Favourite female detectives

Female detective with magnifying glassSo it’s no secret I love a good detective story.  I read them a lot.  And favourite amongst them are probably ones with strong female leads.  I can’t resist a feisty woman with plenty to say who isn’t afraid to say it or stand by her words.

Not that I would want the histories a lot of these women have but I do admire their guts and, occasionally, wouldn’t mind being them.  Then I remember I am a big old scaredy cat who doesn’t like guns, violence, blood or guts unless it’s on the page.

Anyways, in honor of the fictional females that are a lot braver than me, I thought I would share a few of my favourites today…

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…

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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

 

 

 

 

#FF: Best and Worst Reads of 2016

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Once again, I’m joining in again with Feature & Follow hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Each week they post a prompt, which you respond to, and then spend some time visiting and following other blogs (the following is an important part). This week, I’m lucky enough to be the featured post so there is a way to sign up to the linky at the bottom of this post as well. Feel free to join in – it’s fun and a great way to meet other bloggers.

This week, the prompt is…

What are your best and worst reads for 2016.

Which would you recommend and which would you not?

This has come at quite a good time for me as I’m currently working on a page that lists books by loved, liked and loathed (because, yes there are books I wish I hadn’t picked up) so I have some that are easy to bring to mind for both the best and worse categories.  It’s not often I feel that prepared to respond to prompts so “yay!” on that.

However, I was a bit worried I would overshare because there were a lot of good books read last year so I decided to stick to my top three for each.  Without further ado, they are (drum roll)….

Best

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, which I reviewed a year ago today and still haven’t gotten out of  my mind.  This book isn’t for everyone with it’s focus on mental illness within the confines of Korean society but I found it an amazing read – well written, well translated, and a story that drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.

The Girls by Emma Cline, which was possibly the most beautifully written book I read last year and a fantastic debut.  Based on the Manson family murders it takes you into the minds of the disillusioned and vulnerable young women who followed their leader right through to prison.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner, which left me breathless – able to say little more than “wow” in this clever story about a kidnapped girl and what she will do to survive.

Close contenders were…

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, with one of the best twists I think I’ve ever come across in a book

The Children Act by Ian McEwan, which brought me to tears (and not many books do that) as a young man is given the choice over whether he chooses to live or die

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson, which I’ve mentioned more than once as a favourite of the year because I really didn’t know what was coming next (in a good way)

Worst

All The Little Pieces by Jilliane Hoffman, which was my most frustrating read of the year as I spent the whole of it wanting to yell and shake the central character as she basically made one bad choice after the other.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the book was just too, too, long.

Girl Number One by Jane Holland, which was a suspense / thriller by the numbers.  It sounded like it would be great but, if I’m honest, just felt like a lot of clichés thrown together by an author who didn’t love her characters or her subject.

A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson, which promised to reveal the truth about the Lord Lucan murder but instead left me more confused about what happened than I already was – mainly because the book was confusing too with a lack of structure and a tendency to go off on tangents that weren’t needed and led nowhere.

25718437I felt I had to pick “real” books for the worse but if I could add one more it would have to be Eat, Nourish, Glow by Amelia Freer which said it would help me be happier and healthier in ten steps.  It didn’t tell me, though, that I would also be in the poor house as I bought pink Himalayan salt and chick peas in jars not cans.  Not for anyone who isn’t rich and doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands.

And that’s it for me.  What about you – what were your best and worse reads of 2016?

Emma

 

Authors I must read more of in 2017

Doing my Reviews by Author page a few weeks ago, I was struck by how many authors I say I am going to read more of and then never actually do. Having really enjoyed the first of their books that I’ve read I think I am likely missing out.

So, in an early New Year resolution, I have decided that in 2017 I am going to read at least one more book written by five of the authors that really jumped out at me and have stuck with me since reading their book (with links to their Goodreads or web pages for their names)….

Nicole Trope, whose book Blame I absolutely loved when I read it back in July.  She has written six books but the one that really caught my eye is Hush, Little Bird, released in 2015.

25398542.jpgNicole Trope’s explosive fourth book tells the story of two very different women. One has been damaged by her disturbing past, the other is a society wife of a television celebrity. We meet them on the celebrity wife’s first day in a minimum security prison where the other, much younger, woman is also an inmate. As each woman tells her story in alternating chapters, we gradually come to know how they came to be in prison. As their pasts are revealed we start to realise that they have much more in common than their crimes. Only one woman knows the shocking secret that connects them, and she is determined to have her revenge

Peter Swanson, whose The Kind Worth Killing I read couldn’t put down with it’s many twists and turns.  Peter’s third novel – Her Every Fear – is due out in January so that seems a good place to go next.

