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2017 – WHOLE year without buying books

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Book-Feelings

Too familiar?

BOOK FEELINGS: If you are an avid (or even occasional) reader you’ll know that last year I reviewed ‘The Witch’s Daughter’ by Paula Brackston and  I LOVED IT. There was so much to like and enjoy, so when the opportunity to read another story full of witch trials that is also based on a true story I jumped at the chance.

1bd8426d-1a4d-44e9-8c6c-1b9c087d6778._CR0,0,3455,3455_PT0_SX220__ ‘The Familiars’ by Stacey Halls starts well, we meet Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a nineteen-year-old pregnant for the fourth time yet still childless. She is under pressure from her much older husband for a son and all Fleetwood wants is for this child to survive.

She’s only been married 4 years when she finds herself horrified that her husband is keeping secrets and a mistress. There is only so much obedience she can take and then on a day she takes a rebellious ride through the woods she meets Alice who might just be the answer to her problems.

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Fleetwood knows she is isolated and needs someone on her side and as her relationship with Alice builds in respect and trust, she feels further and further away from Richard. Finding a Doctors note that changes her life is the turning point in the book. Is her midwife actually a witch? Can they both survive so she can bring this pregnancy to term? Will Richard forgive her?

I try and be honest with you Dear Reader, so I’m going to call a spade a spade. This book starts with such promise and intrigue but as it goes on, there isn’t enough tension, the sub-plots don’t add to the narrative and I struggled to finish it. Some people might love it, others will hate it but I am a bit indifferent. I’ve read better, I’ve definitely read worse.

The rugby is on and after that, I’m going to finish the final book in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series. Happy Reading

 

Hawthorne and Horowitz…

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BOOK FEELINGS: I liked the last one so much I pre-ordered this! This semi-autobiographical series plays into the art of the impossible of any good alternative universe but equally, you know it could happen. I like the hints of reality, like the happenings on the set of Foyle’s War and the clear anecdotal joys of married life.

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is a simple thing to do

if you know the rule.

Unlike this weird poem, haiku’s are a key part of the plot that shouldn’t be dismissed. There are some crazy and wonderful subplots which made me smile. Anthony’s interest in Hawthorne’s life is addictive and the shadow of ‘A Study in Scarlet’ that runs through is so evident but only noticeable when it is pointed out.

I found this really easy to listen to, Rory Kinnear’s voice has energy, good pace and tone. He adds humour and personality to the words, although it does bother me that it’s now his voice I associate with Anthony Horowitz’s inner monologue.

What links a delayed train, a horrendous murder, 182 and a bestseller? The truth is so easy and so right in front of you that you get taken on a journey to discover it’s not that at all. I really enjoy this partnership albeit fictitious so I do hope there’s another, even if Anthony doesn’t.

Happy reading

Late to the party on this one…

Happy New Year Dear Reader, its the end of my first full week back at work after a lovely break and I thought I would spend it with you. I know I am late to review this book, I am aware it has been out a long time but I didn’t want to read this during the hype.

BOOK FEELINGS: It’s NO secret that I love Harry Potter, and I really enjoy JK Rowling’s writing style so when I found out that Robert Galbraith was, in fact, her pseudonym I was excited. I tried to convince my book club to read the book but as we were all linked to the military and a lot of partners were in Afganistan at that time we postponed reading it until another time and apparently, that other time for me was 6 years later.

Last week I was working from home and finished my latest audible book and I found myself a little lost of what to listen to next. I wanted another crime thriller, I wanted something easy and as I looked through recommendations ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ came up and I thought it was time.

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So what did I think? Well, I loved it. Obviously. It is everything I love all wrapped up in a mystery! An unconventional hero, full of faults and fairly unlikeable in many ways, an underestimated sidekick (because let’s face it, Robin, is much more than a secretary) and a killer who thinks they are too clever to get caught. The characters that hold up the plot like Guy Some, Tony Landry and the insufferable Matthew are fully developed and add to both the plot and the narrative.

