My Week in Books: 28 June 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m currently reading South Riding by Winifred Holtby.

South Riding

I watched the BBC adaptation when it was broadcast in 2011 (can’t believe it was that long ago), bought the book and then left in on my TBR shelves. I started reading it a few days ago and it’s really good. It’s set in the fictional South Riding of Yorkshire during the Depression. There’s a huge list of characters, the main one being Sarah Burton, newly appointed as headmistress of the local girls’ school. It’s the 1930s, the world is changing (when isn’t it?) and Sarah’s arrival stirs up people’s emotions and prejudices.

Then: Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas, to be published on 13 July. I loved this story, never quite sure who I could believe. Libby and her husband Jamie decide to do a house swap – but then things start to go wrong – very wrong. I’ll post my review soon.

Last Seen Alive

Next: The Escape by C L Taylor

I quoted the opening of this book in one of my First Chapter, First Paragraph posts and am keen to read it soon.

Blurb:

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

How’s your week in books been?

My Week in Books: 14 June 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m currently reading Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft.

Blurb:

When twenty-two-year-old Olivia is coerced into marriage by the cruel Alistair Sheldon she leaves England for Egypt, his home and the land of her own childhood. Reluctant as she is to go with Alistair, it’s in her new home that she finds happiness in surprising places: she is reunited with her long-estranged sister, Clara, and falls – impossibly and illicitly – in love with her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram.

Then Clara is abducted from one of the busiest streets in the city. Olivia is told it’s thieves after ransom money, but she’s convinced there’s more to it. As she sets out to discover what’s happened to the sister she’s only just begun to know, she falls deeper into the shadowy underworld of Alexandria, putting her own life, and her chance at a future with Edward, the only man she’s ever loved, at risk. Because, determined as Olivia is to find Clara, there are others who will stop at nothing to conceal what’s become of her . . .

Beneath a Burning Sky is a novel of secrets, betrayal and, above all else, love. Set against the heat and intrigue of colonial Alexandria, this beautiful and heart-wrenching story will take your breath away.

Then: I’ve just finished reading Miraculous Murders: Locked-RoomMurders and Impossible Crimes edited by Martin Edwards which I really enjoyed. My review will follow soon.

Blurb:

Impossible crime stories have been relished by puzzle-lovers ever since the invention of detective fiction. Fiendishly intricate cases were particularly well suited to the cerebral type of detective story that became so popular during the ‘golden age of murder’ between the two world wars. But the tradition goes back to the days of Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins, and impossible crime stories have been written by such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. This anthology celebrates their work, alongside long-hidden gems by less familiar writers. Together these stories demonstrate the range and high accomplishment of the classic British impossible crime story over more than half a century.

Next: This is such a difficult decision as there are so many books I want to read and I always hesitate to say which one I’ll read next. But I think I’ll read How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, with the usual proviso that when the time comes I may decide to read a different book.

Blurb:

‘I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.’
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, which is a good thing as I don’t like anything about this cover – it doesn’t say ‘read me’ to me. But the synopsis does.

How about you? Have you read any of these books?  If so, what did you think of them? And what have you been reading this week?

My Week in Books: 7 June 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m currently reading two books, both of which were published yesterday. I’ve nearly finished The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. I’ve struggled with this book, on the verge of abandoning it several times. For now, all I’m saying is that I loved her first novel, The God of Small Things and I’m deeply disappointed by this, her second. I’ll write more when I’ve finished it.

Blurb:

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey across the Indian subcontinent – from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi and the glittering malls of the burgeoning new metropolis to the snowy mountains and valleys of Kashmir, where war is peace and peace is war, and from time to time ‘normalcy’ is declared. Anjum unrolls a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard that she calls home.

We encounter the incorrigible Saddam Hussain, the unforgettable Tilo and the three men who loved her – including Musa whose fate as tightly entwined with hers as their arms always used to be. Tilo’s landlord, another former suitor, is now an Intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then there are the two Miss Jebeens: the first born in Srinagar and buried, aged four, in its overcrowded Martyrs’ Graveyard; the second found at midnight, in a crib of litter, on the concrete pavement of New Delhi.

At once an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a heart-breaker and a mind-bender, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is told in a whisper, in a shout, through tears and sometimes with a laugh. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love-and by hope. For this reason, fragile though they may be, they never surrender. Braiding richly complex lives together, this ravishing and deeply humane novel reinvents what a novel can do and can be. And it demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy’s storytelling gifts.

The other book I’m reading is Miraculous Murders: Locked-RoomMurders and Impossible Crimes edited by Martin Edwards and I’m glad to say this is not disappointing.

Blurb:

Impossible crime stories have been relished by puzzle-lovers ever since the invention of detective fiction. Fiendishly intricate cases were particularly well suited to the cerebral type of detective story that became so popular during the ‘golden age of murder’ between the two world wars. But the tradition goes back to the days of Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins, and impossible crime stories have been written by such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. This anthology celebrates their work, alongside long-hidden gems by less familiar writers. Together these stories demonstrate the range and high accomplishment of the classic British impossible crime story over more than half a century.

Then: The last book I finished reading was Past Encounters by Davina Blake, which I really enjoyed. My review will follow soon (I hope, as I’m a bit behind with writing reviews).

Past EncountersBlurb
From the moment Rhoda Middleton opens one of her husband’s letters and finds it is from another woman, she is convinced he is having an affair. But when Rhoda tracks her down, she discovers the mysterious woman is not his lover after all, but the wife of his best friend, Archie Foster. There is only one problem – Rhoda has never even heard of Archie Foster.

Devastated by this betrayal of trust, Rhoda tries to find out how and why her husband, Peter, has kept this friendship hidden for so long. Her search leads her back to 1945, but as she gradually uncovers Peter’s wartime secrets she must wrestle with painful memories of her own. For if they are ever to understand each other, Rhoda too must escape the ghosts of the past.

Taking us on a journey from the atmospheric filming of Brief Encounter, to the extraordinary Great March of prisoners of war through snow-bound Germany, this is a novel of friendship, hope, and how in the end, it is the small things that enable love to survive.

Next: I think I’ll read Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft, with the usual proviso that when the time comes I may decide to read a different book.

Blurb:

When twenty-two-year-old Olivia is coerced into marriage by the cruel Alistair Sheldon she leaves England for Egypt, his home and the land of her own childhood. Reluctant as she is to go with Alistair, it’s in her new home that she finds happiness in surprising places: she is reunited with her long-estranged sister, Clara, and falls – impossibly and illicitly – in love with her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram.

Then Clara is abducted from one of the busiest streets in the city. Olivia is told it’s thieves after ransom money, but she’s convinced there’s more to it. As she sets out to discover what’s happened to the sister she’s only just begun to know, she falls deeper into the shadowy underworld of Alexandria, putting her own life, and her chance at a future with Edward, the only man she’s ever loved, at risk. Because, determined as Olivia is to find Clara, there are others who will stop at nothing to conceal what’s become of her . . .

Beneath a Burning Sky is a novel of secrets, betrayal and, above all else, love. Set against the heat and intrigue of colonial Alexandria, this beautiful and heart-wrenching story will take your breath away.

Have you read any of these books? What do you think about them?

My Week in Books: 3 May 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m reading Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir, which will be published by Headline on 18 May 2017. it is a long and detailed book, parts of which I’m finding tedious and repetitive, but I’m nearing the end now and it is picking up speed just a tiny bit!

Blurb:

The young woman who changed the course of history.

Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.

ANNE BOLEYN. The second of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died. This powerful novel shows her as she lived.

Then: The last two books I read were The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon, a Maigret mystery, which I really enjoyed. My review will follow soon.

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Maigret, #4)

 

On a trip to Brussels, Maigret unwittingly causes a man’s suicide, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to shoot himself.

I also finished reading Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I loved. It’s a story of romance, scandal and intrigue within the confines of a watchful, gossiping English village during the early nineteenth century. I’ll soon be writing a review of this too.

Wives and Daughters

Next: I think I’ll read A Place of Execution by Val McDermid, one of my TBR books, with the usual proviso that when the time comes I may decide to read a different book.

A Place of ExecutionBlurb:

On a freezing day in December 1963, thirteen-year-old Alison Carter vanishes from her village. Nothing will ever be the same again for the inhabitants of the isolated hamlet in the English countryside. A young George Bennett, a newly-promoted inspector, he is determined to solve this case—even if it just to bring home a daughter’s dead body to her mother.

