Stacking The Shelves

 

stacking the shelves

 

Stacking the shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves. These can be physical books or e-books. Books you have bought or borrowed, or have been given. All can be added.

 

 

Getting home from holiday in Tenerife last Saturday morning, I was feeling a little down with post-holiday blues. However when I saw what the postman had brought me throughout the week I cheered up immeasurably.

 

First up I received The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans all wrapped up in lovely butterfly wrapping paper.

the butterfly summerWhat magic is this?

You follow the hidden creek towards a long-forgotten house.

They call it Keepsake, a place full of wonder … and danger. Locked inside the crumbling elegance of its walls lies the story of the Butterfly Summer, a story you’ve been waiting all your life to hear.

This house is Nina Parr’s birthright. It holds the truth about her family – and a chance to put everything right at last.

 

My next book is This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. I am so excited about this one. I love Maggie O’Farrell. So huge thanks to Georgina Moore at Headline for sending me a copy.

this must be the place

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life.

A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE crosses continents and time zones, giving voice to a diverse and complex cast of characters. At its heart, it is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart.

Maggie O’Farrell’s seventh novel is a dazzling, intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world.

 

Next up I was delighted to receive a copy of In Her Wake from the lovely Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books. There is a huge buzz about this book and I am really looking forward to reading it.

in her wake#

 

My next book I won in a giveaway. It is The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller and it looks absolutely fab.

the faithful couple

California, 1993: Neil Collins and Adam Tayler, two young British men on the cusp of adulthood, meet at a hostel in San Diego. They strike up a friendship that, while platonic, feels as intoxicating as a romance; they travel up the coast together, harmlessly competitive, innocently collusive, wrapped up in each other. On a camping trip to Yosemite they lead each other to behave in ways that, years later, they will desperately regret.

 

Last Saturday afternoon I spent a lovely few hours in a pub in Leeds with fellow members of The Book Club. It was a wonderful afternoon meeting new friends and chatting about books and authors. In the raffle draw I was lucky enough to win one of the books: The Heiress Of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton.

the heiress

Northumberland, 1809: A beautiful young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.

The local constables are baffled and the townsfolk cry ‘witchcraft’.

The heiress’s uncle summons help from Detective Lavender and his assistant, Constable Woods, who face one of their most challenging cases: The servants and local gypsies aren’t talking; Helen’s siblings are uncooperative; and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.

Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud as they uncover a world of family secrets, intrigue and deception in their search for the missing heiress.

 

I took three book for the swap table, but although I really tried not to, I picked two more up. How could I resist In The Dark by Mark Billingham and The House We Grew Up In by Lisa jewell? Impossible’

the house we grew up in                                                in the dark

 

So that is my haul for this week, they should keep me going for quite a while. If you want to share any of yours feel free.

Happy reading folks. 🙂

The Ballroom

the ballroom

 

 

The Ballroom

by Anna Hope

 

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

 

This book is set during the heatwave of 1911, in an asylum on the Yorkshire moors. It was a time when people were committed to asylums for the most minor of misdemeanours.

There are four main characters; John,who has suffered badly in his life; he is put to work digging graves for his fellow inmates, not knowing if one of them could be his own. Ella, who has been thrown into the asylum for no more than breaking a window in the mill, because she was desperate to see the sky; she has to work in a laundry sweatshop with no windows. Clem, an educated, bookish girl who does not fit the mould and whose family saw fit to send her there as a private patient. Lastly there is Charles Fuller the doctor who tries to bring music into their lives.

At the centre of the inmates lives is the ballroom; a grand cathedral-like edifice at odds with the uncompromising bleakness of the rest of the asylum. In the ballroom a weekly dance is held. It is here that John and Ella meet and love blossoms. As the men and women are segregated it is virtually impossible for them to meet, and Clem becomes their means of communication.

This is a beautifully written novel setting the stark beauty of the Yorkshire moors, through the changing seasons, against the grim forbidding walls of the asylum. it shows the impossibly harsh treatment meted out by the people in charge, who, it could be said, had far more reason to be incarcerated than the most of the patients.

All the characters are beautifully drawn, but Dr Charles Fuller is possibly the most tragically complex character that I have ever read about. Even though he can walk out any time he is more imprisoned than any of the inmates.

The book highlights the horrendous conditions for working class people at the start of the 20th century – such a short time ago. The eugenics debate that plays a large role in the book feels like it should belong in the middle ages.

This is a novel about love, power, madness and survival; but despite the harrowing subject matter, it is an elegant, affecting book that has writing that is almost poetic. It will make you angry and upset but ultimately this book soars.

A must read.

