Showcase Sunday March 2014

Welcome to my second Showcase Sunday post – Inspired by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Please also check out the other Showcase Sunday posts at Books, Biscuits and Tea blog

20140406-101847.jpg

These posts, each first Sunday of the month, showcase the books I’ve bought, begged, borrowed or won (I draw the line at stolen!) during the previous month. I’ll try to mention everyone that appears in the blog, in a tweet when I publish the post, but I apologise in advance to anyone I’ve forgotten.
So here we go:

Books I’ve Bought
During March I bought on Kindle:
Taunting the Dead by Mel Sharratt

Books I’ve Begged
Don’t Stand So Close by Luana Lewis via netgalley / Transworld
A Pleasure And A Calling by Phil Hogan via netgalley / Transworld
The Telling Error by Sophie Hannah via netgalley / Hodder & Staughton
The Lying-Down Room by Anna Jacquiery via Sophie Orme / Mantle, Pan Macmillan
What You Wish For by Mark Edwards
The Long Fall by Julia Crouch via Bookbridgr
The Dead Ground by Claire McGowan via Bookbridgr
Precious Thing by Colette McBeth via Bookbridgr
The Killing Season by Mason Cross via netgalley / Orion

Books I’ve Borrowed
Lasting Damage, Kind of Cruel & The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

20140331-205222.jpg

The Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell
In the Woods by Tana French
Naming the Dead by Ian Rankin
Lifeless by Mark Billingham
Blue Monday by Nicci French
The Lost by Claire McGowan

20140405-161533.jpg

All the above borrowed from Blackburn libraries (@LibrariesBWD)

Books I’ve Won

Precious Thing by Colette McBeth (signed) – prize for contributing 2 words to describe friendship, one good and one bad, as part of a trailer for the book. My words were: Vital & Vicious. View the trailer Here
Enter a prize draw to win a copy of Precious Thing Here

Morning Frost by James Henry via Transworld – won in a Twitter prize draw

Review Round-up
During March I read and reviewed:

A Dark And Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton
The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill
The Accident by C L Taylor
Where the Devil Can’t Go & Death Can’t Take A Joke by Anya Lipska
What You a Wish For by Mark Edwards
The Lying-Down Room by Anna Jaquiery

My Book of the Month for March was Death Can’t Take A Joke by Anya Lipska

20140401-131715.jpg

Events
On 19th March I hosted the Paula Daly Blog Tour with an author Q&A that you can see here. This was a mega-blog-tour as you can see from the Tour Poster

I was lucky enough to win tickets for an event at Waterstones, Manchester on 26th March to hear Val McDermid discuss Northanger Abbey which was being released the following day. Val kindly signed my proof copy of the book:

20140405-162906.jpg

Advertisements

The Lying-Down Room by Anna Jacquiery. Read March 2014.

“Paris; in the stifling August heat, Commandant Serge Morel is called to a disturbing crime scene. An elderly woman has been murdered to the soundtrack of Faure’s Requiem, her body then grotesquely displayed.”
The Lying-Down Room is a gripping literary crime novel that kept me engrossed from first page to last. It is not a comfortable read but the beautifully and intelligently written story transports the reader to the suffocating heat of a Parisian August, punctuated by flashbacks to disturbing events in the past.
Morel is an eccentric character – I have never before come across a detective whose hobby is origami for instance – and he leads a team of intriguing characters. I am hoping to find out more about the enigmatic Lila in future instalments in Anna Jaquiery’s Commandant Morel series, of which The Lying-Down Room is the first. Outside the investigation Morel leads an unconventional private life into which we are allowed some brief glimpses that leave us curious for more.
The various strands of the plot are interwoven brilliantly to produce a most satisfying reading experience that will stay with me long after finishing the book. As someone who reads a lot of crime fiction I welcomed this novel as genuinely different and would recommend it to anyone who likes a thought provoking read.
Thank you to the publisher, Mantle, for the advance review copy of the book.

20140331-161636.jpg

Death Can’t Take A Joke by Anya Lipska. Read March 2014.

“The second Kiszka and Kershaw crime thriller.
When masked men brutally stab one of his closest friends to death, Janusz Kiszka – fixer to East London’s Poles – must dig deep into London’s criminal underbelly to track down the killers and deliver justice.”
I was just going to write ‘This is a fabulous crime novel, you have to read it’, but although I like to keep my reviews short, I think that’s too short even for me.
Despite the title there is some great humour in this book – I’ve read several crime thrillers recently that have made me gasp with the tension built up, but I can’t recall another that has also had me laughing out loud at regular intervals.
The complex plot gripped me and I really didn’t want to put the book down until I’d finished it. If anyone tells me they sussed out what was going on before the reveal I simply won’t believe them.
Anya Lipska’s writing style is addictive; I love the Kiszka and Kershaw unofficial ‘partnership’ and hope it will continue for many more books.
Thank you to netgalley / Harper Collins for the advance review copy e-book.
Highly Recommended.

20140327-114434.jpg

What You Wish For by Mark Edwards. Read March 2014.