As days progress, the likelihood that Alison has been murdered increases when a gruesome discovery is made in a cave. But with no corpse, the barest of clues, and an investigation that turns up more questions than answers, Bennett finds himself up against a stone wall…until he learns the shocking truth—a truth that will have far-reaching consequences.

Decades later, Bennett finally tells his story to journalist Catherine Heathcote. But just when the book is posed for publication, he pulls the plug on it without explanation. He has new information that he will not divulge. Refusing to let the past remain a mystery, Catherine sets out to uncover what really happened to Alison Carter. But the secret is one she might wish she’d left buried on that cold, dark day thirty-five years ago.

I’m wondering what you are reading/have read recently too.

My Week in Books: 26 April 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m reading Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, which I’ve nearly finished. It is my Classics Club Spin book.

Blurb:

It’s a story of romance, scandal and intrigue within the confines of a watchful, gossiping English village during the early nineteenth century. When seventeen-year-old Molly Gibson’s widowed father remarries, her life is turned upside down by the arrival of her vain, manipulative stepfather. She also acquires an intriguing new stepsister, Cynthia, glamorous, sophisticated and irresistible to every man she meets. 

I’m also reading Caedmon’s Song by Peter Robinson, one of his stand-alone books.

Blurb:

On a balmy June night, Kirsten, a young university student, strolls home through a silent moonlit park. Suddenly her tranquil mood is shattered as she is viciously attacked.

When she awakes in hospital, she has no recollection of that brutal night. But then, slowly and painfully, details reveal themselves – dreams of two figures, one white and one black, hovering over her; wisps of a strange and haunting song; the unfamiliar texture of a rough and deadly hand . . .

In another part of England, Martha Browne arrives in Whitby, posing as an author doing research for a book. But her research is of a particularly macabre variety. Who is she hunting with such deadly determination? And why?

Then: The last book I read is Night Falls on Ardamurchan by Alasdair Maclean. My review will follow soon.

Blurb:

Since its first publication in 1984, ‘Night Falls in Ardnamurchan’ has become a classic account of the life and death of a Highland community.

The author weaves his own humorous and perceptive account of crofting with extracts from his father’s journal – a terse, factual and down to earth vision of the day-to-day tasks of crofting life.

It is an unusual and memorable story that also illuminates the shifting, often tortuous relationships between children and their parents. Alasdair Maclean reveals his own struggle to come to terms with his background and the isolated community he left so often and to which he returned again and again.

In this isolated community is seen a microcosm of something central to Scottish identity – the need to escape against the tug of home.

Next: I think I’ll read Six Tudor Queens: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir, which will be published by Headline on 18 May 2017.

Blurb:

The young woman who changed the course of history.

Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of courtly love.

But when the King commands, nothing is ever a game.

Anne has a spirit worthy of a crown – and the crown is what she seeks. At any price.

ANNE BOLEYN. The second of Henry’s Queens. Her story.
History tells us why she died. This powerful novel shows her as she lived.

But I’m tempted to slip in a Maigret book first: The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon.

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien (Maigret, #4)

Blurb:

A first ink drawing showed a hanged man swinging from a gallows on which perched an enormous crow. And there were at least twenty other etchings and pen or pencil sketches that had the same leitmotif of hanging.
On the edge of a forest: a man hanging from every branch.
A church steeple: beneath the weathercock, a human body dangling from each arm of the cross. . . Below another sketch were written four lines from François Villon’s Ballade of the Hanged Men.

On a trip to Brussels, Maigret unwittingly causes a man’s suicide, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to shoot himself.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations. This novel has been published in previous translations as Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets and The Crime of Inspector Maigret.

My Week in Books: 8 March 2017

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m reading Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid and to compare and

Northanger Abbey (The Austen Project, #2) contrast I’m also reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Northanger Abbey

I first read the Austen version many years ago and reading it now it’s only vaguely familiar. The McDermid version is amazingly similar in a modern context – Cat Morland goes to the Edinburgh Festival instead of to Austen’s Bath, John Thorpe is really awful, much worse than Austen’s Thorpe. McDermid’s Cat uses Facebook, instead of writing in a journal as Austen’s young ladies do and so on. I haven’t got them to Northanger Abbey itself in either version. It’s funny comparing the two books written almost 200 years apart.

And by way of yet more contrast I’m also reading See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. This has a really creepy feel, looking into the mind of Lizzie Borden – it’s compelling reading.

Blurb:

Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Or did she?

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

Then: The last book I read is Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney, an absolutely amazing and gripping psychological thriller due out on 23 March 2017. My review will follow soon. I loved it.

Next: I never decide what to read next until the time comes to choose a new book. It could be one of my TBRs – I’ve been neglecting them a bit this year. So, it could be The Gathering by Anne Enright, which is also one of the books I provisionally earmarked to read for the Begorrathon.

The Gathering

Blurb:

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn’t the drink that killed him – although that certainly helped – it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother’s house, in the winter of 1968.

The Gathering is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars.

What are you reading this week…and in the future?

My Week in Books: 25 January

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m reading two books, one I’ve just started – Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal, which will be published on 9 February 2017.

Blurb:

It’s late. The phone rings.
The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.
Your daughter.
The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.
What do you do?

Nora Watts isn’t sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn’t want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .

In Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time.

The other book is The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, which I’ve nearly finished.

The Eagle of the NinthBlurb:

The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain – and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the Ninth Legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so hazardous that no one expects him to return …

Then: The last book I’ve read is If Ever I Fall by S D Robertson – my post will follow.

 

Blurb:

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

Next: I anticipated in last week’s post that I’d be reading The Elephant Keeper’s Children by Peter Hoeg next and I did start it. But I didn’t get very far before I decided it’s not the book for me, so I’m not sure about what predicting what I’ll read next.

It could be The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, which will be published on 23 February 2017. It’s the 9th Dr Ruth Galloway Mystery. Reading the blurb I think it’s safe to say this is the book I’ll be reading next …

Blurb:

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity – now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

My Week in Books: 18 January

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now – I’m reading two books, one I’ve nearly finished, The 12.30 from Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts

Blurb: We begin with a body. Andrew Crowther, a wealthy retired manufacturer, is found dead in his seat on the 12.30 flight from Croydon to Paris. Rather less orthodox is the ensuing flashback in which we live with the killer at every stage, from the first thoughts of murder to the strains and stresses of living with its execution. Seen from the criminal’s perspective, a mild-mannered Inspector by the name of French is simply another character who needs to be dealt with. This is an unconventional yet gripping story of intrigue, betrayal, obsession, justification and self-delusion. And will the killer get away with it?

and The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Eagle of the NinthBlurb: The Ninth Legion marched into the mists of northern Britain – and they were never seen again. Four thousand men disappeared and their eagle standard was lost. Marcus has to find out what happened to his father, who led the Ninth Legion. So he sets out into the unknown, on a quest so hazardous that no one expects him to return …

Then – the last book I finished was The Quarry by Iain Banks, which I enjoyed reading – it’s funny in parts, angry, sad and miserable in others and about relationships and secrets.

The QuarryI wrote more about it in this post.

NextThe Elephant Keeper’s Children by Peter Hoeg, Sarah Moss wrote in the Guardian that the hilarity of Peter Finø’s narrative makes this a delightful novel even for readers who have limited tolerance of surrealism. I’m one of those readers so I hope I have enough tolerance for this book.

The Elephant Keepers' ChildrenBlurb: Peter and Tilte are trying to track down two notorious criminals: their parents. They are the pastor and the organist, respectively, of the only church on the tiny island of Finø. Known for fabricating cheap miracles to strengthen their congregation’s faith, they have been in trouble before. But this time their children suspect they are up to mischief on a far greater scale.

When Peter and Tilte learn that scientific and religious leaders from around the world are assembling in Copenhagen for a conference, they know their parents are up to something. Peter and Tilte’s quest to find them exposes conspiracies, terrorist plots, an angry bishop, a deranged headmaster, two love-struck police officers, a deluded aristocrat and much more along the way.

If you’ve read any of these books, especially The Elephant Keeper’s Children, I’d love to know what you think. And do let me know what you are reading this week.

My Week in Books: 17 August 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.


