Book blogger hop: book club bloggers

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I’m joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop again this week, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

Do any of your book club members have a blog? Do you compare notes if they do?

The answer to this (and it’s a short one this week!) is yes and no.

One member of my book club does have a blog, a really good one, but it’s not a book blog.  So, whilst we regularly talk about books when we meet – in and outside of book club – we rarely talk about blogs.

We did initially as we both set up at the same time and both use wordpress and we might occasionally talk about something the other has posted but neither of us does it for more than a hobby and neither is more or less an expert than the other.  The same with social media.

So, once the initial thrill and excitement – the “oh my god, I’ve started a blog” moment died down, so did the discussions.  Now it is part of our lives and something mentioned in passed.

What about you, do your friends have blogs – book related or otherwise – and do you compare notes?

Emma

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker

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When the world ends and you find yourself stranded on the wrong side of the country, every second counts.

No one knows this more than Edgar Hill. 550 miles away from his family, he must push himself to the very limit to get back to them, or risk losing them forever…

His best option is to run.

But what if your best isn’t good enough?

I picked up this book because I felt like I was seeing it everywhere as I was walking around London the other week.  Then I found out it had been featured on radio 2 and raved about in various quarters. It had, however, apparently passed me by completely.  The power of advertising is a marvellous (or dangerous) thing though and I ended up picking this book up without a second thought when I then saw it in the library a few days later.

I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I felt I had to read it. A book about a man running across the country – I worried it might be monotonous or plain old boring.  Thankfully it was neither, in large part because of Ed who is more complex than he originally seems.  This isn’t just about a journey across the country, it is about his personal journey.

I enjoyed watching him going from a bit of a selfish oaf who didn’t do much in the way of taking care of his family to being someone who realises how important they are to him.  As the story progressed he became a stronger, nicer, person – one who stuck by his friends and took risks. And there were a lot of  risks that needed taking.

This is a post-apocalyptic world and a scary one at times, not so much the people (though there are a few I wouldn’t want to cross) but because the environment is so inhospitable.  There are no cars or roads to speak of (which is what makes running the only option).  The sun does not shine so day and night don’t seem much different.  In the end it is about endurance and determination.  It takes a lot for Ed to attempt what he does and I was rooting him and his friends on the whole way.

This is a well written book with a good pace for the most part (it does flag a little in the middle but only for a couple of chapters).  The characters are well developed and the story an interesting one I haven’t read in quite this way before (though there are many post-apocalyptic novels out there).  It made it an enjoyable read, even for someone who – like Ed – doesn’t really like running and left me liking this one a lot.  A recommended read.

Emma

Tuesday Intro: A God in Ruins

imageThis week, and for the first time in a month, I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week I’m reading A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, who I love.  Here’s what it’s about…

25493874A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Those who loved the bestselling Life After Life will recognise Teddy as Ursula Todd’s adored younger brother – but for those who have not read it, A God in Ruins stands fully on its own. (goodreads)

And here’s how it starts…

30 March 1944

The Last Flight

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He walked as far as the hedge that signalled the end of the airfield.

The beating of the bounds. The men referred to it as his “daily constitutional” and fretted when he didn’t take it.  They were superstitious.  Everyone was superstitious.

Beyond the hedge there were bare fields, ploughed over last autumn.  He didn’t expect to see the alchemy of spring, to see the dull brown earth change to bright green and then pale gold.  A man could count his life in harvests reaped.  He had seen enough.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

p.s. if you want to find out more about Life After Life my review is here.

 

The Trap by Melanie Raabe

imageI know who killed my sister.

I wrote this novel for him.

Twelve years ago, Linda’s sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him. Now, all these years on, she’s just seen him again. On TV.

He has since become a well-known reporter, and Linda – a famous novelist and infamous recluse – knows no one will believe her if she accuses him, so she does the only thing she can think of: she writes a thriller about a woman who is murdered, her killer never caught. When the book is published, she agrees to give just one media interview. At home. To the one person who knows more about the case than she does.