“From the author of No.1 bestseller The Magpies comes a gripping new tale of suspense. Marie Walker has vanished from the face of the earth…
Her besotted boyfriend, newspaper photographer Richard Thompson, vows to find her, convinced that Marie’s unusual beliefs hold the key”.
This story gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Star Crossed Lovers. I approached it somewhat cynically as it didn’t sound anything like my usual reading matter, but having raced through it over a couple of days I’m very glad I didn’t let that put me off. In fact, I wasn’t many chapters into the book before I had suspended disbelief and become submerged in the weird and wonderful world of the ufologists.
Richard’s dogged determination to find Marie is the basis for the plot and we feel his frustration and powerlessness with each fresh dead end he encounters. At times I wanted to shout out loud at our hero to pull himself together; at other times I was impressed by his single minded, obsessive mission to solve the mystery of Marie’s disappearance.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to try something different and enjoys a fast paced adventure.
Thank you to the author for the advance review copy.

20140702-082351-30231386.jpg

Where The Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska. Read March 2014.

The first Kiszka and Kershaw mystery.
“A naked girl has washed up on the banks of the River Thames. The only clue to her identity is a heart-shaped tattoo encircling two foreign names. Who is she – and why did she die?”
This is one of the most unusual crime fiction novels I have read. An intricate plot with many complex twists and turns keeps you guessing throughout, but there is also a fascinating history lesson about the political and social history of Poland in the late 20th century.
The relationships between the main characters in the story introduce some humour as well as potential for this to develop into a series that will attract many loyal fans. The book is intelligently and beautifully written with rich language (including a peppering of Polish phrases) and the flashback passages transported me to a world I’ve never previously read about.
I’m looking forward to reading the next Kiszka and Kershaw book very soon. Highly recommended.

20140322-102445.jpg

Paula Daly

My Book of the Month for February was Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. This was Paula’s second novel, released on 13th March, following on from the acclaimed debut, Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?

I’m delighted to welcome Paula Daly as part of her blog tour, and Paula’s been kind enough to answer a few questions:

20140316-132238.jpg

Keep Your Friends Close is your second novel – how are you enjoying being a published author?
It’s wonderful. The best job in the world in my opinion. Sometimes I’ll be writing a steamy scene – on a cold, wet afternoon – and think, Who else gets to do this? It’s been a magical year.

What does your writing routine look like?
I have three children so I get them off to school, walk the dog, and then start writing at 9.30 am. I aim to do between 800 and 1000 words a day.

What sort of “vital jobs” do you find yourself doing when you should be writing?
Housework mostly. And this is when I know I am in a state of uber avoidance, because I feel productive and virtuous when changing beds and mopping floors. I have to be stern and tell myself that it is all still procrastination at the end of the day.

If Keep Your Friends Close was to be dramatised who would you cast in the main roles?
I think Emily Blunt or Rosamunde Pike could play Eve rather well.

We’re dying to know if Eve in Keep Your Friends Close is based on a real person (you don’t have to name names!)
As ever, it’s not one particular person but an amalgamation of different traits from women I don’t like. I tend to keep flaky, flirtatious women such as this at a distance, as I have nothing to say to them.

What book(s) do you wish you could have written?
Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

What activities do you enjoy when you have time off?
I have fairly simple tastes. I walk the dog, watch films, read, and chat about nothing on the phone to my sister. That’s about it. If I’m not able to do these activities on a daily basis though I get twitchy and unhappy.

A big “Thank You” to Paula for taking the time to answer those questions.

This post previously included a competition to win a beautiful hardback copy of Keep Your Friends Close courtesy of Transworld publishers.

20140312-183652.jpg

The winner of the competition , selected by random number, was Margaret Norton.

The Accident by C L Taylor. Read March 2014

“Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.”
This is a fast paced thriller that hooks you on page one and keeps you interested throughout. The story is told by Sue, mainly in the present but with flashbacks to her former life twenty years ago. Gradually the pieces of the jigsaw come together and it becomes clear how her earlier experiences have influenced current events.
The flashback sequences are menacing and disturbing, and made me sympathise with the young Sue whereas I found present day Sue annoying at times. Overall I enjoyed the suspense and trying to work out what was going on and whether there might be a big plot twist in store. The story built through many twists and turns to a shocking conclusion and left me feeling that I’d had a truly satisfying reading experience.
I read The Accident over just a couple of days, a sure sign of my enjoyment. Recommended for psychological thriller fans.

20140318-001302.jpg

The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill. Read March 2014.

“The fifth in the series of bestsellers featuring Simon Serrailler, The Shadows in the Street is…another gripping and psychologically acute story set in the darker side of a cathedral town”.
I glanced at a few reviews before I started reading and one that stood out simply said in its introduction ‘Nothing happens’. Well I beg to differ, there is plenty going on in this book. Characters old and new are developed into people you care about, not only while reading the book but afterwards; social issues are tackled in an intelligent an non-judgmental way; a sympathetic portrayal of mental illness from the perspective of a carer; it is so much more than a crime story.
If you want an action thriller or a formulaic police procedural these books probably aren’t for you. In fact the detection of the crimes almost goes on in the background. However if you like a cracking read with characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished, then give the Serrailler series a try, but read them in order, starting with The Various Haunts of Men, or the back stories will make no sense.
Recommended for anyone who likes their crime fiction with a bit of depth to it.

20140314-225858.jpg