Good weather for a good book…

After the storms we’re expecting temperatures to drop this weekend… a little taste of winter and possibly our first proper frost, so I’d better get outside and drag the pots of Pelargoniums into the polytunnel. The ferocious winds of the last few days have seen off the last of the leaves from most of the trees around our house and the landscape is back to its winter uniform of greys, browns and the odd splash of colour from the haws, hips and berries. The Oaks hold onto their leaves the longest… little patches of green and yellow amongst the bare branches and we’re lucky to have evergreens around us, Holm Oak as well as pine and Sequoia… Still it’s looking like it will be a fine weekend for settling by the wood stove with a good book 😉

Here’s a taste of my recent reads…


I was excited to see that Jane Shemilt had a new book out as her first, ‘Daughter’ was a really good read. This one dealt with the loss of a child again, this time in Botswana. Well-off London doctors, Emma and Adam – each having their own emotional crises at a ‘certain age’ – decide to head to Africa for a year to work… and when their baby disappears from his cot Emma starts a torturous journey to find him. Really well written and evoked the landscape and people of Botswana (athough I’ve never been there so I’m assuming that the images conjured do it justice!)

A new Nicci French is always a treat and I do really like Frieda Klein, their latest lead character. This was a quick read, a charge through the underbelly of London ‘illegals’ as Frieda herself becomes a murder suspect and goes on the run. If you’re a fan this won’t disappoint.

I also spotted the companion to the ‘Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ on the Quick Choice shelf in the library and grabbed it… I loved the first book and this follow up, told from Queenie’s perspective was just as enjoyable – even allowing for the obviously ‘spoiled’ denouement, having read the first one…


Now, I’ve just finished ‘Our Endless Numbered Days’, which I’d seen countless reviews and mentions of on Twitter and various blogs. There was something about it’s ‘end of the world’ premise that wasn’t immediately appealing but having started it I soon realised that it was much more than a post-apocalyptic survivalist tale and I would thoroughly recommend it. Evoking the mid-70’s childhood which I experienced, with the cold war and nuclear threats regularly part of the daily news, it tells the story of Peggy, an eight year old girl who is taken from her suburban London home by her father to ‘Die Hutte’ deep in the Bavarian forest… where they exist in isolation for many years. Go find a copy, it’s good!

I’m now charging full pelt through the latest ‘Jack Reacher’ (Lee Childs) thriller – Make Me – and it is the usual fast paced, high octane adventure… I expect to finish it sat in front of the fire sometime this weekend and then feel the urgent need to move onto something more sedate… I do love Reacher, Rebus and the like but they need to be interleaved with something a little less full of fights, gun battles and dead bodies!!

I join in with Laura’s virtual book club over at the Circle of Pine Trees blog and highly recommend you do too… It’s a great way to pick up recommendation and read some lovely blogs as you travel round the links.

What I’m reading this September…

OK, having managed to miss the July/August book club chat completely I’m trying hard to get back on track as a new month arrives! Of course, I read loads in August as usual, I just didn’t manage to blog or chat about any of it. A good chunk of the month, including our little sojourn to the Norfolk Broads was spent reading ‘After the Crash’ by Michel Bussi.


This was a huge hit in France and following a splendid translation into English now seems to be proving a hit outside France too. I can be a bit funny about translated books, I kind of want the book to ‘feel’ how it felt in its mother tongue but at the same time I still like an easy read – do you know what I mean? Aside from the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ series I’ve struggled with a lot of Scandi Noir books that should be right up my street because I can’t seem to read them fluidly. Maybe it’s because I’m a speed reader and I need to be able to race at full pelt through a book? Anyway, this one worked for me… the translation kept enough of the French feel but was still a fluid, easy read. The premise is simple, a devastating plane crash leaves just one survivor, a 3 month old baby girl – orphaned by the crash – with no means of identification. There were two 3 month old baby girls on the flight so which one is she? Set in the early 1980’s the obvious DNA testing isn’t an option, which is part of what made this book so intriguing, it couldn’t exist *now*, it was completely of a moment in time, before the technology to identify relationships between family members existed. I really liked it! The story flashes back and forth between the girl’s 18th birthday and the time of the crash and eventually the reader becomes aware that the true identity of the girl is known to some of the parties involved… 

I also whizzed through You Can Trust me by Sophie Mackenzie, a thriller that constantly twisted and turned and gave itself up just ahead of the final denouement… one of those ‘a-ha’ moments moments before the big reveal. I quite like Sophie Mackenzie’s writing style, she writes both YA books and adult thrillers so I’ll look out for more.

I also started ‘The Shock of the Fall’ which I expected to love… but for some reason didn’t? I gave up after a couple of chapters, maybe I’ll revisit it at some point. I think mood plays a big part in whether a book captures my imagination or not and I just needed something different at this point.

So, on to September! My current book is called ‘Without You’ by Saskia Sarginson.


Picked up, on a whim, in the library last week, it turns out to be set just ‘up the road’ at Orford, on the Suffolk coast. Orford Ness was an MOD testing base during and after the Second World War and there is much speculation about nuclear testing having been carried out there. It’s an intriguing place, now a protected nature reserve but still with buildings, towers, military paraphernalia and a lighthouse intact. The ‘ness’ features heavily in this story of a missing, presumed drowned teenager and the family dealing with the tragedy. I’ll let you know if it lives up to expectations!

I’ve also got the new Sophie Hannah, ‘A Game for all the Family’ to read next. I love Sophie Hannah, as much for her impenetrable twisty-turny psychological scenarios as for her down to earth, believable characters. I read somewhere recently that Hannah would never describe a crime she couldn’t imagine committing herself, or something like that… Given the gruesome, torturous nature of some of her story lines it somehow made me like her even more 😉

Right, that’s August dealt with and September all mapped out… see you at the Circle of Pine trees twitter chat at the beginning of October! Do head over and follow some of the links to other blogger’s contributions… it’s really a great way to find lots of new reads!

June reads…

I’m (already) hopelessly out of sync with the rest of the ‘Circle of Pine Trees‘ book club but here’s where my reading is at this month… which I appreciate is pretty much over 😉

I had to hang around for my mum to finish Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God in Ruins’ so the month started with a couple of very quick reads…

I tore through The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. A book I’d seen mentioned here, there and everywhere so I grabbed a library copy when I saw it! I liked this, although there were elements that I found frustrating. Sometimes a character just needs to ‘big up’ and tackle a thorny issue… but then I guess there wouldn’t be a book 😉

Next in the pile was The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne. This had a tragic premise, the loss of a twin, so from the outset was mired in remorse and what-ifs and grief. The story traced the unravelling of the death of an identical twin in a tragic accident whose surviving sister suddenly decides she’s the dead twin (with me?) and so their mother spirals into a semi ghost story as she tries to uncover what happened on the fateful day of the accident. It deals with the idea of ‘favourites’ and what the consequences might be and has a suitably stormy conclusion… I enjoyed it but it was one of those books that I was quite glad to finish. It was a bit *too* much and I did find the final couple of chapters a bit OTT and a little unnecessary in some ways…

Then it was on to the main event.



I love Kate Atkinson’s writing… from her very first novel ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ through the ‘Jackson Brodie’ detective series that were wonderfully quirky.

Then came “Life After Life’… a sweeping novel with a very clever hook that I absolutely loved. Once in the swing of the multiple story lines and the ‘re-births’ I found it to be clever, touching and such a lovely read it was a book I was incredibly sad to finish… I had high hopes for its ‘companion’ novel A God In Ruins. I was sooooo disappointed! Not to ‘spoil’ it but it really just never caught fire for me and the end, which attempted to reignite the spark of Life After Life had me ready to throw it out of the window (but it’s a library book and I was the first borrower so I restrained myself 😉 )


That’s all I’ll say on the matter… I’ve moved on…


This is July’s book pile!


I’m already a way through the new Elly Griffiths ‘Ruth Galloway’ mystery. Set in North Norfolk in and around places I know, I love these books. Ruth is a fabulous female lead character, with quirks and foibles and a habit of turning up just when things are getting dangerous… So far so good! I will report back in July… sometime… I promise…