WWW Wednesday: 12 August 2020

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WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

This week I’m doing this in a different order as after I finished the last book I read I haven’t been able to decide what to read next.

So this a combination of what I might read currently and in the future.

I’ve dipped into a few books these last few days:

Would you recommend any of these books?

  • Bilgewater by Jane Gardam – described on the back cover as ‘One of the funniest, most entertaining, and most unusual stories about young love.’ I loved Old Filth some years ago.
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Penman – the first book in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy. Historical fiction about Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Maude, and the long fight to win the English throne. Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour is one of my absolute favourites.
  • For the Record by David Cameron – described in the blurb: ‘The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is one of the most controversial political events of our times. For the first time, the man who called that vote talks about the decision and its origins, as well as giving a candid account of his time at the top of British politics.‘ I’m not sure he’ll really be candid!
  • A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry – the sequel to Days Without End, which I loved. This is about Winona, a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. I watched Barry’s talk on Sunday as part of the Borders Book Festival online. From what I’ve read so far I’m not hooked yet.
  • A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville – inspired by the real life of a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Macarthur, who travelled to Australia with her husband and their infant son in 1790. I love her books.

Recently Finished: 

The last book I read was His and Hers by Alice Feeney and I posted my review on Saturday.

It’s a standalone psychological thriller. I was utterly gripped by it and compelled to read it, puzzled and amazed by the cleverness of the plot. But it’s not a comfortable read, dark and twisted with some gruesomely graphic scenes that I read very quickly!

WWW Wednesday: 5 August 2020

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WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw and it’s looking good so far. Police Sergeant William South is investigating the murder of his friend and neighbour Bob Rayner. It’s set in Dungeness on the Kent coast, a bleak landscape of gravel pits towered over by lighthouses and a nuclear power station and the story moves between the present day and South’s childhood. I have a strong feeling that I’ll be reading more of William Shaw’s books in the future.

Recently Finished: 

I finished reading The Power-House by John Buchan yesterday. I really enjoyed it. I’ll post my review shortly.

When his friend Charles Pitt-Heron vanishes mysteriously, Sir Edward Leithen is at first only mildly concerned. But a series of strange events that follow Pitt-Heron’s disappearance convinces Leithen that he is dealing with a sinister secret society. Their codename is ‘The Power-House’. The authorities are unable to act without evidence. As he gets deeper involved with the underworld, Leithen finds himself facing the enemy alone and in terrible danger. 

Reading Next:

I’m not sure at the moment. It ‘should’ be His and Hers by Alice Feeney, because it’s the book I’ve had the longest on my NetGalley shelf and it’s making me feel guilty that I haven’t read it yet.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Anna’s ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper, is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation.

Someone is lying, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

But it could be another book when the time comes!

WWW Wednesday: 22 July 2020

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WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

The book descriptions are from Amazon.

Currently reading:

After much deliberation and starting several books from my 20 Books of Summer list I decided to read Thin Air: a Ghost Story by Michelle Paver.

Kangchenjunga. Third highest peak on earth. Greatest killer of them all.

Five Englishmen set off from Darjeeling, determined to tackle the sacred summit. But courage can only take them so far – and the mountain is not their only foe.

As mountain sickness and the horrors of extreme altitude set in, the past refuses to stay buried. And sometimes, the truth won’t set you free. . .

Recently Finished: 

I finished reading The Luminaries yesterday and am still mulling it over. I enjoyed it but I’m not sure I liked the structure, with the length of the chapters decreasing as the story progressed.

It is 1866, and young Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: A wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Reading Next:

At the moment I think it could be Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert. I wrote about the opening paragraph and included a quotation from page 55 in My Friday post. Ot it could be Wycliffe and How To Kill a Cat by W J Burley. But it might be a different book that takes my fancy when the time comes.

The girl was young, with auburn hair arranged on the pillow. Wycliffe could almost believe she was asleep – that is, until he saw her face. She had been strangled, and someone had brutally smashed her face – but after death, not before… She lay in a seedy hotel room down by the docks, but her luggage, her clothes and her make-up all suggested she had more class than her surroundings.

Superintendent Wycliffe was officially on holiday, but the case fascinated him. Who was the girl? Why was she lying naked in a shabby hotel room? What was she doing with a thousand pounds hidden underneath some clothing? And, above all, why had someone mutilated her after she was dead?

As Wycliffe begins to investigate, he finds there are too many suspects, too many motives – and too many lies . . .

What do you think – which one would you read next?

Six Degrees of Separation: from What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt to

It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month the chain begins with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt a book I read and loved some years ago.

In 1975 art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a New York gallery. He buys the work, tracks down its creator, Bill Weschler, and the two men embark on a life-long friendship.

