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May 2020 Book Reviews Part 3 of 3

Daughters of Night Laura Shepherd Robinson Book Review
It's time for  part three of my May reads, if you missed the previous two don't worry there are links at the end of the book reviews below.

So Coming up...

We have the beautifully illustrated The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay and my Agatha Christie read of May, They Do It With Mirrors. Along with a teaser review of Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

There are never any spoilers in my book reviews so read ahead with confidence knowing there are no plot giveaways.
the boy mole fox horse illustrated book review

The Boy, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay

Synopsis 
Enter the world of Charlie's four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.
My Review
This book reached me at an important time, it was a few weeks into the Corona virus lockdown here in the UK. Things were starting to feel very odd and different - everything we did was not the same as it used to be. Then my middle sister delivered along with some shopping this gifted book.  

So one morning with a cup of tea I sat down to start reading it. I had no idea what to expect, it has appeared quite a lot on Instagram but hadn't really paid much attention, thinking it was a childrens book.  So it was a real pleasure when I opened the cover, to discover such a wonder of words and paintings.  As someone who has discovered art in the last few years, it was an absolute delight to see the wonderful use of paint brush and paints that captured the imagination and tone of the book. I really should tell you about the story...

The book is about a small boy who goes out and befriends a mole, they then go on to meet a fox, these three new friends go on to meet a horse. The words in the book are simple yet powerful, they capture friendship, worry, loneliness, happiness and love. The story is cleverly written, in that each reader will associate more closely when one of the characters shares an insight into an emotion they too my be feeling. 
the boy mole fox horse illustrated book review

I'll confess that as I was reading this book during the first few weeks of the lock in the following quote had my eyes well up with tears. 

"Sometimes I feel lost." said the boy.  "Me too", said the mole, "but we love you, and love brings you home".

So sit down with the book and a cup of tea and indulge in a little me time. Enjoy the friendship of the unusual characters, the thought provoking words and the beauty of the drawings.   

A big thank you to my sister for buying such a special and uniquely illustrated book. I think I need to get her to write in the front of it, so I will always remember it found its way to me during the pandemic of 2020.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy can purchase from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
Synopsis
A man is shot at in a juvenile reform home – but someone else dies…

Miss Marple senses danger when she visits a friend living in a Victorian mansion which doubles as a rehabilitation centre for delinquents. Her fears are confirmed when a youth fires a revolver at the administrator, Lewis Serrocold. Neither is injured. But a mysterious visitor, Mr Gilbrandsen, is less fortunate – shot dead simultaneously in another part of the building.

Pure coincidence? Miss Marple thinks not, and vows to discover the real reason for Mr Gilbrandsen’s visit.
My Review
This is the fifth of my Miss Marple books, I'm aiming to read one of her sleuthing adventures a month in 2020. 

Currently it is fair to say that this is my least favourite of the Miss Marple books I've read so far. I didn't particularly enjoy the setting of the book, a rehabilitation centre for delinquents, there were also very few characters that I liked or enjoyed reading about. The exceptions being Mr Gilbrandsen, the lead Inspector and of course Miss Marple is a given. 

I should add that I also didn't guess who the murderer was and as it says from the title they do it with mirrors it was all a bit of an illusion and a mystery, and it certainly was to me.

Any of the Miss Marple books I have read can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Daughters of Night Blood and Sugar Laura Shepherd Robinson Review

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
This is a teaser review 
Synopsis
From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson's Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline 'Caro' Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro's own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .

Teaser Review
That synopsis alone must have you wanting more of this book! Written by the author who also wrote Blood and Sugar, you can read my review of her debut book here. Daughters of Night was due to be released in June 2020 but due to the pandemic has been rescheduled to January 2021. Me, being ever so lucky and extremely grateful was sent an advanced readers copy to read and review. I have read the book but will leave a more comprehensive review for later this year.

There is no need to have read the previous book Blood and Sugar to read Daughters of Night, but I certainly would recommend it. There are a number of cross over characters between the books.

I was excited to see this book focus on the wife of Harry Corsham, who was the main character in Blood and Sugar. Just like her previous book Laura writes about history that is gritty and at times a difficult subject to read. But life in Georgian England was a matter of existence, something Laura captures particularly well. The desperation to find food for the next meal, the short working life of a high end prostitute, and don't start me on the supposed ethics of gentlemen.  

