Welcome to my book-blog. I've spent the last 22 years as a teacher of English Literature and running a Stage School and Theatre. Alongside that, I spend as much time as I can within the pages of a book and hope you'll get some reading inspiration from my library. Catch me on Instagram as well as books.tea.and.me – I'm always looking for recommendations!
Absolutely delighted to be on the blog tour today for ‘The Secrets of Strangers’, with thanks to Allen & Unwin Publishers, Anne Cater #RandomThingsTours and to Charity Norman for the moving story. See below for the book blurb and some bookish chat. Thank you for reading!
A regular weekday morning veers drastically off-course for five strangers whose paths cross in a London café – their lives never to be the same again when an apparently crazed gunman holds them hostage.
But there is more to the situation than first meets the eye and as the captives grapple with their own inner demons, the line between right and wrong starts to blur. Will the secrets they keep stop them from escaping with their lives?
Firstly, this is, for me, a five star read; it’s a deeply moving story of a group of people who find themselves in an appalling situation, and not of their own making. It’s a story of humanity and inhumanity told through a carefully constructed slow reveal narrative that pulls on so many emotions for the reader to work through. There are incredibly moving human stories here, both distressing and soul reaching, I genuinely had to stop reading and take a deep breath at times.
The injustices this book covers are truly heart-wrenching, but Norman controls and balances the prose so beautifully, it’s actually tears of joy and hope that fall as the story ends despite the tragedy.
Yes, this is a story of a hostage situation on the surface, but the actual depth in the story is really important, and as we are introduced to the lives of those caught up in the drama, we learn about ourselves and the world we live in too. I enjoyed all the players in this tense drama, from the gunman and the hostage negotiator to the eclectic mix of people who find themselves hostages in a heart-pounding situation, oh, and of course, the dog!
Profoundly moving, absolutely unexpected and deeply memorable. I have no hesitation recommending this book for readers.
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. THE SECRETS OF STRANGERS is her sixth novel.
With thanks to Beth for the tour invite. This is the third book in the Washington Poe crime thriller series, and to find out more do keep reading…
A serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6
Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetised, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier? And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator. And nothing will ever be the same again . . .
Don’t you just love that moment when a new book arrives from one of your favourite series; it’s like meeting up with old, and missed, friends. M. W. Craven’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series is one of those books, and ‘The Curator’ is the latest adventure into the crime thriller world, and what a crime fighting team! The SCAS (Serious Crime Analysis Section) are back and headed by D.I Stephanie Flynn, who is now heavily pregnant. Poe and Bradshaw are soon working with her again on an unusual and macabre case. All the books work easily as stand-alone, so don’t hesitate to pick up this book if you’re new to the series.
‘The Curator’ – I love the title – is a tightly plotted and tense puzzle, where a series of crimes is being orchestrated from the shadows. It’s up to Poe and Bradshaw to unravel the threads of some rather gruesome crimes and capture the villain. For me, the highlight of these books are the characters and their interplay, there are lovely personal relationships continuing to develop, and an intense dedication to hunting down the culprits. I loved the plot in this book; the idea of a ‘Curator’ controlling the ‘players’ was fun to watch develop.
A twisty, puzzling and satisfying read, placing Craven’s cerebral dexterity firmly in centre stage position. Disturbingly dark, sharply plotted with a dash of panache!
A highly recommended read: I can’t wait to see what Craven comes up with next!
I am thrilled to join the blog tour for Eve Chase’s novel, ‘The Glass House’, with huge thanks to Gaby for the invite. This is my first book by Eve Chase, and if her others are anything like this, then I’ve been seriously missing out. See below for the book blurb and more bookish chat about ‘The Glass House’, and… wow what a stunning cover design – who could leave this behind in a book shop!
A remote manor house.
An idyllic wood
An abandoned baby.
A shocking discovery deep in the forest.
One summer will change a family’s life for ever.
Step through the door of Foxcote Manor, and discover its darkest secrets.
I read this book on a beautiful summer’s day in my garden: the perfect setting and time to read this absolutely absorbing story of events at Foxcote Manor one summer, and, for me, at the heart of the story is a woman known by those close to her as ‘Big Rita’.