29938032.jpgThe danger isn’t all in your head . . .

Growing up, Kate Priddy was always a bit neurotic, experiencing momentary bouts of anxiety that exploded into full blown panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and nearly ended her life. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, an art student in London, agrees, hoping that time away in a new place will help her overcome the recent wreckage of her life.

But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s grand apartment on Beacon Hill, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered. When the police question her about Corbin, a shaken Kate has few answers, and many questions of her own—curiosity that intensifies when she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. Alan saw Corbin surreptitiously come and go from Audrey’s place, yet he’s denied knowing her. Then, Kate runs into a tearful man claiming to be the dead woman’s old boyfriend, who insists Corbin did the deed the night that he left for London.

When she reaches out to her cousin, he proclaims his innocence and calms her nerves . . . until she comes across disturbing objects hidden in the apartment—and accidently learns that Corbin is not where he says he is. Could Corbin be a killer? And what about Alan? Kate finds herself drawn to this appealing man who seems so sincere, yet she isn’t sure. Jetlagged and emotionally unstable, her imagination full of dark images caused by the terror of her past, Kate can barely trust herself . . . So how could she take the chance on a stranger she’s just met?

Yet the danger Kate imagines isn’t nearly as twisted and deadly as what’s about to happen. When her every fear becomes very real.

And much, much closer than she thinks.

Sara Gran, whose Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway was a completely different type of detective novel and which I read way back in 2015.  This was the second in a series and, unfortunately, looking at Sara’s web site there won’t be a third anytime soon so I’ll have to go back to the first, which I haven’t read though it was released in 2011.

9231999Sara Gran has written a novel about an unprecedented private investigator named Claire DeWitt. Destiny, it seems, has chosen Claire to be a detective, planting a copy of the enigmatic book Détection in her path as a teenager. Claire has grabbed this destiny with both hands but fate has been cruel. Twenty years later detection is her religion and Détection is her Bible.

Now she is summoned to New Orleans, because someone has heard she is “the best,” to search for an upstanding citizen lost in the miasma of Katrina. The battered and beggared New Orleans, second only to Claire, is the star of this story. Thus the title. 

Alex Marwood, whose book The Darkest Secret I thought was really clever and not what I expected at all.  I’m going to go back to the beginning with this author and read a book that has been on my to read list since it first came out.

11940384One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.

Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden?

And finally, Colleen Hoover, whose November 9 is one of the few romances I have ever read and enjoyed.  I reviewed it a year ago yesterday and it got me stepping outside my comfort zone and is something I feel like I should do more of.  With so many books to chose from I have gone with the most popular on Goodreads.

15717943Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

I have high hopes for all these books and hope to continue to remain in love with all the authors.  What about you – what authors do you wish you could read more of…any of them also on my list?

Emma

 

 
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July Round-Up

Another month, another post saying goodbye to it. This times it’s July, which has been completely crazy. We’ve bought a house, sold a house and are moving in a couple of weeks. Plus, we’ve had family visiting – though I had to work through some of it unfortunately but it was still good to spend time together and catch up. In between I actually read more than I would have expected to and there were quite a few good books in the mix. All in all, it’s left me a happy bunny.

My favourite books were probably….

imageHidden by Catherine McKenzie, a story of two women in love with one man and dealing with their grief when he dies. I thought this was great because not only was it well written but it made me think. Life isn’t always as simple as it seems from the outside. It’s the first Catherine McKenzie I’ve read but won’t be the last.

imageWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart, with Cady – a well-off, well-bred New England teen – trying to put together the pieces of what happened to her after an accident. It didn’t have the ending I expected and wasn’t (or didn’t seem to me) like your typical young adult fiction and was cleverly written.

they were closely followed by…

24483265Silent Scream by Angela Marsons and not just because it was set in the Black Country. It was a great piece of crime fiction with a good twist at the end. A little too long for me maybe but still a great page turner.

imageFallout by Sadie Jones about a group of twenty heading into their thirty somethings trying to make their way in the changing world of the 70s as they fall in and out of love and friendships are made and fall apart. I loved all but one of the characters here and found the book absorbing. I didn’t want to out it down once I’d started.

imageI also liked Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo, though it was more a novella than a novel. It was a clever story of a hit man falling love and trying to save himself and the woman he’s fallen for – who also happens to be his target. I just wish it had been a bit longer so the characters could have been more well developed.

23289469There was only one book I really didn’t enjoy this month and that was The Girl in The Red Coat by Kate Hamer which just didn’t click with me at all despite having heard good things about it. It was a mix of things including half the story being told in a child’s voice and a slightly supernatural element.

And that’s it for this/last month. What did you read – any recommendations?

Emma