New Additions

We went to Barter Books in Alnwick yesterday and I came home with this pile. I didn’t realise until I took this photo that they’re all a variation on a black/white colour scheme! It wasn’t intentional.

I go armed with a notebook listing books and authors to look for and so I was delighted to find two books by Truman Capote as I enjoyed reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s recently and am keen to read more of his books – and two more of Reginald Hill’s books that are on my list of his books to find.

BB bks March19

From the bottom up they are:

  • The Collaborators by Reginald Hill, a standalone novel of wartime passion, loyalty – and betrayal. Set in Paris from 1940 to 1945, when Janine Simonian stands accused of passing secret information to the Nazis that led to the arrest and torture of several members of the French Resistance.
  • A Pinch of Snuff by Reginald Hill – the 5th of his Dalziel and Pascoe novels, this was first published in 1978. When Peter Pascoe’s dentist suggests that one film in particular shown in the Calliope Club is more than just good clean dirty fun, the inspector begins to make a few discreet inquiries and ends up with a homicide to investigate.
  • Beneath the Surface by Jo Spain, the second novel in the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. I’ve read three of her books and am always on the lookout for more of hers. Set in Dublin, DI Tom Reynolds and his team investigate the murder of Ryan Finnegan, a high-ranking government official in Leinster House, the seat of the Irish parliament.
  • Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas. I’ve read two of her books previously and loved them. This one is about the disappearance of twenty-one year old Sophie Collier. Twenty years later a body has been found and her friend Francesca goes back to her home town to discover the truth about what had happened to Sophie.
  • The Weight of Angels by Catriona McPherson. I’ve read several of her Dandy Gilver books and enjoyed them. This book is a standalone psychological thriller, in which Alison McGovern takes a job as a beautician in a private psychiatric facility near her rented cottage and the ruins of Dundrennan Abbey.  A body is discovered in a shallow grave by the abbey on Ali’s first day at work.
  • Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote, a collection of his writings, both fiction and nonfiction – a book of reminiscences, portraits and stories, including ‘A Beautiful Child’ an account of a day with Marilyn Monroe and ‘Handcarved Coffins: a Nonfiction Account of an American Crime’.
  • In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences by Truman Capote, probably one of the best known ‘true crime’ books. Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers of four members of the Clutter family on November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas.

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So, seven more books added to my TBRs and I’d love to start reading them all – now!

Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List. These are in no particular order, except for the first three which are books to be released later this year. I’m looking forward to reading each one of them!

The Silence of the GirlsThe Bear Pit: The Seeker 4This Poison Will Remain

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, out in paperback in June 2019, a retelling of the Trojan War.

The Bear Pit by S G MacLean, the 4th Damian Seeker novel, out in July 2019, set in the 17th century England under the rule of Cromwell, the Lord Protector.

This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas out in paperback in August 2019, a Commissaire Adamsberg mystery investigating the death of three men, all killed by the venom of the recluse spider.

TranscriptionThe Wych ElmDear Mrs BirdThe Sealwoman's Gift

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – a standalone novel set in London in the world of espionage in the 1940s and 50s.

The Wych Elm by Tana French, a standalone psychological thriller.

Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce, historical fiction set in London in 1941.

The Seal Woman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson, set in 1627 as pirates raided the coast of Iceland and abducted 400 people into slavery in Algiers.

TemplarsThe Song of AchillesBlood & Sugar

The Templars by Dan Jones, non fiction about the Knights Templars and the Crusades

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller, more historical fiction about the Trojan War and its heroes.

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson, historical crime fiction set in June, 1781 about the slave trade.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To

top-ten-tuesday-new

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Books I Meant to Read In 2018 but Didn’t Get To. Oh, dear there were lots – here are ten of them, in no particular order of preference. They are all books I really wanted to read as soon as I got them, but then other books got in the way! They are by authors whose books I’ve read before, with the exception of the last book, and most are books I bought in 2017 or 2018.

I loved Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy and I’m sure this will be as good – it’s Coffin Road, a standalone book set on the Hebridean Isle of Harris where a bewildered man is standing on a beach, wondering why he is there – and even more worrying, he is not able to remember who he is. His only clue is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road.

My second book is also by Peter May – I’ll Keep You Safe and is also set in the Hebrides. Niamh and Ruairidh Macfarlane co-own the Hebridean company Ranish Tweed. On a business trip to Paris to promote their luxury brand, Niamh learns of Ruairidh’s affair, and then looks on as he and his lover are killed by a car bomb. She returns home to Lewis, bereft.

Next, An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill – the second in his Dalziel and Pascoe series. I’ve been reading this series completely out of order and so am now trying to fill in the gaps. This one is about the discovery of a dead body found buried under a statue in the grounds of Holm Coultram College. As soon as they think they have solved the problem more bodies are discovered.

