Book blogger hop: the fun side of blogging

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…


What is the most fun part/aspect of being a book blogger?    

So despite the fact that I have to admit that these last few weeks finding time to be a blogger has been hard, it is something I really look forward to doing and think about for more hours a day than I probably should.  Why?  Because it’s FUN…and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.  There are lots of things about it I find fun, and which I could put down here but time is short so here is my top three…

1. Meeting other bloggers, even if only virtually.  I have met some really nice people and found book bloggers to be such a thoughtful, supportive group.  Whilst I do talk about books with family and friends and am in a book club, it never seems enough. Being able to engage with people who love books as much as I do every day is the best.

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2. Continually adding to my to read list.  I know a lot of people find their TBRs overwhelming and I know I have little if any chance of ever reading all the books that are on mine but I don’t worry much about that.  I just know that it’s rare I can’t think of or find a book I don’t want to read nowadays, which makes me happy when I look on my bookshelves or wander round the library.

young woman reading a book sitting on a books pile on the sky
3. Free books, because who wouldn’t love that if they love books? When I first started, I didn’t request any ARCs at all, then I requested too many, now I feel (like goldilocks) my request level is “just right” and I have a nice stack of books I can’t wait to read and which I’m fairly confident for the most part I will enjoy because I have gone for authors I know/love or books I have seen recommended.  It might not be daring but it works for me.

What about you?  What makes blogging fun for you?

Emma x

Note: images Designed by Freepik (clicking on image takes you to site)

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

33210463On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the rooms from which our best-loved novelist quietly changed the world.

This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a ‘life without incident’, but with new research and insights Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster in fact had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.

So before I start this review I should probably admit I am a little bit of a fangirl when it comes to Lucy Worsley.  I love her TV shows and her enthusiasm for her subjects.  She is a must-watch for me and now a must-read with Jane Austen at Home, which I loved.

One of the reasons I loved it was that it made Austen accessible.  I know very little about her life and have tried to read a few biographies in the past but I found them dry.  Here, Austen came alive to me, with her life told through the places she lived and the people she lived with.

Of the places, there were quite a few and not all as I might have imagined in my mind.  After the retirement and then death of her father, for many years Jane and her sister Cassandra (as spinsters) and their mother were basically homeless, moving from house to house and relying on family members to put them up or pay their rent.

Some of these places were grand indeed, others not so much with some being described as cold, dark and damp – not necessarily conducive to writing some of the greatest novels I’ve ever read. But then life for Georgian women wasn’t conducive in general to writing other than letters.

There were domestic chores, a lot, and household management to deal with as well as the perception that their job was to grow up and get married.  Women who wrote weren’t looked up to but often looked down upon and Jane lived most of her life as a writer anonymously, only coming out of the shadows later on when her books had become popular.

One of the things Jane did have on her side though was her family, who not only provided her with a place to live but supported her in her writing.  It was her father who bought her her writing desk and initially acted as her agent (before this role was taken up by her brother) and her sister Cassandra was her life-long best friend who took up more than her fair share of chores to allow Jane time to write.

There were still family politics (when are they not?) but for the most part Jane seems to have had a loving, caring, family and this was nice to read about, making her seem human and not just a slightly mythical figure, sat alone at her desk.  Worsley manages to make Jane a real person, someone with a great sense of humour (often quite wicked) who likes to enjoy herself (money permitting).

What she also shows is a woman who knows her own mind and stands by her decisions, including not to marry (unfortunately, it isn’t completely clear if her writing drove this decision, though it seems likely to have, as so much of her life is known through letters and her sister destroyed a lot of these).

At the end of this book, I found that, for me, Austen is a woman to be admired and one who is not now as cold and mysterious as she first appeared.  Perhaps this will not be such a surprise to Janeites and the like, but I think it will be too many, all of whom I hope read, learn from, and enjoy this book.