This is the story of their intense and trouble relationship, of the women in their lives and their work, of art and hysteria, love and seduction and their sons – born the same year but whose lives take very different paths.

Keeping the World Away by Margaret Forster – this is the story of a painting, a variant of Gwen John’s The Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris, as over the years it passes from one woman to another. Her room was the image of how her lover, Rodin, wished her to be and she painted a sunlit corner of it where it was “all peace and calm and serenity” in contrast to Gwen herself who “radiated energy”.

Theft by Peter Carey is set in the art world, about forgeries and details of the international art scene. The book ranges from Australia to Japan and America, with the two Boone brothers, Michael the artist, and Hugh his ‘broken’ brother, who he is ‘looking after’.

Peter Carey is an Australian author, as is Jane Harper. Her book The Lost Man is set in the Queensland outback, hundreds of miles from anywhere and revolves around the death of Cameron Bright, one of the three Bright brothers. They are part of a dysfunctional family. Cameron is found dead, lying at the the base of the headstone of the stockman’s grave. It was the location Cameron had painted – a painting that had won him a prize.

Another dysfunctional family, is the subject of Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver. This is set in a remote hamlet in the Suffolk Fens, an eerie waterlogged landscape where Edmund Stearn, a historian, and his family live in a large manor house, Wake’s End. Edmund eventually went mad and spent the rest of his life in an asylum, where he created three paintings that astonished the world – grotesque paintings full of colour and tiny malevolent faces leering out of the canvas, the stuff of nightmares.

Another manor house is the setting of The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. Beginning in 1862, when a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor in rural Berkshire. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. it’s a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is about Iris, a young woman who worked painting dolls in Mrs Salter’s Dolls Emporium, but who dreamed of being an artist. It tells of her involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite artists and the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was a time when the young artists who had recently formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, were challenging the art world with their vivid paintings.

~~~

The books in my chain are all linked by art, beginning in New York and moving to London, via Berkshire, the Suffolk fens, the Australian outback and Paris. Other links are the authors’ nationality, dysfunctional families and manor house settings, in both historical and crime fiction.

Next month (1 August 2020), the chain begins with – How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, a book I’ve never come across before.

Six Degrees of Separation: from Normal People to The Inheritance of Loss

It’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month the chain begins with Normal People by Sally Rooney. This is one of my TBRs. I did begin it but it didn’t appeal to me. I’m in the minority, though, as I know it is very popular, many people love both the book and the TV series and it  has won several awards. It’s the story of two people who try to stay apart but find they can’t.

Normal People

Sally Rooney is an Irish author, as is Maggie O’Farrell, whose book Instructions for a Heatwave was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn’t come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone.

Also shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award was All the Birds, Singing by Australian author Evie Wyld, a book I would like to read. This is a novel, using reverse chronology techniques, telling the story of Jake Whyte who lives on an unnamed island off the coast of Britain, tending her flock of sheep with her dog, Dog. Someone, or something, is killing her sheep, and her investigations lead her and the reader back to her time in Australia to the ‘original sin’ that sets everything in motion.

Another novel featuring the killing of sheep is Seeking Whom He May Devour by French author, Fred Vargas. It’s set in the French mountains. Johnstone, a Canadian is living there whilst he films a documentary about wolves. The problems start when more and more sheep are found with their throats torn out. This is the second in her Commissaire Adamsberg series. I thought it was quite quirky with touches of humour.

Thinking about wolves reminded me of Stef Penny’s novel, The Tenderness of Wolves, another Costa Award winning book. It’s set in Canada in 1867 beginning in a small place called Dove River on the north shore of Georgian Bay, narrated in part by Mrs Ross. It begins as she describes the last time she saw the French-Canadian trapper, Laurent Jammet alive.  He was the Ross’s closest neighbour and the next time she saw him was in his cabin, lying dead on his bed, his throat cut and he had been scalped.

Next I thought of another book set in Canada, The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. This is a beautiful book set in  in Northern Canada about two brothers, Arthur and Jake Dunn who grow up on a small farm near Struan (a fictional town) in the 1930s. Arthur is older, shy, dutiful, and set to inherit his father’s farm. Jake is younger and reckless, a dangerous to know. When Laura arrives in their 1930s rural community, an already uneasy relationship is driven to breaking point. It was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2006.

And that brings me to the last book in the chain – the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2006 was Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss. This is set in the Himalayas where a judge and his granddaughter live in a dilapidated mansion. The judge, broken by a world too messy for justice, is haunted by his past. His orphan granddaughter has fallen in love with her handsome tutor, despite their different backgrounds and ideals. The cook’s heart is with his son, who is working in a New York restaurant, mingling with an underclass from all over the globe as he seeks somewhere to call home.