Now:
 I am reading two amazing books right now – A Song of Fire and Ice Book 1 of A Game of Thrones by G R R Martin. I’ve now caught up with the TV series and I’m reading the first book. I am thoroughly enjoying it.Blurb:

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.

and I’ve also just started reading an uncorrected proof of The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland, which is due to be published in October.Blurb:

1361. Porlock Weir, Exmoor. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man’s wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for safety of her children. Only a dark-haired stranger offers help, but at a price that no one will pay.

Fear gives way to hysteria in the village and, when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And, as her husband – and then others – begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable.

The price that I ask, from one willing to pay… A human life.

Then: I’ve recently finished The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth, one of my 20 Books of Summer. A ‘damsel in distress’ murder mystery. It wasn’t brilliant – my review is in this post.

Next: It will be one of the books from my 20 Books of Summer list. I’m not sure which one – maybe The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.Blurb:

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

My Week in Books: 27 July 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.


Now:
I’m reading The Sunne in Splendour, historical fiction about Richard III:

Blurb:

Richard, last-born son of the Duke of York, was seven months short of his nineteenth birthday when he bloodied himself at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, earning his legendary reputation as a battle commander in the Wars of the Roses, and ending the Lancastrian line of succession.

But Richard was far more than a warrior schooled in combat. He was also a devoted brother, an ardent suitor, a patron of the arts, an indulgent father, a generous friend. Above all, he was a man of fierce loyalties, great courage and firm principles, who was ill at ease among the intrigues of Edward’s court. The very codes Richard lived by ultimately betrayed him.

But he was betrayed by history too. Leaving no heir, his reputation was at the mercy of his successor, and Henry Tudor had too much at stake to risk mercy. Thus was born the myth of King Richard III, the man who would stop at nothing to gain the throne.

Filled with the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and love of daily life, the rigours and dangers of Court politics and the touching concerns of very real men and women, The Sunne in Splendour is a richly coloured tapestry of medieval England.

Then: I’ve recently finished, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, a spy thriller set in the Cold War period.

Blurb:

Alex Leamas is tired. It’s the 1960s, he’s been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. He has seen too many good agents murdered for their troubles. Now Control wants to bring him in at last – but only after one final assignment. He must travel deep into the heart of Communist Germany and betray his country, a job that he will do with his usual cynical professionalism. But when George Smiley tries to help a young woman Leamas has befriended, Leamas’s mission may prove to be the worst thing he could ever have done. In le Carré’s breakthrough work of 1963, the spy story is reborn as a gritty and terrible tale of men who are caught up in politics beyond their imagining.

Next: There are several books I want to read next, mainly the books on my 20 Books of Summer list, but I’ve not been doing very well with that this month and the book that’s really beckoning me right now is The Woman Who Walked Into The Sea by Mark Douglas-Hume. I reserved this at the library and after waiting weeks for it I collected it yesterday. It’s the second in his Sea Detective series. I loved the first one, The Sea Detective and hope this will be just as good.
Blurb:

Cal McGill is a unique investigator and oceanographer who uses his expertise to locate things – and sometimes people – lost or missing at sea.

His expertise could unravel the haunting mystery of why, twenty-six years ago on a remote Scottish beach, Megan Bates strode out into the cold ocean and let the waves wash her away.

Megan’s daughter, Violet Wells, was abandoned as a baby on the steps of a local hospital just hours before the mother she never knew took her own life.

As McGill is drawn into Violet’s search for the truth, he encounters a coastal community divided by obsession and grief, and united only by a conviction that its secrets should stay buried…

But I know that I’m not too good at predicting what I’ll read next, so it could be something else instead.

My Week in Books: 8 June 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.


Now:
 I’ve just started Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham, his first book featuring British detective Fiona Griffiths.

Blurb:

A young girl is found dead. A prostitute is murdered. And the strangest, youngest detective in the South Wales Major Crimes Unit is about to face the fiercest test of her short career.

A woman and her six-year-old daughter are killed with chilling brutality in a dingy flat. The only clue: the platinum bank card of a long-dead tycoon, found amidst the squalor.

DC Griffiths has already proved herself dedicated to the job, but there’s another side to her she is less keen to reveal. Something to do with a mysterious two-year gap in her CV, her strange inability to cry – and a disconcerting familiarity with corpses.

Fiona is desperate to put the past behind her but as more gruesome killings follow, the case leads her inexorably back into those dark places in her own mind where another dead girl is waiting to be found.

I’m still reading Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr, basically Britain after the end of the Second World War up to 2006, with an added introduction in the paperback edition written in 2008. I’ve read up to page 152 so far out of 672 pages. It will be a while  before I finish this book – I don’t read non-fiction quickly!

Then:The last book I read was High Rising by Angela Thirkell. See this post for my review.

Next: It  will most likely be one of the books on my 20 Books of Summer list, probably Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine.

Blurb:

Asta and her husband Rasmus have come to east London from Denmark with their two sons. With Rasmus constantly away on business, Asta keeps loneliness and isolation at bay by writing her diary. These diaries reveal themselves to be more than a journal, for they seem to hold the key to an unsolved murder.

My Week in Books: 25 May 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

  • Now: I often read several books at once and manage to keep them all on the go, but every now and then this doesn’t work well and I end up reading just one of them, leaving the others. This is what has happened these last few weeks as I read The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (see the next section of this post). I was also reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre and A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr. But as I’m now a bit vague about what was happening in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy, I’ve decided I need to start it again. But not right now, so I’ve put it back on the shelves to read later.

But, I’m still reading Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr, basically Britain after the end of the Second World War up to 2006, with an added introduction in the paperback edition written in 2008. I’ve read up to page 79 so far out of 672 pages. It will be a while  before I finish this book!

Blurb:

A History of Modern Britain confronts head-on the victory of shopping over politics. It tells the story of how the great political visions of New Jerusalem or a second Elizabethan Age, rival idealisms, came to be defeated by a culture of consumerism, celebrity and self-gratification. In each decade, political leaders think they know what they are doing, but find themselves confounded. Every time, the British people turn out to be stroppier and harder to herd than predicted.

Throughout, Britain is a country on the edge – first of invasion, then of bankruptcy, then on the vulnerable front line of the Cold War and later in the forefront of the great opening up of capital and migration now reshaping the world. This history follows all the political and economic stories, but deals too with comedy, cars, the war against homosexuals, Sixties anarchists, oil-men and punks, Margaret Thatcher’s wonderful good luck, political lies and the true heroes of British theatre.

I’ve just started to read Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson alongside Marr’s book. It’s looking promising so far – I’m on page 26 of 219.

Blurb:

Acclaimed on publication as a contemporary classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and Lucille, orphans growing up in the small desolate town of Fingerbone in the vast northwest of America.

Abandoned by a succession of relatives, the sisters find themselves in the care of Sylvie, the remote and enigmatic sister of their dead mother. Steeped in imagery of the bleak wintry landscape around them, the sisters’ struggle towards adulthood is powerfully portrayed in a novel about loss, loneliness and transience.

  • Then: I’ve recently finished The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. I don’t know yet how I’m going to review this book, as even after a second reading I’m not at all sure I understand some of it. It’s long and complicated and an awful lot happens in it. I needed to concentrate, which is why I had to stop reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at the same time – too much detail in both books!

That said, I enjoyed it immensely, maybe the concentrated reading is one reason, but I also loved the fantastic clockwork inventions and historical details, the settings and the characterisations.

Blurb:

In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has worse fears than generous burglars; he is a telegraphist at the Home Office, which has just received a threat for what could be the largest-scale Fenian bombing in history.

When the watch saves Thaniel’s life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori – a kind, lonely immigrant who sweeps him into a new world of clockwork and music. Although Mori seems harmless at first, a chain of unexpected slips soon proves that he must be hiding something.

Meanwhile, Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library dressed as a man. A theoretical physicist, she is desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether before her mother can force her to marry.

As the lives of these three characters become entwined, events spiral out of control until Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures and opposing geniuses.

Utterly beguiling, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street blends historical events with dazzling flights of fancy to plunge readers into a strange and magical past, where time, destiny, genius – and a clockwork octopus – collide.

  • Next: 

It might be Coming Home by Sue Gee, set in 1947 India on the brink of independence as an English couple are ‘coming home’ from India, attempting to make their way in a changed Britain. This might fit in well with my reading of Andrew Marr’s book – or it might not.

Or I might read something completely different!

My Week in Books: 27 April 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m still reading L S Lowry: A Life by Shelley Rohde. Lowry is one of my favourite artists, well known for his urban paintings of industrial towns but his work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits.

I’m also reading The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf, her first novel.