*****

Many thanks to the publishers, Transworld, for sending me a copy via Netgalley

 

 

Another Love

another love

 

Another Love

by Amanda Prowse

 

In the early years of their love affair, Romilly was happy. She had worked hard for her stunning, modern house in one of Bristol’s most fashionable suburbs. She adored her gorgeous, gap-toothed daughter and her handsome, kind husband. Sure, life was sometimes exhausting – but nothing that a large glass of wine at the end of the day couldn’t fix.

And then a new neighbour arrived and everything unravelled. A glass of wine became a bottle; one bottle became two. Romilly’s family were once everything to her. Now, after years of hiding the drinking, she must finally admit that she has found another love…

 

Romilly has the perfect life. Gorgeous husband who loves her madly, beautiful daughter, fantastic job that she has always wanted and a lovely home. Romilly has it all. But she also has another love: one that destroys, wreaks havoc and ruins. And it is this other love that is all-consuming, that she follows to the detriment of everything and everyone in her life.

We watch as she slowly falls under the power of this other love. As the fissures crack and break open. We silently scream as she falls at each trigger. and we are there with her when she finally crashes and burns.

It is heartbreaking.

But then we watch as she falteringly gets to her feet, like a new born foal, hoping against hope that she will walk again. but what hope is there when everything is lost?

This is a beautifully written book, with characters that you want to fight for. David, a more wonderful man you could not wish for. And the awful thing is, Romilly knows this and still can’t help herself.

Celeste;  Romilly and David’s daughter, such a traumatic upbringing and yet still turns into a lovely intelligent young woman. Alternating chapters are told through Celeste’s eyes and these filled with sadness. No child should have to go through what she did.

Romilly, as much as you want to shake her and stop her, you can also see that nobody would willingly do this to themselves and just like her family you just want her to get well.

Amanda Prowse has an incredible gift for characters and storytelling. Within a few pages you are totally immersed in the lives of these people and at the end you really don’t want to let them go. This is a difficult subject and in lesser hands could easily have been trite, but Amanda Prowse handles it with compassion and you can tell she really cares about her characters. I do have to say that, unfortunately, I will never be able to forgive her for making me blub like a child on a crowded aeroplane.

Highly recommended.

****1/2

Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy via Netgalley.

 

 

The Widow

the widow

 

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

 

Whenever there is a high profile crime that beggars belief and the perpetrator appears to be some sort of inhumane monster, many thoughts often turn to the family, especially the partner. And questions are asked, such as: How could they not have known?  Have they been covering for the criminal? Were they involved?

In this book we get to see the other side.

The widow is Jean Taylor. At first glance a meek, submissive woman dominated by her husband. But as her story goes on her layers are slowly exposed and we see she has many different aspects to her personality and she is as much in control as controlled.

It is quite difficult to believe that she is only 39 years old as she comes across as being much older than that. She talks about her husband’s ‘nonsense’, a phrase I would expect my grandmother to use.

Husband Glen has been accused of a terrible crime: the kidnap and possible murder of a two year old child. His character is very one dimensional, we only see him through Jean’s eyes, and it merely consists of him trying to persuade her that he didn’t do it.

Enter D. I. Bob Sparkes, a man whose life is deeply affected by this case. He is a good man that desperately wants to find the young girl; unfortunately this leads to some decisions that are no more than his heart ruling his head. To say that the police investigation was inept is an understatement of gigantic proportions. They follow false leads like a donkey follows a carrot.

Kate is the reporter who manages to get inside jean Taylor’s head. Fiona Barton does a great job of showing a different side to journalists. Yes, it is cut-throat, all of them trying to get the same exclusive, but they are also people and and not always the unfeeling beasts that they are made out to be.

Bella Elliott is the child who has been taken. If there is a problem with this book it is that Bella does not really have  a part in the story, in that it’s all about the adults. The only way that Bella can affect us is through her name. Bella Elliott doesn’t roll off the tongue, it sits in your mouth, chewable, hard to swallow. This is the only connection we have with the lost child. Purposeful or co-incidence? I’m not sure, but it works.

I really enjoyed this book (if enjoy is the right word). It is a dark story full of mistrust, secrets and lies with frighteningly realistic characters; the very ordinariness of Jean Taylor  is deeply disturbing.

I did guess part of the ending which must mean it’s quite obvious as I am a crime writer’s dream – never guessing anything. But all through the book  I was never sure  whether Glen Taylor had committed the crime or not. Never sure whether jean believed him or not. That’s what the book is about, the human psychology, what you know, how much your mind can be tricked. What you can live with. And it’s very good.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy via Netgalley.

