#20BooksofSummer – final roundup

It’s been another fun challenge this year, thanks to Cathy at 746Books for hosting, and whilst I originally expected to read 10 books it was great to actually manage the full 20.

The Books I Read

Here are the books that I read for this years #20BooksofSummer challenge. Read the review by clicking on the book title.

1. WHEN SHE VANISHES BY CLAIRE DOUGLAS – NG/PUBLISHER INVITE

2. BOLD LIES BY RACHEL LYNCH – BLOG TOUR BOOK

3. THE LAST WIDOW BY KARIN SLAUGHTER – NG/PUBLISHER INVITE

4. MURDERLAND BY PAMELA MURRAY – BLOG TOUR BOOK

5. BURNT ISLAND BY KATE RHODES – PURCHASED

6. DEATH OF AN ANGEL BY DEREK FARRELL – BLOG TOUR BOOK

7. ICE COLD HEART BY P J TRACY – NG/PUBLISHER INVITE

8. MURDER UNEARTHED BY AMANDA WALLER – BLOG TOUR BOOK

9. THE CHAIN BY ADRIAN MCKINTY – NG/PUBLISHER INVITE

10 – 11. THE EAST RISE SERIES BY LISA CUTTS – PURCHASED/NG

12. ABSOLUTE PROOF BY PETER JAMES – NG BOOK

13. THE LAST STAGE BY LOUISE VOSS – BLOG TOUR BOOK

14. THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM BY SARAH J HAINES – NG & PURCHASED BOOK

15. THE STRANGER DIARIES BY ELLY GRIFFITHS – NG BOOK

16. THE TRUTHS AND TRIUMPHS OF GRACE ATHERTON BY ANSTY HARRIS – NG BOOK

17. AN ELEGANT SOLUTION BY ANNE ATKINS – BLOG TOUR BOOK

18. THE GRAVEDIGGER’S BOY BY R R NEWMAN – BLOG TOUR BOOK

19. CAUSE AND EFFECT BY PETE ADAMS – BLOG TOUR BOOK

20. THE HUNTING PARTY BY LUCY FOLEY – NG BOOK

The original list included the following books which, for one reason or another, had to be put back.

Untitled by Dreda Say Mitchell (Postponed) – I had this as a scheduled Blog Tour which was sadly cancelled/postponed.

THE QUAKER BY LIAM MCILVANNY;

BROKEN GROUND BY VAL MCDERMID;

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES BY M J LEE;

DARK SACRED NIGHT BY MICHAEL CONNELLEY

I will, of course, be reading and reviewing these in the coming weeks and months.

 

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson, Trans.: David Warriner

Book blurb

Spain, 1938: The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

My thoughts

This is a stunning book, incredibly well translated into English by David Warriner, that brings to life an appalling and dark period of Spanish history along with the struggles couples have who are unable to have children and a murder investigation.

Set in 1938 and 2016 across Europe from London to Falkenberg to Madrid Johana Gustawsson pens a heart rending story that left me amazed at the things humans do to each other, what so many have had to bear and the resilience that so many have managed under such circumstances.

Johana Gustawsson has brought a story to us which many, like myself, will have not heard before about what happened to those individuals who were against Franco, their families, most particularly those of the children. Then she takes this and goes on to tell how such atrocities impact those individuals. It will leave you reeling, numb and both disgusted and amazed at this human race that can be so contradictory, so evil, so wonderful.

The sympathetic way in which the story is written enables you to continue to read. Bringing together the different strands of the story into a whole, being able to write a story and bring the historical element and the struggle of those who wish to become parents, I have to say I’m with Alexis on that, into the modern day murder investigation is done so incredibly well.

The characters from each era are beautifully drawn and whilst there are several that are quite despicable there are so many to admire including Teresa, Gordi, Emily, Alexis and Aliénor.

This is a book which will linger long in the memory. I believe it should have a wide audience as this is exactly the sort of book that goes beyond any particular genre not only to appeal to readers but to enlighten them and I hope that it gets the credit, in my opinion, that it deserves.