There are three central voices in this book and an alternating time frame of 1971 and the present day. It’s a female story told via the voices of Rita, Sylvie and Hera. I am a sucker for a remote household setting; here we have the rather neglected and solitary Foxcote Manor, a ‘wreaked beauty’ of a house, with ‘mullioned windows’ that ‘blink drunkenly’ and set within a sprawling natural forest. The house is cocooned by the woodlands and provides an isolated setting for the central story to play-out.
This is a story of secrets, and I loved the slow unfolding of the mystery. What I loved the most is the character of Big Rita (named because of her height) and her self-sacrifice and sense of duty for the family she works for. Rita is hired by the Harrington family to look after their children, five year old Teddy, twelve year old Hera and the new baby on its way. I loved Rita’s character, her determination, compassion and dedication to the family she works for and her resilience in protecting and nurturing them. Set alongside this early part of Rita’s story is the present day narrative of Sylvie, a woman newly divorced and struggling with her teenage daughter to begin again, particularly after receiving traumatic news.
Chase’s writing is truly lovely, she has a beautiful way with words that manoeuvres the reader into the minds of her characters and leaves little snippets of the mystery to be pieced together. I became emotionally entangled in this story of secrets, desires, hopes and needs. Yes there is a murder, and you’ll soon work out who it’s the most likely to be, however there is a rather large stone to turn to find the whole truth.
A beautifully entwined mystery read with heart. Highly recommended read.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan @OrendaBooks for the invite onto the #Sister blog tour. I hadn’t read the other books in this series, so was excited to find out all about the Oslo Detectives in this Nordic Noir thriller.
Oslo detective Frølich searches for the mysterious sister of a young female asylum seeker, but when people start to die, everything points to an old case and a series of events that someone will do anything to hide… Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death. Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run… A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.
I really enjoyed this Nordic Noir, what begins as a seemingly straightforward investigation becomes increasingly more complex. A topical issue of asylum seekers and deportation introduces themes of abuse, the immigration system, twisted truths, and murder. I loved the plotting and the drip feeding of clues as our investigator, and suspended detective, Frolich pieces the clues together in missing persons case that develops into murder and heart-break.
I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but it didn’t matter at all and ‘Sister’ works perfectly as a standalone. It’s an atmospheric novel, that is grounded in realism; the contours of the novel are meticulous and authentic. The social aspect is the standout message, rather than the crime aspect, and through the asylum story-line the reader is immersed into harrowing corruption and cover-ups. The core of this novel is dark and it forces you to open your eyes to the world that is often hidden.
Addictive, dark and complex.
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
Blog Tour Dates
With thanks to Orenda Books for the gifted book and Blog Tour invite!
A thank you to Anne Cater and Wildfire Books for the invite to the blog tour for #TheMurderGame by Rachel Abbott. Welcome to some bookish chat…
A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’ wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea. But no one was married that day. Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin? He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin. What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?
I had such a great time reading this book! I hadn’t realised it was the second in the Stephanie King series, but it didn’t matter one bit. Abbott’s narrative places the central characters at the heart of the story, so King arrives later, when the police become involved, to lead the investigative aspect of this psychological thriller.
This is one of those books that has shades of an Agatha Christie novel. The careful line up of characters, from the charming to the acerbic, the desperate to the fragile. I loved the backdrop of lazy summer living at Polskirren, a beautiful manor house next to the Cornish coastline; a house where a group of friends meet, and where tragic events quickly unfold. It’s a joy to be introduced to all the players and the set-up is a delicious mash of furtive glances, eye gestures, huddled conversation and ambiguous comments.
The narrative is split between several of the female voices, so the perspectives change, which is a great way the book plays with the reader. I absolutely loved trying to work out the puzzle Abbott provides in this thriller story: the drip feeding of information; the slow unfurling of the central characters; the introduction of the ‘game’ in the prologue, and the female voices all slowly building the jigsaw pieces from the past. It is genuinely hard to put this book down!