I only saw the twist about 3 chapters before it was revealed, and I only got half the story. It is brilliant and twisted and so perfect. When Cormoran Strike is called in to look at the suicide of model Lula Landry, the world thought he was crazy. His temporary assistant, Robin thought it wasn’t going to pay her wages and couldn’t wait to get out but the case surprised them both. Strike has a personal connection to the family and thinks he’ll do John Bristow a favour, but this favour takes him into the very dark world of the elite.

Once you add a fiancee, an ex-fiancee and a long lost family into this, there is little hope of putting it down. I’m pleased I waited to read this as now I have 4 books to get through!

Its Sunday afternoon, so time for a Roast dinner and some more of the next Stike novel.

Happy Reading

I couldn’t wait for the next series

BOOK FEELINGS: Last year (feels very weird writing that) Sky made an adaptation of Deborah Harkness’s ‘A Discovery of Witches’, now if you ignore the fact I love supernatural stories, the first part of the story is set in Oxford. The beautiful city I choose to call home, its the place that I am constantly drawn back to after turning up here in 2007 a little lost and full of expectations. My life has significantly changed since then, including Oxford but I couldn’t resist watching it full of supernatural stories on my TV.

The first episode flew by and I knew I needed to read the books. Don’t worry this isn’t a review of the show, even if I wanted to branch out into TV/Film reviews I barely have time for all the books I read so I’m not going to bore you with the details of the casting and my views of the romantic shots of the city.  This brings us to 2 weeks before Christmas, the series had finished and I was having another shitty day at work so during a very wet, cold and miserable lunchtime, I braved the weather and headed to the Waterstones at Leadenhall Market and treated myself to the first book…’A Discovery of Witches’ and went back to work with a huge smile on my face. I started reading it straight away and fell straight into the world I’d seen come alive on screen.  Fast forward to Christmas and under the tree was the box set of all 3 books, once again I had bought myself something too close to Christmas and managed to annoy Carol in the process…however it meant I had books 2 and 3 to read in the funny bit between Christmas and New Year. I was super happy!!

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REVIEW: If you haven’t seen the Sky adaptation I am going to do my best not to ruin it but equally if you have I want to tell you about some of the differences… Harkness’s view of Oxford manages to convey the bustle of students and tourists (the truth) with the romantic idealized version that attracts us all to the historical city in the first place.  We meet Dr. Diana Bishop, a determined accomplished historian who withdraws a book from the world famous Bodleian and her life changes forever.

Okay, so I made that sound super dramatic but really that is the truth. During her research of alchemy, she looks at the converted ‘Ashmole 782’ and suddenly her life is full of vampires, daemons, and even more witches. Despite spending her life refusing to use the magic she inherited from her parents, the witchcraft she has buried within for so long cannot wait to the surface, exposing her to the dangerous vampire, Professor Matthew De Clermont.

‘A Discovery of Witches’ follows these two as Diana learns more about the world she wanted to leave behind and Matthew helps her understand the importance of Ashmole 782. We meet Diana’s aunts Sarah and Em, Matthews Mother Ysabeau and son, Marcus and many creatures that want to harm and control Diana. The common enemy in this first book is the Congregation, 3 witches, 3 daemons and 3 vampires who stop the supernatural world impacting on humans (too much at least).

‘Shadow of Light’ follows Diana as escapes the Congregation’s consequences and finds herself a witch (or 10) to help her understand and control her talents. The people she surrounds herself with as family in the book are familiar in terms of name but different to how we might know them. We see the maternal side of her as she helps a street urchin and a young witch, we see her protective side and how strong she really is. More De Clermont’s show themselves and we start to see why Matthews relationship with his Mothers husband is so complicated.

In ‘The Book of Light’ Diana comes “home” and we catch up with the family and see what happened while she was away. Nathaniel and Sophie have had their baby and this seems to have taken some of the heat off Diana with the Congregation but not for long. Matthew is seeking revenge and Gallowglass tells of how he has always been around. Has Marcus stepped up enough and who will come out of this alive?

I don’t think I need to tell you how much I loved this series before I had even finished the second book I bought myself ‘Time’s Convert’ a stand-alone book that follows Marcus’s life before and after meeting Matthew. I found the narrative flowed so beautifully and there was so much attention to detail. The imagery was amazing and the humour balanced out the darkness within this. It’s easy to read and very very addictive.

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I’m off to carry on with this wonder and i’ll catch up with again soon Dear Reader.