Emma x

loved-it

Source: Netgally
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd
Publication Date: 18th May, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 352
Genre: non-fiction
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading The People at Number Nine by Felicity Everett, which it felt like I was seeing everywhere not so long ago and really peaked my interest.   Here’s what it’s about…

32600066Have you met them yet, the new couple?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

And here’s how it starts…

Sara’s gaze drifted toward the window.  It was dark outside now, and she could see her own reflection superimposed like a hologram on the house across the road. Their curtains were half-closed but the cold blue flicker of the TV could just be seen.  She imagined Gavin lounging in the Eames chair with a glass of red, Lou lolling barefoot on the sofa. They might be watching an art-house movie together – or perhaps just slumming it with Saturday night telly. It was all too easy to conjure – the flea-bitten heath rug, the aroma of Pinot Noir mingled with woodsmoke. Even after everything that had happened, the scene still had allure.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

Weekly update: 21st May, 2017

Weekly update

Morning all and happy Sunday.  I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.  Ours has been sunnier than the weatherman led us to believe. which was wonderful.  Today promises more of the same so we’re off to the seaside in a bit to enjoy it…I quite fancy a bag of chips walking along the seafront today vs. our usual Sunday lunch.  Nice and unhealthy!  What are you up to today?

For the rest of the week, it was a mixed bag and – as usual – work got in my way a little bit.  I feel like I dropped off the radar mid-week due to deadlines and so haven’t been visiting or commenting on people’s blogs the way I would normally.  Hopefully, I’ll be back to normal this week.  In the meantime, I did manage to get some posts up, mainly because they were already drafted.  Here’s what I wrote…

On Monday, I posted my review of Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts, a thoroughly enjoyable police procedural where the team is front and centre vs. a lone detective risking life and limb.  A bit different for me but in a good way.

On Tuesday, I introduced my latest read, Forgotten by Nicole Trope, though it’s a review copy I won’t be reviewing until July. With a case of a missing child, it won’t be everyone’s choice of book but I couldn’t resist starting it though after enjoying last years Blame so much.  Plus, it’s she’s one of the authors I challenged myself to read more of in 2017 so it’s a win here too.

On Wednesday, I reviewed Dead Calm by Inge Löhnig, a German translation which I thought would be darker than it was but was really good nonetheless.  Here a Dr. is found brutally murdered…with his family lining up to be the main suspects, leading to plenty of twists and turns.

On Friday, I reviewed Viral by Helen Fitzgerald, which puts one of the nightmares of our modern age front and centre when a young girls sexual distraction goes viral on the internet.  A ripped from the headlines story that had me turning the pages and wondering if I should cancel my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

And that’s it for me, though I was also lucky enough to get a few review copies in to replace the books I’d read. One randomly turned up in the post…

51W0o7zGjYLMy name is Irini. I was given away.

My name is Elle. I was kept.

All her life Irini thought she was given away because her family didn’t want her. What if the truth is something worse?

Two sisters. Two separate lives.

One family bound by a harrowing secret.

The second I was lucky enough to be asked to review after enjoying the authors last outing (Deliver Her)…

51DtlH7OsaLAfter a childhood as unpredictable as the flip of a coin, Faith Sterling has finally found her comfort zone in the kitchen of an upscale Manhattan restaurant. A workaholic chef, at least there she’s in control. So when her free-spirited and often-gullible mother, Connie, calls to announce that she’s won a bed-and-breakfast on the Jersey Shore, Faith’s patience boils over. Convinced the contest is a scam, she rushes to Wave’s End to stop Connie from trading her steady job for an uncertain future.

 

clicking on covers will take you to amazon.

And that’s it for me.  How about you, how was your week, 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

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

27409074So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

Viral’s opening is pretty shocking and pulls no punches.  In a way, it feels ripped from the headlines (and possibly was?), with the story of a young woman getting caught on camera doing things that she normally wouldn’t.  However, on a girls holiday in Magaluf and fuelled by drinks and drugs, her defences were down and – as we all know nowadays – it doesn’t take long for someone to get out a phone and start recording.  And, once it was on the intranet, there is no going back.

This book just reminded me of everything I hate about the internet (which sometimes seems to overwhelm the good in it).  It shows people to be shallow, selfish and mean and just how little recourse there is for people who are it’s victims.  That’s certainly the case for Su and her family, all of whom feel the impact and all of whom come under the spotlight.

