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.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books Released In the Last Ten Years


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 Favourite Books Released In the Last Ten Years (one book for each year) (submitted by Anne @ Head Full of Books). These ten books I’ve chosen are all 5* books but it’s not been easy choosing just ten as I could have included several other books too for each year. Working back from 2018 they are:

Watching You

2018: Watching You by Lisa Jewell – psychological suspense, someone was murdered, but who was it and why, and just who was the killer?

Fools and mortals

2017: Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell – historical fiction set in 1595 as the players are rehearsing a new play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Good People

2016: The Good People by Hannah Kent – a tale of Irish rural life in the early 19th century, when superstition and a belief in fairies held sway.

ghosts of altona

2015: The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell – a modern Gothic tale as well as being a crime thriller set in Hamburg.

Dark and Twisted Tide

2014: A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton – PC Lacey Flint investigates the murder of a young woman found floating on the River Thames. Terrifying if you have a fear of drowning!


2013: Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin – Rebus had retired but is now back on the police force re-investigating one of his early cases when he was a young Detective Constable.

Secret keeper

2012: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – historical fiction moving between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present, revealing many secrets.


2011: Crucible by S G MacLean – historical murder mystery set in Aberdeen in 1631 when Alexander Seaton stumbles across the body of his friend, Robert Sim, the college librarian.

Long Song

2010: The Long Song by Andrea Levy – historical fiction depicting the lives of slaves in Jamaica just as slavery was coming to an end.

Wolf Hall

2009: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith, and his political rise, the first in a trilogy. The third book, The Mirror and the Light will be published next year.

Top Ten Tuesday: Page to Screen


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 Page to Screen Freebie (Books that became movies/TV shows, movies that became books, great adaptations, bad ones, books you need to read before watching their movie/TV show, movies you loved based on books you hated or vice versa, books you want to read because you saw the movie or vice versa, etc.)

I don’t often enjoy an adaptation if I’ve read the book first, but the other way round works well. So my choice this week includes examples of both.

First film/TV adaptations I saw before I read the books – and I loved both:

The Shining by Stephen King – I saw the film first with Jack Nicolson as Jack Torrance, which terrified me. I remember his crazed face as he rampaged through the hotel, the sense of evil and terror, and I decided that was enough – I wouldn’t read the book. Then later on I changed my mind. An I thoroughly enjoyed the book, picturing the characters as they are in the film.

Gone with the Wind I saw the 1939 film many, many years ago and my memories of it are vague, not much beyond its setting, Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, and a few quotes: ‘Tomorrow is another day‘ and ‘Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn‘. The book, which I read only a few years ago is very readable, although long, and I loved it – still seeing Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Rhett and Scarlett.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I watched the film at my local cinema. The audience laughed, and then sighed at the poignant moments as the film rolled on and even if I couldn’t quite catch all the words I thought it was brilliant. Then I read the book – as good as the film is, the book is even better because there is so much more in it, the characters are so well-defined, so believable, and the tension caused by the contrast between the black maids and their white employers is so appalling that I didn’t want to stop reading.

When we began watching the HBO TV series, A Game of Thrones I was hooked and once we finished watching I immediately wanted to read the series and began with A Song of Fire and Ice George R. R. Martin’s first book in the series. The actors and scenery were perfect for my reading of the book, although there are some differences (the ages of the Stark children for example). I loved both the book and the TV series.

Way back in 2008 I watched The 39 Steps on TV with Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay, so inevitably as I read The Thirty-Nine Steps I could see Penry-Jones as Hannay. The dramatisation, however, although there are similarities, is different from John Buchan’s book. There are a number of historical inaccuracies and some artistic licence was used – none of which I was aware of as I watched the film and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me want to read the book.

Next a couple of films that I watched that have made me want to read the books they are based on, but I’ve yet to read the books:

Lincoln – with Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. The film is loosely based on the biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin – Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. I enjoyed the film so much I just had to buy the book.

I watched The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne playing the part of Stephen Hawking.  It’s adapted from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking. I think it’s a brilliant film and I’m hoping the memoir will be just as good.

