The oldest book on the shelf…

Book coverI wrote a few weeks ago about the books I’d owned the longest and had never read (you can read more on that here).  Today, though, I thought I would share the oldest book I own, Poets of the Nineteenth Century, which was written in 1892 (so quite a while ago).

This version was given as a gift in 1894, and there is an inscription on the inside.  It’s one of the things that made me buy the book, I just felt connected to it in a way I might not have with other used books I have picked up.  It’s also one of the reasons that, whilst I’m not so much into poetry as I once was, I can’t bring myself to give it away.Quote

You can blame my sentimentality on the fact that I bought this book when I was a young, impressionable, teen.  I was learning about the romantic poets in school and this hit a chord.  This also makes it the book I have owned the longest – it’s going on 35 years now.

I still have a photo of the day I bought it because we were on holiday and I immediately dived in and started reading it. I was going to share it here but the fashion disaster that I was just won’t let me – sorry!Reading it, I felt transported back in time.  I could have been Lucy Lampert.  Of course, I wasn’t – I could never write that neatly for a start – but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

insideAnd dream I did amongst the beautifully illustrated pages, lost in the words of Cowper, Mary Tighe, Anna Seward, Mitford, and Wordsworth as well as poets I wasn’t familiar with at all and are no longer big name draws.

It’s quite a way away from the type of books I read nowadays, with murder on every page.  Perhaps, though, there were shades of things to come when you look at my favourite poem in the book, one I can still quote today…

IMG_0136

Not the cheeriest of poems – some might even call it morbid, and definitely a clue to where my reading would take me.

What about you, what is the oldest book you own or the book you have owned the longest – have any of them got this beat in terms of age?  or do any give a clue as to your future reading styles?

Emma x

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Black Hornet by James Sallis

14436814A sniper appears in 1960s New Orleans, a sun-baked city of Black Panthers and other separatists. Five people have been fatally shot. When the sixth victim is killed, Lew Griffin is standing beside her. He’s black and she’s white, and though they are virtual strangers, it is left to Griffin to avenge her death, or at least to try and make some sense of it. His unlikely allies include a crusading black journalist, a longtime supplier of mercenary arms and troops, and bail bondsman Frankie DeNoux.

In the Black Hornet, I met Lew Griffin again, a man who the word complex doesn’t go far enough to describe.  In his life, he has been many things – soldier, private investigator, criminal, author – and trouble always seems to come knocking.

The Black Hornet can be read as a standalone, and if you do, you will know non of these things about Griffin because this book takes us back to the beginning, before he was anything but a former soldier trying to make a life in a city that doesn’t seem to care much about any of his residents.

New Orleans in the sixties sounds dirty, and hard, and not a place I would want to be but it suits Griffin and the people he meets perfectly, and it serves as a perfect backdrop for the civil rights movement that is brewing and the way life for black men is changing, but maybe not quick enough.

The setting, and the story, suit the way James Sallis writes to a tee.  He doesn’t waste words, with short sentences, short chapters and short books (this one runs at 150 pages), yet I never feel like I am missing out on anything.  Plot lines move along quickly, we me rushing to keep up and characters appear fully formed and expecting you to know who they are and what they are about.

It took me a while the first book round to get into the style but now I have to say I look forward to it.  I know what I’ll get and I like it.  It reminds me of the way people like Humphrey Bogart talked back in the day and of gumshoe novels.  Simple is the wrong word to describe it, it’s not, but it feels like that on the surface, whilst under it a lot is said and you have plenty to chew on and think about, long after the last page.

Saying all that, I know this book won’t be for everyone.  Most characters don’t have much in the way of descriptions for example, you have to piece people together with the bits you know, which are given sparingly (so LaVerne, Griffins girlfriend starts to form when I find out about her red dress, which he finds hanging up in another mans flat).

Then there’s the fact that the main story isn’t always the main story (to not sound cryptic) because it’s really about the characters and what drives them – usually it’s sadness but with a fair bit of hope thrown in.  When I got to the end here, the who the sniper was part, I was slightly disappointed because it meant the book was over and I didn’t want it to be.  I wanted to stay in New Orleans, seedy as it was, drinking bourbon and shooting the breeze with unsavoury characters.

For me, though, this is another winner from Sallis, who is one of my favourite authors.  This was a great addition to a series with a character I find compelling and with a story I couldn’t put down.  I loved it!

Enjoy!