Blog Tour

My thanks to Anne at RandomThingsTours for the invite to this amazing BlogTour and to the publishers Orenda Books for an eCopy of Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. There are lot’s of terrific stops to take a look at…

Information

Publisher: Orenda Books

Buy: Orenda Books AmazonSmileUK Waterstones

Author

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and, soon to be published, Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

@JoGustawsson

Books

It was a pleasure to meet Johana, very briefly, at the Orenda Roadshow when she kindly signed my copy of Keeper

Translator: David Warriner translates from French and nurtures a healthy passion for Franco, Nordic and British crime fiction. Growing up in deepest Yorkshire, he developed incurable Francophilia at an early age. Emerging from Oxford with a modern languages degree, he narrowly escaped the graduate rat race by hopping on a plane to Canada – and never looked back. More than a decade into a high-powered commercial translation career, he listened to his heart and turned his hand again to the delicate art of literary translation. David has lived in France and Quebec, and now calls beautiful British Columbia home.

Follow David on Twitter @givemeawave and on his website: wtranslation.ca.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Paperback – 31 Oct 2019

Book blurb

Dripping with atmosphere, THE HUNTING PARTY is Lucy Foley’s hotly-anticipated crime debut. A razor-sharp and chilling Highland murder mystery. . .

Everyone’s invited. Everyone’s a suspect.

Nine friends ring in the New Year in the remote Scottish Highlands.

As the curtain falls on another year, the celebrations begin.

The next 48 hours see the friends catching up, reminiscing over past stories, scratching old wounds. . . And guarding friendship-destroying secrets.

The clock has barely struck 12 when a broken body is found in the snow.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

When a thick blizzard descends, the group are trapped.

No-one can get in. And no-one can get out.

Not even the killer.

My thoughts

A group of friends who had met whilst at Oxford and their ‘other halves’ are off to Scotland on their annual New Year’s Eve gathering. They are staying in a lodge next to a loch with some stunning countryside and mountain scenery to behold.

There are the nine friends, Heather the manager, Doug the gamekeeper, two visitors from Iceland and Iain who also works on the estate but he’s due to go home before New Year’s Eve as he does not live on the estate itself.

Heather and Doug have pasts, reasons for coming to live up in this rather lovely but somewhat bleak place. The Icelandic couple are a little strange. As for the group of nine their secrets abound and they are coming to realise that actually they don’t have too much in common, or do they?

Whilst there a woman is found murdered by the gamekeeper. Once the body is discovered, it was clearly murder, the police are called but they are not able to get onto the Estate due to the snowfall.

This is not the usual detective – Police or amateur sleuths – story although Heather and Doug appear to be concerned, it is more on the level of keeping themselves and the guests safe. The story is told by several people all clearly indicated in the headers along with a date indicating when that person is recalling what they are talking about.

It is an intriguing story and one that is quite fraught with danger, yes, but also with the tension from the stories and relationships we learn about as we read. This is a story as much about the dynamics of those relationships as it is about solving the mystery of what happened. There is a killer is it a stranger or one of the characters?

The story draws you in, keeps you wondering and builds to a tense climax.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it especially to those who like a different slant to a murder mystery and enjoy a good, well written story.

Thanks

My thanks to HarperCollins via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.

20BooksofSummer

This is my twentieth book review in the 20BooksofSummer Challenge hosted by Cathy at 746Books – all the books were read, if not reviewed, in time.

Information

Publisher: HarperCollins (Paperback: 31/10/2019; Hardback: Out now)

Buy: HarperCollins AmazonSmileUK

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination. Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

@lucyfoleytweets

Also by Lucy Foley…

The Book of Lost and Found

The Invitation

Last Letter from Istanbul

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is due to be published in 2020.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Bestselling Richard & Judy Book Club Pick

Book blurb

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

This is what the police know: English teacher Clare Cassidy’s friend Ella has just been murdered. Clare and Ella had recently fallen out. Found beside the body was a line from The Stranger, a story by the Gothic writer Clare teaches, and the murder scene is identical to one of the deaths in the story.

This is what Clare knows: No one else was aware of her fight with Ella. Few others have even read The Stranger. Someone has wormed their way into her life and her work. They know her darkest secrets. And they don’t mean well.

This is what the killer knows: Who will be next to die.

My thoughts

The story is told from the alternating points of view of Clare, DS Kaur and Georgia, between which are extracts from ‘The Stranger’ itself. It works well.

This book has terrific characters which add to the spooky atmosphere of the story and which flit through your mind as you read and try to figure out who, if anyone, killed Clare’s friend Ella.

