Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Books That Keep Getting Left on the Shelves


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: Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why – (maybe you’re scared of it, worried it won’t live up to the hype, etc. I don’t have any books that I’m scared of reading or am worried about in any way.

So, this week I’ve adapted the topic to suit me and it is:

TBR books that I keep leaving on the shelves – including books on my Kindle. These books have not seen the light of day for ages as they’re from the back of my double shelved bookcases or from the depths of my Kindle, or I’ve not read them yet just because they are so long that I choose a shorter book to read in preference, or because I’m reading newer books or review books.

From the black hole that is my Kindle.

These are books I’ve forgotten I downloaded:

  • Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature: the monarch butterflies have not migrated south for the winter this year.
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton – set in 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes.
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Gosh – an epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, an old slaving-ship, the Ibis is crossing the Indian Ocean, its crew a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.
  • The One I Was by Eliza Graham – Rosamond Hunter is full of guilt about her involuntary role in her mother’s death. When her nursing job brings her back to Fairfleet, her childhood home, to care for an elderly refugee, she is forced to confront the ghosts that have haunted her for so long.

Forgotten books, some from the back of my bookshelves:

TBRs Sept 2019

  •  Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan – On an ill-fated art expedition of the Southern Shan State in Burma, eleven Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a Christmas morning tour – and disappear. (Hidden at the back of my bookshelves.)
  • The Book of Love by Sarah Bower, set in the late 15th/early 16th centuries historical fiction about the Borgias. (Hidden at the back of my bookshelves.)
  • World Without End by Ken Follett – Book 2 of 3 in the Kingsbridge series. I’ve read book 1, Pillars of the Earth. World Without End is set two centuries later  beginning in the year 1327. You can see in my photo above just how chunky this book is – 1237 pages in a very small font. Need I say more about why I haven’t read it yet!
  • Slipstream: a Memoir by Elizabeth Jane Howard – I love her Cazalet Chronicles, which is why I want to read this book. Why I haven’t yet is a mystery!
  • The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff – a WWII love story, part thriller and part romance. This book turned up in the post one day from the publishers, unsolicited by me, which is probably why I haven’t read it yet.
  • Small Wars by Sadie Jones – This is historical fiction set in Cyprus in the 1950s as the EOKA terrorists are fighting for independence from Britain and union with Greece. (Hidden at the back of my bookshelves.)


Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Seaside Connection


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: It’s a ‘freebie this week and so inspired by the new edition of Jane Austen’s Sanditon I’ve chosen Books with a Seaside connection. I am spoilt for choice but here are just ten of them (I have plenty more). Most of them are crime fiction:

  • Sanditon by Jane Austen – possibly the first seaside novel, set in the fictitious Sanditon, a place on the Sussex coast between Hastings and Eastbourne.
  • A Cure for All Diseases by Reginald Hill – I have to include this both because I love Hill’s books and because he was inspired to write it by Sanditon. He set this Dalziel and Pascoe mystery in Sandytown, a pleasant seaside resort devoted to healing.
  • I Found You by Lisa Jewell – Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home. But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?
  • Evil Under the Sun Poirot is on holiday in Devon staying in a seaside hotel – a seaside mystery. Sun-loving Arlena Stuart lies, stretched out on the beach, face down. But she wasn’t sunbathing – she had been strangled.
  • Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers. Harriet Vane is on a walking holiday when she comes across a dead man, his throat cut from ear to ear, lying on the top of a rock, called locally the Flat-Iron, on a deserted beach.
  • Gently by the Shore by Alan Hunter George Gently is called in to investigate a murder in Starmouth, a British seaside holiday resort. An unidentified body was found on the beach. The victim was naked, punctured with stab wounds.
  • The House at Seas End by Elly Griffiths – Ruth Galloway investigates the discovery of the bones of six people, found in a gap in the cliff, a sort of ravine, where there had been a rock fall at Broughton Seas End. Seas End House stands perilously close to the cliff edge above the beach.
  • The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett, set in a fictitious village on the south coast of England. It’s the first in the Fethering mystery series, in which Carole and her neighbour Jude investigate the murder of man found dead on the beach.
  • The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch – As the title suggests, the sea plays a major role in the book. When Charles Arrowby retires from his glittering career in the London theatre, he buys a remote house on the rocks by the sea. He hopes to escape from his tumultuous love affairs but unexpectedly bumps into his childhood sweetheart and sets his heart on destroying her marriage.
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan,  set on Chesil Beach on the Dorset coast where a newly married couple struggle to suppress their fears of their wedding night to come.

Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d Like to See More Of

I’m a day late with this post!

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 topicSettings I’d Like to See More Of. One of the joys of reading is that you can be transported in time and place to anywhere in the world. I love to read about places I’ve visited as well as those I never have.

Places I’ve visited:

Wales is one of my favourite countries within the UK. . I Bought a Mountain by Thomas Firbank is just one of the books I’ve read, set in Snowdonia, or more precisely the Dryffyn Valley where on the south slopes of the Glyders Thomas Firbank bought a sheep farm in 1931. It’s a book that made me want to move to Wales immediately. 

Oxford – the City of Dreaming Spires is one of my favourite places and is captured in Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books. The Dead of Jericho (not the Jericho in Israel, although I have been there too – I haven’t read any books set in that Jericho) is an area of Oxford near the Oxford Canal, just outside the original Oxford City wall. It was originally a place for travellers to rest if they had reached the city after the gates had closed

Martin Edwards’s Lake District Mystery series  are novels based in various locations in the Lakes, one of the most beautiful areas of England – one of my favourites is The Arsenic Labyrinth in which Edwards explains that although the crime scene is imaginary, arsenic was mined at Caldbeck.

Appin between Oban and  Ballachulish is in a beautiful area of Scotland. Castle Stalker, a 15th century tower house built by the Stewarts of Appin is on a small island in Loch Linnhe, just north east of Port Appin. It’s the setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped, a fictionalised account of the “Appin Murder” of 1752.  Castle Stalker is the location of Castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Cairngorms are in another beautiful part of Scotland. A book that tells of real-life mountain rescues is Cairngorm John by John Allen who was a Team Leader in the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. ‘Cairngorm John’ was his call sign when in contact with Search and Rescue helicopters.

Cambridge – there must be many books set in Cambridge, but the only one I’ve read in recent years is Ninepins by Rosy Thornton set in the Cambridgeshire Fens. I’ve visited Cambridge, but not the Fens, but I learnt a lot about them in this book.

Rome – I’ve been there a few times inspired by my love of history, reading about Ancient Rome, for example in Colleen McCullough’s Master’s of Rome series of novels, and more recently in Mary Beard’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome.

Paris – I have plenty of books set in Paris to choose from, including Simenon’s Maigret books, Claude Izner’s Murder on the Eiffel Tower set in 1889 when the Tower was newly opened, but my favourites have to be Fred Vargas’s Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg novels. The first one, The Chalk Circle Man is set in Paris where strange blue chalk circles start appearing on the pavements.

Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, Italy – Robert Harris’s novel, Pompeii begins just two days before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and builds up to a climax. A wonderful book.

Places I haven’t visited but would love to are:

Shetland Isles – to see in person the locations shown in the BBC TV Shetland series based on Ann Cleeves Perez novels with their beautiful descriptions of the landscape, conveying a real sense of place. They are all excellent, an example is Dead Water, the fifth in the series.

Another place I’d love to visit is Venice. I’ve read a few books set in Venice and amongst them are Donna Leon’s excellent Commissario Guido Brunetti detective series, for example in Drawing Conclusions. Venice comes to life for me in the descriptions of the locations. I want to read more of these books and am on the lookout for other books set in Venice.

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors


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: Auto-Buy Authors. These days I don’t automatically buy books by any of my favourite authors, but I do add them to a list of books to check with a view to buying or borrowing them. The ten authors listed below are just the tip of the iceberg of my favourites.

I’ve included a book for each author to illustrate their work, but I’ve enjoyed all their books! They are a mix of crime fiction and historical fiction.