Emma x

loved-it

 

Source: Purchased
Publisher: No Exit
Publication Date: 11th May, 2012
Format: ebook
Pages: 150
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Other books in the series:

The Long Legged Fly (book 1)

Moth (book 2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: Sometimes I lie by Alice Feeney

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. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesday I also thought I would join in, for the first time, with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two 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.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

And here’s how it starts…

I’ve always delighted in the free fall between sleep and wakefulness. Those precious few semi-conscious seconds before you open your eyes, when you catch yourself believing that your dreams might just be your reality. A moment of intense pleasure or pain, before your senses reboot and inform you who and where and what you are. For now, for just a few seconds longer, I’m enjoying the self-medicated delusion that permits me to imagine that I could be anyone I could be anywhere, I could be loved.

Not sure, here are some teasers to peak your interest…

“When I first start to fall, I forget to be afraid, too busy noticing that the hand that pushed me looked so much like my own.”

and

“The knot in the pit of my stomach tightens as she exits the room.  I hear the door click shut before someone clears their throat.”

What do you think…would you keep reading?

Emma x

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

 

Guiltless by Viveca Sten

The tiny Swedish island of Sandhamn has always been a haven for lawyer Nora Linde. With trouble brewing in her marriage, she finds its comforts more welcome than ever, even in the depths of winter. That is, until her two young sons trip across a severed arm in the woods.

The boys’ gruesome discovery will once again connect Nora with her childhood friend Thomas Andreasson, now a local police detective. When the limb is identified as belonging to a twenty-year-old woman who disappeared without a trace months earlier, what had been a missing persons case takes on a whole new urgency.

Nora and Thomas delve deeply into the woman’s final hours, each of them wrestling not only with the case but with the private demons it awakens in them. As they do, they’ll find themselves drawn into the history of Sandhamn and the tensions that have been simmering just below the surface for more than a hundred years.

Guiltless is my third trip to Sandhamn, a small island off the Swedish coast with a population of only a couple of hundred people but – seemingly – a lot of murder.  I have to say, it sounds beautiful there, but – given the death count – I would think twice before visiting.

This time, the victim is a young girl, missing for months before Nora’s boys find her body. She is an island native (vs. the visitors that flood the island in the summer) and so her death is possibly more shocking than it might have been otherwise and the small community are rocked to it’s core.  The question is why and who?

It’s a question Nora finds herself in the middle of, not just because her sons found the body but because her best friend, Thomas, is investing the case.  Nora and Thomas make an interesting team.  They don’t investigate together as such but they do use each other to bounce ideas off, as well as supporting each other in life in general.

I like their relationship (purely platonic) and both Nora and Thomas as individuals and I think it is this that keeps bringing me back to the series.  They are genuinely nice people, the type I would want to know.  Their friendships seems natural and I can only commend Sten for how well she has created these two people.

Her plots too are pretty good.  There is a simplicity to them when you first start reading but soon the twists start coming and you don’t really know where you are.  Clever.  At the same time, a word that does pop to mind when describing her novels is gentle because you aren’t being beaten over the head with wild card detectives or omnipotent killers.  There is an old fashioned element here, a lot of who dunit and (thankfully) very little in the way of gruesome.

This style fits me perfectly more often now I find.  I don’t like lots of gore with my crime and I am tiring of detectives that go out on their own and don’t listen to anyone else on their team, usually whilst not sleeping, not eating and drinking too much.  There is none of that in Thomas, and I like it.  I also liked the book – a lot – and definitely recommend it (including for those who haven’t read the first two – it’s definitely a standalone).

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Publication Date: 23rd May, 2017 (originally published 2010)
Format: ebook
Pages: 370
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

Other books in the Sandhamn Series…

Still WatersClosed Circles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly update: 18th June, 2017

Weekly updateMorning all and welcome to a truly glorious Sunday where the sun is shining and, as a result, I have to say all feels right with the world.  Plus, it’s father’s day – an excuse for us to eat, drink and get just a little bit merry, which we’ll be doing when my parents come over later today.  It will be a nice end to a rather busy weekend – lots of kid’s activities yesterday plus I very stupidly agreed to make ice-cream for the first time and not using a machine…Mary Berry promised me it was easy (but can you trust her really?).  We haven’t tried it yet so hopefully it will be tasty enough to have been worth the effort.

As for the rest of the week, there isn’t much to report other than I worked, worked and worked some more (sound familiar to anyone?).  I also got some blogging done.  Here’s what I posted…

On Monday, I reviewed My Sister by Michelle Adams, which I liked but didn’t love thanks mainly to not liking the characters.  It’s a debut though so I need to be a little generous here because I think with a few tweaks (for me) it could have been pretty good.

On Tuesday, I introduced my latest read, Guiltless by Viveca Sten, the third in the Sandhamm series which I am very much enjoying, even if a lot of people seem to end up dying on an island that boasts a population of just a few hundred!

