A-Z of TBRs: E-Books: G, H and I

Once again I’ve been looking at all the forgotten e-books on my Kindle and this is the third instalment of my A – Z of my e-book TBRs – with a little ‘taster’ from each. These are all fiction.

Go set a watchman

G is for  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, on my Kindle since November 2014. I remembered I hadn’t read this when recently I got a copy of Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep, in which she tells the story Harper Lee wanted to write and why she couldn’t after the success of To Kill a Mockingbird (which I loved).

Atticus Finch shot his left cuff, then cautiously pushed it back. One-forty. On some days he wore two watches: he wore two this day, an ancient watch and chain his children had cut their teeth on, and a wristwatch. The former was habit, the latter used to tell time when he could not move his fingers enough to dig in his watchpocket. He had been a big man before age and arthritis reduced him to medium size. He was seventy-two last month, but Jean Louise always thought of him hovering somewhere in his middle fifties – she could not remember him being any younger, and he seemed to grow no older. (page 17)

Go Set a Watchman is set two decades after To Kill a Mockingbird and is the story of Jean- Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – as she returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Her homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt.

I’d dithered over whether to read this and then forgot I had it!

Hidden depths

is for Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves, on my Kindle since March 2014. It’s the 3rd book in her Vera Stanhope series, which I have been reading totally out of order. It doesn’t spoil my enjoyment, especially as over the years I’ve been watching the TV series and I think I remember seeing the TV version of Hidden Depths years ago.

It’s hot summer on the Northumberland coast and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers. In the following extract, his mother, Julie is talking to Vera:

Julie was sitting on the floor, her knees pulled up to her chin, her arms clasped around them. She looked up at the detective, who was still watching and waiting. It came to her suddenly that this woman, large and solid like rock, might once have known tragedy herself. That was why she could sit there without making those stupid sympathetic noises Sal and the doctor had made. This woman knew that nothing she could say would make it better. But Julie didn’t care about the detective’s sadness and the thought was fleeting. She went back to her story. (15).

Ann Cleeves is one of my favourite authors and I really should have read this book when I first bought it.

In too deep

I is for In Too Deep by Bea Davenport, on my Kindle since July 2013. I had totally forgotten that I had this book. Five years ago Maura fled life in Dowerby and took on a new identity, desperately trying to piece her life back together and escape the dark clouds that plagued her past. But then a reporter tracked her down, and persuaded her to tell her story, putting her own life in danger once again.

So then as I just get out the shower and the door buzzer sounds, I catch my breath. No-one ever comes to see me, and I don’t receive post unless it’s junk mail. When a man’s voice asks for Maura Wood, I feel a grip on my heart, clenching like a fist. I am frozen with fear.

I shiver involuntarily, goose bumps covering my body like guilty fingers. I haven’t heard that name for almost five years. I pull my towel tighter around me. ‘No, sorry. There’s no-one here of that name.’

But the voice has picked up on my pause. ‘I was told Maura Wood lives here. Is that not you, Maura?’

‘No, I’m not Maura. I’ve told you. Who is that?’

(7%)

Bea Davenport is the writing name of former print and broadcast journalist Barbara Henderson. In Too Deep, was her first crime/suspense novel. Bea spent many years as a newspaper reporter and latterly seventeen years as a senior broadcast journalist with the BBC in the north-east of England. Originally from Tyneside, she lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, not very far away from me. I haven’t read any of her books.

If you’ve read any of these books please let me know what you think. Or if you haven’t read them do they tempt you?

Latest Additions at BooksPlease

It was my birthday last week and I was delighted to find amongst my presents two books – this lovely hardback book by Val McDermid, My Scotland, and an e-book, Transcription by Kate Atkinson.

My ScotlandIn My Scotland Val McDermid writes about the landscapes she has known all her life, and the places where her stories and characters reside. Accompanied by over 100 stunning photographs by Alan McCredie, it uncovers Val’s own Scotland in all its glory – from the iconic Isle of Skye to the majestic streets of Edinburgh; from the undiscovered hideaways of the Highlands to the wild and untamed Jura.

I’m a relative newcomer to Val McDermid’s books as years ago I couldn’t watch Wire in the Blood on TV, based on the characters she created, because of all the blood and gory details it was showing. So, for years I avoided her books, not realising that she writes far more than just the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. So far I’ve only read her Karen Pirie books, but some of these feature in My Scotland and it’s a bonus to see the locations. And it also includes a short story, The Devil’s Share, set on Jura.

TranscriptionRecently I’ve seen some unfavourable reviews of Kate Atkinson’s books, but I’m hoping I’ll enjoy Transcription as I’ve loved some of her earlier books, especially A God in Ruins.

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever.

Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Other new arrivals – via NetGalley are:

Furious hoursFurious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn’t.