Blurb: Rachel Vinrace is on board her father’s ship, the Euphrosyne, on a voyage to South America. Despite being accompanied by her father and her aunt and uncle, Helen and Ridley Ambrose, the passage leads to Rachel’s awakening, both as a woman and as an individual. As the ship is wracked by storms, she finds herself romantically entangled with Richard Dalloway, an encounter that leaves her troubled and confused. Upon arrival in Santa Marina, Rachel strikes off alone to contemplate her identity, and finds herself with the aspiring novelist Terence Hewet. As the emerging romance between the two is complicated by their disagreements about gender and art, another storm, and tragedy, appear on the horizon.

Then: I’ve recently finished The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home, a crime fiction novel with a difference and a book I thoroughly enjoyed. This is the first in an unusual crime series.

Blurb: Cal McGill is an Edinburgh-based oceanographer, environmentalist and one-of-a-kind investigator. Using his knowledge of the waves – ocean currents, prevailing winds, shipping records – McGill can track where objects have come from, or where they’ve gone. It’s a unique skill that can help solve all sorts of mysteries. Such as when two severed feet wash up miles apart on two different islands off the coast of Scotland. Most strangely, forensic tests reveal that the feet belong to the same body.

As Cal McGill investigates, he unravels a web of corruption, exploitation and violence, which threatens many lives across the globe – very soon including his own…

My review is to follow.

Next: this is always a step into the unknown and at the moment I’m wondering whether to read one of my TBR books, such as Poirot Investigates a collection of short stories by Agatha Christie, first published in 1924.

Blurb: First there was the mystery of the film star and the diamond… then came the ‘suicide’ that was murder… the mystery of the absurdly cheap flat… a suspicious death in a locked gun-room… a million dollar bond robbery… the curse of a Pharaoh’s tomb… a jewel robbery by the sea… the abduction of a Prime Minister… the disappearance of a banker… a phone call from a dying man… and, finally, the mystery of the missing will.

What links these fascinating cases? Only the brilliant deductive powers of Hercule Poirot!

It’s probably about time I read some more of Agatha Christie’s short stories!

My Week in Books: 13 April 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: Currently I’m reading three books, because I like to vary my reading. So, I have a classic, a crime fiction and a non-fiction book on the go:

Blurb:

George Eliot drew on her own anguished childhood when she depicted the stormy relationship between Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Maggie’s often tormented battle to do her duty and belong on the one hand, and to be  herself, wild and natural, on the other, propels her from one crisis to another. As the Tulliver fortunes decline and fall, the rift between Maggie and her family becomes almost irreconcilable. But Maggie’s biggest mistake of all is to fall in love with Stephen Guest who is engaged to another woman.

Both a sharp and observant picture of English rural life and a profoundly convincing analysis of a woman’s psychology, The Mill on the Floss is a novel that tackles the complexities of morality versus desire.

  • Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill – a Dalziel and Pascoe crime fiction novel. It’s book 11 in the series, which I’m reading totally out of order (there are over 20 in the series) and it is really good.

Blurb:

When Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel witnesses a bizarre murder across the street from his own back garden, he is quite sure who the culprit is. After all, he’s got to believe what he sees with his own eyes. But what exactly does he see? And is he mistaken? Peter Pascoe thinks so.

Dalziel senses the doubters around him, which only strengthens his resolve. To make matters worse, he’s being pestered by an anonymous letter-writer, threatening suicide. Worse still, Pascoe seems intent on reminding him of the fact.

Meanwhile, the effervescent Eileen Chung is directing the Mystery Plays. And who does she have in mind for God? Daziel, of course. He shouldn’t have too much difficulty acting the part…

  • L S Lowry: A Life by Shelley Rohde. Lowry is one of my favourite artists, well known for his urban paintings of industrial towns but his work covers a wide range of themes and subjects, from landscapes and seascapes to portraits. This biography is based on collections of private papers held in The Lowry, Salford Quays.
  • Then: I’ve recently finished The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, her first novel. I’ve read some of her other books –  loved The Poisonwood Bible which I’ve read a few times, and Homeland, a book of short stories, but wasn’t so taken with The Lacuna. I thoroughly enjoyed The Bean Trees – my review will follow shortly:

Blurb:

Plucky Taylor Greer grows up poor in rural Kentucky with two goals: to avoid pregnancy and to get away. She succeeds on both counts when she buys an old car and heads west. But midway across the country motherhood catches up with her when she becomes the guardian of an abandoned baby girl she calls Turtle. In Tuscon they encounter an extraordinary array of people, and with their help, Taylor builds herself and her sweet, stunned child a life.

Next: I really don’t know.

What about you? What are you reading this week?

My Week in Books: 30 March 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:  I’ve decided to concentrate on books from my to-be-read shelves and picked People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, a book I’ve owned for nearly eight years. I can’t think why I haven’t read it before as so far I’m loving it.

Blurb:

People of the Book takes place in the aftermath of the Bosnian War, as a young book conservator arrives in Sarajevo to restore a lost treasure.

When Hannah Heath gets a call in the middle of the night in her Sydney home about a precious medieval manuscript which has been recovered from the smouldering ruins of wartorn Sarajevo, she knows she is on the brink of the experience of a lifetime. A renowned book conservator, she must now make her way to Bosnia to start work on restoring The Sarajevo Haggadah, a Jewish prayer book – to discover its secrets and piece together the story of its miraculous survival. But the trip will also set in motion a series of events that threaten to rock Hannah’s orderly life, including her encounter with Ozren Karamen, the young librarian who risked his life to save the book.

Then: I’ve recently finished Wycliffe and the Tangled Web by W J Burley, another book from my to-be-read shelves.

Blurb:

A beautiful schoolgirl goes missing from a Cornish village on the day she has told her boyfriend and sister she is pregnant. The possibility that she has been raped or murdered – or both – grows with every passing hour, and Chief Superintendent Wycliffe is brought in on the case.

The investigation reveals a complex network of family relationships and rivalries centred on the girl; and then Wycliffe finds a body – but not the one he expects. Have there been two murders? And if so, are they connected?

Wycliffe digs deeper, and soon realises that just beneath the normal, day-to-day surface of the community lies a web of hatred and resentment – a web he will have to untangle if he is to find the key to the mystery . . .

My post will follow soon.

Next: I’m reluctant to say what I’ll be reading next because I usually change my mind when the time comes. But, I shall be reading The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot for the Classics Club Spin some time in April – yet another book I’ve owned for years.

Blurb:

George Eliot drew on her own anguished childhood when she depicted the stormy relationship between Maggie and Tom Tulliver. Maggie’s often tormented battle to do her duty and belong on the one hand, and to be  herself, wild and natural, on the other, propels her from one crisis to another. As the Tulliver fortunes decline and fall, the rift between Maggie and her family becomes almost irreconcilable. But Maggie’s biggest mistake of all is to fall in love with Stephen Guest who is engaged to another woman.

Both a sharp and observant picture of English rural life and a profoundly convincing analysis of a woman’s psychology, The Mill on the Floss is a novel that tackles the complexities of morality versus desire.

What about you? What are you reading this week?

My Week in Books: 16 March 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m currently reading, and loving so far, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark, a book I bought a couple of years ago. My copy is the hardback version, which is a joy to hold and read.

Blurb:

Born just before the First World War, Elizabeth Pringle has been a familiar yet solitary figure on the Scottish island of Arran. A dutiful daughter, an inspirational teacher, a gardener. But did anyone really know her? When Elizabeth dies, her will contains a surprise. She has left her home and her belongings to someone who is all but a stranger, a young mother she watched pushing a pram down the road more than thirty years ago.
Now it falls to Martha, the baby in that pram, to find out how her mother inherited the house in such strange circumstances, and in doing so, perhaps leave her own past behind. But first she has to find the answer to the question: who was Elizabeth Pringle?
A captivating and haunting story of the richness beneath so-called ordinary lives and the secrets and threads that hold women together.

I’m still reading SPQR by Mary Beard, a fascinating history of Ancient Rome – see last week’s post for a synopsis. I’m reading the ebook and am currently at 46%. My Kindle estimates it will take me 8 hours and 1 minute to read to the end.

Then: Last week I was undecided about what to read next and had started reading three books, but suddenly it all became clear and I carried on reading Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey, followed up by The Madness of July by James Naughtie. (See last week’s post for the synopses). Two very different books and I enjoyed both of them. I wrote about Tey’s book in this post. I have yet to write one about Naughtie’s book.