Happy Reading

Monastery, murder and madness with Matthew

 

BOOK FEELINGS: Hello Dear Reader, I know it has been a while but rest assured I am still reading. I have been reading new and wonderful things, since we last conversed I have had fun with witches, investigated a murderer’s son and with this book totally got lost in Tudor England. Close friends of mine recommended this series as ‘Sherlock Holmes type investigating set under the command of Henry VIII’ and although I like historical stories (see ‘The Chronicles of St Mary’s’ by Jodi Taylor) I wasn’t sure. Therefor it is time to admit I WAS WRONG!!

I downloaded the first 3 books as they were on offer on Audible (other audio books providers are available) and got started the next day. I had a 3 hr journey back to Oxford which was the perfect was to get started on this series.

REVIEW:

51p04gFS4IL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer working under the rule of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII’s new England. Ties to Catholic Rome and the guidance of the Pope have been severed and Cromwell wants the monasteries to surrender their land.

Shardlake has been sent to the monastery at Scarnsea on the south coast to investigate the death of a fellow commissioner. What he finds is the deepest deception, mad men and truth behind his own feelings.

There are many subplots in this to keep the story flowing, including a buddy romance, racism and the hidden fantasies of the monks, both sexual and financial. The Snow, Alice and Brother Guy ‘the Dark faced monk’ keep Shardlake in Scarnsea much longer than anticipated and as the bodies rack up, is he actually safe within the walls of the Monastery?

This book is captivating even if you know nothing about Tudor England. the drama, the adventure and the surprises keep you guessing right until the end.

I have started Book 2 so I’m off to listen. Happy Reading

Mystery, unctions and time travel…what more could you want?

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BOOK FEELINGS: To be honest with you Dear reader, I bought this a very long time ago (Dec 2105 according to audible) and for some reason never got round to listening to it. Maybe I forgot, maybe I tried and didn’t like it, or maybe I just didn’t feel like it, but for whatever reason it just sat there, unlistened to for nearly 3 years and last week I saw it sitting there, not lonely but alone and I pressed play. I was sucked in immediately, I wanted more and need to know why Bess was running from Guidian!

After a run of murder mysteries, this is a definite change of pace. The story jumps through time, Bess and her family living and not so much surviving the plague, Elizabeth selling tinctures and unctions (which is just such a great word) at her local market in the modern age and Eliza being a Dr in the age of medical discovery. We hear of her adventures of immortality and why she has survived so long, the toll it had taken in her and why this time she’s getting close to another.

In the modern narrative, Elizabeth begrudgingly befriends a local teenage girl, Teagan, who appears to have no friends in the village and finds her company tolerable. Over the year they become closer and Elizabeth shares her history, although Teagan doesn’t realize the Bess of the witch trials is the same as the Elizabeth sitting in front of her. How close will she get to knowing the truth? Will she commit to her studies and become a young witch or will she be distracted by a boy? Will this apprenticeship risk Elizabeth’s sanctuary? Will Guidian finally catch up with her?

I like Bess, I like her brashness and her honesty. I find that I hold some people at a distance in the same way and it is nice to see a relatable character with the same traits. I wanted to know all her lives, I wanted to her escapes and how she honed her craft. I like that you know her struggle with the dark arts but it’s not the main story-line. I like that there is more to the series…51U6d59WKfL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

The truth is, Dear reader this book is captivating, researched and great for bus journeys when you know you won’t be disturbed. If I could have sat still and stayed awake for the whole story in one go I would have done.

The conclusion is satisfactory and resolved but you know there is more to explore if you wanted. The narrative is so vivid and alive and despite being set in a particular part of the country (not mine) I still looked for a woman seeing Basil oil at the market this morning, just in case.

Happy Reading.

 

 

Two girls went partying, only one came home.