This is a highly recommended psychological thriller read where an old mystery has woken up, as past friends meet on the cusp of a new wedding. Memories are stirred and questions answered, questions that some people desperately want to remain buried. With themes of trauma, forgiveness, friendships, secrets and love, this is an immersive read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Check out the other fabulous bloggers on this tour:
Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks. Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages. Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.
Overall, I read 203 books in 2019, not as many as 2018 but I’m still really happy with that, particularly as I set a goal of 80. The sad thing is, I have about 200 still on my TBR and 2020 is looking like another good year for publishing…so the lure of adding to my bookshelves will be undeniable and irresistible. Thank you to all the publishers and publicists who have sent me books to read and chat about; I’ve loved being a part of the lovely blogging community this year and look forward to another year of talking books in 2020.
When I talk about books, I am very conscious of the subjectivity of the reader. I strongly believe that each story calls to different people for different reasons. I won’t review a book negatively just because I don’t agree with some subject matter, or how it’s handled, or the meandering pace etc. I think every book has value for someone and every writer has put their heart and soul onto the pages, and that is no easy task. I will always respond to a book that hasn’t worked for me, by highlighting the story, themes, setting and characters, to inform others who might be interested. I see very negative, quite angry reviews that have caused other people not to read that particular book, and I find this sad. It’s like the movies isn’t it, a bad critical review by no means will suggest you won’t like it. Kindness, thoughtfulness and care with our words is always the way forward. For me, particularly as I have gotten older is… I just simply enjoy a good story. I like to jump into my imagination and bring the words on the page to life. A story calls to different people for different reasons, and I don’t care if you’re 50 years old and love YA books… just enjoy and read away! So, let’s chat about some of my favourite stories.
In no particular order, and for no particular reason, other than doing a damn good job of being my escape from reality: my most memorable reads of 2019.
A double whammy from my favourite crime series by Jane Casey. ‘Cruel Acts‘ was published this year and I was incredibly lucky to receive an arc of ‘The Cutting Place‘ before it’s 2020 publication. If you haven’t read any Casey, her Maeve Kerrigan series featuring DI Josh Derwent is a must if you enjoy character driven crime books. I thought ‘Cruel Acts’ was brilliant for plotting and character developments, but ‘The Cutting Place’ topped it! Absolutely loved this one. I’m a great fan of book series with long-term relationship plotting and the central duo of Kerrigan and Derwent is a huge focus in the latest read; I was glued to the pages until the final word. I’m looking forward to the audio book release next year, as the narrator, Caroline Lennon, is brilliant. Highly recommended. Begin with ‘The Burning’ and see the writing go from strength to strength. 5 stars reads.
Laura Purcell’s gothic novels ‘The Silent Companions‘, ‘The Corset‘ and ‘Bone China‘ were all firm favourites. I do enjoy gothic fiction and it’s great to not have to draw from my classic collection.
M.W.Craven’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series, starting with ‘ThePuppet Show‘ and following with ‘Black Summer‘. Smartly and intricately plotted crime reads with a cracking crime solving team.
‘Dark Matter‘ by Michelle Paver – I loved this incredibly well-written ghost story about a man embarking on an Arctic Expedition that soon becomes a nightmare. There’s recently been a BBC Radio 4 reading, which is well worth a listen.
‘Perfect Kill‘ by Helen Fields – I’ve been reading these books from the beginning, so it’s great to return to loved characters and this is also a great crime read in itself. Highly recommended series.
‘Broken Souls‘ by Patricia Gibney is the D.I. Lottie Parker series; this is book seven in the series. Always enjoyable crime reads with plenty of family and relationships drama.
Tracy Chevalier’s ‘A Single Thread‘ was a surprise favourite, and I found it an very moving account of Violet Speedwell, and her endurance to find a place for herself as one of the many surplus women left after the war.
‘Platform Seven‘ by Louise Doughty was another unexpected winner for me. I loved this supernatural mystery read about loss, abuse and redemption.