He knows what happened that night and she wrote a book about it but, when the doorbell rings, neither of them can be sure how the story will end.

After her sister Anna is brutally murdered and the police are unable to find her killer, Linda retreats from life. Twelve years later, she is as famous for being a recluse as she is for being an author. She hasn’t left the house in all this time. And she hasn’t stopped being haunted by her sisters death and the face of the killer she saw fleeing the scene. Then, one day, there he is staring at her from a TV screen.

Determined he is not going to get away this time, she does what she does best – writes a novel to lure him out.  This is a great idea for a novel, though picking up the book I did worry it was one I might have seen before in Renee Knight’s Disclaimer. Thankfully beyond the basic idea of a crime being exposed in a work of fiction, the stories are very different and The Trap a very good book and an excellent debut.

Linda’s reclusiveness gives the story a real claustrophobic feel. Setting the majority of the book in one house could have made it boring or repetitive. Instead, Raabe makes you wonder whether Linda is right, whether she has finally seen the killer after all these years, or whether she is mentally ill and completely detached from reality. It feels like you are watching a woman completely lose the plot…or are you?  To add to the questions, interspersed throughout, are chapters from the book Linda is writing which add to and contradict the story she is telling in real time.

As a character Linda is interesting if not necessarily that likeable. I struggled at times with her being an intelligent woman with the resources to help herself but who didn’t. Then again, it also made it easier for me to wonder if she maybe was the guilty party, not the mystery man on the television. And I did wonder that a lot. Her complexity was probably a good thing too because for the most part she was the only character in the book, and the only one whose viewpoint you saw. It’s hard to do this and keep a reader interested I think.

My do I, don’t I like Linda feelings didn’t stop me liking the book. The fact that it was well written, a clever idea, and had a good pace made up for it. My feelings probably did stop me loving it though as did a few times when I thought the translation (the book was originally published in German) let it down; sentences felt jarring and didn’t flow with the rest of the book.  Still, these were few and far between and meant I still liked this book a lot…an impressive debut and a recommended read.

Emma

note: I received this book from mumsnet in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Book blogger hop: book recommendations

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I’m joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop again this week, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

 If you recommend a book to someone, do you also send that person your review?

My answer is no, in fact I’ve never thought of doing it.  I suppose it’s because I do tend to keep my blogging separate from the other parts of my life so people know that I blog about books and a few follow me but I don’t promote my posts on my personal FaceBook page or through emails etc.

This is because blogging puts you out in public and, whilst I am more than happy with strangers reading what I write and judging me on some level because of that, I couldn’t really cope if friends and family were doing the same…what if they thought something I wrote was rubbish?

When I recommend books, it tends to be in person or as part of a larger conversation.  Sometimes it’s as part of book swaps that I’ve been involved in as part of my book club – if I feel strongly about a book I will try and convince others to give it a go.  Books I recommend tend to be ones I’ve read so I can talk about why I liked them vs. having to send a review of a book through to someone.

If I have heard a book is good, I will say where I heard that it was but, again, normally don’t share the reviews.  I think this is because these conversations tend to be around newer books as there are usually a spate of reviews at the same time so the discussion is more about I’ve been hearing good things about a book vs. one particular review.

One thing I do do though is always share reviews on twitter and my blog’s FaceBook page where I have commented on the review and, if I read a book because of a particular review, I will reference that in the post.  I hope that helps gives credit where credit is due and shares thoughts on books that sound like they should be read.

What about you, do you share your reviews when you recommend a book?

