Stacking shelves: 15th July, 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 the first few books I bought this week are probably of not much interest to anyone but me and my family – they are guide books for our holidays, which isn’t far away and I feel slightly unprepared for (I will be off trying to find enough warm weather clothes in a bit)…Read More »

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Tuesday Intro: The Accidental Life of Greg Millar by Aimee Alexander

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.

Right now I’m reading The Accidental Life of Greg Millar by Aimee Alexander and which has been on my TBR ever since reading about it over at Cleopatra Loves Books.  Here’s what it’s about…

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Lucy Arigho’s first encounter with Greg Millar is far from promising, but she soon realises he possesses a charm that is impossible to resist. Just eight whirlwind weeks after their first meeting, level-headed career girl Lucy is seriously considering his pleas to marry him and asking herself if she could really be stepmother material.

But before Lucy can make a final decision about becoming part of Greg’s world, events plunge her right into it. On holiday in the South of France, things start to unravel. Her future stepchildren won’t accept her, the interfering nanny resents her, and they’re stuck in a heat wave that won’t let up. And then there’s Greg. His behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre and Lucy begins to wonder whether his larger-than-life personality hides something darker—and whether she knows him at all.

And here’s how it starts…

A bird has just flown into my car – a moving car, a moving bird, heading in different directions yet somehow magically intersecting. I thought, at first, that it had simply flown close to my open window, passing by on its way somewhere else, but a manic flapping behind my head proves otherwise.

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

imageA year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past—what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

I had heard a lot about The Ice Twins before I bought it – which was quite a while ago if I’m honest – and I had also read The Fire Child, S. K. Tremayne’s second book, which I’d enjoyed.  This meant I had high expectations for this book even before I’d crack the spine, not always a good thing as it’s much easier to be disappointed.  I have to say, however, that I wasn’t. This is a good book and better than The Fire Child in many ways.

It’s better because the characters feel more solid and real, the husband a little less unrealistic in his behaviour, and because it’s spookier.  I know this isn’t a ghost story but it has elements that definitely lend itself to that, especially whether there are one or two twins living in the remote farmhouse with Sarah and Angus.  They are identical so if there were two, how would you tell?  And what about the toys that keep appearing, the way that children at school respond to Kirstie / Lydia?  It’s a great set up and S. K. Tremayne does a great job of keeping you guessing as, slowly, secrets are revealed.

This is one of those books where nothing is as it seems, no one is telling the truth and no one is quite as perfect as they may initially appear.  At the heart of it all though is a distraught little girl who can’t seem to get anyone to believe her.  But then, to do that, her parents would have to face some hard realities.  I loved all the “is she / isn’t she” Kirstie or Lydia questions and the twists and turns the book took.  I couldn’t decide if I liked Sarah or Angus or if they were right, wrong, good or bad.  Add to that the remote setting, with the harsh conditions and the not so trusting locals and it really did make it a page-turner.

I can see why so many people raved about it when it was released and think I am now one of them.  I would recommend this book, especially as the nights draw in as it’s the perfect time for something a little spooky, and liked it a lot.  Enjoy!

Emma

Tuesday Intro: Girl Number One

imageOnce 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 a book which sounds right up my street to be honest, though there are mixed reviews on Goodreads that make me slightly nervous.  It’s Girl Number One by Jane Holland.  Here’s what it’s about…

30824457As a young child, Eleanor Blackwood witnessed her mother’s murder in woods near their farm. The killer was never found.

Now an adult, Eleanor discovers a woman’s body in the same spot in the Cornish woods where her mother was strangled eighteen years before. But when the police get there, the body has disappeared.

Is Eleanor’s disturbed mind playing tricks on her again, or has her mother’s killer resurfaced? And what does the number on the dead woman’s forehead signify?

And here’s how it starts…

Prologue

I know Mummy’s dead. But I have to check.

Kneeling beside the perfectly still body, I stare up through the trees, watching the flash of white trainers disappear.

I hear a crack of twigs as he makes his way higher up the slope. He’s not really hurrying. There’s no other sound except the nearby stream. Even the birds have stopped singing.

Maybe he’s going to come back.

‘Mummy?’