~~~

The books in my chain are linked either by the authors’ nationality, prize winning books and books about the killing of sheep! 

Next month (July 6, 2020), the chain begins with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt – a book I loved!

My Friday Post: Cruel Acts by Jane Casey

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

Cruel Acts is the 8th book in Jane Carey’s Maeve Kerrigan series

The house was dark. PC Sandra West stared up at it and sighed. The neighbours had called the police – she checked her watch – getting on for an hour earlier, to complain about the noise.

 

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

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These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

Freedom was within his grasp but it wasn’t his quite yet.

Blurb:

Guilty?
A year ago, Leo Stone was convicted of murdering two women and sentenced to life in prison. Now he’s been freed on a technicality, and he’s protesting his innocence.

Not guilty?
DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent are determined to put Stone back behind bars where he belongs, but the more Maeve digs, the less convinced she is that he did it.
 
The wrong decision could be deadly…
Then another woman disappears in similar circumstances. Is there a copycat killer, or have they been wrong about Stone from the start?

~~~ 

I’ve read the earlier books, except for the novella, One in Custody, and enjoyed them all, so I have high expectations that I’ll enjoy this one too.

WWW Wednesday: 27 May 2020

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WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

I’m reading Yesterday’s Papers by Martin Edwards – On Leap Year Day in 1964, an attractive teenager called Carole Jeffries was strangled in a Liverpool park. The killing caused a sensation: Carole came from a prominent political family and her pop musician boyfriend was a leading exponent of the Mersey Sound. When a neighbour confessed to the crime, the case was closed. Now, more than thirty years later, Ernest Miller, an amateur criminologist, seeks to persuade lawyer Harry Devlin that the true culprit escaped scot free. Although he suspects Miller’s motives, Harry has a thirst for justice and begins to delve into the past. But when another death occurs, it becomes clear that someone wants old secrets to remain buried – at any price.

Recently Finished: I’ve just finished Sword by Bogdan Teodorescu, translated by fellow blogger Marina Sofia – A shadowy killer stalks the streets of Bucharest, seeking out victims from among the Roma minority. But this is not the usual police procedural as it focuses on the effect the serial killings have on the political scene. I’ll write more about it later on.

Reading Next: I’m never really sure, but it could be Dead Man’s Footsteps by Peter James. I’m reading his Superintendent Grace books in order and this is the 4th one.

Amid the tragic unfolding mayhem of the morning of 9/11, failed Brighton businessman and ne’er-do-well Ronnie Wilson sees the chance of a lifeline: to shed his debts, disappear and reinvent himself in another country. Six years later the discovery of the skeletal remains of a woman’s body in a storm drain in Brighton leads Detective Superintendent Roy Grace on an enquiry spanning the globe, and into a desperate race against time to save the life of a woman being hunted down like an animal in the streets and alleys of Brighton.

What do you think – which one would you read next?

This post has taken me hours to write using the new Block Editor which I find most confusing. I’m wondering how other WordPress users are getting on – any tips that would help me would be most welcome!

My Friday Post: Yesterday’s Papers by Martin Edwards

Book Beginnings Button

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

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Yesterday’s Papers by Martin Edwards is one of my TBRs.

I killed her many years ago.

I like the cover of my paperback, published by Arcturus Crime Classics.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

30879-friday2b56These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

Jeannie dubbed the case Watergate: the papers loved it and made the tag their own. She had once been a disco queen and when she organised a Jive for Justice at Empire Hall, it sold out and made national headlines. A tabloid paper bought exclusive rights to her story and portrayed her as a modern Joan of Arc.

Blurb

On Leap Year Day in 1964, an attractive teenager called Carole Jeffries was strangled in a Liverpool park. The killing caused a sensation: Carole came from a prominent political family and her pop musician boyfriend was a leading exponent of the Mersey Sound. When a neighbour confessed to the crime, the case was closed. Now, more than thirty years later, Ernest Miller, an amateur criminologist, seeks to persuade lawyer Harry Devlin that the true culprit escaped scot free. Although he suspects Miller’s motives, Harry has a thirst for justice and begins to delve into the past. But when another death occurs, it becomes clear that someone wants old secrets to remain buried – at any price…

~~~ 

This is the fourth Harry Devlin book, although I haven’t read any of the earlier books, so plenty to look forward to. I’ve read all of Martin Edwards’ Lake District books and loved them.

Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

1. Home.
2. Books in the home.
3. Touring books in the home.
4. Books organized or not organized on shelves, in bookcases, in stacks, or heaped in a helter-skelter fashion on any surface, including the floor, the top of the piano, etc.
5. Talking about books and reading experiences from the past, present, or future.

