2017 Discussion Challenge

I love reading book blogs for their reviews, discovering new books as I do, but I also love reading more about the bloggers I follow and their thoughts on reading and all things book related. Occasionally, I share my thoughts to – most often through linky’s but recently through discussion posts. It’s great hearing how people feel about the things I’ve said. These posts, though, beyond the linky’s, are few and far between and one of my blogging resolutions for next year is to write more.

To help me, I’m joining in with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It Start’s at Midnight for their 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge.  Here’s how it works…

2017-discussion-challenge3The 2017 Book Blog Discussion Challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2017 and you can sign up until the very last minute.

There will be a kick-off post on January 1, 2017 on both blogs and monthly after that to post your updates.  There’ll also be monthly giveaways.

The challenge is to help get us discussing books and book blogging, so you can talk about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to book blogging.

Discussions can be book related or book blogging related (or generally blogging related—no discussions about things that are completely off-topic like travel or fashion, etc). Discussions can also be about you personally if it’s a get-to-know-you type post.

There are a number of different levels depending on how much you feel you can accomplish:

1-10 – Discussion Dabbler
11-20 – Creative Conversationalist
21-30 – Chatty Kathy
31-40 – Terrifically Talkative
41+ – Gift of the Gab

I’m not that brave or sure of my abilities to come up with ideas so I’m going for 10 over the year – discussion dabbler.  I’m not going to count linky’s I join in with to try and push myself to be creative in my posts.

Thankfully, I don’t have to say what those posts will be yet so time to get my thinking cap on.  Wish me luck and please head over to either / both blogs to check out who else is signed up and maybe join in yourself.


Tuesday intro: The Missing

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 my Kindle First selection, The Missing by Caroline Eriksson. Here’s what it’s about…

An ordinary outing takes Greta, Alex, and four-year-old Smilla across Sweden’s mythical Lake Malice to a tiny, isolated island. While father and daughter tramp into the trees, Greta stays behind in the boat, lulled into a reverie by the misty, moody lake…only later to discover that the two haven’t returned. Her frantic search proves futile. They’ve disappeared without a trace.

Greta struggles to understand their eerie vanishing. She desperately needs to call Alex, to be reassured that Smilla is safe, or contact the police. But now her cell phone is missing too. Back at her cottage, she finds it hidden away under the bedsheets. Had she done that? Or had someone else been in the cottage? But who, and why?

As Greta struggles to put the pieces together, she fears that her past has come back to torment her, or she’s finally lost her grip on reality…

And here’s how it starts…

The little motorboat slices through the water with the precision of a knife. The sun is low in the sky; it’s getting late on this evening at the end of summer. I’m sitting in the bow, closing my eyes to the water spraying up into my face, fighting against the nausea that churns inside my body and matches the movement of the boat. If only he would slow down a little, I think. And as if he has read my mind, that’s exactly what Alex does. I turn around to face him. He’s sitting in the stern with one hand on the tiller of the outboard motor. His whole being emanates masculinity and control. His shaved head, his clenched jaw, the furrow of concentration on his brow. Men aren’t usually described as beautiful, but that’s what Alex is. I’ve always thought so. And I still do.

What do you think? There is nothing to hint really, maybe other than the last sentence to suggest anything is going to go wrong is there. Would you keep reading to find out more?


Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

cover102265-mediumThe last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.

Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.

While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.

But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.

When Lydia finds her husband in a car with an almost dead prostitute you might expect she would be frightened, scared, angry. You might think that she would do something, anything, to save the girl. You probably wouldn’t expect her to finish the job he started, killing the girl and then getting her husband to bury her in the back garden of their family home.  I am not one for spoilers and, as this happens in the first few pages of the book, I don’t think it’s one.  It does though set you up for a really cracking read, one that doesn’t let you go from the first page.

Told from three different perspectives and over three different periods of time, this is a really clever piece of writing.  It starts with Linda and that fateful night.  You pretty soon realise that she is stronger than her husband, who loves her too much to say no, but also not quite right.  She has to have things her way and doesn’t seem to have any real idea that that way might be the wrong one.  As a character, she is manipulative, deceitful and wicked – I can’t think of another way to describe her behaviour and her impact on those around her.