The book will send chills up your spine and the added intertwined extracts ramp up the scariness. Still it has a fine detective strand running through and DS Kaur’s character comes into her own with some inside knowledge of the school. She’s a character who could well be given another story or two.

Elly Griffiths tells a terrific story, with good characters – not just the main ones, many of the ‘lesser’ ones too – which are well rounded and add something to the storyline.

It’s a well-written, atmospheric book which I thoroughly enjoyed and would say is well worth reading.

Do read the full ‘The Stranger’ story at the end for another shiver up your spine and another wonderful twist to this terrific book.

Thanks

My thanks to Quercus via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths.

#20BooksofSummer

I’m catching up with my reviews, at last! Although the final reviews are somewhat after the 3rd Sept. As I had only anticipated reading 10 books this summer I’m thrilled to have read the full twenty. I’ll put up the final review and a full update on this summers reading challenge as soon as I can.

Information

Publisher: Quercus (Paperback: 16 May 2019)

Buy: Quercus. AmazonSmileUK

Author:

Elly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk. The series has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, and has been shortlisted three times for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her Brighton-based mystery series is set in the 1950s and 1960s. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two grown children.

Elly Griffiths also write under her real name Domenica de Rosa.

For all book information go to: Elly Griffiths

To follow: @ellygriffiths

Cause and Effect – Vice Plagues the City (Kind Hearts and Martinets #1) by Pete Adams

Book blurb

A self-labelled enigma, Detective Inspector Jack Austin is at once miserable and amusing, melancholy and motivated. Running the Community Police Unit from his deck chair, D.I. Austin is known for his ability to solve crimes out of the blue.

Trying to work cases while struggling with his mental issues, Austin deals with a variety of major crimes, including bicycle theft. But when the case of an executed police officer lands on his desk, he accidentally uncovers a malevolent scheme.

Can he discover who is behind it all – and keep what’s left of his sanity?

My thoughts

This is the first in a series of five books in the Kind Hearts and Martinets Series which has Jack Austin as the lead character. The rest of the series comes out in the next few months so do keep your eyes peeled for them.

Jack Austin is a seemingly chauvinistic, weird and somewhat scarred DI who deals with his mental issues by bringing his dog to work with him – it has official approval; giving people nicknames and referring to old films, TV series and characters often confusing his colleagues many of whom are too young to remember them.

I felt like one of them as I smiled at those I remembered, raised an eyebrow, or two, at some of his rather bawdier remarks and laughed at much of what was happening. This is a book with upfront and in your face humour. The style of writing is unique which many readers will love and will be eager for more.

Within all of this is a terrific storyline and whilst yes it is funny it is also quite hard hitting in places. It is Jack’s reaction to what happens that makes the story engrossing and I really enjoyed that. This is a book that may take a little settling into but I felt it was well worth it.

Blog Tour

My thanks to Emma at Damppebblesblogtours for the invite to the Cause and Effect Blog Tour and Next Chapter Publishing for the eBook. Do take a spin ’round the rest of the tour..

#CauseandEffect #KindHeartsandMartinets  @nextchapterpb@damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Information

Published by Next Chapter Publishing in ebook and paperback formats on 17th June 2019.

Buy:

AmazonSmileUK Amazon US. Book Depository. Google Books

Author

Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Twitter: @Peteadams8
Facebook: PeteAdams

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J Harris

An extraordinary and compelling debut which will make you see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before

Book blurb

How do you solve a mystery when you can’t understand the clues?

There are three things you need to know about Jasper.

1. He sees the world completely differently.

2. He can’t recognise faces – not even his own.

3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham.

But uncovering the truth about that night will change his world forever…

My thoughts

This is a story of a boy, Jasper, who believes he has committed murder. He has Autism and Prosopagnosia more commonly known as face-blindness which means Jasper has to recognise people by their clothes, not always reliable, and their voices. People are colours, things are colours and it is through his painting and his notebooks that he tries to explain what happened.

This is a delightful book and a wonderful first book from Sarah J Harris. Jasper is a delight as he sorts out how life works for him and how to solve Bee Larkham’s murder. Well, actually he knows who did it, doesn’t he? It’s more about how to let the police know. They don’t seem too keen on hearing what he’s got to say. At least initially. It seems that they are more interested in finding out what went on between Bee and another lad from his school. Jasper knows about that too. He’s worried about what he should say. He liked Bee but she wasn’t always nice. They don’t seem to realise that Bee isn’t just missing she’s dead.