A great read, could not put it down. Plenty of inter weaving storylines, to keep the reader thinking. Also, I love it when a book includes a list of households at the beginning, makes referencing back to characters so much easier. 

Full review later this year, but do remember that this book can be pre-ordered now, see link below. My thanks to Mantle Books and Pan Macmillan for my advanced copy.

Both Blood and Sugar  and Daughters of Night (Pre-order) can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book
By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

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May Reads Part 2 of 3 - Audio Books

Audio Best Book Reviews 2020

This blog post is Part 2 of my May 2020 Book Reviews you can read part 1 here.  There were only two audio books completed this month, the third book I am still listening to, and it may be a while before I finish it. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel is a mammoth 38 hours long and I'm not even half way through. 

MAY AUDIO BOOKS 
Audio Book Reviews Crime Thriller Corben

Missing You by Harlan Coben
Synopsis
It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her. But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancé, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained. With lives on the line, including her own, Kat must venture deeper into the darkness than she ever has before, and discover if she has the strength to survive what she finds there.
My Review
Having watched the Netflix series The stranger by Harlan Coben in April and thoroughly enjoying it, I was drawn towards Missing You when the audio book appeared as available to loan to on my library app. Set in New York, with a strong female police officer leading the story, there is the Italian mob from years gone by, and kidnappers to worry about. I found the story a little drawn out and think it would of benefited from being shorter.

It didn't quite meet my expectations, but it was a reasonable detective thriller. Plenty of twists along the way and some unusual characters, there were people that didn't appear to be who you thought they were. I'm I going to pick it up another one of Harlan Coben books, probably yes. A quick word about the narrator of the book, I didn't like some of the ways he flipped his voice and his accent doing nothing to capture the characters, they just didn't seem that genuine. Maybe I would of enjoyed the book more with a different narrator.
 
3 stars out of 5

You can purchase this book as audio, kindle or paperback from AmazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 


Audio book review greek myths

Mythos and other Greek myths by by Stephen Fry
Synopsis
The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry's hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You'll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia's revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

My Review
This popped up in the available audio books to lend on my library app. I was tempted because it was a Stephen Fry book, of which I have not read any, and mostly because he was narrating it. 

It is a big book, 15 hours long. I don't think I'd realised just how much I would enjoy this book, learning about the Greek gods people the tales behind them including the mortals in the stories.  It was just so fascinating at times. Then there's the link from the stories and characters of the gods to modern day use of English language and tales. 

So whilst this book was long it totally benefited from being narrated by Stephen Fry, who has a way of capturing a listener and almost hypnotising them. Even if he narrated a car manual the reader couldn't help but be drawn by his magic in telling the words. 

This book will have certainly have me seeking out the next book in the series Heroes: Mortals and Monsters, Quests and Adventures, think Jason searching out his Golden Fleece, and the third book Troy: The Siege of Troy Retold is due for publication later in 2020.

4 out of 5 Stars

This book can be purchased from amazonBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Audio Book reviews greek myths

Look out for my review of Hilary Mantels The Mirror and the Light audio soon, that is if I ever make it to the end. You can find out more about the library app mentioned in my audio book reviews here in my blog post Library Audio Books using the Libby App.


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May Book Reviews & New Book Releases Part 1 of 3



As I type this it's day 72 of staying home and social shielding from the Corvid-19 virus, that's right not even a stroll out past my garden boundary. Reading has become a huge and happy distraction for me which also means more book reviews for you. I've read/listened to 11 and a bit books in May, I will split the reviews of these books over 3 blog articles this being the first.

Book Reviews Coming up...
  • The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
  • The Missing by C.L. Taylor
  • Charlotte by Helen Moffett
  • Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mcksay
Agatha Christie Read this Month
  • They Do It With Mirrors
Audio Books 
  • The Hero: The Enduring Myth That Makes Us Human
  • Mythos: A Retelling of the Myths of Ancient Greece by Stephen Fry
  • Missing You by Harlen Coben 
  • The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
There are never any spoilers in my book reviews so read ahead with confidence knowing there are no plot giveaways.

The phone box at the end of the world book review

The Phone Box at the End of the World by Laura Imai Messina
 
Synopsis
We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.
My Review
The first half of this book deals with the after effects of the tsunami, with Yui living in a school gymnasium for the following months. It broke my heart, my sister can attest to my sobbing and rather loudly too. There are few books that have had this effect on me. I think this was because I knew the story was based on real events. I knew people in Japan at the time, I've been to Japan. As the author describes everyday life, Japanese peoples habits and mannerisms, I could envisage all these things - making everything so very real.

