The Other Woman by Laura Wilson

the other womanSophie seems to have the perfect life.  A gorgeous house in Norfolk, where she and her family de-camped a few years earlier to escape the hustle and bustle of London, children who are excelling at school or about to head off to Oxbridge (after their year spent travelling, of course), a successful business, and a husband who loves her.

Or at least perfection is what she wants everyone who receives her annual round robin letter to think  She artfully airbrushes out anything that doesn’t quite fit with the world she has created.  It is pretty clear from pretty early on that, for Sophie, appearances matter – as do things.  She likes to shop and she likes to show off what she has.

And, in the grand scheme of things, especially if you compared her life to those of others, there probably isn’t much she can moan about.  Nobody is perfect, and neither are their lives, but hers is pretty close.  At least it is until one of her round robin letters is returned, defaced with words that send her spiralling – Leo (her husband), they say, is having an affair and is about to leave her.  Read More »

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A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris

a pocketful of crowsIn a time when superstition ruled the way people behaved, a brown-skinned, black-eyed, girl falls in love with the beautiful son of the local laird.

She is not the type of girl people fall in love with, not the type the local folk trust.  She is not like them, she is a traveller. She moves on the wind, with the animals, lives with nature.  She is completely free, or at least she is until she falls in love.

Then she becomes bound, changing her name, her ways, her future.  She trusts in the love she feels and, already in love with her myself, I prayed that that love wouldn’t be betrayed.

The course of true love never runs smooth though and this story is no exception.  The question is whether there will be a happy ending or if it will all end in tears?  Read More »

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph

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Nightmares are scary things for all of us (well, for me at least, so I’ll project that same response onto anyone reading this), no more so than for Steven, who has been having the same dream for as long as he can remember.  It’s one he can’t explain and can’t shake.  As he grows older, his dreams start to invade his waking hours, becoming visions he can’t control.

Growing up in the foster system, afraid his new parents would “send him back” if he told them how bad it was, he has managed to (mostly) successfully hide what was happening to him from those he loves and those he works with.  Work is especially important as he is a homicide detective – no one wants a crazy policeman do they?Read More »

Herbs by Judith Hann

Herbs Cover

The first thing I want to say about Herbs is how gorgeous it is – even as an ebook.  From the cover through the photos that are generously shared throughout the book – each one makes me want to grow herbs and then eat the food made with them.

To be fair, Hann was pushing on a bit of an open door as I have been trying for the last few years to do just what she is looking to help me achieve – a herb garden, one that I can use year round and comes back year on year.

So far, I haven’t been very successful, and my herb garden (now that the summer is over) consists of one surviving plant – sage (which seems to still be going strong).  That doesn’t meant that what I planted didn’t grow well this summer, they did, they just didn’t hang around.  Reading Herbs,  it looks like I’ve made a few rooky mistakes there (choice of soil being the biggest one), but there isn’t anything I can’t fix next year and nothing scary.Read More »

Lie to Me by J. T. Ellison

Lie to MeWhen Ethan Montclair wakes up one morning to find a note from his wife Sutton saying that she is leaving and for him not to look for her, he swings from disbelief to anger to fear – for her (she has been suffering from depression) and for him (what will people think?).

He calls round her friends then a lawyer before finally calling the police, who immediately start to question Ethan’s version of his supposedly perfect life – especially when Sutton’s friends suggest that things were not quite as good as they might have seemed.

As the questions start to mount up the lies start to unravelling.  The friends were right and Ethan slowly begins to reveal the truth – or at least his version of it.  And that is what makes this book so good.  Nothing is as it seems – no one is who them seem.  For a woman (me) who likes an unreliable narrator, this book is a perfect fit.Read More »

Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir

Queens of ConquestAnyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I have a thing for books on royalty – well British / English royalty.  I can’t help myself – especially when it comes to Queens.

I find the women who ruled (or almost ruled) my country to be endlessly fascinating, especially those who looked to assert power at a time when females were seen as a lesser class of citizen and the weaker sex – property of their fathers then their husbands.