On Wednesday, I reviewed Cold Kill by P. J. Tracy, a mother and daughter writing team who have created a great world of characters.  This one wasn’t my usual read in that there were conspiracy theories and international espionage involved but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

On Thursday, I wrote about my habit of judging books by their covers and how it’s not done too badly for me, even though I know it’s something I shouldn’t do.

On Saturday, I shared the books I’d added to my shelves this week – no surprise there is plenty of crime and mystery!

And that’s it for my week.  How was yours, reading and otherwise?

Emma x

 

This week, I’m linking in with Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post and with (a little early) Katherine at Book Date for It’s Monday, What Are you Reading? Head over by clicking on their badges below to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

Stacking Shelves: 17th June, 2016

STSsmallThis week, for the first time, I am 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.

For me this week, they were all virtual….

First up is Buried Secrets by Lisa Cutts, which I jumped at requesting after recently reading Mercy Killing and really enjoying it…I have high hopes for this one.

35227796To most people, Detective Inspector Milton Bowman appears to have an ideal life. But some secrets aren’t buried deep enough.

After a tragic car accident, and a shocking murder, DI Milton’s colleagues have to start digging into every aspect of his life.

Suspicion and disbelief creep into their lives as a web of deceit unfolds – the Bowman family, friends and even colleagues come under suspicion. No one is to be trusted.

Nothing is as it appears.

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

I bought two books, both deals on Amazon (my favourite thing).  First was the monthly deal, which gets good reviews and sounds right up my streets…

33128934Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

Second was a book I have meant to buy for ages but not gotten round to (meaning I’m now behind in what is supposed to be a very good series)…

29997926When catching a killer isn’t enough…

When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn’t stop there. Just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

Finally I had a book come through from the library that had been on hold for a while…

32991958My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Find on: Amazon UK / US / Goodreads

Not much to go on for this one is there?  I don’t remember much about it myself either so I’m hoping that it was worth the wait (it seems to be have been on hold at the library forever!).  Does it grab your eye?  What about the others – have you read them or would you based on the blurbs?

Fingers crossed I enjoy!

Emma x

 

 

Judging books by their covers

I recently commented in a review that I had promised myself I would stop picking up books who had women walking away from me on the covers a) because there are a lot of them and I might never end up reading anything else and b) because a lot of them weren’t as good as I’d hope.

Then, it ended up I really enjoyed the book with that very woman walking away from me and thought it was a really good thing I’d ignored my own advice.  In fact, when I think about it a lot of the best books I’ve read these last few years have been if not flukes but down to my habit of not reading what the book is about but just going “ooh I like the look of that”.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few (clicking on the image will take you too the review)…

32580398   26210512  img_0485-1   image   21899209  image   image     553476  18779898

Of course, it doesn’t always work out the way I hoped it would as the following prove…

32969152  10240235  29713036  30014133  30824457  image

Still, with the law of averages (or other mathematical processes I know little about), I think I’m doing pretty well.  I have more hits than misses, which can’t be a bad thing.

What do you think?  Is is o.k. to judge books by their cover? Do any of these look good enough for you to read without knowing more?

Emma x

 

Cold Kill by P. J. Tracy

29966598

The peaceful Christmas season in Minneapolis is shattered when two friends, Chuck Spencer and Wally Luntz, scheduled to meet in person for the first time, are murdered on the same night, two hours and several miles apart, dramatically concluding winter vacation for homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth.

An hour north of Minneapolis, Lydia Ascher comes home to find two dead men in her basement. When Leo and Gino discover her connection to their current cases, they suspect that she is a target, too. The same day, an elderly, terminally ill man is kidnapped from his home, an Alzheimer’s patient goes missing from his care facility, and a baffling link among all the crimes emerges.

This series of inexplicable events sends the detectives sixty years into the past to search for answers-and straight to Grace MacBride’s Monkeewrench, a group of eccentric computer geniuses who devote their time and resources to helping the cops solve the unsolvable. What they find is an unimaginable horror-a dormant Armageddon that might be activated at any moment unless Grace and her partners Annie, Roadrunner, and Harley Davidson, along with Leo and Gino, can find a way to stop it.

This is the seventh book in the Monkeewrench series, though only the second I’ve read and it can definitely be read as a standalone.  Given the detail in the summary (from Goodreads), there isn’t much I can add without spoilers so I’ll have to settle for saying what I thought of the book itself…which is pretty positive.

There is a lot to like about this book.  I loved the setting, the cold Minnesota winter seems like just the right place for a mystery killer to be on the loose and adds to the tension as blizzards reduce visibility to almost nothing and cars skid down roads, and I loved the characters.

As I mentioned already, I have only read one other book in this series (it was book no. 4) yet I clearly remembered a lot of the central characters, specifically Grace and Harley from the Monkeewrench team.   Entering the pages of Cold Kill was a bit like meeting old friends…you’d pretty much forgot the existed but once you come face-to-face again it was like you’d only seen each other last week.  It felt good.