The second part showed me that dealing with death is a journey that everyone deals with differently. I enjoyed following Yui's journey her relationship with Takashi and the people she meets along the way, at the phone box at the edge of the world. At times I would forget that this was an imagined story, for all I could feel were the lives of the families left behind from the Tsunami. It's showed me the different ways of dealing with grief and lose, something none of us can avoid.  

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is released 25 June 2020, you and be can purchase from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog.  

4 out of 5 Stars

Thank you to Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book for review.


Charlotte Helen Moffett book review

Charlotte by Helen Moffett
Synopsis
Everybody thinks that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, plain, and seemingly without ambition. When she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her best friend Lizzy Bennet is angry at her for undervaluing herself. Yet the decision is the only way Charlotte knows to provide for her future, and marriage will propel her into a new world, of duty, marriage, children, grief and ultimately illicit love, and a kind of freedom.

Jane Austen cared deeply about the constraints of women in Regency England. This powerful reimagining takes up where Austen left off, showing us a woman determined to carve a place for herself in the world. Charlotte offers a fresh, feminist addition to the post-Austen canon, beautifully imagined, and brimming with passion and intelligence.
My Review
Moving onto an historical read, very possibly my favourite genre. I'm one of the many Jane Austen fans who particularly love Pride and Prejudice. So it is with excitement and nervousness I read Charlotte, I desperately want the world of Pride and Prejudice to live on but also I don't want to ruin my love for it. Don't worry this book will not disappoint.

We meet familiar characters and homes that we know well. We meet Charlotte Collin's after she has been married for many years. She has a family, is settled into the life of a cleryman's wife, eats frequently at Rosings Park. Yes we meet Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her daughter Anne, who I admit appears quite changed. 

Both Jane Bingley and Elizabeth Darcy are in the book, including the  rather outspoken Mrs Bennett. It was a pleasure to read, I felt like I was on safe ground back in Georgian, England. A joy to see many of the characters we know but through the eyes of Charlotte,thus seeing them in a new light. Charlotte continues to be a close friend to Elizabeth, though they now live many miles apart and in very different circumstances. 

Go on, pick up the book and find yourself lost in the world of Jane Austen again thanks Helen Moffett's imagination. 

The books does stand alone, you do not need to have read Pride and Prejudice. But why would you have not? For me there was just a single point in the story line when I thought no I don't believe that Charlotte Lucas would of done such a thing. That has prevented me from giving the book 4 stars.

3.5 out of 5 stars 

Charlotte is due to be released 3 September 2020, you can pre-order your copy from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio book. By using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

Thank you to Manilla Press and Bonnier Books for an advance readers copy of this book on Net Galley for my review.

Book Reviews Garden Tea Cakes and Me

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

Synopsis
When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinsons are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Sometimes those closest to us are the ones with the most to hide… 
My Review
I read this book as a buddy read with my friend Darcy, we reviewed the book together via FaceTime another first for me! But one that has been repeated several times since. The Missing is the second C.L. Taylor novel I've read, Sleep being my first which I thoroughly enjoyed, a great psychological thriller which I score 4 stars.

The Missing is a psychological thriller opening at the 6 month anniversary since Billy went missing. We see how its affected the family, and slowly the story looks back at the relationship of each member of the family with Billy. We are drip fed clues, who had reason to drive Billy out of the house, did he run away or is he dead. Who could of killed him and why. I flipped between a number of suspects and why things could of gone so wrong for Billy.

The story is interspersed with Whatsapp conversations between 2 people. It's for the reader to identify these people, their conversations are blunt and very relevant to finding Billy. From our buddy read discussions Darcy and I had very different ideas on who these people where. 

I quite liked the character Claire the mum at first, but as you progress through the book your realise. She stifles her family, something she is unaware of, not allowing them to have freedoms to think or act for themselves. Trying always to keep the peace. There was a period of reading the book when I could not put it down. Right up to the big reveal I did not predict, who, what and why. A good read for anyone who loves a missing person thriller. 

There was a section in the book on pornography and I did feel that it wasn't necessary for the story. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book less than the book Sleep is its setting. It takes place within a family home, I realise that at the moment I am enjoying books that do not revolve around a single home setting. Maybe its the virus lockdown and being stuck at home has bought about this feeling.

