Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Happy New Year and to say thank you for following my blog. It means alot to me to know that you read and enjoy some of the books that I share with you all.

And as a whole New Year of reading approaches I've been looking back on the books I have read and enjoyed throughout 2015 (see  my Top 10 books) with an eye to how that might shape my reading for 2016.

I am keen to read more by those authors who have really caught my eye this year. In addition to those in my top ten there are many other authors who I was really impressed by this year.

I am really enjoying the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths and the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and am looking forward to reading more in these two series. I would also like to read more by Laura Lippman having really enjoyed After I'm Gone.

Rowan Coleman was an author who stood out for me this year. I read The Memory Book as well as Lessons in Laughing Out Loud so am keen to read more of her work. I also loved Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse. 

I also loved Mariana by Susanna Kearsley , I am China by Xiaolu Guo and Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Each year I always intend to read more classics as I really enjoy them but I tend to get distracted by shiny new publications that hit the bookshop shelves. Maybe this year I will be more self disciplined with myself and not get waylaid by other books that catch my eye (yeah right..... like that's really going to happen!)

Making a list of books I would like to read could probably take me to half way through 2016 so I will leave it there. However, if you have read anything during 2015 that you think I would enjoy then please let me know.


Tuesday, 29 December 2015



I can hardly believe that another year has flown by already. As we approach the end of 2015 I have been looking back at all the books that I have read and enjoyed this year and whittling it down to my favourite ten has not been an easy task. I have read some really excellent books this year and I hope that you have too, So, in no particular order, here are my ten favourite reads of 2015 (along with links to those which I reviewed)

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Bees by Laline Paull
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueling Winspear
ThePaying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Did you read any of these? What were your favourite reads of 2015? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Peggy Hillcoat is eight years old when her survivalist father, James, takes her from their home in London to a remote hut in the woods and tells her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. Deep in the wilderness, Peggy and James make a life for themselves. They repair the hut, bathe in water from the river, hunt and gather food in the summers and almost starve in the harsh winters. They mark their days only by the sun and the seasons.

When Peggy finds a pair of boots in the forest and begins a search for their owner, she unwittingly begins to unravel the series of events that brought her to the woods and, in doing so, discovers the strength she needs to go back to the home and mother she thought she’d lost.

After Peggy's return to civilization, her mother learns the truth of her escape, of what happened to James on the last night out in the woods, and of the secret that Peggy has carried with her ever since.

This is one of the most original pieces of fiction I have come across in a very long time and I enjoyed every page.

I am finding it hard to place this book in any genre. It is part thriller and part fairy tale with a dark and spellbinding quality I have rarely come across in a novel. There is a tension throughout  that kept me completely gripped to the final page.

Ms Fuller's use of language is enchanting and I was completely involved with the characters. She cleverly allows the reader to see the world through Peggy's eyes and I almost felt I was part of the story, such was the compelling and entralling nature of her description.

I highly recommend this book to all readers due to it's multi layered story which escapes the boundary of genre.  I am stunned that this is a debut novel and I eagerly await more from this talented author.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Pearl That Broke It's Shell by Nadia Hashimi

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

This book is a fantastic read and I loved it from start to finish. 

Part of the reason for this is the authors clever use of moving backwards and forwards in telling the two stories of Rahima and Shekiba illustrating the similarities of these two women even though they are separated by three generations.

I had to keep reminding myself that Rahima's story is set fairly recently ( 2007) as the culture for these two women had not progressed from one to the other. It is a shocking story of abuse and oppression experienced by women in a society which is dictated by men, tradition and superstition.

The prose in this book is beautifully constructed and Ms Hashmini is an intelligent writer who can bring her book alive with her placement of words. She writes sensitively and allows the reader to understand for themselves the society in which these women live.

There are very few books that make me cry but I would challenge anyone who reads this book not to feel deeply moved by the plight of Rahima and Shekiba. It is a heartbreaking read but ultimately is inspiring and edifying.

This book is definitely one of the best I have read this year and look forward to reading more from this author in 2016.

ISBN:  978-0062244765

Publisher:  William Morrow

Price (today at Amazon): Papaerback £8.99 - Kindle £5.99

About the Author:

Nadia Hashimi was born and raised in New York and New Jersey. Both her parents were born in Afghanistan and left in the early 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. Her mother, granddaughter of a notable Afghan poet, traveled to Europe to obtain a Master’s degree in civil engineering and her father came to the United States, where he worked hard to fulfill his American dream and build a new, brighter life for his immediate and extended family. Nadia was fortunate to be surrounded by a large family of aunts, uncles and cousins, keeping the Afghan culture an integral part of their daily lives.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is her debut novel and was released  in 2014. Her second novel, When The Moon Is Low, followed in 2015 and chronicled the perilous journey of an Afghan family as they fled Taliban-controlled Kabul and fell into the dark world of Europe's undocumented.
She and her husband are the beaming parents of four curious, rock star children, two goldfish and a territorial African Grey parrot.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Ruth's First Christmas Tree by Elly Griffiths

It is three days before Christmas and a bitter wind is blowing across Norfolk.