Next: As always I’m unsure which book I’ll pick up next. At the moment I’m leaning towards Edwin: High King of Britain: the Northumbrian Thrones 1 by Edoardo Albert, a present from my son for Mother’s Day.

Blurb:

Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin’s usurper. As Edwin walks by the shore, alone and at bay, he is confronted by a mysterious figure – the missionary Paulinus – who prophesies that he will become High King of Britain.

It is a turning point. Through battles and astute political alliances Edwin rises to great power, in the process marrying the Kentish princess Aethelburh. As part of the marriage contract the princess is allowed to retain her Christian faith. But, in these times, to be a king is not a recipe for a long life . . . This turbulent and tormented period in British history sees the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon settlers who have forced their way on to British shores over previous centuries, arriving first to pillage, then to farm and trade – and to come to terms with the world view of the Celtic tribes they have driven out.

What are you reading this week – and have you read any of these books? Do let me know.

My Week in Books: 9 March 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Then – I’m  beginning this post with the book I’ve recently finished reading – Doctor Thorne (see this post for my review). Julian Fellowes’ adaptation of this book is currently on ITV and I was in two minds about watching it, but I thought I’d at least watch the first episode. However, as I expected, there are too many changes from the book for me to enjoy watching it. It is so condensed, and too much is revealed too early, so I have decided not to watch the next two parts.

Now and Next – After finishing Doctor Thorne I couldn’t decide what to read next and began reading three books. This happens to me sometimes and I expect I’ll soon concentrate on just one of these books and go back to the others later.

Blurb: Leys Physical Training College was famous for its excellent discipline and Miss Lucy Pym was pleased and flattered to be invited to give a psychology lecture there. But she had to admit that the health and vibrant beauty of the students made her feel just a little inadequate.

Then there was a nasty accident – and suddenly Miss Pym was forced to apply her agile intellect to the unpleasant fact that among all those impressively healthy bodies someone had a very sick mind…

Blurb: ‘He was sickened also with all these lies. His very soul was dismayed by the dirt through which he was forced to wade. He had become unconsciously connected with the lowest dregs of mankind, and would have to see his name mingled with theirs in the daily newspapers’

Mark Robarts is a clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he agrees to guarantee a bill for a large sum of money for the disreputable local Member of Parliament, while being helped in his career in the Church by the same hand. But the unscrupulous politician reneges on his financial obligations, and Mark must face the consequences this debt may bring to his family.

Blurb: From Radio 4’s James Naughtie, a sophisticated thriller about loyalty, survival and family rivalry deep in the Cold War, drawing on decades of experience as a political insider in Westminster and Washington.

It is a sweltering July in the mid-1970s, and for Will Flemyng, foreign office minister, the temperature is rising with each passing hour. A mysterious death has exposed secret passions in government, bringing on a political crisis that will draw him back into a familiar world of danger and deceit.

For Flemyng has a past. He was trained as a spy for a life behind enemy lines and now he’s compelled to go back. In the course of one long weekend he must question all his loyalties: to his friends, his enemies, and to his own two brothers. Only then can he expose the truth in London and Washington. When he has walked through the fire.

And I’m still slowly making progress with SPQR by Mary Beard, the Kindle edition (I read some of this every day).

Blurb: Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories – from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia – still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.

SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world’s foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us.

What are you reading this week – and have you read any of these books? Do let me know.

My Week in Books: 24 February 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Currently I’m still reading SPQR by Mary Beard, the Kindle edition. I started this a couple of weeks ago and am reading it slowly. It covers 1,000 years of the history of Ancient Rome – it’s about how it grew and sustained its position for so long and confronts some of the myths and half-truths about Rome.

I’ve also started to read Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope. I’ve read the first two books in his Barchester Towers series and a year ago I thought I would soon be reading Doctor Thorne, the third book. Well, I’ve now got round to it, spurred on by the fact that ITV will be showing Julian Fellowes’ three-part adaptation of the book early in March and I want to experience the book through my own imagination first, without outside influence. I am enjoying it very much so far. I’m reading the free version on Kindle but I see that OUP are publishing a tie-in edition on 3 March, with a foreword by Julian Fellowes.

I’ve recently finished Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, a book I’ve had for about 8 years. Reverend John Ames, a 76 year old, dying of heart disease, is writing a letter to his 7 year old son telling him the things he would have told him if he had lived to see him grow up; the story of his life and that of his father and grandfather, and so much more besides. It’s not a book to rush through and I took my time reading this but still think I would get more out of it on a second reading. So I’ll be a while mulling it over before I review it. And I still have four other books I’ve read recently that I haven’t reviewed! 

What I will be reading next – I never make up my mind what to read next until the time arrives to choose  a book – and it could be a while yet as both the books I’m currently reading are quite long. I’m not sure if I want to carry on with the Ancient Rome theme by reading Catalina’s Riddle by Steven Saylor,  or something completely different and much shorter such as Asunder by Chloe Aridjis, a book I borrowed from the library this week:

Blurb:

Marie’s job as a museum guard at the National Gallery in London offers her the life she always wanted, one of invisibility and quiet contemplation. But amid the hushed corridors surge currents of history and violence, paintings whose power belie their own fragility. There also lingers the legacy of her great-grandfather Ted, the warder who slipped and fell moments before reaching the suffragette Mary Richardson as she took a blade to one of the gallery’s masterpieces on the eve of the First World War.

After nine years there, Marie begins to feel the tug of restlessness. A decisive change comes in the form of a winter trip to Paris, where, with the arrival of an uninvited guest and an unexpected encounter, her carefully contained world is torn apart.

It does sound good – described on the front cover by the Independent as ‘Rapturous and enraptured reading‘ and by the Guardian as ‘Strange, extravagant, darkly absorbing.’

But then again I’d like to read Slade House by David Mitchell (I wrote about this book in my last My Week in Books post).

I’d love to know if any body else has the same difficulties as me in choosing what to read next?

My Week in Books: 10 February 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Currently I’m reading two books:

Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen by Alison Weir, a proof copy – expected publication 5 May 2016. This is the first novel of the Six Tudor Queens series.

Blurb:

A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen. Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it. At sixteen years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers. She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother. She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.

Acclaimed, bestselling historian Alison Weir has based her enthralling account of Henry VIII’s first wife on extensive research and new theories. She reveals a strong, spirited woman determined to fight for her rights and the rightful place of her daughter. A woman who believed that to be the wife of a King was her destiny.

History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived.

I’m also reading SPQR: a History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard, the Kindle edition.

Blurb:

Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories – from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia – still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today. 

SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world’s foremost classicists. It explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us.

Covering 1,000 years of history, and casting fresh light on the basics of Roman culture from slavery to running water, as well as exploring democracy, migration, religious controversy, social mobility and exploitation in the larger context of the empire, this is a definitive history of ancient Rome.

SPQR is the Romans’ own abbreviation for their state: Senatus Populusque Romanus, ‘the Senate and People of Rome’.

I’ve recently finished Too Soon a Death by Janet O’Kane, crime fiction set in the Scottish Borders.

You can read my thoughts on this book in my previous post.

And next I’ll be reading Slade House by David Mitchell, or at least I think I’ll be reading this next. When the time comes I could fancy something completely different.

Blurb:

Born out of the short story David Mitchell published on Twitter in 2014 and inhabiting the same universe as his latest bestselling novel The Bone Clocks, this is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night.

Turn down Slade Alley – narrow, dank and easy to miss, even when you’re looking for it. Find the small black iron door set into the right-hand wall. No handle, no keyhole, but at your touch it swings open. Enter the sunlit garden of an old house that doesn’t quite make sense; too grand for the shabby neighbourhood, too large for the space it occupies.

A stranger greets you by name and invites you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t.

This unnerving, taut and intricately woven tale by one of our most original and bewitching writers begins in 1979 and reaches its turbulent conclusion around Hallowe’en, 2015. Because every nine years, on the last Saturday of October, a ‘guest’ is summoned to Slade House. But why has that person been chosen, by whom and for what purpose? The answers lie waiting in the long attic, at the top of the stairs…

What have you been reading this week and what have got in mind to read next?

My Week in Books: 13 January 2016

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next.

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A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Currently I’m reading two books:

The Pattern in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble, subtitled A Personal History with Jigsaws. It’s a mix of memoir, Margaret Drabble’s own personal reflections on doing jigsaws and the history of jigsaws and of children’s games and puzzles. I’ve always loved doing jigsaws and I’m loving this book.