3 Stars out of 5 
 
The Missing can be ordered from Amazon as an ebook, hardback and audio bookBy using my link to purchase I earn a small amount from the sale, which helps me to maintain my book review blog. 

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2020 Reads, Book Reviews & Sewing for Shropshire NHS

library book club Telford Shropshire
At the beginning of 2020 I decided to ease off the volume of books I would reads, make myself slow down and enjoy each book more. I'm a target driven reader and in 2019 I read 70 books, this year I choose 50 books to read. I know that is still quite a number.  All was plodding along nicely, and then in March the Corona Virus arrived in the UK. As one of the 1.6 million very vulnerable people in the UK I was told to shield myself for the next 3 months, and more probably. So it looks like my book target is up for revision! I am also very happy to have already finished reading some great books that will help you escape from the stresses of living through a  pandemic.

Reading is not the only thing that has been occupying my thoughts. Whilst I hide away at my home and very thankful my garden too,  I know I am doing my bit, staying at home saves lives and protects our NHS.  But, I've still felt helpless, when everyone else is able to do more. 

So when a social media call went out in Shropshire for help for anyone who can sew, I gave a shout back. So I'm doing my bit in a very small way by sewing some personal protective equipment that will be used in my local health care settings including Telford Princess Royal and Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals, GP Surgeries, District Nurses and many more units. There is someone working in Shropshire grateful that I made them a scrub hat or wash bag. As you can tell from the photo I went down the colourful route of fabrics. Enough about sewing lets move onto some great books.

Sewing for Shropshire NHS
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People 
My first book to get a mention is my library book club read for March, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama. Alas because of the Corona Virus we did not manage to get together at the library to discuss it, but I did manage a FaceTime catch with my friend who is also in the book club.   

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Any way here is the blurb from the back cover...
Synopis
What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!

With a steady stream of clients to keep him busy, Mr. Ali sees his new business flourish as the indomitable Mrs. Ali and his careful assistant, Aruna, look on with vigilant eyes. There's the man who wants a tall son-in-law because his daughter is short; the divorced woman who ends up back with her ex-husband; a salesman who can't seem to sell himself; and a wealthy, young doctor for whom no match is ever perfect. But although his clients go away happy, little does Mr. Ali know that his esteemed Aruna hides a tragedy in her past-a misfortune that the bureau, as luck would have it, serendipitously undoes.

Bursting with the color and allure of India, and with a cast of endearing character.

My Review
A resounding success, a great read and the perfect escape from the current chaos. I found Mr Ali's world in South India, to be bright, thoughtful and entertaining. One of the best things about reading a book set in different culture and country is that daily activities are just so interesting. A trip to the post office, a walk around his garden, Mrs Ali preparing a meal, absolutely fascinating. But look and you will find the serious elements of getting married and living in India, a total eye opener for me in a very good way. and just so many interesting characters. 

I found myself easily absorbed by this book, and thus I read it quickly. There are other books by the other that I would also happily read. If you enjoyed reading The No.1 Lady Detective Agency this is a book for you. Book available from Amazon in all formats.

The Jane Austen Society

My second Pandemic Reading Recommendation (is that going to be a thing? The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner due for publication 28 May (handback), so be patient if its not out just yet or pre order it now at Amazon
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Now I should say that this book is my very first NetGalley read (a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published) as I'm talking of first's it is also the first book I read on my first ever Kindle! A birthday treat to myself, so that in these desperate times should I EVER finish my to be read pile of books I still have the world of Kindle books to explore from home. OK, so onto the book, here's the blurb...
Synopsis   It's only a few months since the war ended but the little village of Chawton is about to be hit by another devastating blow. The heart of the community and site of Jane Austen's cherished former home, Chawton estate is in danger of being sold to the highest bidder.

Eight villagers are brought together by their love for the famous author's novels, to create The Jane Austen Society. As new friendships form and the pain of the past begins to heal, surely they can find a way to preserve Austen's legacy before it is too late?

And there may even be a few unexpected surprises along the way...

My Review 
So first, I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, love the books, have a favourite character, have a favourite book. So by looking at the book cover alone there was no way I was not reading this book. 