Books I read first and then watched the TV version:

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves, a 2006 novel that I read  in 2010, listened to on the radio and watched The BBC adapted Raven Black for television in 2014, as the first and second episodes in the second series of Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez and Brian Cox as Magnus Tait (renamed Magnus Bain). I prefer the book and her later Shetland books although, of course, the locations are beautiful in the TV adaptations.

I loved Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford when I read the book. The TV adaptation disappointed me even with Judy Dench’s wonderful performance as Missy Matty. As I watched it I kept thinking that’s not how it is in the book and that’s because it’s an amalgamation of three books – CranfordMr Harrison’s Confessions and My Lady Ludlow. The cast includes many well known actors and I enjoyed all their performances, although at one point it did feel a bit like spot the stars.

Partners in Crime is a collection of Tommy and Tuppence stories by Agatha Christie. Tommy and Tuppence Beresford first appeared in Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary (first published in 1922) when they had just met up after World War One, both in their twenties. Their next appearance is in Partners in Crime, a collection of short stories, first published in 1929.  I was very disappointed by the TV version, with David Walliams playing Tommy as a bumbling fool and Jessica Raine as a meddling and determined Tuppence. Most of it bore no resemblance to the original.

Top Ten Tuesday: The First Ten Books I Reviewed


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 (First Ten) Books I Reviewed (These do not have to be formal reviews. A small sentence on a retailer site or Goodreads counts, too! Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)

My Goodness

My Goodness:A Cynic’s Short-lived Search for Sainthood by Joe Queenan – the very first one was I wrote was several years before I began this blog – it was on Amazon UK in August 2001. I posted it on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Queenan describes himself as ‘an acerbic, mean-spirited observer of the human condition’ and I found his book amusing and ironic.

The Giant's House

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken the first book I reviewed on my blog in May 2007. I re-posted it again in September 2017 after I’d changed server and some of my early posts hadn’t been imported to the new server. It’s a touching novel about the relationship of Peggy Cort, an introverted librarian and James Sweatt, who she meets when he is eleven years old and who grows up to be the tallest man in the world.

My next four reviews combined in one post. I’ve just shown a snippet from each below:


Daphne by Margaret Forster –  She doesn’t sound an easy person to live with or be related to, but that doesn’t show in her passion for writing and Cornwall.

Dawkins Delusion

The Dawkin’s Delusion? by Alistair McGrath –  an Evangelical Christian who unsurprisingly doesn’t agree with Richard Dawkins!


Blessings by Anna Quindlen, about a baby abandoned outside “Blessings”, a large house owned by Lydia Blessing.

The thirteenth tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, a book I didn’t like much, especially the ending which I thought was contrived.

The next two reviews were longer, also combined in one post, about The Woodlanders and Body Surfing, as I was reading them at the same time. I thought they provided a good illustration of how society has changed over time, both in attitudes to women and to social conventions.

The Woodlanders

The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy is the story of Grace, who had been educated out of her social class and returned to the woodlands, and the interaction between her, her family and Giles, the woodman and Fitzpiers, the doctor, from an aristocratic background.

Body Surfing

Body Surfing by Anita Shreve – full of emotion as Sydney, a 29-year-old woman, who has been once widowed and once divorced  spends a summer tutoring Julie, a teenage girl, in an ocean front cottage in New Hampshire and Julie’s brothers compete for Sydney’s affections.

My next two reviews were both non-fiction – one a memoir and the other a biography:

On trying to keep still

On Trying To Keep Still by Jenny Diski – I loved this book about Jenny Diski’s travels during a year when she visited New Zealand, spent three months in a cottage in Somerset and went to sample the life of the Sami people of Swedish Lapland.


Wilberforce by John Pollock – born in Hull in 1759, William Wilberforce was instrumental in bringing an end to the slave trade in England. The majority of the book is about the twenty years struggle to end the slave trade through legislation, culminating in the passing of the Act of Abolition in March 1807. This made the slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire. He continued to fight against slavery itself right up to his death in 1833.

Looking back at these reviews makes me realise how much blogging has changed what I read – these days I read more crime fiction and historical fiction. But I still like to vary my reading and I still love biographies and memoirs.