August 2014

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Welcome to my monthly round-up for August 2014.

These posts showcase the books I’ve bought, borrowed or won, as well as those received from publishers for review prior to release date. 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 August I bought on Kindle:
Binary Witness by Rosie Claverton
Race To Death by Leigh Russell
Secrets On The Estate by Mel Sherratt

Books I’ve Borrowed
A Question of Identity by Susan Hill
Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie
Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel
A Tap On The Window by Linwood Barclay

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All the above from Blackburn libraries (@LibrariesBWD)

Books I’ve Won
The Killing Pool & The House on the Hill by Kevin Sampson via Shaz’s Book Blog

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Received from Publishers for Review
Code Runner by Rosie Claverton via Netgalley
Don’t Talk To Strangers by Amanda Kyle Williams via Bookbridgr
The One You Trust by Paul Pilkington via Bookbridgr
The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill via Netgalley

Review Round-up
During August I read and reviewed:
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little
Darkside by Belinda Bauer
The One You Trust by Paul Pilkington
Bad Moon Rising by Frances di Plino
Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

My Book of the Month for August was Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Events

#NTFG Readalong
The readalong of
Linwood Barclay’s No Time For Goodbye organised by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea blog, was completed.

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Bout of Books 11
Having enjoyed the readathon earlier this year, I again took part in Bout of Books and had a great week.

Bout of Books
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Night Watch by Linda Fairstein. Read August 2014.

The first of Linda Fairstein’s Alexandra Cooper books I’ve read for a while – so why did everything seem so familiar?
“…another taut, fascinating foray into the dark side of New York City, this time centred around the city’s most glamorous and storied restaurants. With the help of NYPD’s Mike Chapman, Alex is set to uncover the shocking secrets that have lurked just beneath the surface of the bustling metropolis for centuries – only to come screaming to light in the present day.”
If this had been the first of the series I’d read I probably would have thought it a great story but as I’ve already said I found it familiar and predictable. These novels are always well written and have a great cast of characters but perhaps the Cooper/Chapman/Mercer team need some new life breathed into them.
I did enjoy the opening chapters that were set in France but once the action moved to New York the story became formulaic and, I reluctantly have to say, a little boring.

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Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham. Read August 2014.

Another fabulous psychological thriller from Michael Robotham.
“Two young girls. Both taken. Dead? Or alive? A nation captivated soon becomes a cold case long forgotten. But a bizarre murder forces the police to reopen their investigation into the disappearance of Piper Hadley and Tash McBain.”
And…breathe!
Once again I’ve emerged from one of the Joseph O’Loughlin series of novels feeling as if I’ve been part of the investigation and responsible for the well being of at least half of the characters. The author’s skill is in making you care so much about what happens that you feel guilty if you stop reading before the case is solved. I worked out who the bad guy was a fair way before the end but still couldn’t relax, there were so many twists, turns and surprises still in store.
If you haven’t discovered this series yet I urge you to give it a try (starting with The Suspect) although I note that the publisher has yet to take up my suggestion of supplying a voucher for trauma counselling with each copy!
Maybe I’ll go and read some romantic comedies for a while until the stress of Say You’re Sorry wears off (I won’t).

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Tarnished by Julia Crouch. Read August 2014.

An intense psychological thriller that left me reeling.
“Peg always felt a little blurred, a little lacking in definition. Her mother died when she was six, her father simply disappeared, and she was brought up by her grandparents and her obese, bedridden aunt. But, despite all this, she never developed the habit of asking questions…As the skeletons come tumbling out of the family closet and the full horror of the past begins to reveal itself, Peg starts to wonder whether her youthful lack of curiosity might not have been a good thing. A very good thing indeed…”
Earlier this year I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Long Fall by Julia Crouch. As soon as I finished it I added all of the author’s previous psychological thrillers to my wish list and Tarnished is the first I’ve got hold of.
I became immersed in Peg’s world and her struggle to fill in the gaps in her childhood memories. At the same time some of the descriptions transported me back to memories of my own grandparents (the cocktail cabinet in the lounge, the made-up bedtime stories…) making this quite an emotional read.
The author’s trademark is telling a gripping and suspenseful story in the present interspersed with flashbacks to the characters’ pasts that illuminate and explain the main story. Some of the revelations in Tarnished shocked me, though I had worked out some of what was going on. All in all this was a satisfying read that gripped me throughout and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a book that makes you think, even after you’ve finished it.

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Bad Moon Rising by Frances di Plino. Read August 2014.

A dark psychological thriller, this is the first book featuring DI Paolo Storey.
“Brought up believing sex is the devil’s work, a killer only finds release once he has saved his victims’ souls. Abiding by his vision, he marks them as his. A gift to guide his chosen ones on the rightful path to redemption. Detective Inspector Paolo Storey is out to stop him, but Paolo has problems of his own. Hunting down the killer as the death toll rises, the lines soon blur between Paolo’s personal and professional lives.”
Frances di Plino has written a tense, gripping story with a clever plot and characters that you can’t help but care about. The main character, Paolo, has an awful lot going on – as well as being in charge of a baffling murder case his personal life has gone into free fall. In fact, as the story progressed I found myself just as interested in Paolo’s family situation as I was in the progress of the investigation.
The author’s writing style is easy to read and keeps the story flowing, making it easy to be hooked into ‘just one more chapter’ before putting the book aside (I refuse to use the term page-turner in my reviews but you get the picture).
I don’t like a lot of graphic violence in my crime reading and Bad Moon Rising stayed just within the boundaries with many descriptions of violence against women as well as some sexual description that could shock some readers.
I would recommend Bad Moon Rising to readers who enjoy a gritty, dark read with some surprises.
Thank you to the author for the e-book copy to review.