Death Comes As the End by Agatha Christie

I’m also in the middle of reading Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie. This is a murder mystery set in Ancient Egypt, which despite its historical setting is a typical Agatha Christie mystery as members of a ka-priest’s family are murdered.

Then: this year I’ve been struggling to get rid of an awful cold which has turned into an irritating cough, which has meant that although I’ve still been able to read I haven’t managed to write about most of the books, including this one that I finished a few days ago:

A Month in the Country (Penguin Modern…

A Month in the Country by J L Carr. I love this little book set in the summer of 1920 when Tom Birkin, injured in the trenches in the First World War goes to a Yorkshire village to uncover a huge fourteenth century painting on the wall of the village church. A beautiful book! My post will follow soon.

Next – I been reading my way through Agatha Christie’s crime novels and I still have one more to read – Sparkling Cyanide, so that will be my next book.

Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

Blurb:

A beautiful heiress is fatally poisoned in a West End restaurant… Six people sit down to dinner at a table laid for seven. In front of the empty place is a sprig of rosemary – in solemn memory of Rosemary Barton who died at the same table exactly one year previously. No one present on that fateful night would ever forget the woman’s face, contorted beyond recognition – or what they remembered about her astonishing life.

My Week in Books: 11 November 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: Currently I’m reading two books: Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin. I’d like to finish this today.

BlurbHands in his pockets, Rebus turned to face Cafferty.
They were old men now, similar builds, similar backgrounds. Sat together in a pub, the casual onlooker might mistake them for pals who’d known one another since school.
But their history told a different story.

Retirement doesn’t suit John Rebus. He wasn’t made for hobbies, holidays or home improvements. Being a cop is in his blood.

So when DI Siobhan Clarke asks for his help on a case, Rebus doesn’t need long to consider his options.

Clarke’s been investigating the death of a senior lawyer whose body was found along with a threatening note. On the other side of Edinburgh, Big Ger Cafferty – Rebus’s long-time nemesis – has received an identical note and a bullet through his window.

Now it’s up to Clarke and Rebus to connect the dots and stop a killer.

Meanwhile, DI Malcolm Fox joins forces with a covert team from Glasgow who are tailing a notorious crime family. There’s something they want, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.

It’s a game of dog eat dog – in the city, as in the wild.

I’m also reading  Mrs Jordan’s Profession: the Story of a Great Actress and a King by Claire Tomalin, which I’ve been reading very slowly for a few weeks now. I hope to finish it soon. I’m up to 1812/13 when Dora and Prince William have parted and Dora is trying to come to terms with her new situation and pick up the pieces of her life. It’s very moving.

Blurb: Acclaimed as the greatest comic actress of her day, Dora Jordan lived a quite different role off-stage as lover to Prince William, third son of George III. Unmarried, the pair lived in a villa on the Thames and had ten children together until William, under pressure from royal advisers, abandoned her. The story of how Dora moved between the worlds of the eighteenth-century theatre and happy domesticity, of her fights for her family and her career makes a classic story of royal perfidy and female courage.

Then: I recently finished A Fear of Dark Water by Craig Russell. This is the sixth Jan Fabel book, but can be read as a stand-alone. Russell is now one of my favourite authors. This book is so good I raced through it.

Blurb: Just as a major environmental summit is about to start in Hamburg, a massive storm hits the city. When the flood waters recede, a headless torso is found washed up.

Initially, Jan Fabel of the Murder Commission fears it may be another victim of a serial rapist and murderer who stalks his victims through internet social network sites, then dumps their bodies in waterways around the city.

But the truth of the situation is far more complex and even more sinister. Fabel’s investigations lead him to a secretive environmental Doomsday cult called ‘Pharos’, the brainchild of a reclusive, crippled billionaire, Dominik Korn.

Fabel’s skills as a policeman are tested to their utmost as he finds himself drawn into an unfamiliar, high tech world of cyberspace, where anyone can be anybody or anything they want. And he quickly realises that he is no longer the hunter, but the hunted.

I’ll write more about this book in a later post.

Next: always tentative choices as when the time comes I may choose other books, but right now I’m thinking of reading Nagasaki: Life after Nuclear War by Susan Southard, a book that follows the lives of five teenage survivors of the atomic bombing of the civilian population of Nagasak from 1945 to the present day Southard. She  unveils the lives they have led, their injuries in the annihilation of the bomb, the dozens of radiation-related cancers and illnesses they have suffered, and the humiliating and frightening choices about marriage they were forced into as a result of their fears of the genetic diseases that may be passed through their families for generations to come.

And as I like to have both a non-fiction and a fiction book on the go together I may read A Pale View of the Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, which has post-war life in Japan as its backdrop to a story of memory, suicide, and psychological trauma.

This Week in Books: 30 September

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: Currently I’m reading two books: A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton. I expect I’ll finish this today.

Blurb:

Police sergeant Lacey Flint thinks she’s safe.

She thinks her new job with the river police, and her new life on a house boat, will keep her away from danger. But she’s wrong.

When Lacey discovers a body in the water, and sinister offerings appear in her home, she fears someone is trying to expose her darkest secret.

And the river is the last place she should be.

And I’m still reading Mrs Jordan’s Profession: the Story of a Great Actress and a King by Claire Tomalin. I’ve just got up to 1790 when Prince William, George III’s third son, has set his sights on Dora Jordan. Claire Tomalin writes in an easy style, painting a rich picture of life in which princes, theatre players, politicians and the aristocracy crossed the social boundaries for a while. It will be a while before I’ll finish this book.

Blurb: Acclaimed as the greatest comic actress of her day, Dora Jordan lived a quite different role off-stage as lover to Prince William, third son of George III. Unmarried, the pair lived in a villa on the Thames and had ten children together until William, under pressure from royal advisers, abandoned her. The story of how Dora moved between the worlds of the eighteenth-century theatre and happy domesticity, of her fights for her family and her career makes a classic story of royal perfidy and female courage.

Then: I recently finished:

The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell – see yesterday’s post for my review – an excellent book.

Next: what can I say? It all depends upon what I fancy when the time comes. Right now, I’d like a change from crime fiction -something short and light hearted would be good. Any suggestions would be welcome.

This Week in Books: 23 September 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme,  WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: Currently I’m reading two books:

The Ghosts of Altona by Craig Russell – see yesterday’s post for the opening paragraphs and blurb.

And Mrs Jordan’s Profession: the Story of a Great Actress and a King by Claire Tomalin.

Blurb:

Acclaimed as the greatest comic actress of her day, Dora Jordan lived a quite different role off-stage as lover to Prince William, third son of George III. Unmarried, the pair lived in a villa on the Thames and had ten children together until William, under pressure from royal advisers, abandoned her. The story of how Dora moved between the worlds of the eighteenth-century theatre and happy domesticity, of her fights for her family and her career makes a classic story of royal perfidy and female courage.

Then: I recently finished Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor

Blurb:

As civil war between Caesar and Pompey engulfs the Roman world, Gordianus the Finder receives an anonymous message informing him of the death of his son Meto who has been acting as a double agent for Caesar. The search for Meto’s fate brings Gordianus to the besieged seaport of Massilia, which is stubbornly holding out against Caesar’s troops. As famine and slaughter threaten the blockaded city, Gordianus is drawn into the intrigues of exiled Romans and duplicitous Massilians. His only friend in the city, Hieronymous, has been made the doomed scapegoat elected by city officials to bear the sins of the populace and save them all from annihilation. Meanwhile, Gordianus is constantly frustrated in his efforts to find out what happened to his son – and when he witnesses the fall of a young woman from a precipice outside the city called the Sacrifice Rock, then the plot begins to thicken…

See this post for my thoughts on the book.

Next: This is always difficult for me to predict – last week for example I listed some books I thought I might be reading next but after starting each of them I put them all down for a while and began reading The Ghosts of Altona – which wasn’t on the list.

At the moment I’m thinking that the next book I read could be The Heresy of Dr Dee by Phil Rickman, which I’ve been meaning to read ever since I read his first Dr Dee book, The Bones of Avalon.