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically.

This week I’m showing more biographies and an autobiography. This is the shelf below the one I featured in this post a few weeks ago. 

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The books on this shelf are all books I’ve had for a long time but I have only read some of them – those marked with an *. From the left (as you look at the screen) they are:

Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now by Barry Miles, based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews undertaken over five years and on access to McCartney’s own archives.

Next to that is Long Walk to Freedom: the Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. I have read part of this long and detailed book.

Then comes Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir. I have started this book, the first of two I have about Mary (the other is by Antonia Fraser).

After that is David Starkey’s biography of *Elizabeth: Apprenticeship. This is an account of her life from her birth in 1533 to her accession to the throne in 1558. I read this many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next is The Sovereignty of Good by Irish Murdoch. I’ve read several of her novels, but this is book of philosophy, a collection of three papers on the nature of goodness. I have not got round to actually reading it yet.

But I have read the next three books – *Iris: a Memoir of Iris Murdoch by John Bayley, *Iris: A Life by Peter J Conradi, and *Iris Murdoch As I Knew Her by A N Wilson. Bayley’s book is inevitably partly autobiographical as it is about their marriage and about living with Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most moving books I’ve read. I read these before I began blogging and really can’t remember much about the Conradi and Wilson biographies. I remember more about Bayley’s book, maybe because I watched the film, Iris, a film that had me and most of the audience at the cinema in tears.

I’ve also read *L S Lowry: a Life by Shelley Rohde. Lowry is one of my favourite artists, well known for his urban paintings of industrial towns and ‘matchstick men’, but his work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits.

I bought *Shakespeare the Biography by Peter Ackroyd in Stratford-upon-Avon some years ago after going to the theatre there. I’ve several of Shakespeare’s plays and seen productions at the Barbican in London and at the Stratford. Structured mainly around the plays, this biography places Shakespeare within his own time and place, whether it is Stratford or London or travelling around the countryside with the touring companies of players.

I haven’t read the next four books on the shelf, yet. They are Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life by Lyndall Gordon. I bought this because I’ve read some of Woolf’s books and wanted to know more about her.

And then there are three books about Marilyn Monroe, none of which I’ve read. First Marilyn Monroe– a biography by Barbara Leeming, It looks remarkably comprehensive, with lots of photos. Then there is Marilyn: the Ultimate Look at the Legend by James Haspiel, a memoir of James Haspiel’s eight year friendship with the Marilyn Monroe, and Marilyn in Fashion: the Enduring influence of Marilyn Monro by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno, full of even more photos.

WWW Wednesday: 13 May 2020

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I’m writing this on my husband’s iPad, which is much easier for me than on my PC, especially with predictive text – less painful for my hand. I am feeling much happier!

WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

 What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

Recently I’ve been picking up book after book finding it difficult to settle on just one or two. These are some of the books that I’ve got on the go at the moment:


The Mirror and the Light
by Hilary Mantel, the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy about the boy from Putney who climbed his way up to become Lord Cromwell, Secretary to King Henry VIII. It is heavy, weighing in at 2lbs 13ozs with almost 900 pages and as my wrist and hand are still so painful I’ve had to put this on one side.

So then I tried an ebook, one of my NetGalley books, The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elizabeth Gifford, described a ‘a sweeping love story that crosses oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island and the extraordinary power of hope in the face of darkness.’ I’ve read about a third of it and it isn’t appealing to me much at the moment and so the book I’ve settled on right now is:

The Guardians by John Grisham, a hardback book that isn’t as heavy to hold as The Mirror and the Light. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on Quincy Miller’s case. He’s been in prison for 22 years for the murder of Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town.

Recently Finished: 

looking good dead

Looking Good Dead by Peter James. This is one of my TBRs, the second book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series and can easily be read as a stand alone. It’s dark murder mystery and it is gory in parts, although not too gory if you read it quickly. It’s set in Brighton and Peter James describes the setting in detail which slows the action down somewhat, but apart from that it’s fast paced about a man who puts himself and his family in great danger after he picked up a CD that another passenger had left on the train – it’s a snuff movie – enough said.

Reading Next:

I just don’t know. It might be another Roy Grace book, Deadman’s Footsteps, or one of my NetGalley books, maybe The Deep by Alma Katsu, a story with a supernatural twist set on the Titanic, or A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry, which is a follow up to Days Without End, a book I loved.  Set after the end of the American Civil War it tells the story of Union soldiers, Thomas McNulty and John Cole, who have ‘adopted’ a young Indian girl.

What do you think – which one would you read next?