Next is Karen, the dead girl’s sister.  Karen is convinced something has happened to her sister and determined not to see the bad in her.  She can’t believe Annie would abandon her family and won’t believe she is the drug-addicted prostitute that the press make her out to be.  Missing her sister is her driving force and shapes her life and her decisions. As a character she is a strong woman but she doesn’t always make the best choices.  I liked her and found myself willing her to figure things out, for her and her families sake.

Then there is Laurence, Lydia’s teenage son, who figures out what he thinks is the truth but is unable to tell anyone.  This secret and his relationship with his overpowering mother shapes his life and, like Karen, his decisions (neither are very good at making them if I’m honest).  It also draws him closer than he should ever come to Karen and her family, putting his own at risk.  As a character, I struggled most with Laurence.  I don’t know how he could have ended up any other way given he had Lydia as a mother but I did find myself wanting him to be stronger, braver, more honest with Karen.

All three were so well drawn I was completely drawn into the story, which was also very well written, painting a picture of Ireland during the 1980s that feels a world away from my own (with every day sexism, no divorce and social status still meaning so much).  I felt I was there but was glad I wasn’t.  Not that I knew where I was all the time with the twists the book took and the way it slowly released the truth and revealed Lydia’s long hidden secrets.

Last week I commented about how I had seen the endings coming in books I’d read and how in one case this put me off the book.  There was nothing like that here.  I didn’t see the ending coming at all and it was a great one.  Much better than the one I had in my head and much more twisted.  Avoiding spoilers, I’ll say no more other than I loved this book – highly recommended.



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

Weekly update: 18th December, 2016

Hi all and happy Sunday.  I can’t believe in a week we’ll be opening our presents from Santa.  Another month just flying by! I am quite looking forward to this week though as I only have to work two days and one of those is my team’s Christmas dinner and drinks so it’s not really work at all.  It will make up for this past week which went a bit pear shaped with a last minute two day trip to London and back-to-back meetings.  Not what I had expected to be happening but, on the plus side, a lot was actually accomplished – which I don’t normally say with meetings.  Another plus side was my husband was also in London so we ended up being able to have a rather random “date night” as we had nothing planned and most places we tried to eat at were fully booked with Christmas parties.

It did, however, mean that I didn’t get much time to spend visiting blogs, commenting or responding to comments.  I hope to make up for that this week and apologies if you have commented on a post and I haven’t responded…I am not being rude, just very, very, behind.  I feel like I need to say on the plus side again but on the plus side I did get four posts up because for once I was ahead of the game and two were already written (phew!).  This is what I posted….

On Monday I wrote about how much I loved the library and why (they really are the best thing ever as far as books go)

On Tuesday I joined in with Diana at Bibliophile by the Sea for the Tuesday intro.  This week I’ve gone with a non-fiction book, Wedlock by Wendy Moore which looks at the life of Georgian heiress (and great-great-great-great grandmother to the Queen) Mary Eleanor Bowes – which is proving quite dramatic to say the least.

On Wednesday I posted the first of two reviews, Witness by Caroline Mitchell which I really enjoyed despite feeling quite ambiguous about the central character’s behaviour through most of the book.

On Thursday I wasn’t so lucky with the book I reviewed, Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall.  I don’t know if my expectations were too high after reading some really positive reviews but I just couldn’t get suspend my belief for long enough to get into the story and didn’t gel with the central character.

And then that was it I’m afraid – though, all in all, not too bad at all given how the week ended up (which also meant little reading and no book buying or requesting). How was your week?  Are you counting sleeps to the big day yet?  Just in case, and because it’s the only time of the year I can enjoy these without feeling guilty, I am leaving you with another Christmas song.  This time one that we’ve been practicing for the past month as my daughter had to sing it as her Christmas performance.  Enjoy and have a good week.