Set just after the World War II in the small leafy English village of Chawton. I should say that this is a story of how The Jane Austen Society may have come about, it's not based on actual events, though of course there is a society. The book's lead characters are the village doctor Ben Gray, Adeline (school teacher), Adam Berwick farmer, Mini Harrison Hollywood actress and Frances Knight daughter of the owner of the Knight Estate, and family of the late Edward Knight, Jane Austen's brother. Those villagers with a love of Jane Austen work to establish a society to protect the Knight family owned books, other materials along with the cottage Jane lived in. 

This book mingles the Jane Austen books and the personality of her characters into the story line and the setting of this book. If you know the Jane Austen books you are going to pick up on these straight away. For me this particularly added to my enjoyment of the book, as the story unfolds you can spot the elements of Austen and the nuances of the characters as they interact.

You do not need to have read any Austen books to understand and follow the story, in fact its a great introduction to one of the worlds greatest writers.

Of particular enjoyment to me was the characters discussing and disagreeing as to which of the Austen books they loved the most. So glad to find someone (even if they are an imaginary character in a book) that also finds Emma an unworthy favourite. I will not tell you here which is my favourite Austen book, other than to say I favoured Frances Knights story the most. 

An entertaining read, and a great antidote for escaping a pandemic.

Many thanks to Orion books for this advanced readers copy of The Jane Austen Society.  


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Favourite Books of 2019

I’ve read 70 books this year, far more than the 45 I had targeted to read. I started the year with the first book of The Discovery of Witches trilogy, though I still have the final book to read. I will be finishing the year reading The Hunting Party, a thriller set in a remote castle in the Scottish Highlands during the New Year. A special mention to a few book series I have read during the year, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and also The Queen of the Tearling.


Keep reading to find out my favourite ten books of the year

Goodreads Reading Challenge statistics
I have read some outstanding books during the year, I’m going to list my top ten, in no particular order.  Are you ready...

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Tidelands by Philipa Gregory
The Corset by Laura Purcell
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
Blackberry & Wild Rose by Sonia Velton
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Waykenhurst by Michelle Paver
Monsters by Emerald Fennell
Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride
The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Eight of my ten favourite books were historical fiction. This answers a question I am often asked as to what is my favourite genre. If you are looking to keep track of the books you read during the year I recommend Goodreads


The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

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More Book Reviews

Book Reviews Book Blogger What to read next

It's the beginning of August 2019 and 7 months into the year I have reached my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I've read or listened to 45 books! A target I thought I may just achieve when I set it at the beginning of the year. How wrong I was, clearly I'm going to need to stretch myself a little more on the reading front in 2020. 

I have a real mix of book reviews for you, a gothic thriller, a black comedy, an action thriller and a funny Birmingham based book written by the poet Laureate of Birmingham.
Book Review Monsters from Killing Eve Emerald Fennell

Monsters by Emerald Fennell
I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads
Synopsis: A blackly comic tale about two children you would never want to meet. 
Set in the Cornish town of Fowey, all is not as idyllic as the beautiful seaside town might seem. The body of a young woman is discovered in the nets of a fishing boat. It is established that the woman was murdered. Most are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not - a twelve-year-old girl. She is delighted; she loves murders. Soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Then Miles Giffard, a similarly odd twelve-year-old boy, arrives in Fowey with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand... 
A book about two twelve-year-olds that is definitely not for kids. 

Monsters by Emerald Fennell, is a well written black comedy, a dark and disturbing book ❤︎ ✒.
It features two children who meet on holiday in Cornish seaside town of Fowey, with a very unhealthy interest when a local woman is murdered.
Written in the style of a children's book that is very definitely for adults.

We meet the 12 year old narrator of this story, a troubled young orphaned girl with an unsettled upbringing. She worried me a great deal when I started this book and then she meets Miles, also 12. He is truly creepy. I did have some sympathies for the girl towards the end, but her pairing with Miles was never going to turn out well for the town.

Elements of it reminded me of the teen black comedy film Heathers, with a dash of Killing Eve, which incidentally the author wrote season 2.  You can order the book from Amazon here.