Emma

 

 

My month in reviews: July

I really can’t believe it’s August.  In fact, I think I’ve been ignoring the fact, which is why this post is a few days later than I might otherwise have posted.  The good thing about August is I get to go on holiday.  The bad – it’s August…where has the year and the summer gone?  I swear, the older I get, the faster time flies.  Now that I have to admit July is over though, here’s how my reading month went…

Loved

imageBlame by Nicole Trope, where a tragic accident tears two best friends apart and reveals secrets both would probably have liked to have kept hidden.  This is my first book by Nicole Trope but won’t be my last.  I found it really well written and heart wrenching as well as a real page turner. 21109505

Salt River by James Sallis, a fitting end to a great trilogy staring a flawed central character – Turner – who I couldn’t help but like more than a little as he tried to make his way through the world that threw a lot of rubbish his way.

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The Children Act by Ian McEwan which may be my favourite book of the month (it’s also my most viewed review).  This book just left me feeling pulled apart – I completely connected with the characters and the storyline and felt every emotional twist and turn.  Plus the ending was pretty sad.

 

Liked a lot

29243709Watching Edie by Camilla Way in which a teenage friendship, intense at the best of times, goes terribly wrong and comes back to haunt two still young women trying to get on with their lives.  I liked this a lot because it kept me guessing as to just who was in the right and who was in the wrong.  A real page turner.  image

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni which introduced me to a new character and a new series I will be reading more of.  This was a clever take on the normal police procedural – because it didn’t focus so much on the police work as the legal side of trying to free a man wrongly (or rightly?) convicted and small town politics.

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The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft which had been sat on my Kindle forever it seems before I felt guilty enough to read it.  Not sure why I waited so long because it was a great book, another page turner (I managed a lot of those this month) with a twist at the end I didn’t see coming and made me see everything that had happened and the main characters behaviour in a different light.

The Fire Child by S. K. Tremayne imagewas a thriller with a slightly supernatural twist – an “are there, aren’t there” ghosts theme that made the book just that little bit different in a crowded field and meant I enjoyed it a lot, getting completely caught up in just what really was happening to the central characters and whether the dead were coming back to get revenge (spooky!).

Liked a little

imageAgatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M. C. Beaton, which I think I would have liked more if I hadn’t been watching the TV show when I read it.  This was my first cozy and I can see why people get it hooked.  It was a fun, quick read with lots of quirky characters to keep me interested.

 

 

And that was it for the month.  A lot of good reads and some really great ones. Nothing that I wouldn’t recommend or didn’t manage to not finish.  How about you? How was your reading month?

Emma

This month, I’m linking in with Kathryn at Book Date for her Month in Review.

Month in Review 6

 

 

Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

imageIn May 2010, 24 year old Shannan Gilbert went missing. Despite a frantic call to 911, police were slow to respond, possibly because Shannan was an escort and so – it could be assumed – not worth the police’s time.

After ongoing pressure from her family, a search was finally carried out. Shannon wasn’t found…but the bodies of four other women were, all just skeletons and all carefully wrapped in burlap.

The bodies were Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Lynn Costello. All were escorts, prostitues who met their clients through Craigslist. And all had been missing for months or years.

Long Island, it seemed, had a serial killer. One whose body count grew as more and more bodies were found (11 in total) whilst police seemed incapable of making progress or making an arrest. This despite some questionable behaviour by residents of the gated community alongside where the bodies were found.

Robert Kolker tells the story from when Shannan went missing to a conclusion that isn’t a conclusion because the killer has still not being found. He opens, though, with each dead girls life, taking you back to where they were born, how they were raised, who their families were. And how they ended up as escorts.

They are incredibly detailed and touching portraits. Kolker does a great job of getting you to see beyond the label of prostitute and understand what drove each woman and see how she ended up where she ended up. Theirs are story of foster care gone wrong, abuse, family breakdown but also a desire to make more of themselves, to earn enough money to help themselves, get an education, care for their family.

Theirs are not stories that should be ignored. And yet, they were because of who they were. Which is the other part of this book. It shines the light on how the police failed to investigate properly, how they didn’t take family and friends who filed missing person reports seriously, who ignored 911 calls and lost time finding vital clues. It is shocking and sad. And it wouldn’t have happened if these women hadn’t been prostitutes.