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BOOK FEELINGS: Through this whole experience, I have tried to get into different books and went through solid 6 months of binge listening to Steampunk (see Gail Carriger and CJ Archer), I read some Autobiographies (On your marks, Get set, Sue…) and even reread Harry Potter for the billionth time. The truth is I love a mystery, there I said it, I am a murder junkie. Different authors bring different twists to the genre, Elly Griffiths adds the archeological element, Chris Brookmyre is witty but clever and Ali Carter is my new detective love. I did not expect this to be so good, so gripping or brutal, I didn’t expect to want to turn it off as much as I wanted to turn it up. I needed to listen to this…and yes it is a psychological thriller!!genre-map-genres1

REVIEW: ‘Their Lost Daughters’ by Joy Ellis was brilliant. I’m worried my review won’t do it justice, so many twists, turns, and wonderful characters.

This starts with a missing girl found dead, a drugged shoeless girl found on the fens and the relentless pressure of a cold case by Kenya Black’s mother. DI Rowan Jackman and his DS, Marie Evans are suddenly in the spotlight and tracking a series of illegal parties rife with underage drinking.

Jackman and Evans are trying to work out if the girls are linked, why a local legend is haunting them and who is responsible for the ‘children’s ward’!

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Rowan Jackman is honest, relentless and everything you want your detective to be; he looks after his team, works too hard and never gives up. Marie is astute, Amazonian and goes everywhere on a motorbike, she cares too much and wants to catch the killer just as much as Rowan. In this installment, local boy Gary joins their team and Rosie goes undercover with her great attention to detail crazy memory and baby face!

This team takes on a prolific case and takes the reader with them. The whole cast is strong, everyone adds something and I found this a great start to the series (although technically book 2). There were light elements to keep the tension real and I can’t wait to hear more!

I’m enjoying my birthday week off and its board games time so…

Happy (or not so happy in this case) Reading!

How would you use your 100 words?

‘Greetings, to all Pure Women.

You should all be fitted with your new wrist counters. A symbol of your purity and devotion to your family. Life is simpler now. Just 100 words a day.

Your role is in the house. Your husband takes care of everything else.

You’re free.

Instead, you should focus on values of modesty, submission, humility and purity. Love, honour and most importantly, obey. You know the rules. Just one word over 100 and your wrist counter will send 1,000 volts through your body. Choose your words carefully.

You have the right to remain silent’

 

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BOOK FEELINGS:  I couldn’t put this down…equally I didn’t want too! Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 and one bad decision from a Trump-like government rolled into one, and you know this could be reality. It’s terrifying, addictive and so easy to read.

I was asked to review this for a local bookshop. I started at 5:30 pm and read until I was finished. I moved seats in a restaurant because the family next door were too loud and disturbing me. I didn’t watch a favourite show because this had its claws in me. i needed to finish it.

Jean is a Dr, a wife, a mother and now confined to 100 words per day. She always saves enough to say goodnight to her kids and whisper she loves them before going to sleep. Her 3 boys are growing, being Pure and changing too fast for her liking, her 5 year old daughter on the other hand is a different. She is just starting to understand, she is getting quieter and quieter and this, more than anything, scares Jean.

Everything changes when the President’s brother gets ill. Using her doctorate, skills and words can Jean save him? What does this mean for her family? What does this mean for the country?

As a debut ‘Vox’ by Christina Dalcher is amazing, well thought through and addictive. The characters have depth, the plot is fantastic without being fantastical and who gets a happy ending? I want more! I am rapidly finding its THE book I am recommending to my friends and family. The question is, will you see it coming?

I read this at the beginning of the month and had to wait to  tell you about it Dear Reader, that was the hardest bit about this review, well that and no spoilers!

Off to sit on a train for work with another book! Happy reading!

(305 words – that’s me shocked)

A different type of pet detective!

 

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BOOK FEELINGS: This was a new release on Audible (other audiobook providers are available) and as I like mysteries, I thought it was a little bit different and I’d give it a go!

So when we meet Susie, she’s getting to know ‘Sittup’ and his family, when an old family friend is mysteriously heard dying in a graveyard. Susie stays with his wife, Diana and finds herself in the depths of a murder investigation. It is during this adventure she meets the cute, dependable medical examiner Toby and the charmingly dashing professor Henry. We learn a bit about Susie’s family, a lot about Diana’s staff and not enough about poor Alexander.

I really enjoyed the colour descriptions, the way Ali Carter describes things is just beautiful and although it is a gritty thriller it is a cozy mystery. It is soft and enjoyable and a very easy read.

 

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