Book Review Book Series Jack Reacher
Never Go Back by Lee Child
I scored this book 5/5 on Goodreads

Synopsis
After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington D.C., the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had.
Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind Reacher’s old desk isn't a woman. Why is Susan Turner not there?
What Reacher doesn’t expect is what comes next. He himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn't expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’
Will he be sorry he went back? Or – will someone else?
My Review
It's been 7 months since I picked up my last Jack Reacher instalment and I was eager to meet up with him again. Yes I know he is not real! Yes I also know that Tom Cruise is no Jack Reacher. When I collected this book from my library I was more than a little 'erked that the man that is no Jack Reacher was pictured on the front, needless to say the book was facedown when not being read. There I think I have gotten that little issue off my chest.

As always with Lee Child its a formula that works well, I was hooked by the storyline from the very start. We have been previously introduced to the other lead character in this book Major Susan Turner, who Reacher has been speaking to and also keen to meet in a number of previous books. When he arrives at his old army base Major Turner is not there, she is under military arrest, there is no way Reacher is just going to walk away. It is not long before he also finds himself under arrest for two separate crimes that happened years previous when he was in the army. He finds himself for the sake of national security re-enlisted in the US Army! Major Reacher will stop at nothing to clear both himself and Major Turner of their crimes.

A cracking Jack Reacher instalment, do not make the mistake of watching the film version it is truly abysmal!  The book which lets face it is always better than the film is available from Amazon

Waykenhyrst Gothic thriller book recommendation

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
I scored this book 5/5 on Goodreads
Synopsis: 1906: A large manor house, Wake's End, sits on the edge of a bleak Fen, just outside the town of Wakenhyrst. It is the home of Edmund Stearn and his family – a historian, scholar and land-owner, he's an upstanding member of the local community. But all is not well at Wake's End. Edmund dominates his family tyrannically, in particular daughter Maud. When Maud's mother dies in childbirth and she's left alone with her strict, disciplinarian father, Maud's isolation drives her to her father's study, where she happens upon his diary.
During a walk through the local church yard, Edmund spots an eye in the undergrowth. His terror is only briefly abated when he discovers its actually a painting, a 'doom', taken from the church. It's horrifying in its depiction of hell, and Edmund wants nothing more to do with it despite his historical significance. But the doom keeps returning to his mind. The stench of the Fen permeates the house, even with the windows closed. And when he lies awake at night, he hears a scratching sound – like claws on the wooden floor...

My Review
Wakenhyst has to be my favourite read in June. It is also my first ever gothic novel, I was worried it would be let's say a little scary. No, no, no it was the perfect balance of historical mystery. The Suffolk fens creates a dark and mysterious setting for a murder. From the start we know the killer is Edward but it's the why we start to unravel as we read.
I was so absorbed with the character Maud, I found her fascinating and beautifully written and felt real empathy for her.
If this is gothic thriller then give me more!


Book recommendation Benches by Jan Watts Birmingham
Benches by Jan Watts
I scored this book 4/5 on Goodreads
Synopsis: Nancy Byrde tells us her version of the canal side goings on that spice up her retirement. Together with her dog, Steven, she gets close to her family, the good and the evil. She dices, with drugs, violence, a teenage runaway and being over exposed at a wedding she wasn't invited to. Will she find a new happiness? Benches is set in and around Birmingham in the UK. The names of places has been changed to protect the innocent. It grew out of an encounter with a bench that had been graffitied with a rude word. 

My Review
What a surprise and very enjoyable read. A book purchased when the author attended a local literary festival, and gave a talk about the book and her poetry, Jan Watts was the poet Laureate of Birmingham city in the UK between 2011-12.
The book follows Nancy, who is retired and lives near the canals of Birmingham with her dog Stephen. Along the canal towpath there are three benches which Nancy knows very well, which through her doorstep adventures we also get to know.

Who would of thought a book about what goes on at three benches along a canal would be so very entertaining. Along with her very eccentric family and the postcards from her friend who is off on a world tour, there was plenty of tittering going on - just wait until you get to the bit about her gatecrashing a wedding and the swimming pool!

A very enjoyable book, one I would not hesitate to recommend.

You may struggle to get a copy in a bookshop but it is available online at Amazon in paperback or kindle.

***
Another batch of my book reviews shared with you, I hope you find them useful. I am still reading on even though I hit my reading challenge. So there will certainly more reviews heading your way. 

You can keep up to date with my past and present reads by visiting my Goodreads page, see the link in the sidebar on the right hand side of your screen. 

Have you read any good books of late?

If you choose to buy any of the books I recommend from Amazon and  choose to use my affiliate link, I want you to know how grateful I am. These extra pennies will help me bring you more book reviews.
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