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted – thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial. Harper had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. Lee spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

Lying RoomThe Lying Room by Nicci French. I’ve read a few of Nicci French’s books, so I have high hopes that I’ll like this book.

Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.
She doesn’t call the police. 

‘You know, it’s funny,’ Detective Inspector Hitching said. ‘Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she’ll know. She’s the one people talk to, she’s the one people confide in.’
A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.
She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all.
But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger.
She can’t tell the truth. So how far is she prepared  to go to protect those she loves?
And who does she really know? And who can she trust?
A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.
Could she be a murderer?

Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer. Years ago I enjoyed reading two of his books –Not a Penny More and Kane and Abel, but nothing else since. So, I wondered if I’d enjoy Nothing Ventured, described as not a detective story, but a story about the making of a detective.

Nothing venturedWilliam Warwick has always wanted to be a detective, and decides, much to his father’s dismay, that rather than become a barrister like his father, Sir Julian Warwick QC, and his sister Grace, he will join London’s Metropolitan Police Force.

After graduating from university, William begins a career that will define his life: from his early months on the beat under the watchful eye of his first mentor, Constable Fred Yates, to his first high-stakes case as a fledgling detective in Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiques squad. Investigating the theft of a priceless Rembrandt painting from the Fitzmolean Museum, he meets Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the gallery who he falls hopelessly in love with, even as Beth guards a secret of her own that she’s terrified will come to light.

While William follows the trail of the missing masterpiece, he comes up against suave art collector Miles Faulkner and his brilliant lawyer, Booth Watson QC, who are willing to bend the law to breaking point to stay one step ahead of William. Meanwhile, Miles Faulkner’s wife, Christina, befriends William, but whose side is she really on?

My Friday Post: The Seagull by Ann Cleeves

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.

The Seagull by Ann Cleeves is one of my TBRs, that I should have read as soon as I got it – but didn’t. It’s the 8th book in her Vera series.

Seagull

Prologue

The woman could see the whole sweep of the bay despite the dark and the absence of street lights where she stood. Sometimes it felt as if her whole life had been spent on the half-light; in her dreams, she was moon-lit or she floated through the first gleam of dawn. Night was the time when she felt most awake.

I like the opening of this prologue and I’m wondering how it fits into the story that follows.

Chapter One

John watched the door from his wheelchair and wondered who’d be dragged in to speak to them today. An orderly carried through a mug of tea and left it on the floor beside him, though he must have realized it would be impossible for John to reach it from his chair.

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:

Joe thought all that made sense. He imagined an elderly Robbie Marshall sitting in the sun on the balcony of a Spanish apartment, using a different name, his long nose even redder.

So, three extracts from The Seagull, and I’m wondering how they all fit together? Maybe the blurb will help …

Blurb:

When prison inmate and former police officer John Brace says he’s willing to give up information about a long-dead wheeler dealer in return for protection for his family, Vera knows that she has to look into his claims.

But opening up this cold case strikes much closer to home than Vera anticipates as her investigation takes her back in time to The Seagull, a once decadent and now derelict nightclub where her deceased father and his friends used to congregate.

As Vera’s past collides dangerously with the present, she will have to confront her unwanted memories and face the possibility that her father was involved in what happened. The truth is about to come out but is Vera ready for what it will reveal?

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Anything you do say

Penguin |25 January 2018|358 pages|Paperback|3*

This is a very short post about Anything You Do Say, the second of Gillian McAllister’s books. Walking home alone late one night Joanna is sure the man following her is the man who wouldn’t leave her alone in the bar. She turns to face him and panicking she pushes him away. He falls down the steps leading to the towpath alongside a canal and doesn’t move. What should she do? Should she face the consequences – phone the police and ambulance and wait for them to arrive and  or just leave him there, lying in a puddle and walk away?

Both decisions have consequences and from that point on the book explores what would happen if she revealed or concealed her actions.

At first I found it a bit confusing keeping the two stories separate in my mind, but that soon passed as the chapters are clearly headed Reveal or Conceal.  It’s a dilemma and Joanna is an indecisive character who in both scenarios regrets choosing both reveal and conceal. I really wanted to like this book and although I think it’s well written and the characters, although in the main not very likeable, come across as believable, I found Joanna’s lies and deceit became tedious and the stories dragged on too much for my liking. I think the structure of the book made it seem artificial, more an exercise in morality than a tense thriller or a mystery. 

I prefer her other books that I’ve read –  Everything But the Truth, No Further Questions and The Evidence Against You.  They are all standalone books, so can be read in any order. 

This is on of my TBRs and also one of my 20 Books of Summer books.