I also liked the detectives. Leo and Gino are old-school, long-ish in the tooth but determined to do the right thing.  There was a humour in their relationship which lightened a book that had a lot of murder in it.  I found myself smiling more than once at their joking back and forth.

The book itself was well written.  It kept me turning pages and barrelled along at quite a pace.  I have to say that the plot wasn’t one I completely believed in (there is a bit of spy / espionage theme here and those aren’t books I normally read) but I was willing to let that go because of I was enjoying myself too much.   If you can’t tell, I liked this one a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Library
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 17th November, 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 315
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

p.s. This was published as The Sixth Idea in the states

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: Guiltless by Viveca Sten

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. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

This week, I’m reading Guiltless by Viveca Sten, the third in the Sandhamn crime series. I’ve really enjoyed the other two so here’s hoping third time is still a charm.

Here’s what it’s about…

The tiny Swedish island of Sandhamn has always been a haven for lawyer Nora Linde. With trouble brewing in her marriage, she finds its comforts more welcome than ever, even in the depths of winter. That is, until her two young sons trip across a severed arm in the woods.

The boys’ gruesome discovery will once again connect Nora with her childhood friend Thomas Andreasson, now a local police detective. When the limb is identified as belonging to a twenty-year-old woman who disappeared without a trace months earlier, what had been a missing persons case takes on a whole new urgency.

Nora and Thomas delve deeply into the woman’s final hours, each of them wrestling not only with the case but with the private demons it awakens in them. As they do, they’ll find themselves drawn into the history of Sandhamn and the tensions that have been simmering just below the surface for more than a hundred years.

And here’s how it starts…

Saturday, November 4, 2006 Marianne Rosén stood motionless in the hallway. The shoes were all in a heap. She automatically bent down and lined them up neatly. Then she realized Lina’s pale Timberland boots were missing.

The realization terrified her. Why hadn’t Lina come home last night?

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma x

Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

My Sister by Michelle Adams

51W0o7zGjYLTwo Sisters:

You don’t get to choose your family.

She thought she’d never go back home.

But there’s something in her sister’s voice she just can’t refuse.

And hasn’t it always been that way?

What her sister asks, she does . . .

When Irini gets a call from her sister Elle in the early hours of the morning to tell her their mother is dead, Irini isn’t sure what to do or how to respond.  It’s not like she knows her mother…she hasn’t seen or spent time with her since she was three year old and she’s now in her mid-30s.

She hasn’t spent much time with her sister either.  When they were little, they were separated.  Irini went to live with an aunt.  Elle stayed with their parents.  Why was never clear and, now, for Irini, it seems it might be getting too late to ask.  Spurred on by her boyfriend, she decides to attend the funeral, visiting her childhood home in Scotland at the same time to try and uncover the truth.

So far, so good in the interesting plot stakes.  This was a book I liked the sound of for just that and which hooked me in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my attention as the story continued.  In part, it was the characters.  I really didn’t like Irini or Elle.  I found Irini confusing.  She said one thing, did another.  I get that this was supposed to be because she was under Elle’s thrall but I couldn’t see what that was myself.

Irini talks about how charming her sister is but I never saw it.  I saw a woman with issues, who was demanding and controlling and who gets her way because people are scared of her.  I also saw a damaged woman that nobody had ever seemingly taken the time to help.  This is a hard one for me because a bit part of the plot twists here were based on Elle being mentally ill.

I know I read a lot of novels where there is a character that could be described as a psychopath or a sociopath but when a characters behaviour is down to what is basically stated is a mental health condition I start to feel uncomfortable.  I work in the mental health field and this just has stigma written all over it.  I have to say, I don’t think this is Michelle Adam’s intention I think it was just poorly thought out from that perspective.

Perhaps if it had been handled in a different way I would have felt more comfortable reading as the book went on but I just didn’t.  I also didn’t quite get some of the plot twists.  Was Elle evil with a master plot or a disturbed young woman?  And was their a plot at all against Irini?  At times it felt there was, at others not, and in the end I was left confused and slightly disappointed in the outcome.

For me, the book needed to go all out and didn’t.  That said, this is a debut so maybe I shouldn’t be as harsh.  It wasn’t all bad, with a good first third before I started to flag and at times I could see a flash of what could be something great.  I don’t know enough about editing to say whether that was at play here but in my head this could have been tightened up and potentially shone.

All in all, then, I liked it, just not a lot – though from the reviews on goodreads I am in the minority here so don’t let me put you off (you can read the first chapter free on Amazon here if you wanted to see what you think).

Emma x

liked-it-a-little

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads