My Week in Books: 21 March 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Currently reading:

The Tenderness of Wolves

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, set in Canada in 1867. A man has been brutally murdered, a woman finds his body and her seventeen-year-old son has disappeared. She has to clear his name, heading north into the forest and the desolate landscape that lies beyond it, Also tracking him is what passes for the law in this frontier land: trappers, sheriffs, traders. As the party pushes further from civilisation, hidden purposes and old obsessions are revealed.

I’m not enjoying it so far as much as I hoped, or expected. It may be because I can’t get the characters clear in my head and have to keep turning back the pages to identify them.

I’m also reading a rather strange book, The Daffodil Affair by Michael Innes, one of his Inspector John Appleby mysteries. It’s not at all what I expected but I am enjoying it. Set in the Blitz there’s a haunted house that has vanished, a horse, called Daffodil that has been stolen and two girls have been kidnapped. Appleby and another detective, Hudspith investigate. It is bizarre with elements of the absurd.

Recently finished:

The last book I finished is The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie. An explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.

Cecily whose husband and best friend were inside the building. Kate, who fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her, and Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, who she says was also in the building. The story is told through each woman’s perspective. They all have secrets  – but who is the liar?

I’ll post my review soon.

Next:

I have so many books I want to read next, but right now I can’t decide. I really should start Little Dorrit, my Classics Club spin book soon. It was originally published  in nineteen monthly instalments, each consisting of 32 pages and I can’t imagine being a reader in 1855 keeping track of a story in monthly instalments over 2 years! I hope it won’t take me that long.

Little Dorritt

Blurb (Amazon):

When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother’s seamstress, and in the affairs of Amy’s father, William Dorrit, a man of shabby grandeur, long imprisoned for debt in Marshalsea prison. As Arthur soon discovers, the dark shadow of the prison stretches far beyond its walls to affect the lives of many, from the kindly Mr Panks, the reluctant rent-collector of Bleeding Heart Yard, and the tipsily garrulous Flora Finching, to Merdle, an unscrupulous financier, and the bureaucratic Barnacles in the Circumlocution Office. A masterly evocation of the state and psychology of imprisonment, “Little Dorrit” is one of the supreme works of Dickens’s maturity.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 28 February 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

51IBFwYPBfLMunich by Robert Harris, set in 1938, beginning in September as Hitler is determined to start a war and Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. I’ve read about half the book and am finding it fascinating.

Blurb

As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. 

Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. 

When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience?

Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan, due to be published tomorrow, 1 March 2018. This is a delightful book taking me back to the books of my childhood as Lucy Mangan describes the books she loved. I’ve nearly finished it, so I’ll post my review soon.

Blurb

The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the vivid intensity of your first encounter with a book.

As a bespectacled young bookworm, Lucy Mangan devoured books: from early picture books, to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, and from trashy teen romances to her first proper ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures.

This is a love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, telling the colourful story of our best-loved children’s books, the extraordinary people who created them, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.

Then:

The last book I finished is Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman. This book has won several awards: Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2014), Edgar Award for Best First Novel (2015), Strand Critics Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2014). I really enjoyed it. My review will be up soon.

Blurb

When an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell follows the investigation to strange places in the countryside, and into the depths of his own frayed soul.

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, secrets and feuds go back generations. The lone policeman in a small township on the sparse northern border, Henry Farrell expected to spend his mornings hunting and fishing, his evenings playing old-time music. Instead, he has watched the dual encroachment of fracking companies and drug dealers bring money and troubles to the area. As a second body turns up, Henry’s search for the killer opens old wounds and dredges up ancient crimes which some people desperately want to keep hidden.

With vivid characters and flawless pacing, Tom Bouman immerses readers in this changing landscape. In these derelict woods, full of whitetail deer and history, the hunt is on…

Next:

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey, also due to be published tomorrow, 1 March 2018.

Blurb (Amazon):

15th century Oakham, in Somerset; a tiny village cut off by a big river with no bridge. When a man is swept away by the river in the early hours of Shrove Saturday, an explanation has to be found: accident, suicide or murder? The village priest, John Reve, is privy to many secrets in his role as confessor. But will he be able to unravel what happened to the victim, Thomas Newman, the wealthiest, most capable and industrious man in the village? And what will happen if he can’t?

Moving back in time towards the moment of Thomas Newman’s death, the story is related by Reve – an extraordinary creation, a patient shepherd to his wayward flock, and a man with secrets of his own to keep. Through his eyes, and his indelible voice, Harvey creates a medieval world entirely tangible in its immediacy.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 14 February 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’m reading three books:

the NightingaleThe Midnight line51IBFwYPBfL

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, historical fiction beginning in 1995 in Oregon it moves back to France during World War Two. See yesterday’s post for the first paragraph and a teaser. I’ve read nearly half the book.

The Midnight Line by Lee Child, a Jack Reacher thriller. See this post for the first paragraph. Jack Reacher, a former military policeman, is looking for the owner of a West Point class ring from 2005. The search takes him to the deserted wilds of Wyoming.

Munich by Robert Harris, set in 1938, a year before the start of World War Two during the four days of the 1938 Munich Conference. I’m only at the beginning of this book.

Then:

The last book I finished is The Secret Vanguard by Michael Innes, a Golden Age mystery first published in 1940 and published last October as an e-book.  It’s the fifth in his Inspector Appleby series. See this post for my review.

Next:

I think it will most likely be Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman:

Blurb (Amazon):

When an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell follows the investigation to strange places in the countryside, and into the depths of his own frayed soul.