I thought of this book because ITV are broadcasting a new series adapted from Rickman’s Merrily Watkins books, beginning tonight with Midwinter of the Spirit, about a priest (Merrily) who is also an exorcist. I have the first four books on Kindle waiting to be read and was tempted to try to read the first one before watching the programme, but as I expect the adaptation could easily be different from the books I decided not to as I don’t want to get irritated and keep saying ‘it’s not like that in the book’ whilst watching the programme.

Have you read any of these books and what have you been reading?

This Week in Books:16 September 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: Currently I’m reading two books – Adam Bede by George Eliot

I’ve now read about 60% of this book (now reading chapter XXX) and it is just beginning to get to the nitty-gritty.

Blurb

Carpenter Adam Bede is in love with the beautiful Hetty Sorrel, but unknown to him, he has a rival, in the local squire’s son Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is soon attracted by Arthur’s seductive charm and they begin to meet in secret. The relationship is to have tragic consequences that reach far beyond the couple themselves, touching not just Adam Bede, but many others, not least, pious Methodist Preacher Dinah Morris. A tale of seduction, betrayal, love and deception, the plot of Adam Bede has the quality of an English folk song. Within the setting of Hayslope, a small, rural community, Eliot brilliantly creates a sense of earthy reality, making the landscape itself as vital a presence in the novel as that of her characters themselves.

and Last Seen in Massilia by Steven Saylor

Blurb:

As civil war between Caesar and Pompey engulfs the Roman world, Gordianus the Finder receives an anonymous message informing him of the death of his son Meto who has been acting as a double agent for Caesar. The search for Meto’s fate brings Gordianus to the besieged seaport of Massilia, which is stubbornly holding out against Caesar’s troops. As famine and slaughter threaten the blockaded city, Gordianus is drawn into the intrigues of exiled Romans and duplicitous Massilians. His only friend in the city, Hieronymous, has been made the doomed scapegoat elected by city officials to bear the sins of the populace and save them all from annihilation. Meanwhile, Gordianus is constantly frustrated in his efforts to find out what happened to his son – and when he witnesses the fall of a young woman from a precipice outside the city called the Sacrifice Rock, then the plot begins to thicken…

I’ve read the first four chapters so far, setting the scene in Massilia (modern day Marseilles).

Then – yesterday I finished The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Blurb:

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

This is a fascinating book and I’m currently sorting out my thoughts for my post later this week.

Next – impossible to predict right now with some many books begging to be read. It could be one of these:

or it could be something completely different (there are plenty more waiting to be read)! What would you choose and what have you been reading?

This Week in Books: 9 September 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now I’m reading Like This For Ever by Sharon Bolton (the third Lacey Flint book) and it’s good!

Blurb

Twelve-year-old Barney Roberts is obsessed with a series of murders.

He knows the victims are all boys, just like him.

He knows the bodies were found on river banks.

And he’s sure the killer will strike again soon.

But there’s something else, a secret he’d rather not know, a secret he is too scared to share . . .

And who would believe a twelve-year-old boy anyway?

*LIKE THIS, FOR EVER is published as LOST in the US*

In contrast I’m also reading Adam Bede by George Eliot

After a bit of a false start I am now well into this book.

Blurb

Carpenter Adam Bede is in love with the beautiful Hetty Sorrel, but unknown to him, he has a rival, in the local squire’s son Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is soon attracted by Arthur’s seductive charm and they begin to meet in secret. The relationship is to have tragic consequences that reach far beyond the couple themselves, touching not just Adam Bede, but many others, not least, pious Methodist Preacher Dinah Morris. A tale of seduction, betrayal, love and deception, the plot of Adam Bede has the quality of an English folk song. Within the setting of Hayslope, a small, rural community, Eliot brilliantly creates a sense of earthy reality, making the landscape itself as vital a presence in the novel as that of her characters themselves.

Then – I read Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton (the second in the Lacey Flint series) and it was excellent!

My post will be up soon. Here’s the blurb:

A series of suicides. Each one a female university student. Each one more horrifying than the last.

The police know it cannot be coincidence. But they can’t prove it.

They need someone to go undercover. A young policewoman, as vulnerable as the others. As unprepared for the nightmare that will greet her.

Watch your back, Lacey Flint . . .

Next: For once I know exactly which book I’ll be reading next – it’s The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Blurb:

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

I’m looking forward to reading it. I hope it lives up to its reputation. This is what the Neil Gaiman said in the New York Times about it:

The Buried Giant does what important books do: It remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over … Ishiguro is not afraid to tackle huge, personal themes, nor to use myths, history and the fantastic as the tools to do it.

This Week in Books: 22 July 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now

Fiction: Zen There Was Murder by H R F Keating

Blurb – In a country mansion converted to adult educational courses, Mr Utamaro is lecturing on Zen Buddhism to a small and not entirely appreciative audience. But Zen questions and their seemingly quirkish answers predominate, until they are superseded by two of greater urgency: ‘Who stole the wakizashi?’ and ‘Who killed Flaveen Mills?’

Non Fiction: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Blurb –  Chris Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement – and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff.

You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Colonel Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights in this book will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth – especially your own.

Then

The last book I finished is The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. I first read this book in 2008 and have re-read it for my local book group.

I thoroughly enjoyed it this time round – more than I did in 2008.  It’s the story of  Quoyle who left New York and headed to Newfoundland, the home of his forefathers.

My review will follow in a few days.

Next

I’m not sure. It could be The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter – the last Morse book. I’ve watched the TV version but never read the book. It’s one of the book I’ve listed to read for the 10 Books of Summer challenge.

Blurb – The murder of Yvonne Harrison had left Thames Valley CID baffled. A year after the dreadful crime they are still no nearer to making an arrest. But one man has yet to tackle the case – and it is just the sort of puzzle at which Chief Inspector Morse excels.

So why is he adamant that he will not lead the re-investigation, despite the entreaties of Chief Superintendent Strange and dark hints of some new evidence? And why, if he refuses to take on the case officially, does he seem to be carrying out his own private enquiries?

For Sergeant Lewis this is yet another example of the unsettling behaviour his chief has been displaying of late . . .

But it could be something completely different …

This Week in Books: 8 July 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m still making slow progress with Stephen Hawking: His Life and Work. Goodreads tells me I’ve read 62%. It’s slow reading in the ‘work’ sections and much quicker in the ‘life’ sections.

Blurb:

Stephen Hawking is one of the most remarkable figures of our time, a Cambridge genius who has earned international celebrity as a brilliant theoretical physicist and become an inspiration and revelation to those who have witnessed his courageous triumph over disability. This is Hawking’s life story by Kitty Ferguson, who has had special help from Hawking himself and his close associates and who has a gift for translating the language of theoretical physics for non-scientists.

Twenty years ago, Kitty Ferguson’s Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of Everything became a Sunday Times bestseller and took the world by storm. She now returns to the subject to transform that short book into a hugely expanded, carefully researched, up-to-the-minute biography.

Then: I’ve finished reading The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards – the story of detective fiction written by the authors in the Detection Club between the two World Wars. This is a fascinating and detailed account of the lives and work of the members of the Detection Club elected between 1930 and 1949.

My review will follow in due course (I’m a *bit* behind with writing reviews at the moment). For now I’ll say that I haven’t read many books by the authors, apart from Agatha Christie’s and a few of the others mentioned, so much of the information is new to me and consequently there’s so much to take in. It will be a good reference book for me in the future, I’m sure.

The other books I’ve finished recently and have yet to write about are:

The Day of the Lie by William Brodrick. I enjoyed this book but it is immensely complicated and I think I need to re-read it before I can attempt to write down what I made of it.

The Man in the Wooden Hat and Last Friends both by Jane Gardam. These are sequel books to Old Filth, which I first read years ago. Again I need to think more about these books before writing about them – and I may re-read Old Filth before I do.

Now: I haven’t decided which book to read next. There are so many I want to read – Old Filth for one, one of the  books I wrote about in my Stacking the Shelves post, or one of my own TBR books. I shall have to browse around my shelves to see what takes my fancy.

This Week in Books: June 17 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now: I’m still making slow progress with the two non fiction books I started a few weeks ago. I like to take time with these as there is so much information to take in.

They are The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards – the story of detective fiction written by the authors in the Detection Club between the two World Wars.

And Stephen Hawking: His Life and Work – it’s the science that’s slowly me down considerably in this, but it is really fascinating. I’m looking forward to watching Stephen Hawking’s interview with Dara O Briain, which  was broadcast last night on BBC1. It was on a bit late, so we’ve recorded it.

I’ve recently started The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, which I am loving so far.