She does not move when I touch her cheek. Her throat looks red and swollen. I guess that’s where he grabbed her and squeezed. Squeezed until she stopped struggling. Her eyes are wide, staring up into the leafy branches that sway gently above us.

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma

 

My holiday reads

So I’m finally back from my holidays…over two weeks of being pretty much disconnected from the world and it’s been lovely. I have been pretty much disconnected from the Internet too bar the odd time I read the paper when I found free wi-fi and, even when I was connected, avoided all social media etc.

It was nice to take the break though I am starting to get itchy and looking forward to reviewing the books I read while I was away and visiting my favourite blogs. I’ll be writing reviews over the next few days for posting starting next week but in the meantime, here’s a taster of the books I read and will be writing about…

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

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This sequel to the first novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Killer on the Fens by Joy Ellis

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DI Nikki Galena faces a personal challenge which will stretch her to the limit. She must fulfil her father’s dying wish and discover who the mysterious Eve is. Meanwhile a dead drug dealer is found on an abandoned airfield that the locals say is haunted. The trail of both mysteries will lead to the most shocking discovery of Nikki’s career and put her whole team in mortal danger.

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne

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A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity—that she, in fact, is Lydia—their world comes crashing down once again.

The Highway by C. J. Box

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When two sisters set out across a remote stretch of Montana road to visit their friend, little do they know it will be the last time anyone might ever hear from them again. The girls–and their car–simply vanish. As former police investigator Cody Hoyt makes his way to the lonely stretch of Montana highway where they went missing, her discovers that they aren’t the first girls who have disappeared.

Blind Side by Jennie Ensor

imageGeorgie, wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, gives in and agrees to sleep with close friend Julian. She’s shocked when he reveals he’s loved her for a long time.  Despite misgivings, she can’t resist her attraction to Nikolai, a Russian former soldier. While Julian struggles to deal with rejection, Georgie begins to suspect the Russian is hiding something terrible.

All told, there were some good and some great books, plenty of intrigue and a few murders to keep me satisfied. Now down to the review writing. Any you are particularly keen to hear more about?

emma

 

 

 

Tuesday Intro: A God in Ruins

imageThis week, and for the first time in a month, 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 A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, who I love.  Here’s what it’s about…

25493874A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. (goodreads)

And here’s how it starts…

30 March 1944

The Last Flight

Naseby

He walked as far as the hedge that signalled the end of the airfield.

The beating of the bounds. The men referred to it as his “daily constitutional” and fretted when he didn’t take it.  They were superstitious.  Everyone was superstitious.

Beyond the hedge there were bare fields, ploughed over last autumn.  He didn’t expect to see the alchemy of spring, to see the dull brown earth change to bright green and then pale gold.  A man could count his life in harvests reaped.  He had seen enough.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

p.s. if you want to find out more about Life After Life my review is here.

 

Blame by Nicole Trope

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‘I am here because they suspect me of something. I am here because I am a suspect. I know that, she knows that. Everyone knows that.’ Anna

‘It wasn’t my fault. None of this is my fault!’ Caro

Caro and Anna are best friends… they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed.

There’s been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets.

The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don’t tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame.

Reading the blurb for Blame it sounded like my type of book. Two friends, a tragedy, secrets and lies. What could be better? Not much where this book is concerned, especially given how unexpectedly emotional it was too. It is well written, well plotted and has a clever way of letting the story unfold that drew me in from the first page.

It starts with Anna going to the police station. Her daughter is dead, killed by her best friend Caro in what sounds like a tragic accident. Only she and Caro were there and police want to understand what happened.  It seems simple enough – so why is Anna so nervous and why is she telling herself to stay calm and stick to her story?  It’s a story Caro, who is in the interview room next door, tells differently. Yet it’s one she is convinced no one will believe.

With each chapter alternating between their two witness statements a much more complicated story than it initially appears to be is told. For Caro and Anna life hasn’t turned out as they planned and it has all culminated here. As I came to understand this, I started to feel for them. I also started to wonder just where the truth lay. Needing to find this out kept me turning the pages. As I did I went back and forth, first blaming one character then the other as their actions were revealed, both by their friend but also by themselves as they each seemed to realise that the truth was easier to tell than the lies they had been.