Jennifer Donnelly’s The Tea Rose Trilogy – my favourite of the three is ‘The Winter Rose‘ featuring Sid and India, two characters pushed to the extreme and are drawn to each other constantly despite terrible hardships. Great historical fiction.
Katie Welsh’s Sarah Gilchrist books, ‘The Wages of Sin‘ and ‘The UnquietHeart‘ were also firm favourites. I discovered these books by chance and I really loved the historical setting and the ease of the story-telling.
‘Spin the Dawn‘ by Elizabeth Lim, was one of my favourite YA fantasy reads this year. The first in the Blood of Stars series and a magical fantasy centred around Chinese culture and pulling on the Mulan idea. Fun.
‘The Museum of Broken Promises‘ by Elizabeth Buchan was a beautiful story of Laure, the owner of a very different museum. We are taken into the past to uncover what happened to her in 1980s Prague, with the awful backdrop of the Cold War.
It was also great to read the final book in the Fawkes and Baxter series by Daniel Cole, ‘Endgame‘. This series began back in 2017 with ‘Ragdoll‘, the gruesome case of a body found stitched together from six different victims. The middle book in the series being ‘Hangman‘.
Ambrose Parry (a writing duo) published their second novel featuring Dr. Will Raven, called ‘The Art of Dying‘. These are great books, set in mid 1800s Edinburgh. Enjoyable, atmospheric historical crime reads.
‘We Hunt the Flame‘ was another top YA fantasy read by Hafsah Faizal and is the first book in the Sands of Arawiya series. Rich, immersive language and inspired by ancient Arabia, this is an epic adventure read.
Georgina Clarke’s ‘Death and the Harlot‘ and ‘The Corpse Played Dead‘ were great – really good stories, set in 1759 and featuring Lizzie Hardwicke a prostitute who gets drawn into crime solving to save herself.
Pamela Ford’s ‘To Ride a White Horse‘ was another of those books that just tells a great story. Lovely Sunday afternoon read with a cup of tea in hand.
I loved Naomi Novik’s ‘Uprooted‘ a fantasy book about a young girl who joins forces with the Dragon, a Wizard to protect her land from an evil, enchanted forest. Thrilling and magical.
‘The Murder of Harriet Monckton‘ by Elizabeth Haynes comes highly recommended for those who enjoy piecing together events surrounding the murder of a young woman. The novel is told via potential guilty parties and is based on a real murder.
‘Daisy Jones and the Six‘ by Taylor Jenkins Reid was great – I loved the interview style of this book and piecing together the actual events and feelings in this story of a rock band and one Daisy Jones!
Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series comes highly recommended if you like witty historical investigative fun, with a dash of slow-burn romance. The series begins with ‘A Curious Beginning‘ and this year I read the recent release ‘A Dangerous Collaboration‘. Pure ‘over the top’ entertainment.
Elly Griffiths is another of my go-to authors and her Ruth Galloway books always are good, solid enjoyable reads, this year the 11th in the series came out, ‘The Stone Circle‘.
I loved ‘Where the Crawdad’s Sing‘ by Delia Owens for its wonderful world of the marshes and for the Marsh Girl that lived there. You also get a crime and a court-room drama, but it’s the natural world of the novel that stars for me.
Katherine Arden’s ‘The Winternight Trilogy‘ was a winner for me, I loved this Russian folklore inspired series of books, beginning with ‘The Bear and the Nightingale‘ – all these books are enchanting adventures and I loved each one. Perfect for a cold winter night by the fire.
Not a physical book, but the ‘West Cork‘ podcast was also a highlight; this is a podcast series that explores the investigation of the actual murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Ireland, back in 1996. A brutal crime that is still being investigated today. This podcast is a fascinating and additive insight into the events, the investigation and the suspects.
Well that’s it for books that drew me into their worlds for 2019. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2020! Happy New Year! May it be healthy and happy! Leigh X
I’ve no idea where September went… anyone? Well, hello to October and it’s the start of my favourite reading months snuggled by the open fire. My daughter has already got a rotten cold, poor thing, she looked like the undead after school today; I’m hoping it stays away from me.
