Monthly update: November, 2017

Month in review

So this is it, the final countdown to Christmas is one day away – time to dig out the advent calendars and start shopping earnest!  I am officially getting excited (it helps that it has snowed here today, and I love snow).  I’m not sure what the season will do to my reading and blogging but I imagine for a lot of us it will start to slow down as we focus on other things.  November, though was a good reading month (bar a mini-slump half way through).  Here’s what I liked, loved and just weren’t for me this month…

Thieves on the Fens by Joy Ellis

Thieves on the fens

DI Nikki Galena is back and I couldn’t be happier as she is one of my favourite female detectives and the “on the Fens” series, one of my favourites too.

There are some many things to love, including that they all start with a bang, something to make you want to keep reading on.  Here, it’s a call to Nikki from a mysterious man speaking in thieves’ cant, an old fashioned secret code (think cockney rhyming slang).  People, he says are going to die – and he is going to be the one doing the killing.

It all seems linked to a series of burglaries that the team are already working on, though it’s not clear how or what this mysterious man’ (who they nickname Mad Tom) ultimate aim is, other than teach Nikki a lesson.  

Little Boy Blue by M. J. Arlidge

Little Boy BlueI had one word to say after finishing Little Boy Blue – “Wow!”  I’m a huge fan of the series staring Detective Helen Grace anyway but this, for me, has been the best book yet.

Why?  It started off with the murder of a recurring character in a pretty horrific way (not graphic in the blood and guts way but just in a way which must have been terrifying).

He’s someone Helen knows, though the rest of the team aren’t aware, and she does her best to keep it secret.  With a dogged reporter on her case, it’s not that easy though, and it sets her on edge – effecting her relationship with her team (a relationship that tends to be tense anyway as Helen is not the easiest person to work with).

Stacking the shelves: 21st October, 2017

STSsmallOnce again, I’m joining in with Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews and Marlene of Reading Reality for Stacking Shelves, where you share the real and virtual books you have added to your shelves in the last week.

So it had to happen – I fell off the NetGalley wagon!  Only for one book though and – in the way that my brain works – I have decided it doesn’t really count because it’s for a book that isn’t out till next April so there is plenty of time to read and review it (yes, I know, it sounds like an excuse but I think it’s a good one!). 

Tuesday intro: Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon.

tuesdayI’m also joining in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

This week, I am looking to read Moranthology by Caitlin Moran, one of my favourite writers and whose previous book, How to Be a Woman had me laughing out loud.  Here’s what Moranthology is about (well sort of)…

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

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I think I may have to change the layout of my posts, or stop using goodreads to get the “blurbs” as reading the one for The Stolen Marriage, you might as well not read the book because it gives so much away.  So, like with Cold Blood a few weeks ago, I am putting the summary at the bottom of the post – read it if you would like but, for me there, was too much included and too much given away for a plot that had be hanging to the edge of the page all the way through the book.

It’s why I love Diane Chamberlain books so much – she tells tales that are complex and complicated and that I can’t put down.  And, yet again, she hasn’t disappointed me.  In fact, this – for me – was one of the best books of hers I feel like I’ve read in a while and, as I’ve liked everything of hers I’ve ever read, that is saying something.

Why did I enjoy it so much?  First off, the characters.  Central to the story are Tess – a young woman of Italian heritage who has grown up sheltered and certain of the path her life would take – and Henry, the man Tess marries – who is an enigma through most of the book.  He has secrets he can’t share that could mean he’s very good at pretending to be good or is just plain bad.  I decided early on that he wasn’t bad and prayed for the rest of the book I was proved right (you’ll have to read The Stolen Marriage to find out if I was!).

Both Tess and Henry as so well written and so detailed and complex, I believed in them totally, and in all the characters that surrounded them, including Tess’ former fiancé and Henry’s family.  Set in 1944, their behaviours weren’t always one I understood but they felt right for the time and showed just how difficult it is to be yourself in a world and in a society where social mores ruled how everyone (or nearly everyone) behaved.

Then there is the setting – Hickory, a small town in the south, where Baltimore born Tess struggles to fit in, not only for her Italian roots which make her stand out but also because she is one of “those” women, one who wants to be independent – to have her own opinions and (dare I say it) work.  I found out after reading the book Hickory was a real place which Chamberlain had visited and it shows in the way she describes the town, it’s people and it’s places.

The polio outbreak, which is central to the story, is also a real event – one that took place in Hickory – and this is the third reason I loved this book.  It was something I knew nothing about and not only was it interesting for the history buff in me, it also made for an interesting story, one that allowed Tess and Henry’s relationship to change as the book progressed and created a catalyst for what happened to them.

For me, it made for a compelling read, one – as I said at the beginning – I couldn’t put down.  I really can’t find a thing bad to say about it.  I loved it from the first page to the last and can’t recommend it enough.

Now here’s the promised blurb:

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behaviour and save her own life?

Enjoy!

Emma x

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: ebook
Published: 3rd October, 2017
Pages: 384
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own