Until her daughter was born, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway didn’t do Christmas, but now that Kate is a year old, she wants it to be special.

She must get a tree, shop for food, clean the house, buy presents, including one for her new boyfriend—who she isn’t even sure is her boyfriend—and remember to get the turkey out of the freezer.

But time is rushing by and the best-laid plans don’t always work out …

This book is number four and a half in the Ruth Galloway series of books. I am really enjoying this series and very recently read The House at Sea's End and A Room Full of Bones. I also reviewed The Janus Stone just a few months back, all of which I have really enjoyed.

So, it was perfect timing that I had recently read A Room Full of Bones, which was number four in this series as I then came across this little gem of a short story which picks up exactly at the point where the previous book leaves off. What's more, how perfectly seasonal is the timing for this book to fit in so precisely with my reading of this series.

If you want to read something quick and seasonal do give this delightful short story a go. In all honesty, it won't really matter if you haven't read the previous books as this short story is fairly stand alone and I read it in about an hour. Furthermore, it is available as a fee kindle download on Amazon so what's not to like?

I love this series of books and am planning on reading the next in the series very soon. If you haven't previously read any of this series and enjoyed getting to know archaeologist Ruth Galloway, DCI Nelson and their co-hort then I strongly urge you to treat yourself  this Christmas. I know I will be.

Publisher: Quercus

Price: Free

About the author:

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area.

She has two children and lives near Brighton.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Silent Run (Sanders Brothers #1) by Barbara Freethy

A woman wakes in a hospital bed with no idea of who she is. Her memory is gone, her baby missing. All she has is the gripping certainty that she is in mortal danger. Then a handsome, angry stranger barges in and makes a terrible accusation. He was her lover--and her child's father--until she disappeared seven months ago.
Jake Sanders swore he'd never forgive Sarah Tucker, but he isn't about to let her get away again--especially not with his daughter still missing. If he has any chance of recovering his baby, he must help the woman who betrayed him retrieve the pieces of her shattered memory--without letting his feelings get in the way.
Haunted by troubling flashes of memory, Sarah begins to realize she's lived a life of lies. But what is the truth? And where is her baby?
I have written previously about the subjectivity of reading and consequently, if I intend to read a book with a view to reviewing it I always stay well clear of other reviews in order that I am not influenced by other readers opinions. However, for some reason I strayed from my self imposed rule and read a couple of reviews for this book, one of which was fairly positive and another which was extremely negative.
So, when I began this book I had mixed feelings about what to expect. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion particularly when it comes to books.
However, I was completely gripped by this book right from the prologue. This book really did hit the ground running. There was no scene setting; rather the author jumps straight on with the story from the first page.
It was a fast paced read and it is one of the few books that I found myself being irritated by 'life' getting in the way of my reading time.
Okay, so it's fair to say that this book is never going to be considered classic literature and it's never going to be considered as part of a school syllabus but I feel fairly certain in saying that this is not what the author intended. What Ms. Freethy has done is written a book that is exciting and entertaining and which I enjoyed reading very much. This is the first book in a two part series and I am looking forward to reading the next book sometime soon.
ISBN:  978-1478350026
Publisher:  Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
Price (based on today's prices on  Paperback £8.95 Kindle £3.99

About the Author:
Barbara Freethy is a number 1 New York Times  best selling author. Her 34 novels range from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women's fiction.
Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, mystery and romance, Barbara enjoys writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures.
She has lived all over the state of California where she draws much of her inspiration from the beautiful Bay Area.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette 'Bambi' Gottschalk at a dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi's world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.
Though Bambi has no idea where her husband - or his money - might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie herself disappears ten years to the day that Felix disappeared, everyone assumes she's left to join her ­old lover - until her remains are found in a secluded wooded park.
Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto 'Sandy' Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealously, resentment and greed stretching over the three decades and three generations that connect these five very different women. And at the center of every woman's story is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

This was an excellent read and I enjoyed it very much. Although I am a fan of the mystery and suspense genre this is the first book that I have read by Laura Lippman even though she has many novels to her name.

This particular novel  was gripping because of it's gradual development and disclosure of the secrets concerning the people affected by the disappearance of Felix.

What  I really liked was how the story was told from the viewpoints of the different characters and I think this was an interesting technique employed by the author to ensure the reader understood the effect that Felix's disappearance had on each of them.

The characters are an interesting bunch. I found it hard to like Felix as I thought him selfish to leave his family and friends to deal with the fallout following his disappearance. At times I wanted to give Bambi a shake but admired here at the same time. I like a novel that has the ability to challenge and possibly change my opinion of characters as the story develops and that was certainly the case with this book.

The novel is loosely based on a true story and I found it to be a very satisfying read. Ms Lipmann leaves no loose ends and tidies everything up very nicely - something that I particularly like in a mystery novel. 

It always excites me when I discover a new to me author who already has a significant number of novels to their name as I can luxuriate in the thought that I have many more pleasurable reads to come.

ISBN:  978-0571299683

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Price (today on Paperback £7.99 - Kindle £2.39

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working full time and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

About the Author