 

 

 

Stacking The Shelves

stacking the shelves

 

Stacking the shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves. These can be physical books or e-books. Books you have bought or borrowed, or have been given. All can be added.

This week I have been approved for two books, and received two corkers through the post. Books seem to be building up again, but I am on holiday at the end of next week so hopefully will read a few sitting in the sun by the pool. 🙂

 

First up is The Ballroom by Anna Hope.

the ballroom

 

 

Where love is your only escape ….

1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.

I have heard so much about this book and it is really highly reviewed, so I am really looking forward to it.

 

Next up is The One-In-A-Million-Boy by Monica Wood

 

one in a million boy

 

Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.

The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…

Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.

Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete . . .

Sounds so good.

 

Next Up my first book post, Alone In The Dark by Karen Rose.

 

alone in the dark

 

Homicide Detective Scarlett Bishop has seen enough bad guys slip through the cracks and too many innocent victims go unavenged to know good doesn’t always prevail. So far she’s been able to lock away her rage and her vigilante fantasies. That lock is about to break.

Former Army Ranger Marcus O’Bannion is a fierce champion of victims’ rights. His secret past gives him good reason. He believes he’s seen the depths of human depravity, but then his investigation into the murder of a young girl who once asked for his help lures him and Scarlett down a dark, dark road—and straight into the crosshairs of a dangerous, powerful underground ring that deals in human trade. To stop them, Scarlett and Marcus have to be just as cunning and just as ruthless. But first they have to make it out alive.

Love Karen Rose….

 

My best moment of the week was when this little beauty popped through my letter box along with a 7″ single! Yay.  David’s last book, The Last Days Of Disco was one of my top books of 2015 (read my review here )

 

the rise and fall of the miraculous vespas.jpeg

 

The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas is the timeless story of the quest for pop immortality. When a young Ayrshire band miraculously hits the big time with the smash hit record of 1984, international stardom beckons. That’s despite having a delusional teenage manager guided by malevolent voices… Can Max Mojo’s band of talented band of social misfits repeat their success and pay back an increasingly agitated cartel of local gangsters? Or will they have to kidnap Boy George and hope for the best? Features much loved characters from The Last Days of Disco.

I absolutely cannot wait to read this book!!

So that’s my haul for this week, and I am looking forward to all of them.  What are you reading? Feel free to leave a link. 🙂

 

An interview with Sam Eades – Senior Commissioning editor at Orion

The Romaniacs

I’m very happy to welcome Sam Eades, senior commissioning editor and associate publicist at Orion, to the blog today, answering some questions and offering some great advice!

Hi Sam, and welcome. Can I start by asking you to give us an insight into your day to day role?
I am a senior commissioning editor and associate publicist at Orion. I’ve been here seven months now, following stints at Transworld, Headline and Macmillan in the publicity department. I have an unusual role in that I both commission fiction AND publicise it! And no, I don’t publicise my own books, I think I’d annoy myself too much. No day is the same but some of the day to day tasks I might do include on the pr side: circulating coverage to agent, author and sales team; pitching for media; accompanying an author to interviews and events; pitching a book at an…

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Chickens Eat Pasta

chickens eat pasta

 

 

Chickens Eat Pasta

by Clare Pedrick

 

Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a medieval hill village in central Italy. Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour.

 

Clare Pedrick, sees an advertisement for property in Umbria, Italy. She is 26 years old, just out of a seven year relationship and bored with her life. Acting impulsively she flies out to Italy and is shown a ruin of a house which she buys there and then.

What follows is her journey to a new and hopefully better life. Revolving around the little village of San Massano and the renovation of her house, we are transported to this rural delight, where the characters are larger-than-life, the scenery stunning and the food mouthwatering.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Ercolino who is married to an Englishwoman, Angela. He takes it upon himself to be Clare’s father figure and his misuse of English colloquialisms is a constant source of amusement.

Then there is Tito, the local shopkeeper, who is engaged in a long distance courtship of a lady called Clara:

      “I have my weekly phone call to Clara, and we’ve decided to talk for ten minutes this time, instead of the usual five. There’s so much to plan before we get married in October.”

Food and wine are a huge part of Italian life and feature prominently in the book. The descriptions of the meals and the cooking are sumptuous. I will be using this book as a recipe book now that I have finished reading it.

As Clare is busy fighting her battles with Italian bureaucracy and lecherous men, into her life walks Mario and so begins another chapter.

This book is a wonderful read. The writing appears effortless, bringing to life the Italian countryside, and the bustling cities of Naples and Rome. If you have been before you are sure to recognise them, and if you haven’t you are sure to want to go.

 

Before reading Clare’s book, she kindly did a guest post for me about her move to Italy. If you would like to read it click here