This is my second attempt to write my September wrap-up, as something weird happened and all my drafts disappeared, including my prepared October reviews – painful! So, I’ve only just got the will to write it all again! So here goes some speedy typing…
Highlight of the month! So, I was deliriously happy to receive an advanced copy of Jane Casey’s ‘The Cutting Place’ – the next book in the Maeve Kerrigan series. I obviously read it immediately and it’s pretty much my favourite of the series… it’s out April 2020. As always I’d recommend reading this series from the start as it’s all about the character developments, particularly the Kerrigan and Derwent dynamic, and this book is a real treat! A 5 star read.
‘Bringing Down a Duke’ by Evie Dunmore – this is a new historical romance set in 1879 where a bluestocking teaches a duke a lesson – it’s what is says on the blurb, and fun for a couple of hours entertainment – some funny moments 3.5 stars, as it took me a while to get into.
‘Trade Winds’ by M.M.Kaye, the author of ”The Far Pavilions’; this one’s set in 1859 where a young girl arrives in Zanzibar and meets a ruthless trader – it’s all about piracy, slave trades, abduction and a cholera epidemic – overall I’m not a fan of this one. 3 stars, just.
‘The Birthday House’ by Jill Treseder – this is for a blog tour next week, so more then. But briefly, it’s a novella looking at different perspectives of a tragic event in 1955 – based on a true event. 3.8 stars.
‘Code 17’ by Francis Booth – this was also read for a blog tour – see my earlier post for more chat about this one. It’s a quirky light-hearted spy thriller set in the swinging sixties. 4 stars. Fun.
‘A Single Thread’ by Tracy Chevalier – 4.8 stars, I really enjoyed this – I’ve chatted about it already, so have a look if you’d like to know more. It’s set in 1932 where the losses of WW1 are still keenly felt. It focuses on one of the surplus women and her new life in Winchester, with churches, bell-ringing and embroidery filling her days. I really enjoyed this and read it with the Pigeonhole reading community.
‘The Devil Upstairs’ by Anthony O’Neill – 4 stars and read for another blog tour – so check out that post if this book interests you. Set in Edinburgh where a neighbour from hell is ruining our protagonist’s life – so she unwittingly calls up the devil. Enjoyable, dark tale.
‘Gods of Shade and Shadow’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was a 3.5 star read for me and a bit of a cover buy. Set in Mexico in 1927 where Casiopea Tun accidentally sets free an ancient Mayan god of death and they head off on a cross country odyssey – so it’s an historical fantasy based loosely on Hades and Persephone. Nice rich language and descriptions but the characters didn’t overly work for me. A strong ending that implies a sequel.
‘The Princess Plan’ by Julia London was a review book read and I didn’t overly enjoy it, the characters didn’t really interest me and it was really slow. Last 40% improved so 3 stars but an overall no for suiting me.
‘Promise of Darkness’ by Bec McMaster is the first book in the Dark Court Rising fantasy romance series. It’s about Fae Kingdoms, cursed princes, evil queens and hostages. Dark, smouldering scenes with lots of action. Entertaining. and well-written escapism! 4 stars…just.
‘The Animals of Lockwood Manor’ by Jane Healey – a well-written book with a dark, gothic edged setting. With themes from parental loss and parental control, to female plight in a dominant patriarchal world and the desire and secrecy of female relationships. There’s also a cast of stuffed animals moved to an isolated manor to protect them from bombings during the war – not as enjoyable as I’d hoped for me 3.8 stars.
‘Broken Souls’ by Patricia Gibney – another review read and this one I was really looking forward to. I’ve been reading the Lottie Parker detective series from the start. They are smart, well-written crime dramas which include some fully rounded characters and their relationships. Really enjoyed it 4.8 stars.
‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ by Alix E. Harrow. 4 stars, I really liked this, for me it was a slow start but then I was hooked. Creative, beautifully written and emotive. Based on the idea that every story opens a door and is a bit of a homage to fantasy stories like Narnia, where a doorway can lead to a new land and adventures.