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Bout of Books 11

Bout of Books

My Goals

I usually read about 1 or 2 books per week. For the readathon week I am aiming to read at least 3 and possibly 4 books.

Books to Read

These are the books on my TBR

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Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein
Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman

Monday
Challenge 1: Book Scavenger Hunt

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Challenge 2: Playlist
My book: Night Watch by Linda Fairstein
1. A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles
2. All Night Long by Lionel Richie
3. Night Moves by Bob Seger
4. Ladies Night by Kool & The Gang
5. Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting by Elton John

Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 80
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Total Number of pages read: 80
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch

Tuesday
Challenge: Book Spine Poetry

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Close My Eyes
Now You See Me
Remember Me This Way
A Precious Thing
Awakening

Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 150
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Total Number of pages read: 230
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch

Wednesday
Challenge: Create a sentence
“It was the moment the boy’s music thumped.”
Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Dead Man’s Time by Peter James
Death Bed by Leigh Russell

Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 100
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Total Number of pages read: 330
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Number of pages read today: 175
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 505
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Friday

Challenge: Chain of Books
Want You Dead by Peter James
Dead Man’s Time by Peter James
A Time To Kill by John Grisham
The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver

Challenge: Recreate a book cover

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Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 150
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 655
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Saturday

Challenge: Spell it out
I decided to do my initials (TDW) with books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch, Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little & Wolf by Mo Hayder.

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Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 160
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 815
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Number of pages read today: 145
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Total Number of pages read: 960
Books: Tarnished by Julia Crouch
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham
Night Watch by Linda Fairstein

Recap of the week
A great readathon week. I completed 2 books and started a third, out of my 3 – 4 book target (a total of 960 pages). I took part in several fun challenges. Along with 2 fellow book lovers (one signed up to BoB and one not) we set ourselves achievable reading targets each evening to keep motivated and enjoying our reading. I’m looking forward to the next BoB on January.

The One You Trust by Paul Pilkington. Read August 2014.

The third instalment in the Emma Holden trilogy.
“Following a sequence of horrifying events Emma Holden is now happily married, and hoping that the nightmare is finally over. However, she doesn’t realise that the biggest danger is yet to come.”
The previous books in the trilogy described the events that followed Emma’s experience of an obsessive fan and his family, as well as the repercussions for her friends and family. This final episode ties up some loose ends and introduces a few new twists to the plot.
The style of writing is easy to read and keeps your attention but I must admit I was starting to become a bit tired of Emma’s predicament. Fortunately the action heated up just in time to stop me giving up on the story and I couldn’t wait to find out how the author would wrap things up.
This is a must-read for anyone who had read The One You Love and The One You Fear. It would not make any sense read as a standalone.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy paperback.

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Darkside by Belinda Bauer. Read August 2014.

I challenge anyone to solve this whodunnit before the author reveals all.
“In bleak midwinter, the people of Shipcott are shocked by the murder of an elderly woman in her bed. As snow cuts off the village, local policeman Jonas Holly is torn between catching a brutal killer and protecting his vulnerable wife, Lucy.”
This is the first of Belinda Bauer’s books I’ve read, though I have two others waiting on my TBR pile. Darkside is the first book for a while that has given me one of my favourite reading experiences – a heart stopping, horrific penny-dropping moment when I knew what was going to happen. Except it didn’t happen! And that was even better because it was a first – the author had led me down a path and I followed blindly, patting myself on the back for being so clever. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed being proved wrong and I’m now very frustrated as I can’t explain further without spoilers.
The characters are believable – the residents of a small village compared with the squad of police who descend to investigate the crime.
The only negative point was that I found parts of the book slow-going and repetitive, but the clever plot more than compensated.
I was very pleased to find that this was the first of a series and I’ve moved ‘Finders Keepers’ up the TBR accordingly.
I can honestly recommend Darkside as a very different crime fiction read.

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Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Read August 2014.

An entertaining and intriguing read with a witty and refreshing take on a murder mystery.
“LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record…She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?”
Dear Daughter kept me guessing throughout because, after all, if Jane wasn’t sure whether she’d killed her mother how could I know? The book is well written and cleverly put together but I felt at a bit of a disadvantage because I didn’t get most of the American celebrity culture references.
The style of writing reminded me of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series – the wise-cracking single female, very much her against the world, but Jane Jenkins is a character I didn’t particularly like or care about.
I’d recommend Dear Daughter to crime fiction fans who enjoy a quirky read, very different from the usual thrillers on offer. Thank you to the publisher for the advance review copy of the book.
Dear Daughter will be published by Harvill Secker on 14 August 2014.

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