One of a woman’s main jobs was to marry well – marriages agreed by her parents and those of her future spouse.  Marrying up was the key, or marrying for gain – money, land, or power.  And so it was for the Queens of the Conquest, each of whom found themselves supporting their husbands in their quest for power (bar Empress Maud, who aimed to be a Queen in her own right).Read More »

The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt

The Flexible VegetarianI’ve been a vegetarian for a long time – since I was 12, so over 30 years.  My husband, though, and my daughter (who is seven), are confirmed meat eaters.  As we all love cooking, we have had to figure out a way to all eat well – things that are healthy, tasty, and (at least during the week) easy.  Given their need for meat, and my non-need, it’s sometimes a challenge.

The current compromise is that we alternate – we have a non-meat meal, then a meal that includes meat but I take the meat out; sometimes that results in me eating plain pasta or a plate of veggies.  They aren’t very exciting.  Even my husband will admit the veggie meals are usually tastier and different from the norm – but there is no meat, and he misses that after a few days.  Read More »

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen

They all fall down

They All Fall Down starts with one of those openings that lets you know it’s going to be a good book…

“Charlie cut her wrists last week with a shard of caramelized sugar.

We’d made the sugar sheets together in the clinic’s kitchen earlier in the day, under Joni’s beady-eyed supervision.

‘Yours are thick enough to do yourself an injury.’ I’d said to Charlie, as a joke.

‘I wonder if that’s what gave her the idea,’ Odelle commented afterwards, pointedly.”

And from here, for me, it just got better.  Read More »

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

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I think I may have to change the layout of my posts, or stop using goodreads to get the “blurbs” as reading the one for The Stolen Marriage, you might as well not read the book because it gives so much away.  So, like with Cold Blood a few weeks ago, I am putting the summary at the bottom of the post – read it if you would like but, for me there, was too much included and too much given away for a plot that had be hanging to the edge of the page all the way through the book.

It’s why I love Diane Chamberlain books so much – she tells tales that are complex and complicated and that I can’t put down.  And, yet again, she hasn’t disappointed me.  In fact, this – for me – was one of the best books of hers I feel like I’ve read in a while and, as I’ve liked everything of hers I’ve ever read, that is saying something.

Why did I enjoy it so much?  First off, the characters.  Central to the story are Tess – a young woman of Italian heritage who has grown up sheltered and certain of the path her life would take – and Henry, the man Tess marries – who is an enigma through most of the book.  He has secrets he can’t share that could mean he’s very good at pretending to be good or is just plain bad.  I decided early on that he wasn’t bad and prayed for the rest of the book I was proved right (you’ll have to read The Stolen Marriage to find out if I was!).

Both Tess and Henry as so well written and so detailed and complex, I believed in them totally, and in all the characters that surrounded them, including Tess’ former fiancé and Henry’s family.  Set in 1944, their behaviours weren’t always one I understood but they felt right for the time and showed just how difficult it is to be yourself in a world and in a society where social mores ruled how everyone (or nearly everyone) behaved.

Then there is the setting – Hickory, a small town in the south, where Baltimore born Tess struggles to fit in, not only for her Italian roots which make her stand out but also because she is one of “those” women, one who wants to be independent – to have her own opinions and (dare I say it) work.  I found out after reading the book Hickory was a real place which Chamberlain had visited and it shows in the way she describes the town, it’s people and it’s places.

The polio outbreak, which is central to the story, is also a real event – one that took place in Hickory – and this is the third reason I loved this book.  It was something I knew nothing about and not only was it interesting for the history buff in me, it also made for an interesting story, one that allowed Tess and Henry’s relationship to change as the book progressed and created a catalyst for what happened to them.

For me, it made for a compelling read, one – as I said at the beginning – I couldn’t put down.  I really can’t find a thing bad to say about it.  I loved it from the first page to the last and can’t recommend it enough.

Now here’s the promised blurb:

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behaviour and save her own life?

Enjoy!

Emma x

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Format: ebook
Published: 3rd October, 2017
Pages: 384
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own

The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

cover117511-mediumWalter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

So begins the first of four short ghost stories by Susan Hill, something I have been looking forward to reading as the nights have drawn in and with Halloween not far away. I love a good spooky story and a good old fashioned scare and Hill has always been able to manage both where I am concerned with stories like The Small Hand and The Woman in Black.

Here, all the ingredients that make those stories so successful are there. The “old school” style of story telling, the simple language that lulls you into a false sense of security, the slowly building tension as you realise not all is what it seems – leaving you wanting to read on but worried that if you do, you’ll end up lying awake listening for things that go bump in the night.Read More »