October reads have started well, I’ve read 5 books so far which I’m looking forward to writing about in my Oct wrap-up…
I worked furiously in the office today to free up reading time, so I’m off to make my daughter a comforting sick-bed snack and continue reading Helen Fields’ new book ‘Perfect Kill’ for the rest of the day – with huge thanks to Avon Books for the advance review copy! Love this series! Happy Days all!
Jonty crumples to the ground. I jump out of the Bentley and run over to him as fast as I can manage in my wedding dress. Jonty is bleeding from the head, the chest and the tummy. The last words he says to me before he dies are: ‘Code 17’.
My thoughts – a wacky, pacy spy thriller with an original, quirky protagonist! I genuinely had a fun time reading this.
‘Code 17’ consists of many short chapters from the first person perspective of Lady Laurencia Artemisia Claudia Summers…phew! AKA Laura, or Lady Laura Summers, AKA slightly dodgy art dealer. We get thrust straight into the plot after the groom gets shot on his way to his wedding to Laura – and although the wedding is one of convenience, Lady Summers is determined to seek retribution and immediately discovers, and is pitted against a network of undercover agents, and in particular the unsavoury Persephone. Lady Laura now has a challenging nemesis.
The writing is sharp, direct and consistently to the point but we still get enough to develop the characters and build plot. Its mini-episode style is suited to reading on the go, and it’s easy to drop back into the story as the scenes are very pictorial. There’re quite a few spoofy antics featuring both Laura, her sidekick/friends Muffie and Ronni. At times it’s humorous as the women begin to investigate, from picking up some C&A catsuits for a break-in job to accidentally causing a few violent ends!
There’s also the backdrop of the swinging sixties London, so the vibe is full of expression, art, glamour, music, celebrity and a dash of romance. It’s a fun journey following the antics of the characters in this book, and I happily recommended it to fellow readers.
Words from the author:
Code 17 was originally a musical idea.
Ten years ago I made an album that paid homage to the theme music of 1960s British TV spy series like The Man from UNCLE, The Baron and Department S, and to films like Modesty Blaise and The Ipcress File. The music on the album was from an imaginary TV series called Code 17, featuring the glamorous art dealer/spy Lady Laura Summers. She was imagined as a cross between Sharron Macready of The Champions, Emma Peel of The Avengers and Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward of Thunderbirds, though none of these women was the lead character in their own show.
Ten years later I thought I could make a novel out of Code 17 and Lady Laura – a fast-paced, female-led thriller set in the art world of Swinging 1967 London. I kept to the format of a twelve-episode TV series and tried to imagine each chapter as a self-contained thirty minute episode, split into short, cinematic scenes; I imagined our heroine getting into deep water in every episode but always getting out of it before the credits rolled.
Francis Booth’s novels are all available as eBooks and paperbacks on Amazon. They include:
· The Watchers series of Young Adult fantasy novels: The Charlotte Strain and The January Legacy;
· The Nevermore novel sequence Nevermore, Evermore, Gone Before and Nothing More, a series of dark revenge tragedies;
· Code 17, a fast-paced, female-led thriller set in the art world of Swinging Sixties London.
Francis is also the author of several academic books on modern literature and culture, also available on Amazon:
· Amongst Those Left: the British Experimental Novel 1940-1960 (to be published by Dalkey Archive Press);
· Everybody I Can Think of Ever: Meetings That Made the Avant-Garde;
· Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid Twentieth Century Woman’s Novel;
· Text Acts: Twentieth Century Literary Eroticism;
· Comrades in Art: Revolutionary Art in America 1926-1938.
As a translator, Francis Booth has published English versions of the Marionette Plays of Maurice Maeterlinck and produced libretti adapted from Akutagawa, Strindberg and early Sanskrit and Buddhist texts, several of which have been set to music and recorded.
Francis also produces music under the name Tektonix, all of which is on YouTube and at mixcloud.com/planckmusic. He is currently at work on Code 17.1, the sequel to Code 17.