That one moment in time might be remembered forever and impact on everything you do (or can do) for the rest of your life is scary and Helen Fitzgerald makes that loud and clear and has made me think twice about everything I do online. I absolutely felt for Su and her family as their lives spiralled as a result.  After my shock, I started to feel despair.  Would any of them every be the same again?

Then there is light at the end of the tunnel (which won’t be shared for spoilers) and that made me happy.  Life, it seems, does go on and from adversity we often appear stronger and wiser. It all brought the story full circle.  I do have to wonder if in real life there would have been such a happy ending (there are a few plot leaps that make this happen and they don’t seem that based in reality but, hey, this is fiction) and that wonder has put a slight shadow over the book, but only a bit.

After my last outing with Helen Fitzgerald (The Exit), which didn’t go very well for me, this has restored my faith in an author who, for me, comes up with different storylines and strong, interesting characters.  This book was short (272 pages) and perfectly formed.  I really enjoyed it and think it’s a must read.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Library
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: February, 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 272
Genre: thriller, suspense, general fiction
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

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Dead Calm by Inge Löhnig

51NLOhDy8bLWhen the body of a retired paediatrician is discovered in his weekend house on Lake Starnberg, it seems clear that his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. But as Inspector Konstantin Dühnfort starts to investigate and details of how the man met his death are revealed, an altogether murkier series of events begins to emerge – one of torture, betrayal and cruelty, of complex sibling relationships and toxic parental ambition. With a family ripping at the seams, will Dühnfort be able to uncover what really happened?

I was excited to read Dead Calm not just because it sounded right up my street but because it would be my first crime novel set in Germany.  I am a big fan or Nordic Noir and crime fiction so wondered how this would compare.  In a nutshell – really well.

In many ways, it’s similar – it’s dark and gritty – though I have to say German life doesn’t seem quite as structured or controlled.  There is much more eating, drinking and seeming to enjoy life here.  Not too much though because there is murder afoot and a murderer to be found.

In this case the victim is a respected and semi-retired paediatrician Dr. Heckeroth, who is found rather gruesomely in his lakeside cabin by his son, Albert. Albert was the apple of his eye and chosen child – with the other two (Caroline and Berstram) being ignored for the most part.  It’s an interesting and potentially explosive family dynamic which plays out as the investigation progresses and which I think Lohing uses to good effect to bring the story and the characters to life.

They also do a brilliant job with the detective’s, led by Dühnfort and supported by Gina and Alois.  Dühnfort and Gina especially are really well drawn, with enough of their personal life to make me like and care for them.  Much like my Monday read (Mercy Killing) this was very much a team effort.  Dühnfort relies on his instinct a lot but doesn’t go off on his own, working with others to get results.  I like this and it is a good change for me and my recent reads where detectives tend to go off on their own.

The story itself is full of twists and turns and I wasn’t sure till close to the end who did it (I was right – yay!). It isn’t the fastest of paced books though.  Instead, I would say it was steady.  I never lost interest and I never got bored but I didn’t feel the overwhelming urge I have with other books to stay up late or keep turning pages.  This might not be a surprise as it runs to nearly 450 pages.

I thought it was well written and well translated.  I liked getting to know each character, none of which I didn’t like to a degree (even the bad apples had redeeming features), and learning a little more about life in Munich, which sounds lovely despite the subject matter.  I am not sure if this is part of a series or the first in one, but I’ll definitely be looking out for more.  Liked it a lot!

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Manilla Publishing
Publication Date: 18th May, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 448
Genre: crime, mystery
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.

Tuesday Intro: Forgotten by Nicole Trope

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. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week I’m reading Forgotten by Nicole Trope, an author I have only read once before but promised myself I would read again this year. Lucky me, she has a new book out in July and I managed to get a review copy.  To say I’m excited is an understatement and, whilst I won’t be able to post a review for a month or so, I couldn’t wait that long to read it.  Here’s what it’s about…

51j92jJ6+dLA moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

And here’s how it starts…

8:00 am

The bowl spins across the floor, ricochets off the cabinet and shatters into pieces, showering Coco Pops over every square foot of the kitchen.  Malia watches as her five year old son, Aaron, stamps his feet, crushing the cereal into dust.