Blurb:

The Secret Keeper, is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, murder and enduring love, moving between the 1930s, the 1960s and the present.
1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.
2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

 

Then: A Game for all the Family

I have recently finished A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah which I’m not sure about at all. It’s weird and has been occupying my mind for the last few days. My review will follow shortly when I’ve sorted out what I make of it.

Blurb

Justine thought she knew who she was, until an anonymous caller seemed to know better… After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.

But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.

Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety. If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be…

Next:

I’m never sure what I’ll read next. I’d like to read so many, but I’m thinking of reading a few of Agatha Christie’s Parker Pyne stories that I wrote about in my last post. It will fit in nicely with reading The Golden Age of Murder!

This Week in Books: 10 June 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’m currently reading three books.

Golden Age June

 

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards – the story of detective fiction written by the authors in the Detection Club between the two World Wars.  I’ve been reading this slowly for a few weeks. I am nearly half way now and it is fascinating.

Stephen Hawking: His Life and Work by Kitty Ferguson. I’ve borrowed this from my local library. I’m reading this slowly too, just a bit each day. The biographical sections are more interesting to me than the scientific explanations of his work – black holes and their event horizons are still a mystery to me, but at least I think I now know what an event horizon is (the outer boundary of a black hole – why isn’t it just called that?)!

The Kill by Jane Casey. I’ve nearly finished this, the fifth Maeve Kerrigan book – I hope to finish it either today or tomorrow. Another page turner and very dramatic!

Then:

Sad Cypress 01I’ve recently finished Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie, in which Hercule Poirot investigates the death of Mary Gerrard.

My review is on its way …

 

 

Next:

I’m never quite sure what I’ll read next – it could be one of many, although as Lovereading has sent me a copy of A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah to review by the end of June it could be that one next.

Blurb

Justine thought she knew who she was, until an anonymous caller seemed to know better… After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.

But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.

Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety. If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be…

But it could just as easily be one of the other books piling up to be read. I’ve been neglecting my TBR books recently – those are the books I’ve owned since before 1 January this year – so it could be something such as King Solomon’s Carpet by Barbara Vine. It has such an intriguing title, which doesn’t seem to match the description of this book at all – the book cover indicates it’s about a group of people who all travel on the London Underground. As it’s a Barbara Vine book I expect it will be rather thrilling and chilling.

What about you? What are you reading, now, then and next?

This Week in Books: 27 May 2015

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’ve read the opening chapters of The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey and am continuing to read The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards.

Now bks 27 May

Then:

I’ve recently finished reading Harbour Street and Poirot and Me by David Suchet. I’ll be writing posts about these books soon.

Then books 27 MayNext:

At the moment I think I’d like to read The Bees by Laline Paull next – a change from crime fiction.

Blurb (Amazon)

Enter a whole new world, in this thrilling debut novel set entirely within a beehive.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.

But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous.

But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce love that will lead to the unthinkable . . .

Laline Paull’s chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, ‘The Bees’ is the story of a heroine who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.

This Week in Books: 20 May 2015

My week in books

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’m currently  reading three books.

Golden Age etc

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards – the story of detective fiction written by the authors in the Detection Club between the two World Wars.  I’m reading this slowly, enjoying all the details about authors whose books I’ve read such as Agatha Christie and authors I’ve only heard of. I can see I’m going to have a long list of books to read by the end of this book.

Harbour Streetthe sixth Vera Stanhope murder mystery by Ann Cleeves. In Newcastle, Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie travel home on the busy Metro. The train is stopped unexpectedly, and Jessie sees that one woman doesn’t leave with the other passengers: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed. This was adapted for television and I watched it when it was first broadcast last year but can’t remember the identity of the murderer!

Poirot and Me by David Suchet – his account of how he came to play Hercule Poirot in TV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot in 1988 until the final episode in 2013. I think I must have watched all the episodes, some more than once and it’s interesting to get David Suchet’s perspective.

Then:

A few days ago I finished reading Dry Bones That Dream by Peter Robinson, a DCI Banks Mystery. I wrote about it earlier this week in this post.

Next:

As usual I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I’m very tempted to read one of the books I added to the TBR piles yesterday when I went to Barter Books in Alnwick. Yesterday was also the fortnightly visit of the library van and I collected three books I’d reserved- I’ll do a separate post about all these books.

The one that is calling to me right now is The Stranger You Know by Jane Casey. This is the fourth Maeve Kerrigan book and I’ve read the first three.

Maeve is investigating the murders of three women who have been strangled in their homes by the same killer. It appears that they knew their killer and had let him in.

This Week in Books: 22 April 2015

My week in books

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I‘ve just started to read Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers, the  second book featuring Harriet Vane. Harriet is on a walking holiday on her own and finds a dead body on the top of a rock on a deserted beach, ‘the corpse with the cut throat‘ as Lord Peter Wimsey describes it. As this was first published in 1932, Harriet was not only without a mobile phone, but also without access to a landline without walking miles to a village where she could phone the police from the village shop. It’s promising to be an excellent read.

I’m also still reading Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes ( non fiction, a memoir, a meditation on death and the fear of dying) – in fact I’ve not read any more of this book than I had last week – blame not only reading other books but also the good weather and the garden, where I’ve spent too much time, not relaxing, but weeding, mowing and general tidying up.

Then:

I’ve finished both Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey and The Last Girl by Jane Casey – my reviews will  follow soon.

Next:

Next up I’ll probably be reading The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz, an advance proof copy of the book from Lovereading due to be published in May – how can I resist a book that begins with a walled garden? I’ve always wanted a garden like that ever since I read The Secret Garden.

But then I could get drawn to a different book when the time comes!

 

This Week in Books: 15 April 2015

My week in books

This Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’m currently reading:

The Last Girl

  • The Last Girl by Jane Casey, the third Maeve Kerrigan book. The only witness to the murder of her mother and twin sister and the attack on her father is a teenager. Maeve’s first thought is that this is a domestic dispute gone bad.
  •  Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, a complete contrast to The Last Girl. There is only one thing Maud is sure about – her friend Elizabeth is missing and nobody seems to be taking her seriously. It’s going really well so far.
  • Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes – non fiction, a memoir, a meditation on death and the fear of dying.

Then:

I’ve recently read (links are to my posts on the books):

Nora Webster

My thoughts: Set in the late 1960s in Wexford, Ireland this is a portrait of recently widowed Nora Webster. Unmoored by her sudden loss and the needs of her children Nora finds a strength within herself and through the discovery of music and the gift of friendship finds a way to live again. It’s a vivid portrait of a woman initially locked within her grief, claustrophobic and intensely personal, and focussing on daily life in all its boredom, frustration and triviality. A moving book.

Next:

As usual I’m undecided about what to read next. It will probably be Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, my spin result for the Classics Club Spin. But I also have my eye on Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers, another Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane book and Gray Mountain by John Grisham another of his legal thrillers although I see it has some bad reviews on Amazon. Both are books I’ve borrowed from the library.  I have a feeling I’ll pick Have His Carcase when the time comes.

This Week in Books: 8 April 2015

My week in booksThis Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Now:

I’m currently reading The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. I have mixed feelings about it, alternating between thinking it’s good, not so good, and just about OK, so I carry on reading. It’s historical fiction based on Freud’s visit to New York in 1909, accompanied by Jung, when a young woman is brutally murdered and a second is attacked and left unable to speak. A mixture of murder mystery and psychoanalysis with an interpretation of ‘Hamlet‘ thrown in. I’ve nearly finished this book.

I’m also reading Dreamwalker: The Ballad of Sir Benfro Book One by James Oswald on my Kindle. This is fantasy fiction, not the sort of book I read very often, so it makes a refreshing change. This is inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, following the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. I’ve read about 25% of the book so far.

Then:

I’ve recently finished reading Dacre’s War by Rosemary Goring, a new book which will be published in June. My copy is a pre-publication review copy courtesy of www.lovereading.co.uk. I loved this book, historical fiction set in the Scottish and English Borders and London between 1523 – 1525, full of political intrigue and personal vengeance. My review will follow soon.

Next:

There are several books lining up that I’m keen to read next. I’m not sure which one to choose. It’s been a while since I read an Agatha Christie, so it could be The Moving Finger, a Miss Marple mystery. Or it could be Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, or Nora Webster by Colm Tobin, or The Last Girl, the third Maeve Kerrigan book by Jane Casey. Or something completely different!