, but it is time for Evie to open her heart up to everyone not just the love she may have missed out on because of a troubled start in life.

If you are a fan of books, then this is the one with you, what could be more delightful than to spend your time with librarians, fans of books, book club members and authors. Maybe the ending was all a bit too convenient but it did not matter to me, it was a heartwarming read and I would love to have spent more time in the library with the Evie and her friends.

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

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is out now 

Books

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts – Jennifer Joyce

Maddie Lamington is running a teashop having poured all her energy and money into setting it up, to take the focus of some life changing events that has happened to her. She enjoys the early starts and no doubt with a name like Lamington she is going to be good at baking!

Along with help Mags and budding pop star Victoria they are just about keeping their heads above the water. The teashop may well be in a little parade of shops but it is off the main high street and event heir neighbours are walking to the big branded coffee shops to get their daily fix.

Maddie needs to do something and fast. When she sees her lonely dad still pining after her mum, since their divorce suddenly get chatting to regular customer, Birdie over apple crumble. Maddie has an idea.

Speed dating but with cake.

Along with help from Mags, the regular customers that Maddie has managed to attract to the teashop as well as Birdie’s good-looking grandson, Caleb, her man obsessed friend Nicky and her Dad she tries out her theory. It works.

That is when the hard work starts, she needs to now make these regular feature and fast. Everyone pulls together and whilst they are working on introducing people to the possibility of romance, it seems that some is already starting and it doesn’t need any help from some cake either.

With all good romances there is always plenty of misunderstandings and some of the made me laugh out loud, especially when Maddie gets her words all the wrong way round and she is certainly not going to live that down. All of the characters have a story to tell and it forms part of the bigger story and they are all dealt with in equal measure and the book ends with for me all the ends nicely tied up and finished.

I read quite a few books so far this year which have had teashops as part of their storyline and this is one of the better ones. A great read for an afternoon with a large mug of tea and of course a large piece of cake!

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

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts is out now.

Books

The Kicking the Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

Iris has created a kicking the bucket list – but the list ironically is not for her to complete before she dies.

It is in fact for her three daughters, Rose, Dee and Fleur to complete in the space of twelve months following Iris’ death. Iris sees it as a way of bringing her daughters closer to her, despite her being gone and also to show them that whatever may be going on in their lives that they ultimately have each other. For Iris, their estrangement has gone on too long, it cannot go on past her death.

The stipulation of this list is that they cannot claim the inheritance until after the twelve months has passed and they have completed all of the tasks.

It is going to be a tough year for these three women. Rose is the eldest, controlling, critical, organised and very uptight, she is hiding something from her sisters. Dee is about to lose her home and any sort of base she has ever had, she cannot find the man to make her happy. Fleur is a flighty as her name suggests to me, although successful she is alone and without any real purpose.

Will the tasks that their late mother has left them, show them what life can really be like?

The tasks are very wide-ranging and seemingly come out of nowhere, but all of them when looked at together are there to enable them to reflect. However, despite their late mother’s hope and messages in setting all of this up, it seems as if the three sisters are never going to get on.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that. It also makes you realise that you really do not know what is going on in people’s lives, especially those close to you and perhaps all it will need is five minutes to reconnect.

As an only child the dynamic between the sisters is intriguing and engaging as a storyline and I have read books using a similar concept to the plot, but this one was captivating and kept me reading. Well worth a read.

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

The Kicking the Bucket List is out now.