In Wild Thyme, Pennsylvania, secrets and feuds go back generations. The lone policeman in a small township on the sparse northern border, Henry Farrell expected to spend his mornings hunting and fishing, his evenings playing old-time music. Instead, he has watched the dual encroachment of fracking companies and drug dealers bring money and troubles to the area. As a second body turns up, Henry’s search for the killer opens old wounds and dredges up ancient crimes which some people desperately want to keep hidden.

With vivid characters and flawless pacing, Tom Bouman immerses readers in this changing landscape. In these derelict woods, full of whitetail deer and history, the hunt is on…

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 31 January 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

Victoria: A Life

I’m still reading Victoria: a Life by A N Wilson (I began reading it last October!) and am now in Part 7 – I hope to finish it today, just 72 pages left. I’ve just read about the wedding of George, Duke of York to Princess May of Teck (later King George VI and Queen Mary) and this is Archbishop Benson’s description of Victoria. Just picture the scene:

I could scarcely believe my eyes when the Queen entered the Chapel by the lower end. There she was alone and began to walk up alone. … On she came, looking most pleasant, slightly amused, bowing most gracefully to either side as she came, her black silk almost covered with wonderful lace, and lace and a little crown with chains of diamonds on her head, walking lame and with a tallish stick. She looked Empire, gracious Empire … (page 503)

I’m also reading The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale, to be published on 8th February 2018. So far I’m completely taken with this fascinating and imaginative novel.

Blurb:

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

It is 1917, and while war wages across Europe, in the heart of London, there is a place of hope and enchantment.

The Emporium sells toys that capture the imagination of children and adults alike: patchwork dogs that seem alive, toy boxes that are bigger on the inside, soldiers that can fight battles of their own. Into this family business comes young Cathy Wray, running away from a shameful past. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own.

But Cathy is about to discover that the Emporium has secrets of its own…

Then:

The last book I finished is Force of Nature by Jane Harper, which  will be published on 8 February 2018. I loved it and will post my review on 12 February 2018 as part of the blog tour .

Blurb:

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

Next:

I’d like a change from non-fiction and crime fiction, so I’m thinking of reading Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of her birth – so it seems appropriate to read one of her books.

Loitering With Intent

Blurb (Goodreads):

Would-be novelist Fleur Talbot works for the snooty Sir Quentin Oliver at the Autobiographical Association, whose members are at work on their memoirs. When her employer gets his hands on Fleur’s novel-in-progress, mayhem ensues when its scenes begin coming true.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 24 January 2018

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

Victoria: A Life

I’m still reading Victoria: a Life by A N Wilson (I began reading it last October!) and am now in Part 6 (it’s in 7 parts). It is now 1883, the Queen is sixty four and ‘increasingly obese‘, so different from the young girl of eighteen who had ascended the throne in 1837. This biography is fascinating, with many excerpts from Victoria’s personal letters and diaries.

Then:

The last book I finished is The Confession by Jo Spain, which will be published tomorrow, 25 January 2018. I was quickly gripped by this book in which you know who the killer is right from the start. But the killer insists he didn’t know the victim and neither did he know what had come over him as he battered him to death – it was as though he’d been possessed. (My review is here.)

Next:

Force of Nature by Jane Harper, which  will be published on 8 February 2018.

Blurb:

FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 3 December 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

Victoria: A Life

I’m still reading Victoria: a Life by A N Wilson (I began reading it last October!) and am now in Part 4. At the end of Part 3 Albert had died (14 December 1861). Part 4 begins with the marriage of Bertie and Princess Alexandra of Denmark on 10 March 1862. Victoria was still suffering to cope with Albert’s death but she, along with the general public, adored the princess.

I’m also reading Notes From an Exhibition by Patrick Gale.  I’m really enjoying this book about Rachel, an artist, found dead in her studio – the secrets of her life are slowly revealed as the book moves backwards and forwards in time. I’ve read just over half the book and currently I’m finding out about her life as a teenager.

Then:

The last book I finished is Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. This was my book in the November/December Classics Club Spin and I’ll be writing more about it later on. It is long, starts very slowly and then gets more interesting, with great characters and some comic and satirical episodes. It’s a study of selfishness and hypocrisy.

Next:

Turning for Home by Barney Norris, which  will be published on 11 January 2018. It looks as though it will be so good – I hope so.

Blurb:

‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’

Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you? 

My Week in Books: 15 November 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

IMG_1384-0

A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

Victoria: A Life

I’m still reading Victoria: a Life by A N Wilson and have just finished Part One, ending with the death of William IV at 2.20 on the morning of 20 June 1837. Victoria is woken to the news that she is now Queen.

The Skeleton Road

I’ve also started The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, the third  of her DCI Karen Pirie novels.  So far I’m finding it a bit slow going with rather a bewildering number of characters introduced one after the other. When a skeleton with a bullet hole in its skull is found at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh Karen and her Historic Cases Unit is called in to identify the body and investigate how long it has been there.

Then:

I’ve just finished The Corpse in the Snowman by Nicholas Blake, first published in 1941 as The Case of the Abominable Snowman. This is a manor house murder mystery  in which it first appears that Elizabeth Restorick has committed suicide. Or was it murder? Nigel Strangeways and Inspector Blount investigate.

Next:

Call the Dying (Lydmouth, #7)

I’m not sure, but Andrew Taylor’s Call the Dying caught my eye this morning when I passed the bookshelves in the hall. It’s set in the 1950s in the grip of a long, hard winter when dark forces are at play – a dead woman calls the dying in a seance, in a town shrouded in intrigue and suspicion. This is the seventh in Taylor’s Lydmouth series. I haven’t read any of the earlier books and I’m hoping that won’t matter.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them tempt you?