What do you think – not much to go on and not much to hint of the story to come…would you keep on reading?

Emma

Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

31129137The death of a local sex offender places the police officers at East Rise incident room under immense pressure – they must treat this case like any other murder, but they know what Albie Woodville did and can feel little sympathy. Except, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear this isn’t just a one-off killing – someone is out for revenge …

So, despite the fact I promised myself I would stop picking up books that show a woman walking away from me (there are soooo many of them!), I did it with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts when I came across it at my local library.  I really can’t help myself!

Mercy Killing is a police procedural that feels real – no doubt because Lisa Cutts is a detective constable when she isn’t writing pretty good pieces of crime fiction (and has been for 20 years).   It also feels different, at least for me when I compare it to the books I’ve been reading lately.  First, the lead detective wasn’t a woman but rather a grumpy old man (Harry), one who had been a police officer for a long time and who is feeling world weary.

Second, investigating this crime seemed like a real team effort.  Harry wasn’t a man out to prove himself or with demons to fight (though he is fighting with his wife a fair deal – no police officers life can be perfect it seems).  He didn’t rush into situations without thinking, putting himself in danger as a consequence.  And he wasn’t a one man band.  He had his team do the work they were being paid to do and he did what he was being paid to do – lead them.

At first, this idea of a team all working together threw me a little but I pretty soon feel into the flow of moving between characters and started to enjoy getting to know them.  They were all interesting and all pretty strong, which they needed to be given not so much the crime they were investigating but the victim, a paedophile. Albie Woodville is a nasty piece of work and it’s probably not a surprise some officers wondered if they shouldn’t be shaking the hand of the man – or woman – who had killed him.

I’m not sure enjoyed is the right word here but for want of a better one, I enjoyed seeing how each officer responded to the victim and his crimes, how it affected them on a professional and personal level.  I also enjoyed getting to see the inner workings of the force and the way the investigation played out.  It did make for a slower pace than some other police procedurals I’ve read but I can’t say I minded it.  I didn’t get bored and my mind didn’t wander so there are no complaints here.

I have read this is the start of a new series for Lisa Cutts – who I haven’t read before – and I have to say I think she’s set a great scene.  An area (East Rise) that seems just dark enough to have some interesting criminals living in it and a cast of characters that feel like they all have more to live.  I’ll be looking out for the second book (due August I think) and would definitely recommend this book. Liked it a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lotSource: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 1st September, 2016
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Weekly update: 14th May, 2017

Weekly update

Morning all and welcome to another Sunday.  I hope you’ve had a good week / weekend.  My week was a bit same old same old with work (I really should by shares in Virgin I spend so much time on their trains!) but also a bit shorter than usual as I had Friday off and got to spend the night with some really good friends.  It was just what I needed to recharge my batteries and a reminder I should do those type of things more often.

I also experienced one of those it could only happen to me occasions where the sink in my hotel room started to basically gush water from the overflow pipe and flooded my hotel room.  It’s something that isn’t easy to describe and was rather bizzare to see. Thankfully it happened before I went out and they did change my room but the next morning when I was leaving (early because a fire alarm had woken me up at 6 – I know!) the whole of the corridor was also flooded.  A story to tell the grandkids.

Anyhow’s back to blog related things – here’s what I posted last week…Read More »

Book blogger hop: second chances?

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

If you read a book you ended up hating, would you stay away from future books by that author, or would you give them a second chance?

My initial reaction to this was to say stay away but then I took a second to think about how many books I would classify under hated and I’m not sure there are any.  Maybe this is because if I really, Really, REALLY, don’t like a book then I stop reading it and then don’t give it much thought.

If I think about the way I review books though, saying how I feel versus a star rating, I do have be books that I say are not for me.  For others these would be one star reviews or maybe the books they don’t finish.  It’s probably the nearest I could get to hating a book.

Writing this post, I took a look back at those with the not for me rating and wondered, would I pick up this aft or that author again? And the answer was no, I wouldn’t. There wasn’t one instance where I thought, I could give the author another go.  So, whilst I never say never and a brilliant review or recommendation might change my mind, for now my answer is I would stay away.

What about you? Do you believe in second chances?

Emma