I really should have read The Dry by Jane Harper before now. I’ve read both her second and third books and loved them. I’ve never been to Australia, but her description of of the outback makes me feel as though I am there in the places she describes. In this, the first Aaron Falk book, the farming community of Kiewarra is in the grip of the worst drought in a century and people are facing life and death choices daily – then three members of a local family are found brutally slain – it appears that Luke Hadler has shot his wife and young son, and then killed himself.

Ann Cleeves is one of my favourite writers and I love her Vera and Shetland books, but somehow I have got behind with reading her last two Shetland books – book 7, Cold Earth and book 8, Wildfire. So both these books are high on my list of books to read this year.

Cold Earth begins with a landslide during the funeral of Magnus Tait and in the resulting wreckage the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress is found. DI Jimmy Perez thinks that she shares his Mediterranean ancestry and he becomes obsessed with tracing her identity.

 Wildfire, the final book in this series,is about the Flemings -designer Helena and architect Daniel, who move into a remote community in the north of Shetland. They think it’s a fresh start for themselves and their children, but their arrival triggers resentment, and Helena begins to receive small drawings of a gallows and a hanged man. Gossip spreads like wildfire.

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward is her second book. I loved her first book, In Bitter Chill, and I have a few to catch up with as she has now written books three and four in her DC Childs series. A Deadly Thaw is set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire. Lena Fisher was convicted of he husband’s murder, but within months of her release nearly two decades later, his body is found in a disused morgue, recently killed. Who was the man she killed before, and why did she lie about his identity?

Another favourite author is Anthony Horowitz and I really should have read Moriarty, his second Sherlock Holmes book, before now as I enjoyed his first one, The House of Silk – and also his more recent books, Magpie Murders, The Sentence is Death, and The Word is Murder. It’s 1891, Holmes and Moriarty are dead and London is in the grip of a fiendish new criminal mastermind. Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton agent and Inspector Athelney Jones are faced with finding a brutal murderer.

I loved We Have Always Lived in the Castle, so have great expectations for The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Four people visit Hill House searching for evidence that is haunted. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own. I’m expecting this to be just as strange, spooky and disturbing as We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

And finally, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. It’s her first book and it was shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Biography Award and the Wainwright Prize. I want to read it because it’s a true story about a couple, Raynor and Moth, her husband who is terminally ill, who had lost their home and their business. Faced with this terrible situation they decided to buy a tent and walk the Salt Path, the south-west coastal path, from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall.

My Friday Post: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

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.

My book today is Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell, one of the books I’m currently reading.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

It begins:

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will – whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures – and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection …

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: Durrell is buying a house in the Greek village of Bellapaix and the owners have gathered their family in the village cafe to agree upon the price.