I don’t normally read true crime but this caught my eye at the library. The stories of the women drew me in. The who-dunit element kept me reading. Kilmer approaches it with his journalistic eye and writes in a clear, journalistic, style. It worked, though it didn’t mean it was without emotion. It was – sad and tragic and frustrating in equal measures. For a horrid subject, I enjoyed reading it and felt I learnt a lot about a case I knew nothing about. For those who like true crime, this would be a recommended read.

emma

 

 

This Week, Next Week: 31st July, 2016

Happy Sunday all and what a glorious one it looks like it’s going to be (just like yesterday). The sun is shining and we have already been up and out in it for an hour. Plus I managed to make a fairly decent batch of croissants for the first time (I really should have taken a picture they looked so tasty).

It’s also been another pretty good week, though busy. I’m onto my last insanely busy week at work in order to get ready for my holidays. This included giving a presentation for a leadership course I’ve been doing. I hate presenting but it went well and now I just have three essays to submit befor I get my qualification. It feels like the heavy lifting is done though…yay!

Blog wise, I posted three times. On Friday I wrote about why I rarely give books as gifts (you can read about why here) and I posted two reviews, both for books I loved.

First up was Salt River by James Sallis, one of my favourite authors. This was the final book in a trilogy featuring Turner, a complex character who I have grown to care about despite him being complicated and damage. Here he starts to learn to say goodbye to people he has loved.

This was followed by Blame by Nicole Trope, an author I’ve never read before but who I will be reading more of if all her books are as good as this. Here, she weaves together the stories of two best friends following a tragic accident that leaves them more like enemies. It is a really human story about love, loss and motherhood.

Reading wise, I didn’t get to The Trap from last week and that’s on the list for this one instead. It’s because I got completely drawn in by Lost Girls by Robert Kolker.

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Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever, and the dangers remain all too real. A triumph of reporting, a riveting narrative, and “a lashing critique of how society and the police let five young women down” (Dwight Garner, The New York Times), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them (from Goodreads).

I rarely, if eve, read true crime but this one caught my eye at the library and I’m glad it did. How about you – what have you been reading? How has your week been?

Emma

This week, I’m linking in with Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post and with (a little early) Katherine at Book Date for It’s Monday, What Are you Reading? Head over to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

Book blogger hop: the gift of a good book

imageI’m joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop again this week, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

Do you give books as gifts?

My answer is yes, but not as often as you might think someone who loves books as much as I do would.  There’s a couple of reasons for this.

First off, everyone’s tastes are different and I have made the mistake before of buying books that were never going to be loved or cherished by the person I was buying them for.  There is that moment when you say “did you enjoy the book” and the person looks at you and there is a long pause before they say something like “oh I haven’t gotten to it yet” and you know it wasn’t for them. My worst choice was probably picking How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran for an older aunt-in-law because I got it into my head one year to buy people books by authors from the Midlands (where we lived at the time…the aunt lived in the states).  It was not appreciated – way too close to the bone.

Second on the list is that I have a lot of friends and family members who read a lot and I am never completely on top of just what that reading is.  It is very easy to duplicate books and, as I love giving gifts, it spoils it for me if no one else when I don’t see a person’s eyes light up – not because they don’t love books but because they have already read it.  Top tip? Never buy anyone a best seller unless they ask or something that has been adapted for film or TV.  There’s a good chance they will already have a copy. And, when you are at their house, take a good old look at their bookshelves just to see what is on there.

I will buy books where I have been specifically asked and I always buy books for friend’s children – though never Julia Donaldson because hers are the first books I think every new parent buys or is given.  Even then, I include a gift receipt.  Always better to be safe than sorry.  And I will also buy books that maybe have more of a meaning, so a first or special edition of a book I know someone loves, one with a different cover or that is out of print.  Those are likely to be kept, and appreciated, even if there is another version on the book case.

What about you? Do you give books as gifts?

Emma