August is always a good reading month for me, as I take extra time off work to be with my daughter whilst she’s on her summer break. As usual the summer has passed by far too quickly and she’s already back at school beginning her A’Levels. At least there’s the autumn to look forward to, with warm jumpers, open fires, hot chocolate and of course more books to read. So, back to August and I read 23 books…
‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco – the first in the quartet series featuring Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell. A YA book featuring murder mysteries and two pathology students that repeatedly get caught up in them. Fun, easy read and I can see the appeal. 3.5 YA stars.
‘The Sleepwalker’ by Joseph Knox. When I got this to review I hadn’t realised it was a series, so it took me a while to catch up and grasp some of the character nuances. The writing is really good and the tensions strummed beautifully – I really enjoyed this and have ordered the first two books. 4 stars.
‘The Museum of Broken Promises’ by Elizabeth Buchan. I was sent a copy of this to review and I absolutely loved it! A brilliant book set during a terrible time in European history; it really pulls at the heart-strings. I needed tissues at the end. Highly recommended. 5 stars.
‘Felicity Carol and the Perilous Pursuit’ by Patricia Marcantonio. I was sent the second book to review, so I ordered and read ‘Perilous Pursuit’ first. Set during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations – there’s murder, romance and a woman ahead of her time. Light, historical mystery fun but really easy to guess ‘whodunit’. 3 stars.
‘Felicity Carol and the Murderous Menace’ by Patricia Marcantonio. This was a review read and follows heiress and amateur sleuth, Felicity, as she explores forensic methods to chase a murderer, helped by Jackson Davies from Scotland Yard. 3 stars.
‘The Turn of the Key’ by Ruth Ware. I read this with the Pigeon Hole community to review and it was enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of Ware’s descriptive style – it kept alienating me from the plot. Overall, fairly enjoyable 3.8 stars.
‘Shadow & Flame’ by Mindee Arnett. This is a YA fantasy novel and the second book in the Rime Chronicles. It was pacy, fun, dramatic and very enjoyable. 4 YA stars.
‘Deeplight’ by Frances Hardinge. This was sent to me to review and I enjoyed elements of it, but overall it didn’t hold my attention. The writing is really good, it’s quite long and sadly I drifted. Don’t let that put you off, I’ve seen others have loved this. 3 stars.
‘Lady in the Lake’ by Laura Lippman. I enjoy Lippman’s novels and was really pleased to receive this new book to review. An enjoyable read mixing a psychological focus with the classic noir. Set in 1966 Baltimore, it explores why a middle-aged housewife turned journalist becomes fixated on the murder of a forgotten black woman. 4 stars.
‘The Lost Ones’ by Anita Frank. This was another review read which I enjoyed, set in 1917 and follows the grieving Stella Marcham when she stays at the imposing Grayswick mansion. Soon, strange incidents start happening and Stella begins to uncover some dark and terrible secrets. 4 stars.
‘Spin the Dawn’ by Elizabeth Lim. This is the first book in the YA fantasy series called The Blood of the Stars. I had great fun reading this with its ‘Mulan’ and ‘Project Runway’ vibes. You get Chinese culture, a sizzling forbidden romance and a magical tailor set a seemingly impossible task. 4.5 YA stars.
”The Little Shop of Found Things’ by Paula Brackston. I was a bit disappointed with this, I found it slow and wasn’t held by the plot, set around a time-travelling chatelaine, taking our modern protagonist back to the early 17th century – it picked up in the last quarter, which pulled it into 3 stars.
‘Through the White Wood’ by Jessica Leake. This is a YA fanasy featuring some of the characters from Leake’s previous book ‘Beyond a Darkened Shore’. An enjoyable read about magical powers inspired by Russian Mythology, lots of drama, romance and personal sacrifice. 4 YA stars.
”The Wages of Sin’ by Kaite Welsh. I had a great time reading this, set in 1890s Edinburgh and features a female medical student-turned-detective. It’s also about the harsh challenges of a female trying to be respected and educated as well as a driven murder mystery. 4 stars.
‘House of Salt and Sorrows’ by Erin A. Craig. A YA fantasy novel loosely based on ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ this was okay, but it could’ve been so much better! 3 YA Stars.