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 to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall


Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

When Steph and her husband Mark move to their new house it’s also for a new start.  Pregnant with their second child they are trying to rebuild their marriage after a number of rocky years.  Steph had post-natal depression after the birth of her son, Henry, and Mark responded by having an affair.  Now he promises it is over and things will change.  Only Steph isn’t so sure, especially when Mark up and leaves her for months to work abroad.

Once he is gone, she is left alone with her increasingly negative thoughts and with only her two neighbours, Lila (who reminds her of her best friend living in New York) and Laurence (who she is more than a bit attracted to).  Both seem perfect, friendly, and want to be helpful.  And both seem to be around just when she needs them.

And she needs them a lot because not long after Mark leaves, bouquets of dead flowers start to arrive on her front step, leaving Steph in no doubt her past has caught up with her. The problem is no one else seems to believe her, especially as her behaviour becomes more erratic and she becomes more paranoid.  And that’s because it’s happened before, after Henry was born.

The problem for me was that no one believed her.  Not one person tried to help till the very last pages and when they did she turned them away. And when they didn’t believe her, she didn’t do anything about it but write in her diary.  She didn’t go to the police with her evidence.  Didn’t try to investigate.  Didn’t wonder why her neighbours were there just when she needed them.  And didn’t try to get away.  Half way through this book I wanted to shake Steph and tell her to wake up and see what was happening because to me, as a reader, it was obvious.  By the end I had given up.

I really wanted to like this book.  I’d read some great reviews.  They nearly all included comments about a surprise ending and, I suppose, for this style of book, it was different.  It did leave things open and left you wondering what would happen next.  I can actually see it making a great TV show with a cliff hanger to lead you into season two.  For me, though, it just didn’t do it for me.  I do think it was well written and the characters well drawn but I couldn’t suspend disbelief in the story long enough to really enjoy it.  A shame really but, in the end, whilst I liked this book I can’t say I loved it – sorry!



Witness by Caroline Mitchell

30637470To Rebecca it was a brave decision that led to her freedom from domestic abuse. To Solomon it was the ultimate betrayal.

It’s been ten years since Rebecca’s testimony saw Solomon locked away. Enough time for the nightmares to recede, the nerves to relax; enough time to rebuild her life and put the past behind her.

Then one day a phone rings in her bedroom—but it’s not her phone. Solomon has been in her home, and has a very simple message for her: for each of the ten years he has spent in jail, Rebecca must witness a crime. And, to make matters worse, she has to choose the victims.

Fail to respond and you get hurt. Talk to police and you die. Ready to play? You have sixty seconds to decide…

As the crimes grow more severe, the victims closer to home, Rebecca is forced to confront a past she had hoped was gone forever.

After reading some really good reviews for Caroline Mitchell’s last book I couldn’t resit picking up a review copy of her latest novel, due to be released next week.

Witness starts with a bang – a dark room, a terrified woman, and a dead man lying on the floor – and it doesn’t really stop until the final pages, where Solomon (who has just spent ten years in prison for murdering said man) tries to exact his final revenge on Rebecca (his one time fiancé and one time terrified woman).

It’s a clever story, a twist on the domestic thriller, with Solomon determined to make Rebecca (or Becky as she is now known) pay for putting him in prison.  His approach is ingenious.  She will be a witness again, but this time, a silent one to increasingly violent crimes inflicted on people she knows and cares about.  Determined to keep her family safe, and unware of her past, Becky goes along with his demands, convinced she can find a way out.

However, as the crimes continue and escalate that way out seems harder to find and Becky, who is still fragile despite the new life she has built for herself, gets drawn in and becomes increasingly erratic in her behaviour.  As she does, Solomon, who seems omnipotent and always one step ahead, becomes more vindictive.  Page by page the tension increased to the inevitable confrontation.

I found myself turning the pages at a pace, needing to know what happened next.  I also wanted to know how Becky would find a way out and just how far she would go.  Which is where I have to say I had a slight problem with the book.  I know Becky wanted to save her family but as the crimes become more vicious I also wanted her be a human being and maybe do more to save the victims.  It meant that I wasn’t sure I liked her…and I wasn’t sure at times if maybe she and Solomon didn’t deserve each other.