The police who took their statements, the husbands who tried to support them, were catalysts and so not fully formed (though they were detailed enough that I didn’t feel something was missing).  You see them only through Anna and Caro’s eye. Both women were really well drawn though. I could picture them in my minds eye and they felt very real for me. Human, which is what this story was, and why it was more emotional than I thought. It wasn’t just about secrets it was about honesty and misunderstandings, friendship and love, fear and pain. It is why I enjoyed it so much and why I would say it’s a recommended read – loved it!

Emma

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: The Girl In The Spider’s Web

imageThis week, 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 Girl in The Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz.  It’s the fourth book in the Millenium Trilogy (which I’m not sure should be allowed as the numbering messes with my mind).  I am quite nervous about this as I loved the first three books but with a different author.  I never normally read series that are taken over by other authors but this has good reviews and it was a present so I’m giving it a go.

Here’s what it’s about…

24789156She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.

Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .

This is how it starts…

This story begins with a dream, and not a particularly spectacular one at that. Just a hand beating rhythmically and relentlessly on a mattress in a room on Lundagatan.

Yet it still gets Lisbet Salander out of her bed in the early light of dawn. Then she sites at her computer and starts the hunt.

What do you think, would you keep reading?

Emma

 

 

Tuesday Intro: The Heart Goes Last

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

Next up for me is The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood, an author I love though I heard conflicting things about this book. Here’s what it’s about…

imageLiving in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell. At first, all is well. But then, unknown to each other, Stan and Charmaine develop passionate obsessions with their ‘Alternates,’ the couple that occupy their house when they are in prison. Soon the pressures of conformity, mistrust, guilt and sexual desire begin to take over.

And here’s how it starts…

Sleeping in the car is cramped. Being a third-hand Honda, it’s no palace to begin with. If it was a van they’d have more room, but fat chance of affording one of those, even back when they thought they had money. Stan says they’re lucky to have any kind of a car at all, which is true, but their luckiness doesn’t make the car any bigger.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

(Revisiting) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

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Many, many – possibly showing my age hear but – many moons ago, whilst doing an A level in government and politics, my teacher recommended I read The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

Despite leaning to left so far at the time I am amazed I didn’t fall over, I had never heard of the book – which promotes socialism over capitalism as the only real option if the working classes are to ever have a decent standard of living and reap the rewards of their labours.

I immediately went out and read it, though it wasn’t the easiest book to get through, and it has stuck with me ever since. I remember it made me angry at times, sad at others, and utterly depressed for most of it. Life for the characters in this book was harsh, bleak, and – often – short. They worked hard (or rather were worked hard) for little pay and, when they didn’t work, there was no safety net to catch them.

Recently, it came up in conversation and I decided maybe the time was right to read it again. I couldn’t remember the plot, I realised, but still had images of the painters and decorators the story centres around in my head and also one scene in particular where someone dies hadn’t ever left me.

As soon as I started reading, the story came back to me pretty much straight away, as did the indignation I felt for and the frustration I felt with the characters. They are treated so badly – yet they don’t stand up and say no. Of course, with no welfare state to protect you and plenty of other men willing to take your job, it’s probably no surprise.

This isn’t a subtle book. It’s one that beats you over the head with it’s message, which it repeats pretty consistently throughout the book to make sure you get it. It paints a picture of a world I wouldn’t want to live in – one that in the grand scheme of things isn’t that long ago. Reading it, part of me thinks how far we’ve come – with employee rights and state benefits – whilst part of me wonders if we’ve come very far at all and if we are maybe just more comfortable in our chains thanks to satellite TV and smart phones.

Reading back over what I’ve written I realise I’ve gotten quite feisty, which is what the book was no doubt written to do – to light a fire and wind me up (in a political way). It is how I felt back as a teenager and how I hope other people will feel reading it.

Despite being over a 100 years old a lot of the messages in it are relevant and just need looking at with a modern eye.  I’m not saying we should all storm the barricades but I am saying, after reading it, in this capitalist world maybe we should think about how we treat each other and those that work for us / wish us.  This one is worth a read if the news of more cuts to welfare make you feel uncomfortable or you are a political bent – though appreciate it’s not for everyone.

Emma