A Glimpse of my TBRs

This post was inspired by FictionFan’s Stroll Around her TBR:

The definition…

My TBR is made up of books I own, both paper and e-books, but haven’t yet read, no matter when I acquired them, whereas the books I record for Bev’s Mount TBR Reading Challenge are books that I have owned prior to January 1 2019.

The current total…

I don’t have an accurate figure of the total. I have 387 books currently listed on LibraryThing as TBRs, but that’s not counting the many e-books I have unread on my Kindle!

The target…

I like having books waiting to be read, having books to choose from, so I’m happy to have some TBRs, but just not as many as at present. The difficulty is that I’m adding books more quickly than I’m reading them – the numbers are going up rather than down.  Maybe I should go through them and decide whether to keep them – or not, always hard when I’ve bought them – but maybe those free e-books could go ….

The breakdown…

It’s a mix of mainly fiction with some non-fiction. I like to vary my reading so it’s a mix of genres too. My records aren’t detailed enough to break the numbers down into genres.

The oldest book…

There are two books listed on my LibraryThing catalogue that I’ve owned since 4 February 2007 – A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth and Thomas Hardy: The Time-torn Man by Claire Tomalin. I did start to read both of them years ago, but put them aside for a while – and that’s where they both are.

I bought the Rushforth book as I’d loved his first book, Pinkerton’s Sister, but A Dead Language doesn’t have the same appeal, although I can’t bring myself to the point of actually abandoning it. Whereas I really want to read the Hardy biography …

The newest book…

The Good Daughter by Karen Slaughter

Good Daughter

I haven’t read any of Karin Slaughter’s books, but have wondered if I would like them. After reading Jules’ review of her latest novel, The Last Widow on her blog onemoreword  I decided to try one of her standalone books and bought The Good Daughter. 

The review copies…

Currently standing at 18. The oldest review copy is Blood on the Tracks by Martin Edwards which I acquired from NetGalley on 10 April 2018. It’s a collection of short stories subtitled Railway Mysteries. I’ll be reading it soon as I have included it in my 20 Books of Summer list.

Blood on the tracks

The newest review copy, also from NetGalley, is The House by the Loch by Kristy Wark, due to be published 13 June. It’s a family drama set in Scotland on remote Loch Doon.

House by the loch

The 200th book on the list…

According to LibraryThing that is The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, a book I thought I’d like to read after reading The Brothers Karamazov years ago. I don’t know when I’ll get round to reading it though as it’s nearly 600 pages of small font – an e-book might be more manageable.

The Idiot Wordsworth Classic

Blurb from the back cover:

Prince Myshkin returns to Russia from an asylum in Switzerland. As he becomes embroiled in the frantic amatory and financial intrigues which centre around a cast of brilliantly realised characters and which ultimately lead to tragedy, he emerges as a unique combination of the Christian ideal of perfection and Dostoevsky’s own views, afflictions and manners. His serene selflessness is contrasted with the worldly qualities of every other character in the novel. Dostoevsky supplies a harsh indictment of the Russian ruling class of his day who have created a world which cannot accommodate the goodness of this idiot.

A Selection of the books I most want to read and can’t understand why I don’t just do it…

In no particular order:

(not counting the books on my 20 Books of Summer list or my NetGalley review books)

 

I’d love to look around your TBRs if you fancy having a go too.

 

My Friday Post: Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

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.

The book I’m featuring this week is Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson, one of my TBRs.

Snowblind

The red stain was like a scream in the silence.

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:

Ari Thor picked up the book he had bought, in spite of the promise he’d made to himself to save it until after dinner. He was eking out his small pleasures to keep the boredom at bay. Only a few pages into the book, he realised that he hadn’t taken anything in.

Blurb:

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.

Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life.

An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose.

~~~

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

 

New Additions

May bks 2019

These are my latest additions to my TBR books from Barter Books in Alnwick. From top to bottom:

  • Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister – because I’ve loved other books by her. This is a psychological thriller that has two separate storylines following two paths that Joanna’s future might take.
  • Fire from Heaven: a novel of Alexander the Great by Mary Renault – because this book caught my eye in the historical fiction section and I remember enjoying some of her books years ago. This is the first in her Alexandrian Trilogy.
  • The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, a Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery – because I like Ruth and enjoy these books, even though they are written in the present tense, which I can find irritating. This one is set in Italy.
  • The Sleeping and the Dead by Ann Cleeves – because I love her books. This is one of her earlier books, first published in 2001. It’s a standalone murder mystery featuring Detective Peter Porteous.
  • Christine Falls by Benjamin Black -because I’ve been on the lookout for this book ever since I read Vengeance, the 5th book in his Quirke Mysteries series. This is the 1st book in the series, a murder mystery set in the 1950s in Dublin where Quirke is a pathologist. Benjamin Black is the pen name of John Banville.