They sat on a semicircle of chairs, sipping coffee and arguing in low voices; a number of beards waggled, a number of heads nodded. They looked like a rugger scrum in an American film receiving last-minute instructions from their captain. Soon they would fall upon us like a ton of bricks and gouge us. I began to feel rather alarmed.

~~~

I’ve visited Cyprus several times, but not the area Durrell wrote about in this book – Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus. His description of it and Bellapaix makes me wish I could have seen it then in the 1950s.

Blurb

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus is Lawrence Durrell’s unique account of his time in Cyprus, during the 1950s Enosis movement for freedom of the island from British colonial rule. Winner of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, it is a document at once personal, poetic and subtly political – a masterly combination of travelogue, memoir and treatise.

‘He writes as an artist, as well as a poet; he remembers colour and landscape and the nuances of peasant conversation . . . Eschewing politics, it says more about them than all our leading articles . . . In describing a political tragedy it often has great poetic beauty.’ Kingsley Martin, New Statesman

‘Durrell possesses exceptional qualifications. He speaks Greek fluently; he has a wide knowledge of modern Greek history, politics and literature; he has lived in continental Greece and has spent many years in other Greek islands . . . His account of this calamity is revelatory, moving and restrained. It is written in the sensitive and muscular prose of which he is so consummate a master.’ Harold Nicolson, Observer

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What about you? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

New-To-Me Books

These are some books that I’ve recently added to my shelves, all Christmas presents:

bks xmas 2018

From top to bottom they are:

The Pocket Detective: (British Library Crime Classics) compiled by Kate Jackson –  including word searches, anagrams, snapshot covers, and crosswords based on the series of British Library Crime Classics and Golden Age Detection authors. I love word puzzles of all sorts, so this is just right for me.

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohllenben. This book looks fascinating as it is about what goes on aside animals’ heads with insights into their behaviour, emotions and instincts. In his Introduction Wohllenben says that the more he closely paid attention the more he noticed ‘our pets and their woodland relatives displaying what are supposed to be exclusively human emotions.’

The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places by Neil Oliver – described on the book jacket inside cover as ‘a broad sweep of British history and landscape’. I’ve enjoyed watching Neil Oliver’s TV documentaries and his book looks just as informative, encompassing our earliest history, via Romans and Vikings, civil war, industrial revolution and two world wars, looking at the places that he considers to be the most characteristic of our history, with many colour photographs.

Sea Change: The Summer Voyage from East to West Scotland by Mairi Hedderwick. This is a beautiful book with watercolours and pen and ink illustrations. It describes Marie Hedderwick’s journey in an antiquated 26-foot long yacht through the Caledonian Canal to the fjords of the west: Lochs Linnhe, Etive, Ailort, Moidart, Nevis and Leven.

Leonardo Da Vinci: the Biography by Walter Isaacson – A biography that brings Leonardo Da Vinci to life, a man of science and engineering, just as much as an artist and a man of endless curiosity about a vast range of subjects. I think this book could take me most of the year to read.

And finally a novel:

Love is Blind by William Boyd, set at the end of the nineteenth century about a Scottish musician, who leaves Edinburgh and his tyrannical father when he is offered a job in Paris. ‘A tale of dizzying passion and brutal revenge; of artistic endeavour and the illusions it creates; of all the possibilities that life can offer, and how cruelly they can be snatched away’.

Do any of any these books tempt you too?

My Friday Post: World Enough & Time by Christian McEwan

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.

World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down

This week I’m featuring World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down by Christian McEwen, a book I’ve borrowed from a friend:

 

When the Lilliputians first saw Gulliver’s watch, ‘that wonderful kind of engine … a globe, half silver and half of some transparent metal [glass!]’, they told themselves it had to be his god. After all, ‘he very seldom did anything without consulting it; he called it his oracle, and said it pointed out the time for every action of his life.’

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:

Consider this quotation:

and this is what we mean by friends. Even when they are absent, they are with us … even when they are weak, they are strong; and … even when they are dead, they are alive.

CICERO

~~~

About the Book (extracted from Goodreads)

Slowness can open doors to sustained creativity, claims poet and teacher Christian McEwen. Over the course of ten years training teachers to write their own poems in order to pass the craft along to students, McEwen realized that nothing comes easily when life is conducted at a high rate of speed. She draws not only on personal experience, but on readings ranging from literary anecdote and poetry to Buddhism, anthropology, current news, and social history, all supplemented by interviews with contemporary writers and artists. This is a real reader’s book, one that stands up as both sustained narrative and occasional inspiration.

~~~

This is a book to take your time over reading it – you can read straight through or dip in and out of the chapters, focusing on different themes. I don’t want to rush through it – so at times, as I’m reading it I may quote further extracts  in future posts rather than writing a review.

What about you? Does it tempt you or would you stop reading? 

WWW Wednesday: 19 December 2018

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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?

It’s been over a month since I last wrote a WWW post so I thought it was time for another one.

I’m currently reading: just one book – Great Britain’s Great War by Jeremy Paxman. I began it in November because it was the 100th  anniversary of the end of the First World War and I wanted to know more about it.

Great Britain's Great War

So far I’ve read just over half the book – now just starting to read about 1916 and the situation in Ireland. It’s written chronologically, analysing the causes of the war and why people at the time believed it to be unavoidable and even necessary. Paxman writes clearly and goes into detail which means it’s not a quick read and I’m taking it slowly. He writes about the people involved – the men who enlisted and those who were conscripted, the conditions they experienced from the trenches to the French brothels they frequented. It’s also about life back in Britain and the changes the war brought about. It is fascinating.

This morning I finished:

The Division Bell Mystery

Qnother fascinating book – The The Division Bell Mystery first published in 1932 by Ellen Wilkinson, a 1930s politician, about a murder in the House of Commons.  One of the reasons I enjoyed this so much is the setting in the House of Commons and the details it gives of not only the procedures and traditions, but a look behind the scenes and what it was like for the early women MPs. It’s a good murder mystery too!

My next book could be:

It’s time to start another novel but I am torn, as usual, and am trying to decide what to read next. It will probably be The Accordionist by Fred Vargas as it is a library book dues back at the beginning of January.

The Accordionist (Three Evangelists 3)

It’s the final novel in the Three Evangelists Trilogy – I’ve read the first two. This one has the same characters – three thirty-something historians, Mathias, Marc and Lucien, all specialists in three different periods of history, who live in a rambling house in Paris.

I love Fred Vargas’s quirky crime fiction, with eccentric characters and intricate plots that I find so difficult to solve. This one is about the murder of two Parisian women killed in their homes. The police suspect young accordionist Clément Vauquer and it seems like an open-and-shut case.

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