Jasper is quite vulnerable and his Dad does his best but they both find it hard since his Mum died. His Mum understood him and Jasper misses her.

This is a heart warming, touching book which gives a fascinating insight into autism and especially prosopagnosia whilst giving the reader a unique detective and an amazing story. As Jasper relates what is happening and what, to his knowledge, did happen through his paintings, his memory and his unique understanding he realises something. It shows him everything. Now all he has to do is let the police know.

Sarah J Harris has written a gloriously uplifting and poignant story which I thoroughly enjoyed reading and highly recommend.

Thanks

This book sounded intriguing and I requested it through NetGalley. As I didn’t hear for a while, my patience is usually quite good, I thought I wasn’t going to get a copy. I was keen to read it so I bought an eCopy for my kindle. Then I got my request accepted! I don’t mind buying an eCopy or a paperback of a book even if I have had it via NetGalley. I would still like to thank HarperCollins UK and The Borough Press via NetGalley for accepting my request.

#20BooksofSummer

This is my 14th read in this years challenge. I’m currently reading my 19th with just a few days remaining so even though I had only anticipated reading 10 books this summer I may just manage to do the full 20! I’ve a few posts to catch up on and then I’ll give a quick, full update on this summers reading.

Information

Publisher: The Borough Press (27 Dec. 2018)

Buy: Waterstones. AmazonSmileUK

Author: Sarah J. Harris is an author and freelance education journalist who regularly writes for national newspapers. She became fascinated by synaesthesia and face blindness during her work as a journalist. THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER is Sarah’s debut adult novel. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.

The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris

A Richard and Judy Book Club pick for summer 2019

Book blurb

Grace, Nadia and Mr Williams see each other at work every day. But it will take a crisis for them to finally reveal the truth about themselves.

Grace is 40 and in love with David. Her life is about to fall apart in the most shocking of ways.

Nadia is 17 and furious. She knows that love will only let her down: if she is going to succeed it will be on her own terms.

Maurice Williams is 86. He has discovered a lot about love in his long life, and even more about people. And yet he keeps secrets.

Sometimes you have to hit the bottom in order to find a way back. And sometimes you need a friend, or two, by your side when you triumph.

My thoughts

When I began this story I wasn’t sure that it was quite right for me. Grace and David’s relationship didn’t sit well. I have known friends, seen friends torn up with this kind of relationship and it isn’t good, it isn’t kind, someone – more than one – will get hurt. Mind you Anstey Harris portrays it well and does not get overly sentimental nor too cruel. Judges it well and gives an insight into each of those involved. One or two instances certainly made me smile or at least nod with satisfaction. How it evolves in the book for Grace, how it makes her react and act is necessary to the storyline. I was soon swept up with Grace.

Grace, Nadia and Mr Williams swept up with them all and their realistic, understated but wonderful friendship. Everyone should know this sort of friendship in their life, how happy we all would be. How lucky those of us are that do have friendships like this.

Grace is a maker of musical instruments and I found the parts of this book which described the process interesting and quite soothing. Graces back story weaves it’s way through the book and you come to learn how she got to the place she is now. She is successful in her career and yet has a profound sense of loss, of not quite reaching her full potential. Nadia is feisty, lovable, annoying, naive and wise in that way teenagers can be. Mr Williams is a slightly more subdued character within the book, you hear of him rather than about him. Grace is working on an instrument for him. Yet it is Mr Williams that makes a pivotal decision for Grace. Then there are the instruments – violins, violas, cellos – I could hear them in my thoughts, feel them in my heart and soul.

I was immersed in the characters, the instruments, the music and the storyline in this beautifully written, immensely engaging and downright captivating book.

Anstey Harris has written a wonderful story, this book is one of the best I have read this year and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

With thanks to Simon and Schuster via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton in exchange for an honest opinion.

Information

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Author: Anstey Harris teaches creative writing for Canterbury Christ Church University and in the community with her own company, Writing Matters. She has been featured in various literary magazines and anthologies, been shortlisted for many prizes, and won the H G Wells Short Story Award. Anstey lives in Kent, UK and is the mother of the singer-songwriter Lucy Spraggan.

Follow: @Anstey_Harris