What saved her in my eyes was her diary entries, which gave an insight into her life with Solomon and the abuse she suffered and which interspersed chapters told by Rebecca (in the fist person) and describing Solomon’s actions (in the third person).  It made her future actions make sense.  It also made me really dislike Solomon.  It was a good way to tell their story then and now and develop them as characters.  A couple of secrets revealed during the diary were really good ones and I didn’t see them coming.

Unfortunately, I did guess the ending – the final twist in the tale – though not till the last third.  I always hate it when that happens as I feel I am reading just to prove myself right. However, here it meant my opinion on the characters changed again and left me feeling a little more ambiguous about both Becky and Solomon as a result.

It also changed my opinion of the book.  Till then, I’d probably say I liked it.  It was well written and, like I said, a clever idea in a genre I read a lot (and can be hard to be original in I think).  Because of the way I felt at the end, however, I’m ending by saying I liked it a lot – a recommended read.



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

Tuesday intro: Wedlock

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 Wedlock by Wendy Moore – with the strapline “How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met His Match”.  So far I’m a hundred or so pages in and I am really enjoying it.  Here’s what it’s about…

6022200When Mary Eleanor Bowes, the Countess of Strathmore, was abducted in Oxford Street in broad daylight in 1786, the whole country was riveted to news of the pursuit.

The only daughter of a wealthy coal magnate, Mary Eleanor had led a charmed youth. Precocious and intelligent, she enjoyed a level of education usually reserved for the sons of the aristocracy. Mary was only eleven when her beloved father died, making her the richest heiress in Britain, and she was soon beset by eager suitors. Her marriage, at eighteen, to the beautiful but aloof Earl of Strathmore, was one of the society weddings of the year. With the death of the earl some eight years later, Mary re-entered society with relish and her salons became magnets for leading Enlightenment thinkers – as well as a host of new suitors keen to court her fortune.

Mary soon fell under the spell of a handsome Irish soldier, Andrew Robinson Stoney, but scandalous rumours were quick to spread. Swearing to defend her honor, Mary’s gallant hero was mortally wounded in a duel – his dying wish that he might marry Mary. Within hours of the ceremony, he seemed to be in the grip of a miraculous recovery …

Wedlock tells the story of one eighteenth-century woman’s experience of a brutal marriage, and her fight to regain her liberty and justice. Subjected to appalling violence, deception, kidnap and betrayal, the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes is a remarkable tale of triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.

And, after that rather long “blurb”, here’s a rather long intro…

London, 13th January 19777

Settling down to read his newspaper by the candlelight illuminating the dining room of the Adelphi Tavern, John Hull anticipated a quiet evening. Having opened five years earlier, as an integral part of the vast riverside development designed by the Adam brothers, the Adelphi Tavern and Coffee House had established a reputation for its fine dinners and genteel company. Many an office worker like Hull, a clerk at the Government’s Salt Office, sought refuge from the clamour of the nearby Strand in the tavern’s first-floor dining room with its elegant ceiling panels depicting Pan and Bacchus in pastel shades.  On a Monday evening in January, with the day’s work behind him, Hull could expect to read his undisturbed.

At first, when he heard the two loud bangs, at about 7 p.m., Hull assumed they were caused by a door slamming downstairs. A few minutes later, there was no mistaking the sound of clashing swords. Throwing aside his newspaper, Hull ran down the stairs and tried to open the door to the ground-floor parlour. Finding it locked, and growing increasingly alarmed at the violent clatter from within from within, he shouted for waiters to help him force the door.  Finally bursting into the room, Hull could dimly make out two figures fencing furiously in the dark. Reckless as to his own safety, the clerk grabbed the sword arm of the nearest man, thrust himself between the two duellists and insisted that they lay down their swords. Even so, it was several more minutes before he could persuade the first swordsmen to yield his weapon.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?