  1. Kate Atkinson – When Will There Be Good News?
  2. Sharon Bolton – Blood Harvest
  3. Tracy Chevalier – At the Edge of the Orchard
  4. Ann Cleeves – Raven Black 
  5. Martin Edwards – The Golden Age of Murder
  6. Jane Harper – Force of Nature
  7. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
  8. Ian Rankin – Saints of the Shadow Bible
  9. C J Sansom – Tombland
  10. Andrew Taylor – The King’s Evil

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer 2019 TBR


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: Books On My Summer 2019 TBR. As I’m taking part in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge I’ve included some of the books I’ve identified for that challenge together with a few other books. Some of these books are ones that have been on my TBR list for ages and some are more recent additions from NetGalley.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

I’m really keen to read this one! I’m hoping it’ll be just as good as her last two books that I’ve read recently.  In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up. In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. They’ve been dead for several days. Who has been looking after the baby? And where did they go?

Blood on the Tracks edited by Martin Edwards, one of the British Library Crime Classics – a collection of short stories of railway mysteries. Short stories are not always my favourites which is one reason I’ve had this selection for a while now, although I have read the first story, The Man with the Watches by Arthur Conan Doyle – not a Sherlock Holmes mystery. 

An Advancement of Learning by Reginald Hill, the second Dalziel and Pascoe book. I’ve read some of the later books in the series and am now going back to the early ones that I haven’t yet read.  A body is discovered when a statue is moved at  a college.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – I bought thus book five years ago and started to read it at the time, only to put it to one side and then forgot about it. It follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again.

The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley – the fifth Seven Sisters book. This is one of my more recent TBRs. It looks very interesting as it moves from the Scottish Highlands and Spain, to South America and New York as Tiggy follows the trail back to her own exotic but complex past.

Becoming Mrs Lewis by Patti Callahan, subtitled The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. I first read C S Lewis’s biography Surprised by Joy many years ago, and since then have read several of his other books and cried watching the film Shadowlands. So I’m very keen to read this book.

Who Killed Ruby? by Camilla Way, a psychological thriller, in which a family is trapped in a nightmare. In the kitchen, a man lies dead on the blood-soaked floor. Soon the police will come, and they’ll want answers. I haven’t read any of Camilla Way’s other books, so I don’t know what to expect.

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susanna Stapleton, a book that blurs the margin between possible truth and impossible invention. ‘Maud West’ was a real lady detective, working in the early 20th century. It is part biography, partly the story of Stapleton’s research and part social history.

The Rose Labyrinth by Tatania Hardie. I can’t remember where I got this book from, but   I entered it in my LibraryThing catalogue eight years ago! It doesn’t have sparkling reviews, so I’m hoping I’ll like this story of a quest to solve the riddles set by Elizabethan spy and astrologer John Dee.

The House by the Loch by Kirsty Wark, a family saga, set in the beautiful Scottish countryside, a tale of a family drama and secrets refusing to lie buried in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed her first novel, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle. I have high expectations that I’ll enjoy this one too.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read any of these books, or are thinking of read them, especially if you have read The Rose Labyrinth.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019


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: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019. 

Beneath the Surface by Fiona Neill – 11 July

After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone’s golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace’s carefully ordered world begins to unravel.

The Bear Pit by S G MacLean – 11 July

The 4th book in the Seeker series, set in London in 1656, Captain Seeker is back in the city, on the trail of an assassin preparing to strike at the heart of Oliver Cromwell’s Republic.

The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox – 11 July

The third book in the DC Aidan Waits series, set in Manchester. As a series of rolling blackouts plunge the city into darkness, Waits sits on an abandoned hospital ward, watching a mass murderer slowly die. Transferred from his usual night shift duties and onto protective custody, he has just one job … to extract the location of Martin Wick’s final victim before the notorious mass murderer passes away.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane – 8 August

A gripping and compassionate family drama set between neighbours in suburban New York – Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours. Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 8 August

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up. In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note. They’ve been dead for several days. Who has been looking after the baby? And where did they go?

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory – 20 August

Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament.  The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.

Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband.  Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas – 20 August

This is the 9th in the Commissaire Adamsberg seriesWhen three elderly men are poisoned by spider venom, everyone assumes that the deaths are tragic accidents. But at police headquarters in Paris, Inspector Adamsberg begins to suspect that the case is far more complex than first appears.

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry – 29 August

Edinburgh, 1850. Despite being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson – a whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris – 5 September

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

The Institute by Stephen King – 10 September

Deep in the woods of Maine, there is a dark state facility where kids, abducted from across the United States, are incarcerated. In the Institute they are subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their exceptional gifts – telepathy, telekinesis – for concentrated effect.

Luke Ellis is the latest recruit. He’s just a regular 12-year-old, except he’s not just smart, he’s super-smart. And he has another gift which the Institute wants to use…

Top Ten Tuesday: Books From My Favourite Genre


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: Books From My Favourite Genre.

The first thing is to decide which genre is my favourite! Jana says: Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! So that’s what I’m going to do.

This has been a very difficult post to write and I could have spent days trying to decide which genres and books to choose. But I’ve come up with these ten books (although I could easily have picked a different ten on another day) – a combination of crime fiction, historical crime fiction and two autobiographies.

I’m starting with the easy and for me the obvious choice – Agatha Christie: An Autobiography. It took her fifteen years to write it. She stopped writing it in 1965 when she was 75 because she thought that it was the ‘right moment to stop’. As well as being a record of her life as she remembered it and wanted to relate it, it’s also full of  her thoughts on life and writing.

Her archaeological memoir, Come Tell Me How You Live is also a fascinating book writing about her life with her husband, Max Mallowan, excavating the ancient sites at Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak and other sites in the Habur and Jaghjagha region in what was then north western Syria. Sadly the places she loved are no longer the same!

Next three of my favourite crime fiction novels:

The Falls by Ian Rankin – this is the 12th Rebus book and is one of my favourites in the series.  A university student Philippa Balfour, has disappeared.  DI Rebus and his colleagues have just two leads to go on – a carved wooden doll found in a tiny coffin at The Falls, Flip’s home village, and an Internet game involving solving cryptic clues.

I’m cheating a bit with my next choice – Andrew Taylor’s trilogy, Fallen Angel (The Roth Trilogy, made up of The Four Last Things,  The Judgement of Strangers  and The Office of the Dead. It’s a chilling murder mystery about the linked histories of the Appleyards and the Byfields. The books work backwards in time, with the first book being the last chronologically, set in the 1990s, and each book works as a stand-alone, self-contained story. 

A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell – a murder mystery in which you know from the start who the murderer is from the opening sentence, Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write. And as the reasons for killing them become clear, the tension builds relentlessly.

Finally historical fiction – two of them historical crime fiction:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. William of Baskerville is a Franciscan monk in a monastery in Italy in the 14th century, where a number of his fellow monks are murdered. Not everyone likes this book but I love the way it combines so many genres – historical fiction, mystery, and theology and philosophy.

Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom. I love Sansom’s 16th century crime thrillers, but Winter in Madrid is brilliant – an action packed thrilling war/spy story and also a moving love story and historical drama all rolled into this tense and gripping novel. It’s set in 1940 when Harry Brett, traumatised by his injuries at Dunkirk is sent to Spain to spy for the British Secret Service.

And three historical fiction novels:

The Hunger by Alma Katsu is a story about the Donner Party, comprising pioneers, people who were looking for a better life in the American West. They formed a wagon train under the leadership of George Donner and James Reed making their way west to California in 1846. With hints of the supernatural and Indian myths it becomes a thrilling, spine tingling horrific tale.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. His writing conjures up such vivid pictures and together with his use of dialect I really felt I was there in America in the 1930s travelling with the Joad family on their epic journey from Oklahoma to California in search of a better life. It’s a tragedy – their dreams were shattered, their illusions destroyed and their hopes denied.

A Whispered Name by William Brodrick, his third Father Anselm novel about the First World War and the effects it had on those who took part, those left at home and on future generations. Father Anselm discovers the truth about the trial of a deserter, Joseph Flanagan, at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 and Father Herbert’s part in it. It is one of the best books I’ve read.