‘The Unquiet Heart’ by Kaite Welsh. This is the second book in the Sarah Gilchrist series and another fun read, Set once again in Victorian Edinburgh and follows Sarah as she continues her medical training, she now has an unwanted fiance and is back working with the mercurial, professor Merchiston on a new murder case. 4 stars.
‘The Governess Game’ by Tessa Dare. I read my first review Dare book a few months ago and had a great time. This is the second in the ‘Girl Meets Duke’ series and it’s really funny! This one’s all about a governess and a bad bad rake! 3.5 stars as not as good as the other Dare I’d read. I’d happily read another, I mean the stories are ridiculous and the characters hugely romanticised but generally racy, entertaining fun.
‘The Winter Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. I love this book and this is my third read. It’s the second book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and set in 1900s London and pitches India Selwyn Jones, a recently qualified doctor against Sid Malone, London’s most notorious gangster. Donnelly’s writing is so rich and vivid you are completely drawn into this world. 5 stars.
‘Elevator Pitch’ by Linwood Barclay. Not my favourite Barclay read but a solid mystery thriller and no, I’m NEVER getting into an elevator again! 3.5 stars.
‘The Book Collector’ by Alice Thompson. I bought this when I heard that Salt Publishing was going through a difficult time, every purchase helps if you want to check out their book lists? This one is a gothic story about madness and murder. Strange, delusional and macabre. 4 stars.
‘The Wild Rose’ by Jennifer Donnelly. This is the final book in ‘The Tea Rose’ trilogy and it’s definitely advisable to read the first two books to get the most out of it. A good conclusion to this epic family drama. I’m a happy reader. 4 stars.
‘Platform Seven’ by Louise Doughty. Despite a slow start (which probably was the point) I loved this! I needed my tissue box at the end! Platform Seven is a notorious place for suicides and there have been two fatalities in the past 18 months, Lisa Evans is desperate to find out what connects them and why they happened… particularly as she was the first one to die. 5 stars.
‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco. This is the second book in the Wadsworth and Cresswell YA murder mystery series it centres on a copycat killer and is set in Europe’s best forensic training school, which is more like Dracula’s castle! 4 YA stars for the gothic adventure!
And that’s the August reads done!
I’ve already read a couple of great books in September and look forward to sharing those with you next month.
July turned out to be an unusually quiet reading month, but for good reasons. I’ve been spending more time with my daughter and we’ve been on a few trips. We arrived back from Canterbury yesterday after a three day mini break, which included a day at the Whitstable Oyster Festival ~ although neither of us liked oysters, but lots to do there, a food festival, bands, activities on the beach and lots more. The sun also shone for us, I think the only part of the country that wasn’t suffering from a deluge of rain.
So, July’s books:
‘The Puppet Show’ by M. W. Craven ~ thoroughly enjoyed this crime thriller. The two central characters Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are fabulous! Can’t wait to read the next in the series. 4.5 stars.
‘Beasts of the Frozen Sun’ by Jill Crisswell is a richly written YA fantasy adventure 3.5 YA stars as it needed to develop, we went round in circles rather a lot but definitely worth a read if this genre is your thing.
‘American Dreams’ by Kenneth Bromberg is a debut novel and I loved it. ‘The Godfather’ in style and spans generations of immigrants entering New York. 4 stars. This one has its own blog post if you’d like to know more about it.
‘Bone China’ by Laura Purcell is another Victorian gothic descriptive delight, really enjoyed it! 4.5 stars. Read it!
‘The Boy’ by Tami Hoag is the long awaited follow up to ‘A Thin Dark Line’ featuring Cajun cop Nick Fourcade and Detective Annie Broussard. Not as good as book one, but nice to see Fourcade and Broussard again. 3.5 stars.
‘Endgame’ by Daniel Cole ~ the final book in the Ragdoll Trilogy. Loved it! 5 stars.
‘The Girl in the Grave’ by Helen Phifer ~ I struggled with this a bit, plot was good but the writing style jarred with me a bit, which stopped my reading flow. Hopefully this will be tided up in final editing. 3 stars.
Thanks for reading! Tell me if you have any book recommendations as always! 💕